A video game with NONLINEAR GAMEPLAY presents players with challenges that can be completed in a number of different sequences. Each player may take on (or even encounter) only some of the challenges possible, and the same challenges may be played in a different order. Conversely, a video game with LINEAR GAMEPLAY will confront a player with a fixed sequence of challenges: every player faces every challenge and has to overcome them in the same order.
A nonlinear game will allow greater player freedom than a linear game. For example, a nonlinear game may permit multiple sequences to finish the game, a choice between paths to victory, different types of victory, or optional side-quests and subplots . Some games feature both linear and nonlinear elements, and some games offer a sandbox mode that allows players to explore an open-world game environment independently from the game's main objectives, if any objectives are provided at all.
A game that is significantly nonlinear is sometimes described as being _open-ended_ or a _sandbox_, though that term is used incorrectly in those cases, and is characterized by there being no "right way" of playing the game. Whether intentional or not, a common consequence of open-ended gameplay is emergent gameplay .
* 1 Classification
* 1.1 Branching storylines
* 1.1.1 Visual novels * 1.1.2 Role-playing games
* 2 Level design
* 2.1 Open worlds and sandbox modes
* 3 Early examples * 4 See also * 5 References
See also: Interactive narrative
Games that employ linear stories are those where the player cannot change the story line or ending of the story. Many video games use a linear structure, thus making them more similar to other fiction . However, it is common for such games to use interactive narration in which a player needs to interact with something before the plot will advance, or nonlinear narratives in which events are portrayed in a non-chronological order. Many games have offered premature endings should the player fail to meet an objective, but these are usually just interruptions in a player's progress rather than actual