This is the complete flowchart for School Days, for those curious — click to embiggen. The blue circles are decisions I’ve made/bits I’ve seen. This is correct as of two playthroughs, which had very different endings despite starting quite similarly. And you thought Katawa Shoujo was complicated.

Consequences in games!

I wonder how difficult it would be to do a branching narrative that was this complex in something a little more “interactive”, though. Not easy, I imagine. I mean, for all the praise BioWare’s titles get for allowing you to make meaningful choices, all paths through each game still follow the same basic story arc. The Witcher 2 does it slightly better, with two distinct story arcs. Bethesda titles follow about a million smaller paths but don’t deal so much in “consequences”. Heavy Rain did it quite well, but that was closer in structure to a visual novel than anything, so it’s perhaps not surprising.

The reason we probably don’t get something of this magnitude in triple-A games is, as we’ve discussed before on several occasions, in most cases developers want players to see all their content. Why bother making assets, animations, cutscenes and whatnot for story paths that are likely to prove “unpopular”? Why not just Shepard (sic) the player down a single path towards an inevitable conclusion? Much easier to develop — and plan, for that matter.