Should Obvious Choices Be Written into A Choice Game?


#1

Personally, I always did like what Havenstone did with the stat system with Choice of Rebels, something I wanted to incorporate into my own work. But I started thinking, given that you clearly align yourself to a distinct speciality, whether it is necessary to give the player choices in what a player can do when that choice is rather obvious.

Combat is an obvious one. Typically players are going to use whatever their character is best at, what comes naturally; the sword (strength), magic (intelligence), or allies (charisma). You are going to use what you have as the highest stat. You are hardly going to use magic when you are a swordsman. To give the choice appears patronising at worst, and a waste of time at best. That is unless you deliberately wish to lose, which wouldn’t make much sense in terms of story.

When I have been trying to write a story, I try to think as though I were the character, as though I were going through their events and hardships. Thinking about what such a character might think and do. So, why then would a character who is a natural mage even consider using the sword? Surely it goes against their nature, doesn’t it?

So, I came up with a better idea; to write individual paragraphs that relate to the stats, refusing to give the player the fake choices, each one being different and unique to the next. For example, rather than making the player choose what to do in a combat situation, the character will just do as best reflects their stats automatically. If they are a natural swordsman, they will use the sword. If they are a mage, then magic. If they are charismatic, they will inspire the troops. You get the idea. And this would be written in the code to determine the stats, then pick the appropriate paragraph.

Then I thought of even more than that. The character could act and behave differently even when it comes to situations the player has some control, such as conversations with NPCs. If you are ruthless, you will speak and present yourself differently than if you were compassionate, creating unique dialogue in relation to relevant stats. This can also relate to knowledge. A mage is going to know about magic and related topics, where as a swordsman is going to know about weapons and armour and other related military knowledge. Things like that.

What do you guys think? Do you refer to be given the choice, even if it were obvious? Or would you prefer a more tailored gaming experience?


#2

I think it may be nice to have the option visible; if nothing else, it reminds readers that there are other options available if they go through again.


#3

A good author (as rude as this may sound, sorry) knows how to avoid this and challenge the player to use their brain.
Sure, you will have the ‘obvious’ stat, but the best choices are those where you can’t solve everything with the highest stat.

If you have a mage faced with a person in peril, e.g. and the player has before come across the warning that the forest is screwing with magic, would ‘cast fireball’ really be a good option?

What you are describing has, in fact, already been done in some games, in which a player was barred from, technically using common sense because the author thought that ‘hey if they are like this and this option X would never even occur to them even in a situation where it should and would’


#4

I quite agree that “hit it with a sword/use fireball/sing it to sleep” is a pretty stupid choice if your character can literally only do one of those things. It’s more a “would you like to win or lose” choice than a “how would you like to proceed” choice. One thing you might think of doing is giving the player multiple choices for their specialty (e.g. a mage might get the choice to use fire, ice, or lightning, and so on).

I would suggest leaving the more character-based choices (as in conversations) up to the player, although it certainly makes sense to change up the exact wording depending on the MC’s stats. A ruthless character can still choose to show mercy occasionally, and vice versa, and it makes far more sense to let a player choose this than constantly asking “are you a fighter, a mage, or a thief?”


#5

I am not THAT fragile, you know. :wink:

Normally, for games such as Lost Heir, this would certainly be the case. You can, if such games were played correctly, become proficient in a number of areas… and not always do well despite it. But with a simplified stat system, the choices are going to be a lot more simple and straightforward. The only time their would be more variety would be when determining your character’s personality and principles.

And nor would you, which is where the replay value comes in. Choose different stats, and the story will run differently. Make different choices in regards to how the character handles different situations, and the story changes even more. I just do not see what the point is in asking a player what they want to do when, from the stats, you kinda get the idea of what they are leaning towards.

Of course you wouldn’t use fire magic in a forest. Any mage worth the air they breath would know that. They would clearly use a different type of magic, something creative. But we still know that the player is going to use magic of some form because that is the character they created.

Truly? Which games would those be? I would be interested in seeing what those authors did, and improve upon it if necessary.

Hmmm. I did not really wish to create a labyrinth, so to speak, of choices for the players to choose since… it would essentially be a series of short sentences of a paragraph torn into separate pages just so the player can make the nuanced choices. But I will certainly give it some thought.

