Which option should I go with?

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GreatestDownfall
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Which option should I go with?

#1 Post by GreatestDownfall » Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:42 pm

I'm thinking of writing a visual novel, and right now I'm in the pre-planning process. The story has a true route, but also have a few branching routes than can be unlocked later. I was thinking I could make the true route linear, without any choices at first, and then after the true route has been played through once, choices could be unlocked. The other option is to have the reader play through the first time with choices, leading to either the true ending or the bad ending. Again, the other choices won't be unlocked until you read the true ending.

Which one of these would you find more appealing and why?

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Re: Which option should I go with?

#2 Post by Asceai » Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:47 pm

Er, so in the former option, there is still a bad ending but it gets unlocked like the other endings? What is the narrative relation of the bad ending to the overall story?

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Re: Which option should I go with?

#3 Post by GreatestDownfall » Wed Apr 23, 2014 9:06 pm

Asceai wrote:Er, so in the former option, there is still a bad ending but it gets unlocked like the other endings? What is the narrative relation of the bad ending to the overall story?
Yes, the bad ending would still be there but have to be unlocked. The main thing is that the story would still have the same plot, but once you unlock the choices you can make changes to the story through those choices. It's still possible to get the true ending as long as you make the right decisions. Mainly, in the first option, the bad ending (or I guess more of a normal ending) would come into play if the player fails to meet the qualifications for a route.

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Re: Which option should I go with?

#4 Post by Shoko » Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:57 am

I'm not sure if I'd want to go back and see the other routes if the "true" one was the first. Kind of makes you wonder what's the point.

You could begin the true route with the protag making a decision and then they can return to unlock another choice, which branches into a new common route that would further divide into the unlocked routes. There's not much of a point in having choices in a path with no branching unless you want differing scenes for some situation.

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Re: Which option should I go with?

#5 Post by TrickWithAKnife » Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:44 pm

This idea would only hold appeal if it was woven into the story. For example, details being remembered incorrectly the first time, time travel, wishing "I wonder what would have happened had I done B instead of A", etc.
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Re: Which option should I go with?

#6 Post by Raithfyre » Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:12 pm

Generally, a "true" route is supposed to act as a sort of reward for completing all of the other side routes and such. I'm not really sure if there'd be anything to gain by putting that first.

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Re: Which option should I go with?

#7 Post by Katta » Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:13 pm

I dislike the idea of locking content in general, because I'm not a completionist and usually don't play a game until I finish every route possible, so that'd make your game a kinetic for me and I prefer games with choices. Also I agree with the people above, what's the point of replaying if you've already got a true route?

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Re: Which option should I go with?

#8 Post by trooper6 » Fri Apr 25, 2014 12:58 am

I like neither option because I fundamentally don't like the concept of "true" endings.
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Re: Which option should I go with?

#9 Post by Gear » Sat Apr 26, 2014 12:54 am

Not a big fan of "true" endings either, but even more importantly to me, I don't like the idea of making it Kinetic. I think people who like KNs play KNs. People who like VNs play VNs. While there are people who like both, I think it's going to be seen as a bit tedious for a VN player to play through an entire KN before being allowed to actually make choices. Only for those choices to be presented as less legitimate than the KN was. Can't say I'm a fan of that idea myself.
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Re: Which option should I go with?

#10 Post by GreatestDownfall » Sun May 04, 2014 12:51 am

Sorry, I was having trouble getting online. Thanks so much to everyone for replying! I guess it does make sense that readers going for a VN wouldn't like to read through a kinetic route in the beginning.

The idea behind the true route is that's the most natural way for the character to go and playing it first would be more recommended, while the other routes are less likely but also possible depending on choices. So I guess rather than being a real "true end", it's a natural end. The most likely way for the main character to go. With that in mind, would it play okay to let the other routes unlock, or would you as the reader prefer to just let all routes be available at once and just have a recommendation to try to get that route first?

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Re: Which option should I go with?

#11 Post by Angie » Sun May 04, 2014 1:15 am

Hmmm... I actually like the idea of going through true route first and then seeing choices appear... Although you should make the player aware of choices being displayed later. Don't mention it beign the truth ending, though.

Like, this story is about that, but I can change a few things.

If I understood correctly, beside bad ending there are gonna be good endings too? Because if not, I guess, it wouldn't be entertainig. I wouldn't like to realize all my choices can do is screw up things.
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Re: Which option should I go with?

