Don’t know if this was reported, yet, so I’m apologizing in advance if it was. All three choices are met with the same error on this page:
Blurred for spoiler reasons.
Don’t know if this was reported, yet, so I’m apologizing in advance if it was. All three choices are met with the same error on this page:
Blurred for spoiler reasons.
It wasn’t reported, thank you for the catch! I’ve fixed it as of 5/16/2022.
just finished chapter 10! i got so much to say. first, your story is SO INTERESTING. even though i understand 0 chinese, im still able to enjoy it. can i suggest to add “dictionary” on the stat page for words that mc learned? i love the characters. i like that they have several different sides. im intrigued about the mountain spirit and vic’s past. the thing about a’li liking vic while vic only loves mc, also that the false mountain spirit has confessed and a’li turned them down because he never feel that way about them, and why a’li said “i pity anyone who likes her” about vic if he himself likes her. i want to see where it would lead, as they both listed as romanceable. the drama! will i get the chance to pet dahua? to pet a’li’s e a r s mayhaps???
i want to ask, why did you use katakana for kitsune and not kanji? the chapter 6 title is missing line break i think. i asked vic not to fight monkey, but she still fight him. also when Ana raised one of mc’s chosen stat, breaking the fourth wall, i found that the stat didn’t change. is this intentional?
5/29/2022 - Chapter 11 Uploaded*:
*Now Chapter 10. The content is similar but the chapters have been reorganized so the demo ends on Chapter 10 as of Aug 2022.
@blob I’m glad! The game is intended to be interesting for all audiences, regardless of language ability—the language selections just make the game interesting in different ways.
I’m glad you liked the characters’ different sides—this chapter introduces “the villain”, but the False Mountain Spirit also has reasons and justifications, even for actions that might appear “evil” at first.
There is a lot of drama, isn’t there? I’m wrapping up the story and resolving some of these loose threads now. Some tensions might not clear completely, even by the end of the story, but your choices might start a hopeful new beginning for the characters.
Unfortunately, Dahua would probably consider attempts to pat her harassment. You might get a chance with her descendants, however. We’ll see with A’Li.
I used katakana to distinguish Japanese from Chinese (simplified and traditional), which shares characters with kanji. I’m less familiar with Japanese, however—let me know if the choice was inappropriate.
I’ve fixed the line-break and vic-fighting-monkey issues. Ana doesn’t raise the stat you choose—she raises earth-heaven alliance. I’ve added an explanation to clarify the “stat change” she’s referring to. Thank you for the recommendation about the language-learned dictionary—I’ll look into it.
Such an exciting update. The plot thickens
Readers, what do you think of Xingtu? I’ve made changes to A’Li’s storyline based on feedback and been pleasantly surprised by Victoria’s reception. So far, no one has commented on Xingtu. How do you feel about them? What do you think they want? Are they hiding anything? If so, what?
Part of the reason I have a hard time forming a coherent opinion on Xingtu is their at times goofy antics. There is a hidden note seriousness that needs to be uncovered, but beyond that? The layers of masks, and deflective antics (not to mention their resistance to more placid, responsible, and cautious peace-loving MCs–mine in particular hates burn-y spicy foods, so they may have been disappointed by that refusal to want the spicy food a second time… ) makes it a touch difficult to form the feeling that, yes, we’re becoming friends.
Unfortunately for Xingtu, and this is definitely intentional on your part for their character arc, they come across as very fake about a lot of things. They lack regard for things, and even people at times, which makes them more incompatible with the kind of MC I’m playing than anything else. There isn’t a particular reason for my MC to dislike them, so that’s not a problem, but I do get the impression that Xingtu is trying to impose things on the MC to ‘better understand’ something. What that something is may be a while in coming at their pace of offering explanations for their attitude about things.
I do like them as a character, but their opaque nature ended up making them the one with the lowest relationship “score” with my MC. Enough so that I wondered why they seem to be trying to force themselves to hang around. Shouldn’t they feel burdened by the way I’d thusfar played my MC? Why are they being so tolerant toward someone who seems to disagree about so many things with them? Those are questions I’ve asked myself peripherally while reading the interactions with them. I don’t feel any reason to dislike them, but that emptiness that Lili describes comes across very well in their way of going about their business.
It seemed odd to me that when we jump out the window we depend on Victoria saving us. Shouldn’t we be able to do the superhero landing if our body power is high enough? Or do what Victoria does if our environmental control power is high enough?
