When to break up text with choice?

Hello! I’ve been looking at this forum for a while and made the decision to finally join it, mainly because of this question.

I’ve read other threads that talk about how they like games to start, whether that is in the midst of the action, or if the prefer a more gradual build up, but I’m curious about how soon do you think a choice should be introduced. Are ya’ll willing to read through pages before making a choice, or does that negatively impact your gameplay?

Personally, I really want to get to make a choice on the first page. If not, I might be okay with having the first choice be on the second page, but certainly no more than that.

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Do you feel like it helps you get immersed in the story faster?

Yes, I think I agree with that :thinking: — it really helps me get invested in the story if I can get down to making choices and seeing their consequences right away.

Otherwise I might just get bored waiting to get to the choices, especially if what I have to get through is pages of lore that doesn’t even immediately relate to our character and their story.

This is sort of odd as I can read regular books just fine :sweat_smile:, but when it comes to IF I want to get to the choices fast, at least at first — later in the story I can handle going for longer without choices, if the text is showing me the consequences of the decisions I’ve taken before.

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I totally get that! I think it’s that with IF you’re already anticipating the choices and the role you’re going to play in the story. But with books you’re just patiently following where the writer is going with the story and don’t mind a the scene being set up.

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personally i feel like having to read 1-3 pages between choices is ideal, but i understand that plot flow would be quite difficult. that being said, it also depends on the type of choice i get. if i get more “explanatory” choices (e.g: being given 4 choices and must choose all 4 choices to advance the plot), it would feel the same as just reading text without actual choices. sorry if this didnt make any sense :disappointed_relieved:

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honestly… it just depends.

like, if the first three pages are straight up background information, my eyes would blur up and my brain will literally just… exit the building.

if it’s full of action scenes, i can tolerate the first full pages but i want to be able to … interact and immerse.

so, basically, anything 3+ pages with no choices = suddenly feel like im in freshmen english class again

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You definitely make sense! If the choice is mainly for, like you said, explanatory device, then it doesn’t really feel like a choice that actually impacted the story or changed your character.

Yeah 3 pages would be death by exposition.

How do y’all feel about the choices that are more so dialogue options, being used to break up text? They might not have a huge impact on the story, but do you think they keep you feeling engaged?

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Absolutely! I love dialogue choices. For me, not every choice needs to drastically influence the plot, it’s enough to see some different text acknowledging your choice, to slightly change your MC’s relationship with another character or be perceived differently by them, alter personality stats, etc.

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If we’re talking about breaking up passages with choice sections, CoG guideline has it covered fairly nicely (once about 300~500 words, iirc?). However, if it’s about the first choice in the game, that’d depend on the story and a lot of contexts.

On fantasy stories, I’d like to get a good grasp on how the fantasy world works out before making the first choice. What should I expect, what can I do about it, and what outcome are possible. Then, the first choice. In another words, a bit of worldbuilding before the choice.

First choice on first page only works for me if the story already set the reading expectation. I’m not quite a fan of in-res media (or media in-res?) and a choice like “pick a path to steal the crystal from this museum” is better to me.

Diving deeper, I’d need info to base my decision on.

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It’s actually “in media res” lol

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In medias res. Accusative plural. (Sorry, Latin geek here!)

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Although they may not influence the plot, it’s always good to make all choices feel… choice-y. They don’t have to branch into 17 separate specific outcomes, but if I’m given a choice between three different dialogue options, what I’m going to expect from that choice is one of three things:

  • It’s going to help characterize the MC (ie, a snarky reply, a polite reply, or an aggressive reply)
  • It’s going to help shape my background (ie, someone asks where I’m from and I have three options to pick from- may not influence the plot, but it could set a variable that adds flavor later in the story somewhere, like maybe X character is also from Y place and has a brief scene with me based on that)
  • It’s going to lead to different miscellaneous information- like maybe I can ask about one of three things a character just told me
  • (bonus fourth thing) It’s funny. So maybe I’m talking to a particularly chatty character, and I have the option to say something, but my three choices are, “He-”, “Wh-”, and “Sh-” before they interrupt me again

One thing I will say re: breaking up text is that I very quickly go hazy-eyed when I see long paragraphs in COG games. If I have to scroll (or if I’m on mobile, if I have to scroll more than once), there’s a chance I’m going to skip to the bottom and ignore what’s been written or just give up.

And re: your initial question, like most people have said, it really depends on the story. A complete history of your world on the first page is going to turn me off, but if you start with an active scene (as opposed to a history book) that gradually introduces me to the concept of what you’re writing and that is broken up into easily parsed chunks, I’m fine to forgo a choice for a few pages, even more. Don’t feel like you have to jump right in and have a player start building their character right off the bat- you need to be able to set the tone for your story first so players can get a feel for what kind of choices they might want to make. Sometimes you can set the tone with a choice, other times it just doesn’t work for your setting.

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I really like all of the stuff you brought up, especially utilizing choices for humor! And I don’t think I ever really paid attention to it, but now I realize that formatting is like so many other things. When it’s good you don’t notice, but when it’s bad you definitely notice.

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