Last route unlocked only when other ones are finished

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Gambit74
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Last route unlocked only when other ones are finished

#1 Post by Gambit74 » Sat Jan 28, 2012 1:39 am

Not sure if this belongs here, but if not then please move it the right place accordingly, as I want to get as much of people's opinions on this as possible.

Personally, how do you guys feel about the idea that you have to play through every other route first in order to unlock the last one?

In my project, I am going to have four routes: The first three are those of the three heroines in the story while the last one is the main protagonist's own route. The routes are decided by who the protagonist chooses to follow for the rest of the story. Although the heroines' routes can be played in any order, completing them all is necessary in order to complete the protagonist's own route, as they provide hints and answers that are necessary for you (The reader) to use in order to help the protagonist resolve everything. Should the reader try to access the protagonist's route without finishing the others first, it will only result in a premature bad end that lectures the reader about averting their eyes to the crisis at hand.

I wanted to design my game this way because in my story, the protagonist needs to unveil the true identity of the thing that's haunting the small town where he and his family are called to. Since the protagonist will not be able to uncover information present in the other routes on his own without avoiding the death of someone, you as the player will need to proceed through those routes and get those information. Armed with the clues you've gotten by playing through those other routes, you will use them to guide the protagonist at the right place and at the right time in order to not only take him to where he needs to get his answers, but to avoid the consequences that resulted in the other routes because he was too late or too early to obtain such information.

I guess you can say it's sort of like what they did with 999, but not exactly the same. What I mean is,
the protagonist won't just magically know all the stuff he knew in the other three routes because of something supernatural,
the protagonist will find the answer to the mystery by you paving the road for him, using the hints given to you during the other routes.

And so I ask again. What are your opinions on this idea?
Nothing to see here, folks. For now, anyway...

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Re: Last route unlocked only when other ones are finished

#2 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Sat Jan 28, 2012 2:37 am

I'm not a huge fan of having one route locked until all the others are finished. It usually feels artificial and forced. And oddly I find a "true ending" that must be unlocked is usually not as good as the other routes, perhaps because it is more brief, or because few surprises are left.

I certainly like the idea of forcing a player to play several routes to discover the truth, but I think this is better handled by making each route like a puzzle piece. This requires the player to put the truth together themselves, with each different route providing different information or a new light on events until the player goes "AHA! I've figured it out!" I believe that makes for a much more powerful impact, since the player reached the conclusion on their own instead of being handed the answer simply for doggedly persisting through all the routes. If you perfectly construct all the routes, then the player will need each route's "puzzle piece" to figure out the truth. This also allows the player to play the routes in any order and still figure out the "truth" at the end of whatever was the last route they played.

Taking this approach also strengthens the individual routes instead of making them feel like a stepping stone to reach the true route. This means your game should be constructed like a well written mystery novel - which means if you've been giving good clues and foreshadowing the readers should be able to figure out the truth by themselves before turning that last page.

Of course, unlocking a final true route can be done. Papillon's Date Warp did this, but there it made thematic and tonal sense, as the story played with the conventions of time loops and alternate realities. Even there, however, I was getting a little exasperated by the time I unlocked the true ending, as by then I was on my 15th playthru of the game (12 endings to get, and I got a couple of them twice).

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Re: Last route unlocked only when other ones are finished

#3 Post by Gambit74 » Sat Jan 28, 2012 5:22 am

Yes, that's exactly what I'm doing with my story.

Each route presents the reader their own take of the events that transpires throughout the story, as they happen because of the available choices that the protagonist makes in order to obtain the information he needs. By going through these routes, the reader is given information about the heroine's past, their connection to the village, a possible suspect, and a glimpse of the true culprit's motives. The actions and events in a character route serves as hints for the reader to help the protagonist avoid consequences in his own route by doing and not doing certain things, as the protagonist would obviously have no idea of the tragedies that follow if he were to just make any random decision.

Also, funny how you've mentioned the whole puzzle piece thing, as my main character's thought process is based on jigsaw puzzles. It's how he views the world, as well as how he copes with his existence.
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Re: Last route unlocked only when other ones are finished

#4 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Sat Jan 28, 2012 5:53 am

Okay, I'm confused. So all these alternate routes are actually kind of . . . side bars? Prequels? Then the main story is actually one route that you must make the correct choices in to reach the ending? And the proper choices to make are revealed in the side bars? It sounds a little convoluted to me.

