Should you be allowed to Rollback after decisions?

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Sapphi
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Re: Should you be allowed to Rollback after decisions?

#16 Post by Sapphi » Fri Nov 12, 2010 2:13 pm

In general, I'm a save-reload type of person, but I also don't have a lot of experience playing VN's. I understand the argument for rollback, and I agree with it in theory, but my personal experience has been that rolling back makes the game feel cheap. While I'm apt to do it if I realize the choice is going to lead to an immediate bad end (But why would you do this? Another topic entirely, but I hate when games do this...) or something, I still feel a little like I'm "cheating" the system. And feeling like that tends to make me take the game and its story less seriously, which is never good.

For some reason, save-reload, while it's essentially the same thing as rolling back, feels more legitimate to me. Perhaps it's because it's a way of changing your decision outside of the story's world and then going back to it, rather than while you're still "in" the story world. If that makes any sense...

As I said, this is really just my personal feeling about it and I understand that logically, save/reload is really the same thing as rollback. But, even after all that, people (including me) do accidentally make a choice sometimes and need to fix it. And I probably wouldn't disable the feature anyway, just because it leaves a bad taste in so many player's mouths, and you shouldn't aggravate your audience too much ^_^;
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Re: Should you be allowed to Rollback after decisions?

#17 Post by Tsuki-chan » Fri Nov 12, 2010 2:20 pm

- Firstly, it's not true of all "professionally released commercial games", since I'm pretty sure some of Jack Norton's games allow it at the very least.
By 'professionally released', I was referring to games not created by indie studios. And, I also specifically said 'games that I'VE played', not ALL of them.

In any case, I wasn't saying that they should base their decision on whether or not other games allowed it; I was simply making an observation.

As for how it takes away from the experience, I am simply of the opinion that you should be bound by a decision once you make it. Yes, you can go back if you saved, but other than that, I believe that you should have to follow through with the choice you made, just like in any other game. It's more...realistic. You are, after all, supposed to be the character the story is following. They wouldn't be able to just go back and change their mind on a whim...XP

It is definitely less challenging than strategic saving.

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Re: Should you be allowed to Rollback after decisions?

#18 Post by Jake » Fri Nov 12, 2010 2:40 pm

Tsuki-chan wrote: By 'professionally released', I was referring to games not created by indie studios.
If an indie studio makes a living from publishing indie games (as I believe Jack Norton and Papillon do, at least), they are by definition 'professional'. What you perhaps meant was "high-budget".

(And again, I get the impression that a lot of Japanese VN developers are 'indie's in the real sense of the word, certainly releases like Tsukihime count as such.)
Tsuki-chan wrote: As for how it takes away from the experience, I am simply of the opinion that you should be bound by a decision once you make it. Yes, you can go back if you saved, but other than that, I believe that you should have to follow through with the choice you made, just like in any other game. It's more...realistic.
One perfectly valid use of rollback, which make occasional use of myself, is to rollback mistakes. If I'm clicking an extra time to make the text complete 'cause I read faster than the developer's default setting, then sometimes I'll click one more time than necessary on short lines and I'll accidentally dismiss the line and click a menu option on the next screen by accident. Which isn't realistic at all, and rollback makes it more like real-life where I would have been able to make an actual decision.

Another use of rollback which I would personally consider perfectly valid is to get around the game creator being a nutcase. Which is to say, a lot of the time the choices presented aren't actually what I meant - if I get a choice between "say X" and "say Y" and what I want to do is "be honest with this person", I have to make a guess which of the options is the "honest" one. Too often I've been playing a VN and made such a choice only to find that while X looked like the more honest thing on the menu, it's actually the "lie and be condescending" option, and while Y didn't look likely to lead to an honest conversation, that's what it was. So is that also "more realistic", not being able to even make the choice you wanted to make because you're not psychic?

