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Early or late branching plot - What's better?


Dergonu
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Early or late branching plot?  

24 members have voted

  1. 1. What is better?

    • Early branching plot
      19
    • Late branching plot
      5

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So I often find myself kind of annoyed at visual novels that gives you a set in stone, uber long common route that you cannot get out off until you finish reading it (AKA no meaningful choices during it). Like, I love Grisaia no Kajitsu to death but damnit frontwing, the common route is way too long!!!

Honestly, I just get so happy when I see a visual novel with "early branching plot" as it lets me explore the different routes a lot quicker and it just makes the experience a lot better for me.

I'm not saying there shouldn't be a common route, in fact without one I don't really see how the game would work very well, but something like Yosuga no Sora or Majikoi is exactly what I want. There is a common route / prologue, but its not TOO long and you get a choice to enter a route pretty fast after. Then its all about the heroine stories and not about the repeated content that you cannot escape in the common route of death until you finally reach the heroine choice screen after like 30+ hours in the game.

 

Anyways, those are my thoughts on it, what are yours? Early or late branching plot, whats the best?

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I definitely tend to find early branching plots more fun, it gives me a sense of discovery and adds a lot more replayability to the story whereas long common routes end up being skipped after the first couple times as the choices usually don't change much so there's no reason for me to read it again.

With early branching plots you can build your main plot in a way that requires you to actually go down all the routes in order to unveil what's going on. Works especially well if you have a true route.

Most games tend to have a single long common route because they're charage and the point of the game is the heroines and their routes and the common route is just there for context most of the time. Imo though, if you're going to focus on characters, then you might as well just branch the plot earlier so you can give them an even better story that doesn't lean on the common route.

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2 minutes ago, VirginSmasher said:

How dare you dis that comedy gold mine known as Grisaia's common route? It was amazing...Ok, it was a little too long.

Yeah it was amazing but:

3 minutes ago, Kawasumi said:

Lets get real, comedy gets old very fast and a common route has so much potential to turn into a total snooze fest, that I sure as hell wouldnt sit through.

This.

Like, even if its etertaining as all hell, it gets old too fast ... And Grisaia's common route is like as long as a normal VN xD It's a little over the top. Then again, it has Makina in it so ... :makina: Meh, we all loved it.

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Just now, Dergonu said:

Yeah it was amazing but:

This.

Like, even if its etertaining as all hell, it gets old too fast ... And Grisaia's common route is like as long as a normal VN xD It's a little over the top. Then again, it has Makina in it so ... :makina: Meh, we all loved it.

If it had been any other VN with that long of a common route without the awesome comedy of Grisaia, I would've hated it from halfway through.

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6 minutes ago, Dergonu said:

Yeah it was amazing but:

This.

Like, even if its etertaining as all hell, it gets old too fast ... And Grisaia's common route is like as long as a normal VN xD It's a little over the top. Then again, it has Makina in it so ... :makina: Meh, we all loved it.

nope. the common route length for me dragged the score down for personally

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Common route? WTF is that trash? Arent I suppose to just meet and fuck the girl without any of these nonsense? :Kappa: 

After the chapter/segment that introduces all heroines, I tend to skip common routes because most of them are filler/comedy shit anyway.

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Just now, CeruleanGamer said:

Common route? WTF is that trash? Arent I suppose to just meet and fuck the girl without any of these nonsense? :Kappa: 

After the chapter/segment that introduces all heroines, I tend to skip common routes because most of them are filler/comedy shit anyway.

Basically how I do things too. Common routes are good for one good experience and then you skip them. They're not worth going through multiple times because you'll already have seen the jokes.

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9 minutes ago, VirginSmasher said:

Basically how I do things too. Common routes are good for one good experience and then you skip them. They're not worth going through multiple times because you'll already have seen the jokes.

"Skip Unread Text". The greatest thing ever created since Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich.

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55 minutes ago, Dergonu said:

something like Majikoi is exactly what I want. There is a common route / prologue, but its not TOO long and you get a choice to enter a route pretty fast after.

That was my main problem with Majikoi and why (among other, RL reasons) I stalled it.

I had no iea which girl I want to 'clear' first. There was not enough about many of them, that, although liking whole cast, I couldn't decite, everybody was 'fine', but nothing else.

So longer common routes are nice. And of course, they're ment to read them once, and then skip them. 

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1 minute ago, Vorathiel said:

That was my main problem with Majikoi and why (among other, RL reasons) I stalled it.

I had no iea which girl I want to 'clear' first. There was not enough about many of them, that, although liking whole cast, I couldn't decite, everybody was 'fine', but nothing else.

