[Digs through his overflowing bin of stalled WIPs, unfinished drafts, and various other ill-conceived odds and ends, the whole mess actively spilling over onto the floor, before he resurfaces in triumph, ratty scrawl-covered paper plate in hand.]
I had a gimmicky notion regarding the score counter awhile back that I was unsure how best to implement, so it languished with its brethren in my chest of half-baked notions. Score counting simply doesn’t come up often, so now’s probably the best time to share it. I share in the hopes that it might be of value to @Lancelot or another reader, or it at least inspires tangential thinking.
Notion; 50% Baked:
Anyway, the basic game follows a typical fetch-quest/puzzler. To aid you, there’s an in-game enchanted score counter given to you by the wizened mage entrusting you with this quest. It keeps pace with the score in the status-line of the game. You can ask a line of questions about the score-counter, like what is it tracking, how does it know, etc, but answers boil down to “it’s powerful magic” and “don’t mess with it, boy.” The counter is a small brass contraption that fits comfortably in your hand. A small glass window reveals a rolling dial currently set to 0. Every time the player does something score worthy, the character hears a faint click emanate from their pocket. If examined, the score counter will have advanced.
You can finish the game normally at this point, but the endings are a mixed bag at best. There are some happenings early in the game that initially appear unrelated and un-important that set off a chain of events that cause some unfortunate calamity that can only be partially remediated once it’s in full swing. However, if the player decides to replay or undo their game to try to take preemptive actions to avoid this fate, the protagonist/parser will refuse because the action is patently silly and they don’t know what a returning player would.
Partway through the game the protagonist takes a tumble, and the glass plate of the score counter cracks but seems otherwise fine. This is a hint to smash open the glass of the score counter. There are other hints sprinkled in the game as well. As said before, the player can ignore these hints and finish the game with a suboptimal ending. Alternatively, if the player smashes the glass, they can reach in and manually roll the dial forward and backward, much like manual odometers on older automobiles. If they do this, the protagonist is instantly transported to various progression points in the story, with their location and inventory, as well as the overall world-state and NPC-memory adjusted to match. The in-game protagonist experiences this as an instant teleportation, but retains their memories the same way the real-world player does. This is similar to the actual player character being aware of traveling through save states.
This now allows the player to advance back earlier in the story and to try to take action to avoid the calamity. The difference being that this time the protagonist/parser obliges, because they too remember why this seemingly unimportant detail has so much impact. Once this action is taken, the score-counter crumbles into a pile of cogs, gears, springs, and brass fittings, and the score counter in the out-of-game status line changes to ??/??.
I hadn’t developed the idea from this point, but I liked the idea of an adventure character gaining some self-awareness and breaking out of their traditionally limited POV.
Like I said, hope that idea helps someone creatively.