The Choice Availability

Good time-thing to everyone!

As before, I am interested in your opinions about an aspect of game design: to be specific, are there reasons to make some choices impossible for some player to pick (staying out of RO), and what are they.

In my project (easily found on the forum by the name “The Guard’s Duty”), I use several mechanics that limit or expand player’s choice, namely, ‘insanity’ and relationship values. For example, I disallow being rude to someone without reason, if the relationship score is high enough, or allow PC with more ‘insanity’ (I’m not sure about using the word. In-game it is closer to PC being really extreme in their dealings, but the name has stuck for time being) to contemplate and perform some drastic ideas/actions. While I believe that this is more beneficial from the roleplaying point of view, I can sense certain appeal in the idea of removing the restrictions altogether, or making them a lot softer.

And what do you think? Thanks in advance!

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I would say, keep the restrictions, as long as it’s important for the story, and contributes to make it more “coherent.”

I like the idea of preventing the player from being rude to a NPC they consider as a friend, for no reason. I might borrow this idea in the future, as I want the MC’s actions to be coherent with their own personality/behavior. (Without having punitive stat checks which would force the player to choose the same way of behaving over and over, through different situations. I am reminded of Fatehaven, which I never finished, as I couldn’t understand why I kept having game overs :joy: )

Agreeing with that it should make sense.
I know that a good chunk of people hate it when a stat hides options for no good reason.
Just because I’m friends with someone shouldn’t mean I won’t call them out on their bullshit. On the contrary.

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Yeah, it would depend on the situation.

I’m more favorable over “graying” choices rather than hide them.

Thanks to the wonderful trick of modifying the text of choices, in such a situation I might write something like this:

If MC doesn’t have a good RS with NPC: “Now get out of my way, I have no interest in talking to you.”

If MC is friend with NPC: (Choice grayed out) I’d rather refrain on saying anything that could be hurtful to NPC.

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Wow, that’s a wondeful idea. It’s deffo worth trying out!

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I’m also doing so that there is no reason to be angry or shooting people for no reason, mostly because it would just seem being evil just for the sake of it.

But that brings me to another problem, i added a meter for Malicious/Kind and so far only the Kind one has plenty of options lol. Maybe i need to make the malicious options cost a lot more than the kind ones or try to add more malicious options, but they don’t fit the game start very well yet.

I’m also not disabling options depending on your morality score, as i believe that sometimes you may want to act differently than you usually do, so i left all options open.

The suggestion of @Snowpanther is a good one, maybe it would also be good to have something like an indicator that its because of a particular stat? Like say your insanity is too high you could add like (Insanity too high) to the start of the option so the player knows why he cannot select it.

Got to be careful with restrictions, or they can make a story start to feel railroaded, but if used for a reason I personally like them (and use them) to try and make some of your decisions feel more realistic or hold more weight later in the story. I also like greying out options rather than hiding them for failed stat checks (unless they are confusing or spoilers relating to other story events that haven’t happened to this player), because it shows the reader that there are more options that they couldn’t access on this play though. So yep, do be careful about completely stopping a player being rude to others without reason (because let’s face it, some players might change their mind about a how much they like a NPC or decide their MC is having a bad day.)

But you could exclude or have failed checks for options based on stats like insanity. Like if your MC has completely messed up any hope of a treaty by their previous extreme actions that make their enemy see them as completely untrustworthy. (greyed out options, or if selected they fail because the enemy wont agree and another option needs to be selected to continue with the story.) It may be worth having an *if in front of some “rude” choices rather than greying all of them out because it could otherwise lead your MC being railroaded into a good relationship after they’ve started down that path. If your relationship stat is already poor, just go ahead and be narky. If it’s higher, could still use the mean comment, but phrase it differently. ie: (low stat) “Go away. I said I didn’t want to listen to your stupid nattering.” vs (higher stat) “I’m far to tired for one of your lectures right now. Go away.”

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Doing this for relationships in particular is not a good idea.

I get why you do it, but it can very, very easily go wrong. For example. why would I want to be rude just because I have a low relationship with someone? I am certainly not rude to people I don’t like in real life and I know I would think less of an MC who is a jerk just because they don’t get along with another person. Likewise sometimes I snap at my friends, more so than I do at strangers because I am less emotionally on guard around people I like.

Stories are often high stress situation there are usually plenty of dramatic reasons to be jerks even to your best friend in these games.

Now, I do like the idea of personality opening and closing choices, but you must always be aware of how easily this can lead to railroading. Greying choices can also be dangerous in this context because when a choice is greyed out people quite naturally ask why they can’t pick it. If it is something easily telegraphed such as you need high strength to lift the boulder the player understands why, but if it is personality, morality or relationship its a lot harder to justify greying out because people act contrary all the time in real life and it is quite easy to come up with a character concept that has reason for being rude one day and nice the next one.

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The biggest, still not fixed negative example of this is without a doubt the infamous “you can’t save your sidekick if you love to grab the spotlight” thing in heroes rise. Up till today people are irked by the idea (especially nonsensical if your sidekick is connected to the biggest hero blog) that your character would seriously put their fame over human decency and such.

Whether or not something gets greyed, as stated, should be connected to comprehensible stats and situations, not some odd morality/etiquette/etc thing.

As others have said. One won’t be rude to someone just cause they don’t know them well enough. On the contrary. Unless they are an a-hole.
Likewise many people will not stop being rude towards people they know well when those are being rude. Heck, usually it’s more likely that person a will call person b out for their crap if they are friends.
That is what friendship is about.

I get what you say, and I guess I should have been more clear about what I personally do. I totally agree that being neutral-polite with people who you don’t like should be possible. I don’t exclude this responses and I’m not going to do this. The same goes for the difference between friendly chatter and outright rudeness. While it is indeed a fine line, I also try to remember that I’m coding a game, with finite number of answers, despite how much I would like to change it. I may sometimes include being a bit of an ass to the characters the PC on good terms. However, in my opinion, it should be distinct from badmouthig someone, and, due to constraints of text format, it is impossible and unnecessary to write these options very often, while the player should be able to voice their characters disagreement any time - and possibly in quite aggressive way, if there is no reason to behave otherwise. That’s why I opt to do things described in the OP.

On the other hand, the matter of relationship values is veeery tricky, and I would not get into it here, so I couldn’t not agree more with you about staying careful.

Anyway, it was nice to hear your thoughts!

I absolutely disagree.
After Hero rise spotlight stuff i didnt touch COG for Months.

who are you disagreeing with?
Did I miss someone saying that idea was awesome and made the game good?

I think it is just fine, provided it is used carefully. The last thing you want is to make your game appear linear. But you have artistic license to go crazy with your creative work, just keep the logic throughout the game to prevent making options seem arbitrary.

To me the biggest problem with this sort of restriction (i.e. basically making me behave “in character” with respect to my earlier choices) is that it prevents me from changing my character.

Suppose I’ve discovered something bad about my until-now best friend? I might want to start treating him rudely. Or, in reverse, if I’ve got a low relationship with a character, what if I’ve decided I want to turn that around and start mending fences?

I like the idea of having the player’s decisions come back to haunt them, but this method makes it feel like my character can’t really grow.