I won’t let achievements be visible in the achievements page (until the player earns them) because I find they can be quite spoilery.
Locking options on personality stats. Like “you can’t try to lie now because in the first chapter you scored 51 in honesty stat”.
with stuff like this it’s in some way the writer’s job to provide a reasonable course of the scene, like ‘you try, but you’re really not good at it/you don’t feel well with it etc’
Exactly. I’m okay with reasonable failure when the required stat is too low, but the option to try shouldn’t be greyed out altogether based on MC’s personality stats.
For me, I get aggravated when the story screeches to a halt in order to play twenty questions about lore tidbits that really don’t provide anything to the story, so it honestly makes no sense that this time is even being put aside to talk about it.
Anymore, when a character informs my OC that, “I’m sure you have questions,” and then the next several choices are all just questions about the X, y and z of something that only tangentially even relates to the current matter my OC is dealing with, I usually just try and seek out the “nah, I actually don’t have questions” option. Or if the author decides to lock that off until I have asked every single thing (ALSO really annoying), then I just scroll through as fast as possible without actually reading anything.
There are stories which just have this information pop up in a little index tag that you can check whenever you get curious, and that’s just fine, because again, if it doesn’t immediately relate to the plot, I don’t see why I have to be informed right on the spot.
Y’know, I don’t mind these when they are part of the plot (I do them too, after all), but that’s the important part:
Be actually part of the plot. If there’s no reason the MC/player could/should be interested in getting the information, then it’s grating as anything
I find that regarding IF’s, there’s a tendency to give player choice way beyond the scope of the actual MC.
In some WIP’s for example the player is prompted to name their relatives and such and it always gives me pause because I know whatever I type won’t be anything beyond aesthetic. It’s helpful in terms of giving the player as much agency as possible to imagine the backgrounds of NPC’s related to them but I think my main gripe with a lot of these extra customization choices is how they can lead to some frankly really bland characterisation. It’s fantastic that practically anyone can technically project their backstory into an IF, but it really does show when that wasn’t actually “planned” and thus has no real story purpose.
Which is why it’s immersion breaking to me. I could very well imagine my MC’s family being Eastern European immigrants through choosing their names myself instead of being forced into the typical “Andrew” and “Joanne” or whatever. Yet when that name choice has no character impact –however minimal– I see through the facade, that although these characters are cosmetically “Andrei” and “Ioana”, they’re still “Andrew” and “Joanne” at their core. This example isn’t directed at any WIP or project in particular btw, I just made it up to illustrate what I meant. The solution for this to me is deliberate representation, I really like it when there are few but well-explored choices in those cases because it feels a lot more meaningful, and thus tangible.
Though at the end of the day I suppose it really does come down to preferences. I prefer reading interactive stories rather than interactive games, which is why I enjoy having that semblance of a pre-existing character, it really breathes air into the world for me. I think that’s why I’m so drawn to Ballad of Devil’s Creek @MeltingPenguins, because what you do offer in terms of customization is actually seamlessly woven into the narrative and the flavour text. Still, it remains a case-by-case complaint because although one could say an MC’s gender technically falls into my argument, I’d much rather be able to choose the MC’s pronouns than not lol. What really changes in this case is that gender choice is a character choice while choosing some other NPC’s name is beyond that scope as I said. Which is another reason it’s so jarring to me in some situations because it’s a switch from choices by the MC to choices by the omniscient narrator, or writer even which I can’t seem to get used to.
Except being able to name companion pets of course, love namin’ 'em after my very own good boy hehehe
I despise having a character who is forced into a very specific line of work (read: identity) that isn’t really relevant or even needed for the story to go ahead. If the story is about a rise from destitution, please do not make me a thief on the run or a shady car dealer just as a convenient aesthetics-only beginning, ESPECIALLY if my career has nothing to do with the rest of the story. I tend to write what I see as morally upright characters far more often than not, and this is just such a ridiculously out of character thing for my MCs to partake in. I understand this can be time consuming and fairly demanding, but even a choice of some purely aesthetic and unimportant careers to start with would be vastly preferred. Don’t write my characters’ choices for me!
*fake_choice # "I'll be finishing off this beer outside. Join me for a smoke if it pleases you." # "I'll be finishing off this beer outside. Join me if you like, but I don't want to have to smell any of your tobacco." # "I need a smoke. Drink if you like -- I never touch the stuff. Devil took my uncle at fifty five." # "I made an oath never to drink and never to smoke, but I'll happily gamble you under the table if you're looking to relax, buddy."
That takes care of drinking and smoking! You’d probably want a choice soon after about what kind of tobacco the MC partakes in.
As for height, you can compare height to Seán O’Brian. He’s a short guy so maybe you …
# Tower menacingly above him. You were so proud the day your daddy marked you above the six foot line at twelve years old. # Look down on him. You've never thought of yourself as tall, but you're certainly a cut above this kid. # Glare him down at eye level. He's a shorty. Never stopped you, and seems like it ain't stopping him.
