Any good free interactive sites or apps other than Choice of Games?

Hey that’s the nature of writing for an audience. If the readers have a preference, you can choose if you wish to meet those or not, but everyone is free to leave a review.

As long as it’s not discrimatory/hate speech, you can definitely make a story to be published under HG with the things you’re talking about including genderlocking if you wish. In fact there are some world war stories on the site if you wish to look that fit what you say “would be rejected”. If you want to write for COG, that’s still fine but the amount of work for the author to write several different stories of which only one is likely to be read (see comment above) will get exponentially larger. COG is a brand that tends to publish for established authors. They need to use their time wisely in order to make enough money for things like food and electricity. So why wouldn’t they prioritise their time with settings that can be adjusted for either gender, orientation or race? Besides, not everyone wants to read a real life story where they’re being descriminated against. If I’m going to be a female warrior, I really don’t want every second person I speak to refusing to have anything to do with me and trying to send me home. Sometimes I just want to play the story.

I’m curious, which branching games do not lead to the same ending? How many authors create completely different endings and not just minor variations on the same path?

Mine for starters- Wizardry level C. It has several very different endings although I believe some of them can be difficult to find.
My day off is also very branchy I believe.
Iron destinies is relatively linear after the beginining but has several completely different story lines.
From memory Life of a Wizard branched as well although I haven’t read it in some time, but I do remember it having high replayability
Metahuman has a number of different ways to resolve the ending scene as do many others (they’re in the category of semi-linear as they branch towards the ending)

Anyway that’s a few from the top of my head, there’s probably others. So why are the very branched ones in the minority? Because it cuts the play through length down. It also means to add to the story becomes exponentially harder as the branches are going off in all directions and the word count becomes very high. As an example, mine has a playthrough length that I think ranged from about 9,000-25,000 words with the average somewhere in the teens. This is considered “short” for a game even though the total was up above 100,000 words and the reviews reflect that. People often read it once and then leave a poor review. You gotta understand, this is writing for an audience, not just for myself, so you’ve got to take this into account.

Well we can agree to disagree on that one. I’ve usually got a pretty good idea as to whether a story is going to interest me by the end of a demo. And you do know that the reason why they’re in app purchases is to let people have a demo right? Otherwise you’d have nothing but the blurb to judge it by. In places where demos are actually allowed, (such as steam) they do have demos available.

Anyhow, it seems as if you’re here just to argue. What do you suggest if you have something constructive to add?

15 Likes

I have found that out of a lot of apps/games I buy on the AppStore, CoG games or hosted games are the most most frequent. I’ve tried nearly all from either category. Why? Because they are just that good. And for like around $5? Sign me up. There’s just so much freedom and variety in these games. I even have a category on iPhone where I keep all CoG/hosted games separate from everything else. These games imo are just rpgs without graphics or sound. It’s like I’m reading a book, which I love to do, but I can decide how the book goes. If $5 or more keeps these games coming? I’m all for it. Realistically speaking, you can’t expect the author to put these out and not get some form of competition. They put their time and effort into these games and I for one feel they should be rewarded, critiqued if needed and supported to continue the work the authors do. Anyways this is just my opinion. Feel free to ignore it if you don’t feel the same.

10 Likes

Choice of Robots, famously. Four completely different final chapters–which at the time it was published was widely seen as a crazily excessive way to write a CoG. Of course, it was also so beloved that it became CoG’s most successful game, and eventually affected the official guidelines on how to end a CoG.

At the same time, Heroes Rise remains CoG’s most successful series, showing that there’s an avid audience for exactly what you don’t enjoy–a game consisting of variations on a single core plot. (Though Game 3 did vary the final outcomes somewhat.) I don’t blame authors for writing for that audience, especially if they’re not amateurs slowly grinding out labors of love but pros who need to put food on the table. It’s a lot easier than writing massively branching games, and most CoG readers are happy with it.

Choice of Rebels Game I really has only one ending, because I’m writing for an intended five-book series and I need to start off all Rebels MCs in the same place in Game II… but I can promise that Game V will have massively branched endings. (Though you’ll have to take my word for it for a decade or two.)

Yes, that’s true. It’s one of the distinctive things about CoG–that you’ll never be locked into a single canon gender/romance permutation–and a majority of the audience welcomes it. Different game companies have different brands, and authors/developers will need to devote some time into core elements of the brand. Like it or not (and I get that you don’t like it), this is core to CoG’s brand.

