01 August 2010


What happens at the end? What happens after that? What happens when we give up half way through? Should we even continue? Is it better to save one, or maybe the other?

Games are mostly linear. It's hard to be something other than a straight line. It's hard to change direction due to the virtually infinite choice that presents itself after a single choice is made. However, since much of this game is about experimenting with ideas for me, I'd like to add another tricky, complex puzzle to it all. I don't want a game with a specific line of sight. I want players to play the game knowing what they want to do in it, but as much as possible, I want to prevent myself from telling what it is that they want.

So many games have grand stories, arching through various sub-plots, sometimes splitting directions. It feels powerful to be able to make a choice somewhere. But many times the power of the choice is muddied and ultimately feels weak, pointless, slight loss or gain, or worse, no change at all.

Mass Effect had a big choice in it one of your party members would die, and you had to choose who. But in the end it felt contrived somehow, as though there was a third choice that could save both. In the end I chose to save the character who annoyed me the least. I killed off the person I never spoke to much anyway - all you really lost by the choice was later conversations, so I didn't have any attachment to the character as it was. Perhaps that's why it meant little to me besides some stats in my save file. 

It's certainly not easy to create attachment to a character and that is key for any decision to make an impact. Even if the only character involved is the protagonist. You need the player to be able to empathise with that entity (I would say person, but many games get you to play as a fox, or a monkey, or amorphous blob, so let's not categorise too much here). If there is no empathy, there is no point to any decision. 

So, here's what I'd like to do. I want as much decision as possible. I don't want to limit the player too much. Obviously the programming time behind this could become increasingly exponential, so I'll certainly have to cut off a number of choices. However, many choices are tied in to how you react towards people. A lot of the AI will be dealing with the mood and trust of all other characters. There will always be multiple ways to respond to characters and much in the vein of the original Fallout this could lead to closing off a lot of possible conversations and hence "missions". I'll go more into this later, and demo a bit of how it'll work out. 

At the moment I'm still very busy at work (as seen by my sporadic posting here) and so the game is slow to progress, but rest assured I haven't let it grind to a halt.

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