Techniques For Making Choices?


#1

I’m using Twine to organize my thoughts. I’ve taken notes of events I’d like to happen in the game. I’ve created character profiles for the various NPCs. I’ve shared my thoughts with a close friend and he helped me organize them (quite excitedly too lol) and I’m slowly teaching myself code and I have yet to come across a problem I can’t solve regarding it. But for some God-awful reason I can’t find an easy way to come up with choice options.

It’s becoming frustrating because I’ve finally started with getting everything down into CS and I’ll sit down, write a whole section and be on a roll, but will be forced to pause to think of options people may want to choose. It throws off my thought process because I’m forced to think of different things people might want rather than the story itself and by the time I’m finished debating with myself over choice options; I want a break.

Should I write everything I want to, then go back and add choices where I want them to be?
Would that make it more difficult because of possible branches that may come from the newly added choices and having to revise the whole thing to make it work? Should I write only choices that I personally would make, rather than trying to think of the various ways other people think?

Advice? How do you go about thinking of choices people may want to make? Is there a simple way to think of them? An easier way to breeze through chapters and choice options?

Any other general advice for Script would be welcome too.


My first topic, I apologize if I set this up wrong or if it’s in the wrong category.


#2

Choices as an afterthought is bad. They should be integral to your storytelling.

Simple choices can be gender and orientation, hair colour, clothing, etc.

Complex choices - which paths can a person take to get to the end of the story? Is there a heroic route? An anti-heroic route? A villain route?

Character background can be a choice too. Is the player character an orphan growing up on the streets? Or a wealthy noble making Paris Hilton look like she’s flaunting chump change?

Is the character’s outlook on life such that they wouldn’t say boo to a goose? Or would they buy a tank and squish everyone and everything in the way?

All these things and more can have an impact on your story.


#3

Well in many ways I think it depends on the type of game you’re trying to make, how branching or focused you want it to be. Is your main concern to do with the narrative/story or are you thinking more about player freedom/agency. The best advice I can offer is to write the game without thinking too much about the choices, you’ll drive yourself crazy and start to lose your will and momentum. If you do get to a point that you think naturally requires a choice, then put one in. Once you’ve added a choice try to think about different you might want to do in the same situation. Trying to think for others is very hard, especially when you’re trying to find your rythmn, and your rythmn is the most important thing in the earlier stages of writing as far as I’m concerned. The great thing is that you can always double back and fix things up later. You should think of this as your first, very rough draft, that’ll go through a few rounds of edits and revisions so it won’t be perfect. Aside from all that, if you get around to posting a demo you have a wonderful sample group on hand here on the forums to suggest choices they may have wished were there if you still find yourself struggling.

I hope you find at least some of that helpful, and most importantly keep writing! Unfortunately there aren’t any easy answers, or magic bullets. The closest thing to a writing cure-all is a stew of hard work and lonely nights. I’m interested in hearing what your story is about though? Assuming that’s something you feel comfortable sharing at this point.


#4

If you’re writing a choice based game, and you don’t think about the choices as well as the rest of the story, you’re writing a bad game. The story may be the best thing since sliced bread, but you don’t consider the whole you’ll come up short. Advice to the contrary is damaging at best.

That said, if the story you’re trying to tell doesn’t lend itself naturally to choices, reconsider whether it should be a choice game at all and not just a straight up novel of some kind.


#5

I didn’t say don’t think about the choices as well as the rest of the story, I said don’t think too much about them, especially if it’s something you’re really struggling with and causing you to falter. I say this because becoming too intent on choices for the sake of choices instead of letting them naturally slot in can be exhausting and demoralizing, and opens you up to the risk of adding inconsequential or “false” choice options.

It’s hard for me to say, since I’m obviously speaking about this from the outside looking in and there’s all manner of context that can change many things, but I think part of the difficulty might be that you haven’t completely decided on the kind of game you want to make. When I say that, I mean more than just the specifics of the story itself, but also your philosophy on the role you want choices to play in this. Are you posing moral conundrums? Is it simple escapism? Do you want the player to be able to completely mould their own character? Are you opting for a more simple, less complex first entry? Is it a combination of some of these, or none of these at all?

Of course the choices are important, I didn’t mean to imply otherwise, but I think choices work best when they’re in aid to the story not the other way around. But I do agree with you: [quote=“LordOfLA, post:4, topic:13836”]
if the story you’re trying to tell doesn’t lend itself naturally to choices, reconsider whether it should be a choice game at all and not just a straight up novel of some kind.
[/quote]


#6

Well, first off taking notes and keeping track of events that you want to happen in the story at given times is a good step in the right direction.

Come up with a passage length “limit” that you feel comfortable with. Personally I try to make sure a section isn’t larger than four pages on Word (And I sometimes extend that to six of I really need to) but whatever it is, this will give you more or less a set base for when to insert your choices. You definitely want to include the choices that you’ve come up with at the end of a passage you’ve written rather than including them as an afterthought. Mainly because it’s just a lot easier to organize that way.

As for the choices themselves, it’s going to depend on the story you’re writing and how you want it to potentially unfold of course. Put in the choices you want to and will also fit logically with the story you’re writing.

Now as far as continuing the story from a choice, you can make things a whole lot easier for yourself if you write out a single major path from beginning to end. That way you’re not jumping all over the place and possibly confusing yourself. (It can happen for large stories) When you’re done with one major branch, go back and fill in “lesser” paths on that branch and repeat the process over with any other major branch until you’ve finished everything.

