Stats Gone Wild

YES. I love Wayhaven’s stat system because it feels like the game recognises your personality and celebrates your character’s strengths, rather than punishing the player constantly for not meticulously choosing every answer in a strict sequence. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve literally wanted to chuck my phone across the room because I’ve restarted a game for the 50th time just because I’ve chosen something seemingly insignificant and it’s blown the story apart. Sometimes I have no idea how anyone can be expected to know which answer corresponds with which stat while keeping in mind that if you don’t focus heavily on one or two traits you’ll fail every check. IMO this smothers any self-expression or immersion and it just becomes a numbers game. I feel like I’m in a battle of wits with the author and they have all the answers. Never wanted to cheat more at something in my life - I just want to get on with the story!


I see what you mean - I’m not super familiar with the games in question but I do find that Choice of the Deathless, say, while being one of my faves, has a huge list of relationships on the stats page that’s quite daunting.

I LOVE when this is done well. I did a bit of domineering vs accommodating multireplace in Creme de la Creme and it seemed to go down well.

I hear this. In Blood Money I went in a direction having a ton of stats and test combinations, which led to a lot of later choices being impossible until I thoroughly reduced their difficulty (and even then it wasn’t entirely clear what I was testing).

@expectedoperator I really enjoy when there’s that sense of personalisation to the game. There’s something to be said for D&D style stats when it’s the right game, but having something characterful gives that special something.

@AChubbyBlackCat That’s really interesting, I hadn’t thought of it like that! Are there particular games with fewer stats that you’ve especially enjoyed?

@AdmirableAnimation I like that! In Choice of the Deathless I believe if you have less Sleep you’re less good at the rest of the challenges which was a really cool mechanic. I love the idea of having a wild card stat that could make unusually fortunate things happen.

I like having graduated successes - a super success, a medium success with some caveats, and a disaster. But it can be so challenging to figure out the results for regular choices like that!

That sounds so interesting! If there were still increased stats with choices, I wonder about the idea of having periodic updates too between chapters, where you could see where your stats had increased and whether there were particularly major choices that changed them.

@iota in Wayhaven if you have low Intimidating and try to intimidate someone, what happens - do you fail the check? Or does something else happen?

I love this and want to do more of it. Not necessarily something that majorly affects that plot or gives a mechanical disadvantage, but flavour.

This is SUCH an issue for me as a developer and I’m thinking a lot about developing my skills. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told “this isn’t clear what the choice is testing”, and I’m still very much learning! Which is a major reason why I made this thread, to learn more about what people like and dislike, and what feels immersive or intuitive.


I can not speak specifically to Tin Star, except from the perspective of a player but with regard to Zombie Exodus: Safe Haven, I can assure you that all the stats are used in a play through.

The main purpose of this large volume of stats is to allow flexibility of the player to approach the game the way they want to. Each problem can be solved in more ways than one.

You may not choose to utilize every stat offered (nor should you) on every play through but because multiple stats are solutions to each check encountered, every stat built in the mechanics are used in the code.

This is exactly the same situation – tabletops allow different solutions to the same problem, so if the situations are the same, offering the same solution: multiple ways of solving a problem, seems fair and desirable to me.


Edit: I have not yet contributed to the mechanics discussion of the thread, but look to do so “soon” …

My approach to stats is for relations with characters to show not % or static number, but to show “Character B: is willing to fight for you.” or along those lines. The title of character changes depending on how much fame (number) and specific choices (boolean) player have made along the way, yet I haven’t done this properly in my game. Along with oathsworn armour types, ship statistics, etc. This way it feels more organic and less a math thing (some of my testers despise math…).

Same for oathsworn armour types, ship statistics, etc.

Of course, there are stats that better fit being simply numerical, wealth, ship speed, warrior count…

I would say trying to make it less a numbers game and more into an immersion of a story is an applaudable thing.

I have tried to do this and I find it hard to implement. All the ifs and possibilities makes my head spin :smiley: Authors who manage to make such games are great.

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That depends a lot on the situation you’re in.

So in Book One, there’s a fight around the end of the first act. Leaning into your stats you can help defeat some goons, and not leaning into your stats means that, well, you sucked at fighting the goons, lol. But the scene ends the same as the PC is sneak attacked and knocked out, which then transitions into the next scene. So there is a different outcome to the stat checks, just not one that’s going to affect the story in any way. But then you have the Boss Fight at the end of act 3, and succeeding or failing your stat checks there results in either the bad guy being captured or escaping. The consequences of this success or failure have yet to appear, but I’m very excited to see where they lead in subsequent books.

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If I can get through a game without having to look at the stats screen even once and it still feels like a satisfying experience that feels like a good stats system to me :slightly_smiling_face: Don’t get me wrong, I’ll definitely use it to check on character relationships and personality- or alignment stats every once in a while, but if I have to look at it before every choice to try and puzzle out what stats correspond with what the author may or may not have intended with each option that’s a huge disappointment, especially if it doesn’t make sense with the narrative of the story. To use ZE:Safe Haven as an example, you can choose from different military professions. From a story perspective it should mean your character has at least had a military training and, depending on rank, field experience. Yet the skill system completely overrules this. This is most obvious in skill checks to do with firearms and (military) vehicles. You can fail at those to an extent you would never have been able to get into military training, let alone make a career out if it. Ehm… Rant over.

