Blackbird (Open Beta)

***EDIT 3/6/17: Open beta is now closed.

It looks like I earned a “Famous Link” badge with a dead link. :worried:
(I’m starting this new topic because the other post is too old to edit.)

Sorry for the bad link, and I hope those of you who tried before will try again! For everyone interested in my Lovecraftian mystery, please check it out here:


In this Lovecraftian mystery, you must search through the files of a missing archaeologist in an attempt to find and rescue him.

Set in the fictional South American country of Costaguana, Saint of Darkness will have you digging through the past thirty years of archaeologist Lucius Thayer’s life. As you search through Thayer’s files, you will need to uncover who his friends are and who are his enemies. And you will discover what dangerous treasure they are all searching for…

Author’s Note
BLACKBIRD doesn’t follow the usual COG format where the player travels through a narrative making choices. Instead, this experimental game is presented as a database of files that the player needs to search through to find the solution to the mystery.

My hope is to create a different type of immersion using the COG mechanics. BLACKBIRD takes a lot of its inspiration from exploratory games like EVERYBODY’S GONE TO RAPTURE and HER STORY, nonlinear narratives where the player discovers the story. The link includes roughly 3/5th of the game. I realize this will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but please give it a try. I suggest you try several play-throughs as different choices will give you different story information.


Thanks for playing!


Well now, this is an odd find! Not only its extremely well-written, its richness in lore and technicalities make it stand out from the norm. Unfortunately, the amount of information thrown at you can be quite daunting for the average player that is used to the “conventional” CoG style and flowchart. It feels like I’m reading a science report or even a restricted document more so than a videogame, and that’s fine, because I believe it was intentional (plus it fits the theme).

I played the demo till it gave me an error, presumably indicating I had reached the end. There’s no character customization or anything even remotely “playable” in the traditional sense, just lots of information regarding the world, the setting, the NPCs, historical data, etc. Though I have to admit, I’m not quite sure if what I read was mostly fictional or actually had some degree of veracity in it, it was so intricate, detailed and logical that it actually made me pause just to ponder on it. Kudos to you for doing your homework. :slight_smile:

One thing that confuses me is the fact the title is labeled “Blackbird” yet in your post you refer to your game as “Saints of Darkness”. Typo or intentional?

Thanks for the kind word, IvoryOwl!

When I realized the broken link was getting clicks, I quickly copied and pasted the old text with the old title. The new, correct title BLACKBIRD is now in there.

Do you think you remember where you found the error message? The game SHOULD end with the usual options to start again or try something similar.

Thanks again!

I got this error after the choice “President Gonzalo, giants”. Since I had a fair amount of content in-between I assumed it was merely the end of the demo, as in no further content had been added past that point.

“Our apologies; there was a 404 error while loading game data. Please refresh your browser now; if that doesn’t work, please email with details.”

PS: This is more of a head’s up to anyone interested in playing the game than anything else - don’t open the stat page. It brings up the exact same error, forces you to restart your game and since there’s no way to save your progress you’ll have to plow through it again.

I’ve fixed the buggy choice IvoryOwl mentioned above. (Thanks again, IvoryOwl.) And, yes, the stat page will still show you an error message for the time being. I’m still writing the content, but once the first draft is done, I’m going to look into implementing a trophy system.

People commenting on the previous thread (with the broken link) suggested a trophy system as a good way to track player progress.I haven’t actually looked into how to do this yet, but I think it will add a lot to the player experience. Without it, the player has no sense of accomplishment.


I’ve added a stats page!

Going with the Lovecraftian theme, I’m juxtaposing the two values of “Logic” and “Paranoia.” (To be properly Lovercraft, I’d have to keep an “Insanity” gauge, but that’s a bit too similar “Arkham Horror” - with which this game is in no way associated.)

Right now it’s more of a place holder, but I’m hoping to use these stats as a way for the player to track their progress. Let me know if you think it breaks with the format of this game too much.


EDIT 3/6/17: The open beta is now closed.

BLACKBIRD is an experimental text adventure game where the player explores a CIA database to look for clues about a missing archaeologist. The player discovers the story by exploring the archive’s articles, journal entries, letters, and reports, ultimately uncovering a vast mystery - and an impending danger.

Deriving inspiration from exploration games like GONE HOME, and HER STORY, BLACKBIRD is very different than most ChoiceScript games. In addition to some help pointing out errors and typos, I’d love feedback on the mechanics of the game.

The link includes the full beta game. I estimate that one playthrough should take about 1.5 to 3 hours. NOTE: I can’t figure out a way to hide the “Show Stats” button on the DashingDon website. (I know you can do so in the index file, but that doesn’t seem to be something you can upload on that site). You won’t get an error if you click the button, but that’s just placeholder text there.


This is my first ChoiceScript game. I’ve published some light journalism and some fiction. My previous work in games includes writing on the game GHOST RECON: WILDLANDS which comes out March 7th. (Other than a Latin American setting, there’s really nothing similar with that game and BLACKBIRD. :wink:)

I’ll close the beta on Monday the 6th. Please put your feedback in this thread. In my past WIP posts,the discussion between all of us was really constructive. Thanks for the help, and enjoy the game!


Firstly, please don’t start a new topic every time you have an update. Just update your previous topic.

Also I’d suggest a different title. Blackbird isn’t at all descriptive of what the game is about, and I’d assume it’s a game about birdwatching, or birds of some sort., and not a mystery involving searching for archaeologists in the CIA database and whatever else the game is about.

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I’m interested

I am very interested.

I have encountered an error that is preventing me from progressing in the story.

“hoax_skulls line 22: increasing indent not allowed, expected 0 was 1”

Here’s the choices I made in my playthrough, in case you wish to replicate the issue.
Costaguana > Eastern City > Tiwanaku > Lenz Geoglyphs > Sun-Head > Xinnabala > Isabel Cardinale > Roberto Puig > Pre-Incan giants (Error)

Thanks, IvoryOwl. And here you said you’d be short on time. :relaxed:

The hoax_skulls bug is fixed.

Selecting “Isabel meeting the Saint of Darkness” leads to a 404 error

Also when selecting “Eastern City, artefacts”

Thanks, sammyboy. I appreciate that you went and played again after the first error your encountered. I believe those 404s were typos in the code that are now fixed.

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Not sure if this is intentional but there’s quite a few loops in the game that disrupt the flow of the story, not only that, they are becoming increasingly frequent the further I progress in the story. The first one was related to South American giants, the second was about Isabel visiting the Saint of Darkness, when I try to investigate who she worked for (CIA option), the inquiry about the ‘black stones’ and the men in black.

Assuming its technically possible, it would be a good idea to remove the choices we have already selected in the past in order to avoid these loops.

I didn’t have the spoons to give feedback on this the other day when I played it. I do have to say that having to restart the game several times due to the 404 errors I pointed out in an earlier comment was extremely frustrating. I do appreciate your acknowledgement of that, though.

This is very interesting. The gameplay is much different from most COG games. The only one similar in gameplay I can think of is…I think it’s calles Out of Time or something…? Something with time. But it’s still much different.

I really liked the story and the way it was presented. It was interesting and unique and I felt almost like a detective, trying to uncover the truth of something I was just thrown into the middle of. I feel like the ending really solidified the feel of the game (in a good way).

That being said, I have to agree with a previous commenter in that the title does nothing to give the reader an idea of what it’s about. Sometimes that works for a story or game. It doesn’t in this case. Obviously you don’t want to simply give away the entire game in the title, but I don’t think it’d be out of the question to find a more relevant one.

One of the most important issues of this game is that it doesn’t play like a COG game. The reader doesn’t get many serious choices or customization and the story is very linear. It’s more like a unique way of telling a story than it is a text based game. Personally, I really liked it for what it was. The problem is, I can understand why someone else would really dislike it for the same reason.

That could be fixed with a simple message explaining briefly that this is different from most text based games and is more of a story than anything else. This would prevent players from unwittingly getting into something they aren’t interested and attract others who are interested by that concept.

Regardless of anything else, I really did enjoy this. It was well written, interesting, and the pacing was great (ignoring the looping areas that another commenter pointed out). I’m excited to see more in the future:)

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The loops are an intentional mechanic of the game. The player needs to make a different choice to escape them.


The general idea of this game is that the box of files are a maze, and through making choices the player navigates the maze and solves the mystery. Are the mechanics too foreign for CoG players? Is the lore of this world too complicated to navigate?

When I was only 4/5th of the way through writing the game, I realized that this world had become very broad. I go from ancient astronaut theory to 16th Century Jesuits to inter-dimensional travel, all from the computer screen of a CIA analyst. Not to mention all of the character relationships.

Because of the openness of the game, the player can navigate the story without ever learning specific facts, such as the nature of certain character relationships or certain facts about the world. Though there is only one ending, multiple playthroughs would reveal different aspects of this world.

Please let me know how the story/game feels to you guys, especially if you find the game frustrating. I might be able to make some changes to the mechanics, and I can also find a way to present the game that makes it easier for people to get into.

Thanks! I really appreciate all of you who are trying the game!

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Thanks, sammyboy. You posted this when I was in the middle of typing the post below. :slight_smile:

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The open beta is now closed.

Thanks to everyone for playing! This game is a little unique among ChoiceScript games, and all of your input has been really great!