Can you tell me your favorite parts of the Fog Knows Your Name for research?

I recently finished playing through and reviewing every CoG game (although I’m still technically working through CoVampire). I’m excited to take everything I’ve learned about what popular games have in common with each other and what kind of things tend to work well or poorly.

The problem is that some games throw off the calculation, and The Fog Knows Your Name is one of them.

In my research, I’ve found that games where the stats have a lot of difficult checks, are hard to keep track of, overlap a lot, change easily (for opposed stats), and where the game comments on your failure a lot tend to do poorly. Even games that are very well-written or award-winning tend to sell poorly if they have these traits. Most games that are exceptions are ones that let you save each chapter.

The thing is, the stats in The Fog Knows Your Name are pretty difficult, and do some of the things above. A ton of reviews mention that. But those same reviews are usually 5 stars. The Fog Knows Your Name is very popular, very well-rated, and is consistently high on the bestseller list.

So my question for fans of The Fog Knows Your Name is: what do you love most about this game? What sets it apart from other games? How did you feel about the stats and stat checks? Is there anything this game does that you don’t see in many other CoG games?

Whatever this game is doing, it’s doing right, and I’d love to get some more data on it!

My hypothesis (hidden so it doesn't influence your answer unless you want to see it)

My hypothesis is that the ‘real game’ isn’t the main storyline, but your relationship with the different characters, and the stats involving them are clear and easy to understand. Unlike most games, you can’t just please everyone: the characters are vibrant and interesting and all have different opinions, so you have to strategize carefully, and this makes the game fun, even though the other stats are hard to deal with.

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Games like this, including: A Study in Steampunk: Choice by Gaslight and Creatures Such as We are not connected to the stats “mechanics”, so their success is based on their other component parts.

For the bulk of text-based choice games, mechanics are not the key that unlocks the kingdom.

Mechanics that are deployed in a less than ideal manner actually cause more disruption than they do in graphical based games.

There are exceptions, but I believe these actually reinforce the trend rather than dispel it.

The golden ticket for games like Fog Knows Your Name is a reliance on and successful delivery of their core visions giving life to the game.

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Can I quote this in the article I’m writing?

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Please do.

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So basically the target audience of CoG games is more interested in the story aspect than in the tabletop game one?

Like people playing DaD without dices but relying on the Game Master as a storyteller?

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I’m going to go into this in more depth later, but I think it’s complicated.

The games with award-winning stories don’t sell as well, and neither do the ones that rely purely on stats.

The ones that do really well seem to involve strategizing different goals, good things that you want but can’t have at the same time (like Choice of Robots: you can build robots for war and take over a country and build robots that cure cancer and save loved ones, but it’s hard or impossible to do both). The biggest ‘strategy’ of all for most CoG fans may possibly be deciding who to romance.

After reading what Eiwynn and others who messaged me had to say, and as I’m replaying the Fog Knows Your Name, I’ve noticed that even though the stat checks are hard, they’re infrequent compared to the ‘strategy’ choices.

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Mmm…when I was referring to the “story aspect” I didn’t mean that games that do well are those with award winning stories. More like that when a story hits you in the right spot you stick with it even if stats are rather murky.

Some of the most successful games, especially in the HG department, have a very basic stats system (intended as skills check) but were able to reach the target audience of CoG + HG.

The Fog Knows Your Name falls into this category: not the best stats system you can think of (if you are into old school RPG games), but a gripping enough story.

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I just loved the mood. It had great control over the atmosphere and I remember reading this around Halloween and it was so spooky and you could really feel the dread. That was a big selling point for me.

I don’t even remember the names of some characters in the game but I still remember what I felt so that made the game stood out for me.

And the title really has a nice right to it.

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Thanks, I hadn’t considered how important atmosphere is.

dumb question, but did you mean that the author had great controls over the writing, or that you, the player, felt like you had control over the atmosphere?

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The author. Novels tend to be inconsistent with mood and it can be really clunky but this was really well done.

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The characters felt real, the stakes felt high, and the atmosphere was incredibly well crafted.

The characters reacted to things you said like real people would, and they had a depth to them that I’ve yet to see in almost any other piece of media, let alone interactive fiction. They had some defining traits yes, but they also seemed so human and real.

The stakes felt high and the danger felt real which, again, is something I usually don’t find in interactive fiction. That’s probably for multiple reasons, including the fantastic characters (since I cared what would happen to them) and the atmosphere (I always felt like something could go wrong).

Finally, the atmosphere/ mood was fantastic. This is one of the few things that has genuinely creeped me out while I was reading it. To give you a better idea of just how much this got to me, I was sitting in my room alone and playing it, and I got creeped out to the point where I had to wait for people to come back to the house so I wouldn’t be as scared while playing. That’s really impressive to me.

While I did find the stat checks difficult and I often didn’t know what variable was being tested, I wasn’t too bothered by it. I mean, of course there’s the expected disappointment of making a choice and thinking it would test one thing, but it testing something completely different, but I found that it made sense. I mean, the story is about you dealing with something you don’t understand, it makes sense if sometimes you think one stat would be checked while another was. Don’t get me wrong, I was still kind of frustrated by it, but I found it made sense in terms of the story being told.

Even if I, as a player, was not happy with how the mechanics of the game worked, I was, as a reader, impressed with how well the mechanics meshed with the overall mood and direction of the story. It tied the “interactive” to the “fiction” beautifully, even if it was, at times, frustrating.

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Sorry for not answering your question, but I was wondering if you are also reading any of the HG games, particularly the well regarded ones. I am curious if the trends found in CoG games are the same as those in HG games, or if there are any surprising differences due to how HG games are by people who may not have published a standard book and may therefore have different styles that aren’t as explored in CoG. (This comment can be deleted if you’re worried it sidetracks the conversation away from your question.)

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I love the story as far as I’ve read, but too damn hard for me to finish :joy:

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I plan on playing a lot of hosted games. I’ve already played Study in Steampunk, a lot of Felicity Banks games, The Race, The Ascot, Sons of the Cherry and Marine Raider, but most of those were years ago and I haven’t tried any of the super popular ones besides Steampunk (I thought Steampunk was awesome). Definitely going to try them out later!

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I like the environment that builds in your mind, not just visualisation but overall feeling. A similar game that relies on environment would be high land deep waters.

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I highly recommend finishing it. Mostly just keep your character to archetypes and you should be good. Don’t try to fluctuate your stats too much :yum:

But for the OP. I love the characters and their stories and what they bring to the overall reading experience. The stats are hard to get used to but overall i think you can get a good playthrough/read if you stick to having your choices stick to an archetype. I think its really easy to read through and enjoy the world that is built up and can imagine what’s going on outside of where your character is. (If that makes sense)