Well, scoring is just a specific type of feedback, right? I always think of it as the game author giving me an out-of-world bit of encouragement. Either letting me know I’m on the right track:-
> take corkscrew
You take the rusty corkscrew.
(Your score has just gone up by one point.)
Now if I reach my inventory limit I’m not going to idly chuck the corkscrew away, for instance. I’m also going to be looking out for ways to use said corkscrew, not only on bottles of wine, but perhaps nudged into thinking again about that old door with a keyhole “almost big enough to stick your finger in.”
Or awarding the point(s) is doing the equivalent of saying “Hey! You got the Crystal Phial intact out of the Hall of Hammers! Have a cigar, buddy!” Meaning I’ve completed that part and should now move on.
The trouble with stats based games is that if the stats are exposed (e.g. in the status line) then, even if there’s no randomization, the instant the player sees them go down it’s read as a penalty; she hits UNDO and tries again. So the player’s actions end up being tramelled down a narrow path.
On the other hand, if the stats are concealed from the player, then he may end up with no idea why the ending plays out the way it does, and consequently not be able to find the other ending(s).
So perhaps you could reveal the score as part of the ending? Something like -
Chris twirls the glass thoughtfully, watching the gin as it swirls against the lip.
“Darling, It’s been fun and all, but I don’t think you’re cut out for a life of crime.”
*** Your offer has been declined. ***
Told Amy her dress did make her look fat … +5
Rescued the cat from the toolshed … +1
Misled Lady Castlereigh … -2
Didn’t speak to the press … 0
Grassed on Henry … -3
Stole 6 items … +12
Achieving the rank of Amateur.
So the player is not only given the rationale for that particular ending, but has a rough idea of what to try or avoid on a subsequent playthrough. It would mean that you’d really only track the outcome of various scenes rather than fine grained actions like choosing a sharp retort over a diplomatic one, or eating with the wrong fork. But perhaps that would be fairer anyway?
Just my 2c.