And wouldn’t it make sense to ask others who knew the Mountain spirit if we are fundamentally changed or essentially the same in this incarnation? Ask Victoria “Okay, you love me. Do you love me because I am what’s left of the Mountain Spirit, or do you love me because I am the same as the Mountain Spirit?” or “A’Li, on a scale of one to ten, how much am I the same as the Mountain Spirit and how much am I a stranger wearing his face? Do I walk like him? Smile like him? Do I act like him?”
Or ask Victoria’s sister when she asks us if we self identify as the Mountain Spirit? “You tell me, should I identify as the Mountain Spirit, or am I a new person who used to be the Mountain Spirit?”
And shouldn’t there be a response to finding out that A’Li took over the duties of the Mountain Spirit with “Hey, isn’t that supposed to be my job?”
I like them. And their personality and refusal to commit seem like an interesting route. But I chose A’Li from the first moment I found this IF and I’m not interested in trying their route. But it’s nothing on their part or yours. I mostly pick a character/s (sometimes after a lot of deliberation) and hold onto them like a koala and never let go.
I like Xingtu. The only problem for me (this is very specific) is that to be attracted to them, I need to know the plumbing. One is a go, the other is not. Since I don’t know, I’m not interested in a romantic pursuit. As a friend, they are fantastic, but it’s A’li for me because personally I need that certain something to have a fulfilling, physically intimate relationship.
The game asks us, as the player, about our comfort level with the Chinese languages.
I feel it should ask about our character’s comfort level with the Chinese languages as well.
The character could have studied in college. Or at least began listening to an educational podcast when they got the job.
Just moving to China with no linguistic preparation just seems a tad ugly american to me.
@LadyUmbreon89 Thank you for your feedback! Your reading tells me that so far, the character is coming across as planned. Xingtu definitely wants something. In some ways, they might be considered the “true” villain of the story. Should you decide to go that route, figuring out their motives will be one of the biggest challenges of the game.
@stsword The player jumps out the window despite having discovered qi yesterday. As of 7/30, I added half-sentence to suggest jumping may be a bad idea. The player’s abilities are not comparable with Victoria’s abilities.
I also added the player questioning Victoria and other NPC’s; however, I fear NPC answers won’t be very interesting. I farm the game’s knowledge about the players’ beliefs and preferences to make the player character just like the mountain spirit. The relationship between the player character and mountain spirit is meant to evoke the Ship of Theseus paradox—if you replace every part of a ship with other, identical parts, is it still the same ship?
I also added an option for you to ask A’Li, “Hey, isn’t that my job?”
To your suggestion about the character’s Chinese abilities, previous players have made similar suggestions. I’ve had nearly a year to decide on keeping the language choice about the player and only the player, so the (very long) answer is under
Having a language choice originated for the player’s benefit—I wanted multi-lingual readers to feel immersed, not put off by an incorrect assumption of their language abilities. Putting in different player-and-character language abilities (player and character both know Mandarin; player and character both don’t know Mandarin; player knows Mandarin, character doesn’t; character knows Mandarin, player doesn’t; ect, more variations needed for Pinyin) would have increased complexity more than 6x, to an extent that prevented me from finishing the story. As it stands, the game already has several thousands characters’ worth of Chinese and Pinyin, with most of Xingtu’s dialogue coming in a Chinese and English version. In addition to living in China and studying Mandarin for almost a decade, I’ve worked with native speakers, including a Chinese professor from Peking University, to ensure that the in-game text reflects contemporary trends and character dialects.
Given the option of the player or the character choosing their language abilities, I chose to address the player for two reasons:
First, the language choice is meant to make the player (not the character) feel at home in the world of the game.
Second, the game is interested in exploring the distinction between the player and the character. Making the language abilities identical is one way of blurring the distinction. Asking the player about their language ability early on also hints at the game “knowing” the distinction between the player and the character, which will be important to later 4th-wall-breaking shenanigans.
Finally, identity, diversity, and discrimination is a theme of the game. This being a role-playing game, players already more leeway than in real life (eg. being able to choose their nationality and appearance.) The language choice is where I want to acknowledge that some aspects of identity cannot be put on and taken off with the click of a button. If a player wants their character to have studied Chinese, they’ll have to put in the work of language-learning (or google-translating Mandarin). However, you make a good point about it being unlikely that a no-Mandarin player did not prepare some Chinese in advance. I may give characters the option of doing some language-learning beforehand, though they won’t have learned enough to dramatically change the playing experience.
Let me know if this addresses your concerns, or if you’ve further suggestions. I appreciate the thought you’ve put into your playing experience.
@Gloomcat A’Li is a sweetheart. And a much better partner than Xingtu—sorry Xingtu—but I fear the main NPC’s are all terrible romantic interests in their own ways. In some respects, A’Li’s romance route can also be said to have no happy ending.