If you bar rollback, all you will do is make the hypothetical rolling-back-choices player save before every choice instead of relying on rollback. It has exactly the same effect, the only difference is that you're forcing the player's immersion to be broken every single time a choice comes up rather than allowing them to play the way they want to. Players who like to stick to their decisions will stick to their decisions anyway, even if rollback is there.


Ultimately, you're taking your player aside and saying to them "you are not enjoying this piece of fiction properly. Stop reading it the way you want to and read it this way instead, because that's the way I want you to read it". It's not far off the idea of a movie director insisting that the 'pause' button is disabled while the DVD of his movie is playing, because he wants people to enjoy his movie the way he thinks is best, their bladders be damned.


I'm with Papillon and others - if you don't want me to rollback, then stop writing such simplistic stories and branches that I can tell within a few lines whether I've picked the 'right' choice or not. Or make movies which are gripping enough that I want to keep watching even though I need a pee.
Tsuki-chan wrote: It is definitely less challenging than strategic saving.
Do you consider the idea of 'saving the game before every choice' challenging? It seems pretty straightforward to me.

Disabling rollback and leaving saves isn't "making people stick to their decisions", it's "making a certain subset of players frustrated by your game on purpose". IF you want to make people stick to their decisions, then delete just-loaded saves and quit on save so that people can't keep going back to the same save to try different things, turn the load/save system into a 'suspend my game' system.
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Re: Should you be allowed to Rollback after decisions?

#19 Post by chensterrain » Fri Nov 12, 2010 4:39 pm

To be honest, though, I don't really see how frustrating it can possibly be not being able to roll back choices (not being able to roll back at all I can understand, as I frequently click too quickly and enjoy being able to see what I missed without having to look through a text log), bearing in mind as far as I'm aware, Ren'py seems to be the only VN engine that even offers the feature and the vast majority of VNs don't allow you to roll back choices anyway. Obviously this isn't a reason for blocking rollback at choices, but if practically every game you've ever played doesn't allow you to take back your choices, why should it be particularly frustrating if a game made in Ren'py doesn't let you? :/ Just because the feature is there, doesn't mean you necessarily have to use it if you personally feel it's detrimental to the gameplay.

Making choices less obvious is fair enough, and I think in a pure VN with rollback enabled at choices that would definitely be the best way to go, but in games with multitudes of choices I don't think it's as valid an option - I know I'd be pissed if I got to the end of a dating-sim / simulation type game choosing options I thought were correct and getting little or no feedback to the contrary only to find out that I'd been playing the whole thing wrong, with no idea what I actually should have done.

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Re: Should you be allowed to Rollback after decisions?

#20 Post by Aleema » Fri Nov 12, 2010 5:42 pm

I don't think Re:Alistair let you rollback, and at first, I was "Fffff why not??" but it really didn't bother me. I made the choice, and the game was short enough to try it again. And if I really cared, I would save.

In the TokiMemo games (girl's side is my only experience) you have to answer a question every date, and saving/reloading in that instance was so. cruel. I hated it. Partly because the save/reload reprocess itself was excruciating. It took ten clicks, wading out the rest of the date or restarting the DS/PS2. But part of the frustration was that I could barely understand what I was saying, so it was pure chance I pissed off the guy, so it was inevitable I would restart. But if there was a rollback feature, I would be less angry. Because that was every damn time you went on a date. Which was often. Re:Alistair was, like, two choices per path? No biggie.

I wouldn't want the choices removed from TKMGS, however. That's what makes it a game. And what keeps this from just being a made-to-order book that you just select what ending you want in the beginning.

If there are a LOT of choices, blocking rollback will irritate me. If it's clear what a choice does, then not so much. If it's just really vague, like "try mystery potion A or B" -- the "choice" here is just random and shouldn't be punished. It's not like a Choose Your Own Adventure book burst into flames if you accidentally went down the wrong hallway and died. You always had your finger on the page you jumped from, just in case you did.

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Re: Should you be allowed to Rollback after decisions?

