Getting Branchy With It

I continued work on the new encounter today, focusing mainly on a new branch. And as this one involves a conversation, more branching ensued:

IMAGE( I might need some emergency exits in this one.

As you can see, we're starting to get more complex. A lot of today's work is in the lower right quadrant of the image above. The player can detour into a conversation, and that conversation branches.

And branches.
And branches---and branches.
\---------------and branches.

This is sort of the ideal structure I picture in my head when I'm writing conversations. I have this vain hope that the player can have this natural conversation that progresses down new and interesting topics, rather than recycling the same conversation "hub" over and over. In other words, there is no way to see all branches in the same game.

The up-side here is that it could make conversations interesting and almost strategic. Planning what to say next is almost as important as surviving on the map.

The down side is, well, I have to do a crapload of work to make it happen. That, and some completionists will probably be upset about missing content in a playthrough :)

Anyway, I'm going to try and make this thing happen. So far, I'm on a pretty good roll. This new character's personality is pretty clear in my head, so I'm having an easier time writing them.

In other news, I made a slight adjustment to the battle screen this morning. A player suggested that I mirror the battle move icon that the AI just used on the battle screen. This way, when they charge/retreat/talk, the arrows and actions point in a more logical direction relative to the player. Simple change with big benefits. I like it!

Also, I noticed a bug that prevented dropping a wheelless shopping cart in battle, so I fixed that.

That about wraps-up Tuesday! Hope everyone has a good night, and see you tomorrow!


Waladil's picture

You mentioned completionists being upset about missing content -- from my perspective as a minor completionist, the main importance is that one choice not give distinctly /more/ content or rewards than other choices.

For example, when given a choice between exploring a dungeon and NOT exploring the same dungeon (simply skipping the entire encounter), I will choose to explore the dungeon every time. It seems to me to be poor game design (and time management) to put work into options that a rational player will discard out of hand.

So basically what I'm saying is that as long as there are multiple ways to go about these conversations that are not obviously suboptimal, I'm happy.

Dragoonseal's picture

Na na na na na na na nana!
Na na na na nana!

dcfedor's picture

@Waladil, I see what you're saying, but I disagree on one point. I think it's important to have "suboptimal" outcomes and the possibility of failure. Without failure, it's hard to feel like one succeeded.

Think about combat, as an example that already exists. There are definitely choices one makes in combat that can lead to less reward and content. Indeed, a string of bad choices can end the game entirely, leading to substantially less content than if one survived.

That said, it's always nice if the "fail" path is just as entertaining or interesting. And even better if it doesn't feel like a "fail" at all, but rather just a "different" path.

I like seeing everything there is to see in a game, so I guess I could call myself at least a partial completionist. However, I value game worlds that respond to my actions with consequences more than I value seeing everything. E.g. If I befriend Hatter, it's nice to know that I did so based on good choices and role-playing, and not because he was destined to become my friend no matter what.

@Dragoonseal, lol, that totally went over my head until I looked up and remembered the title :)

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Waladil's picture

I mean options that are inherently worse in every way. This would be the equivalent of including a choice in combat that reads "stab yourself in the leg" which does nothing but take a turn and cut your leg. Or the famous Pendant from Dark Souls, which does literally nothing (And Dark Souls is a game famous for hating its players, which should say something about it).

More related to the current point is that I'd ask that there be no situation where you can "surrender to police" or "flee from police" where surrendering will, 100% of the time, result in the player being arrested and thrown into jail forever (Game Over), and fleeing will, 100% of the time, result in the player escaping. Because on subsequent playthroughs, or on the first playthrough by a player armed with wiki knowledge, that situation becomes a non-option. There is no real choice because obviously the player prefers to keep playing and will flee. A way to work around this and prevent it becoming a non-option is if both branches have different skill checks and probabilities (an Athletic character is more likely to successfully flee, and a Hacker/Electrician might be able to break out of lockup, etc), so that in each playthrough one has to consider his/her current position to decide the best move.

So my problem is not with "possibility of failure" but with "options with a guarantee of failure."

And it sounds like you're building things closer to the way I prefer anyway, so... keep it up, I guess?