Friday, February 14, 2014

Adding hypothetical options to Long Live the Queen

Ok, so I've already talked about things I feel should have been there that weren't.

Should have been there because the lack of option opened up an inconsistency.
Should have been there because a lack of flavor convos made the plot ones stand out as "PLOT!"
Should have been there because it was a blatantly obvious option.

Something that has come to my attention since then is that Hanako Games is (apparently) just one person.  Now there was help, but Hanako Games is still one of only two credited for the story which is where much of this stuff comes in.  So, along with the sheer size of the game, there's definitely understandable reason for any oversights and omissions.

In addition, I've still played only a comparatively small portion of the game so what I'm about to say should in no way be exhaustive, but I've got some other things that, while not "Should have been there," things, are "Wish were there," things.  I'm going to combine those with the things linked to in the above linked posts to make a list of options that I would add if I could.


First off, as a general rule, if someone is in the castle and is on your radar (your father, Alice, Lottie, Lucille, your uncle, Jullianna, the musician/spy, anyone you've thrown into prison who has not escaped/been executed, Selene once you know of her as a more than just some random priestess, Briony, anyone I'm missing) come the weekend, I think talking to them should be an option as a weekend activity.

Most of this would accomplish nothing game mechanics wise, though it does potentially give a useful out if you're otherwise in zugzwang*, because most of this would not affect your mood.  On the other hand, you don't know if it would affect your mood unless you actually have the conversation, so it would be a gamble if you're in zugzwang.

One of the things that this would mean is the potential for follow up conversation.

If you go to see Julianna in prison and hear her out rather than taunt her, you get the option:
Julianna, Duchess of Ursul: Release me, and I will teach you what you need to know to keep your responsibilities. 
Menu: [Free her] [Refuse] 
If you choose [Refuse] then you'll never be able to visit her in prison again except to taunt her when that possibility comes up.  (Though you will get two more opportunities to free her, one of which allows you to keep her on as magic tutor.)

If it were possible to keep on visiting her then you could have additional conversations and not be stuck with the all or nothing, "Do it NOW or do it NEVER."



When you do go to talk to someone you should have an option over what you talk to them about.  In the game there's only ever one option and you don't know what it is until you decide to talk to them.  If you haven't talked to someone in a while and as a result there are three things to talk to them about you'll have to take them in order.  Even if you really don't want to mention the first one at all.

I don't have too much of a problem with there being only one possible topic of conversation.  I do have a problem with having to commit to that topic of conversation before you know what the topic is.

Elodie saying, "Nevermind," or choosing not to speak up at all, or something else like that, should be an option once you learn what you'd bring up otherwise.  Presumably it would hit you with a Lonely +1 because you wanted to talk to someone and then, for whatever reason, didn't think you could.

The big example of this for me is the outing of Selene.  There should have been an option to NOT do that.  You'll never out Lucille even though, if you choose not to talk to her about it, you've made no promises and are in the exact same position with her as you are with Selene.

Maybe, for whatever reason, "That priestess, Selene... She's a Lumen! I can sense it, " is the only thing you can say to Julianna that week, but on learning that's the only thing you can say you should be able to choose to say nothing instead.



The game makes very clear that the events of the week take place before the weekend activity (note for example: Lottie coming to stay, talking to anyone about Julianna's arrival, visiting your father if he's put into a coma) but sometimes (for example: if you and Lucille have a death struggle, if you stand judgement over a Lumen murderer) it forces you to wait until the weekend after to talk about it.  In one case this forced wait results in someone's death.  What the fucking fuck?

Via the first thing that I said, you should be able to talk to the relevant person THAT weekend, maybe this goes without saying, maybe it doesn't, but you should be able to talk to them about the relevant events of the week THAT weekend.


Moving from the general to the specific.