Oh, absolutely. The player will determine the Protagonists character; how their mind works. Once you determine your speciality, however, you determine how your character deals with situations which pertains to their skills. I mean, think of a battle, for example. Would a Protagonist necessarily have the time to stop and think about what they are doing, or would they rely more on instinct? A choice can symbolise their instinctive actions, to be sure, but choosing to do differently than the nature of the character’s skills does not make much sense to me. A non-mage could not just miraculously conjure magic, we know choosing such a thing would not work, so why present the choice?

But certainly exact wording and fine detail will relate to the stats.


#6

One of the reasons I like Guen is that it asks you to initially say what TWO things your Guen has specialized in, but even then there’s plenty of scope to train up in skills you lack as much as finetune what you excel at, if you want to. So I think approaches like that helps, not to have the player feel there’s only one thing they can rely on.


#7

Hah! Got you!
Read the bit about the forest screwing with magic? ALL magic would be a bad idea here.


#8

I figured that was a typing error. :neutral_face: Regardless, there will always be a work around. Circumstances align for you to overcome the obsticle. Kinda a cop out, in my opinion, but that is what some authors do.


#9

This is more what I meant; just give the player the choice, then a short paragraph for each option, before bringing the prose back together. I admit that it’s more work than the other option, but it’s not literally insulting the player like asking “what’s your highest stat?” a hundred times in a row…

Fair enough, if it’s instinctive, but if it’s a thought-out decision, a person can choose differently to how they would act instinctively. In fact, this is a good way to show character development in non-interactive fiction. If a formerly ruthless character realises they’ve gone too far, they might try to show mercy more, and so on.


#10

With regards to the personality options–no, you really shouldn’t automatically make choices for players. What (I assume) @MeltingPenguins was referencing above was in the first Heroes Rise game where, towards the end, if you had stats high enough then you couldn’t choose options that went against them (the choices were visible, but greyed out and unable to be clicked on), and that facet was generally considered frustrating and badly received and even the author has said he wishes he hadn’t done it like that. Even if in these games, you’re theoretically suppose to act consistently, sometimes situations change, or players want their characters to grow in a new direction. Not to just parrot @ParrotWatcher (heh) but

really hits the nail on the head. And it isn’t just in non-IF–your players might want to let their own characters grow and change, which could mean going against the grain they’d been following before.

Doesn’t mean that you can’t let personality stats have an effect on the world–they could change how NPCS perceive the MC, or how the MC says things in the narration and non-choice dialogue. But making a character who’s always hated dogs automatically choose to ditch the puppy in the woods will probably rub people the wrong way.

Now, with regard to combat, I think it depends on how combat-heavy of a work you want to be writing. And frankly, if it’s something where the fighting is an important part of the story (long, drawn out fight scenes rather than “quickly dispatch the bandits before moving on to conversation or other action”) you should really just let the fight stats become more involved, and let the player either train multiple stats, or have multiple options per choice that are just “HOW are you using your sword/magic/allies.” If a lot of the scenes are fighting and you remove the choices from all those scenes, it’ll feel like a story without very much player input. On the other hand, if along the way the fighting is all stuff that’s periphery or to the side, where the fighting isn’t the important part of the scene, I don’t see so much of an issue with just letting the player pick what they are at the beginning and then letting that determine how the fights go–but in that case I don’t know why you would need to keep track of the fighting stats as, well, statistics, instead of just letting the player choose which style they want to use outright

Overall, I don’t see an issue with the idea of letting a high stat determine how a character acts during a high stress moment, but if you want to have a combat-heavy game you should commit to making sure the combat is immersive for the player,and in ChoiceScript games the audience is going to expect that to mean they get to choose how exactly their character goes about problem solving. You’re right that choices where it’s “do you want to use your lowest stat, other lowest stat, or only stat you’ve ever used this whole game” can be kind of silly and pointless to look at, but there are more creative and interactive ways around it than just making assumptions on behalf of the player


#11

I think it might work in a game with a class system. Player chooses a class that will define their fighting style: mage will use magic, knight will wield a sword (or any other weapon of choice) and archer will shoot with their bow.
But I would prefer to still have a choice even if there’s only one possibility that will work with my mc’s stats. But that’s just my preference

To explore the idea futher, SoH (and Fatehaven by the same author) does a thing close to the one described. Depending on which stat is higher, MC will think a little different things. However, since only thoughts are changed (if I remember correctly), no one but player chooses what ronin will do or say. But the game has an attunement stat that shows how in-character player’s decisions are. Although, it does not serve a great narrative purpose so it doesn’t matter a lot.


