Finishing a Game: Emotional Support

Hello all you crazy coders and writers!

I went back and read past tips, techniques, and ways to cope with the elephant task of finishing one of these babies. If you have a very large game like me with a lot of nuanced writing content you probably have gone and cried in the corner a few times…ok just me then. Since I placed my eggs in this basket by golly I’m going to finish it! Anyhow, I’m opening a new thread here for anyone who may need some support, of the emotional variety, on their personal COG making quest. Maybe we can share some fun ideas to keep the juices flowing, so to speak, and keep the creativity rolling. I’d love to hear what other Authors or Writers do to keep their head on straight. I am kind of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer with little outline or planing. Just Eureka moments in the shower and hours of pacing and muttering to myself about loops ,*gosub commands, and stat development/playability. Looks like a scene from Momento on my dining room table.

Things I do: If I’m writing about a cold climate and stuck, I’ll go outside on a cold day or watch a movie that takes place in a cold setting. I find a good hike with the dog clears my head.

If my writing juices are spent, I’ll go through code and clean it up, address little changes to layout.

If my coding juices are spent, I’ll free write a scene without worries of how to code it. Just get it down on paper.

At night, when I neither care to write or code, I may do research involving things I’d like to incorporate into the game…beasts, or how to describe colors more in depth, or learn about how to Sail, or something related to the writing content.

Finally: I listened to my favorite audio-book series in my truck while driving. I listen to how the author describes a scene, how they create tension, how they create identifiable characters (not easy), how they link content for later down the road so they can wow you.

Well those are my techniques: All created in the last 3 months

I’d love to hear what you do to keep that creativity flowing!


I function mostly on self-hatred and bribery. Either berating myself for not writing enough when the opportunity presents (which is uncommon enough that I need not to squander it) or trying to entice myself to hit word goals and the like through thoughts of what I can do once I hit it.


Nice. I also use self-hatred and bribery to keep going. As it turns out, today is a good day; however, the prior week was slower and grinding. I think I also add a dash of plain old lying to myself saying " Yeah, you did good work today." pats self on back when I likely barely went from one scene to the other. Maybe I played around with the stats page…yay.


Lying to yourself is good, but not in a false praise sort of way. Lie to yourself that all you have to do is finish the next hundred words and you can stop. Then after you do it, keep going and say you’ll stop after the next hundred. Sometimes the words flow easy, sometimes you have to wrest them out with a crowbar. But it all gets you one step closer to the finish line.


Ah yes, the gambler’s promise.


Coding your work into choicescript, though it may not seem like it now, over time will become so routine to the point where it’s almost mindless. I’d recommend anyone who’s struggling with it just to hang in there, because once you have the proficiency and can recognize the most common errors in an instant, it becomes the easiest part of the job.

Writing, on the other hand, is an entirely different beast. The best thing I’ve found is to make sure the words come out easily. When they don’t, and you have to force them out in what becomes a very un-fun ordeal, that’s a sure sign to stop what you’re doing and work on your outline more.

For me, at least, knowing where I’m going in a scene is the key to remove all my burdens while I write. It allows me to focus on what matters most: the next sentence.


Hello, fine folks (and @hustlertwo)

@DrewWolf Haha your post reminds me things I would post a few years ago! I think most of us go through this crisis of self-doubt, loss of momentum, wondering if we bit off too much, etc. It seems like you’re doing a really admirable job of mixing up stimuli and doing what you can on a given day, based on motivation, etc.

I read your profile, and so what I say next might be helpful, or it at least might be something to consider.

After submitting 4 solo gamebooks (3 to Hosted Games, 1 to Choice of Games) and seeing decent-but-not-anywhere-close-to-a-part-time-living royalties, I’ve decided I must take the advice of regular authors:

