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Every time a player moves onto a new screen in a cybertext and they are faced with a choice, the pace of the work slows down. Where there is no choice to be made, the pace is still slowed but to a smaller extent: where the player can only click on link, they needn’t normally take time to deliberate. This is not just reading pace, but the pace of time in the whole work itself: every time the player pauses to consider, the cybertext freezes in that moment. When telling stories that proceed forward through time, a choice crystalises a moment. Too many choices without moving time forward stand to bog down the momentum of a story. We can define it like:

Momentum: The pace of experienced time in a cybertext.

Too many character creation choices in a row rob a cybertext of momentum. Especially if they happen before the player has reason to engage. If it is a story where choices are supposed to have consequences, momentum is especially important. A consequence necessarily occurs later in time than its cause: slowing down or freezing time through too many choices that don’t move on the story acts to delay the payoff for those choices. A slow experience of time in the cybertext removes tension.

Slowing momentum can be desirable: players often don’t want to speed through a work, but rather take time to soak in the setting, develop relationship, get more story payoff for their decisions. Rather than giving longer passages of text (which might, in any case, be skimmed), we can enforce the reading of text and slow down the pace where necessarily by inserting additional momentum lowering choices.

Next up… parsimony.

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