Imprisoning Julianna based options that I'd add:
Ordering her to tell you what really happened to your mother 
Saying that you'll investigate her claims further.
If you talk to your father after talking to Julianna in prison I'd add the option to tell him to tell you the details he previously withheld about your mother's death and, if you were willful enough, the option to threaten that you WILL DEFINITELY become a Lumen if he refuses to explain the details of how being one killed your mother. 
His " don't need to hear that." is not a sufficient answer when the fate of the kingdom hangs in the balance.  If you've got the willful you should be able to tell him that if he wants you to stay away from magic then you DO need to hear that. 
With Selene as well, you should have some kind of [Consider it] option rather than flat out release or don't release Julianna.
And then we come to her brother.  If Julianna is in prison for long enough he'll come to say either set her free or give him ruler-ship of the Duchy she rules.  (He wants the second, but doesn't say it.)  This also deserves a [Consider it] option. 
Take the weekend to talk to whoever in more depth.  Julianna (this is your chance, convince me I should free you), Selene (her only advocate), your father (who is the reason you imprisoned her in the first place), or her brother (who will no doubt advocate for himself while trying not to look like he's saying, lock my sister up and throw away the key.)
Alice based options I'd add:
If you send her brother to the dungeon, not a word.  Given that he seems pretty sure of himself when he's imprisoned by the guards I wonder if Alice does, in fact, get him out. 
If she does then that should be something that comes up if you try to see him in the dungeon (I said you should be able to talk to anyone in the castle on your radar, and I meant it) and learn he's not there. 
If she doesn't then, again based on my belief that you should be able to talk to anyone in the castle on your radar, if you decide to talk to Alice then Alice might mention, "Hey, the apple thief is my brother.  Would you mind letting him out?" 
Before you choose to dance with Alice you have no idea how she'll feel about it (terrified) we don't know if this is because she's dragged into a position she doesn't belong (at the center of attention of all the assembled nobles) because she can't dance very well (she can't) or because she doesn't like to dance (we have no idea.) 
If you could talk to her you might be able to learn about that.  If it's just because she can't dance, perhaps you could offer to have her be your partner in your dance classes so that she'll learn.  If she wouldn't like that (it's not established how Alice feels about dancing) you could order her to do it for asshole cruelty points. 
Also being able to talk to Alice could potentially give you feedback one one of the hidden stats (commoner approval) but at the cost of other possible weekend activities.
Lucille based options that I'd add:
If you're the sort of person who would out Selene, you're probably the sort of person who would out Lucille.  If you sense that she's a Lumen but don't talk to her about it, you should be able to tell, at the very least, Julianna or your father about it.  AS AN OPTION.  The whole no choice in whether or not to out someone with Selene thing is bullshit. 
If you do talk to her about it your options are offer her a position, keep her secret, or (if you can sense magic well enough) accuse her of lying to you.  I'd add pretend to keep her secret to that.  Accusing her is dangerous.  Automatically becoming secret keeper for someone just because you don't want to do that or offer them a court position is not a good path either.  If you choose to keep her secret then things play out as they do in game, if not then you have options.  The ones I just mentioned above and, if your sense magic is high enough to know she was lying to you, telling one or both of those people with a big, "And she was lying to me about how powerful she is." tacked onto it. 
That to me suggests the possibility (again, option not forced) of sending Julianna, with Selene if you know about her, to confront Lucille. 
If you learn Lucille has been trying to kill you then your options are to execute or exile her. I'd add assassination (like what you can do with Arisse) because that would be less traumatic to all involved and more politically expedient than straight up execution.  I'd like to add trial as an option, so that all the people could see evidence presented and whatnot. 
Moreover, I'd like to add the option to move more slowly so that preparations can be made.  Then, if you think about it (I don't think the game should broadcast that this is something to think about) you could add Lumen to the squad sent to deal with her however that dealing is done.
Spy based options that I'd add:
Your spy, if you hire her in that capacity, is better than your agents.  A lot better than your agents.  You don't use her except in one very specific case.  That should change. 
If Lucille dies at the ball you should be able to tell the spy to go and find out if anyone else was involved.  If Lucille doesn't die at the ball: 
If you know Lucille was lying to you about being a powerful Lumen you should have the option of asking your spy to investigate.  Why would she lie about that.  Especially if you've tracked the pre-ball assassination attempt to Lucille's Duchy. 
Which brings us to the pre-ball assassination attempt.  You should have the option of having the spy look into that. 
If the spy does discover what Lucille is up to she leaves all the proof because doing otherwise would let Lucille know they were on to her.  As previously mentioned I'd have the possibility of not acting immediately with regard to Lucille and one of the things I'd have as an option if you chose not to act immediately would be for the spy to steal the proof just before formal charges were laid against Lucille if formal charges were laid.  (Execute, bring her to stand in judgement, or Exile would be the formal ones as opposed to assassination.) 
