Here’s an idea: stupid choices
So I was having a conversation completely unrelated to gaming or development in general, and I pulled out one of the last scenes in “500 days of Summer”
After a while I kept remembering that scene, and how small choices can affect a big outcome, and then I began to think about games where choices are important.
In these games, choices are usually presented as important, or rather you’re told they are important so you know your choice will matter somehow. But in real life, many little things can translate to big consequences.
So, I wondered what if you’re able to choose an answer for stupid questions, like if you want to go to this or that place, or if you want to wear this or that outfit, and then have that choice affect a story or gameplay element later in the game? The outcome would be somewhat obscure so players who are curious to play more than once can choose “stupid option number two” and see changes in the game system.
When I say “stupid choices” I mean things that don’t sound interesting or important at all. So, maybe choosing this or that answer in a dialogue tree doesn’t count as “stupid choice” but choosing between the red dress or the blue jeans with white shirt is; or choosing to drink coffee or tea in the virtual café is a stupid choice, but talking to the counter dude who’ll give you an optional quest doesn’t fall in that category.
I am mostly interested on story-driven games, so one option could be to go to place A or B, or decide to leave place A or stay there to see what happens, and depending on that choice you end up meeting someone who will help you on your quest, get on your way, or nobody at all.
However, this could also work on more gameplay-focused games, because these choices could mean you get certain item, or certain ability (“I was told I had to give this potion to a woman wearing a red dress, so take it”).
It’d be interesting to see games with “stupid choices” where outcomes are not clear at all. Logical convention says players should know how their choices affect the world around them, but I see no reason why we need to lay out everything in front of them and go like “ok, so you have the option to leave this place or stay” and then “so you decided to stay and this caused this and that chain of events.”
The whole idea is somewhat stupid, but I wonder what could be done with it.