What are the tactics or patterns which bother you the most when you play COG. A helpful list may be of value to both authors and fans.
I hear these criticisms leveled on google play store and some of them are not mentioned as often but I, at least, have noticed.
Tactics for creating the illusion of choice while maintaining a linear path:
1: Presenting a set of choices then telling the player “except you can’t do any of this because [interruption] .”
This happened a lot in community college hero.
2: Main character agreeing to do things without the players input because another character agreed for them.
e.g."Y agrees to come to the meeting and you do to "(do I?).
e.g. You were going to say no but X says yes so its yes.
3: Player suddenly finding themselves in a situation without any understanding of how they got in there. Usually that situation is the result of an explicit choice that was made “off screen” which the player had no input in.
4: Asking the player what they plan to do and taking every opportunity to interrupt the players long term plan in order to advance the plot in a linear fashion.
5: The Choice Poll: Asking the player how they feel about the choices that have been made for them instead of allowing them to make the choice in the first place and just peppering the entire game with "how do you feel about this ? " quiz questions.
6: The tight rope: Make any choice that might deviate from the chosen plot and you will either be killed, shamed (sometimes by the author themselves) or “convinced” by other characters.
e.g. I remember something like this happening in Zombie Exodus. Towards the end it becomes clear that one of the characters wants you dead. They end up basically begging you to go on a super dangerous mission and you can choose to refuse but one of the other characters basically convinces you off screen (“They spend an hour talking to you and you are finally convinced”).
Romance patterns which diminish the character or break immersion:
7: The lovebot: Characters which seem to be created solely to be the main characters love interest. They are player sexual and you can even choose their gender. Feels like I’m being betrothed or (at worst)dressing up a blow up doll.
Breden Reaper seemed quite a bit like this, except he/she also seems fairly important in the plot.
8: The lovebot parade: A multiple ensemble of characters which are manufactured to be your love interests . It’s like I’m in a brothel and the madam has lined up all the escorts so that i can pick the one I like. Or i’m some sort of prince/princess being pressured into a marrying one of their suitors, but I want to rebel against the whole thing because its unnatural. It just devalues the characters, turns them into objects rather than people with lives of their own.
Wayhaven Chronicles did this. It may be a meant to be a romance IF, but this pattern actually diminishes the characters and, once you realize what the author intends, break immersion.
9: This is not the time: I’m in a dangerous situation (e.g. trapped inside a haunted mansion where I could be killed at any moment) and the game is permadeath, I’m genuinely afraid for my characters life (which is a point in favor of the game) but I keep getting asked if I fancy the hostess, the servant girls or the butler. None of the other characters seem to care about the existential threat you are facing, only wondering if you are dtf.
Heart of the house felt like this.
Consequences and Misc:
10: Convergence of Paths: This is where choices lead to intermediate consequences but the end game is always the same. Only difference is who you romance (who is hardly mentioned in the ending).
11: The stat hurdles race: A game where the only way you can lose is if you make a choice that does not correspond to the stats that were awarded to you. Exacerbated when stat awards are few and far between.
Alo0ot of choicescript games are like this. I’m still a fan of choice games anyway so clearly it does not bother me that much.
E.g. This got pretty extreme with The Lost Heir Series.
12: Long game, super short epilogue. This often makes less sense in Dialogue based RPGs, where the devs spend years and labor creating, books, scrolls, graphics, voice acting, cutscenes etc but can’t be bothered to put a significant fraction of the effort to write a sufficiently detailed epilogue.
13: Trivial Choices: This is when all the big choices are made automatically but there are plenty of tiny inconsequential choices given to the player (like hair, eye, skin color, clothes, feelings ).
14: Author telling me how I feel, or moralizing about my choices, or chiming in about what I’m supposed to feel.