I'm working on a story-heavy game with lots of different paths the player can choose from. Many times, players might also have to replay parts of the game in certain ways to see the true ending. As a result, players will inevitably get told the same information multiple times.

What should I do in these cases? Is it enough if players can skip those parts on their own or should I cut down on those parts myself if I see the player has already played that part in a previous play through? Or should I not worry about it either way? What are my options?

Are you familiar with Bioware's games (Dragon Age, Mass Effect)? Because of the many different plot choices the game offers, a player might well find themselves returning to an earlier save-point and repeating a scene for the sake of picking a different dialogue option. I'm not sure this is what you plan for your game, but it sounds close enough.

In order to prevent the repetition from becoming boring, at the pressing of a button dialogues can be skipped line by line, until you get to the point of interest, and cut-scenes can be skipped entirely. This way, players do not get annoyed with the repetition. (Actually, there were some problems with this in the earlier games. They learnt from experience. You - learn from their experience; make sure that if there's a hard battle straight after a dialogue / cutscene, there's an opportunity to save after the scene, before the battle. So that a player who keeps failing the battle won't have to go through the dialogue again and again and again.)

Automatically skipping scenes is something I would not recommend. A player might enjoy replaying a particular scene, much in the same way one might enjoy rewatching a film. The issue becomes even more pertinent if the scene plays out with slight differences because of previous choices - players would enjoy looking for those slight differences, seeing how what they do matters. If a player doesn't want to watch the scene again, well, they have the skip option.

  • What were those problems of earlier games you mentioned, besides the "no save before battle" part? Just curious to know what else I should watch out for if I do something on my own. I never played any of those games before unfortunately, but maybe I should. – noClue Sep 13 at 17:58
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    @noClue you definitely should. :) The main problem was the "no save before battle" - there was an autosave before the dialogue, or you could save yourself at that point, but from the dialogue you went straight into the battle. Died, and had to go through the dialogue again. And again... There was also a glitch with dialogue triggering while in the middle of combat, so you'd get hammered while talking. And there were looping conversations. By the 3rd Mass Effect, the last issue received an in-game parody. – Galastel Sep 13 at 18:16

There are two aspects here: one related to gameplay and one related to storytelling.

I can't really comment on the former, though I'd ask you to reconsider the dynamics of having players repeating a scene. Why do you accept it as inevitable? Isn't the whole idea of branching to take different paths?

In any case, focusing on the latter (storytelling), I don't think "readers" would enjoy seeing a similar scene twice, though they would probably react more negatively if you made the decision for them. Either not show it, or then don't cut it by default.

In purely narrative terms, anything that doesn't serve a purpose, shouldn't be there. If it does serve a purpose repeating a scene, the reader must be made aware of it. I don't know the details (what kind of game are we talking about, for instance), but based on the provided info, I would say you better show the reader/player a really good explanation as to why a scene needs to be repeated.

  • Example: you need to go back a chapter and make sure you collect a certain item. The game progresses in more or less the same manner after that point, but slightly differently, until you reach the part in the game that becomes drastically different to the previous play through as a result of collecting that item. But before that, you get pretty much the same info as in the previous play through. – noClue Sep 13 at 17:43

This is a common issue. Here are the ways I've seen it dealt with:

1) Skip buttons - First time through, you get the whole experience, second time, you (can) skip parts of it. Probably the most common option.

2) Jump points - The narrative is presented as a branching structure, and you can jump back to any node you've already visited (and presumably make a different choice this time). This is the option I personally prefer, but it doesn't seem to be used very commonly, perhaps because it can make the game much shorter and easier.

3) Replayability - Make it something that will be enjoyable even if experienced multiple times. This is considerably easier with gameplay than with narrative.

There is one other option, but I've only seen it used once, in a very unusual game: You could make the monotony of the repetition part of the point of the game

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