CoG/HG business model

It’d just be like English homework. :wink:

To be honest, I think a thread like that would end up with some authors still not getting feedback, and we’d be back in the same situation.

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Studying grammar and memorizing vocabulary lists?

(“English homework” is a very different thing for those of us whose first language English isn’t.)

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As a reader, I am definitely more attracted to WIPs that already have a sizeable word count for this exact reason. I feel like if a project already has a significant amount of writing done then the sunk cost fallacy is going to keep the writer engaged. I would definitely say if you have a decent word count make sure you include it in your title on the forums.

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Such a different time, 11 years ago. I wrote my entire first game (Life of a Wizard) in secret as a lurker on the forums. I didn’t know if it would be good or not, and I had never shared any writing before. I finished the entire thing before going into beta testing.

Since then, I’ve shared various projects at various states, but ultimately I don’t like to share my WIPs until they’re nearly complete. I have a vision in my mind, and I found that sharing too early made me defend my vision. So now I finish them and THEN show. If my vision doesn’t hold, I fix it, but at least I can point out what I was trying for.

I’ve also shared a WIP too early and the feedback was so discouraging I shelved the game. Luckily I came back to it and finished the first Lost Heir game eventually. :slight_smile:

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I like this, both from a reader standpoint and a writer standpoint.

From a reader POV, it’s sometimes difficult for me to get what the author is going for if there’s too little of the game shown. I’m a character reader and writer, more so than plot, so if I can’t relate the characters, I tend to stop playing and forget the WIP exists.

Then, there’s the other problem–I am especially guilty of making assumptions about where the author is going based on whatever I have. If I see a depressing start, I figure the author is going to bury us in misery. If I see a quirky, happy start, I figure the game will be fun. When the game suddenly shifts gears, I still tend to stick with whatever I see happening most often (example: I’m bad about looking at Infamous and figuring the MC will be forever shit on and Seven will forever be the Mary Sue/Gary Stu who everyone worships and always get the best outcome), which may skew my view of the game.

The more an author shares out of the gate, the less likely this will happen with people like me, because we have a better sense of what is intended for the game. And we can see progress (hopefully) for the MC and get a feel for whether we like them or not. It’s difficult to make that determination if all you have is a chapter or two, or just an intro.

From a writing standpoint… I have a lot of ideas and tend to write crucial scenes before I ever figure out where the story will begin. So far, I have three different choicescript games I’ve started this way, and played around with to see if it’s something that, as a player, I would enjoy. Only one of them has promise for me (the other two would make better novels), but right now it’s just a bunch of scenes that occur in different places in the story (the ones that were most fun to write and most crucial to the story). It’s not like I can share them, because no one would know wtf was going on.

Given how I write (I have to write entire scenes based on the options I intend to offer, then go back and add the stat-based flavor when it’s done), I almost definitely won’t share it until (or if) I finish the entire game. If I don’t finish, then no one will ever know it was abandoned. If I do, even if people shit on the entire thing and hate it, I can pick my favorite path and turn it into a novel. Either way, at least I have an entire story from the get-go.

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Apologies if this has already been mentioned, and I realise it is easier said than done.

A modern website for both the COG site and forum could really help new-comers stick around.

The main site appears so out-of-date and really should have been modernised sooner. Blocky colours and basic buttons don’t really show off some of the rather incredible innovation thar the community has achieved.

In the my account section, games are just kinda listed in a line with no way to change how they’re displayed. Same problem if you use the desktop website alone to find games, no categories or filters.

I believe I’ve read that the forum is a larger issue to fix but my actual biggest problem is how dates on displayed of posts in such a way that at least to me it is confusing exactly when a topic was created/last post due to the year not always being clear through search, I think I mistake it as a month often or something.

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Probably to make it screen reader friendly?

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I don’t hate the general design of the website, but it definitely needs an update on game discovery (search filters etc) and on how it handles player libraries.

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I was thinking on this topic that was brought up a few months ago now, about how the cog/hg business and balance between the two labels work, royalties, and all such mechanics, and as it quieted down a bit, I came to realise I would have rather said what I wished to see for the label than not.

Personally, after thinking about it for a bit, what I might wish to see is this:

Royalty changes proposals:

  • Generally, a higher royalty rate.
  • A royalty HG version where once the money of some initial investment (the staff has previously said that HG costs money to put on the storefront—well, let us set a number to it) and once it is paid, it flips to 75% author and 25% HG. Then, it becomes entirely low risk for HG and makes up for the high investment the author puts in by doing the bulk of the work.

General changes:

  • A more transparent guide on what is and isn’t allowed in games to be published on HG
    • The investment of time to not just code something but also to write, edit, and more—a game that now often approaches many hundreds of thousands of words—and get turned away at the door is too scary a prospect. And it has happened in the past, although rare. However, to me and other authors, it is still a point of hesitation as it stands today.
  • More transparency generally.
    • Knowing how the labels are doing, the releases, or how the release windows happen would make me feel more comfortable with the business side of things. I am sure we all wish for the games to do well, so if we could work together on making more of the types of games people want to see and communicate more, that would be a good thing, in my opinion.
  • Increase the cross-label advertisements on the different apps and such.
    • Every single person I have talked to about this, including myself, found HG sort of on accident after first finding COG—and many were initially hesitant because of how it was presented in comparison to COG. Yet many find much value in HG and might even prefer it. I wish these cross-label situations were… improved, if possible.
    • Additionally, I think the HG omnibus would, in particular, be helped by a more robust ranking and recommended section. But that is a minor and more personal pet peeve.

