Tuesday, September 28, 2010

On bad choices...

I was thinking about the last post. Gamebooks need bad choices but a choice that is always bad becomes a dead choice. The bad choice needs to give a small bonus or only be bad in certain circumstances to stop it from being a dead choice. By the same token, if a choice is always the best possible choice out of a set of choices, it turns every other option into a dead choice.

This is where making a replayable gamebook tricky.

One way is the character creation system. I've just been re-reading the Tyrant's Tomb and the Screaming Spectre by Dave Morris. The stories are well written. If they need improvements, I think that the combat system can be less damaging as it makes any combats dead choices and the gamebook bits can be longer, because I enjoy them immensly.

The Tyrant's Tomb has no options for modifying your character. You are the barbarian and you have a sword and a bow. The choices you are given are whether to join two rogues or fight them. The next choice you are given is a choice of three places to go. Being with the rogues produces more bad results than good, but they can help get you through certain points. Out of the three places, I think one is a lot less rewarding than the other two, but if you make certain choices in the other two, they can be just as bad, so none of the three routes are dead choices.

The Screaming Spectre offers you more choice. You choose 9 out of 12 spells and you may take an amulet that increases your stats and an item called 'the lucky bottle'. There are places where your choice of spell is very rewarding, so a combination of choosing the wrong spells and going to places where a spell you don't have is required is a bad choice. However, you cannot say that any particular spells are bad in isolation and also, most places are not bad in isolation either (apart from the city in The Abyss). However, the book does have it's bad choices


You cannot win without the lucky bottle.


Maybe that's how you make gamebooks playable and replayable. You do not have a set of options where one choice is good and the others are bad, but instead you have a combination of choices which are good and a combination of choices which are bad.

That way, there are no dead choices which are the worst choices of all.



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