[Same thing, putting this in Writing Workshop]
Alright, we've established that players (particularly veterans) hate Non-Standard Game Overs (NSGOs for brevity) in storygames. But while they are pretty much universally hated, they do serve a purpose. They build in a form of consequence.
You can't have the character's every action be consequence-proof, that if he jumps into shark infested waters with open wounds he'll either land on an previously unseen trampoline/be saved by an unmentioned passing pod of dolphins/have him learn telekinesis and fend off the attack. It just makes for very weak stories. Video games get to pull NSGOs without many grudges because it's a form of feedback that is accepted.
Now, there was a good article on game consequences by Ashton Saylor (thanks End for the reference), from which I'm quoting the highlights verbatim for this discussion.
To these I'll add my own ideas,
As I see it
My personal angle in this comes from a good deal of feedback I got on my story from players unhappy with the two early deaths (NSGOs) I'd built in (and accordingly rating the entire work lower, though in my eyes those deaths were more Aesops and so early - 3/4 pages in out of roughly 18 - that no meaningful death sequence/state could create a satisfactory ending for me or the reader), and me trying to figure out a better way to convey that a 1% probability is not a 0% probability. In my case, I think Respawning could have been a viable design option.
TL,DR : Ways to show consequence without triggering the NGSO gag-reflex players have
I'd love to have your thoughts on the matter, and thank you for reading.
Consequences of failure eh? This is quite a hard topic but I somewhat disagree with death. I know that some deaths in stories are very... surreal and make some weak games. However, if deaths are evenly distributed and well thought than maybe it could keep a player going. Deaths in a few games like End's Ground Zero are well crafted and despite being surreal, fits the sci-fi genre. Non-Standard Game Overs are also good for some genres like Horror and Fantasy as it invokes one's imagination. However, this is just my opinion and please correct me if i'm wrong as I may have mis-interpreted the meaning of Non-Standard Game Overs.
Losing items or all items feel really tedious and overused for me. Getting them back is a hassle especially if the story is horribly done. There are some exceptions like when it's really well thought out and makes you feel the glory when you get them back. There's always exceptions for everything. Another exception is some sort of barren wasteland or island adventure which are a little common but it's acceptable to lose items because of natural means. This is a good consequence to readers assuming it's not common (Looking at you Lone Wolf Internet series) and gives you a feeling of glory or accomplishment.
Losing companions? Not sure how I feel about this but it must require great character development for it to work. I feel only experienced writers or writers capable of expressing emotions should do this in their stories. I think the dog in your story game The Devourer had a tiny amount of character development but it didn't really stick out much for me. The dog had so short screentime and though possible to invoke emotion in a short time, the dog didn't have much character development and for me, had no flaws rather than the reckless type. No offense to your great story though, it was a great read.
Revival makes death pointless especially if the death was well thought out. Though it can give you another chance for glory, it feels like death has lost all it's meaning if this was too common. A good way to balance this is to maybe try making it a chance effect or make it only possible once in a story. Respawning is though a a good idea, too overused. This should only be used a few times per game and only if the story is really long.
Future consequences stick out the most to me. It's one of the few reasons why I read and play CYOAs. This is a thing I always want from a linear story. It's usually worth it even if it requires a lot of advanced scripting. Even the subtle differences can make a reader care more for the story. I think I read a story before called Magium or something of the sort and wow, each and every consequence are extremely subtle and the writer is really experienced at writing them with vivid imagery. As you just mentioned earlier, you can't pull two or more of these assuming it was really big. If it was a subtle difference than it would be alright to do that.
As always, thanks for listening to my rambles and opinions that may or may not help you.
Thanks for that, that was well thought. While all have their merits and demerits and areas where they're better and worse suited to, I suspect future consequences is the most important IF the character lives. A one time sacrifice / permanent impairment could also work (am considering changing Axe the dog's fate from guaranteed death to optionally savable if you amputate the affected limb in a later rework for the game), but again that leads to combinatorial explosion down the line (in my case, writing lines and meaningful interactions about the dog's alive/death status and areas where the dog adds value to the story).
I like the One time get out of jail free concept, a random save that only happens once in the story. Alternately, if we're getting systems driven here, I could see a 'luck' or a 'Leeroy Jenkins' skill wherein the character faces otherwise fatal challenges at a lower risk (though that could affect other stats adversely, such as intelligence).
I usually find losing items/everything a lot worse than dying.
I’m reminded of some of the older Grand Theft Auto games in this regard. In GTA if you get busted by the cops you lose all your ammo and guns and it was usually a pain in the ass to get them all back since you typically had to go out of your way to go buy everything all over again.
If you got wasted however, you just lost some money and you could just jump back into the action since you still had your weapons.
I was more likely to reload after getting busted rather than getting wasted since you just respawned at the hospital anyway.
Losing points usually doesn’t mean much though. Especially if they’re really easy to get back and don’t mean anything in game. It’s barely a consequence.
About the only 3 I ever use is Death, Fail to a different thread and Future consequences. Though future consequence is typically just a variation of failing to a different thread. The failure just isn’t immediately known.
Losing items is worse than dying if you're still alive, but sometimes you have to send the guy to death, and expect them to play better next time (permadeath as roguelikes call it). However, this usually makes sense where the player expects challenge from the get go (Darkest Dungeon, XCOM)
Another mechanic I've just remembered from the Dark Souls series is
Stat Impairment. In Dark Souls 2 the more often you die (fail), the more your base HP is reduced. The loss can be slightly reclaimed through one use items, but those items themselves are rare, finite, and fairly hard to find. I believe HP can fall to 50% of what you start the game with this way. In a different form, this can also capture loss of respect from a faction. This method would work in games with parametric skill checks.
There is a slight variation of “Death” that I guess doesn’t really have a proper name. I usually just call it “premature ending” nowadays.
This is where you don’t die (Or go insane, or something equally horrible) but the story just ends.
I usually use these to break up all the potential death endings especially if getting killed just wouldn’t make that much sense at the time. These types of endings are usually more on the neutral side of things or even “good” in some cases. You just didn’t get the “epilogue” ending.
That'd be a sort of a Non-Standard Game Over, as in it's not what the author/designer expects the ending to be. This is debatable, I liked a couple of these you'd put in in Eternal more than some of the 'canon' 16 ends, so calling it 'premature' seems... well... premature. You'd still be putting in a End Game link, it's just that the player didn't achieve the 'full' potential of the story. Abrupt end / (potentially) Unsatisfied end / Incomplete end (the story arc most likely wouldn't be complete) / Unresolved end are potential names for nomenclature's sake.