Don’t all the coding tricks here (and places like CoG and Twine) allow you to do the whole “IF THEN THAT AND A BUNCH OF SHIT HAPPENS” type thing?
I thought that was the main reason for coding in the first place so if the character does/doesn’t do something 5 pages before, new options show up later (or don’t show up)
Saw it even done at low tech Infinite Story where someone put “hidden” links within the main text so it would jump to a normally inaccessible area of the story (or even a completely different story)
Obviously the only way I’ve ever bothered to hide something is through pure writing. Such as a character deliberately saying contradictory information and if you weren’t paying close attention to notice it, you’re probably going to pick the wrong choice.
You could also hint/riddle at a secret link (make colour = transparent) in the text or the title of a page etc.
I also just like putting transparent text into my main story, which you could also hint at and use to give extra info/ solution to a puzzle.
That's all off the top of my head.
Kind of a lazy, bypassable solution, but you can probably force a player to pay a little more attention with an item or two and maybe a few simple looping puzzles. Obviously something like The Maze in OotMS will be a turnoff, but if you frame the puzzle in a charming enough way, it'll be a simple "fuck you" for blind exploiters and a fun, brief engagement for readers who appreciate what you're doing.
Also, variables that track decisions is a good one. That's the classic method of adding New Game + paths after certain epilogues. Well, maybe not classic, but I sure did think about it for a long enough time that I think it is.
Then again, that'd take quite a lot of effort. Also, it's not accessible for blind members of the community (there might be a way to get round that. I'll think about it if I do use this).
Generally I would advise NOT to do such things. There's not a good, or rather, not annoying, way of doing so.
I've seen a few people mention timers or hidden embedded links and both of those seem difficult to implement and, more importantly, annoying, prompting players to wait on every single page for an arbitrary amount of time just in case there's a hidden time condition that could be met (which they of course want to meet in order to achieve the best play through), or in the case of embedded links, clicking on every word with the fear that if they don't they'll miss the best outcome for the scenario.
Likewise, you'd have to mention to the player that these elements are a thing because otherwise they'll have no idea to expect them, given how strange and rare features they are, and that takes away from suprise and causes the previously mentioned behaviours.
It's like hidden walls in dark souls. Once you find one, you just got to go punching ALL the walls, JUST IN CASE you missed some super OP BS behind some wall, only your situation is way worse due to a lack of visual cues you can give players.
I'd say just write your story assuming that the reader is invested. Obviously give them a hook at the start and give them a goal and a reason to be invested and all that, but don't assume you're audience isn't invested in you're writing (ie don't assume they're just skimming your work) halfway or at the end of your work.
If the reader wants to "charge blindly through" your work, either a) they personally don't car enough to read everything (time constraints, repeat reading, wanting to just post a comment, god forbid they enjoy speed-reading/skimming) in which case implementing features like that will only slow them to a crawl and serves as a deterrent more than a reward or b) your writing isn't engaging them, which you can't fix with gimmicks, only better writing.
Alternatively, the people who are going to spot that stuff we're probs paying attention anyway and didn't need some gimmicks to entice them to do so, so it's a wasted effort.
Just focus on rewarding your readers' attention to detail by having them recall past information to overcome challenges (ie recalling the elemental weakness of an enemy and using the appropriate attack) whilst also offering something less effective for those who didn't pick up the finer details or aren't able to spot them/ don't want to go backtracking (ie Using inefficient attacks and expending more resources as a result) whilst still allowing progression (I hate game over screens in CYOA...). Choice of Games generally uses stats as a reward, so you could try something like that (ie picking the appropriate response gives charisma). I rather enjoy such things, AND they allow you to test the skill of the player and their knowledge of the game (The Lost Heir's hidden mastery classes are an awesome example of this).
tl;dr 1) Reward attention through scenarios where recalling information given previously allows the player to gain a gameplay advantage, 2) focus on strong writing rather than weird gimmicks, and 3) believe your audience will show an appropriate level of investment and attention if you've given them a reason to do so, and if you can't give them a reason, then improve your writing.
Btw, in the case of a secret passage, give them the ability to pick multiple actions, eg: In the grand master's quarters:
a) Remove the blue book from the bookshelf
b) Pet the cat
c) Jump on the table
Establish in a previous chapter that the grand master loves cats, and then if the player picks the cat, boom, secret passage revealed. If not, game continues as normal.
EDIT: End mentioned "Contradictory information". The application of that could work in the same way, so that's something else to consider.END EDIT
Obviously they can just "go back" and keep trying, but again, that's a limitation of Chooseyourstory and not something that can be changed. You have to trust in the audience to see their story through. Something that can go a long way to this is not making the secret passage the 100% objectively better choice. Have another, less optimal award down the other path (ie Secret tunnel gives sword, normal way gives potion of healing). Basically don't give them just one optimal path, b/c that path will then be abused on repeat playthroughs and a whole part of your story (the non-secret passage way of progress) will be ignored. EDIT: What I mean here is that a sword and a potion can both be useful, but a sword is more appealing and useful during maybe initial playthroughs when your reader doesn't fully understand intricacies of the game mechanics/story.END EDIT
GL with your story, and remember: First and foremost, it's a story, not a game. EDIT: Focus on writing, then gameplay, and I'd recomend not having a True End. Embrace a CYOA medium! END EDIT
The cat could say "Yo youre pretty cool here is the passage." Maybe he swallows the player into a pocket dimension. The examples themselves arent the point, just the idea they represent, an open exploration segment with a hidden extra for those who manage to "solve" the scenraio through opening the passage.