Or is it like Rashomon? Where you see the same event from different characters' points of view . . . and then you'd have the actual character primarily affected by the event be who you control on the "true" path . . . and then what? Avoid the mistakes you saw happen in the other routes? ???? :? Change the history we saw happen previously?

Are we going to be watching the protagonist die or fail in all these other routes, then do the opposite in the "true path"? It seems odd if that is the case, and potentially boring if we've already seen all the possible failure points. Not to mention there is a real danger of players developing a dislike of the protagonist before ever getting to play him after they see him screw up all the time.

Or are we going to be dying and screwing up with all the side characters, then not doing that with the main protagonist on the true route?

I don't know. I'm going to stop guessing, but it would really be helpful if you were more clear on what exactly is supposed to happen, because I'm obviously not getting it.

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Re: Last route unlocked only when other ones are finished

#5 Post by Gambit74 » Sat Jan 28, 2012 8:28 am

Sorry about that. I'll try to keep it brief without giving away too much then.

Basically it's like this. Each route proceeds differently from each other because they are supposed to depict the events that happen in the heroine of that route's point of view. But because the protagonist is there, he's changing the course of the story by making choices that only he would make, which causes certain events in that route to happen. Then these events leads to consequences, sort of like a cause and effect. As an example, think of it like in Higurashi where

Keichii always ends up dead because he does something wrong, like giving the doll to Rena instead of Mion, or killing Teppei and not confining to his friends about it. The only difference with my scenario and Higurashi's is that my protagonist doesn't die, but rather he fails to find the truth behind everything as well as saving the people that could've been saved.

The protagonist may be able to capture the culprit at the end of the route, but he will never know if the person is truly guilty, and he would have that lingering guilt where all the people who died were killed because of the choices he made during the character routes.

What makes each route important to the story is that they contain important information to solving the mystery; information that can only be obtained in that specific route other than the main protagonist's due to them being obtainable at only certain times or when certain events don't happen or happens at a different time than they did in the other routes (Which can range from discovering an old diary that could've been burnt but wasn't, to someone giving you all the details to a key incident because they didn't disappear before you learn that you need to know more about it). The conclusion of the routes also provides the reader a key to finding out who the true culprit by revealing a little bit of their motive at a time.

The reader is supposed to use all the information and hints they've learned in each route to create the safest path for the protagonist to take: a path where no one has to die and the mystery will be truly solved. If any of the characters in the story dies, then the protagonist won't be able to solve the case because then information he can only get from them would disappear. Because each route contains important story elements and clues, it would not make sense to let the reader go straight to the true end without knowing them first, even if they could somehow pick all the right choices.

So in other words, in this game all the characters play an important role. The heroines acts as a catalyst for the protagonist to obtain the information that both he and the reader will need to solve the mystery.

The idea I wanted to convey here is that the story is like a jigsaw puzzle that the reader is trying to assemble. Everyone involved in the story is a piece of that puzzle and they should not be discarded. If one of the pieces were to disappear (i.e they die), then the puzzle cannot be completed and it will lose its value. The differing events symbolizes the fact that pieces of the puzzle are being placed where they are not supposed to go, which will result in the puzzle being incompleteable at that rate.


EDIT: Actually, scratch my previous idea. I'm gonna try approaching it from another way that will both justify why the last route is last, as well as not compromising my goal with the project at the same time.

Instead of making each route their own version of reality, I'm gonna combine them all into a four part story. The first three story parts can be played in any order, and depending on the order you play them in as well as actions you take in them, the outcome of the fourth route as well as the story will vary, such as who the culprit will be and what ending you'll get. Though there are multiple culprits in the game, there is only one true mastermind behind the whole thing. I'm still debating on whether or not I should confirm who the mastermind is since I already know who I want it to be, but I know for sure I'll be leaving enough hints for the readers to make a good guess before the story's conclusion.
Nothing to see here, folks. For now, anyway...

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