I’m sure we all know that choices are an important part of interactive fiction. But you can’t have big, important decisions all the time. So, what do you do to keep readers engaged in between important choices? The obvious answer seems to be to give the reader smaller choices, such as choosing which character they want to spend time with.
So, what other kinds of small choices do you include in your game? Also, what are some good examples of this in interactive fiction? Things that don’t affect the plot in a significant way, but still add to your experience and make the game more replayable.
These can be good places to insert small stat changes, so readers still feel like these lulls in the action are still contributing to the overall picture in that regard. Sometimes the quietest moments can be the most impactful from a story standpoint anyhow, if they’re properly done. I know one of my favorite segments to write in The Parenting Simulator was the bit in the early years where you just have a free day to spend with the kid. Obviously this is a much less dramatic encounter than the driver’s test or graduation or first day of school, but that can also give the reader a little leeway to just make choices and have fun without stressing so much about the opportunity cost.
Flavorchoices are also a possibility, Most players like when they can decide, why they are Doping something, or how they answer a question. So in a conversation, when they can joke or snap at someone.
Dialog and reactions are things that keep me invested in the game. I don’t care about stats, I want to feel that I am there and a part of the story.
It is my experience that sometimes the consequences of a “small” choice can provide an interesting catalyst for a larger, more significant change.
These “event chains” are a powerful tool to keep the reader/gamer involved and engaged.
The chains can also flow the opposite way, from a larger event having reverberation on smaller events further down the timeline/plot.
I enjoy a good payoff, but personally, I also enjoy reading/writing small details that re-appear in the plot that aren’t very significant.
For example, in my current WIP, the player can wound the villain in the introduction, and it is referenced in the narration and dialogue choices later in the game even if this particular change wasn’t really life-altering.
i think the ability to implement lots of small choices that don’t change the overall narrative is one of the greatest advantages of how CYOA-style fiction is written today (through coding). letting readers actively contribute to conversations, reading almost an entirely different book just by changing the main character and playstyle. Having mostly major choices is what it was like before, when the main forms of this kind of fiction were the literal Choose Your Own Adventure gamebooks and old school choice-based text games.
I love what coding has done for interactive fiction, kinda feels like we’re in the beginning of a golden age! the small choices are what make it special
I think small choices have an impact and importance. However, nowadays you can smell the fact 99% of them are pure cosmetics than mostly do is slow the pace. In so many Wips I end Bored as hell of intros that look like the Encyclopedia Britannica. With details, I don’t care at all. That doesn’t mean anything and they aren’t even used long the story.
Yes, 100 of customization choices… Why not a wonderful choice of not having 100 of choices about hair, skin make up… Same with most of customization small choices. I understand that in really well-designed games are fun and immersive. That is 1% in the rest you see that is a fake choice clear as the day and just feel useless.
I really think fewer customization options and more important choices on dialogues and how the character feels and behaves would make games far better. I am so tired of “Oh, my God, there is your crush since forever! You are shy and blush… Incapable of saying something…”
Sorry… My character is 100% charisma and brave wtf comes all that blushing…
Small choice options:
1) “Flavor” choices - i.e. “Hey, MC, I’m going to get some ice cream from the kitchen. What flavor do you want?” Doesn’t change/affect stats or gameplay, just adds a tiny bit of customization for the reader.
2) “Stat” improvement choices - i.e. “What do you want to do on your day off? a) Practice sword skills b) Practice juggling”
3) Conversation choices (my favorite) - e.g. NPC1 says “I hate onions” then give the reader three reply options (shrug/disagree/agree). They don’t have to be monumental in scope (i.e. starting/ending a romance, etc.), but something to add some input/customization to the conversation flow.
Little did you know is the approval sign on the other end of the world. Maybe.
Huh, so there is a mirror dimension. How do we get there?