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Player decisions, rewards, and consequences

Posted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 5:55 am
by Roots
What I'm about to talk about is definitely something for the future (likely next year), but I wanted to bring it up anyway. In a lot of JRPGs, you're presented with different options in dialogues or courses of action you can take in sidequests. However, the outcome of your decision usually does little more than branch the dialogue in a slightly different path and really doesn't have any effect whatsoever on the outcome of the game. I'd like to avoid this, and make dialogue choices and sidequests have some meaning to them.

The system I propose is simple. The characters will have a small number of "prestige" traits that build up as their journey continues. For example: charisma, empathy, and negotiation. When the player is presented with different options to choose from that affect these traits, we display what trait(s) they increase. Throughout the rest of the game, we "unlock" different sidequests, treasures, etc. if the player meets the minimum requirements for the reward. Likewise, we may penalize the player by not having a high enough value for a trait.

This is pretty easy to implement in the game code today. What's a little less straightforward is where the player could see their traits, what information we want to give the player when they made a decision that affects a trait (e.g., do we want to say [charisma], [+charisma], or [+2 charisma] attached next to an option?), and if we want to inform a player when they access a part of the game that had a different outcome if they had different trait requirements.


The benefits of such a system:
  • Player's know their decisions in the game matters, and have an idea of what outcome their decisions will have
  • It adds replay value to Allacrost, since a player can choose a different path and experience new things that they didn't with the main storyline

The downsides:
  • Players have no way of knowing what trait requirements in the future are, so they can't choose outcomes that favor the rewards they desire
  • There could be some feelings of frustration with the system if a player "chooses poorly" and finds a number of sidequests and rewards are locked (some perhaps permanently)

Re: Player decisions, rewards, and consequences

Posted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 7:01 am
by Djinn_in_Tonic
Roots wrote:The system I propose is simple. The characters will have a small number of "prestige" traits that build up as their journey continues. For example: charisma, empathy, and negotiation. When the player is presented with different options to choose from that affect these traits, we display what trait(s) they increase. Throughout the rest of the game, we "unlock" different sidequests, treasures, etc. if the player meets the minimum requirements for the reward. Likewise, we may penalize the player by not having a high enough value for a trait.


While I enjoy such systems, I'm usually in favor of making quests have different options depending on the relative values of said numbers rather than hard values, and hiding the ACTUAL values from the player. I think this discourages min-maxing and lets the player make organic choice rather than simply choosing the choice that gets them the most points in their desired stat. It also removes the need to have a visible means to check these stats.

It also means that replay-ability may actually increase, as you might open up entirely new options you didn't even see the first time around.

Re: Player decisions, rewards, and consequences

Posted: Sun Sep 13, 2015 5:25 am
by Roots
Can you give some examples of what you mean here with regard to "relative values"? I sort of understand what you're talking about, but I'm having trouble visualizing how the concept would work. I still want players to be able to make informed choices about what would change if they select an action. I don't like being presented with different options and trying to read the mind of the game designer/writer/developer to try and figure out which is the "best" choice, if you will.

Re: Player decisions, rewards, and consequences

Posted: Sun Sep 13, 2015 10:47 am
by Atypikal_Arkitect
Considering this matter I too am leaning towards an organic approach. Going with an ethos of there's many paths in life, how about this:

  • Present multiple dialog options depending on the situation, and instead of using a hard measure, introduce success percentage to each option based on the characters corresponding trait for the dialog option.
  • Have it so that our dialogs have failure states but not terminal states e.g First dialog option fails, the player can then try another dialog option but the outcome is worse if they fail again.

This approach takes some measure in addressing some of the negatives you mentioned Roots as players wont be completely locked out of an approach. They can choose to focus on one trait, or they can make organic choices to which they still have the possibility of a reward.

In addition the idea could also be adjusted to make decisions more or less transparent (whether we show what trait it uses, whether success rates are visible, even if rewards are visible or not etc), success rates could be tailored to the situation, and rewards could be appropriate to the method chosen preserving the uniqueness of each "prestige" branch.

Please let me know what you think.

Re: Player decisions, rewards, and consequences

Posted: Sun Sep 13, 2015 3:48 pm
by Djinn_in_Tonic
Roots wrote:Can you give some examples of what you mean here with regard to "relative values"? I sort of understand what you're talking about, but I'm having trouble visualizing how the concept would work. I still want players to be able to make informed choices about what would change if they select an action. I don't like being presented with different options and trying to read the mind of the game designer/writer/developer to try and figure out which is the "best" choice, if you will.


So the thing I'm looking at is creating an axis for each quality: Honor, Trustworthiness, etc, with a mid-point as a baseline value. Decisions you make raise or lower these values in a way appropriate to the decision, but unknown to the player.

You may later encounter a criminal who heavily values trust, but doesn't care about honor. You might encounter one who values trust but prefers to deal with DISHONORABLE people because he likes to work with people like himself. You end up with a situation where players are playing an organic game, trying to figure out the people they're talking to and how best to approach those people.