22 Likes

I think while many people would love to have a truly branching story, each branch would cause the story and development to grow exponentially and become unrealistic incredibly quickly.

I’m happy to settle for semi-linear - so start, middle, end but with different ways to get from start to middle and from middle to end. It could even be the same end and just have an epilogue to wrap up choices along the way, sort of “as a result of choice X, blah thing(s) happened” - kind of like Neverwinter nights Underdark expansion and such like.

4 Likes

Lots of very good answers here and I just wanted to hop on in and give my two-cents as well, if that’s alright.

Hmm, well, I’m not sure ‘discriminatory’ would be the correct word here. The simple truth is that people buy games that they believe they’ll enjoy- which is a good thing, since buying games that one wouldn’t enjoy would be rather… counterintuitive. And many people do enjoy romance in games- it makes things more personal, adds another layer of connection to the story’s character, and makes you care more about the base plot if for no other reason than it involves the well-being of someone who you’ve chosen to establish a relationship with, so seeing things that they like in a game- such as romance- would no doubt bolster their opinion of the game. Such is not to say games that are less romance-centric do poorly- many of them do quite well. (I point to a Study in Steampunk, because A: That’s my usual go-to example for fantastic writing but also B: it fits here as it has romantic elements to it, but those are by no means the focus of the game, and it still has a very, very fantastic 4.9 rating on Google Play).

So, yes, while true that games with romance will be more likely to rate higher- that’s by no real means discrimination against games without romance, but rather just a reflection of the fact that people buy what they like and the more they like the more they’ll be pleased with what they bought. And since romance is just another aspect that people enjoy… well, that’s just adding another smile to someone’s face, making them more likely to rate it even higher than they would without it.

Ah… well… there’s a danger with the “historically accurate setting” terminology, which is another can of worms all in itself that I don’t particularly wish to derail this thread with… but I suppose I would simply caution you with using “historically accurate” as a sort of unshakeable statement that can sweep all character-customization under the rug and go with one specific kind of character as an MC.

However, all that being said, I mostly state that in regards to questioning others decisions to include a more… flexible and player-decided MC. Should you wish to write your own story and genderlock it or so on then, of course, you should write it as you wish! It is your story, after all. And as for whether or not that story could become CoG/HG, then, yes, it could. There’s already plenty of genderlocked stories, so that would, I’m sure, be no problem when it came to that.

I’ll refer you to Study in Steampunk once more in that regard. Others have suggested most of the ones that initially pop into my mind but I’m sure there’s more that I ca’t quite remember at this very moment.


And now that that’s all said and done, I also want to offer a few more… practical(?) reasons one might want to include character customization in their game (even if it doesn’t lead to large branching or even smaller branching):

  1. Visualization -
    Some people can better visualize their main character if provided more details about them. Some people already have a clear image in their mind of who they’re reading as but… that’s not everyone. So this simply helps those who don’t necessarily have a clear picture in their head while at the same time simply reasserts what those who did already know about their MC.

  2. Immersion -
    This one goes off of the Visualization piece. Sometimes immersion can be enhanced even by the smallest details. Take this little descriptive statement: “Unfamiliar eyes stare back at you from the mirror- is that really you? It almost seems like someone else pushed your reflection aside- someone much more tired, with the skin around their eyes bruised purple from lack of sleep.” Sure now that’s all fine and dandy but even adding in a small touch if, say, the player chose their MC to have brown eyes and tan skin in the very beginning and acknowledging that could increase immersion- even just “Unfamiliar brown eyes stare back at you from the mirror- is that really you? It almost seems like someone else pushed your reflection aside- someone much more tired, with the tan skin around their eyes bruised purple from lack of sleep.” is acknowledging that, yes, this is you in here, not just some disembodied figure but you, the you with brown eyes and tan skin- you.

  3. They Want To -
    This one is perhaps the simplest reason of all. The author wants to do so- it doesn’t matter why or what purpose this serves (if any, which it really doesn’t have to when this matter is concerned). It’s the authors story and should the author choose to include character customization then, by all means, go right on ahead! What does it matter, really? It doesn’t harm the story or any way or mean that they’re placing any less focus on it. It’s just the author having fun with their writing and, well, writing what they want… Which I would personally say only leads to a better quality story overall (it feels like you can tell when an author is having fun with their work- readers are more likely to have fun, too!)

