Would this choice be an unfair one to put in the game?


#1

So the general feeling I’ve been getting on this forum is that players tend to like it when:

  1. NPCs have things that are important to them that don’t revolve around the player
  2. Choices matter, and choices that are shown as important within the game universe have a large impact on the story
  3. PCs are not written to have points of view that steer the player in a particular direction without giving them any say in it (i.e. saying that the player character disagrees with another character and will fight them about it, despite that disagreement never being established through prior choices or plot-related things)

Going with that, in one of my games I want to make the player character able to do something at the end of the game that disagrees with an important character’s morals (and it will be well established what these morals are), and if the player character tries to make the important character join them in the action, the important character will essentially abandon the player character.

The entire premise of the game is built on the assumption of a bond between the two of you, so from a certain point of view, this can be seen as a “bad ending”. However, if your priorities changed over the course of the game, this will be seen as just a failure of an objective that was no longer important to you.

Do you think that this is a fair choice? I feel as though it probably is, because the fact that the character would disagree should be well established at this point in the game, but I have doubts because it’s not going to outright tell you that the disagreement will be that strong.


#2

I role-playing evil characters mostly, So please, please do so. If there is something I HATE is when writers shoehorned a character that I suppose I have to love and support and even have sex desires for it . 99% It is not the case. So If I don’t like you and you x character has nothing to do with me just go away before I kill you. It’s the Bethesda and Bioware way . But Don’t present it as a BAD ENDING GO HOME LOOSER Japanese virtual novels style. No it’s a good ending for you character who doesn’t like Npc. So a option who say finally I am free to choose my own path. And I want to do x would be great. Who decides what is good or bad is player choice.


#3

Absolutely fair. Reminds me of something that happens towards the end of Dragon Age Origins, as a matter of fact.

You can’t really control the player/reader’s mindscape throughout the story, but it is perfectly fair if you’ve outlined that this secondary character holds such and such values very dear to him. Even if the character goes through an arc of becoming a romantic interest or best friend, it is completely reasonable for a realistic person to turn against the MC if enough of their own values get broken by the MC.

In fact, it might be even more powerful if the two characters are close. Not only will the secondary character see their own moral compass and values broken by the actions of the MC, it is also seen as a betrayal on the part of a trusted friend.

Make realistic characters that have their own minds, own morals, own lives. That’s my advice in general to anyone.
A real person who sees a trusted friend go against everything they stand for might not turn against their friend, but will definitely abandon them in some regard. Same can be said for someone who really dislikes the MC but is forced to stick around by circumstance: it’ll be the straw that broke the camel’s back.


#4

I’m pretty sure I know what you’re talking about regarding DA:O and, come to think of it, what I’m talking about is a pretty similar scenario (in terms of character bond and the clearness of the NPC’s point of view).


#5

If presented to the reader/MC the correct way, it can be a powerful, even emotionally strong decision that works.

What I mean by this is: Assuming your game takes the MC on a long “journey of growth” that challenges the MC’s morals and allows the MC to evolve those morals, then if at the end of that journey (or any nexus) the “important character” and the MC have grown apart - then they should be able to part ways if the choice is presented.

If everything is well written, the ending does not have to be seen as a “bad” ending. It can be seen as a “powerful” ending. Choice of Robots endings were like this. It is part of what made that CoG title one of my favorites.


#6

That’s about what I’m aiming for. The premise does lend itself to the PC and the NPC to grow apart and for the PC to change as a person, so I thought that having the option to consciously reject the NPC’s point of view/to have a different opinion and have to accept the NPC’s reaction might allow a player to be more creative with character development.

Sorry that I’m vagueing pretty hard on the storyline, but I’ve posted a few different game ideas on this forum and I don’t want to make it obvious which one I’m talking about.


#7

Hello,

When you say unfair, do you mean to the characters, or to the player? It sounds like it might be unfair in the context of the story itself - for example, the choices are unfair to varying degrees to the characters depending on prior choices - but would make for a richer reading experience for the player. Your story doesn’t necessarily have to outright tell me beforehand how severe the disagreement will be, because part of the fun for me is the suspense before I find out. Whether or not I’ve guessed correctly, the ending might still be satisfying if it fits the story and choices that came before, even if it isn’t necessarily happy or fair. It’s not entirely about what I want as a reader (I like these characters and want them to have a happy ending), but what suits the characters best (the ending makes sense based on what I know about the characters and what happened to them). It’s more difficult to have that sort of detachment in CYOA games because the reader is, in part, a character. If any of this relates to the doubts you have about your story’s choices and fairness, I’d say don’t worry, because that doubt is what creates the suspense and makes the story more interesting to me.


#8

Just a tip @leo, but typically the WIPS tag is to discuss the concept of or showcase the writing of a new game.


