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Choices and the (sort of) Silent Protagonist

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Hey guys! I noticed I've really pretty much only spent my time in the "For Beginners" Section and thought it was time to branch out and try asking some more questions. I want to take more advantage of what the community offers so here's my first post in this section, hope it sparks some interesting ideas :]

II'm currently in the process of writing a short game as an exercise for my writing as well as my programming, seeing as my other game prototypes largely end up just being huge forests of code with no creative element to them. I've really enjoyed games that implement choice,moral-compass,branching paths,etc so I decided I would give it ago. However, the more I thought of it, and thought back to the games I've recently played, I reached a dilemma. A certain game I just finished triggered this in me....

[u][b]Illusion of Choice[/b][/u]
Recently I finished playing Corpse Party, and though I thoroughly enjoyed the game I have to admit that I felt cheated. Although I was given choices at key points throughout the game it did not feel like I was given true liberty. Although the choices did give me a different end, it wasn't a different branching path to an acceptable end. It was more like a more descriptive game over screen when I made a bad choice. I felt like I was being punished for doing things differently, and that I didn't really have a choice in the matter. In the end, there were really only two separate endings, and those depended solely on choices made at the last moment. All the other choices previously either let you continue the story, or insta-killed you.

This is in stark contrast to another game I've been playing lately,The Walking Dead. Even if I choose options detrimental to me, I don't feel like the game punished me. I feel like I made a choice, not necessarily bad but just different. I'm still able to play through even if I somehow manage to let all of my companions die. Episode 5 has yet to come out, so I cannot comment on how the endings play out, but I feel like I played a different game than my friend who played as well. I played differently, and got a different story,

So my question is:

"Is it realistic to implement separate paths for different choices, or should one just default to the bad-choice/good-choice scheme, and what effect could they possibly have on the player"

[u][b]Silent Protagonist[/b][/u]
This one kind of goes hand in hand with the previous one. Although the player is given choice in both of those games, and he has some influence over the personality of his character(much more so in the Walking Dead), the protagonist still has scripted dialogue. Games like Pokemon, Legend of Zelda, and Metroid(with the exception of Other M, but I'd rather not talk about that, I still have nightmares) have silent protagonists. In my opinion, this allows the player to connect on a deeper level with the character. He can imagine what he would say, and how he would react.

So my question here is:

"What are the differences in difficulty of implementation and effect on player between a scripted protagonist with choices vs a silent protagonist with choices."

I'm really curious what you guys have to say, these questions have been bouncing around in my head for a while, so I thought I'd throw them out there.

Thanks in advance! Your feedback is greatly appreciated :]

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A great designer once said that, "a game is a series of interesting choices". I would highly advise looking this person up and other design philosophies he has. I'll give you a hint to get you started: Google the quote. ;)

To me, I agree with the quote, that a game IS a series of interesting choices. What those choices you present to the player depend on current context. You can't just say something as simple as "they will be yes/no style questions" or that "there is only one right choice throughout the game". You need to mix it up, because a single path game is linear, and the only "fun" is on the linear path. The problem with a linear path (whilst great for story telling) I don't think it works well in games. The reason is that the path may not be obvious to the player, and thus it may be easy for the player to get stuck in dead-ends leading to frustration and shelfing of the game.

Not what you want!

However, there are situations where you may want a linear choice. For instance I played a game where one of the first choices you made was whether you joined the church or the thieves guild. IE: it's a simple "good/bad" choice. This was a linear choice depending if you wanted to be good or evil, but setup the entire rest of the game for lots of fun times (which involved multi-choice / multi-path decisions).

Note that it is perfectly fine to have a single path deviate into multiple paths and then return to a single ending. As in you may fix the start and end, but allow the player to choose the journey in between.

But do not lock yourself into the thought process of only one style. Design your decisions based on current situation within the game.

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