Branching stories are simple sims where players make a series of decisions to shape and advance a story. I have found ten surprisingly easy and effective "little" techniques to make them much richer.
Here is the seventh.
My goal is to keep the metronome of user engagement predictably brisk. I try to avoid situations where the player has to read or hear more than three sentences before performing some activity. Passive time can build up quickly if, for example, a narration introduces one on-screen character, who is then followed by a second on-screen character.
One little technique that I have used during necessary chunks of exposition is to have the player control the camera - even if simple illustrations are used. If there are two or three other people in the room, the player can make the choice at whom to look. This can influence the story, but more likely (and simply) give a glimpse at the emotional state of one of the characters.
And once again, the layout presented in this series are strictly illustrative. Take a look at some of my sims in the Clark Aldrich Designs Portfolio to see examples of real branching stories.