Thanks, @Ayerox! That really means a lot.
As much as I liked having so much replay ability in TMB, where the MC can choose who they interact with so much, perhaps this game design also has its flaws. When a significant amount of readers come away from the story thinking that many characters are underdeveloped despite them having gigantic roles in the story, I have to think about whether balancing out interactions between characters might be a better way of doing things.
Here’s the best example I can come up with…
What if Harry Potter was made into interactive fiction, and your choices widely impacted how much you saw certain major characters? This could mean that on a reader’s first playthrough, they might come to believe that Ron is an awesome character but Hermione is just a minor one. This would kind of be a disservice to such an amazing character like Hermione.
Obviously my characters and writing could never be as good as HP, but the analogy still stands. I don’t like the idea of a significant amount of readers assuming that certain characters are bland and underveloped because they only interacted with them in 1/10 of their scenes on their only playthrough.
Now, if readers acknowledged that they didn’t see those characters because of the choices they made, it would be a whole different story. But, that’s not going to be the case a lot of the time. For example, one negative review said all the ROs but Violet were poor and cliche characters. Maybe they just didn’t like those characters, which is fine, but I would also say it’s likely they interacted with Violet a lot and the other characters a lot less, which shaped their view of them as “developed” and “underveloped.”
I wrote TMB in so many different mini-scenes revolving around the 4 ROs because I thought it would be fun and unique. I hadn’t realized all of the negative feedback it could incur.
In fact, I saw that CoG recommended against this approach in their guideline. I can appreciate why that is now.