On the XYZZY thread S. John wrote:
[UPDATE: rant-tagged because S. John objects to the quote being taken from the context of his original post, which can be followed by clicking the above link.]
I submit that this abstracts away too much about real design. Real game design isn’t exclusively about the choice points that you can use to influence the ultimate outcome; it’s also about interaction with the game. That’s why Chutes & Ladders, Candyland, and clock solitaire work as games even though they don’t contain any choice points; the player is interacting with the game. No one would play clock solitaire if they didn’t get to move the cards around themselves.
So in a railroaded IF like Rameses, putzing around with the environment isn’t an illusion of choice. It’s a form of interactivity. I’ve been playing Nightsky a lot, and there are a fair number of places where you bump into something that can’t possibly impede your progress, but that jostles and makes a sound as you roll over it. Qua platforming challenge the game would be exactly the same if those were static platforms; qua interactive experience it would be much poorer. The free-form putzing around with the environment you often get in parser IF is like that. (Though the parser/CYOA distinction can blur a bit even here, as Undum often lets you explore the environment in ways that don’t affect the choice structure.)
So, my thesis: when you’re thinking about what makes a game what it is, don’t necessarily think about the choices it gives you. Think about the ways you interact with it. I don’t even want to make this a point about CYOA and parsers; I think that thinking about interaction is more important than anything we can get from the CYOA/IF distinction.