So longer common routes are nice. And of course, they're ment to read them once, and then skip them. 

Just don't go for the side characters, they're a waste of time. I made that mistake and I immediately regretted it :vinty:

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4 minutes ago, Vorathiel said:

That was my main problem with Majikoi and why (among other, RL reasons) I stalled it.

I had no iea which girl I want to 'clear' first. There was not enough about many of them, that, although liking whole cast, I couldn't decite, everybody was 'fine', but nothing else.

So longer common routes are nice. And of course, they're ment to read them once, and then skip them. 

Interesting perspective. I get your point. If there is a longer common route you do have more time to get to know the characters and it's easier to choose a girl.

 

Still, I personally just decide instantly :wahaha: I know my playing order in VNs pretty much as soon as I look at the cover.

That really does make me sound like a douche, doesnt it? :makina:

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Yeah, unless you can capture my attention throughout the entire common route (which Grisaia did) I'm going to start skipping, which is bad because the writer will probably drop a plot hint in something I skipped. Earlier is almost always better, Grisaia is actually an exception as the common route is the best part of the VN and only a handful of the selection routes really deliver.

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While I certainly don't like long common routes I'm not so sure if early branching is really the best solution. Point is, I like to have choices because it makes me feel like I can influence the story and gives me a certain kind of 'freedom'. If the branching is very early and I don't get a choice ever again, I'm not sure if I'd consider that the perfect solution. There's also the problem, that the main story usually suffers from it because it's simply too much for a normal writer to have a long AND good story for EACH heroine. In a VN with half a dozen heroines, that's extremely hard to do and the VN would have to be huge.

IMHO the best route structures are clever hybrid solutions.

1.) Early branching with several main routes (Closest to original suggestion)

The only VN I've read so far that managed to do that well is Fate/Stay Night. They've just three main heroines, but each one has a huge main route with sub-choices that influence the story. It's simply extremely difficult and a lot of work to pull that off in a good way. The only other VN's I know that seem to use it is Shin Koihime Musou and Shin Koihime † Eiyuutan which are so large that each route is already a medium sized VN.

2.) Chain branching

Worked quite well for Akabei Soft2 with G-Senjou no Maou and Sharin no Kuni. A solid main story with a branching options early and later on.

3.) Tree branching

Da Capo 2 and Otoboku are using that. You start with a common route for all heroines which is then narrowed down by choices to a sub common route for 2 - 3 heroines, which then further splits into the individual routes. The advantage is that the writer doesn't have to write long routes for all the heroines, but you still get a limited early branching and a longer time for choices.

4.) Custom main route

A very long main route with a solid and entertaining story, where inbetween choices give you a romance with the girl of your choice. Actually, this structure has some simililarities with a traditional western RPG like Baldur's Gate. The biggest advantage is that you get a very long story and you can choose with which heroine(s) you want to experience it. The biggest disadvange is that replays usually aren't as good anymore because you've seen the story already. Works great with Koihime Musou and Unionism Quartet. Technically, it's also used for Kara no Shoujo 1 & 2, but the heroine choices are so lacking, that I wouldn't really call it a custom story anymore.

My favorite would be the first one for obvious reasons, but the good ones are usually so rare, expensive and long that it's very hard to get them.

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Well I'm going to add absolutely nothing to this discussion.

While there are exceptions (and Grisaia is definitely not one of them) most VNs only really get to the "meat" of the story in the actual routes. In many VNs the common route is just there to introduce the characters, explain the setting and add some comedy, before getting to the actual plot in the individual routes. Individual routes that has to be different enough from each other so you want to read them, meaning the common route has to be set up so it can easily lead to any of them without feeling like it's dropping unfulfilled plot points left and right. That means it's really hard to make a long common route without filling it with filler. 

Now personally I prefer it when they get straight to the point but most Visual Novels are Slice of Life Charage. Faffing about is half the point. But even seemingly pointless scenes can have their purpose, either to gain new insight in another character or to play as a contrast when the VN turns on serious mode later on. Now when it feels like you could have cut out half the common route without it affecting anything in the rest of the novel, you have a bit of a problem (looking at you Grisaia, you have some really good stuff but man do you drag on). 

Of course this is all opinion based from someone with a very low attention span so take that as you may.

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Personally I like early branching plot VN more, because it gives the VN sense of discovery. I like discovering a lot of things in one game so I prefer early branching plot. And it makes me feel that the story build-up is faster which can keep me from getting bored. 

Late branching plot or even linear plot is ok depending of the game, but I will prefer good VN with early branching plot. 

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