||[Jul. 11th, 2007|01:37 pm]
This idea was originally inspired by playing Hotel Dusk on the DS. Basically, during conversations in Hotel Dusk, you occasionally have choices between two things you can say, however, inevitably the choice is essentially between being a wanker and being a bastard. Presumably the justification for this is that that's the character you're playing and that if his character was different, then it would change the story.
So what if it did?
Well, I say description... Describing things isn't really something I'm good at. Examples however, I like. I'll probably be describing a lot of my ideas here purely with examples.
For this idea I'll take as an example a situation that occurs near the start of Dreamfall. You get a phone call from your ex, asking to meet with you and get a choice to accept or decline. Now this kind of situation always bugs me, because I don't feel I have enough information to make the character's choice. Do they still get on well? Is this a strange thing for him to ask her? Does she want to see him? has it been a long time since she heard from him? I don't know!
Maybe most people don't find this a problem, but I imagine the sort of people who do role-playing and such would probably share my view on this. Okay, so it doesn't really affect the game, but it's going to bug the hell out of me later if later on in the game when I look back, that's going to have been a really out of character thing to have done.
So what's the solution? Obviously we can't provide the player with the entire history of the relationship before posing the question, so the question is, how do we fix this? and my answer would be to reverse things. Instead of asking the player for an answer that depends on the situation, have a situation that depends on the answer, thus retroactively writing the back story.
If you accept, then maybe they just went out for a few weeks and decided they were better off as friends. If you decline, then maybe they went out for a year, got engaged and then she found out he'd been cheating on her.
That's a very finite example; I think most things should depend on a combination of multiple things. For example, say there's a necklace on the desk in your room and you examine it, which brings up the following dialog:
> ...the necklace my ex got me in Venice)
- ...my Grandmother's old necklace)
- ...an old necklace I got from somewhere or other)
Normally in games when a branch in the story occurs, it tends to by very much "when choice X occurred, if you chose A then this happens, if you chose B then this happens". Clearly, that's not happening here. The choice doesn't affect a single value in different ways, but different values (and possibly multiple different values) in different ways.
Also, the effect the choice has may itself depend on other choices, made before and possibly even afterwards. For example, if later on you choose to wear that necklace and your ex gave it to you, then that suggests that you still have a vaguely positive relationship with your ex.
But what if its already been established through other choices that the relationship didn't end well? Maybe the option to wear it wouldn't appear. It's certainly an option, and I think that later options changing or disappearing based on your choices is certainly something that should be used, however it could also be that wearing the necklace would boost your "still has feelings for her ex" value, or your "values looks over emotional significance" value. Maybe even the decision of which of those two values the choice boosts depends on further actions you make later on.
I think flashbacks would work really well with this, just to emphasise the way that the player's choices effect the entire story. And of course with this mechanic in place, it actually makes sense for you to be able to control your actions in flashbacks!
There's a few other things I could say about this idea and how to present certain things, but mostly they can be summarised by "you've played Fahrenheit, right?".