I hope some of that makes sense.

18 Likes

I recall reading a rather in-depth review of the Choice of Robots story, during which the defenders and the author seemed to brush aside several of the points raised by the reviewer. Hardly a ringing endorsement of “the most successful game”.

Heroes Rise seemed to assume much regarding the character- so much for choices. Of course, the premise of both stories did not engage me enough to persuade me to spend the required amounts so perhaps all the reviews I have read are incorrect.

In other words your story will require every character to reach the same point at the same time on the railroad, but at least they can choose what outfit they are wearing for the journey?

Actually I don’t mind linear plots. I mind the denigration of stories that don’t include ‘pick your gender’ as somehow lacking even when the vast majority of the CoG stories are just as linear as the ones being denigrated.

So why bother with the attributes and the attempts at ‘gameplay’ at all? Why not create ‘interactive visual novels’ and be done with it?

1 Like

Heh. :slight_smile: We may have different ideas of what constitutes endorsement. If someone was moved to write over 5,000 words about the themes of my story, I’d be pretty happy even if it were a hit piece. (Any publicity being good publicity and all.)

If said reviewer began with “I greatly enjoyed this book,” and closing by reemphasising that it had “engaging narratives (the copious amount of text I have in this thread specifically about the themes of this game is all the evidence I should need…)” and had engaged throughout in a serious way with what I was trying to write, I’d be delighted–as I suspect Kevin was, from his response.

Setting aside its ability to inspire long-form writing about its themes, I think it’s not unfair to describe Choice of Robots’s endorsement by users of Steam (1479 reviews, “Overwhelmingly Positive”), Android (4.8) and Apple (4.9) as ringing.

Tastes vary; the fact that you didn’t like the beginning enough to buy it is fine. But it does slightly weaken your rhetorical question “Linearity? Which CoG story is NOT linear?” when you haven’t read CoG’s bestseller which does the opposite.

Then I’d recommend staying focused on what really bothers you–which I take to be fan behavior and CoG policy when it comes to choosing gender. You’re not really in a strong position to argue that “the vast majority of the CoG stories are just as linear as the ones being denigrated” if you haven’t read most of them past the opening freebies.

And it’s a non sequitur anyway. The people who denigrate stories without a choice of gender aren’t complaining that those stories are too linear. They don’t argue that a choice of gender adds helpful branching to the plot; often they explicitly don’t want it to branch on the basis of gender and orientation. They value having a story in which a main character of their own gender and orientation can experience exactly the same storyline as anyone else, not get channelled into their own branch.

That doesn’t mean they don’t value branching in the rest of the story; there’s a perfectly consistent rationale for preferring non-branching for gender and orientation and branching for other choices, even if that’s not your own preference.

Meanwhile, we agree that great games can be and are written without a gender choice. Some of the most popular stories on the forum are single-gender: Study in Steampunk, Sabres of Infinity, Guenevere. It’s true that authors will get challenged on whether their game really needs to be single-sex, and that most CoG readers prefer a choice of gender; but that doesn’t keep games without it from finding an audience.

23 Likes

What arguments do you find most compelling for games that do limit choice in this way? I feel like Guenevere has the strongest rational personally for genderlocking.

3 Likes

I guess I don’t find any of them literally compelling. I think any of those games could be made accessible through a Broadsides style genderflip, and that the result overall would be rather more people getting to enjoy them and a bit of healthy queering of gender expectations.

But at the end of the day, I’m also sympathetic to authors saying, “That’s not my vision,” and riffing on Sherlock and John rather than allowing the option to play Sherlene and Jane, or insisting that part and parcel of Infinite Sea not being a power fantasy is not giving you the choice of gender.

4 Likes

Wow, this thread got busy! Posting from work so I’ll try to keep this quick, but I just wanted to say I appreciate the detailed and thoughtful responses I’ve gotten from what started out as just a little venting on my part.

I’m actually now seriously considering converting the paladin story to a CYOA for the first time in nearly a year. If it winds up unpopular because of having predeveloped protagonists or for whatever reason, then oh well, making money off of writing has never been anything I seriously expect. (I’ll keep in mind some of the opinions on demos I’ve been reading here as well.)