#12 Post by GreatestDownfall » Sun May 04, 2014 1:34 am

Angie wrote:If I understood correctly, beside bad ending there are gonna be good endings too? Because if not, I guess, it wouldn't be entertainig. I wouldn't like to realize all my choices can do is screw up things.
Yes, the other routes would have different, individual good endings. I'm not sure if they'd have individual bad endings yet or if it'd just have one. Since it'll be my first solo project, I keep second-guessing myself about what is plausible for me to do.

The game will be a slice of life / coming-of-age story, but with the other routes it'd also be a dating game with possible friendship route(s?) too. Thus the sort of "true route" idea, which is the main character not really dating anyone but just working through things and then the other routes are where the protagonist decides to open up to the idea of romance.

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Re: Which option should I go with?

#13 Post by blankd » Sun May 04, 2014 2:12 am

As earlier said in the thread I think these options would work best if it's justified by the story somehow or the choices ended up leading into "what if" scenarios that play out more like bonuses.

Some examples where this feature could work well in a "serious" story:
-time travel the 1st route is merely the vanilla route and the other endings are trying to correct something that occurred in the vanilla route
-something to do with wishing (same as time travel, different genre mechanic/justification)
-a groundhog day scenario, technically this could be considered time travel but this has different implications and connotations than time travel
-the main character is actually different
-the main character isn't the player character but some divine force that was passive in the 1st playthrough but for whatever reason, active in the subsequent playthroughs
-etc.

Either way many of these story justifications don't actually lead to the actual ending of the game, so I suppose neither option is desirable.

If you are going to have dating elements I don't really see a point in locking off the ability for the player to have access to choices. Is there a reason you think your story justifies it? It is entirely possible to keep the "no LI/friendship" routes as well unless there is something in your story that would change this.

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Re: Which option should I go with?

#14 Post by GreatestDownfall » Sun May 04, 2014 4:10 am

blankd wrote:If you are going to have dating elements I don't really see a point in locking off the ability for the player to have access to choices. Is there a reason you think your story justifies it? It is entirely possible to keep the "no LI/friendship" routes as well unless there is something in your story that would change this.
The game isn't going to focus on the romance, but more on the growth of the protagonist. The independent route/"true route" is the biggest message I want to send in this game and I don't want it to feel like a loss compared to the more romantic routes. I want to let the reader know how important I feel it is. It's not about justifying it, but how I can properly present this to the reader in an enjoyable way. This is what I want to reader to see first and I'd like them to consider the other routes as a "what if" in which they urge the protagonist to maybe step out of her zone and rely on someone, maybe open herself up emotionally. It'll play all the same like natural ends of the story, but I'd prefer this one route to stand out a little more and not be cast aside like routes like that tend to be.

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Re: Which option should I go with?

#15 Post by blankd » Sun May 04, 2014 7:07 pm

GreatestDownfall wrote:The game isn't going to focus on the romance, but more on the growth of the protagonist. The independent route/"true route" is the biggest message I want to send in this game and I don't want it to feel like a loss compared to the more romantic routes. I want to let the reader know how important I feel it is. It's not about justifying it, but how I can properly present this to the reader in an enjoyable way. This is what I want to reader to see first and I'd like them to consider the other routes as a "what if" in which they urge the protagonist to maybe step out of her zone and rely on someone, maybe open herself up emotionally. It'll play all the same like natural ends of the story, but I'd prefer this one route to stand out a little more and not be cast aside like routes like that tend to be.
Since I don't know what your message is I can only speak generally so forgive me if this advice simply isn't feasible:

Most messages or ideas can be conveyed in multiple ideas, if you feel your message/idea is the most important thing your audience should take away from this I'd recommend figuring out how this can be conveyed in all of your routes (exempting the bad ends) even if it may be to lesser degrees.

My strongest reason for why I suggest you do this is because most will feel as though they are probably being preached to if you force them to go through a story where only get input on in repeat playthroughs.

IMO this would most sense if the VN is supposed to be an exercise in empathy or something about perception:
1. Player plays through the game unable to make choices, the character and their circumstances may be written so that the player feels they would "know better"
2. Player finishes the game and is informed they can now make choices
3. When these choices are made they may better understand why the character did NOT make those choices or why the character was hesitant to behave "unnaturally"

But even then it may not be conveyed since players may simply quit the game before they are allowed to make choices.

I feel it may help if you elaborate on what themes your story wants to touch on but I understand if you don't want to as it may be a twist in your story.

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