@MadAdam As this is a PG-13 rated game, I plan to leave the plumbing entirely to the players’ imaginations. The physicality of in-game relationships will also remain PG-13, though you may get an idea of the main NPC’s different levels of interest in and/or hesitation about the physical aspects of your relationship..
An MC who can enhance themselves to play Hercules with some barrels can’t enhance their legs to leap out of a window and stick the landing because that’s too advanced? I see no particularly reason why the latter would be a quantum level more difficult than the former.
Even if you insist that is the case, okay so be it, exactly how would the MC or the player know that without trying?
As for the MC thinking about it enhancing their ability to jump and take a landing? Superman, Spider-Man, the Hulk, every Wire Fu movie in the history of time including the Matrix series, it’s not exactly an obscure idea.
MC tries but fails= Story indicates it was too difficult. MC doesn’t even try= Story communicates that the MC forgot about their powers. Like the Flash forgetting that he has superspeed to pad out a story that logically would have seen the threat tied up in front of the police station in less than 3 seconds.
Environmental control? Well maybe making a patch of ground springy would be more difficult than making a barrel light as a feather. Or making the air slow their fall. Probably other ways I haven’t thought of off the top of my head.
But it’s still the same issue there- If the MC tries and fails that shows it was too much for the MC to succeed, the MC trying absolutely nothing fails to communicate that.
So if “its too difficult for the MC to do that” is what you want the readers to get from playing the game, then I advice adding words to that effect so the readers know that.
As someone who grew up in a Chinese American household, I noticed some things with the wording/phrasing of some of the Chinese in the game. Now, I’m not a native-born speaker and I don’t have the same level of proficiency as one, but I am fairly comfortable with the language and know my way around the grammar. Still, feel free to run my criticisms by someone who is a native born speaker if you want a second opinion.
“师傅” is a bit formal and is usually used to address someone of a higher status. I think it would be more natural for him to say ”先生”，which is roughly equivalent to “sir”
If you mean to say “the next exit”, it should be “下个路口”. In mandarin, 下 means next, while 上 refers to the previous one.
“先回去” sounds more natural here
In Chinese, the word mountain usually comes after the actual name of the mountain. Also, the characters for “qing” and “chen” are flipped, so it should be “青城山”, ie Qingchen Mountain.
I think a native speaker would be more inclined to say “山上的人”, ie “the people on the mountain”.
This feels like a literal translation of “some years”. “一些” is usually not used with time phrases. It feels more natural to say “几个年”
This is just what I was able to catch in the first chapter. I realized that there is probably going to be a lot more Chinese in the game. I don’t know if I have time to go through all of it, or if you are even looking for this level of exhaustive nitpicking on the language aspects, but if you want me to go through the rest of it just let me know and I’ll try my best.
As someone who is exposed to Chinese and Taiwanese channels on a daily basis and binge trashy Chinese Isekai fiction on Pujiang(普江）, i have to disagree with your assessment.
I find that the Author’s command of grammar is quite strong and comfortable to read and make sense.
It does make sense, in some more rural places they do so. And in Chinese Dramas that I watched they tend to use that interchangeably. There is no right or wrong to that.
“先回“ sounds fine when paired with “吧”。in fact, in some spoken mandarin, we tend to shorten the words spoken.
I think that was the Author’s intention to make the MC read it as 山城青 ?? As in pre-modern China, many Chinese cities/fortress plaques tend to be written from right to left.
Again, i would have to disagree, as natives tend to speak more quickly hence some words might be omitted.
Actually, i find “一些年” is the more suited one, “几个年” feel unnatural to read. In fact, i never encounter mandarin natives using “几个年” in those channels/fiction i binged. Or when spoken in Mandarin. Perhaps that is from a dialect?
It’s not my intention to anger you. But I think what the Author has done with the language is pretty good and strong. I’m surprised and even delighted with the nicknames the Author gave to Origin and Chaos. Creative and makes so much sense.
I’m not angry at all! I’m glad you took the time to respond to me.
My knowledge of Chinese is primarily based on the patterns of speech that my friends and family use around me. I do understand that there are a lot of different dialects/modes of speaking, and I don’t claim to be familiar with all of them as there are literally hundreds. I am a mandarin speaker as are most of the people I know. I don’t really consume any Chinese media but I imagine that there probably are differences in the way people speak in Chinese TV shows as opposed to in real life.