The original story was about 70k words and I’m not sure how much of it is directly salvageable at this point (in third person, and everything I wrote two years ago is objectively crap…) but after going over it last night I’m convinced the plot and branch planning is solid, and I have extensive notes on the setting–and more opportunities to explore the setting was initially the driving force behind the idea. But I’ll make a separate thread to ramble about all this once I’m home so as not to derail this one further. (Need to check out the site guidelines again too and uh, learn ChoiceScript…)

As to the discussion on the value of replayability, I’ll just have to agree to disagree with a few of the posters here, because as a player I make it my goal to see every bit of text, and role playing is a huge thing for me in the rare game that really allows it. The ideal game for me really is one where a choice or series of choices at any point might lock you out of certain parts of the plot and reveal others that were hidden. Going back next time and discovering more is part of the fun, like solving a puzzle. (Maybe blame all the big sprawling classic CRPGs I used to play where the idea of seeing all the content with one character and one playthrough was ridiculous…they definitely don’t make them like they used to.)

5 Likes

@AnneR

You clearly misunderstand.

The race, gender, and orientation options are not there to provide you with different playthroughs. They’re not “race and class” like in D&D. Those options there so that women, POCs, and queer people aren’t immediately othered by playing our games. The fact that these qualities don’t matter is a feature, not a bug. Instead, character and story are determined by the player’s choices, not by the random lottery of their genetics.

If you don’t like that, no one is forcing you to download and play the free demos of our games.

37 Likes

Mostly on topic I hope. Another longtime lurker here chipping away at my own WIP. I’ve wondered for a while if it’s better to write a game where the player’s choices alter the reality of the game’s world (as in Broadsides or more classic CYOA books) or if instead the world exists in a fixed state that the player interacts with through their choices. I feel both can result in compelling narratives.

I think the difference lies in the replayability though: if in one game I encounter a society that values strength, but in the next replay a choice of mine makes it so that that same society now values compassion when I encounter them, it cheapens the experience, at least for me. The game’s world suddenly feels less real because of that mutability.

On the other hand, speaking from the perspective of a white cis male, the gender flipping NPC’s don’t bother me so much, at least generally. I know I personally won’t see the flips in my playthroughs, because I’m going to go the straight male route. I suppose in some sense that does mean the gender of those characters isn’t a defining factor for them, but I think the best way to handle that is to go Choice of Robots style and make them two separate but similar people, rather than a flat out name and pronoun swap. It’s the route I’ve decided to take for my own game.

As others have said, being able to project oneself onto the MC is really integral to the experience. So I think allowing for choices that affect the game’s reality for inclusivity’s sake (again, like Broadsides) is important. I do find what Moxie suggests interesting and appealing though: a game where the character you play as can seriously alter what options/paths are accessible to you. I agree with Havenstone in so far as I don’t think that and inclusivity are inherently mutually exclusive however.

Seeing the arguments in this thread on both sides has been really enlightening and beneficial to me as a writer. There’s so many philosophies on how to write a compelling choice game.

And if should be a no brainer that these writers who have brought us so much enjoyment should be compensated for their work. Especially when the price is so low.

5 Likes

I get tired of having to play as a guy in most games. I read a comment on Guenevere (great wip here) about how it was kinda annoying to be forced to play as a girl which made me realize that not everyone has had to pick a different gender/race/orientation in a game. So for me the option to pick a gender is a relief. Sure sometimes its just pointless fluff but I don’t think removing those options would help.

As for game recommendations, the best stories I’ve found are here but otherwise I’d recommend delight games Paladin, Magium, and maybe playing the free demos/wip so you can get more of a feel for the game. On playstore if you make a purchase I think you can get a refund in a set amount of time. There are horror games on the app store that follow the same formula as well as the lone wolf gamebook (if you can ignore the fact that lone wolves are the weakest wolves).

Otherwise browse around here https://forum.choiceofgames.com/c/off-topic/other-interactive-fiction most free text adventures I’ve seen are, well, not good.

4 Likes

@mjhuntley For me it’s no question. It doesn’t matter what kind of game I’m playing, I want that fixed state world. It bugs me and takes me right out of a game when everything is too obviously a set piece on a stage being arranged around me because I Am Protagonist.

One of favorite RPGs of all time is Morrowind, because it’s still such a great example of a game world that doesn’t care about you at all. You’re just some n’wah fresh off a boat and the NPCs are wholly unimpressed. The main quest has to be hunted down and even then Caius is just like ‘whatever noob, here go buy yourself a new pair of shoes I guess and then get back to me when you’re worth something’. The world is full of stories and adventure and fabulous loot but if you’re not willing or able to go after it, tough luck. Most of the game’s content is not at any point going to throw itself into your lap.

