Author Topic: Game Concept - Multiple Choices  (Read 3795 times)

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Merlandese

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Game Concept - Multiple Choices
« on: October 19, 2011, 06:53:54 PM »
You guys are the most advice-given-est advice givers I've ever had the pleasure of being advised by. So here's a question concerning games.

I've come across the concept that the best way to teach or to get a person to think about something is to ask them a question--usually their opinion. That momentary importance gets their gears turning, which leads to more mental exposure, which leads to more relevance.

I think that concept is a good one and could be transferred into game design to nurture storyline (if used sparingly). Rather than have the game tell your main character what's important, wouldn't the player feel more involved in the importance if they had a multiple choice question with no right or wrong answer?

As gamers, we all take our multiple choice moments seriously, and we usually think about consequences before deciding. That gamer urge could be taken advantage of. I believe that we analyze our in-game choices just a little more thoroughly than the story we're given.

Imagine your game has a villain that needs to be stopped. Also imagine that, as per the story you intend to tell, there is only one solution and one way of getting there--kill that villain. Simply reading character interaction about why that villain has to die may not be as engrossing as it could be. What if we asked the main character why the villain should be killed? If all options are solid, and the outcome is the same no matter the option, the game may have just provoked the player into giving the scenario more personal importance than before.

But, like I said, these options would have no winning or losing answer. If they did, players would choose based on the rewards they would get after answering, not what they thought was important. At least, IMO.

So here's the question: Would this lack of win/loss in a multi-branch situation annoy the player, or would they appreciate the extra involvement in the end?

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Re: Game Concept - Multiple Choices
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2011, 07:10:03 PM »
If I understand correctly, you mean that the player is given multiple options but the options don't affect the story and gameplay in any way dependent on choice? If so, it seems rather weird, and personally it would annoy me in truth, because it would be an unecessary choice that has no influence on the game itself. Like, by what you are saying, it's the game giving you the questions, not necessarily characters asking them, but just the game bringing them up as if it's inside the player's head in the game, right? That is a cool concept, but I still reckon that the fact that these choices aren't meant to impact the game in any way (eg. the game's story is the same linear one every time you play through, regardless of choice) would make them feel a bit wasted.

On another note, if the choices would alter the game's story development, character development or other elements, it's one of those features I really like. I especially like choices where you have to pick a side, and where both sides are somewhat equally serving a just cause. I like games where you have to make such choices, and where the villain is not defined. The villain could be several, dependent on whom you wish to side with.

If you have played games like the Dragon Age games and The Witcher II, you'll see that such an approach is generally very liked by the audience, but these games have choices through dialogue, so I don't think that's exactly what you describe in your post, but I still think you can see the relevance, no? Naturally, it's as selective as other games. jRPG lovers might not be a huge fan of these kinds and vice versa, but personally I like both of the styles. However, I must admit that story unfolding that bases on your choices that don't necessarily result in a way that you'd like is far more interesting than a linear story. This also results in great replay value!

All in all I'm not quite sure what you meant by this concept, so I just covered what I could've possibly interpret this as just to be safe!

o/

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Avarlie

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Re: Game Concept - Multiple Choices
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2011, 09:03:51 PM »
I think its pretty pointless if the choices made for battles don't affect the outcome. Something similar was implemented in 'the world ends with you' and once I figured out the dialogue didn't change no matter how bad your answer was I didn't really stop to think about the situation and ended up rushing though the options.

You could probably get away with having the same outcome if the dialogue changed a bit depending on you're answer that way its less pointless especially if that dialogue is witty. When your decision affects the outcome you're forced to think and it its definitely more fun eg Phoenix Wright series.

I do like 'multiple options that don't affect the story' when you're exploring and talking to NPC's and you can get different reactions from them depending on you're answers. Its also fun to trick people by giving the NPC's an unexpected response to the what seem correct answer.

Merlandese

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Re: Game Concept - Multiple Choices
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2011, 09:33:24 PM »
I played the game Catherine recently and it had some very interesting questions. They were all relevant to the mindset of the game and the interwoven theme; you really wanted to answer them honestly. Since the questions are so weighty, you feel like answering them in a way that will make you look good, then hope nothing ever comes of the question. It seemed like a very involving device. It appeared to have no effect on the game other than a "Karma" meter--if you side more towards law or chaos, both as neutral concepts morally.

The problem was that the Karma meter had an affect on many things, including how the main character reacted in cutscenes and which of nine endings you got. I shouldn't say this was a problem because it was really awesome, but after awhile I stopped thinking about the questions honestly and started thinking about them in terms of how I wanted my Karma meter to move.