#9

@leo
What would the MC and/or the player gain from choosing to do this thing unacceptable for their NPC friend? Unless there is something important that they couldn’t achieve otherwise, the choice wouldn’t seem unfair but simply between right and wrong.


#10

There are a lot of factors to consider, but I am reminded of Psy High. Where at the end, your childhood friend whom I had developed a relationship with, whined; promise me you won’t hurt anyone. Now, my main objective was power, but I really wanted it all. Being an honest person I said I couldn’t make any promises, and she broke up with me. In the end, nobody DID get hurt though and I got the power I sought, but it was all sullied by the fact that she took that little thing as a deal breaker and there was no opportunity to fix it after that, nor was the fact that NOBODY ACTUALLY GOT HURT a mitigating factor seemingly. That one dumb choice ruined my whole playthrough, and since the whole game is on rails I havent felt like replaying it either.
So be careful about putting choices like that at the end, where there’s no opportunities to repair the damage you’ve done just because your mindset is different from that of the author. It really sucks to have your whole playthrough ruined at the very end.


#11

That’s relationships for you. Sometimes an empty promise that you can make excuses for breaking later works better than openly telling your SO “no.” In this case, you told Al* that what they wanted was incompatible with what you wanted from the get-go - even if it turned out that nobody was killed, they’ll never believe that it was more than incidental to your goals. Because it was, you know.


#12

I totally agree with you. Love works that way in real life. People prefer being telling what they want to hear even it’s uncertain, or just a little lie to hear. Nope, no promises there’s a lot of possibilities that someone else dies. What you are saying is true, but a gf or bf doesn’t want hear the logical conclusion. They want an emotional response a hug and you telling them I would do anything for you. I promise. In fact, if you fail but they believe you tried normally you will be forgiven easily. However the guy who say nope even if finally ended doing whatever the lover wanted, they would be suspicious of just ended that way because chance. Not because they were truthful to the RO


#13

Whether or not it can be deemed realistic or not, you can’t exactly apply those standards to a game where one choice is final, as in real life you could potentially explain yourself and try to make amends. I figured if someone did die, then she would hate me since I promised nobody died and then they did. I didn’t know the circumstances I was entering into, so to just assume that I had all the answers, that’s just dumb. As for apologizing, that’s another option I wasn’t aware whether or not it might be available or not. If I did promise, then I would enter into an agreement to actively follow a path that A) may not be available and B) might jeopardize/nullify my own goal.

That kind of selfish stuff ought to go both ways then, and she should have done anything for me, that she ought to have had my back when it really mattered to me. The reality is there’s always going to be a taker and a giver in any relationship, the scales may tip sometimes but the roles tend to remain mostly the same, so if she was as selfish as you seem to think, good riddens in that case. We’re talking about the realization of my imaginary life goal here, that’s like standing in the way of someone’s dreams, all over some faceless rando’s that might at best get a paragraph describing their faceless deaths. Or the life of the baddies whom nobody in their right mind ought to care about either. I don’t even remember her being described as some spineless hippie as I certainly wouldn’t have picked her as my RO if so. But then again my choices as far as I remember were; girl-next-door/childhood friend, spoiled rich bitch and smoking criminal so eh.

In any case I didn’t tell her her wishes were incompatible with mine (or rather didn’t intend to), if deaths could be avoided then great and that’s what ended up happening, but I didn’t know that option was on the table until after it happened. When I picked that option, I saw it more as; I’ll do my best. Rather than; nope gonna go on a killing spree. So again, a matter of interpretation. There wasn’t really any way I could guarantee for certain that nobody died even if that had been my goal, and lying about it was to me; the jerkass choice. Because hey, you’re lying about your true intentions to your SO, that sounds like a scumbag move to me at least. I’d rather try to be a good person than having others just thinking I’m a good person.

You can justify it any way you want, but the fact of the matter is; it was just one stupid choice between happy best ending and screwed over at the last second and that ain’t okay in my book. It was basically the equivalent of a light switch for our relationship, on or off, only worded differently. Look at any rom com, the bump-in-the-road/complication doesn’t show up at the end, because if it did then, whoops a misunderstanding ruined our relationship, the end. Now granted that just might happen in real life, but there’s a reason fiction is called fiction (no mention of GoT).

My point being; make the choices clear, if there’s any ways to misunderstand the wording on a choice, then right at the end is where it would be the most important to consider and try to fix that as you don’t want your readers to feel cheated when they’re that close to the end. Instead of yes or no, how bout a maybe or a I’ll do my best. Sometimes you might not even need to write a new branch as it’s effectively the same as another choice, only worded differently.


