Game Development Reference
When you introduce changes to the story and gameplay that are depen-
dent on the choices of the player, the branching lines through the game
increase very rapidly. Figure 3 shows that after only a few levels the number
of story nodes could be huge, depending on the number of choices the player
is offered at each node. Continuing this onto the end of the game could
result in a hundred or more possible game endings. In a very pure sense, this
would be the ideal situation from a player's point of view - having complete
control over the unfolding of the story - but the practicalities make it
impossible to create. The resources needed to offer all these possibilities
would be beyond the budget of even the largest game. Keeping track of the
development of the project and testing all of the possibilities thoroughly
would also mean that there would be a lengthy development period.
There clearly needs to be some practical middle ground that allows for
more player freedom without that freedom getting out of control.
Figure 4 Parallel story and gameplay
Figure 4 shows one possible way to do this - give the player a choice early
in the game which leads to two parallel gameplay and story paths.The advan-
tages are that the player is able to choose the main character's destiny but the
development team has control over the two strands.This is a very good way
for the player to affect the character's development in a significant way with-
out the complexities of an ongoing series of character choices. Just as in
Figure 2, the gameplay between each story node can be as open as possible
to maximise the player's sense of freedom. The game could also give the
opportunity at points along the two strands for the player to make choices to
switch to the other path. If this is implemented well it could give the player
the impression that they have much more freedom than they actually do.
The disadvantage to this method is that if the player only plays through
the game once he or she will only ever see half of what has been created.
However, because the game has this alternative gameplay and story, it has
potential replay value for players who are interested in playing the game
again, but differently. Key to the success of this is that the player finds the
game enjoyable enough that they want to play it again. While some players