But the creators, before the game was released, were adamant about how they wanted people to play through answering honestly and how they designed the narrative to flow depending on the actual mentality of the player. By giving us predictable outcomes with our questions--especially ones with visual cues--I feel like some of that intent was lost for the sake of justifying the "inconvenience" of asking a question. The questions, which at first were a guide into my own thought processes in that same situation, soon evolved into a way to steer my character to the outcome I hoped for.

It was less "where would I go at this fork in the road of my life" and more "if I don't like what my character gets in the left fork I'm going to reset my game and start from the last save point."


If I understand correctly, you mean that the player is given multiple options but the options don't affect the story and gameplay in any way dependent on choice? If so, it seems rather weird, and personally it would annoy me in truth, because it would be an unecessary choice that has no influence on the game itself.


I think that some games actually do have questions without results, they're just rare. None of those cases have annoyed me, though. I could see them being annoying if they were abundant, like in Blink's example. But maybe there's a way to insert them into a game that enhances the player's perception of the situation without informing them that their decision is, game-wise, useless.

If that could be done the effects of the moment might last, but, with all of the other interaction with the game afterward, the player may forget they were even asked a question--they may forget to expect an alteration from the question.

Does it seem possible that there's an appropriate usage of those questions and other possible elements that would actually engage the player more without affecting the game?

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« Last Edit: October 19, 2011, 09:37:48 PM by Merlandese »

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Re: Game Concept - Multiple Choices
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2011, 10:18:20 PM »
I think that questions would have more player involvement, and therefore be a magnet to the players. I suggest that the game has different ways to get to the same story.

EXAMPLE. So let's say the story is to Kill Hitler:

The player can choose between killing him and not. Most people would kill him because through the whole game, you've seen his atrocities and the sort, so, BAM! Dead. But what about the people who believe in a second chance? They choose not to kill him and they feel good. But THEN the frickin' party member that is their love interest or a crazy axe-murderer goes and kills Hitler since you didn't.

In the end, Hitler dies regardless of the choice, and the player is allowed to choose.

Merlandese

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Re: Game Concept - Multiple Choices
« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2011, 10:36:33 PM »
I think that questions would have more player involvement, and therefore be a magnet to the players. I suggest that the game has different ways to get to the same story.

EXAMPLE. So let's say the story is to Kill Hitler:

The player can choose between killing him and not. Most people would kill him because through the whole game, you've seen his atrocities and the sort, so, BAM! Dead. But what about the people who believe in a second chance? They choose not to kill him and they feel good. But THEN the frickin' party member that is their love interest or a crazy axe-murderer goes and kills Hitler since you didn't.

In the end, Hitler dies regardless of the choice, and the player is allowed to choose.

Different ways to the same story are fun, but I find it less dramatic. Wouldn't it have depleted from Reives' narrative if, at some point, one of the questions we answered determined who was turned into the wolf? Sure, the story would be more interactive, but when you played it you wouldn't be as involved in the touching story--you'd be deciding which person gets taken to Aeria and experimented on.

Likewise, with Rax's Let's Kill Hitler game, what if the importance wasn't on Hitler dying, but on the fact that the main character did it? Having an option to change that would go against the game's intention, but shouldn't the character be asked that question anyways? Shouldn't the question of whether or not he should kill Hitler be posed, then answered by the player in a way that feels involving yet keeps true to the author's intent?

So far it seems like this isn't a very realistic idea, but it feels like it ought to be.

mepwnn

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Re: Game Concept - Multiple Choices
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2011, 08:47:15 PM »
Player making choices that don't affect the outcome of the story? Sounds like LA Noire to me.
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Cef

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Re: Game Concept - Multiple Choices
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2011, 10:45:10 PM »
Well, to me, I would find it interesting if the gameplay had one ending, but multiple ways how the character's journey can be affected through choices; kind of like the concept of 'fixed time points' in Doctor Who in that a major event that can change lives and what not cannot be tampered with by anyone. Kind of like this:

Your party are in a town, and you have an option to leave before nightfall, or stay and rest. Either way, the town gets burned down by bandits, but if you stay, you have the option to fight the bandits and minimize the damage. But no matter how much you reset and try to prevent it, they find out that someone a character knew from the town was slain, causing a major impact in that character, influencing how they act for the rest of the game.

But for most of the game, your choices can affect some quests, sidequests and interactions with NPCs. Kind of like this:

You have a choice whether to kill a corrupt nobleman, imprison him or banish him and others like him from town. If you kill him, you prevent him from confessing his crimes, meaning the town won't let you in anymore because you are criminals. Imprison him, you'll get some hostile conversations, mainly from his supporters and family, but the rest are more or less ok with it, and the town stays more or less the same. Run him and the like out of town, the town would be less prosperous, meaning cheaper and weaker equips sold in the shops and what not, but more people are content, meaning higher chance of getting good advice or knowledge about the main quest that isn't available anywhere else. Each choice can affect how you play the game, and show some small, but lasting effects, mainly to your gameplay.


