What are the worst kinds of choices?

What kind of choices do you always hate to see in a choice based game?

In forcing three choices at every point, the Choice Of label games are pretty good at avoiding binary morality choices like you see in RPG videogames. The KICK PUPPY/SAVE ORPHAN style options where you make one choice at the beginning of the game then roleplay it throughout.


I don’t like the Save person A / Save person B. Especially when it’s about two NPCs who I don’t really care about.

I should clarify that I don’t mind if I can’t save everyone, but at least I want to have an option to try to save everyone and fail. If that makes any sense.


That makes some sense- but then do you think its okay to have some choices which always end in failure?


Yes, usually choices that always end in failure serve another purpose or are related to a theme of the story.
And it can also be nice to have different ways of failing, as they say it’s not the destiny but the journey what matters.


For me probably the hardest choices are the choices involving rejection. In some games in the choice of games library the npcs will make a romantic gesture or move on your character, and I’ve found that often you’re faced with three choices “yes to romance” “maybe to romance” and “screw off”

I find it difficult to deal with seeing as sometimes you still want to be friendly with a character even if you don’t want to be THAT friendly with them. That having been said it’s true that there are numerous novels that don’t have these choices


I have one. You have two friends and you can only save one. No matter what you do someone is going to die. Or an even better example Hawke and Alistair in Dragon Age 3. If Alistair went with you into the fade you had to choose which one would stay behind and die. I chose Hawke and to see her about to fight to her death was one the saddest things I’ve ever seen. “Safe harbors Isabella.” This line still hurts my heart just thinking about it.

Needless to say I quit and changed my choices in the Dragon Age Keep and started over. I usually have Alistair as the King and only made him a Warden so I could see him again. But this made me change it back and lose all progress up to this point.


They’re missing “be friendly” option, don’t you think? :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

And sometimes, someone asks you (or drop some hints) whether you love them or not, and the best answer you can think of to not ruin your friendship is “I just want to be friends.”
:laughing: :sweat_smile: :sob:


I know! It makes me feel bad. A friendly let down would be nice


Choices that don’t really have any significance. CYOA is a genre which highlights decision making accompanied with its effects. If nothing happens after making a choice, where’s the fun in that?


I tend to take most of the choices in IF games in stride, given that they’re reflective of the author and their creative desires, but the particular choice that irks me the most is, without fail, the choice that appears to operate on a different continuity to other choices that you’re given, despite giving the appearance of doing so.

For example, say you’ve been having an affair with your boss’ spouse, and the boss eventually finds out in the climax, at which point you’re given the option to attempt to murder your boss to be with your lover or admit to your boss the relationship you’ve been clandestinely engaging in under your boss’ nose. If you happen to pick option two, then your boss has a moment of empathy and allows the two of you to be together forever in love, turning a blind eye as you drive off into the sunset with your beloved, whom clearly loves you very much.

However, if you were to pick option one, your attack in the name of your beloved is cut short by said beloved attacking you first, revealing that they were never in love with you and only pretended to do so to test your loyalty/infiltrate the workings of the workplace, etc., clearly demonstrating a different continuity and different set of feelings and experiences to their second option counterpart.

I dislike these kinds of choices because it gives me the distinct impression that the world I am guiding my character through is, in fact, a fictional creation; not to say that not including these types of choices sucks me in to the point that I am unable to distinguish between real and fake, obviously, but in the manner of storytelling and even IF to an extent, time and consequences are often linear and directed in a particular way.

If put into the role of the protagonist wherein I am not given the privilege of seeing the consequences of different actions that I am given as a reader, I would admittedly never know a difference in continuity; option one, if picked, would always have been the case, and the same would be true for option two wherein the spouse always loved me and never pretended to for a ploy. But as a reader, it often feels incredibly cheap when I see such diverting paths that apparently happened along the same series of events, almost as if I was set up for failure in a way.

If all of the available choices led to the revelation that the spouse never loved me, then I would find that perfectly acceptable, and I would feel exactly the same if all of the available choices led to the revelation that the spouse did, in fact, love me all along. The choice that bothers me the most is the one that highlights such starkly different continuities in what is supposed to be an immersive story.


In general I agree with you: choices should all have some sort of reward for the player. But I think insignificant choices can sometimes be justified. For instance, to break up large sections of text, rather than having a page break. Or for comedic reasons, like this example in Monkey Island 2:


Honestly if you want choice of morality. It helps to know about philosophical ethical secular arguments as well theological one. Imagine if you’re making an ethical Choice from the principle of the greatest happiness, categorical imperative or Aristotle’s virtue ethics maybe even Christian ethics in acting within the image of Christ. You would literally be surprised how much dimensional weight you add to a decision.

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That doesn’t bother me, actually, and I like that you brought this idea up.

I tend to think of each playthrough as having its own distinct reality. I would think it was cool to have a basic fact about the world change in the interest of creating a more interesting narrative.

