Tuning Your Story
There is no point in tuning your story until you have the entire shell of it up and running. Until that point, simply make sure your variable grants and conditions are checking against the number 1. The 1 will remind you to plug in a real number later.
You should stick to small numbers; this isn’t an RPG where players get excited by large numbers whizzing by; it’s much harder to conceptualize and balance variable increases of 10, 15, 20 than it is with +1, +2, +3.
If you want to create more nuance in your story, provide more than 1 option of improving a particular variable. For instance if it’s a detective story and you’re trying to break a suspect in an interrogation, you could provide 3 options:
Threaten suspect: No benefit, suspects shuts down
Connect with suspect: +1 to BREAK_WILLPOWER
Offer a way out for his family: +2 to BREAK_WILLPOWER
Think of having a mix of 3 types of gates. Here’s some guidelines but feel to deviate by 10-20%
Easy gates: 50% of the mix
Medium gates: 30% of the mix
Hard gates: 20% of the mix
You can definitely mix and match gates given you have the option of up to 8 options per choice.
At each gate you want to calculate the maximum value you could have on your variable.
For each of the gates types, you’ll want to gate by a % of the max value that variable could be.
Easy gates: 50% of the max
Medium gates: 65% of the max
Hard gates: 80% of the max
If the interrogation reaches the end and the maximum possible value of BREAK_WILLPOWER is 10, you could provide a choice with 4 options. One option has no gate, one option is requires [? BREAK_WILLPOWER 5], another requires [? BREAK_WILLPOWER 8]
If your story uses a rare resource, you want to make sure that the player is not able to use the currency on every single opportunity.
A good rule of thumb is to allow the player the ability to select half the currency gated choices with the currency they find over the course of the episode.
If they play well they’ll be able to find more currency and should be able to select 75% of the currency gated choices in the episode.
At both requirement and cost gates you’ll want to provide players the ability to pay gems in case they don’t make the requirement.
This will effectively monetize players that don’t want to take the non-gated “lame” option but don’t want to replay the entire episode to get access to the better choices.
For a premium choice that is largely moving variables in a favorable direction and providing a little information, gate this between 5-10 gems.
If you are providing a huge branch of content where players can learn backstory on a lead character or perhaps going on a side quest, gate this by 20-30 gems.