3rd person, present tense

I’m curious how everyone feels about it - for choose your own adventure type games.

The idea is to make the MC more of a real person, with some of his own thoughts, goals, fears… etc. Which would make the player more of an influential force, rather than the one in the shoes. I think it could help strengthen the ‘MC’ type of character (and the overall story).

Of course there may already be some Choice games like this, I just haven’t played enough of them yet.

1 Like

So the player and the MC are two different entities.
Yea sounds cool.

And it would lead to the weirdest arguments ever.

I role-playing characters so 3d person is just a killing mode for me . These are interactive stories with you choosing your character inside the writer parameters. If you set a stone about gender, personality, feelings why in hell made a COG? Just write a normal story. These are all about putting yourself in character and live adventures you could feel you have some control. 3d person is just too cold and un personal, that kills for me ilussion of choice and immersion

1 Like

I say write whatever comes easiest to you. If you find it easier to write in third person, present tense, do that.

Personally, I find second person so very difficult to write in. It just seems completely unnatural to me to do it. I don’t like that omniscient narrator of the ‘yous’. I prefer first, (or even third), but both of those have their own limitations. That said, when playing, ‘you’ does often just become invisible.

I’d written a game in 3rd person/peresent tense a while back, and it is certainly feasible and a lot more fun than second person is, in my opinion. Some people might take issue with it, but so long as you provide substantial choices it’ll be fine.

The biggest thing for me is all the pronoun changes should you provide gender options.

Did anyone else, upon reading @faewkless ’ reply, immediately think of the line ‘It’s all about the he said she said…’ Just me? Okay.

Anyway- on reply, if there are multiple writing perspectives for novels, there can be multiple perspectives for CoG. These are, after all, interactive stories. If a style works for a novel, it should in theory work for a CS game. Coding tends to dictate style a little, but it doesn’t have to.

Just for the sake of something different. We see this type of thing in RPG’s with graphics (for example: the Atlus game Catherine). The goal would be to make him feel like a real person (with a past) – like you feel in a book or movie, rather than one you ‘created’ on the spot. I find it harder to relate to someone I just molded from a cookie-cutter.

But obviously that’s just me, thanks for you’re impression :blush:

Well, I normally write screenplay’s. So I’ve gotten used to that style of writing – while also trying to keep things short and direct.

And yeah, I’m not really fond of the yous. I’m sure thats for a variety of reasons. But it’s particularly lame when the game tells me how I feel about someone or something – when it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Maybe thats just a problem with my role-playing abilities? :smile:

Yeah offering a good number of choices would be important – otherwise “why don’t you just write a novel” is a valid point.

Did you finish your 3rd person game? I’d love to see it.

Yeah the coding… hmm. I was thinking of formatting it like a screenplay, but I’m not sure how many people are familiar with how they read. Or more importantly, if they would enjoy it (since the style isn’t complicated at all).

3rd person ended up not suiting that story specifically, so I started converting it to 2nd recently. I have a portion that I did write in 3rd that I can send to you if you do want to look at it. It’s not very good though. :slight_smile:


The choose your own adventure books were often written in 2nd person, present tense form. So writing a CS game in what amounts to a less frantic pace of choices may suit the style well- I can imagine swapping out various lines in a screenplay style with others, based on choices. I’m going to take a leap and figure that when you mean screenplay style, you’ll place character names in front of dialogue? Two points on that- I’ve gotten used to it in Visual Novels. And I’ve gotten used to -not- seeing it in CS games. There’s a WIP doing this, which I personally find a bit disconcerting, but do understand. And it’s not a bad idea- it is very VN-esque. And a number of VNs are also written in 2nd person, present tense. So if that’s what you’re going for, more power to you, I support the decision. :wink: On the flipside a play… or a raw script, I think could be a bit much for the majority audience to digest. Especially if you go Manuscript format. I mean, it would be interesting. You’d just have to win people over who aren’t used to seeing it. Which would be easy enough to do with good writing. Sometimes, though, I will be blunt, seeming oddities can take someone out of the story if the writing gets weak. Then again, odd for one person is not for another. Like, I simply can’t listen to most anime in English; I’m too used to Japanese voices and English actually sounds weird to me, because it often sounds like very bad voice acting. Even if it’s mostly not that bad. So … try it. I haven’t seen a CS game in VN style yet, I’ll reserve my opinion. But I think that it -could- be very interesting.

The more CYOA conventions you can break and get away with, the better. The huge disadvantage in 3rd person however, is that it’s inherently impersonal. The player doesn’t have any built-in “skin in the game”, which makes your job creating a compelling interactive story much more difficult. Not only would you have to make and develop fleshed-out characters, you would have to let the player help out in that process to develop personal attachments and feelings.

Earning reader immersion this old-fashioned way, without complete control over every aspect of your scenes (like in a traditional novel), is not going to be easy. But if you develop a solid dynamic, like the player is a sort of god or guardian spirit, or if you’re raising a child (shout-out to Princess Maker) from start to finish, there’s definitely potential there. Worth trying!

Since you referenced Catherine, there was a let’s play by a youtube named cryaotic (chaotic monkey) where he stated that he didn’t feel like he had a choice because if the MC was questioning his relationship that much then it was clear MC didn’t really want to be in that relationship. As for me, I was fustrated by the lack of control because I thought the MC was getting drugged and date raped by Catherine and there was no option to do anything about it. But this theory was wrong

If you have a set protagonist, you could do it like the Guenevive wip where the player can define their character.

My problem with set MC’s is that I feel like I can’t choose ooc choices and that loses the point if even having choices, or I don’t like the MC because they are weak, dumb, or illogical. The only real choices with a set MC are general action choices like turn left or turn right. There are cases where a set MC is done well like when the character is somewhat general and relatable, but there is no replayability because I only chose what I think is in character for that MC and cant create new MCs with their own stories.

