Open Ended Games

What does everyone here think of open ended games?

The design I’m working on is going to be open ended, but most of the designs I see being discussed all have concrete ends. I’m thinking more of something like FL, where the only way gameplay ends is if you run out of content, and even then, it can still be played.

Also was looking at the World of the Season competition, and saw that all games submitted must have an end, so I guess mine wouldn’t be eligible for it.

Do you think an open ended game could be successfully done on SN?

First a concrete point: World of the Season entries don’t need to be Finished. They do need a stopping point – the end of an episode or a plot arc – and they need to be narratively coherent from start to current stop.

(None of the first WotS winners were Finished, and at least one of them is open-ended.)

Now something fuzzier: I think StoryNexus is a great place for open-ended worlds. But a few words of advice and caution:

  • They can be massively time-consuming. Players can always click faster than you can write.
  • Make sure you have a good idea of how much content you need for a satisfying release, and be prepared to revise that based on player feedback.
  • Bring a team if you can; Zero Summer wouldn’t be possible if there weren’t three of us writing every day.
  • Come up with a strategy to keep players engaged between releases. You can’t write fast enough to keep players from drifting off, so figure out how to (1) keep their attention and (2) recontact them when you release.
    edited by levineg85 on 4/4/2013

[color=#009900]From reviewing the numbers, open-ended is the way to go if you want to generate revenue: no question. But as Gordon says, don’t underestimate the effort involved.[/color]
[color=#009900]If you go this route, look at the Living Stories functionality for engagement, low-grind pacing and reengagement.[/color]

What exactly do you mean by open-ended worlds?

I don’t think you are using the standard video game meaning of term – free-roaming world which allows players great freedom in approaching the objectives.

What you seem to be concerned about is continuously adding content to you game world in a manner similar to Fallen London. In this case there seem to be no reason why you wouldn’t be able to do this. The End Game Storylet which if read the Reference Guide correctly deletes the character might be a problem but you can always keep the player from reaching it or at least provide warnings.

It might also be useful to think about this situation as an Episodic Format. The things is episodes are self-contained. You have your world, you let players enjoy it, they play through the complete finished story similar to a single episode of Star Trek, Burn Notice, Dr. Who, Leverage, Castle, House, Whatever…and sometime later you release the next episode, connected to the previous one by settings, characters, perhaps even earlier mentioned plot elements (and of course main character) – but ultimately a self-contained and FINISHED story.
Of course nothing stops you from releasing fragments – but players tend to get rather upset about it.

And as previous posters said – you have to consider what will players do between episodes and how will they know when the new one is released.

P.S. As for the true open-ended worlds… Nothing in SN prevents you from creating free-roaming worlds. It seems you can even generate random encounters (although I’ll have to test this in actual gameplay). And the very nature of interactive fiction means players will have a number of ways to approach objectives. I agree with Gordon and Alexis though , creating a satisfactory open-ended world will require a LOT of time and effort.

I think it would be possible, with a lot of planning, to make an open-ended world with no death that doesn’t expand. Especially if the upcoming social actions were planned out well. If you built a deep simulation. Also, I made a miniature card game in Stepchild that is re-playable. A world that was just a hub for some neat little mini-games, perhaps.