While I typically think it’s important that most choices change the story in some meaningful way, there will be times where you might have to do the “fake” choice thing where say it all leads to the same event with just a few changes in dialogue. This isn’t really an end of the world thing, as long as it isn’t done too frequently.

And sometimes it will be a case where you might have written a passage that doesn’t easily lend itself to a choice and you can only really put “continue” down. Again, it isn’t that big of a problem as long as you don’t have like five pages in a row like that.

Of course this is just a general guideline. Ideas can change and there’s been times where I’ve had to go back and merge/delete/add passages and rewrite choices so the story flows better. Just keep good notes and you shouldn’t get too overwhelmed.


#7

First off, thank-you for so much feedback. Everybody’s advice is very helpful and I’m taking everything into consideration. Thank-you soo much. <3

I get what you’re saying and I was worried that would be the case if I moved and focused only on the story. As a result though I think I ended up doing what @Left4Bed said;

I think maybe I’m thinking too much about it and that’s what’s making me stumble over my story.

I think it does have the capabilities of being a choice game, but it’s my ignorance of how to properly write one that’s holding it back.
If I do continue to have difficulties though, I will take into mind that it may just need to be a story and a story only, rather than a game.

Very sound advice. c: I’ll give it a try, thank-you.~

First of all I gotta get it out;
Hiiiii Left~ :hearts::hearts::hearts::hearts: lol
Ahh, I don’t mind. Though I was planning on making a topic/demo on it once I got at least the first chapter done.

I think it’s sad that I’ve literally sat here for like 10 minutes trying to think of how to summarize my story without giving literally everything away but also making it make sense and be interesting. >_>
Things change drastically after the first chapter, so it’s hard to…
Augh, screw it.

Basically, the world hasn’t had magic for at least 200 years. The story revolves around you and one of the last mages in existence.(Meaning you yourself are not a mage. You’ll be class locked, sadly.)
There’s a civil war going on, people after you and your ward, team conflict because of personalities and beliefs, many things that aren’t like they seem, and more problematic things that I plan on throwing in because I love conflict and am a terrible person. :smirk:
I think I’m going towards my story with the same mentality you go at yours. A place I want people to escape in (I’m not a writer like you though so we’ll see how my immersion skills go lol)
I want my characters to react to things and have personalities and not seem like background noise.
I obviously have a lot of writing/coding ahead of me. :sweat_smile:
Anyway, hopefully that’s vague but not too vague that it makes it uninteresting.

I feel like me saying all this with no evidence of actual work towards these goals makes these ideas, exactly that; ideas. I’m so sad that I’m not a better writer. :sweat_smile:
We’ll see how it goes. I can always re-edit anything and everything if I don’t like it.[quote=“Left4Bed, post:3, topic:13836”]
you have a wonderful sample group on hand here on the forums
[/quote]
Plus this is true too :relaxed: I should use my resources properly.


#8

One thing I’ll impress upon you very strongly is this:

Think long and hard about limiting the player like this. It is most often used as a cop-out these days for lazy designers and writers. Sometimes it is justifiable most times it is not.


#9

No, I understand. I understand. It’s not out of laziness, I swear. :joy:
I class-locked it in order for the story to link together properly. There’s an NPC that can’t be what he is if you’re not class-locked. It wouldn’t make sense. I’d have to get rid of the character entirely…and each npc is necessary for the story. :disappointed_relieved:
Though I could try to add other classes…?
I’ll brain-storm on it a bit. :smile:
If it doesn’t work out, then hopefully I’ll be one of those justifiable ones. :,D


#10

Stories can always be massaged to give a player more agency. Especially those of a sci-fi or fantasy nature.


#11

Hi! I have the exact same problem, so I totally get that, I could spend all day summarizing.

[quote=“SteamShard, post:7, topic:13836”]
There’s a civil war going on, people after you and your ward, team conflict because of personalities and beliefs, many things that aren’t like they seem, and more problematic things that I plan on throwing in because I love conflict and am a terrible person.
[/quote]Ooh, sounds really juicy! Don’t fight the urge to let out an evil author’s cackle or two.

[quote=“SteamShard, post:7, topic:13836”]
I want my characters to react to things and have personalities and not seem like background noise.I obviously have a lot of writing/coding ahead of me
[/quote]If you want, I could send you the code I’m using to track player Personality in SotF? It’s kinda hacked together since coding really isn’t my strong suit. Not sure how much work you want to give yourself in regard to player agency, but you know, use it/don’t use it, up to you.

Best thing to do is to just start writing and don’t overthink things! Tell your story the best way you know how, ultimately you’re the one who has to spend those dark hours typing away. Make something you’ll enjoy and hopefully the rest will follow.


#12

Sorry, late repliessss~ went ice skating c:

Ohhhhhh I plan to let out a lot lol

AAHHH YOURE SUCH AN ANGEL LEFT
holds you close
That would be amazing. Please and thankyou :heart:


#13

I’m new to writing games but here’s how I’m approaching player choices into my writing.

I made up two lists. One of personality traits, and their opposite. Kind/Cruel, Selfish/Selfless, etc. The other list is of attributes Strength, Intelligence so on.

When I come to a point where the player has an opportunity to make a choice I consider the “trait” list if the choice is what to do. If it’s more of a choice about how to do something then I consider the “attributes.”