Discussion: Too much branching that’s it’s no longer a story?

It feels good to make discussions again :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Have you ever read/wrote a story where there’s so much branching that… the story loses itself? It comes to the point where characters no longer have a personality of their own, and you are limited with what you can do, because the reader is making the choices.

Right now, one of the stories I’m writing has come to this, and I’d really hate to lose it because I love the premise, so, a little help? :palms_up_together:t2:

Questions:

  • Do you prefer having lots of choices in the story? (Note —> this is more than average choices, you pick everything, literally)

  • Would you play a story where the MC is fully customizable but they have their own personality? (Meaning only dialogue choices happen)

  • Do you have any solutions for this tough choice between choices & characterization?

Thanks for reading :balloon:

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No. I usually just like to pick names and outfits and occasionally, responses to other characters. I don’t want to have a story where there’s choices like: “Do you want to blink?’” “Do you want to walk two steps?” That’s just a bit to much interactivity for me.

I would. But sometimes I like to have choices that build my personality. I’m playing as myself, so I would prefer to have my own personality. :slightly_smiling_face:

I don’t understand the question :thinking: Sorry I’m a fool

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I mean it as in giving a lot of choices so the reader can make their own personality vs having a standard personality already. I want to do both but I don’t want to dissatisfy readers with no choices lol sorry I couldn’t explain well at first :sweat_smile:

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  • Do you prefer having lots of choices in the story? (Note —> this is more than average choices, you pick everything, literally)
    Eeh, that sounds too daunting for me so pass. At best, I like deciding what MC would say at multiple times in the conversation.
  • Would you play a story where the MC is fully customizable but they have their own personality? (Meaning only dialogue choices happen)
    That technically what most Official Episode stories are lol, but I usually don’t mind. Then again, I’m the type of reader who doesn’t stick to customising a character to look like me, so I don’t feel that much disconnect.
  • Do you have any solutions for this tough choice between choices & characterization?
    Mini-games are a given. Especially based on the outcome of the player winning or losing, it would give MC a personality quirk or development.
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Oh okay! Then I think that you should have a standard personality already but have a few choices that can add to it if that answers the question.

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So MC’s personality develops over time with reader’s actions? That’s actually an amazing idea!

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Personally when reading stories, I don’t like unnecessary options. I prefer options that impact the story or add to the personality of the character. Clothing, hair & makeup choices are always nice! But when it comes to choices during dialogue I feel as though they should be quirky or impactful. But hey, that’s just me :rofl::yellow_heart:

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Would you find too many dialogue options unnecessary? I gave the reader multiple questions to answer, like 4 :sweat_smile: Should I keep it or remove it?

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It really depends on the length of your chapter, choices after every two seconds can become tedious. But to be honest I don’t think 4 is a lot, so I think you’re good :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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Exactly. Like with every time the reader/MC solves a puzzle successfully l, they become bolder and more confident

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I like having a lot of choices and having a lot of interactivity, I don’t really care if they’re useless if they pad out the story or if they’re funny. Unless it’s the kind of choice where I have to customize the mc, the mc’s friend, the mc’s love interest, the mc’s mother, father, uncle, sister, brother, cousin, cousin-once-removed, whatever… I seriously hate that. I saw this story once where you had to write your own angry text message to your boyf and I called him a crackhead and stuff and he actually brought it up later it was hilarious lol
I think I actually like mcs with distinct personalities, because a lot of stories have these generic saltine cracker nice girl next door mcs so that the reader can walk in their shoes or some other poetic bs and it gets a little boring after a while.

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giphy

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I’m 50/50 on it. If it’s done well I like it, but I’d never want to have to decide everything in a story.

Yes, but to be fair I don’t do a lot of customization now, even if it’s offered. I prefer to treat stories as stories and not as self- inserts.
As a writer I only added in limited cc to my story for this very reason. I don’t feel comfortable with the fact readers might treat my main as a self insert. Also, I like developing my characters fully and I think full CC takes away from that because it encourages people to not fully develop characters because “the reader can just develop it as it goes” or “this character is so “pure and sweet, anyone would want to be her.”

As far as customization versus choices though, definitely choices, even if they aren’t super important ones. Also, to be completely honest I sometimes find forced full cc to be uncomfortable.

As far as characters go, I prefer them to be as developed as possible because I like them that way. Cookie cutter girl next door main characters are 1. unrealistic and 2. so overdone and boring by now I can hardly stand them.

I think ultimately the storyline should prevail. I’d rather not be able to customize anyone than sacrifice a great storyline. I also think choices should matter (but maybe not in the way people think). I don’t expect choices to effect every little thing, but if they’re there I want them to be well done and at least semi-thought out. I also like when authors give the suggestion of a name if you don’t want to customize.

I’m tired and I feel like this makes no sense. :grimacing::see_no_evil:

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Honestly, I don’t care either way. I will say though, I can only read a few interactive stories. I think if they’re well done they can be super interesting and fun. But sometimes they can be a little too much. And I’ve got to say bravo to author who can do that. I can’t even imagine how stressful all the branching is. However, I’m old fashioned and I really enjoy reading the story the way the author planned it. I want to read their story, with a few choices thrown in.