Again, though I am fluent, I’m not an expert in Chinese by any means. I did run my criticisms by my mom (who is a native born speaker) and she agreed with them, but, well, she’s my mom so it’s safe to say she might be biased.
That’s the thing with a massively diverse language like Chinese. There’s not always a strict “right” or “wrong” way to speak when there’s literally hundreds of different ways of speaking it. I was just pointing out some of the things I noticed as someone who is familiar with Chinese, but someone who is from a different part of China or is more familiar with modern usage of the language might disagree with my assessment. That’s why I suggested getting a second opinion from someone who is a native born speaker. I don’t know if you are one, but even if you’re not it’s always good to have more input from someone else who speaks the language
Hi. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to read this wonderful work. But you mentioned that you have uploaded chapter 11 but the reading stops at chapter 10.
@stsword Thank you for elaborating—the comparison with the barrel-lifting task earlier in the story was the context I needed. You’re right—these two magical tasks seem comparable in difficulty, so a player who can do the first should later succeed in the latter. I’ve made a note to re-examine the player’s magic-use opportunities and make them scale sensibly against each other.
I appreciate all comments on the Chinese. They ensure I’m doing my homework and reassure me that the work I’ve put into the Mandarin text is worthwhile.
@Titanwithwings, I agree that different people have different experiences with any language, especially a language as widespread as Chinese. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. As to my knowledge of Chinese, I will let my responses speak for themselves—
The referral to taxi-drivers as “师傅” is taken from my (and Chinese peers’) real-life use of the term for taxi drivers in Beijing and Chengdu within the last 5 years. In addition to martial arts/wuxia fiction, 师傅 is used to address middle-aged-or-older male-presenting tradesmen, the way waitresses of the last decade-or-so will refer to young, female-presenting customers as “美女” regardless of their appearance—flattery is polite. In this context, 先生 would be more formal/respectful/unusual because it hasn’t been normalized through frequent, specific use like 师傅 for taxi drivers.
The text reads “the previous exit,” and I meant to write “the previous exit.” “The moped rider points up the street” because the taxi driver missed his exit.
The plaque at the entrance of Mount Qingcheng is written from right to left in real life. As a consequence of their age or as references to historical plaques, name-plaques for historical sites often use traditional Chinese, which reads from right to left. I present the characters in the order they’re written, not in the order in which they’d be read, to show that the plaque is printed in traditional rather than modern Chinese. I would have used traditional characters, but the traditional and modern characters are identical for 青城山.
All the other “odd” speech identified is from A’Li. In addition to the points Hfei made, A’Li’s politeness, extensive international experience, and long life produce moments of formal/literary/antiquated speech. All the main NPC’s use tellingly odd Chinese, with Victoria’s uses of ancient Chinese (古文) hinting at her age and lack of familiarity with modern humanity. Meanwhile, Xingtu’s language is probably the weirdest and most informative—about their gender/identity, geographical origin, and the diverse social circles in which they operate.
@Hfei, thank you also for your thoughts, especially for remarking on the Tangyuan/Wonton (汤圆/馄炖) detail. I put in lots of thought into nicknames knowing that the plurality of possible meanings might be less-noticed, so I’m extra delighted that you noticed and the detail was delightful for you.
@Blackhawk My apologies, my later updates revised the size/organization of the chapters so Chapter 10 is the end of the playable portion as of 8/3/2022. I’ll revise previous messages to reflect the new chapter organization.
The game is currently at 230k+ words.
As some of you might have seen, we’ve opened beta for the game here. I look forward to continuing to work on your + beta testers’ suggestions before release.
Hi, author. I just discovered your WIP thanks to the notice from CoG, and I have just finished the demo. I just want to tell you that this interactive fiction is amazing.
I have a question: Are you a native Mandarin speaker? Although I’m not one, I happen to be a polyglot who knows Mandarin and can read Chinese characters. And I just wanted to point out that Xingtu’s Mandarin grammar is kind of awkward. Is this one of their quirks? Because every other characters seems to speak Mandarin just fine.
I might be a minority here, but I actually really like Xingtu. I think I might have my MC persue them in romance. A’Li is charming, but I can already feel that things won’t end well in romance with him. Victoria is also interesting, and I might try a romantic path with her in another playthrough.
Anyway, keep up the good work. It’s nice to see an interactive fiction that involves Chinese people and their culture.
Edit: I almost forgot to report a continuity issue. In chapter 1, even though I chose to play as a non-Chinese MC, the game still thinks that my MC is a Chinese because when A’Li mentions that it is a requirement for him to be pretty, the MC thinks that, as a Chinese themselves, they aren’t aware that there is such a requirement for the Chinese men.