Over on his blog today, Coyote discusses “delayed consequences” in games. That’s a situation where you perform some action now, but the results are not seen until farther along in play.

We’re all too familiar with the typical RPG job; it’s a very cut-and-dried situation. You find the old lady’s lost cat/butterknife/left sock, and she gives you her blessing/apple/antique Victrola. Nothing happens beyond that.

Once in awhile, your errand may be a bit more involved. For the most part, though, these little tasks inhabit their own little worlds, with no real effect on the game world per se.

Let’s face it: this routine has become dull beyond words. It’s part of the “grind” as we progress towards the ultimate confrontation with you-know-who. But this “grind” could easily be spiced up with several “jobs” with consequences down the line you’re not aware of until later.

Obviously, if you make a wrong – but not game-ending – choice, and only several hours later realize that, save/reload isn’t really an option. Not unless you want to replay all that went before.

What Coyote wonders is: would players would accept situations of that kind, provided “guessing wrong” didn’t mean “game over, man”. I like the idea myself.

It’s always bothered me that these “errands” exist in a vacuum. They never seem real. They have no connection to the rest of the game, much of the time, anyway. And there’s hardly any need to think about what to do.

Of course, “future results” would have to be designed carefully. The consequences need to be logical, and not set up just to screw the player as a “big surprise”. After all, consequences can be good as well as bad.

But yeah, handled well, I could go for that. It would certainly make the world seem more like a real place. And without the need for over-the-top graphics.

(I’m just waiting for someone to mention Witcher. Go right ahead ;)

Delayed Consequences on Coyote’s blog