This is a question for those who have written or are in the process of writing a ChoiceScript game. When it comes to writing the alternate text for differing choices (Ex. An aggressive action vs. a suave action for the same situation), do you write out every single option’s consequences before moving on to the next scene or do you just write through a route as a certain archetype before coming back later to fill in the other choices? Which do you find easier and why?
I’m curious because I’m trying not to get burnt on writing these various choices and wonder if anyone has any streamlined method to make this process a little easier.
I definitely pencil in multiple options as I go. Occasionally I might come back to an alternative pathway and write one, then the other in succession to keep my thoughts on track (ie- if there are two completely different paths- one sneaking through the forest vs another fighting your way through a hoard of enemies), but in terms of to approach something with force vs tact for example, I’d write it in as I go. To write a single route with a particular personality type, then try to put in alternatives later for each choice would probably end up feeling like there’s a single correct storyline with others added on if you’re not careful otherwise.
Ooo I see, thank you for your insight. I was thinking about that potential pitfall where if I go through a story with a certain archetype, that archetype may be favored and more fleshed out than the others. A good thing to keep in mind!
This question seems to be focused on the choices and their text (ie choice bodies), so I am going to narrow my answer to my process for them.
1st thing I do is figure out my mechanics. Before I can write choices, I need to understand what I am testing, increasing/decreasing, customizing and (world) building.
2nd thing I figure out is my narrative; an outline or general concept here is fine, details can be worked/reworked as needed.
3rd thing I figure out is the ratio of choices I require. How many testing, how many increasing/decreasing, how many customization, and how many world building types of choices do I need in this chapter/scene/route is enough to leave the MC where I want it to be at.
4th thing I do is I map out where the choices will be.
5th thing I do is, write the core elements of each choice that need to be in each choice body. This is where the same info needs to given, no matter the choice made.
6th thing I do is write choices that marry #1 and #5 … so if I am testing shooting, and the MC is shooting a rifle, then I write a choice that has both of those core things in it.
Your fourth step was very enlightening! I generally have an outline of how things go in the narrative, but I never thought to specifically plan out where choices come in. Saying it out loud is obvious, but in the moment I guess I was just creating choices as I go. I really like this advice! I will use it so I don’t take a shot in the dark anymore. Thank you so much!
For general gameplay, I tend to write the choices as I go. I might fill them out and deepen them later, but I try to keep things contained as long as they stay approximately within the same branch. If one of the branches off entirely, I might put a *comment with a description of where it is supposed to go and leave it for later.
For heavy interaction scenes, I generally write it as a short story first. One continuous sequence of dialogue and events. This works best for me to keep the flow and the drive going. I then go back and add choices and branches, seeing where the scene might go elsewhere, following each branch to the end.
For heavily complicated scenes I plot the entire thing on paper with branches and choices and reconnections. This is usually the big fight/heist/ scenes where there’s little dialog but a lot of action.
My ChoiceScript writing process is to get my laptop, have it sitting by my side while I puddle on my phone or pull the Switch out, move the mouse enough to keep it from going back to sleep, then eventually make myself write a few actual words and feel vaguely annoyed at my distracted nature all day.
On a more serious (or at least less self-tattling) note, I wrote my first story by writing the words in Google Docs and then converting it over to code. But my second and third I wrote directly in CSIDE. I have a vague outline but for the most part am just pure pantser, for good and for ill.
Oooo I see, so you prioritize based on the impact of the scene and potential consequences. I will keep this in mind thank you! As for your second bullet point, in terms of writing a continuous sequence, do you include the MC’s actions as well or do you just write the parts without MC’s input as if they were witnessing the events? Also, big fan of your book!
Ooo you’re a brave one writing directly in CSIDE. I make too many grammar mistakes so I rely a lot on extensions like Grammarly. Also, you’re quite the bold writer
I see, I just realize it is important to keep a consistent tone, so skipping ahead maybe smart. It reminds me when I’m writing more humorous/sarcastic choices in a serious situation, it may be harder for me to acclimate back. Also, could you elaborate on what you mean by NPC arcs (Do you mean like sidequests?)
Oh yes! The Mc’s actions are included, the MC’s responses are what drive the scene ahead after all. For people who were around back when I was still on Tumblr, some of the scenes in Retribution were initially published as “snippets” as I call them, short story scenes with a set Sidestep which eventually would form the basis of the full scenes in the game.
I really look forward to when I can start doing that again for Revelations, for me, that’s the most fun part about creating a story. That first initial blank page you can sit down and unleash characters on and see where they go. Pure joy.