What Games Are: Great Story, Bad Game: Should The Walking Dead Be Nodal?
Ottway Ducard stashed this in Create
The major factor that prevents loss points is a sense of dynamism. Fans and players often prefer sports where late goals can make all the difference, the Hail Mary pass or the comeback from nowhere. It’s more exciting to sense that there is always a chance of success, particularly success born of actions and agency and actively playing well. This is something that non-story games often do well because they are trying to create an environment of dynamic states. Anything could (within the boundaries of the game) happen.
The problem that many story-game makers have boils down to not wanting to create a dynamic environment. They want everything to be just-so, like a movie or an audiobook, and for the player to come along for the ride. They will for a while, but only for a while. Narrative-led games frequently have completion rates in the low 20th percentile because of loss points, or because the player attained their maximum mastery and drifted away.
This is also why the type of narrative game which is most immune to loss points is the roleplaying game. Unlike the adventure game, roleplaying games usually have a fascinating game engine of levels, powers and resources to keep the play brain occupied. While the mid-game of The Walking Dead might involve searching a train carriage for a bottle of whiskey, the mid-game of Diablo is hitting things and using spells. It’s simply more active.