  • Would you play a story where the MC is fully customizable but they have their own personality? (Meaning only dialogue choices happen)

I would! I honestly think most stories that are Full CC tend to have MC that are programmed the way the author designed them. And it doesn’t bother me one bit. Even when I’m reading an actual book I think of myself as the main character. Plus I like making my LI hot :wink:

  • Do you have any solutions for this tough choice between choices & characterization?

I don’t have any solutions, but I think you need to find your middle ground! Or a way to do both. That’s probably not helpful though :sweat_smile:

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I hate customizing bc I get tired of my own character sometimes and I like overlays and advanced directing and if I customize my char I want choices since its like ME

But if not then I really dislike choices

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I’m currently writing a story with a lot of branching, for some small things and some large. It starts to become more like a story-based video game rather than like a novel. I wouldn’t say that it’s losing itself, because that particular story is more immersive with all the choices, and making the reader play an active role makes it even scarier imo. :smiling_imp: So it’s not really losing itself, it’s just making me tired lmaooo.

I wouldn’t say that choices limit what the author can do so much as double what the author has to do lmao. What they limit is the amount of times that branches can converge. If very important branches happen too early, the writer can end up with two or even more completely independent stories in one book. :weary: So sometimes you have to sacrifice some choices if you want to save yourself some trouble lmao.

  • Do you prefer having lots of choices in the story? (Note —> this is more than average choices, you pick everything, literally)
    I wouldn’t wish that on a fellow author lmao. It could be interesting, but only the most talented, dedicated, and masochistic authors can actually pull that off. For an amateur, maybe stick with CC, dressing games, and dialogue options lmao.
  • Would you play a story where the MC is fully customizable but they have their own personality? (Meaning only dialogue choices happen)
    Sure. I mean, if someone doesn’t want to CC, they can just skip it. I only use CC to give the character the features I like, not to self-insert.
  • Do you have any solutions for this tough choice between choices & characterization?
    It kinda depends on the story you’re looking to tell. You can only afford to have a generic MC (brave but not too brave, nice but not a pushover, a romantic but not a hoe, social but not Ms. Queen Bee, smart but not Einstein, impulsive when she has to be, etc etc) if there’s a whole lot else going on in the story, a completely unique and action-packed plotline. You can’t write a romantic character drama if the MC has no character. Imo, a self-insert with a plain plot is the equivalent of writing into existence a piece of white bread. If you need to and want to create a nuanced character, you can do that by allowing full CC, controlling the character’s name, and making the range of dialogue and action choices more narrow. For example…

Plain character design:

  • Choose your name
  • Full CC
  • Sample dialogue choice - Lila: “What do you say, new girl? Are you up for a battle?” You: (Choice: “I’m not here to make enemies” / “If that’s what we do here, fine.” / “You’re going down, b-tch.”)

Nuanced character design:

  • No name choice, name is chosen by the author
  • Full, limited, or no CC
  • Sample dialogue choice - Lila: “What do you say, new girl? Are you up for a battle?” Jane: (Choice: “You, challenging me? Hilarious.” / “I was born ready.” / “You’re going down, b-tch.”)
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In an adventure-driven or mystery story, it’s great to have lots of choices as to where to go or how to survive. I like those stories that have mini-games where each item you choose leads to solving a mystery.
What I really don’t like are type-in choices. I just feel that I can’t come up with something witty on the spot; and many times I feel that they are unnecessary.

I prefer playing as an MC with a well-defined personality. Customizable or not. Many times, these characters that you can name and customize do not have a very defined personality because the writers want to cater to the majority of readers. But then again, they still force you to do things you’d rather not do. That’s the problem of many ‘self-insert’ stories.

I’d say give the readers some choices, but never anything that makes the MC act out of character. First figure out how the character is supposed to be before writing choices into your script.

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I’m gonna have to disagree with that, when you give people a lot of choices to say/do things then create the conflict yourself without choices impacting… your fanmail gets flooded with “I would never do that, why did you make this”

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I guess that’s the best thing to do, I can follow this even with personality-made-by-reader MCs. Thank you!

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Do you prefer having lots of choices in the story?
As a reader I don’t mind. I can enjoy a story with a lot of choices if they are well executed, but I also like to see how the author planned things out.

As a writer, this has been always a headache to me exactly because of what you mentioned. I don’t want to add choices that would change my character’s personality, but I don’t want to add them as fillers either so I usually go with a very few choices, and I’m not forcing myself to add more if I don’t think that would fit.

Would you play a story where the MC is fully customizable but they have their own personality?
Yes, but I’ve always preferred to have the CC after I got to know a few things about the MC because this way it’s easier to give him/her a fitting look. But lately I don’t even customize so I’m good either ways.

Do you have any solutions for this tough choice between choices & characterization?
What works for me is to add choices that somewhat change the outcome of a certain scene, so my characters might be put into different situations but that doesn’t change how they would behave or react. I feel like it’s kind of cheating lol, because the reader might think they have an influence on the plot, but no, they don’t :smiley: I like doing this because it’s not only easier to code, but this way I can make sure my characters don’t lose their personality.

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