Developing Telltale Style Fan Game on Twine, Need Help With Format?


#1

So it’s been kind of my dream project for ages now - seriously like for eighteen months now - to create a (totally free, text only and made for fun and love of the brand) fan made Spider-Man Choice kind of game via the Twine engine, which has evolved over time from being an adaption of Civil War with Spidey to an original storyline and also my idea about wanting to have it play out kind of like a Telltale game, except hopefully with more choice effects. So the theory currently is that I’m planning the whole game out - it’ll be episodic with some five to six episodes - this month, then plan out Episode 1 in more detail next month, and then try and write all of Episode 1 over November for NaNoWriMo! Got some good ideas about character interaction, some good choices as Spidey and Peter, some unique changes to traditional canon, romance options and the like.

The current snag I’ve hit at the moment is deciding how the game would be worded. Since the game should be having dialogue choices as Telltale does (four options with one ‘…’) I’m thinking of a script format like this.

AUNT MAY: (Dialogue)

PETER: (Replying dialogue)

MAY: (Inquiring Dialogue)

  1. That could be ok.
  2. I don’t think that’s cool.
  3. What about Harry?

With the theory that as with Telltale games where you have a limited time to respond, I can use Twine programming to give you a certain amount of time to choose a response (Or not, maybe).

Now that said, I’m not sure what people might think of reading a game in a format like that, so I figured I would be wise asking people who make and play choice based games for a living if they think that format could work, or if they have any alternatives? It’s kind of a dream fan project of mine and I really want this to be the year I finally pull it off! :slight_smile: (Or start it anyway.)


#2

I like this idea! I’d say play around and see what ‘writes’ easiest – or look at other text-based games to see how they balance text/choices. (If you’re hesitant to spend money, you can still check out the demo for any CoG/HG – or look at some of the works in progress on this forum. Totem Force has a nice balance of story/choices imo that might give you some ideas, but there are a lot of different approaches I’ve seen.)

I played around with Twine a little once upon a time, and do miss the timer function! Remember that people have different reading speeds, though, and you will tend to speed through your game when you test because you’ve seen all your text already. (I replayed my old timed game recently and utterly lost – that time limit was way too tight) Maybe have a button to display the choices that also starts the timer – that way your players have plenty of time to read the rest of the scene before seeing the choices and making a decision. And can you display an active counter/timer on a page? I don’t remember…

EDIT: This recent thread about what ‘person’ to write in might interest you:


#3

Thanks Alexandra! Certainly I will see if the script writing format works and writes well for a game like this or not, the main issue being that I don’t think anyone has attempted to write a Telltale style game before and there’s no script they’ve released to show me exactly how it looks for them, heh. So I’m kind of starting from scratch in a sense. I have toyed with the idea of trying to recreate a chapter from an episode from an established Telltale Game in this possible format and see how it looks? Perhaps if I was to stick it up here and people tested it it would be an easy way of seeing if I’m on the right track.

As far as text and choices go I know I want to ensure that in each episode there’s about five to six major consequence choices which will affect things going forwards, plus have character relationships and their feeling towards you change based on your decisions.

Twine is something I’m becoming good at learning thanks to the ‘Writing Interactive Fiction for Twine’ book which was written last year, and I saw the Timer function was something one could include in a game. I’m going to see how long Telltale tends to give players to make a conversation choice and also a more significant choice, though I’m estimating about 20 to 30 seconds? (Otherwise it picks the ‘…’ option.) I might do away with the timer altogether if it becomes problematic though. I was likely thinking that players move onto a page with the last line or two of dialogue and the choices for reply clearly viewable, so as you say they can read the rest of the scene without feeling too pressured. I don’t think I can include a timer on screen, though if I could do a line shortening as Telltale do that would be fun. I also want to have hubs and environments people can explore in a more relaxed way with characters and such.

Thanks for that material on 2nd person, if I change my mind about the script format it’s likely where I would go next!

Figured I would add some explanation on my ideas from another website as a backdrop too! If anyone gets any ideas or suggestions spanning out of this then feel free to offer them, just wanted to show you what I’ve gotten so far.

So having juggled some ideas around for a while now about a possible interactive fan game with Marvel characters, I would like to try my hand at doing a Telltale style game for Spider-Man! For those who don’t play them, Telltale Games create story driven experiences much like a visual choose your own adventure where the player decides what to say in certain situations and what choices to make, shaping the story’s future and how the other characters view the player’s. They are also released in episodes like a TV show, usually between five and six in a season, sometimes with multiple seasons which follow the story and the player’s choices (to whatever extent) forwards.

Previously I had thought about doing one based around the Civil War comic event (and I might still use that someday) but the more I’ve thought about it the more I wanted to try and do something original than a straight interactive adaption. In the last couple of days I’ve hit upon a possible plot line I can use. Assuming things ok I will try and create a demo and then opening episode on a suitable interactive fiction creator, most likely Twine. (This will mean it’s all text based, no visuals.)

