Help Thread: The Etiquette of Gem Choices

If you’ve been here for a while, you might have seen me complain about Episode gem choices and how they throw them into every single story until they’re no longer enjoyable. They hide all of the fun or story-altering choices behind gems, forcing you to pay to not be humiliated by the “bad boy” or something which would be soul-crushing in real life. I’ve seen a premium choice in a game (I can’t remember if it was Episode or another app like it) where you have to walk home naked if you don’t fork out the money to buy an outfit with the gem choices. Often, it’s like you get punished for not being able to afford gem choices, which is disgusting to me!

The Hogwarts Mystery game got in some trouble when it first came out for making people pay to escape Devil’s Snare. It made it seem like players were being punished with strangulation for not forking out money on their supposedly “free” game.

That’s why it’s so important that the main game without gem choices is still enjoyable. The existence of gems or any other premium choices should enhance an already great game. Otherwise, it makes it seem like you’re shaming the loyal fans who can’t afford to give the money they would like to. That’s just despicable to me.

The best way to do this, in my opinion, takes the most work. It goes something like this:

  1. Give the reader ways that they can earn points through free choices. For example, relationship points with their favourite love interest. This will force readers to really engage with your story (which you should want) and learn enough about the love interest they want.

  2. Use these points to contribute to the big choices. The free choices should add up to a great epic reveal. This makes all the best choices feel earned and shows that choices matter in your story. It will also increase the replay value of your story, as people may want to start all over again to get all of the possible outcomes they want.

  3. Use gems for the lazy people or the people who haven’t paid enough attention. If the reader hasn’t got enough points, they can buy the outcome they want using premium choices. That way, the only people who are being punished are the ones who didn’t pay attention! They have to pay money if they still want the same ending.

In this way, premium choices are kinda like damage control and it makes everyone happy.

For example:

The love interest takes you on a date if you get 15 relationship points. If you don’t get 15 relationship points, you can pay to make a grand gesture that makes him want to date you. You can either put the time and effort into building the relationship and get rewarded with this choice for free, or you can buy it if you didn’t pay attention or you accidentally made the wrong choices. Awesome!

Those are my views, anyway. Does anyone else have ideas for what they think good gem choices look like? Obviously, I understand that there are many authors out there who want to make sure that they get as many gem choices as they can so that they can unlock writer’s payments. However, that doesn’t mean you need to lose your integrity!

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I think placing them as a way of damage control is super fun. I also like gem choices for character customisation is fun as well, especially for future CC after the first time. The ability to replay choices and redo them, alter points and such can be a good one as well. And of course, the get out of jail free card can be quite nice.

But hiding good choices that further the story in interesting ways behind gem choices literally makes a story pay-to-win. Disgusteng

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This was going to be my compromise for my story, since Evanna’s appearance was important to me (as she’s a POC princess, which is rare in stories in general), but at the same time, I wanted people to enjoy the experience in any way that they want. This way, we would both get something out of it. Plus, the first gem choice was free anyway!

I think this is a fair enough compromise, considering some readers can be so damn annoying about begging for CC again!

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Modern gaming has a problem with funnelling people into buying progression packs and the like by making character progression within the game gruelling to the point that it isn’t fun, or just way too time consuming. Even a game as heavily praised as Overwatch does this. At a certain level you’re just not going to get lootboxes anymore, you need to buy them eventually. Oh, and for anyone who says cosmetics aren’t a part of the game, that’s a direct insult to the artists who work on it. F*ck you, you don’t deserve those cosmetics anyway.

A way around this is to make a game difficult, challenging, but still fun, and give the players who can’t take the heat a way around it. Devil May Cry 5 did this by being able to buy abilities and Red Orbs. But it’s still the most fun action game ever made, it’s just also too difficult for a lot of people to progress without forking out for it. Now, I don’t see anything wrong with that personally. Making the game easier and still having the real world currency stuff wouldn’t be as profitable as if the game was still difficult, so they’d need to start gating certain things off to make money. That’s bad.

So you keep the game difficult, you keep the progression challenging - but still enjoyable, still fun for the people who can’t afford the progress packs, but have them available for the people who don’t have the time, effort, or skill to progress through the game. I’ll say this, in gaming, someone who can’t afford a progress pack is way more likely to practie a good game to the point that they no longer need those packs. Episode could be the same. The difficulty comes in getting to know the characters and make the right choices to get the ideal endings. Gem choices come in for people who don’t have the time or effort to go through that and just want their love story. It’s a good balance

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The thing is, I would definitely spend more money on a game if I didn’t feel like I was being pressured to fork out the cash. Like, if I know that I could have gotten a better outcome if I made better choices, I go back and repeat the story (more ad revenue from me replaying) or I pay to fix the mistake. When I think that they’re shoving in choices to milk money from me, I assume that they’re not going to be very good quality choices.

Plus, that’s really realistic! You either take care and time and make your life easy, or you make bad decisions and you have to pay for them.

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I think Storyscape the app does this pretty well. I’ve shelled out for certain things but the game is very much enjoyable and meaningful without paying money.

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I actually haven’t played Storyscape enough! It’s a shame they don’t have community stories. Do they?

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Nope, not yet. They’re still pretty new. I think they have like 5-6 stories total. But the product team seems to be polling the reddit community a lot for feedback which makes it feel a lot more welcoming than other companies.

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I had to delete storyscape because people said it didnt give you your storage back

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What do you think about gem choices?

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I’m not a fan of gem choices but I won’t snub them if I have to use them.

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To be honest, I rather write a story without gem choices because it degrades the story for the reader. Like @ShanniiWrites said it makes the reader feel like they are being punished most times if the choice is something humiliating. I like what you said in this thread though. I would rather use gem choices like this but I rather not have to put them in at all.

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A lot of Episode stories really do have some bad etiquette on their stories, let’s be real :eyes:

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Is there a thing on how to do the choices and point system well with coding? One time I tried to do it with like flagging or whatever and the next episode said ‘oh there is no cvcoice like that here’

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Tbh I dislike gem choices related to being able to choose a LI or a person, because it kinda makes me feel like I’m “buying” them :sweat_smile::green_heart::eyes::sparkles:

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Oooh that is icky :joy:

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Ewwwww

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I think for gem choices, the ones that let you buy points are my favorites because they make the most sense to me. There’s a balance between having them be worth buying and having them not ruin the experience for the non-buying people which I think is really hard to do well.

How many @Episodians use gem choices? If you do, what was your favourite one you’ve made? Or what your favourite gem choice you’ve read in a story?

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In my opinion, gem choices should only be used as extras that don’t negatively effect the plot if you don’t choose them.

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