Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Designing a game for Twine

I have been thinking about CYOA games recently, and thought I would share my ideas. Obviously, this is just my opinion.

Traditional IF tends to revolve around puzzles, and I am not sure how well that can be done in a CYOA, where it is relatively easy to try every possibility and see what works. I think that what a CYOA does best is to allow a story to evolve in a way that the player can influence the outcome. That means you need a variety of meaningful outcomes (the character dying is not a meaningful outcome, no matter how bizarre it happened).

On the subject of meaningful, you also need the choices presented to the player to be meaningful. If it is clear that A is the right choice and B the wrong choice, why bother giving the option of B? If choosing A and B both take the player to the same place, why bother with the choice? Okay, sometimes choices will be like this, but you should aim to minimise them.

On the other hand, you do not want to have each thread leading to its own meaningful outcome. If the player goes through six pages, with two choices on each page, you need 32 outcomes (assuming no recombination or pruning). Good luck making all of them meaningful!

The solution is to have threads converge at chokepoints. To make the choices before a chokepoint meaningful, your game needs to remember which pages the player has visited and to be able to react to that later on.

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