Like you just mentioned, puzzles would be great. Maybe optional ones that require a series of different actions performed in order and, depenending on if the player solves the puzzle, they get a reward. You could even have different degrees of failure and success.
Honestly puzzle rooms and character interactions (ie Ends whole spotting contradictions thing and acting acordingly) seem to be your only options.
Yeah you'd have to repeat it multiple times, but I don't see why you would want to include it as a one off. If you include a scenario which rewards a player for paying attention, it seems dumb to just never test them on it again. By doing it once, you set up an expectation and the audience will be expecting to be rewarded again for paying attention. Not doing so will probs just make them think they missed it or make them feel dissapointed.
I understand that you want the player to feel all smart about paying attention to their world and pulling of something other player's would have missed without thar knowledge, right? Well, I still think yiur best bet for such things is to do it through dialouge. Have a scenario where player has to reason with someone, with multiple approaches available, with the most effective choices having been foreshadowed by previous chapters (ie you learn about the characters values or that they're easily intimidated but hard to persuade with words). You could go one step further and have them find out this information through an exploration puzzle. Or maybe the player took an optional choice to read that characters journal earlier in the story and learned that way that they were easily intimidated. Then, when they get to the encounter, they can use what they've learnt to pick the most optimal choices. Maybe even lock the choice away if the player hasnt gone to the appropriate page of the storygame. Guess its up to you and wether you believe the player shouldnt be able to stumble onto the solution by pure luck.
Or you can put old information to use in a combat encounter, like for example with the player fighting a wight and having a multitude of strategies to use. If the player remembers that they,re easily seduced (or whatever, specifics dont matter) then the player could do a lude dance number and seduce the wraiths who would then pay him in pearl coins and thank him for the show. Later the player could craft the pearls into a special dagger, then be put into a situation where he has to lure some wraiths away from a location, remembering after an NPC remarks on the strange make of his dagger that the wraiths trade in pearl currency, and figure out to use some pearls to lure them away as a result.
My point is: give the player some interesting information. Optionally Remind them of this information later. Then put them into a situation where this becomes useful. I would suggest you do this through offering multiple choices to the player and having one be a bit more benefical, to reward them paying attention. An inventort system and use of items would make this WAY easier and effective, even if it requires more work. But hey, nothing good comes easy.
However, this is all really annoying, and doesnt work as well in a cyoa without stats or items (as mentioned) or game over screens. If your game lacks all of those, then id suggest just scrapping the idea of provoding physical rewards and going for jusy improving your story and writing instead. EDIT:the second example with the weights and pearls would fit into thsi, i think. END EDIT Yeah, finding something hidden sounds like something exciting for a player, but if there arent gameplay rewards (ie stat increase or informing a future choice of the player) for finding that secret, then theres no reason for the player to be excited. The Lost Heir trilogy did this very well, rewarding the players actions and wise investment of stats with more stats and cool epic gear. If youre not willing to use stats and items, then I think you should be focusing on rewarding the player for paying attention by allowing them to make more informed decisions throughout the game, or allowing them to resolve smaller branches of the cyoa in unique ways.
Maybe im not expressing this clearly, but i at least hope youre getting the gist of what im trying to say.
Either include puzzle sections with multiple links and reward the players with things they can use in future events, be it knowledge or items, or just make paying attention its own reward, ie knowing the best way to interact with npcs, creatures, and environments.
Just focus on good writing and giving the player information necessary to make informed choices. Thats all thats neccessary, and will be its own reward when the player gets in a difficult situation and manages to think their way out of it based on the information youve provided. Secrets and easter eggs just seem like a waste of time to me, unless youre planning on converting them into their own branches.
Anyhow, sorry about rambling on. I might come back later and delete this message and re write my response with something more focused.
Best of luck,
Haha, ikr? :p
You could have a 'search in depth' item, that when used can reveal a passageway. Since it's an item, it'll be on every page and it would be massively annoying to a reader to click on it every single page. And if you have a page you visit multiple times, you could have it only available after you reach it the second or third time, so if there is a person who uses it every page they probably won't used it on a page they've already used it on unless they see the hint in the text telling them too. Just little clues or implacation. The only bad part about this that I can think of is that it makes it obvious that there's a secret somewhere to find, and so people will be on the lookout. It could be offset by having two secrets, a slightly more obvious one that if people are looking for will get and isn't really all that great or anything, and then a more hidden one that's harder for those who REALLY look for it.