#14

What I’m hearing is: “I want to always get my way and have everyone agree with me.” Al* apparently didn’t agree with even the possibility of people getting hurt - if that makes her spineless in your book, you’re entitled to your opinion. Likewise, it’s definitely possible (especially in games) to bust a relationship with one bad choice - look at Bioware all the time, and particularly the attempt at romancing Jack in Mass Effect 2. In a dating sim, you gotta date with your brain.

What Al* wanted from you was a little reassurance when everything was going to hell. You couldn’t give it to her. Maybe pick someone who’s a little harder-core.


#15

The same thing could be said about your imaginary girlfriend there, but apparently that’s besides the point somehow because what an Npc and in extension, the author arbitrarily wants is somehow more important than what the player wants because…? Why again? Am I not allowed to enjoy a game on my own premises? Should I be punished because I interpret a choice differently than what the author intended? It’s not the author playing and trying to enjoy the game, it’s me, the player.

I don’t see why you feel the need to try and belittle me for having an opinion because as you said it’s mine and yes I am entitled to have one, but keep it up and I’ll just ignore you.

Bioware can hardly be considered to do a good job on that front, where it’s basicly buy-my-love with items and quests, and just because Bioware makes the same mistakes doesn’t justify anything, it just means they make the same mistakes. As for dating sims, no it has nothing to do with intelligence and everything to do with how the creator of the game intended things, the game could just as well reward subjectively (well there isn’t any other kind) bad behavior if that is what the creator saw as right.

If I intended to reassure her, but through miscommunication with the author of the game picked a choice that did not, is it still my fault? If the button says ask but ends up axing someone to death, is that also my fault? When I promise something, I intend to keep that promise. I cannot promise something that is unsure and potentially out of my hands. A promise does not mean I’ll do what I can (to me), it means I WILL do it. Therein lies the discrepancy.

You cannot keep comparing it to real life, there’s just no comparing them. When you say something in a game, that’s it, you said it, no take backs, no explanations, no clarification, done. You read what the author wrote, interpret that as best you can, and then that’s it. UNLESS, the author does it right the first time around and try to mitigate any potential mishaps caused by miscommunication by either being careful about the wording, or potentially allowing a second choice to elaborate on the first one, not all the time mind, but when it matters it wouldn’t go amiss.


#16

I like NPCs to be detailed enough to feel “real”, but not too nichey or have too many irrelevant details that prevents them from serving their purpose. I like having meaningful choices, yet not being blocked from choosing things for no reason. I even like some choices that ask the MC how they feel/why they are acting even of it has no impact on the story because it helps set my character, but I don’t like having to choose how the MC looks because I rarely picture the MC, unless it’s a high fantasy mythical creature.

The choice is fair as long as it is well written and you don’t purposly make any ending seem like a bad ending.

I kind of agree with @MutonElite 's PIC because I play games for escapism, yet I also like enough realism for the story to be understandable. I don’t like being told I can’t play a game because I’m a woman and that’s not historically accurate ( yet dragons and monsters and magic are accurate). Most apocalypse games would end quickly in death if they were realistic and loud guns would attract zombies and kill someone faster. Less realism makes some games more fun as long as they’re plausible.


#17

I disagreed with some of the choices and consequences in the first Choice of Deathless; however, those are still the author’s to write. The author didn’t write those choices to punish my views - from what I’ve gathered on the forums so far, these games and their authors are trying to be as inclusive as possible, but writing and coding stories and choices places limits on what they can do, so some things have to be final for the story to move forward.

If the reader knew all the answers, there would be no need to read the story. Using COD as an example again - I don’t like some of the choices and consequences, but I can’t change them (nor do I want to, as I enjoy the resulting story). So I tried for other results and wrote additional scenarios based on the story. It sounds like you’re deeply attached to the character you’ve built - why not make a fanfic or code a game with that character and your own take on a similar situation? (Now I’m starting to wonder how many people on the forums have done or are doing that, making a game in response to another game.)


#18

Beg your pardon but you seem to have misunderstood the underlying implications behind both of those quotes. I’m not really sure how to word the first one any more clearly, so how about a comparison; Imagine that you enter a house, and is presented with the choice “Pick up money”. You do so, only for the previously unmentioned inhabitant of the house to barge in and scream “Thief!” Suddenly you’re a criminal, through no intent of your own, because of the discrepancy between the author’s intentions and what you interpreted the choice to mean. It had nothing to do with the creative freedom of the author other than the wording of the choices.

As for the second quote, I was responding to an assumption presented by another forumgoer regarding promising something that may or may not have been impossible, I did not wish for prescience, I was motivating my choice. As for the rest, nope and nope. I just tend to get worked up whenever I feel wronged.


#19

@MutonElite
I don’t think your example is a good one. Unless the setting is very unusual, for example the house is supposed to be abandoned, the player should know that picking up money in another person’s house is theft and getting caught would have bad consequences.


#20

Well if you have a better one, shoot. Nothing else comes to mind right at this moment.