  1. Build a bigger backlist. I simply can’t afford to spend 2 years on any game. I mean, if someone writes a 400k-word game, that’s the equivalent of writing 4-6 regular books, so that person, if they are seeking any sort of reasonable payment for their hard work, damn well better be confident that the payout on that one game will be in the small ball park as someone who wrote 4-6 regular novels. Then double that obviously if you write another 400k-word game. That ‘regular writer’ now has a backlist of 8-12 books, probably two or three series. Rinse and repeat. So I’m focusing on getting out smaller games. My “Fun and Games” out in February is just under 110k. My next submission, “Talon City,” will be right around the same length. Will they make as much money as longer games? Nope! But I can crank them out in reasonably short periods of time and build a backlist. Put it like this: I’d rather have 6 games out, each under 200k words, than to have 2 long games out, because if either of those long games tanks, you.are.screwed. financially speaking.
  1. I can’t imagine doing a game without extensive outlining. I’ve spun my wheels too much in the past. Never again! I can’t write at work (unless I bring my laptop) but I can always outline my next chapter during my lunch, and as @MultipleChoice said, that really (for me at least) gets the flow going for my next writing session. I can’t imagine sitting down for a writing session thinking, “Okay what am I writing today?” IMO, that shit needs to be determined well beforehand. For example, I know exactly what scenes are next up in Talon City, and yes there may be a few moments of ironing out details and dialogue (I hate going backward) but over 90% of my writing session will consist of actual writing. I just think it’s so much more efficient this way, BUT I realize some folks just prefer to pants and think that too much outlining can suck out the fun and “discovery” part of the process, and I understand we all are coming from this from different places.

  2. One last thing. If you are looking to make this your job, or even if you are just looking to maximize economic efficiencies, you simply cannot give yourself permission not to write. You have to. It’s your job. I don’t get to show up to work today and say, “Eh, I don’t feel like showing up for that hearing.” Even if I’m not feeling inspired, or fear I will lose, or don’t love the particular client, I still need to go and do the best job I can. I don’t know why writers treat this craft differently. Maybe because it’s ‘artsy?’ I dunno. But if a person is focusing on making $ with writing, then they need to crank out content even on days when they aren’t feeling it. (This is obviously totally different if it’s just a hobby)

Moving forward, I am focusing on planning, quality, efficiency, and always knowing where the story is going next, and what gamebook is coming next.

You mentioned in your bio that you wanted to take a serious run at this writing/coding thing, and so that’s why I’m tossing this all out there. Also remember that the Hosted Games queue fills up, so even when you submit a game, you will likely be waiting 3-6 months (at least) for a publication date, and huge games require huge amounts of beta testing, and huge amounts of copyediting (if going on Steam). It just makes me wonder how writing huge games is economically viable for game writers. (I suspect the folks writing the recent VtM games did very well, but there was a built-in audience so much less risky to devote that significant time).

Hope this helps!


Lots of truth here. Not least of which is excluding me from the fine folks.

For your first point, that’s true up to a point. 4 or 5 100-200k stories might be a better bet than 2 350-500k entries (though I am by no means sure about this). But once you go under that magic 100k number you are taking your life into your own hands.

Can’t speak to the second one. Pantser all the way, for good and for ill. It means sometimes I paint myself into corners, but years ago I tried to write NPT as a novel and got into the trap of spending all my time outlining, writing choice snippets and dreaming of the future and never getting around to the actual writing. Never again; that works for some but clearly not I. Plus, my average available time to write per day hovers between two hours to, like, fifteen minutes, and like any mortal human I still squander a lot of that checking my phone or playing a game so I have to make the most of the time I actually put fingers to keyboard.

With TPS and Day After I don’t even write and then code it like I did with NPT. I write in CSIDE itself, coding as I go. I barely know more about what’s going to happen than my beta readers. Sometimes what they say causes me to veer off into a new direction right off, a freedom I only have because I am not constrained by a bunch of framework I erected weeks or months ago.

Your third point, that’s all there is to it. Folks, get that tattooed in reverse on your forehead so you can read it in the mirror every day (you may want to truncate it a bit, or use really small print).

Writers write. That’s what makes them writers. And authors are nothing more than writers who finished. It sounds simple but the vast majority of writers can’t get there. If you want to avoid joining the ranks of the fallen, you just keep writing and know that eventually you’ll get there.

My main thing I’ll say is: writing a book is often not pleasant. It’s grueling, time-consuming and drains you in ways you could not imagine. Having written a book, however, is pretty sweet. Sure, you can feel judged by the reviews or the potential lack of sales, but for the most part it’s just connecting with a larger group of readers and getting checks in the mail. Just keep plodding along, Littlefoots of the CoG forum, and I promise you’ll eventually reach the Great Valley of publication. How long you rest there before undertaking the journey again being up to you, of course.