Contract variant ideas:

  • The ability for the author to have a mobile exclusive release but not exclusive on desktop (basically, HG can handle the mobile section, and the author can self-host the other if they want).
  • Non-exclusive releases. (Self-explanatory).

These ideas are to get more people interested in making these games here. They are suggestions, and I suggest them in the hope of helping everyone toward the same goal of more and better games on this site. Thank you for reading :heart:

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Sorry, I’m sleepy after getting a tattoo today but this isn’t totally self-explanatory to me. Do you mean an author hosting a game on their own site, for example? Would it be a different setup to the other variant?

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I THINK (correct me if I’m wrong), it means that the author is contractually permitted to sell the game on a separate platform which HG has not released the game on. Or basically some kind of negotiation where HG agrees to sell the game on certain platforms and the author has the right to self-publish the game on other platforms.

Edit: For example, HG has the right to sell the game on the iphone app store and google play, but the author can also self-publish the game commercially on itch at the same time to gain access to another potential customer base.

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Or maybe as a VN or somesuch on the side? :thinking:

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While any suggestions are welcome, stuff like any kind of 75/25 split in favor of the author or a waiver on the label’s exclusivity for the story seem like nonstarters. Nonexclusivity benefits the company not one lick, and even I would regard the company getting only a quarter of the net as way too low for what they do.

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I’m all in favor of the author getting more, especially HG authors. They carry the whole project on their backs. As to how much is fair, I should abstain myself.


Changing the direction of the conversation a little, my suggestions to the company:

  • Overhaul the website and the apps to look a little more modern.
  • Allow to rate games in the omnibus app before you finish them. I usually finish all games, but every once in a while I buy a game that I just can’t finish. Either it didn’t jive with me, or I found it too boring, or I feel it’s not what was promised in the premise, or I feel like the quality has dropped after the initial demo chapters… Whatever it is. I’d still like to review the game but currently, you can only review it at the very end, and people who go all the way to the end are less likely to leave poor reviews. More than once I was misguided by the rating displayed inside the app.
  • Change the icon for HG omnibus app. It currently looks amateurish (and has been for a long time now). What I don’t understand is that HG has its own logo. It seems like the CoG is purposely trying to make HG look worse. I’m not throwing accusations, I’m just saying that it looks at the very least sloppy. (Also, I like things neat and it triggers me a little that it’s the only odd one.)

Current HG app icon

“Fixed” app icon

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I don’t hate the site style either. I do agree that with the number of games that are now there, the ability to be able to search by things like author, genre and keyword are things I think would be beneficial from a QOL standpoint. (Not being a webpage designer I don’t know how hard this would be.)

Agree. I can’t see any world where COG would agree to a jump from 25% to 75% of the revenue.
The only exception I could see to the exclusivity clause (maybe) would be to follow the current means for continuing to give COG a cut of the profits in return for the ability to have the game on itch. (I can’t see the ability to do a steam release in there even if the game does not qualify for a steam release as it’d potentially muddy/spread out the “brand” too much for it to be worth COG’s while even considering.) But yeah, allowing competing formats where they get nothing out of it (conversions of games into VNs, Ink, twine etc) would just not be a good business move for COG as all it would do would be reduce their revenue. If they’re going to host the game, I think it’s fair to ask that games are not put into competing formats elsewhere.

On the other hand, a lot of standalone games get negatively impacted by people 1* them because they’re ticked off they are not free. I think the finish the game is the compromise to try and avoid that.

I loved the rainbow hued ones that were up on the site for a while. So colourful. Maybe a little colour added to the black and white image for the icon? In saying that I don’t think the icon is a big issue for sale numbers overall.

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Fair. But I think that’d be much less common inside the omnibus app. People already know what they’re signing up for. You have the price right there and the option to “Play the demo”, as opposed to standalone apps in Play Store and App Store where people have to first download the game to then realize it’s not free.


Nope, just a pet peeve of mine. :joy: To be frank, I think the logos could use a little work on them, but one thing at a time.

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Honestly the style of the website is absolutely fine imo. It’s clean enough to be timeless. What really needs a change is game sorting. The big list you scroll down was fine in the early teens when there were a handful of games under either label, but in 2024 there has to be a better way to display the catalog. (Same goes for personal library in browser, there’s gotta be something better than just “big list”).

Edit:
image
Dear god fix the logo cutting on the edge.

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Another thing to consider is folks negative review bombing authors who may be LGBT or not. Or for views. Or for any reason. I think the current method is a fine defense against that.

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Honestly, I think that’s even less likely.

I can see some games getting review-bombed because it doesn’t have this or that customization option. :sweat_smile:

In any case, ensuring that only those who bought the game can review it should be enough.

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If I’m not mistaken, I think this is already allowed? Say if something was to be remade in a completely different engine, in a completely different format, I think CoG specifies that is okay to do, as they don’t own the IP, they own the product itself, which is the game made within ChoiceScript.

If someone were to say, make a visual novel of their game in Ren’Py using images, music, voice acting, etc. it would completely change the format of the game entirely and thus be a completely different game.