For a petty example, a comic game that changes where someone is in the interest of creating a funny mix-up. It breaks multi-game continuity and that is a cost for some people, but you gain narrative flexibility.

Maybe it’s a genre thing. Maybe in comedy you can bend the reality a little bit to create coincidence more than in a more serious genre. It’s worth thinking about!


I suspect it is somewhat a genre thing…I’ve noticed that often, the most emphatic complaints about CS games come up when a title doesn’t match players’ genre expectations:

“I was expecting a hard sci-fi, but there was too much detecting and not enough talking about the science and world.” “I was expecting a superhero game, but there’s too much social justice and not enough beating things.” “I was expecting a native folk story, but there’s too much of culture B’s social mores and not enough of the native Culture A’s.”

So maybe carefully setting up expectations is at least part of making a IF world make sense—whether that world is consistent or shifts drastically across play-throughs.

You know, in a comedy, it might even be possible to lampshade the changes by checking for achievements. That could be fun:

“Wait, you’re supposed to be in the abandoned factory!”

“What? Don’t be silly; why would I be over there? I’ve been working on this carousel all day.”

“But you—”

“Never mind! Onwards!”


I dislike choices with too little information. Or ones that are worded in a misleading way.

Sometimes, when you’re reading a story, you’ll be thrown into this world that you barely know- sure, the author may know ever detail and intricacy of the world’s politics, or social structure, or what have you, but you, the reader, often have no clue from the get-go what the situation is- until you learn about it.

And while some situations are clear- say, you’re running for your life from someone who wants to kill you, and, for the heck of it, say you’re running with someone. Well, yes, if you ask me if I want to escape then my answer would obviously be ‘yes, I do!’ I may have no idea why I’m running, I may not yet know what (or who) I’m running from, I don’t even know who I’m running with, but the basic situation is clear enough that I know what’s most important in that moment. If you give me the choice to fight for my life or continue running, well, then that’s fine, I know I’m in danger, I know enough to get what is happening and I can act in a way that the character I’m reading as would.

But there are times when, instead of being asked for fight or flight- or something else suiting the amount of knowledge the reader has access to- you’re asked about your opinion of the person next to you, and wether or not you should trip them and let them be killed. Well, why would I? I don’t know them! Am I supposed to know them? Why would this character even be having these thoughts? Is this a viable option for them?

So say you chose not to, because you don’t know who this person is and killing a random stranger who seems to be escaping with you is… a little much for your very first choice in this world.

Then, once you get out, you find out that this character is a mass murderer who had also killed your family and is now free to wreak havoc among the innocent townspeople that had imprisoned the both of you. Now they’re going to burn down this town and frame you for their deeds because you decided to not let them be caught and tried for murder.

Well, now, that might have changed the player’s first decision a bit if they had known, wouldn’t it?

While that’s a bit of an extreme example, I think that a tamer, and much more common, example would be asking for the player’s side from the get-go in a war or battle of some kind- or, heck, even just a casual debate about some matter that later becomes important to the plot. Without any information- the player can’t exactly make an informed decision. It becomes a shrug and “I guess this one works” choice than an actual choice. And one that they run the risk of regretting later on, even though they didn’t have enough information to make the decision they would actually want beforehand.

Sometimes you can play with these, admittedly. But only if the story is supposed to play with these, if the main character themself is supposed to be clueless or misguided before coming to an ultimate, dramatic reveal that they were wrong all along. Or if choices are meant to be misguiding because they’re presented by a character who wants to misguide the protagonist to their own end-goals. But then it becomes different- it becomes purposeful, it serves a point.

Choices that lack information or are misguiding without a purpose, however?

Those irk me.


What would you think about a question that asks you about a person you just met, with very little context, whether you like that person, or whether you loathe them, or whether you had once had a steamy romance with them?

And then, the story bore that out, showing you why you liked them so much, or why you seduced them, et cetera. So the direction of the choice and narrative goes in an unusual direction–instead of narrative giving you information so you can then make a choice, you make a choice that tells the game what narrative you want.

Is that a context-free type of choice that would be interesting to you, if done well, and sparingly? Or would that bug you?


I mean I suppose it depends, like most things, but in general I’d say that’s a fine question.

From what it sounds like, you’re actually asking the player to define what they know about this person- whether they knew them as a friend, an enemy, or an ex-lover. Which you can’t really give the player information on how they know this person if that’s specifically what you’re asking.

So I would say that a ‘how did this happen’ question can be provided with little to no context, because then it’s actually the player defining which information they receive. What’s usually more of a pitfall is when you’re making an action as consequence of previously unknown information, but not so much with choices that define what that information is and have less to do with consequence…

If that makes any sense? :sweat_smile:


I don’t like it when you have an illusion of choice, when only one of the options is the correct one, like option A kills you while option B let’s you live


HaHahaha, yes! I feel like that’s my problem with most of the official CoGs. They’re like “you literally just met this person. Do you want to romance them?” That, or they’ll tell you how you feel about certain characters.


ones where the mc dies and you can just blaze back through the game and pick a different choice.