Preferred player direction / progression?

I am working on my first text adventure game and I'm looking for some input. I know where are a few ways to write the direction the story takes the player, but I'm wondering what is more preferred. The following are examples that I can think of:

I could write it as the player only moves one direction, forward. They are introduced to the initial setup of the environment and story. From there the player could have different interactions such as reading a poster, or talking to a citizen. The direction the player follows may be limiting, however the player still has the freedom to interact with the surrounding environment. For example, "You come to a village. To hunt down the giant beast that has terrorized the village, you must search the village for clues and information that could help lead you to it's cave." From there the player is pushed forward down a path, progressing the story. The player would not overly have that freedom to return to the village until they have slain the giant beast. I feel that each room description can therefor feel more personal to the character's choices, rather than having a default room description every time they enter it.

Another way is to create an open world and tell the player they need to go here and there for items/information, then to go to a specific location to continue the story progression. "You need to find an ancient sword and bring it to the blacksmith for repairs. After that you need it enchanted. Take it to the ancient runic platform in the old forest for enchanting. After that go slay the cursed undead in the catacombs to the south." In between would have various interactions such as coming across a small cave with a dire wolf inside. You could attack it, though it is irrelevant to the story. Or maybe it's just coming across a nice waterfall view. The player has the freedom to roam about and explore, all the while still being able to progress with the story.

There may be more ways to go about it. I am mostly wondering what people generally like. Does one feel more personal than the other? Is there too little room for the players to feel like their choices matter? Or too much where it becomes confusing? Thanks in advanced for any input.

it depends upon the person playing the game and how well the game itself is done/made (whatever your game design and/or your game's story/plot/progression design)

for me personally, TES:Morrowind, gave a bit too much freedom, though I might be a more old school classic/japanese rpg player with a set/linear path (including sub-quests for the most part). I like having freedom, but not too much freedom.

for me personally in terms of story/plot/progression, I like it jumping around, as otherwise it's just boring (in terms of design, but the story/plot/progression can still be interesting/captivating of course, even if its straight-forward in terms of its design)

You do you, dude. My advice (and before you even think of it, yes I am working on my first text based RPG) is to make what you love. And by that I mean create what you like to play. You won't please everybody, so don't even try. Play some games, and think about why you like them. Incorporate what you liked in your games, and just create what you want to play. Do that and you will most likely create some epic games.

I got a little late on this debate, but let me tell you a few things about the topic:

If you are doing a text adventure, you may think this way. It is the most common way text adventures works. It set a line of events and the player goes through it. What makes the game interesting is that text adventures are games of thinking, deduction and - sadly many times - of guessing. The parser component gives the player a lot of "stage business", what means, something to do. So, the most basic element for a text adventure is the player pays the bill of solving a puzzle and as a reward, the story moves forward a little bit. And there is where lies the typical dangers of getting stuck and the "guess the verb syndrome".

If you plan doing a Game Book, things goes a little different. As a gamebook does not counts with the same "stage business" as a parser text adventure. If you do give the player only one storyline, you have a regular book. If you do it placing images, you get a visual novel. If you combine images with texts in balloons, it becomes a comic book.

I am sorry telling you that from the two options you imagined and proposed, the second one is the same is the first. Because there is no such things as "the player does whatever he wants" in text adventures. It is just an illusion of freedom. The player may TYPE whatever he/she/it wants. But the actual story may only unfold on directions the designer programmed the game to go. And i am sure no one may cover all the possibilities. So, in short, the second option of allowing the player doing whatever desired will become doing only what you planned.

As i said, the text adventure good side is that you may put some weight on the player by allowing the verb guessing and puzzle solving. But i give you the same advice i would give ou if your case was doing a Game Book instead of a Text Adventure: Give the player interesting and relevant choices that really changes the course of the game in an interesting way. Things like allowing the player taking different ways that ends on the same place without any other difference than the way itself or choices like asking the player if the character will answer the call of the king and if not, the game is over, are not real interesting choices. And by interesting choices, i mean it must have relevant consequences.

Games like Skyrim are perfect for both control and freedom. Skyrim has a map and quest journals to help you know where to go, and also you can go anywhere you want to after the beginning tutorial, even at level 1.

Right. Think about what you could do in Skyrim and how you replicate it on a Text Adventure. Just pause for a moment, picture what a character would do, lets say, inside a tavern. Now start listing all this things and check how many options and scripts you have to make. The thing about these games s that the engine used to make them already gives you another sort of "stage business", which usually is "walking around". There is nothing happening to the storyline and very few happening to the game itself. It is just the player walking around and lightly interacting with scenario elements.

in terms of game play:

'text adventure' is the full quest engine, so it can be used for doing RPGs (aka: lots of game mechanics/features/functionality)

'game book', is more for a CYOA (usually diverging/twisted story paths) game, (like dating simulators, as just one of many examples)

deckrect is speaking more about the storytelling/authoring broader design-conceptual-theory of the game playing experience from the creator/maker of the game's perspective... in how it functions... how does your game engage with the player of your game...

to get nerdy... there's no such thing as random-chance/free-will... everything is determined/controlled/chosen/selected/decided... and programming is the very definition of such determinism, the "freedom" that the person playing the game thinks he has (whether its skyrim or a dating simulator), is just an illusion, as the person playing the game is ignorant of programming... a game is built piece by piece (programmed/coded)... everything is controlled... there's no freedom at all within a game (well, maybe having bad code of handling user input, and no/bad error and exception handling, allowing the game code data to get screwed up / moved around, aka "glitched/hacked", would be a form of "true freedom"... lol)

a simple example is creating a formula/equation that creates a random number... the fact that you created/used a specific formula/equation, makes it be NON-random... but it appears to be so... until/unless you can discover (or if you already know it) the formula/equation (and/or its iterations that it used/did) that was used to generate that seeming random number...

for example, for simpliest "random number", is to:

multiplying two prime numbers together (i'm multiplying the same prime numbers together, as this is just an example):

iterations (+1 incrementing):

  1. 1x1=1
  2. 2x2=4
  3. 3x3=9
  4. 5x5=25
  5. 7x7=49
  6. 11x11=121
  7. 13x13=169
  8. 17x17=289
  9. 19x19=361
  10. 23x23=529
    etc etc etc
    (this is a fun challenge... to.. see how far computer processing can go... its like seeing how far computer processing can go with trying to calculate pi and other non-terminating non-repeating numbers, seeing if they ever do actually terminate and/or start repeating... lol)

when you don't know the equation and the iterations...

that '361' number seems totally random...

but if you know we're doing:

prime^2 and its 9th iteration... then you know exactly how we "randomly generated" that "random" '361' number... it's not so random anymore...
etc etc etc

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