I usually try to write in first person, hoping it becomes more immersive. But now that you bring it up, third person might be really interesting if you’re a disembodied guide (still invested in the MC) or the PC and the MC aren’t the same person.

Now I have no idea what I was trying to say. Sorry.

I found Princess Maker inherently creepy, with how it cast us in the role of that creepy old man controlling the life of the Princess. Cute Knight, on the other hand, very similar game but lets you play the Princess.

I think there are ways to negate the impersonality of third person. We read books written in third person and care about the characters, right, and watch tv shows and movies.

I’ve played a lot of games where I’m not actually the protagonist, but I still care about them, the struggles they’re going through, and their choices. Even if I can’t quite get a glimpse into their heads. Some games, mind you, also have diaries in them, so I can get a direct look into the protagonists head. They’ve also a tendency to talk out loud.

I want to mention The Hunger Games. The books are in first person, the movies are in third. I know a lot of people find Katniss far more likeable in the movies than she is in the books. (Personally I like her better in the books.)

My own issues with third person are mostly I feel like I need to write far more description with it. I’m absolutely awful at writing description. My writing tends to be sparse when I’m writing in third person.

Are you planning on writing your game in a screenplay format? Or actual dialogue etc?

I would love to play a game where I’m a poltergeist or casper the friendly ghost type character that influences the lives and relationships of the family I’m haunting! First, I will befriend the youngest member of the family and tell her my real name and history. The youngster will just think I’m her imaginary friend and the parents won’t pay any attention to me. …until it’s too late.

I will then haunt one member of the family by moving their stuff, appearing in my ghostly form and doing ghost stuff. The other family members will think my haunting victim is crazy , except for the youngester but no one listens to kids.

At the end, the family can finally google all of my info and find out I was a real person who was murdered in the house and try to exercise me.

Or, I could be nice. I will put the kid’s homework that he forgot into his bag before he leaves for school so he doesn’t get in trouble. I can possess him and help him with homework or nightmares. I could clean and do the dishes while everyone is gone. I can impersonate someone’s dead grandma during a seance or reveal that the babysitter is secretly evil.

I vote yes for the ghost game. There could be a lot of replayability.

I’d also play a game where I’m the voice inside of a schizophrenic’ s head or one of the personalities of someone with DID, but you might have to research this topic before you write.

I like your Ghost idea. You should make that game. It sounds fun.

But please don’t do this.

1 Like

Well I am not fond of those style stories probably because I just never get attached other characters in games or novels. In the casper stuff i would end bored of that family at first chapter and just imagine how making them stop talking. That’s of course a personal thing, and there are some exceptions that comes from an amazing writing. Basically Bioware npcs companions and Walking dead Clementine . I just have a clearly defined me vs them personality in games books so if you trying let me hanging in a middle ground controlling a whatever other person. … I am weird i know and for me Cogs are games not novels.

I won’t mind a game written in 3 person, present tense.
It has already been used in Divided We Fall, but for other reasons.
But your concept of the player taking the role of some external force guiding a character sounds refreshing and I think using 3 person is appropriate here.

I’ve always had a hard time reading interactive fiction in third person, but then again , I’ve only ever come across one or two… so I’d say try it

I would say do what you want! no matter what you write, some people will like it and some won’t. just how it is so make yourself happy cuz you can’t many EVERYONE else happy

If you don’t mind sending it, that’d be cool. No worries about the quality. Just interested in the idea :smiley:

Hmm, interesting. Do you have a link to the WIP doing this style? I’d like to see how it’s working out. And yeah, I’m thinking of placing character names centered over the dialogue – then their words underneath. So no he said, she said, yada yada.

It’s not a story I have written yet, so the formatting could change over the course of the script… and to be honest I imagine it will change quite a bit. Novels obviously tend to use more words, and screenplays generally cut them to the bare necessities. But that’s something that I’ll look at after receiving feedback.

If nothing else it’s an experiment :wink:

Ugh, so much truth here, lol. It will be very difficult without scene control. And honestly I’m not sure how to go about balancing the freedom vs control. I think I may write the whole thing as the story I want to tell – and then afterwards go back and add two more distinct branches…

I suppose this is a CYOA question in general. How do people go about writing them? Write one path start to finish? Or write all the paths as move along? Writing all the paths at once sounds much harder.

I definitely understand your point of view. But I sort of went into the game knowing I won’t have full control of his character (Vincent is his name, I think). Maybe the problem here is that you didn’t like the character or the story, rather than how much you could affect it? – For example, Final Fantasy 7 has a great story, but the choices weren’t that dramatic.

So perhaps if you go into it knowing what your getting, you could adjust your expectations and enjoy it for what it is. That said, everyone is different. For me, I’d rather have a great story with no replayability vs a mediocre one with a lot.

I see what you mean :blush:

I was thinking more of a “disembodied guide” for the MC. Rather than a PC and an MC – though that idea sounds interesting as well.

I agree with you 100% on the movies/books thing. That’s what I’d like to accomplish. Just with a bit of choice thrown in.

As far as the formatting goes - yeah I was thinking to write the whole thing in screenplay format. Action, Characters, Dialogue, capitalized SOUND effects, the whole deal. But that’s up for debate, as I’m unsure how people will react to that style of reading… not even considering its application to a CYOA.

That all sounds like fun, actually :smiley:

Fair enough.

Thanks man :sunny:
We will see how it goes, haha.

How did you find the ones you read. Enjoyable?

That’s true. Was just wondering about the feasibility of it all. I suppose I would like to see something like it. If for no other reason than it being different.