A game like King of Dragon Pass where you have to learn about the culture and THINK like a magical Viking lord if you want to get anywhere because your RL sensibilities are completely out of place is also fantastic. That’s actually the one that got me into choice - based fiction in the first place.

e: oh and quick question for you guys. What would be the most appropriate board to babble about plot ideas and story plans and the like? The WIP section and Game Development seem to be for projects that are a little farther along, so maybe Writing?

7 Likes

Well, as you mentioned, when playing a specific, semi-historical character, gender-locking seems obvious. So of course Guenevere would be gender-locked female, while the Mordred WIP would be gender-locked male. Then there are historical games. I’m a bit more wary about it, because “historical accuracy!” to justify gender-locking is a card some are rather quick to play, and not always justified in doing so. That being said, there are cases where it is definitely justified. I believe there’s a WIP where the MC is a soldier fighting on the western front during WWII, thus male gender-locking doesn’t seem out of place. Finally, there’s the case of having gender identity being a vital part of the plot. Let’s take @Moxie 's idea of the MC being a girl aspiring to become a paladin despite in a world where it is extremely uncommon at best. Here, the MC gender seem to drive a good part of the plot, and thus, once again, gender-locking seem obvious - from what I read, the story simply wouldn’t work with a male MC.

When neither of those elements are present… I think that’s when people can begin to question whether or not gender-locking the story is necessary.

3 Likes

I stick all my random thoughts in the ‘mother’ Game Development board.

Morrowind is one of my favorite games of all time as well! It definitely had an overall aesthetic (both graphically and gameplay-wise) that’s rare to find in contemporary mainstream games these days.

I think it’s worth pointing out though that Morrowind is a game that let’s you pick your gender and appearance purely for fluff reasons. As far as I’m aware, nothing in the game changes significantly or even moderately based on your gender, and certainly not your appearance (that is, the specific head and hair combination you pick. Of course your race and birth sign affect gameplay). The game isn’t concerned with interpersonal relationships but instead focuses on actions within the world, and because it’s never brought up, the player’s orientation and gender identity never become something that needs addressing.

Your paladin story sounds super interesting by the way, Moxie. Looking forward to seeing how it manifests as a CYOA game.

2 Likes

I completely understand your feeling! I have the very same frustration I want meaningful choices and that if it’s in any setting but current contemporary times. Example of the Broadway one that takes place in 1849 NYC none binary gender choices. Understand gay or lesbian and the character being closeted.

Hands-down my favorite strategy games ever! You have to learn the culture of the mythology legends the mindset of the people to actually be successful in the game.

3 Likes

Well, I’ve never felt like I couldn’t like and enjoy and respect a book or movie because the protagonist belonged to different groups than me. I have, however, felt really excited when books or movies have been about gay (or other LGBT) people, because I feel more included. It’s nice to feel like people like me exist in stories :slight_smile:

Yes, this! Well, with some caveats and exceptions :thinking: but generally speaking :smile:

Mainly what bothers me are situations in which choosing to have a character be female and/or belong to a minority results in a worse story. Depending on the setting and situation, sometimes some differences can work well, as long as they don’t cross that line. (Things like “heterosexuals can be happy and find love, while gay people are doomed to misery and loneliness” for example, would cross it.) I also rather like options like in Slammed! where there was an optional plotline for a female main character to tackle sexism, but you weren’t forced to deal with the discrimination storyline if you didn’t want to.

I do also think stories dealing with discrimination can be useful and powerful, but it would generally make more sense for those to be specifically focused around that, which would be a different writing experience altogether.

13 Likes

In fairness to @AnneR, there have been a couple of WIPs where the protagonist’s gender has a meaningful impact on the story.* And they were both well received by the forum community. So, I’m not sure it’s true to say that there isn’t a demand for games where gender is more than a purely cosmetic choice.

I’m also a bit sceptical of the idea that the protagonist needs to share the reader’s gender to be relatable. For example, I’m very capable of enjoying @jeantown’s excellent Guinevere. My enjoyment of her work wouldn’t be increased in any way if she allowed the reader to create a male protagonist. Similarly, some of the readers who seem to be enjoying my own work on Mordred the most are female.

  • IIRC, one was inspired by Game of Thrones, and the other by Robin Hood.
5 Likes