Story Progression, Route choices, and 'free time'

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ChroniclerOfLegends
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Story Progression, Route choices, and 'free time'

#1 Post by ChroniclerOfLegends » Fri May 11, 2018 5:54 pm

Hello,

Since my question was about visual novels/ dating sims in general and not about Renpy specifically, I figured this was the appropriate place to ask.

While I have had an interest in programming for much of my life, I was introduced to visual novels/dating sims about 5 years ago and fell in love with them. Though I do not have enough play experience to know the best way of doing different things.

Currently in my game, I have a simple chapter select implemented. As you play through the game, more scenes are unlocked for you to play, depending on what scenes you have already viewed. When you finish a scene it goes back to the chapter select menu. I feel this kind of breaks immersion.

I wanted to improve this system, and make you still able to select what scene you want to play, but in a way that makes more sense to the story. After having played Danganronpa recently, I really like the idea of giving the player 'free time'.

Here is my idea:
My game has a main sci-fi storyline which is going to be mostly the same for every playthrough. It is also going to have side events with the romance-able characters like a dating sim. Not worrying about giving the player points to determine eligible routes or anything, just whoever the player spends the most time with and picks the right dialogue options.

My idea is for the main story to advance linearly, with breaks at appropriate moments for the player to have 'free time'. During this time the player is presented a menu to choose which event they would like to pursue. 'Spend time with x at the beach', 'Investigate rumor of strange creature with y', etc. Whichever love interest the player pursues the most will have an effect on the main story's ending.
They would not have a time limit to free time, basically they can view as many free-time scenes as they want/ have unlocked before choosing to advance the story. (require them to play through a minimum of 1 free time event). Free time events unlock as you play the main story or other free time events.

Just wanted to hear from some people with more play experience than me.
Does this sound like a good way to approach non-linear story progression? Or does it annoying/immersion breaking.
Any suggestions welcome.

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Re: Story Progression, Route choices, and 'free time'

#2 Post by gekiganwing » Sat May 12, 2018 9:41 am

Dangan Ronpa has been sitting in my backlog for a few years. I really should try it...
ChroniclerOfLegends wrote:
Fri May 11, 2018 5:54 pm
My game has a main sci-fi storyline which is going to be mostly the same for every playthrough. It is also going to have side events with the romance-able characters like a dating sim. Not worrying about giving the player points to determine eligible routes or anything, just whoever the player spends the most time with and picks the right dialogue options.
I read Sweet Fuse a few years ago and enjoyed nearly all of it. During the first few chapters of the story, the characters are stuck in a dangerous situation... but they have some down time. The protagonist gets to choose who she'll spend a few minutes with. Her action will improve her relationship with one of the potential love interests.

A couple years before that, I played the first Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side. The protagonist can schedule dates with potential love interests. When the characters go out together, it's a slight break from the week-by-week simulation gameplay. The characters have a brief conversation, and its degree of success or failure is usually determined by one or two choices. Successful dates will improve the protagonist's relationship with one of her potential love interests.

And a couple years before that, I played the two localized Summon Night: Swordcraft Story games. They're about 25% story and 75% action RPG gameplay. In between major events, the protagonist can meet with one of their allies and talk with them. I don't recall if this makes much of a difference, but I thought it was a fun extra.

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Re: Story Progression, Route choices, and 'free time'

#3 Post by SeventhStranger » Mon May 14, 2018 5:13 pm

This sounds exactly the way Danganronpa does it.
Though its not really a dating sim, it has a definitive "main story" that is the same every time, but gives many chances to have "free time" with the various characters. This allows you to get to know the character a little bit better, and you get a relationship point for each successful hangout. But IMO they could have made these moments a bit more in depth. They're pretty shallow as is.
In the most recent one, there are even special events you can unlock by doing certain things. These are a bit more fun as they sometimes include other people.

In any case, take a look at this game if you want to see how it flows. I feel it works pretty well.

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