CYOA different types

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DaFool
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CYOA different types

#1 Post by DaFool » Sat May 12, 2007 2:16 pm

I'm not quite sure where to put this, so it won't conflict with the more hardcore discussions regarding writing.

This topic has more to do with game metastructures, especially conventional VN-CYOAs (Visual Novel - Choose Your Own Adventure)where there are branching paths and multiple endings.

Of course there are many different ways to branch and loop, and each game's flowchart is different. There are also many different programming techniques to branch (points, etc.), but this discussion isn't regarding those.

I have identified the following CYOA types:

1.) RENAI: Girl-(or character)-dependent branching: Whether it's a point-based or flag system doesn't matter. Generally these types of games (the vast majority that we play and create) usually boil down to
A. End up with Girl A and Be Happy
B. Dissappoint Girl A and Be Sad
C. Not End up with anyone and Be Sad
(and multiple by the number of girls to get the number of endings). Of course it doesn't mean that there won't also be wacky, weird, and more story-centric endings added to the game, but this will be the gist of such games.

2.) MYSTERY: The Silent Maiden games and The Loyal Kinsman seem to define this new type. It's harder to be certain of a path since you go around in circles investigating, and then after you hit several clues, you pick a choice that will eventually lead to the Mystery Solved! true ending(s). In a way this is like the classic adventure game which is pretty linear in the actual story itself, it's just giving you the option of roaming around and gathering clues before triggering 'something' to proceed.

So far these are the only ones I have identified. There can be hybrids of these two techniques (for example, you need to solve a mystery to unlock a girl's ending, but that means you're already on her path).

My question, aren't there any other overall techniques to drive a visual novel other than choosing girls and solving mysteries? Or is that the extent of this literature? I may have classified things wrong, so help is appreciated.

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#2 Post by DaFool » Sat May 12, 2007 2:35 pm

3.) ALTERNATE VIEWPOINTS: Each path is a retelling from a different perspective that gives new insights. Examples of this game are Tomorrow and Wedding Vows. Many commercial and fan-made games incorporate this feature as well during sections of the story where an event happened.

4.) BAM! YOUR DEAD: Basically the cheapest way to make a kinetic novel into a CYOA. Choices along the way either lead to a GAME OVER or continue the story. Many games have at least one or several of these endings.

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#3 Post by monele » Sat May 12, 2007 2:57 pm

If you can, you might want to check out Gloria, the multiple-endings hentai game. The endings are usually very short, but there are quite a few unique differences. To begin with, you deal with your love life *and* your business life. While they're not totally unrelated (it's still a CYOA so it's still quite "closed", there can be a lot of combinations. The business endings happen to be the most various, in my opinion, since they can include the girl you ended with and even then vary depending on what else happened during the story.

But as I said, the low side of this is that it's *very* hard to play it with a clear goal in mind, since most things are *not* predictable... and endings are rarely very fulfilling since they're a few sentences long (the bonus being unique CGs).

Critical Point (again, hentai...) was rather unique too since depending on your choices, you would end up with totally different main paths. Not that there were actually a lot of these (2 or 3 I think) but that's nice for replay value.

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#4 Post by papillon » Sat May 12, 2007 6:58 pm

Unfortunately FH still isn't finished so I can't let you play it and discuss the effects of it. :)

The main branches are somewhat character-related - you will see me refer to 'The Jeremy Branch' or 'The Lucy Branch' but the PLOT is still the driving force, not "will you or won't you reach a happy romance with the character in question". There definitely isn't a neat structure of 'character good end, character bad end, no character end' like some romance-focused games have. And there isn't one true ending that resolves all issues (although this is debatable, I'm sure some people will insist that a couple of different possibilities are in fact the TRUE ending)

Think of an adventure game that doesn't have just one ending and that's more the right idea.

Critical Point as I remember it is a good example - you're more pushed by the plot than just "date girl" but there are many possible endings and many *successful* endings - there are legitimately different answers to the plot's questions.

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#5 Post by absinthe » Sat May 12, 2007 7:38 pm

Hey, good topic! :) I love discussing game structure... it's so fascinating to see and dissect the 'bones' of a game.

We had another thread on this a while back if you're interested -- here. Definitely worth looking at if you're pondering game structure.

I personally tend to favor relatively linear plots, with branches the loop back to the main plot line as appropriate. It's complex enough that it keeps me interested but not so much work that I feel overwhelmed. And I really enjoy putting in the little touches that make each variation feel unique.

You know, your initial example actually looks a lot like the "endings" section in my plot note files. I generally set up a quick outline like that while figuring out the various endings, although I almost never write them exactly as planned. Some get consolidated down, others need to be replaced because they're too similar to another, or don't make sense with the way the plot has moved... but it's still a really good planning tool.

I'd really like to write a game using the string of pearls structure eventually. Eidolon was supposed to be set up that way; you'd start out with access to the 'early evening' areas, then they'd be locked off and you'd get access to the 'evening' areas, and so on.

It ended up just not being particularly necessary... even the room-based navigation (there's a whole system in there, or at least a really pared down one) was overkill for the eventual needs of the game.

Maybe next time. :)
papillon wrote:Unfortunately FH still isn't finished so I can't let you play it and discuss the effects of it. :)
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#6 Post by Ignosco » Sun May 13, 2007 2:57 am

Maybe a 5th type could be a CYOA type game with only 1 ending - but different ways of getting to it? For example Abigail or Milk Swim.

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#7 Post by monele » Sun May 13, 2007 6:20 am

Figures of Happiness was also unusual. There were many "good" endings but also many "so, so" endings. And the topic is so philosophical that, as with papillon's game it seems, it was really up to the player to decide on which ending was the true ending.

It's sad not being able to discuss things further than this without being spoilery :/... Because concepts without examples doesn't get us far ^^;

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