Replayability versus Story


#1

I need opinions – as a reader of a CYOA style game, do you generally replay games or read it once through as if it were a traditional story with you as the protagonist?

With the game I am writing, I am creating many extra sections to allow varied paths, so this is time consuming but seems worth it for replayability. Recently a friend said he only plays CYOA once through since it helps him feel that the choices he makes lead to the ONE real story.

So, I just want opinions on this topic. With CoG/CYOA games, choices are the main reason we write this style of fiction, but how far do we take the branching of stories and choices?


#2

I can’t ever take just one route through a game - I have to try everything. I want to explore the game thoroughly.

Sometimes I do have a “favorite” character, who may be my first character in that game, and their story is the one I see as being more “real” than the others. This never stops me from making other characters and doing other things, though.

If a good game has a reason to be replayed - even if it’s something as simple as being evil instead of good or playing a male character instead of a female - I’ll probably replay it.


#3

I’ll have to agree. Although I always consider the first time I go through a choice-script game the real story (unless I died), I always strive to find every path possible.


#4

I tend to replay choice of Games to find all the different paths or play as a different character. I might replay a game to find the best possible outcome, but then I become less focused on the story. I consider the game that I “win” to be the real game.

I prefer branching to add something new to the main story and not really detract from playing the game. In other words, choosing to go by car or subway will bring up different choices that ultimately lead to the same thing which is a good reason to replay a game. It can be broken down into all the different choices to make at subway (help soldiers in car, check for gear on wall, etc.) and in the car.
But in a game like C o Intrigues where you are presented with three goals to accomplish at the same time (dealing with war, having a light mage child, and keeping husband from cheating), I might play again but then deem my game unsuccessful if I don’t reach those goals and loose interest in the story.


#5

@Sovereign2Lilith do you prefer one style of branching to another? In other words, do you like how CoIntrigues has the goal system rather than the branching in the “Finding Emma” part of my game?


#6

I prefer your style of branching more. In Intrigues I feel you have to make sacrifices to achieve your goal -choose to go to political meeting vs. choose to see light mage to try to get a child.

In Exodus you do not have a clear idea of what effect your choice will have so there is no sacrifice. You wouldn’t weigh the possibility of saving the family from bandits if you took the car against saving the soldier and getting new gear because if you take the subway you will never see the family or know about that choice. The closest thing you have to that is the decision to save Candice and Mindy, but saving them will not alter you journey and if you don’t save them and meet them at the safe house it is not a big issue.

If I were replaying the part where I could help Candice and Mindy escape, I would feel free to experiment what effect it would have to save them or leave them. If I replayed that part of Intrigues, I would abandon the meeting the light mage scene because it would lead to my husband cheating on me and miss out on all the different possibilities that would happen if I chose to follow that branch. I anticipate the need to make sacrifices to come up in your game, it is a zombie game, but as long as I have more than a 1/100 chance of having a good outcome then I’ll be ok with it.


#7

I think this is the wrong place to ask the question for a neutral point of view (not to be confused with it being the wrong place to ask in general). See, everyone that joins this forum has a slightly deeper respect, or maybe even love, for CYOA styles games. It doesn’t matter whether they joined because of a desire to get help in creating their own games, or just to see the different games that are in development, most of the people here are going to want to pick apart any CYOA games they come across, and that means many different playthroughs.

Sure, the particular details may vary (Such as @Kadael and @Kamer mentioned having a ‘favorite’ character that just feels more ‘real’, usually the first, which something that I wholeheartedly agree with), and sure there are going to be those that have a different opinion in which they prefer single playthroughs, but I believe that ultimately the majority of the people here are going to say ‘many’ playthroughs, otherwise they probably wouldn’t come here in the first place. Just to note, I’m not bashing the question at all, or saying this is the wrong place to ask it in general (in fact I think it’s a very important question that those of us working on games need to think about), I’m just making the observation that this forum is naturally going to attract people with a certain slant, in my personal opinion, and so the answers here shouldn’t be taken as a cross section of the general populace.


#8

I have to agree with most people that I like playing games like this multiple times. If a game is too long and doesn’t have enough choices I may only play it once, but a game like yours with lots of options that is about the same length as any other CYOA game (well maybe a little longer, but still no The Witcher) I feel like playing multiple times to see all the possible outcomes. I generally don’t think of the first one as the “Real” one because usually the first one is one that I don’t particularly like the outcome of. I just go through and try to find whatever I feel is the best possible outcome, and then try again to see if there’s something better, until I’ve exhausted the choices. Then I might play through again just to make sure.


