I was reading through a good number of articles on the blog, Sly Flourish, and one of the ones that caught my attention was Three D&D Tips I Learned From Dragon Age. I think Bioware is probably a great source of ideas for games (he uses Dragon Age as an example) for games with a linear story and gameplay and the appearance of meaningful choice.

I think Half-Life 2 (I haven’t played the first one) and Portal are also examples of great games, linear and compelling, and the latter has encounters and situations that can be solved in multiple ways. My idea for using the pentagon system for developing encounters is exactly to create a semblance of choice within an otherwise linear structure.

The game master gets his story and the players get their choices. It works out like the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland: there are a couple ways to start, and you hit a lot of the same spots along the way, and if you only ride a couple times, it’s possible that each one will be completely different. To give the players a great ride where they feel like they’re in control, and you aren’t scrambling to fill time … that’s good planning. :)