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

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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@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.

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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.

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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.

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@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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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This indeed - and in my case, it even seeps into other games, which I personally think is good - I rather spend money on something that gives me more choice and even connections to the characters there in than to linear stories where you cannot even affect the attitude of the characters. I won’t be a, ahem, telltale but yeah, there are those out there, lying every time. Not CoG, though.

Sometimes I find myself thinking CoG games are short, but I believe that is another credit to them - I simply want more, just like when a good book (or film etc) ends. I don’t want it to end, I want more!

I don’t buy many games, already being picky, but I buy most CoG games (and hosted). Why not all? I don’t care for the setting, usually, or I find something in the demo I don’t care for, so I pass.

On another note, for me, character creation is an insane plus - more so if people react to some aspects of it, be it big or small - and to go to a well known game where it doesn’t matter on the whole (wish it affected more, like in previous titles) - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Did I spend too much time there? You bet your wholly socks I did. So I love myself some custom characters.

Lack of gender choice often leaves me, well, cold? I find it odd. Can not explain why, but there it is. And one gender, unless it is my own, is even worse, I fear. Why? I be a curly little pigtail if I know.

Branching stories is something else about CoG, by the way - not splitting and never meeting, but diverting and then rejoining in a wholly natural fashion. That is, for me personally, another huge appeal as I love replaying games unless they are 100% linear with choices of no consequences (see above).

Oops, all out of rant! :sweat_smile:

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I think I remember something about one of the specific reasons ChoiceScript is pretty awesome, belayed branching or something?

As in, they can offer a lot of choices which still have an impact of the game by letting paths diverge later on, saving the create hundreds (or more) hours creating content many aren’t even like to see!

And I loathe Delight Games, the whole system of lives and coins and shizzle, especially since it encourages them to make unhelpful choices (like go left or right, if left you die) so we buy more stuff, a terribly annoying positive feedback loop.

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Had you heard of Visual Novel ? a latest trend in interactive story…
Eternal Studio had comes out with some good touching story lately… but it may not be everyone’s cup of tea

One free story i would recommend is “Connected Hearts” , a truly wonderful and touching story with kindle story telling

However, i don’t mind paying for good CoG story that i like , such as Hearts of The House… which i feel every single cents that i paid is well worth it

Well scripting for delayed consequences for choices are pretty standard in this kind of fiction to be fair, even on ChooseYourStory and of course when using Twine and the like.(Infinite Story is lacking there however…that created some headaches and a lot of tedious copy and pasting back when I used it and I wouldn’t be able to do without that option today.)

I just hope this sort of thing is simple to do with ChoiceScript because it’s something I plan to make heavy use of.

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VNs have been around for awhile, but I haven’t had very many good experiences with them. (Speaking in particular of the English ones that try to just copy the style…there are so many Japanese ones and I’ve only played a few so not nearly enough to speak to their quality.)

Cinders was decent, probably my favorite of the English ones I’ve played, but the problem with VNs is that choices tend to be so limited. The more you have the more art you need, and again, they don’t tend to be available for free because artists are expensive.

I have a friend making one now except it’s about a lesbian wizard special agent enforcing contracts as well as being some kind of criticism of capitalism…and because EVNs tend to have such a niche audience and nothing about it panders to the folks who just want cute waifus or whatever all her market research has convinced her it will do terribly and so she’s just resigned to losing all her money now lol.