So yeah, from a story>game mechanics perspective good stats are stats that track the MCs relationships with other characters, alignment, attitude, and similar subjective stats, and if it’s a game using skills, skills that aren’t integral to the MCs backstory, open up “extras”, like for example different story branches or flavor text, in the story, do not limit the player to the one path corresponding to that skill or fail automatically, and can be improved through the course of it.


This is the last of my talking about ZE and ZE:SH – I’m invested in the game unlike other titles and I do not want to cause derailment or sniping.

I am not sure what specifically you are talking about regarding the firearms … but I will say this. Depending on your military choices while in service, you may not get the requisite training in either to outskill a civilian expert in either firearms or vehicles.

My eldest sister might have been in the Army, on a base where a platoon of tanks were stationed, and they even made her wash said tanks as punishment detail … but her 30 year career in the military never trained her to drive a tank.

Likewise, with firearms. My middle sister may have been a trained marksman but my oldest sister had to have a “crash” course on pistol wielding when they thought they were going to emergency deploy her to Israel. There is no comparison to the two vastly different experiences that both my sisters had in the military.

So I’m not exactly sure why a career in the military should guarantee success over either firearms or military vehicle checks.

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Balancing the mechanics is hard. As Jim the creator of ZE and ZE:SH says:

Bold emphasis mine. I do think with Safe Haven, Jim learned a lot and in the future, I imagine some things will be done differently but only he can say for sure

With all this and above said, I’d like to link a very important resource for everyone:

These official guidelines are essential background to check out when designing mechanics because CoG goes over a lot of ground to help its authors succeed.

I still can’t find my old posts on the topic, so I’ll have to edit in my past statements once I do.


Yeah the idea was as follows:

Divorce the player choice selection from needing to max stats. E.g. You want to hit x with sword, but you know you need to level up your poise, thus you select the wow them with your equestrianism instead. This raises your poise, and you continue the game.

Instead you can make choices based on whether you think they will be successful and you can change your chance of success mid-game by selecting which stats you raise. You can shape your character but you do not need to make the “right” choices to do so.

I think it is working well so far, but we will see :upside_down_face:

An interesting read there. Thank you!.

Some of that stuff is kinda common sense, if one thinks a bit into CYOA design. Other parts, either it would take me years to make a such a game (I don’t get how other people manage O.o) or either I wouldn’t do cuz of personal reasons. It seems these guidelines are targeted to people with a lot of experience/free time or for games to be very long and complex.

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So in almost every COG or hosted game, we aer rewarded for being consistent with our roleplaying (for example, being consistently kndi or mean, etc). But the problem is that there doesn’t seem to be enough clues on what action leans towards what stat and so on (In werewolves of haven, the choice to be bold yet cautious seems impossible for me. I only know how to stick to calm and caution or bold and feral). Is this only a problem for me? Does anyone else have this problem? If so shouldn’t the dialogue choices be more obvious?

Tldr; Dialogues and choices aren’t too obvious for me. Is this intentional? Does anyone else have this issue? Should the dialogue be more obvious?

In my experience most games set multiple personality stats to be affected by a specific choice. Whether it be by increasing ‘like’ traits, or decreasing ‘unlike’ traits. In games it can be difficult to balance traits because of this. So making consistent ‘choices’ isn’t enough. You generally have to make similar choices consistently, rather than consistently making dissimilar ones. I hope that makes sense.

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Thanks it does. It would be better if we could optionally see what choices are affected by what stats after maybe one playthrough no? Some like the games to be dynamic, others like it to be able collect every achievement. How else will we see the success and failure dialogues that the author wrote?

I don’t think it’s just you! As a writer it’s one of my pet issues that when I write a set of choices I think it’s really obvious what it’s testing, but then someone else who isn’t in my head plays it and is like “uhh what is this, it could be any number of stats”.

Example: in Creme de la Creme there’s Manipulative and Intrigue, both of which could be useful for lying. I didn’t intend that - I think I always use Intrigue for lying choices - but it’s reasonable for a player to be uncertain what stat they’re using in that situation.

So for future projects I really want to hammer out the stats so there’s much less confusion about overlap.

I see what you mean here, it can be a challenge to make opposed stats that can all interlock together and work personality-wise whether each is high or low.



Sorry for the delayed reply.


Off the top of my head, I’d say The Grim and I works extremely well with the default set as not even showing the player the stats screen unless prompted. It honestly lets the players focus on the story and the story itself conveys enough clues through the narrative that I don’t feel compelled to check my progress.


We’ve been talking about stats at home and at the suggestion of @HannahPS I’ll post my thoughts here!

One thing I’m trying to do writing Warrior’s Shot is be mindful of squeezing choices in to fit the stats. With Asteroid Run I think I had times where I knew what options I wanted to give the player, and then worked out which stats fit those iPhone [edit: options] - regardless of whether or not the stat felt like a truly natural fit. Lo and behold, there’s some choices that I do feel are pretty muddled.

Now, if I’m writing a choice and the stat to test isn’t immediately obvious? I’ll instead present an entirely different choice that reframes it to fit a stat better. Hopefully that will make things more clear, but I guess we’ll see!


I want to hear more about that.

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Uhhh… Minimalism! Chic! Expense! Grayness???

Bizarrely, I don’t own an iPhone, so I blame this on weird subliminal Apple marketing!


And here I thought you were being paid by Apple to insert their product :wink: lol


I am so glad that you made this post for I love games with many, many, MANY stats. The stats add a different level of immersiveness to the game, for me at least.

Anyway, the stats are best liked are in Villain Academy, specifically the stats (Classic Villainy: Modern Villainy) and (Something more than human…)

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