#21 Post by Jake » Sat Nov 13, 2010 9:26 am

chensterrain wrote: if practically every game you've ever played doesn't allow you to take back your choices, why should it be particularly frustrating if a game made in Ren'py doesn't let you?
I've never driven to work without any other cars on the road, but I still find it frustrating when I get stuck in traffic. If I have to go stop playing, go out of the game and save periodically and then stop playing, go out of the game and load whenever a choice doesn't turn out to mean what I thought it meant at the menu, or whenever I accidentally click a menu option I didn't mean to, it's frustrating on its own.

I got frustrated by the Shira Oka demo, IIRC, because someone started talking to me while I was playing it, and I turned away to talk to them at a menu - and when I turned back, the menu had apparently timed out and selected the bad default option for me. It's using a different engine and doesn't have rollback, but that doesn't stop it being frustrating that I now have to put up with a choice I didn't want to make or load a save from a while ago and re-play a chunk of the game.

Since I know Ren'Py has this feature, if I got into that situation with a Ren'Py game and found rollback had been disabled, I would be just as frustrated as I would be with the director who'd insisted I couldn't pause the DVD of his movie to go to the loo. I can see the argument, I just don't think it's a strong enough argument to take away from the user a tool which is basically there for them to use for their convenience.
chensterrain wrote: Making choices less obvious is fair enough, and I think in a pure VN with rollback enabled at choices that would definitely be the best way to go, but in games with multitudes of choices I don't think it's as valid an option - I know I'd be pissed if I got to the end of a dating-sim / simulation type game choosing options I thought were correct and getting little or no feedback to the contrary only to find out that I'd been playing the whole thing wrong, with no idea what I actually should have done.
"Less obvious choices" doesn't mean "no feedback" at all. It can mean a choice between "make the girl happy in the short term but annoyed in the long term" and "make the girl annoyed right now but realise in the long term you were acting in her best interests", it can mean the choice between "get in-game money but annoy character X" and "keep character X happy but don't get so much in-game money", it can mean "maybe make the character really happy in the future" versus "make the character a bit happy now", or it can even just mean "don't get any feedback until a couple of choices later, but with enough leeway that you can adjust and form an overall strategy if you can work out the patterns".

The comparison is with a lot of today's EVNs, where the choices often come down to "do the right thing" or "do the wrong thing", and it's often pretty obvious immediately after the choice whether you got it right or not.

"No feedback" is definitely bad, regardless of the number of choices. But "instant and precise feedback" takes away from the 'realism' and 'immersion' aspect far more, in my opinion, than being able to rollback and choose different options.




And to be honest, I was answering earlier presuming a traditional VN presentation, since that's what the OP mentioned. If you're talking about something which is at least as much 'game' as 'novel' (e.g. the traditional dating-sim or management game) then there's a much stronger argument for disabling rollback, IMO. Nobody would play pong if they could reverse time and ensure they always positioned their paddle in the absolute most-perfect position to return the ball in as difficult-to-return a trajectory as possible, it would turn into a test of patience rather than skill!
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Re: Should you be allowed to Rollback after decisions?

#22 Post by Jo'ogn » Sun Nov 14, 2010 2:46 pm

And then it's called 'game' for a reason. The writer of an VN who disables rollback might assume that their game/story is 'so good' that rolling back would ultimately ruin the immersion?! What do I ~play~ a ~game~ for then? Often enough so-called 'choices' lead into dead-ends. Even 'professional' Adventures have (absurd and random) 'death traps'.

Sometimes it's obvious what is going to happen, so I take the 'wrong' answer only to (playfully) see how the game responds. As game designers/writers are not always very creative, it's almost mandatory to roll back and take the choice 'one was supposed to take', to reach the end. Even professional games like "Kana ~imouto~" are about 90% repetition if one was going for all endings. I want to see that person who not even once skipped to get to the next 'choice'.

So the writer who disables 'rollback' should consequently also disable 'skipping' o_o;
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Re: Should you be allowed to Rollback after decisions?

#23 Post by broken_angel » Sun Nov 14, 2010 11:56 pm

I'm a very casual gamer, so perhaps my opinion shouldn't be taken to heart, but...

