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Default Scars of War - False Choices

May 7th, 2008, 16:02
Over at the development blog for Scars of War, Gareth follows up on a comment from Scorpia on false choices. It's an excellent subject and a good read - here's the intro, which explains the topic:
That last series of posts about failure in RPGs generated a fair bit of discussion, both in the comments/forum and on other blogs. But one comment by Scorpia really got me thinking. The comment was in relation to failing a skill check :
For one thing, any time a skill check is made, we figure, “this must be important”, or why bother? Who wants to screw up something important? Who knows what the developer has in mind here, and what terrible thing might happen if we don’t succeed?
This comment is really interesting, especially if you think about it not just in the context of a skill check but in the bigger picture of the entire game, the plot and your path through it. Because it illustrates a design flaw which is especially harmful in roleplaying games. False choice.
To illustrate let me present you with a scenario. Before you is 2 doors and a sign. On the sign it says “Left door : Instant Death, Right door : Continue on your way".
Is this a choice? No, it is a false choice. Sure, there are 2 paths, but one has such a disincentive to following it that it may as well not exist.
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May 7th, 2008, 16:02
I can't stand false choices. I get equally annoyed when you have a 'choice' in dialogue options, but your choices really don't mean crap because you get the same result at the end of the conversation one way or another.

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May 8th, 2008, 00:42
I don't get it. Are the "false choices" there meant to be in fact "pseudo-choices", choices that aren't any choices at all ?

The two doors example doesn't work for me for example in hotels, or more medieval, an Inn.

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May 8th, 2008, 01:46
Think about it: if door "A" leads to instant death (let's say there's a trap that kills you instantly with no other choice or save) and door "B", that leads to continuing your quest.

You might try door "A" once or twice and reload just to experiment but there really is no actual choice: you must choose door "B" to continue.

Now, expand the concept, as Scorpia suggests. Something leads to a skill check…designers don't randomly put in a skill check for nothing, so every player knows that check means something is going on, and players don't want to fail, so we reload (assuming that's possible) until we get the right result. There's a choice, but in practical terms, only one yields a "good" result.

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May 8th, 2008, 02:12
Good article. I totally agree that false choices ruin games. Like what real choice is there when your options are take the quest (main plotline) or refuse the quest (Game Over)!! I too enjoyed the ambiguous nature of certain quests in Witcher and hope other devs adopt this concept!! One of my primary issues with Oblivion was the total lack of consequences for your actions in the rest of the world!!

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May 8th, 2008, 13:45
Okay, I see what is meant.

I do prefer two different paths, though. One through a dungeon, one overland.

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