It’s tough to keep track of the decisions you’re making in Life Is Strange, even though you can usually rewind and make different ones. Ever wonder how it would look mapped out, and you could see every branching path? The developers have done that for us, and it’s fascinating.
Life Is Strange developer Dontnod Entertainment recently provided Venture Beat with a detailed breakdown of a specific confrontation from the fourth episode of the game.
If you aren’t up to date on Life Is Strange, there are mild spoilers ahead.
To follow the entire thread, you’ll have to read Venture Beat’s full story, but I wanted to show off some of the complexity driving Life Is Strange by highlighting a few excerpts.
In the second half of the episode, Chloe and Max meet up with Frank, a lowlife drug dealer in the town of Arcadia Bay. He’s got info they need, so against their better judgement, they talk to him. Before you even start speaking to Frank, the game is taking into account past decisions:
- Max shot Frank / Mad did not shoot Frank
- Chloe has no gun / Chloe has a gun
- Frank has no gun / Frank has a gun
- Dog is present / Dog is not present
- Chloe stole the money / Chloe did not steal the money
- Max knows about Rachel photo
- Max knows about the rescue of dogs
Here’s a look at how the game handles the multiple possible outcomes, based on the dog:
There are little things the player probably wouldn’t ever pick up on, either, like how the game tracks when Frank gets angry during the conversation. If you upset him twice, he walks away:
This only gets more complex as the conversation drags on, and players move towards different ways to resolve the situation. When you’re simply choosing dialog options, it feels awfully simple, but when laid out in this form, it’s clear how complicated it becomes for developers.
The game also has to keep in mind Chloe is aware of Max’s ability to rewind time, so there are branches in the conversation that only happen when Max informs Chloe they’re trying again.
You won’t be able to read the text below, but this is how the final moment of the exchange with Frank plays out, as everything comes together to determine a whole host of outcomes for them:
Oof. And here’s how it looks when stretched out completely, from start to finish:
Even if you’re never going to play Life Is Strange, it’s worth checking out for a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into branching dialogue trees for video games.
You can reach the author of this post at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @patrickklepek.