Two-Side Perspectives

Hello everyone,

I’m currently structuring my first ever story before pour it into codes, and one of the problems I found is:

“How you tell the stories, dialogues, thoughts, of the other side of the conflict you’re caught up in?”

lets say you’re in a competition and you’re on team A, but I want to show what team B’s are talking about, their thoughts, and what happens in their changing room even when our character is not physically present around them, how to do that without making it weird to the readers?

thank you

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You can write the story in third person. AKA, there’s a narrator. This is less common in IF, but it can still work. And it’d allow you to follow more than one character

There are several ways.

  1. You don’t. You lean into your character’s limited perspective and limit your reader to knowing what the character knows. This is almost always the best option when you’re writing from a specific limited perspective, and, I should think, all the more so when the reader is asked to step into that character’s perspective and make decisions for them. I want to make a decision for my character based on what my character knows: no more, no less.

  2. You include the off-character information in a way that sets it off distinctly from the rest of the text: clearly labeled interchapters, a different font, a different perspective, stylistic differences in general.

  3. Make the information accessible to your character in some way - maybe they’re spying on the other team with hidden cameras or a crystal ball, maybe they have a friend on the other team who loves to gossip, maybe they stumble across a letter or diary or overhear a conversation.

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Please don’t take what I’m about to say as a recommendation. It’s just a reader’s preference.

I honestly do not care about the antagonist’s reasoning. I typically skip prologues if they’re antagonist exposition. Especially in IF, where the perspective is usually second or first person, what I care about is what’s immediately happening to and around my character:

Am I in danger?
Who are my friends?
What is my goal?

If an antagonist is going to engage in an exposition dump, I’d prefer that to happen in-person, preferably in a dialogue rather than a monologue. If there’s information I need as a player, I’d prefer to find that as a result of investigation and/or conversation rather than as an exposition scene where my character isn’t even present. There is some benefit in specific situations for the reader to have information the character doesn’t, but I’m struggling to think of a single time I felt that way about IF.

So, yeah. Sorry, that’s probably not very helpful!

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The Sword of Rhivenia has this feature. It clearly labels the points at which the alternate POV scene starts and stops, though I don’t think they’re written differently from the normal second-person POV. This is one way you can implement those scenes, I’m sure there’s other examples.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I think it works in this instance because the story has to juggle a large cast of characters and flesh them out somehow. Some of these characters are far away from where the MC is, so making the MC come across them in some way multiple times might seem overly convenient or contrived to some readers.

So it depends on the scope of your story and its priorities.

I’d recommend breaking the different perspectives into separate chapters at least, preferably separate games entirely. So, you follow character A through their part of the story, then jump over to character B on the other side.

ChoiceScript games are typically written in immediate 2nd person (this is happening to you, what do you decide?) so it’s really not a good medium for sprawling stories that cover multiple vantage points (unless part of the fun is making new characters over and over again). Players can get very attached to their characters, and some even play it as close to themselves as possible, so having multiple viewpoint characters in a single game could water down that experience and make it feel less immediate, or worse, that you’re “punishing” the player for getting attached to their first character and not allowing them to see their story through.

If you’re aching to give two sides of a conflict equal weight in a ChoiceScript story, I’d actually recommend giving those opposing sides to NPCs, with the PC as a newcomer to the situation. That way the PC can get to know both sides by talking to and spending time with the different NPCs, and they can choose how to feel about the conflict and which side to support, if any.

Edit to add: damn, now I’m getting ideas for a story where the player character is a disembodied spirit or demigod, something supernatural like that, and can basically posses different people in the story. Like Quantum Leap, but with more agency. This would keep the player in the driver’s seat and would give them a consistent “inner” character with their own strengths and motivations, even if they’re bopping around in different bodies to achieve their ends.

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Like Jenna_V said, most don’t care about other people’s perspectives. So I can give you some advice first, avoid writing a prologue with someone else perspective or worst: with a combat scene (because at that time, players did not have any attachment to any faction in the combat. Who wins and who loses doesn’t make much of a difference to them.)


Okey, now for the main part

So far in this forum we have 2 solutions.

  • Change the POV to third-person
    Many authors used this.
    Let’s be clear first, perspective and POV are different, everyone know that but I met some people who just want to change the perspective they chose to change the whole POV. Which is not recommended.
    If you use the second-person for PC and the third-person for A, this will create a sense of confusion. Because usually, when reading in the second-person, the player will completely trust the PC but now there is a different objective perspective. So is “you” still trustworthy? The player wants to find the truth and they don’t know who to trust, not even “you” who is themselves. And the feeling of not being able to believe in yourself is not pleasant at all.
    You want the people around you to hear, understand, and empathize with you, side with you, and support you. So if all of a sudden someone from the outside jumps in to tell the story in a different way, will the people around you still feel attached to what you tell? That’s what it feels like to read a story with two POVs.
    To summarize, change the POV:
    Pros: um, not clear.
    Cons: losing the ability to connect with the character, disconnecting the storyline, etc…

  • Keep the second-person POV
    Will - Kiss of Death’s author used this. The pros is you can avoid the “disconnection” resulting from changing the POV, the cons is since the second-person is for self-insert, it is kinda hard to self-insert and feel weird if you change the perspective to an established character (like a Love Interest).

This is why I choose to write a first-person POV from the start, I can change the perspective without the weird feeling of “keeping the second-person” solution and the disconnection of “changing the POV” solution. But that’s just fitting my story, my setting, my game. What if yours is not? So I made two cases about which type of your story and my solution for each (well, I can’t force you to do anything as I say).

