While designing Fading Hearts, I realized a parallel in Punch-Out in how the game is played. There is a signal (like the wind up for a punch) and then a time to react to the signal. Sometimes the game will try to fake a signal and sometimes the player may fall for it. You sometimes need to play several times to understand the patterns that appears and perhaps predict them. Both reward skill in faster progression. If this doesn't make an interactive story into a game then I don't know what will.
So I'll look at these in detail as well as the case where the foreshadowing or the punch out wind-up is absent. Hopefully this will highlight to everyone how important making good use of foreshadowing in making the story game-able.
Basic Foreshadowing Pattern
Between Punch-Out and Fading Hearts the basic pattern is similar but differs in reaction time. In Punch-Out you notice a signal that the opponent is trying to punch you a certain way and then you would hopefully react properly in a split-second real-time. (Split-seconds are like medium diffculty reaction times for fighting games of any type.) In Fading Hearts, the game sends you a forshadowing signal and then you react to it (or not) in a game-time day or game-week later.
If the player reacts to it properly at the right time, the player is rewarded. For punch-out it's damage to the opponent or sometimes a rare K.O. For Fading Hearts, you prevent someting bad from happening or you could save someone. If the player fails then something the opposite (bad event) or inverse (you get damage) happens.
This is the basis of making the story much more skill based than trial-and-error-based. There are some other issues too involving how to sync up the author's logic with the player's logic to prevent guides becoming a requirement but that's for another article. Why? Because it was HARD to do in my concurrent-branching-life-sim game.
I'll talk more about making the foreshadowing a bit more tricky like the fake-out moves in punch-out in the next part. But I need to sleep and dream about making intersting story secenarios about how to send the hero on a quest and how to make it awesome. Till next time!
PS: I feel really bad looking at my own game as an example. Can someone tell me in the comment section below another game that has a story that foreshadows an future event that you can change or do nothing about? Thanks!