Player Agency

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by JoelMarler, May 24, 2019.

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  1. JoelMarler

    JoelMarler Veteran Veteran

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    How would you add player choice to your game, particularly outside of dialogue? For example, let's say there's a monster who's terrorising a village. In most games you'd have to fight it, but the developer could also give the players the choice to poison it's food, or tame the monster, or join up with it to destroy the village. What kinds of choices would you create for a game?
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2019
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  2. ??????

    ?????? Diabolical Codemaster Veteran

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    I literally have 0 idea what 'player agency' is.. care to elaborate?
     
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  3. JoelMarler

    JoelMarler Veteran Veteran

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    Giving players the power to choose (I've edited the thread now.)
     
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  4. Andar

    Andar Veteran Veteran

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    to choose between what?
    You still didn't explain what you want to know, and we can't read your mind.

    please explain what the player should do in this "agency" and what should be different to normal gameplay.
     
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  5. JoelMarler

    JoelMarler Veteran Veteran

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    Sorry, what I meant was giving players the power to choose how to tackle a problem. Let's say there's a monster who's terrorising a village, for example. In most games you'd have to fight it, but the developer could also give the players the choice to poison it's food, or tame the monster, or join up with it to destroy the village.
     
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  6. MushroomCake28

    MushroomCake28 KAMO Studio Veteran

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    It's called conditional branch, and you just have to make a bunch of it. So to follow your example:

    1. The player could simply enter the village and kill the monster: pretty easy to do, just make a scene once the player enters the village.
    2. The player can poison the food: you'll have to make an event where the player gets the poison another event where the player poisons the water/food near the village, then after waiting for awhile, an event in the village where the monster dies.
    The key part is simply using a switch to consider the quest cleared in both scenario. So use the same switch at the end, and make all previous events leading to the ending to be erased once that "quest cleared" switch is ON (so that way the player won't be able to back track and trigger the event of the other branch).

    Stories with many branches are harder to accomplish, and certainly take more time to create.
     
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  7. Andar

    Andar Veteran Veteran

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    that is usually discussed under the term "branching storyline" - no matter if the branch is small or change the entire story. You can find a lot of discussions about it if you search it with that term instead of your "player agency".

    That said it is something a lot of people and even more players would like, but it has two big problems:

    1) workload
    each branch of the story has to be developed and playtested, but usually the player only goes along one branch - they rarely start a game several times to follow all branches.
    And that means the ratio between development time and effective playing time gets even worse - it is usually estimated that one playing hour needs 100 development hours, and if that playing hour is in reality just fifteen minutes of gameplay but in four different versions, then you're suddenly at 400 development hours for each playing hour of the player.

    That is why professional games rarely do this unless they're specifically targeting something like that - and why a lot of promises of "player decisions count" do not really come to much change in professional games. Each development hour has to be paid for.

    2) balancing
    If there are many branches and they have different rewards, the developer can no longer know how strong a player is and which options and equipment he has at the end of the story, making the game balancing more difficult.
     
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  8. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    Agency is just another buzzword people like to throw around instead of just outright calling it what it is: Giving the player more choices for progressing through the story.

    My main issue with how I see this "agency" nonsense implemented in games is that there's almost always a right way (better rewards, easier option, etc) and either a less-right way or a completely wrong way. The end result--the player just plays with a guide open to make sure they make the best choices.

    I mean, if killing the monster outright or poisoning its food supply can be equally challenging and rewarding, great. If not, then why confront the player with a right-choice-wrong-choice scenario?
     
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  9. Marquise*

    Marquise* Veteran Veteran

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    Player agency leads to CoC. Consequence of Choices. Meaning that way above conditional branching, it requires more storytelling capabilities and also an eye upon how you handle branching multiple ends and make it satisfying or rewarding to make a run and after a while, triggers replayability with the what-if questions behind the head of your player base.

    I admit to some railroading games or grinding ones it seems to make no sense.
     
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