Personally, I am really, really bad at making decisions in games, especially dating sims, because I just don't understand people, in real life or otherwise. Being as socially awkward as I am, my ideas of right and wrong when it comes to what to say are generally completely different from the average user...and so I end up always making the wrong choices and pissing people off. It's inevitable.

Thus, I try to make the relationship-based choices in my games fairly simple and easy to figure out (partially because I prefer it that way; partially because, like I said, I just don't understand people well enough to make them more complex).

That being said, I was ecstatic when I discovered the rollback feature. I played several VNs before I knew about it and, of course, got bad endings (unless there was a walkthrough to get a good ending). I'm the kind of person who only plays a game once (IF I even finish it), so I would often walk away from the game feeling annoyed and unsatisfied because I got a bad ending. When I found out you could rollback and re-do choices, though, VNs (I'm thinking specifically of Jack Norton's games, which tell you immediately after the choice whether you raised or lowered the love interest's affection) became so much more fulfilling! Now I get annoyed whenever I find a game that has it disabled, and since I only do one run-through and then delete the game, it seems silly to do a bunch of saving...I never, ever save during a VN. If I do, I usually end up quitting and never coming back to it.

So, in my opinion, you shouldn't disable rollback. If people don't want to use it, they don't have to, but keep the option there for those of us who need and prefer it.

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Re: Should you be allowed to Rollback after decisions?

#24 Post by sake-bento » Mon Nov 15, 2010 12:31 am

Aleema wrote:I don't think Re:Alistair let you rollback, and at first, I was "Fffff why not??" but it really didn't bother me. I made the choice, and the game was short enough to try it again. And if I really cared, I would save.
Most of the rollback blocking was because overlays like the date box started doing really really weird things when rollback was on.

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Re: Should you be allowed to Rollback after decisions?

#25 Post by kinougames » Tue Nov 16, 2010 3:07 am

Absolutely not. Force them to save repeatedly if they are that worried about it, and go back later. Yes, there should be a -way- to redo choices, but I feel like rollback is kind of a bit of a cheap way. Just have them save, and do it over. However, allow them to rollback partially, perhaps until the last choice they made, or without being able to redo the choice.
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Re: Should you be allowed to Rollback after decisions?

#26 Post by Jo'ogn » Sat Nov 20, 2010 10:29 am

kinougames wrote:Force them to save repeatedly
Now it would be really interesting to see a statistic with a high(!) number (like some 10 to 100 thousands of ppl asked) on how many of them decided to stop playing games that forcefully and 'intentionally' annoyed them, and how many felt 'masochistic' enough to continue (oftentimes inexperienced computer users, who do not know that games/programs can be made more convenient). Versus how many players felt that 'constraint' was exactly what they wanted?!

This statistic of course should focus on different game genre (like we are talking about VNs here) and not confuse challenge (like intentionally playing a shooter on "difficult" vs. "auto-walk-though-mode") with effective 'shortcomings'.
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Re: Should you be allowed to Rollback after decisions?

#27 Post by Tsuki-chan » Sun Nov 21, 2010 7:36 pm

I believe that, in some instances at least, the ability to rollback and change a decision truly and near inarguably does detract from the gameplay.
For instance, in Animamundi: Dark Alchemist, all of the choices or timed. If you could just rewind and choose a different option, that would completely negate the purpose of that feature.

This also applies to games that place a heavy emphasis on decision based character development.
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Re: Should you be allowed to Rollback after decisions?

#28 Post by Jake » Sun Nov 21, 2010 8:09 pm

Tsuki-chan wrote: all of the choices or timed
Personally, I think I'm unlikely to ever think timed choices are a good feature anyway, at least not in a reading-driven game. I mean - how exactly do you go about calibrating something like that for people's varying reading speeds? How do you cater for people getting distracted by something important while playing? I'm guessing such a game doesn't have a 'pause' either, since that would also defy the supposed point of timed choices...
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Re: Should you be allowed to Rollback after decisions?

