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Paths or Not

5 months ago
Commended by EndMaster on 2/9/2018 4:56:49 PM
I was just going to complain that I'm not writing, but instead here's something else to think about and comment upon, should you desire:

Obviously, there are many ways and many types of CYOA stories. I'm working on one now that I'm just not convinced is the way to go. I can't remember what this style is called (and I keep losing that web site that has good pictures...oh wait, here it is) -- it's branch and bottleneck.

So anyway, most of the stories I write are time cave style. There are tons of choices and tons of endings. That's what most of the original books were and how they were written. But clearly most people here aren't really fans of that type of story. So I'm working on a more extensive story using the branch and bottleneck style. But is that really a choose your own story?

In other words, if in chapter one there are 10 different paths to get to the climax where you meet the bad guy, but no matter what you do, you are going to meet him, what was the point of the different directions? I mean, maybe one way you get a lead pipe and a different way you get a gun. Then you face the bad guy and either beat him or not, it doesn't really matter. So yes, in a way you get to choose your adventure, but in another way, it made absolutely no difference to the story, other than how you actually fought the bad guy. And if the story continues on in chapter 2, it really, really doesn't matter about the other paths.

I guess that's why I'm stuck in the story I'm writing now. It would be VERY strong in the branch and bottleneck with common points along the way (probably 3 on the way to the end, then a common ending -- or at least a common scene to the ending), and I'm just not sure that's a "real" CYS story. The only (feeble) attempt I've made in this direction was The Adventures of Rory Thorn, and that was a very, very short version -- some people liked it, but I don't know.

What do you think? Do you mind the branch-and-bottleneck idea? With a single replay, it would be obvious, but would that be okay if the story is engaging enough? Would you rather have a pile of different endings so that your choices REALLY matter (like Spy Mission), or do you just not care and want to read something that has proper capitalization and spelling?

Paths or Not

5 months ago
I wasn't aware of the term branch and bottleneck but that's basically how I plan out most of mine, at least per path. I've tried experimenting around with more dramatic branching but for my plots at least it really only works if choices dramatically change a character's geographic location.

Pretty sure I've said this before, but if a setting and NPC agency, etc is consistent, and if a threat is big enough, or personal enough, a protagonist's life and personality could evolve in wildly different ways while still leave them facing some of the same things and same situations as other versions of themselves.

I don't see it as a waste of time to read parallel universe stories about the same person the day the aliens came or whatever, as long as rise stories are still good. It woykd be weird actually if the aliens didn't show up at all just because they chose to go to work that day vs calling in sick.

Or if the entire story is more of a smaller scale heist or rescue mission, or simply surviving a specific encounter or something similar that's introduced as the character's entire goal, it's not going to randomly change. The choices become more a strategic thing.

Paths or Not

5 months ago
That's a really cool reference site Ogre11, thanks for linking it!

Pretty sure everything but the Gauntlet can do well here. And even that has a decent run once in a while.

Paths or Not

5 months ago
I don't mind branch and bottleneck as long as the storygame is good, because if it's good enough to make me want to play again I can just skim read or skip the stuff I've read before.

I'd say you can have a story that bottlenecks at the next chapter, but with choices that still matter. If you use extensive scripting to track variables that build up over time depending on certain choices, it could later affect outcomes near the end of the story. That's what I'm doing with Frameshift.

The storyline doesn't usually change much and you can pick bad or good choices early on and still get to Chapter 2, but you're much more likely to have better outcomes in the set situations if you chose wisely earlier on. So yeah, it basically just changes how you fight the bad guy, as you said, but this later affects how well you've done as a hero, as how the character views themself changes, and whether you survive or not. It's a time consuming mess to script though. Also idk if it still counts as a branch and bottleneck at that point.

That being said, I do prefer classic time cave branching- it just feels more like how a CYOA should be written.