Different ways to the same story are fun, but I find it less dramatic. Wouldn't it have depleted from Reives' narrative if, at some point, one of the questions we answered determined who was turned into the wolf? Sure, the story would be more interactive, but when you played it you wouldn't be as involved in the touching story--you'd be deciding which person gets taken to Aeria and experimented on.

Likewise, with Rax's Let's Kill Hitler game, what if the importance wasn't on Hitler dying, but on the fact that the main character did it? Having an option to change that would go against the game's intention, but shouldn't the character be asked that question anyways? Shouldn't the question of whether or not he should kill Hitler be posed, then answered by the player in a way that feels involving yet keeps true to the author's intent?

So far it seems like this isn't a very realistic idea, but it feels like it ought to be.

You have a point there. Giving a choice whether to kill the final boss is somewhat anticlimactic, but giving the players a chance to choose a philosophy just before he kills the last boss would definitely have a larger impact on the audience.

To those who have played Phoenix Wright's second game through the end, I bet you all remember that dramatic choice you made that in the end did not influence the game's end, but was worded in such a way that it would have meant something permanent, life changing, and indicative of your own philosophy.  Most players remember that moment more than other moments in the game BECAUSE of that choice forced into them, forcing them to evaluate their own choices.

I believe more games have to have that choice, because the impact of it always makes you pause and think, 'Did I make the right choice then?'
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Merlandese

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Re: Game Concept - Multiple Choices
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2011, 12:44:14 PM »
You have a point there. Giving a choice whether to kill the final boss is somewhat anticlimactic, but giving the players a chance to choose a philosophy just before he kills the last boss would definitely have a larger impact on the audience.

To those who have played Phoenix Wright's second game through the end, I bet you all remember that dramatic choice you made that in the end did not influence the game's end, but was worded in such a way that it would have meant something permanent, life changing, and indicative of your own philosophy.  Most players remember that moment more than other moments in the game BECAUSE of that choice forced into them, forcing them to evaluate their own choices.

I believe more games have to have that choice, because the impact of it always makes you pause and think, 'Did I make the right choice then?'

Perfect! That Phoenix Wright example is exactly what I was hoping was possible! Thanks, Cef! :)

I think taking advantage of multiple choices as a thought-provoking mechanic rather than a story hinge or a win/loss moment could be a welcomed step forward in player involvement. Not that the others should be eliminated.

Cef

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Re: Game Concept - Multiple Choices
« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2011, 07:15:29 AM »
Well, the 'multiple choice' thing is the kind of mechanic that can be pulled off in various ways, but is vastly underused, IMO. Few games have really given me the kind of thrill that I get in Disgaea or Phoenix Wright in regards to choices to be honest, but for different reasons.

All the games of the Disgaea series have so many endings it's not even funny (well, to be honest, a LOT of their endings are HILARIOUS, but I digress), and the hidden content make replaying fun over and over again. The system they use lets you fully customize your army to your tastes, and the Item World is definitely fun, making this game the prime example, to me, of a game that utilizes multiple choices as a way to promote interactivity. MMORPGs are a more direct example of this, with fully customizable characters and actual companions instead of AI, but it also lacks a concrete story and timeline most of the time. Sure, you learn about the land, it's history and what your quest means, but it lacks a real story.

Phoenix Wright and all games in the Ace Attorney series, however, is very linear. You either win the case and advance the story, or you lose and the game ends, simple as that. Except it uses the multiple choice factor to add tension, drama and thought-provoking elements. The fact that you also get to play detective and exercise your logic makes it even more fun to play. Sure it's kind of boring to replay, but the first playthrough always makes you feel so involved with all of them, like you're a spectator in the court, except you can influence the player character's choices. This to me is a very good representation of what I meant by my first point, about choices used to make an impact on the player rather than the game.

...

Yeah, I'm rambling now, but I just wanted to add my two cents/yen/pesos/whatever your currency is.
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Re: Game Concept - Multiple Choices
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2011, 11:32:57 AM »
I played an RPGMaker2000 (or maybe 2003?) game called 'The Longing Ribbon,' and they actually did this... except not for serious things, just random conversations stuff. It was actually kind of fun. But then we had to start over, and it got kind of annoying. The start-over-annoyance probably wasn't really due to the choices, though, just all the dialogue.