I’m curious what others think about games that try to adapt the story to the style and attitude of the player rather than (or as well as) more “logical” consequences of the player character’s actions.
For example: (and this is just totally ad lib) “you” find a stack of books. There are some that deal with caves, urban exploration, speleology, and the legendary subterranean world of Agarttha, and another stack with books about surveillance, the panopticon and miniature cameras. Oh, and there’s a spiral staircase going down, down, down. There’s a metal gate at the top you need to get past first. But what’s down there?
Now logically, in the real world, whether you stop to read the books - and which books you read - will not actually change what’s at the bottom of those stairs. But in a game, it might.
if you’re analytically minded, this is about interactivity on two levels: there’s stuff the character needs to do in her own world - find a key to get past the gate, and other stuff that happens where this a direct causality between the player character’s actions and later events. This would be the diegetic interactivity to a narratologist, I suppose.
The other level also has a kind of causality, but works in another way. The story changes, but not in a way so that those change can rationally be seen as caused by the actions of the character. Whether there’s a high tech surveillance room or a large underground maze down there is in caused by what the player character reads, but that causality is not in the world (i.e. this is extradiegetic interactivity).
Also I guess these two levels correspond to the player/character duality. One level is responding to what the character does, the other is trying to adapt the game directly to what the player seems to be interested in.
I’m not sure how much of this is too much. I’m afraid it will be too meta, and turn the playing of the game into a game in itself, if you get what I mean. And will that mechanism control how the player approaches the game, rather than be controlled by how the player behaves? And what does it mean for replayability? Will returning players skip the books (since the player already knows what’s in them - reading them again is just boring) only to find that this time the paranoid watchman down there is gone and replaced with a battle droid (reserved for players who don’t read books at all)?
I guess I’m wondering… Is this something you want? And what experiences (if any) do you have trying to implement things like this?
Also, this has been something I meant to ask for a while, and similar stuff is now talked about in other threads, but I don’t want to hijack those threads. To clarify though, I’m not talking about generating content on the fly. And realistically, maybe it’s not about replacing large chunks of the game, but perhaps trying to adjust how the game is described, fiddling with the “dark and moody - tongue in cheek” slider, things like that.