Displaying locked/unavailable choices

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Displaying locked/unavailable choices

#1 Post by spacescientist » Fri May 31, 2019 8:53 am

My VN project is still in an early phase, but I've been spending time thinking about dealing with choices.

I will be making a point system which determines which choices are available to the player at certain points. I would like to let the player know if there are options they haven't unlocked (not enough points) but without spoiling what *exactly* they're about

How do you approach locked choices? Do you show them greyed out or not show them at all? Can you think of other options?

I was also thinking about maybe including small prompts like "You need to earn the character's trust" or something, to let the player know what they've missed, if they want to load a save or replay. Would this be too "beginner-friendly"?

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Re: Displaying locked/unavailable choices

#2 Post by Mutive » Fri May 31, 2019 3:51 pm

I think either approach can work and I've seen both used well. You can certainly show locked choices without completely spoiling them by having the terminology be vague (e.g. "do you want to go down the mysterious hallway" vs. "do you want to get lost in the dungeons and fight a skeleton"). And it's not usually necessary for the player to know there are other choices, either. It really depends on what you're trying to do/not do and how you ultimately want the gameplay experience to be.

e.g. Hatoful Boyfriend "locked" (and hid) the main storyline until a certain percentage of playthroughs had been completed then asked something like "do you want to honor the promise?" at the beginning once it was unlocked that and it worked out great. It made sense that it was hidden as it was super, super spoiler-y. But I've also seen dating sims where they have certain romance options greyed out until other arcs have been completed. This works, too, and can increase anticipation as the player knows other romance options are open once they've completed the current arc.

A final possibility (that I've seen work really well) is something like a lock beside the choice with a hover over option that explains what needs to be done to unlock it. This can be really great, especially if unlocking the choices isn't necessarily intuitive. (Since it can be frustrating to be like, "I want to go into that room! Why can't I???" just to do the hover over and realize that I need to go looking for a key.)

But again, the way in which this is structured depends a lot on the way the rest of the game is written and what you want the player experience to be. There's no "right" answer. :)
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Re: Displaying locked/unavailable choices

#3 Post by Katy133 » Tue Jun 04, 2019 10:21 pm

I recently made a visual novel (Eight Sweets) that includes 9 endings, with one of those endings being the good end. The good end can only be unlocked once the player has unlocked the other 8 endings (as the player gets scraps of information from each route that is needed to fully understand the good ending).

I wanted to hide the good end, but also hint at it, so at the end of each of the 8 bad ends, the player is shown the Ending List screen. This screen is 9 blank slots that get filled (with the name of each ending) only after the player unlocks each ending. There is also an empty box of chocolates next to this ending list, and every time an ending's unlocked, and new chocolate appears in the box. It is obvious that there's a space for 9 chocolates, but the centre chocolate's empty slot is gold-coloured, instead of grey (like the other 8). The important-looking gold slot is the good ending, so as the player slowly fills up the chocolate box with each playthrough, they start to wonder why they haven't found the gold one yet.

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Re: Displaying locked/unavailable choices

#4 Post by spacescientist » Fri Jun 07, 2019 5:12 am

Thank you for ideas and input!

My VN is a fan project and I want it to be player friendly even for players less familiar with VNs (like myself some time ago haha). It's kind of escape room-ish situation so it has a linear plot which mostly remains the same (if they want to succeed), basically the player has the option to choose how much "extra" they want to unlock in the form of romance or friendships. Unlocking all choices requires both high "storyline points" and high individual "affection points".

Based on your input I'm thinking about using a lock icon in place of a locked choice, maybe with a vague hint at what the option might be.

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