I’m mainly been inspired by Telltale’s take on Batman, in the sense that:
a. They focus as much on Bruce Wayne as they do Batman, and his influence on the world. I want to do this with Peter Parker and show the decisions he makes matters as much as he is as Spider-Man. They also often let the player choose whether to go into a situation as Bruce or Batman, which I might do too with Peter and Spidey where suited.
b. They are not afraid of mixing things up and doing some unique and interesting things with the Batman mythos as it is set within its own continuity. In a similar vein I want to make my own take on Spider-Man to be distinctive and have some different things to established canon, all whilst keeping the spirit of Spider-Man and his connected allies and rogues intact.

So currently I am in the process of mentally mapping out a season of this idea, tooling the story I have in mind to run about five to six episodes, selecting the characters who will appear, thinking of strong and interesting major choices for Peter to make which shape the story significantly (I have three really interesting ones so far) alongside smaller but still important choices. But I am going to need some additional suggestions from fans as to the kind of game and choices they would be interested in seeing!

Setting! Currently my idea involves a Peter at the age of 18 years old, recently started at his first year as a Joint BA in Biological Sciences and Photography at Empire State University, which will be a core setting of the story. So I want to know if that core setting seems ideal or if people would prefer an older or younger Peter Parker. I felt the age I selected seems about right since I wanted a young but not just started as Spidey Peter (he was bitten by the Spider about two years ago in the canon I have in mind), but I’m open to other ideas.

Characters! I don’t want to say exactly who I have initially in mind yet for a supporting cast, but I’m looking for favorites within Peter’s core friends and allies especially, both classic and modern. Who would you want to see included? In the case of villains I would prefer to hold off on suggestions now, I have several in mind and I think it wise to not overwhelm the game with them until I have a sensible number (maybe between six and eight) for the course of the season. Also as I mentioned changes from canon above, would you be open to new original characters in the supporting cast? I have one in mind currently.

Choices! In a general sense only, although in the context of the suggested setting made above would be nice, what kinds of choices would you want your Spider-Man to be able to make? Or your Peter Parker? Anything you suggest in that line would be awesome.

Romance! Since this might be a part of the overall season and a traditional part of Spidey’s hectic life in the comics, what’s you take on romance in this sort of story? Do you want to have the chance to have Peter date a fellow female character? Would you like to be able to chose between several? Would you prefer those non powered ladies or include girls traditionally with powers as well? Feel free to throw out names of established characters. Rest assured I have considered the logical ones (one might be red haired and another blonde haired, heh).

I’m currently toying with a system on how to reflect your choices on the world, characters you interact with and who your Peter Parker and Spider-Man is. What does the public think of Spider-Man? What do your friends think of you? What kind of relationships do you have with possible villains? Is Harry more loyal to you or Norman? Does Otto have a positive relationship with his daughter Mary? Are you seen to empathize your time as a friend, as a science student, as a budding photographer and media person, or do you focus on your responsibilities as Spider-Man?

I also want the player to be able to define and impact the future of their enemies as they go through the episodes, especially his three most personal foes in Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus and Venom. Maybe Norman Osborn is destined to be the Green Goblin, but what kind of Goblin is he? Corrupt business man, tech powerhouse, terrifying monster? As for Otto, maybe again he is destined to be a villain, but what are his goals and alliances? Is he loyal to Osborn, those opposed to him, or is he a third party? How does his relationship with Mary change things? Is she a pawn other use to ensure his loyalty, or is she at risk of following her father down a dark path too? And if Peter has become more than just a friend to her, or she knows his secret, what might that mean? And how might your relationship with Eddie Brock, and your stance on the symbiote, affect you stance with Venom… if indeed, Eddie becomes Venom at all?

I’m toying with the concept of the logo of Spider-Man and the eight arms of a spider representing eight different aspects to his personality/relationships which can go one way or another, in particular the core mantra of Spider-Man: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility. And having stats via choices which play off against each other to ultimately determine your Peter and Spider-Man by the end of the series.

And that’s what I have so far anyway. :slight_smile:


#4

If you haven’t played it, I’d recommend having a look at Known Unknowns by Brendan Hennessy - it’s an episodic Twine game with a script-style format about teens dealing with supernatural shenanigans. It may provide some inspiration/ideas about how much text you want to include between choices, layout, etc. http://known.zone


#5

Thanks so much for the link Hannah, played Episode 1 and it’s showed me something like what I had in mind is totally possible, especially with the script format, hub exploration and dialogue options! Sadly I cannot draw nice pictures of Peter Parker and company so I suspect my game will be text based only, but ho hum! :slight_smile: