Aspiring writer with questions

Hey, I’m interested in giving writing a shot. I have written a short story before, but I have always been curious about doing a CYOA. I was hoping to get some quick tips, as well as some questions answered if possible.

  1. When you begin writing a story, do you first write out a full story with no deviations and choices, with a main “cannon” style to flesh things out, and then edit in choices and changes after the fact? Or do you just go full spiderweb from the beginning? I’m really confused on how to begin the story itself, and keep branches and paths from being too short or long compared to others.

  2. I have not yet found any "don’t"s in terms of content scrolling through the hosted games “Looking for writers”. though admittedly, I probably just haven’t looked hard enough. With a few plays of other games, I have noticed a lack of some subject matter, and actions. I am unsure if this is a writer’s choice or simply Hosted Games not wanting its brand associated with the content. A link would be appreciated if I have simply missed this.

At the moment, these are the major questions I have, though if you have any general tips or your own “I wish I knew” please feel free to share.

  1. Different writers take different approaches. Some outline everything beforehand. Some write first, and some code first. One thing I would recommend is not setting out to establish a “canon” path. There are authors who have done so, who have even adapted a traditional narrative to be interactive without heavily prioritizing a particular path, but it’s best to keep all the possibilities in mind as much as possible. One thing that may help is to consider where you want your story to start and where you want it to go. Have you already read all the game design articles on the CoG website? Do you plan on using the delayed branching model, or write a shorter story that relies entirely on choices that branch the story? Do you want to write an interactive novel, or a plot-heavy text adventure? Will your game be story-driven or character-driven? Knowing what kind of story you want to tell will help you determine the best way to go about doing it.

  2. The only content requirement that exists for Hosted Games is that they won’t publish anything grossly offensive. Which means that your game shouldn’t advocate or glorify things like bigotry or sexual assault. That’s not even to say you can’t include such things; you just can’t glorify them. Explicit violence is allowed. Explicit sex is allowed. I don’t know that HG has ever refused to publish a submitted game on content grounds, and if they have, it certainly hasn’t happened often; at most, you might be asked to tweak a few things on the basis of the content review.


Nah, Hosted Games legitimately doesn’t have almost any "don’t"s and has a very limited list of "do"s. The requirements for submitting a game are basically:

  • Write in English (optional)
  • Have a code that doesn’t crash (optional)
  • Have a romance option that will literally just kill me (not optional)

So I think you should give it a shot. If nothing else you’re clearly capable of writing without violating the English language beyond recognition, which puts whatever you come up with beyond… some hosted games which shall not be named.


Like @AletheiaKnights said, different authors will have different approaches. If you look around this forum you’ll find many threads on this matter.

But to give a concrete answer, in my projects, I prefere to outline a “railroad” path first. It is not to say it is the cannon or the best path, it is only the first path I came up with. I draw it in a graph. Then I go node by node identifying possible points of branching and merging. I also try to use delayed branching.

Only when I have this graph ready that I start actually writing.

The Hosted Games label is very liberal in terms of content moderation.


Do you have an example of the the more naratuve type that you recomend against?

Nope. Outline it. Outlining is optional for novelists, but it’s only barely optional for us.

Browse this thread: Disliked Elements, Mechanics, and Tropes

And take absolutely none of it as gospel and do your own thing anyway.

That said,

Agree. Not optional.


I’m not sure what you mean - I didn’t advise against any particular narrative type, because what narrative type(s) may be most effective depends on the story you want to tell and the experience you want the reader to have. My only advice was not to get particularly attached to any one story route, in order to keep the narrative flexible in your mind.


I’m very much interested in this question as well, a couple of years ago I toyed with the very same notion and ultimately abandoned it for a number of reasons (not the least of which being my less than perfect command of the English language).

To the first question - I’ve observed that the breadth of options is decidedly more desirable than good penmanship. I’ve seen CoGs/HGs with less than average prose lauded due to plot and options for the player to choose (and indeed I myself thoroughly enjoyed some interactive fiction on that account). Despite that, I’d go with a manageable “cannon” plan and then seeing how many new barrels can the cannon have without falling apart.

To the second question, it’s a bit more complex. Firstly you have to find out what’s explicitly enforced/forbidden, but then you also have to consider the implicit rules. On top of that there’s the question of audience - is the audience likely to read your interactive fiction the same as the audience you imagine you’re writing to? Does the audience have additional rules you must be aware of? Last time I considered it, I failed to identify the constraints, as all the terms used to describe the rules are very much inexact.

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Am I able to delete forum threads I make or edit them? I have yet to find a way, and would like to know for future reference. I have had my questions mostly answered and have begun messing around with a few stories to decide on a story plan; so this thread is, for all intents and purposes, dead.

As for editing thread posts, I would like to make an author thread of sorts for discussing a planned work or works. That is the intent anyway, unsure if that would be an issue. Interacting during the writing process helps keep me motivated, so it would be helpful to avoid shooting myself in the foot and abandoning a project.

Obviously, I don’t expect to be accommodated at all; I just want to make sure I am able to stay within the bounds I’m allowed and contribute to the cool community I have seen so far.

What does it look like when you click on these three dots?

Thanks, found how to delete, wasn’t showing up though when I first posted this. I’m now assuming it is based on my “trust level” as I have just leveled up I believe, and the option to edit will become available after I begin to post more.

That sounds right. In the meantime, if you need any of your existing posts edited, let me know and I can do that for you.

I’d suggest locking it rather than deleting it – someone else with similar questions can search and find answers here, that way.


Is that something I will need to level up more to do?

If you want a thread locked, you can ask me or any leader or moderator.

Cool, would you be able to lock the thread for me, please?

Message me if you want it opened again.