Can a CoG become TOO MUCH of a book?

Honestly, rule of hand should be ‘put choices where they fit’ (I’m not meaning to antagonize Eiwynn and others here)
There are some good CoGs out there that, however, have parts where you just KNOW the author shoehorned in a choice for the sake of it, that can pull you out of the flow.

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A few more thoughts and elaborations:

This is a question of game design, not writing quality. Depending on each writer’s process, it belong either in the planning/plotting (pre-production) or editing (post-production) stage. Or both.

When you are writing your first draft, you need to do so in whatever way makes you more likely to complete it (and not burn yourself out, while doing so). Some might write each chapter to completion, with every option and choice, before continuing to the next, while some might write one single ‘route’ through the entire game, before going back and adding all the other options, etc. There’s no one right way to do it, as long as it works for you.

When you’re planning your game design, or later on editing for pace and flow, that is where you need to be mindful of these things. You can definitely choose to have long stretches of text, but it should be a conscious decision to have less player agency, a more set pc personality, or include a lore-filled prologue, or interludes with another POV.

It should be because it fits your story, not just because you hadn’t really thought about it.

(Also, don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t separate drafting and editing. It’s the optimal way for most people, but if you spend more energi trying to stop yourself from editing, than you do writing, just let it happen. This advice is more for when you have a good writing flow, and find it ruined by thinking about design in the middle of writing.)

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Personally I prefer when it’s more book than game. Stat checks, or management style games etc. just isn’t what I enjoy about CYOA games.
If there’s barely any choice at all, or the choices there are don’t actually change anything, then you could argue it isn’t a CYOA story to begin with. So I’d have to say no, I don’t think they can be too much book, in my opinion.

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This is one of the plus/minuses of being a Hosted Games author vs. being a CoG House Author. Not being able (or willing) to follow the “House Rules” among other factors will determine if you are able to publish under one label or another.

Following the rules of the style guide alone will not disqualify you (or guarantee you), look at Choice of Rebels for a title that does not always follow the rules and look at other titles that were originally slated to be CoG titles but that were later moved to the HG library (Love at Elevation).

Indeed, the “natural flow” is one of my main considerations for having a design process that separates the 1st written draft and a later “choice body review” draft.

Personally, I have found that the 400-word limit without a choice rule to be more valuable than the 200-word limit without a fake-choice rule. My testing among those that alpha/beta read for me is that if I exceed 400 words, people start mentioning “walls of text” in their feedback.

Part of this might be because they view the games on a phone or other short-screened devise instead of a full sized monitor… whatever the reason, the feedback is what I end up ultimately listening to in these matters and as a result, there are always exceptions to the style guide “rules” made.

:wink:

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It’s worth noting that Rebels was approved and written when the rules were different. I’m not sure it would make the CoG label if I were pitching it today. :slight_smile: And that’s fine – I was always ready for it to be a HG if need be.

On the main question, I’d say yes, and don’t be afraid of flavor choices to keep things interactive. If a choice makes a change, however small, to what’s going on in a player’s mind when they envision the scene, that’s fine – it doesn’t have to change a stat. While there’s an audience for pretty much anything, more IF customers will be turned off by walls of text without a choice than are alienated by “fake choice.”

I think you’re right to see that as something you can work on later, though. Write the gamebook you want, even if it’s much more book than game. By the end, it may be easier to see how you can thread more interactivity through the initially choiceless bits.

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I’d say it depends on what you’re better at. If you’re better at writing, go back and add some more choices; if you have trouble writing, don’t worry about minor choices and just keep writing. So far one of the best pieces of advice I’ve seen on this thread (all has been pretty good) is to playtest it yourself.

Most players dislike the ‘wall of text’, so it’s definitely something to avoid, but I wouldn’t worry about it too much at this point.

So I’d say just write until you run out of ideas, then go back and playtest it yourself. This will both help you gauge the pace, and give your brain a rest from writing.

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It is true, I think, that a CoG can be a bit too much of a book, especially if it goes on for several page breaks without choices. However, like @Myrtle said, choices don’t necessarily need to create a new branch each, or alter the stats in any significant way.

I’m very partial towards choices that can add flavor into the game, making my relationships with the main cast and the supporting characters feel more tailored to the type of character I’m playing. Choices that can reveal a new piece of information out of the crew or the MC can also be engaging, especially if they lean into a part of their personality we, as readers, haven’t seen much of. Something like “I eat a bagel in a high-speed motorcycle chase” can establish my character as a stoic, stone-faced daredevil. Having the character sitting on the passenger seat nonchalantly ask for a bite has a similar effect.

Picking your example, I’m not sure I’d be very interested in a game that goes by with several page breaks without a choice, but I think quite a few players tend to be more sensitive towards choices that highlight personality traits and sensations, rather than branches and stat changes. So, maybe if you feel that the game has leaned too much on being prosaic and novelistic, you could add a few flavor choices that helps the players settle into the kind of protagonist they’d like to be?

But, like other people said, don’t be afraid of moving too far away from the accepted conventions of IF writing. I’m sure someone will enjoy what you write, and even if it doesn’t find a large following, that’ll never mean that it’s bad or uninteresting, just that it might not fit into what a majority of people expect out of their game-book, and not a very reliable tool for critical discussion, if I’ve ever heard it. :slightly_smiling_face:

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