Hi all! Over the past few years of work on 1001 Odysseys, we've worked through lots and lots of design ideas, and we wanted to share some of the fascinating choices we've made with you all. As we approach the Kickstarter campaign, more articles will appear below on topics relevant to our decisions about narrative, gameplay, and fun!
Topic 1: No Wrong Choices
Choice is the heart of our game. At every juncture, the crew of the Odyssey (that's you!) must decide what to do next. These decisions drive the narrative, and also your investment in the story. There are many games and books (and thanks to Bandersnatch, now even a movie!) that've tackled narrative choice before, and one bit we found in common for the majority of them was the concept of right/wrong choices.
These choices manifest in different ways. For example, in a Choose Your Own Adventure book the wrong choice will lead to your imminent demise -- a humorous page terminating with THE END. In Time Stories, a wrong choice starts stacking time against you, and with enough wrong choices you'll have to reboot to complete the mission. While playing Tales of the Arabian Nights, a wrong choice might give you a status effect, cost you a few turns, or just waste your effort. A right choice in any of these pushes you forward, and it's usually clear that you've made the correct choice.
In all of these situations, the right choice's main benefit is to ignore the wrong choice. Sure, you can go back and check to see all the ways you could've died/messed up, but once you win, there's not as much incentive to go back and see all the ways you could've lost. This concept inspired us to do something different. There's no winning or losing in 1001 Odysseys, but there're many different story endings you can reach in each book.
So, as we designed our narrative trees, we avoided creating paths that were simply incorrect, focusing instead on having choices that were different. The effect that this has had on playtesters is fascinating. They no longer stressed over which option would have lead to failure, instead focusing on what they wanted to do. When they looked back at the story, it was no longer through the lens of "what would've happened if we failed?" Instead, it's a question of "Oh wow, what else could've happened? Let's go try that!" Since the end of a chapter can lead to multiple different chapters (Ch1 can go to Ch2 or Ch3 in our demo), there's greater incentive to go back and try new things. And whether playing for the first time, or second or third, that feeling of exploration and wonder persists, which is a good thing.