#29 Post by Jo'ogn » Sun Nov 21, 2010 9:08 pm

Jake wrote:How do you cater for people getting distracted by something important while playing? I'm guessing such a game doesn't have a 'pause' either, since that would also defy the supposed point of timed choices...
Then you are not immersed enough :wink: Reminds me on what I read yesterday on Emily Short's Galatea Cheats and Walkthroughs. She uses Text-Adventure-Style though.
Emily Short wrote:I've said it over and over: I don't want people playing to particular endings. I want them to play the game and get whatever result comes naturally, because that is what the game is built for. It's a dispenser of stories, customized to the individual who is playing at the moment.

That's my vision as the author.

Players, however, seem to have a different idea: a lot of them want to see all the text, or at least all the endings. And I have to admit that, while I hate to provide helps to that end (as the author), I can also see their point (as a player of other games). Galatea is horribly Protean; her moods change and you don't always know exactly why; she responds differently to the same question at different times, and this makes it difficult to recover endings that one has already reached once. From my point of view as an author, these features were all desiderata, and I worked hard to produce them, in the name of realism and complexity and richness. From the point of view of the (re)player, they can get confusing after a while. And then there are some people who don't quite get the hang of how to play the game.
So the question might be: do I want to satisfy myself as a designer/writer, or the player? As artists (with no commercial strings attached) we might be more inclined to satisfy ourselves rather than the player. As I am both, I tend to avoid irritating myself as a player of my own games :wink: When all is said and done I cannot please each and every single human anyway.

~

Concerning "timed decisions". I appreciated the 'different' approach they took for "Fahrenheit" (Indigo Prophecy in the US iirc), what's actually an adventure game. You got a short 'warning' before the timed action scenes came. So a fair approach for Renpy games using timed sequences could be a paused step before them. i.e. the game would always stop at such points, telling the player that now his timed reaction is wanted.

Timing is one method for a game to analyse, or judge the player's skills. Granted, it's a bit off in reading-driven games. Esp. in VNs with small text windows that make me click a few hundred if not thousand times to advance. Eventually I resort to auto-forward or even skipping. Inevitably it requires the use of roll-back sooner or later. But again: did the author want me to skip through their 'immersing' story? If it ~is~ immersing, that is...
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Re: Should you be allowed to Rollback after decisions?

#30 Post by Jake » Mon Nov 22, 2010 3:54 am

Jo'ogn wrote: Then you are not immersed enough :wink:
I don't think I'll ever be immersed enough that I'll be able to ignore - say - someone calling from another room in an urgent voice asking for help, or my smoke alarm going off, or the sound of breaking glass, or...

Basically, it seems to me that some people create things like games and VNs with the goal to entertain the player (which is how I'd like it) and other people create things like games and VNs with the goal to defeat the player, as if the player were an adversary, leaving a chance for the player to enjoy the game but not going out of their way to make it easy - and timed choices IMO fall into this category. I've never really understood the American habit of talking about "beating" a game; here in the UK we talk about "finishing" it, instead, and I wonder if it's related.
Jo'ogn wrote: Timing is one method for a game to analyse, or judge the player's skills.
Why is a VN trying to judge my skills? Is it the goal of the VN to entertain me, as the goal of a book, movie or song is to entertain me, or is the VN trying to defeat me or test me and only allow me entry to the Important Bit - the satisfying endings - if it thinks I'm worthy? It's just personal preference, I'm sure, but I thought about it more last night, and I can't imagine a situation where I think a timed choice is definitely a good idea in a VN. I'm sure people who put them into their games think they're heightening tension or something, but honestly - if you can't do that with your writing, you're sure as hell not going to do it by annoying me.

I like to be made to think, and thus I find VNs with different endings that come about by reasonable decisions I can have some success predicting enjoyable... but ultimately, I'm reading, and I want to be entertained - if I have to fight the VN to make it entertain me, then I'll probably just say 'forget this rubbish' and find a book instead.
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