Sorry, thank you, but no.
The matter of whether or not the mc drinks comes up before that. So no.
Second: this does not fit with my tone and style. There’s another thing I won’t do:
Change the style for the sake of a choice.
Three: Sean is 1,77m. I’d have to explicitely give the height (both in metric and feet) for that in text, whichm again, would go grossly against the flow and tone.
Four: the drink and smoke question are absolutely out of contiuity AND out of character. Another major nogo
Do what you like!
One other thing that bothers me in a lot of choice games are when all choices are given perfectly even weight, morally speaking. I think it’s folly to try to present a morally neutral world! Sometimes the right thing to do is the right thing to do. You can work with bad choices – and they can be fun – but I respect it when the game implicitly endorses a worldview. In fact, I think that a game that does not endorse a worldview is missing something important in the creation of art: a clear, pronounced authorial perspective.
All art has an authorial perspective. Why obfuscate it?
Things I won’t do in my writing:
Make the reader choose every single dialogue for MC.
Have a big blatant “customisation sequence.” I like my customisation blended so seamlessly that I wouldn’t even notice. A reason why because I “scroll-play” games first - scrolling to the bottom without reading the text and see if the choices alone can add up to a good narrative. 5 pages of customisation tend to ruin this flow.
Have “sarcastic” dialogue options that’s just MC being an a-hole to someone and not getting punished for it, especially a supposed authority figure and especially if the game set in a more “restrictive” society.
Have similar romances regardless of MC’s sex or sexuality, especially if the excuse is that the RO is bisexual. I’m bisexual. Doesn’t work like that. I get that we’re trying to keep everything “equal”, but it is nice to have your sex or sexuality openly acknowledged in a game.
“Gay people only exist if you choose to romance them.” No.
Why do players skip so much all the time
I mean… I explained why I do that. Very clearly explained it. The only time I don’t bother to read something is when it doesn’t serve any purpose to the plot - world building is all well and good, and I readily vouch for going the extra mile to make your story’s world seem real and expansive, but unless it’s somehow vital for my character to know the history of the kingdom from the first paving stone to the current day, I don’t see why I need to be reading about it. Just stick it in a glossary page for casual reference and get back to the plot.
Even though i never skip anything i honestly don’t really like questions built like that either, not that i care what the question is about but if questions are made like that it feels more like a task instead of a story.
But really @Fennik, why would you want to do that? You not only skip most of the story but you ALSO get spoilers of what is to come. I mean don’t you think it destroys the fun in reading the story?
It’s because I used to learn English through choice games and back then the choices were much easier to understand so I would skim read the “hard” text to read the choices. The habit is still there. After a while I noticed that it works well for me in sorting out which games have a good variety of well-meaning, well-placed choices (and choices don’t tend to be too spoilery, plus I don’t mind spoilers in the first place).
By well-meaning, I mean, choices that define MC’s character, reveal a part of an NPC’s personality through how MC chooses to interact with them, plot choices, action choices, etc. Every story has a bit of these, but the ones I really liked combine them well together. Well-placed is more of a world-building thing but it’s basically lore spoon-fed into choices. 5 pages customisation and ask lists usually ruin this flow.
Now I reread the games several times so the first read would be a slow, “conventional” one. If I really like it I’d pull it apart to see how and why it worked for me. If I really don’t like it I’d still pull it apart to see how and why it didn’t work for me.
My favourite game to test this is Choice of Rebels.
I meant no offense, i just didn’t understand why you would enjoy that. Anyways, have fun reading
I just started writing, but my experiences with this are sorta mixed. I try giving the character the choice to imply how they feel about actions. In example:
“You look out over the blackened husk of your home town, having been burned down in the raid. It stirs something in you, you feel…
~Upset. This place was my home, I’ll miss it.
~Angry. Those raiders are going to pay.
~Indifferent. This place never felt like home.
~Scared. The raiders have shown their strength.
~Tired. How much more loss must I take?”
And then based on their choice, I’ll go more in depth about how the emotion they chose affected them. I feel like it both helps them connect to the story, and sets the general tone for how their characters will react during dialogue.
Well, having a choice of emotions is good, but better if you can group it into an action, make the emotion a motivation and a mechanical function of the choice.
When its ‘just’ the emotion its like magnets on a fridge, sure they’re nice and they up there but why?
But if that magnet is holding up an important note, appointment, photo, etc… then your choice becomes a functional addition as opposed to simply being there.
Basically instead of just the existing emotion(the reader will handle that part) use stated emotions to accent and draw the player into a course of action. The resulting feeling behind an emotional reaction that has an effect on the world around the player is much more empowering than “How do you feel?”
In your example the only visceral answer with a reaction in mind is:
“Angry: those bandits are going to pay.”
That right there! is a Great possible story branch you could tie around a players anger and let the player support the emotional motivation of that answer going forward.
Hope this helps with your mixed experiences.