Advice for someone starting out

Hello!
Amateur game developer here!
It’s my first post here (just created the account) so please excuse me if I posted in the wrong forum. I just wanted to ask for advice for beginner authors when it comes to planning, designing and making games with choice script. I’m really interested in this language (not sure if I should call it that, but no matter) so I’m ready to hear any advice.
Thank you!

Hi! I was completely new to coding when I first started writing IF, a total beginner. I found using the Choicescript Wiki really helpful to get started and understand all the coding. When I began writing, if I came across errors that I didn’t understand then I’d search them in the Google search bar and it would take me to these forums — 99.9% of the time someone has had the same type of error and someone in the forum has given them a solution. Alongside that, if you’ve read some IFs you can check the author’s coding too, especially if there’s a particular coding element you enjoyed within the story.

Cliché, but the more you write and use this type of coding, the easier it will get. In terms of the story itself, I’d advise to have an outline ready at least because you’ll have to add multiple choices in for the reader — and these are stories that can be well over 100,000 including/excluding code.

Hope these help.

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If you want to make the coding side easier, I’ve found [CSIDE] The ChoiceScript IDE (v1.3.0 Now Available — 18/06/2019) to be really helpful in streamlining the process of writing with ChoiceScript. It highlights code and lets you test for bugs and errors (and comes with a lot of other features).

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Hello and welcome to the forum! There are some useful links here.

My additional advice is to play lots of ChoiceScript games, whether published or in progress (if you don’t want to buy a completed game, there are a bunch that are available for free) and figure out what you like and don’t like in this sort of game, and what feels successful and what doesn’t. It will really help solidify your goals and ideas and give a sense of what the possibilities are.

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Here are some lin- Oh, Hanna won, I’m barely waking. Never mind.
Here are some other links that may help you with your story

They certainly have helped me a lot. Otherwise, just start and see what problem you encounter. Plan ahead, cause the branching can get out of control really easy and you can end up with an unfinishable project that grows into a million words if you don’t contain it. And as they mentioned before, google first, cause someone probably had the same coding problem before you, and the answer is here on the forum or the wiki.

As a fellow beginner who began Choicescript a year ago, I think there are several things I learned through trial and error that could help you become more eased into this world a little faster than I have:

  • As mentioned Choicescript Wiki and this forum will be your best friends, but all in all, practice is the only way to learn like anything else. I personally ended up just writing short stories or scenes for the sole purpose of getting practice and honing in the basics, and trying out advanced sequences to see what works and what doesn’t, before I finish something a little more serious. For example, I wrote simple scene about an MC playing a MOBA game with a bunch of friends, and filling the choices with dialogue, personality/stat choices, and a lot of cussing just for practice and some stupid fun.

  • If you haven’t followed the advice in a previous post, get CSIDE.

  • From trial and error (which includes me falling asleep reading my own works), I think you need to really keep in mind that an IF is in a grey zone between a literary work and an RPG game, and that you will pretty much be doing the work by yourself. You are the Lead Game Developer of your own IF, who likely will have no one but yourself to take on the role of author, game mechanic designer, programmer, and quality assurance beta-tester (until your work gets some attention). Like any novels, the story and its contents need to interest your readers, but as it is also a game, the gameplay mechanics (mainly meaningful choices, but also stats, skills etc.) need to complement and support your storytelling since it is an RPG. If the story is boring, your coding skills won’t matter. If you are Ernest Hemingway reborn, but your stats and choices are clearly an afterthought, then it might as well just be a traditional novel. It is a lot of planning, and maybe daunting to create an IF, but once you more or less figure out how Choicescript works and get your foot in the door, I can promise that planning becomes a lot more clearer, since you can spend your time worrying about the plot and how to make your choices fun and interesting, rather than why your game runs into an error from the first page. And read this post once you get the gist of the basics, it is one of the best posts on this forum which offers insightful advice for beginners and veterans alike: What I learned from playing every Choicescript game (patterns in good/bad games)

  • All this in the end has to be tempered with how realistically you can finish your work - as you may know, there are many ambitious games and books that never materialized because the developers/authors tried to bite off more than they could chew. From what I observed, that tends to discourage more than the opposite.

I was bored and needed to write something, hope it helped.

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Thanks for help so far everybody!
I forgot to mention in my original post that I have and used CSIDE for some time now. I tried to do some stuff with it, but most of them were pretty spontanious, not planned very well (I wanted to start with only 3 stats, but then they evolve to 4 stats, than five stats… I really should learn to not bite more than I can chew, lol)
Planning out the game is a very good advice for someone like me. Thanks very much. I probably shouldn’t write the story as I go.
I have just one more question: what should be the scope of my first game? I know CoG games are measured in words and chapters, but I’m just asking about… how big should my first game so I can have a general idea of what can I do.
Sorry if this is a silly question. I was just curious to know.

There are games going from 50k and below to a couple million words, so anything in between will do. I started with the hope to reach 100k and I’ve got to that mark long ago, so there’s always room to expand. In fact, I think its way easier to expand, with all the stuff you can do, it’s easier to get the branches out of control than the contrary. That’s why I would recommend to plan ahead, though that’s personal preference, some just write on the go and have no problem with that I guess.

So yes, for a first book I would say there’s no specific amount of words you need to reach. But you also need to have in mind that the longer it gets the longer it’ll take you to finish it, so if you don’t want to spent years on it you’ll have to keep it a little bit more tight.