I have a bit of experience with reality T.V. interactive fiction (both on the player and developer side). My top tip is to not get over-ambitious. It’s very easy to get away with a set elimination table - most people won’t care if the same characters get eliminated in the same order as long as the story itself is interesting. My top tips are this:
- Give the players one or two opportunities to eliminate a character. Any more is too difficult to code and will affect the quality of the story. The characters that get eliminated should have strong but distinct personalities that players will be drawn towards (see: Teagan and Bianca in Choices’ America’s Most Elligible).
- Keep the player in the competition as long as possible. You can throw in a few moments where they might be eliminated, but that requires writing some plot armor (if you’re good at doing that naturally, go for it - creates good tension). The best time to eliminate the player is right before the finale. Their choices should determine if they make it to the finale.
- Winning shouldn’t be guaranteed. Give players something to work towards - otherwise, they won’t care.
- A rival is always a good call. Keeping the rival in the competition for a while lets you create conflict easily. I recommend eliminating them right before the finale or bringing them into the finale automatically.
- Plan arcs in accordance with your elimination table. If someone is the first person to get eliminated, give them a major flaw that becomes their downfall, then bring them back at the end and show how they grew. On the other hand, if someone lasts all the way to the finale, show their growth gradually.
- A lot of reality T.V. show IF games bring back contestants that were eliminated and give them a chance to rejoin. Make this a player choice! Find a creative way for them to bring the person they want back.