#12

Choices should be balanced. What I mean by that is that there should be consequences and limitations for the choices, some of which should be designed to encourage or discourage a future behavior.

Specialization of a stat (strength, intelligence, charisma) should be allowed but if a person keeps going to their specialty, there should be consequences, more severe as they go to that stat over and over.

An example used by my friend @JimD is in a terrorist hostage situation when the MC confronts the hostile terrorist and the specialist in combat chooses to attack, instead of negotiating. The MC should succeed the basic stat check, killing the terrorist but the consequences of killing that hostile terrorist instead of negotiation maybe that the MC forfeits the ability to ask that terrorist how to defuse the bomb in the next room and the MC will have to solve that problem another way.

Both specialists and generalists approaches should be balanced in such a manner. In my game, before each major encounter, I ask the player to chose a “general approach or tone to the encounter” and then within each ask them which option they focus on.

This means a diplomatic type of MC could choose a hostile tone or demeanor while approaching gate guards, perhaps concealing a knife on their person when they were asked to come unarmed. Then, when the NPC searches the MC and finds the knife, the MC can choose to try to talk their way out of the situation or fight, both of which will have consequences later.

In my opinion, balance is both essential and difficult to achieve in a well-rounded game.


#13

I think it would be better if I write a short and simple story just so you can see exactly what I am aiming for. It won’t be much, but it would show the mechanics I am talking about.


#14

I wouldn’t want the choices to be taken away. Even if you have the MC act like a jerk 99% of the time, there may be an instance where they wouldn’t. To just have automatic responses feels like… I don’t know…why bother even making a game instead of a novel?

As for stats, if the author just has one stat available, then what I could guess I see the logic of the argument, but the games I like tend to give me more than one stat to rely on. And I wouldn’t want to approach a situation the same every single time (how boring).


#15

One thing that sometimes happens, particularly with Cataphrak and Allen Gies’ games (to name two who know how to make the tactical side of things interesting), is that there are multiple possible options that require different stats, but sometimes one action will be easier, have different results for failure, or different results for success.

For example, in Hero of Kendrickstone, magic won’t help you in getting to the cup on time in Chapter 5 - you either have to have a particular lore or physical strength. Meanwhile, talking in Chapter 4 tends to lead to suboptimal tactical results, but usually gives the player a warm fuzzy feeling for doing the right thing.

Sometimes the “obvious choice” is only obvious if you’re hyperspecialized, which will have the downsides of being useless when whatever problem you have can’t be made to look like a nail.


#16

Krendrickstone is pretty terrible in this regard… :confounded: Far too many of the choices basically boil down to “What class are you?” and are often too poorly worded to interpret. If you’re correct, and mages can’t complete that quest, then that just makes it even worse in my mind, since the game is quite clearly telling you to stick to your chosen class all the way through…


#17

Didn’t say that. I said they couldn’t complete it through magic. So they need to find another solution OR give up on the main quest and profit off the side quests (which is an option in that particular mission). Which proves my point, I think.

You have a point, mind you, and Hallowford does work to address the “just build your highest stat and go to town” strategy, but it’s not quite as clear-cut as you put it.


#18

No “work around”.
Rewarding the player for genuinely paying attention.
So if you’d pick an option that might work and isnt magic…

But heck… even “workarounds” can be fun, if well written.


#19

Yeah, this is what I consider to be a key point. I rarely like it when a game makes too much in the way of assumptions about my characters’ personalities just based on stats. (If it’s a little bit of flavor text, that’s one thing, and if it’s NPC’s reactions to your character, or your reputation, that’s entirely reasonable, but if it’s forcing your decisions, that’s another thing altogether.) In addition to the stuff about character development which people talked about it later posts, I would also note that personalities are also more complex than can be represented by just the stats alone. People who act a certain way in a lot of situations, once presented with a different situation, will often not continue on the exact same way. It’s like those personality quizes where a whole bunch of different questions are supposed to determine a personality type; you’re always going to have something that you answer differently from your “type.” People are complicated, so even if you’re acting with a consistent personality in mind, you’ll often not be following the exact same stats all the time.

Like, this is a good example… imagine someone who is generally misanthropic and hostile towards almost everyone, but there’s some specific characters who they’re always loyal to. You wouldn’t want the high “jerk” stat to force them to act out of character to those people!