Scars of War - False Choices
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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