Also, this I would make automatic (unlike everything else where I'd add things as choices.)  If Lucille dies at the ball and Elodie can't decipher her journals then the journals don't get deciphered.  That determines, in part, how Charlotte's epilogue goes.  BUT the spy can decipher the journals no problem.  (This is canon.)  So if you hire the spy the journals should automatically be deciphered for epilogue purposes. 
The spy should have uses beyond Lucille.  Yes, Lucille is the one trying to kill you more often than not, but if you find out a certain powerful noble is putting out feelers that could result in a coup or civil war your options are "[Send soldiers to arrest her] [Send assassins to kill her] [Wait for more information]" this is the week after you hire the spy.  THE WEEK AFTER.  She's been on the job for one week and here is a situation that calls for a spy and [Send your spy to gather more information] isn't an option?  To hell with that.  Make that an option.
Your maternal uncle:
You never really talk to him.  This wouldn't be a problem except for two things. 
First if you find out that the assassin came from his duchy your options are to ignore the assassination attempt entirely or publicly accuse him personally.  You can't talk to him about it and see if maybe he can look into who might have tried to kill you.  You can't make a private accusation to which he can then present his defense. 
A public accusation is basically a declaration of war.  If you back down on it when he claims, truthfully, that he would never do such a thing, you have seriously damaged your position as queen.  If you don't ... then you don't.  This is not a thing where you can cancel your trade agreements and be done with it.  You have to either send him to prison or execute him.  (And you don't get to visit him in prison and maybe change your mind.) 
I'd add the option of being able to fucking talk to him about it. (Also, if you do imprison him, I'd add being able to talk to him in prison, see the first thing I pointed out in this post.) 
The second thing is that it's possible to kill his wife (Lucille the ever plotting your demise.)  He's your uncle and next in line to the throne.  His daughter was (before you killed her mother) your best friend.  He's ruler of the Duchy next door.  You probably should be actively trying to patch things up.  Whether or not you would I'd leave up to the player, but the option should be there
The Lumen Murderer:
If you know the murderer is a Lumen then, whatever you choose to do to him, I'd give you the option to talk to your Lumen mentor (actually Selene might be best even if she isn't your mentor, provided you know she's a Lumen) about him that weekend.  If he's not dead this could be especially important because treating him like an ordinary criminal (assuming you didn't pardon him) will allow him to escape and your mentor can probably stop that. 
Also if he's not dead but is in the dungeon I'd give you the option to talk to him in the dungeon (awaiting execution or on a permanent basis).  Which could lead to you a Lumen death struggle happening in private and you know what that means.  If you don't tell Julianna things will go to shit very fast.  Same as with Lucille. [update] actually, not so much.  Lucille had bad consequences because of the power levels involved.  He wasn't that strong. [/update]
The Creeping Shade:
Julianna apparently deals with it whether you tell her about it or not.  I call bullshit.  You didn't let it become public knowledge that your aunt was a Lumen after she died trying to kill you.  Why, then, would it be public knowledge that the shadows are killing people? (Well... person.)
Thing one: I'd let it be an option [keep this a secret until we know more][warn people that the Vashta Nerada are here] Option one would mean that if you don't tell Julianna she won't know and more people will die.  Option two would cause massive panic as everyone would be afraid that any given shadow might eat them (ok, kill, not eat) at any time. 
Thing two: If you do choose to keep it hush hush to avoid a panic but you also choose to NOT tell Julianna I'd have things get worse and worse until it couldn't be kept a secret, at least not from Julianna, anymore. 
Don't tell her about the non-public Lumen death struggle immediately and the squire dies the next week.  Don't talk to her that weekend and more people die the week after.  Don't talk to her that weekend and it's even worse the week after.  And maybe that's a good point for the problem to get so bad that Julianna can't miss it even though you're keeping her in the dark.
The Old Forest:
I don't think the additional choices you should be allowed to make are all smart ones.  (Can you tell I originally wrote this before the previous section?)  Smart ones spring to mind because, "Why can't I stupid thing?" is not a question most people ask.  But here's one that I do ask:
Why can't I attack the monster? 
Initially you can't attack it (though you are armed with either magic or mundane weapons) because Briony is in the way.  But when she gets free why can't I immediately attack it? 
This would be a bad idea, the clash will probably attract other monsters and there's no guarantee I'd win against just the one.  Trying would probably get me killed.  Briony too (she needs your help to make it out alive even after getting free of the monster.)  But that doesn't mean I shouldn't be allowed to try.  I can try other stupid things. 
I'd have that be an option.
The Damn Chocolate
Staying home can protect you from almost all threats to your life.  There are two exceptions.  One is Togami who invades your country, the other is the chocolate.  (The one assassination attempt the Spy will look into.) 
There are five ways to survive the chocolate.  One is to have a high enough poison skill that you can save yourself even after eating the poisoned treat.
The other four are indications that something is amiss.  From an omen presaging hidden danger just before you learn the chocolates arrived to a pet dog that acts strangely toward them, with etiquette and trade in the middle. 