#9

It depends, really. I play the linear games once, and play the branching ones dozens of times. If there may be a different outcome, I always play it more. And the ones with more than one outcome are easily better, I think, as long as it does not come at the expense of the game length.


#10

Thanks, everyone, for the opinions. I have played Pen and Paper RPGs for over 20 years, so I tend to think of interactive fiction and choice games as I do with roleplaying – making it open-ended and giving freedom to the players. There are limitations with coding gaming but I think the consensus is to add as much choice as possible. I usually write a scene with lots of lots of choices, some even 20+, but then I remove them based on a few criteria: are the choices just repetitious, do they add to the story, and do they make the reader see something in a new light.


#11

I ussually read it only once or twice, because I don’t like choosing options that I wouldn’t do or that have negative effdcts.


#12

Which sarcophagus did you pull this thread out of? :wink:


#13

Now now. :slight_smile: I had the same thought… but this is exactly the kind of topic where we’d rather have people dust off an old thread than start a new one to clutter the forums.


#14

I was just being playful. :slight_smile:

I do find it to be a pretty cool topic, actually. If I played through a CYOA game and didn’t go back and choose every single option, my OCD would explode.


#15

It depends on whether I have time and whether the game is worth it. I’ve played CoZ and CotV over 30 times each since they’re rather short, but ZE’s Beta Chapter 5 is also catching up. I’ve also played Imprisoned quite a few times. There are a couple of games I haven’t even touched yet, though, too.


#16

Replay value its all. And diversity in choices. But choices with story that’s the great games.ZE has both


#17

I’m quite surprised at the overwhelming MOAR REPLAY vote. I like CoG games for the same reason I like text adventures, visual novels and role playing games: the chance to participate in a story. As an avid reader, the story is not only my first priority, it is nearly my only.

Don’t get me wrong, I play plenty of normal games with excuse plot (Pokemon comes to mind), but to me, the choose-your-own-adventure games were exciting because it allowed me the chance to engage in the story in a more personal level. It’s a form of role playing, although I don’t view my CoG characters as self-insert, any more than Commander Shepard is my self insert. It’s merely a way to be more absorbed, more emotionally connected to the story.

A game with high replay value can be alot of fun, I would buy it, play it and cherish it. But I won’t be emotionally attached to it, I won’t smile fondly when remembering it, and I won’t be as passionate about it. I will probably have a spreadsheet for it, because I have a spreadsheet for rhythem games, but that’s it. I won’t buy a T-shirt of a match-3 game, no matter how fun (although I hear Candy Crash is crazy popular).

I’m not saying a game needs to be completely linear - but for me, having only two major paths is totally fine, as long as they both have an eqully interseting plot.
To put it another way, I prefer DA2 to DAO (except for those damn enemy waves).


#18

Funnily enough I actually rarely play a game through again, at least not straight away.
However, saying that, I love games with replay value.

I guess it goes off the “real story” thing, I guess I like comparing MY story to everyone else’s.
I like to feel like I’ve got my own personally tailored version of the adventure that makes the story all the more special :slight_smile:


#19

I like to replay with different choices, depending on the type of character I feel like playing…heroic, selfish, etc. And I like to try to find as many paths as possible. But I usually won’t play the same CYOA back to back (although I did do that with Slammed, because I’ve been a wrestling fan since 1977 and because I found myself wanting to play so many different types of characters).


#20

I like to explore different options - case in point, in Part IV of Zombie Exodus, I have several saves that take different optional missions when presented with the choices, depending on what I’m trying to accomplish with that character. I think it’s a fun addition to have in the game and keeps it from being stale.

Sometimes I’ll replay a game and make the same choices, because it’s like re-reading a good book. I’ve done the same for games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect.

However, regardless of the game, I usually try to avoid making outright evil/jackass choices when I go to replay, so games that offer a good/evil path…I’ll inevitably end up only choosing variants in the good path. It’s just a personal thing. Games like Saints Row or GTA never trip my conscience, but when a game has characters that interact with you and react to what you do, I don’t like intentionally doing something that might hurt them.

I tend to have a head-canon-playthrough which I accept as my personal canon, and any other variations I have are just exploring the various options.