We make choices matter by tracking a lot of choices the player makes:
♦ We have a bunch of hidden stats in the game that track your playstyle, and every single choice affects these, tipping the scales ever so slightly each time
♦ We also track a massive amount of events and decisions specifically
♦ We have “skills” – these are passive “abilities” that are unlocked by playing a certain way. Sort of like habits.
♦ A lot of choices and actions have “hidden stat”/event/skill requirements, which if you don’t meet, you’ll still see them but wont be able to select them
For example, in a hypothetical scenario, a hidden stat could be how much a character you’re talking to, including the protagonist, likes you. If you anger him enough, maybe it’ll erupt into an argument. At this point we would take note of this, so that any future interactions with him will reflect this.
If you do a type of action for it to become habitual, you might get a skill that reflects this, which would make certain future dialogue or action choices available (or others unavailable).
Note that this does not only affect dialogue choices, but also actions you can perform elsewhere in the game.
Every single small choice you make builds up, and shifts the direction of the story. While there are crucial moments and big decisions to be made, they happen within the context of the numerous smaller decisions, even those as trivial as the way you greet someone, that – true to life – ultimately decide who we are.