The warnings, whether you get only one or all four together, only let you postpone eating the chocolate (thus accidentally killing a chocolate thief) they don't let you try to have the chocolate tested or let you simply dispose of it.  What the fuckity fuck? 
You know what you will dispose of for fear it might harm you?  A pillow.  I shit you not.  Possibly suspect food from a place you've never heard of via a shipping route that doesn't make sense with omens and animals indicating it's probably a danger?  That you can only set aside for later.
Of course I would give you the option to check or dispose of the chocolates.  Maybe both.  (Maybe just throwing them out kills a street urchin who goes through the palace trash looking for food and to properly dispose of them you need to check to see if they're dangerous first.  Maybe not.  Maybe throwing them out keeps everyone safe but leaves you unaware there was an attempt on your life while checking them does the safety plus the awareness -- which would change your mood where throwing them out not so much.  Whatever.)
The invasion:
Run and hide. 
Seriously, I'd give the option to run and hide.  A battle on the open ocean is not to your advantage, so don't fight there.
With sufficient military skills Elodie should know that the opportune moment to attack the enemy is when they're landing their army.  So if she passes a skill check she should be allowed to have that be her strategy. 
If not, run and hide.  (As an option.) 
Wait until her army has superior knowledge of the terrain at the very least. 
However the enemy army gets to the Novan soil, you know what should be an option when they do?  Run and hide.  Pull her army back to the fortifications.  That's what castles are for.  Evacuate the land in the path of the invasion. 
She might lose approval from people who think she's a coward, but all options have trade offs and these should be options. 
And I've skipped one of the most crucial things.  If Elodie doesn't know enough about the military when the Ixion affair comes up she defaults to diplomacy, if she does know enough then she still sees diplomacy as an option.  Elodie can, with the right skills, see this invasion coming in advance.  She should have the option of trying to stop the war before it starts via diplomatic envoy. We know she considers diplomacy an option elsewhere, why not here?
And on a last note about the invasion, remember what I said about not only smart options?
When Togami comes in (she doesn't know it will be Togami, just a diplomatic envoy), why exactly can't she set up to ambush the incoming group?  Why not have her response to the duel request be a hail of arrows? 
One of the ways Elodie can deal with Ix is by killing their ambassador (thus triggering war) so it's not like Elodie can't be the sort of person who would kill the diplomats.
Nova is losing the war, killing off the leader might make Nova somewhat better off, but this option seriously doesn't seem like a good one for the country.  At best it seems like it would ravage the country dealing a blow to law and order for years to come and making Nova much weaker than it's ever been in the recorded history you have access to.  At best. 
But that doesn't mean it shouldn't be an option.  There are plenty of bad options you're free to choose, why not this? 
[Added:] If one has the composure to avoid a suicidal attack on Magic Man post-dad-death you can choose to either symbolically submit to him kneeling and kissing his hand, or do exactly the same thing you would have done with no composure. 
I... did not see that coming.  I thought that refusal would simply be not kneeling and not kissing his hand.  Perhaps standing stoically by, perhaps simply glaring at him.  Something that said, "You killed my mom, you sank my fleet, you invaded my country, you've been killing my people, you killed my dad, you have what you want, you said you would leave, now GET OUT," but not in words. 
I'd make that be an option, and have that be refuse, and current refuse be renamed "attack" or something.  And there should be consequences, but not directly apparent ones.  An assassin coming on one of the last weeks or something. 
Togami can't kill Elodie right when she refuses because then his, "If you duel me no one else has to die," offer, which he no doubt plans to make to every other ruler with a Lumen crystal, will be known to be a lie.  If Togami kills Elodie then and there without provocation then it becomes, "If you agree to my terms I'll still kill the person you love most in the world."  Who is going to accept that offer?
 So instead of a choice between "Sacrifice all dignity of both yourself and your country" and "Die" I'd have it be: "Sacrifice all dignity of both yourself and your country", "Face/risk facing unknown, and covert, future retaliation" and I have no problem leaving "Die" as an option. 
At this point there's nothing real that Elodie can do to Togami, but she can, at least, symbolically refuse to give in.  Which is what I originally thought the [Refuse] meant.  I'd really like that to be an option (if you have the composure.) [/added]
If peace:
Say Elodie saves the world through song, she might want to learn from her new ally how to change the resonance of a Lumen crystal.  Just saying.

* It's a chess term.  In chess you can never pass on a move, just like you can never pass on doing a weekend activity, but sometimes any move would be a move for the worse and you'd really really like to pass.  You are said to be in zugzwang when every possible move makes your position worse.

1 comment:

  1. Going by Ana's play-through, many of the existing options seem very blunt. Your first example could definitely do with not being a once-for-all decision — or if it's going to be, it should at least be flagged as such in the text! I know, sometimes you can't predict how other people will react to your actions, but there are quite a few in there where Elodie seemed to be exceeding her player-given brief.