The creation of Tellus is fueled by the blood of the innocent, the blood of my enemies, and dreams that never were. Y’know standard writing stuff.


Jealousy is a huge motivator for me. I wrote for days after hearing someone picked up a IP license for Dragon Age IF.


Thats like when the gym teacher/personal trainer says “ one more rep” like 10 times snd you want to punch them afterwards ha ha. But hey they got you to do extra reps right? Oh lord my worst fear is thinking something is good and really it’s terrible. Keeps me up at night :crazy_face:. Or whether or not many people even play these reading games at all. None of my friends are interested in them. Second fear: making something phenomenal that very few will appreciate. I mean these are not what I call tappy tap games. You have to read and breathe and think, then click carefully and wince….then rejoice or curse. Then deal with it.


Totally agree with that. I try and have outlined ideas about the scenes after the scene I’m working on. But, of course, being a novice, I’ll add something that then sends me backwards to fill it in wherever needed. The coding is coming along, but I also keep stretching it farther as I go. Couching choices like its going out of style or finagling code to create interesting battle mechanics flow. Having no prior coding experience its made me a little buggy but I’ll recover ha ha.

Eric thank you so much. You answered the questions that i most wanted answered. Is this all a viable job. I found it awkward to ask directly as I imagine a lot of writers do it just for fun and perhaps have a solid career already. I do not. My career, if you could call it that, has its limits on age, is hard on the body and mind, and doesn’t pay well. So please talk your kids out of veterinary medicine if you have them. I’m actually needing to go back to work. Was hoping to finish my game then work while I waited. Not likely. I am a simple person with simple needs and don’t need a lot. But as I suspected books that I’ll generate along with the games, i had the book first, but not finished or published, along with other things will be needed to make a living. A sobering thought but something I desperately wanted to know, probably like 2 months ago ha ha. I kind of fell-in love with it all. I spend 6 to 8 hours a day, 7 days a week on it, give or take. I don’t go out anywhere or play video games much anymore. :sob:. I found the video games appeased my creative energy and just didn’t write much. So I’ve got the mentality to do this… but money makes the world go round. I am thankful for your honest words. Reality checks are the worst stat checks! ha ha.


Thanks for the encouragement hustler-two! Yeah I want to be in that Author category! And its been my true dream for decades. Just always had it on the back burner. Always had to be moving around when I was younger doing crazy things with animals or children. Now that I can set still, and put down the video games, its time.

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I think I forgot to mention my game bifurcates at some point, completely. Its ridiculous and stupid and too much work… but at least the writing is completed for one fork. I’m working on the new fork now. All of it helps fill in the giant dry erase board map in my basement I’ve been holding onto for years. Once the idea took hold of me i had to do it. It seems like players want so many different things in a game, some juxtaposed to others… so, I created two paths, different endings, different play, different scenery. This of course will all join up in the next game. Its a series of unlimited potential. So I hope people like it. If i get it done :tired_face:


I don’t know a single person who would even be able to conceptualise interactive fiction, but there’s obviously a chunky market for it. That’s the beauty of the internet. Communities like this just wouldn’t exist without it.

Most people are basic.


It really is incredible. That your story can be purchased by thousands of people and the demo read by tens of thousands, yet the number of people you know in real life who can even grasp the nature of interactive fiction, much less purchase any of it, is basically no one.


Isn’t it bizarre? I don’t know anyone locally that understands what IF is, much less likes to read or write it. Even when I’ve gone to NaNoWriMo events most people think what I’m trying to write is strange and don’t seem to get it or are interested really. I’d say fans are out there, just a bit scattered and just no one realises it. I mean I don’t go around bringing up interactive fiction in random conversations very often. (Usually because bringing up that you write a higher tech version of the CYOA books x text based computer games they might have read/played as a kid if you’re lucky, just tends to get puzzled looks and a change of topic.) Lucky for us we have the internets :upside_down_face:


I feel this so much! I’ve been suggesting friends with CoG and HG, considering they love to read and as obsessed with fictional characters like me— but, none of them are remotely interested with my suggestion. The only person I manage to sway is my little brother. But I’m so glad, despite how unheard of ‘Interactive Fiction’ is in real life, the community is still thriving with so many people who enjoy stories like this.

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I always thought that I did Not knew anyone else who reads this games, until I found out my brother does. We even like the same games. :grinning: