In my book, Interactive Storytelling for Video Games, I define the three types of choices used in branching path stories (such as Aurora’s Nightmare). They are as follows:
These are used for decisions that split from the main story path only briefly, changing no more than a single scene. For example, early in Aurora’s Nightmare Tia and Aurora have a disagreement about clothing. Ars (the main character) is asked to weigh in and can choose to side with either one of the girls, or to choose something else entirely. His response only affects the remainder of that relatively short scene. No matter which option he chooses, he’ll end up back on the same story path soon. However, while this might not seem like a big deal, your choices in this and other minor branches can potentially have long reaching effects on the story, even if you don’t realize it at the time.
Decisions that result in a moderate branch cause the story to split for a longer time (often several scenes) before rejoining later on. One comes right at the start of Aurora’s Nightmare, when Ars can choose whether to go to work early or take his time getting ready. Depending on the option chosen, he’ll encounter and spend time with different people, learning more about them and potentially deepening their relationships (which could have future implications). However, by the time the normal workday has begun, the two paths will rejoin.
This final type of branch reflects a more drastic change, marking the start of completely new and different story paths. Aurora’s Nightmare will feature three such paths, all designed to show the player another side of the story and characters.
To get the most out of Aurora’s Nightmare, players will need to become familiar with all three types of branches above, choosing the right options to fill in the story and ensure Ars’ survival. And even then, only those who have fully explored all of the major branches and many of the minor and moderate as well will be able to grasp all the different aspects of the story. Fortunately, Aurora’s Nightmare will make it quick and easy to revisit past decisions and make another choice, whether to reverse a fatal mistake, or just to see what other possible outcomes exist.