1. You want to focus on the PC and make them the center of universe. The whole story is their own story.
Just. Don’t. Change. The. Perspective.
You want to give information to the player, do it in the way like AletheiaKnights said.
When you change the perspective not only the player can access information, they can acces the whole subjective view of the chosen character. Now, the story don’t feel like just the PC’s story anymore, it’s like everyone’s story. And since the player know the PC is the justice, the ultimate protagonist from the start, they can’t form a connection or even sympathize with the other character, they can even feel annoyed like the player of The Last of Us 2 when they were forced to play as Abby after the golf scene.
For that reason, changing perspective, in this case, is info-dump, too much unnecessary info. The story in this case is the player’s and they don’t need to know the other’s story, and neither knowing it can make any meaningful change to the story.

2. You focus on telling a bigger story with other factions can influence it besides your PC. A story you want to tell can’t be completed with only one subjective perspective of the PC.
Now, changing the perspective is what you decided is a must-do thing. This can be easy if you just write a normal book, but IF is more troublesome since most of it used second-person POV, and like I said about keeping the second-person POV but changing the perspective: it can be hard and weird.
This type is rare and not everyone can read this kind of thing, but who cares? Maybe if you do it well enough everyone can love it.
So I can only give you one solution: write it in the first-person from the start. So you can get rid of the cons of “keeping the second-person” and “changing the POV”.
“But I want to make a blank PC to self-insert so I don’t want to use first-person.” you say?
Meh, self-insert or not it depends on the way you write. Most of IF in here used second-person but the PC isn’t so blank, like Sidestep of Fallen Hero or the marshal of I, The Forgotten One. Even games for self-insert like eroge still use first-person POV.
The biggest perk of first-person is expressing feelings, thoughts, and actions for each of your characters, creating a harmonious interaction between the character and the player. And when the sympathy and harmony are enough, the player and the character will become one.
To be blunt, after I played many IFs, I can say the only difference between second-person and first-person in IF is “you” and “I”. Many IFs said “you feel this you think that” just like how you express feelings and thoughts in first-person.
Many said you should use first-person for a PC more than themselves than the player, but just “should”. It is still possible to make a first-person PC self-insert.
But if you still don’t want to use first-person, then I can’t really say anything, it’s your choice. You can use second-person as Will did because changing POV should be the last thing you do.
Right, come back. Now with this type of story, it isn’t just the PC’s story anymore, because you decided to tell a bigger story (second-person now sounds more unsuitable). So make sure to choose the right time to switch perspective, when you do this you want the player to know the information which the PC can’t, those info should help them understand the big story you try to tell, to understand and sympathize with the character, to uncover the mystery which can be accessed only by a subjective perspective.
To summarize, changing perspective:
Pros: create a more objective feeling for the story when seeing many sides of the problem, removing the usual good and evil lines to help the story not go into the same path when it comes to moral issues.
Cons: some won’t be used to this type of writing, especially if they prefer the traditional linear storyline: the main character represents the good and defeat the evil; the story will be long and sometimes still difficult if the implementation is not good; It is easy to choose the wrong perspective, making the chapter redundant.

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Generally I’d say avoid it in a Choices-type game. Especially if it’s information the player character may or may not know, when it comes to making choices, you can’t give the player more information than they should know and expect them not to make choices based on that. On that same line, if you give the player extra information, then don’t let them act on it, why even give them that information?

I’m of the belief that while the story is important, what truly matters in these games is the choices. Choices based on the characters; who they know, and more importantly, what they know.

A limited perspective can be incredibly valuable in a game where the player has to make decisions. It’s not a traditional novel/short story or anything like that; the player doesn’t need to see every single thing that happens or know every single thing that happens.

If you’re dead set on somehow including the reader knowing about what others are thinking even in situations where the player character wasn’t present, use other characters to deliver snippets. For example, a member of Team A mentions to the player that they overheard something, or heard something through the grapevine, etc. That way, you can offer a small potential insight into the opposing side, but it’s ultimately up to the player to decide whether that information is something they can act on/make a decision on. It also has the advantage of feeling more real, as opposed to the reader magically knowing more than the player character does.

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The most organic way to fix this issue is to relax your constraints a little, so that the MC can be physically present/overhear conversation/ investigate scenes which tell a story.

For example, the could have a friend on team B, they can see the aftermath of a fight, etc.

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So, I’m presuming that this showing is something that you want the PLAYER to know, but not the CHARACTER, because if you want the character to know, that problem sort of solves itself.

1 - Make it abundantly clear there’s a scene/POV change right at the start. Start the scene with a bolded line informing the player of this. E.g.: Meanwhile, in Team B’s lockeroom. Don’t forget to also make it clear when you switch back.

2 - Use third person narration. Do not, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, use first person pronouns in this scene except in dialogue. No, not even then. “But what if-” Am I stuttering? NO!

Don’t bother trying to make it “natural”, or “organic”, or whatever word kids these days think is cool. You’re already using a narrative device that hinges on this being a narrative and there’s no way around that, so don’t try to wallpaper over it. Go for 100% clarity.

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I do this multiple times in my own game I’m writing. Not only that, but flashbacks within those scene’s as well, which was really fun to figure out.

Basically, like others have said, make it very abundantly clear when the change happens. I loke to bold, or italicize, or both! Then I just write the scene as if I’m writing any other scene. Technically it’s considered third person since the MC isn’t present, but really I just think of it as describing the scene how I normally write other people when the MC is there in the first place.

Some people don’t like seeing things their MC wouldn’t (as people have expressed in the replies) and that’s totally fine. For me though, I think of it as; it’s still a story. Sometimes for the cohesion or the oomf of the particular story you’re writing, those scenes need to exist.

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