In the picture above, Othello sitting in a flower vase with a blossoming cherry tree in the background. Took it in my previous home, during spring.
Sometimes when I have a little time I play other games. Recently I bought Alpha Protocol, and was completely fascinated by it (no wonder, Obsidian is one of the best AAA developers around). It interested me a lot because of the RPG/FPS mix, but mostly because of the dialogue system and the multiple paths/branching typical of VNs.
Here is the problem. The game promises lots of different paths, every decision influences the story, and so on. And it’s TRUE. The point is – is useful? Who is going to replay the game from beginning to see what he has missed (and no guarantees that he will really see everything) ? Very FEW people, believe me. Also, in a FPS/RPG you can’t just skip the dialogues forward like in my Renpy games, so you can’t just do a “quick replay” to see what you have missed.
So I thought if wouldn’t have been a wiser choice to have still some branching, but not so many. Or that would lead to a different subplot completely, like I did with Bionic Heart. Such games should either be quickly replayable to let the player see what he missed, or tell the player “Hey, save now because there’s a big branch of the plot now, so you can reload this savegame later and pick a different direction to see what you have missed”.
I watched on youtube many videos of Alpha Protocol just to see what I had missed, because I really couldn’t afford to replay the whole thing from the beginning. It felt like a “waste of time and resources” to me. The devs could have done a longer game (is already long, but could be even longer) instead of making it so “free-play”. After all, in a story-based game, is more important to KNOW that you can have 50 different endings but that you probably will never replay it to see them all (especially if you can’t play fast-forward), or that the story is much longer?
I’m sure most players would pick the second option. That’s why in my upcoming RPG Planet Stronghold I haven’t opted to have lots of different paths: it will have a common main plot, but with missions/quest that let you have some freedom (do them in any order you want) and several romance subplots that are optional, but can be done anytime after chapter4, without the need to restart from beginning (except if you want to see the romance from another gender). In practice, save the game at beginning of chapter 4 and you can then reload it and see all possible endings/branches for your gender.
Speaking of Planet Stronghold, the next version 0.8 will be out hopefully next week, I don’t know the exact day yet because I had some eyesight problem recently, and with the Christmas busy schedule you can never know. Anyway, as I wrote several times, with version 0.8 the pre-order price will increase permanently to $19.99 so if you are interested in the game, be sure to buy it now 🙂