General Design Questions

Hi guys,

Choicescript noob here, so apologies if these questions have been asked / answered before. I’ve been lurking for a few days now but have not spotted anything on these particular subjects.

Complexity - CoG seem certain that “anyone” can use the script to design a game, but in all seriousness how realistic is this assertion? I’ve seen coding queries posted here that make my (non-programmer’s) head reel, concerning “variables” and suchlike - and if that’s not a prgramming term, I don’t know what is! Honest opinion from experienced non-programmers would be very greatly appreciated.

Profanity / Excessive Cruelty & Violence - Acceptable or not? Reason I ask, the design I have in mind would be set in the criminal underworld, with Part 1 starting at the beginning of Prohibition. Part 2 (if I actually manage Part 1…) would start in the 1930s with the end of Prohibition but the rise of La Cosa Nostra (the Mafia), so your character would essentially pick up Part 2 from where you left off in Part 1, and so forth… Naturally, we’re talking a strictly adult theme here, but to be even vaguely realistic and believable, the narrative cannot pull any punches. These were not nice guys, and you would not play the part of a particularly nice guy. So my question is, would this even be published, or would I just be wasting my time?

I have probably a dozen or so more queries but the answers to those two would likely determine whether or not I need waste any more of your time… :slight_smile:

Many thanks.

Complexity - A few others and myself started on our projects with no programming knowledge and we’ve managed to do pretty well. It’s not going to be a breeze and you will need to read the tutorial on the main site, and you are going to have to do some trial and error before you get it, but the only way ChoiceScript can get any easier is if it were a software of visuals and buttons.

Profanity / Excessive Cruelty & Violence - Well, there is no set standard for profanity and cruel violence. But I have a scene where intestines are spilled in my game, Samurai, and nobody has complained about it. I think that most of the forum goers are willing to accept cruel violence if it has context and serves a purpose other than gratuity. Also, I think language helps too. You probably don’t want to go too graphic.

The same goes for the use of profanity. We would probably not raise any objections if you don’t go overboard with it. Also a suggestion: Profanity is most powerful when it comes from a polite person. Why? Because it would mean that something has made said person really angry and therefore the word is more impactful if it comes from them.

So short answer: Find a nice middle. The community is here to provide feedback.

Oh and lastly, if you absolutely must have rape occur, never ever graphically describe the act. It is a very sensitive issue and shouldn’t be used as a cheap plot device like in the media. A suggestion will do the job well enough, your readers are smart enough to know that it happens and the crime is horrible enough to make an impact. And before you or anyone says something like: “But people get killed all the time! Should we censor all that?” I retort with: “The stranger you’re talking to is far more likely to be a survivor than a murder victim.”

That’s all. Hope it’s helpful.

About Complexity: The questions about code are for advanced uses. You can make a game understanding nothing more than how to use *choice. However, there are a lot of things that are more complex which can be done with ChoiceScript.

It’s like saying that squaring a number is simple. You take a number and multiply it by itself and you got its square. Easy enough, but with that comes the idea of cubes and numbers multiplied to the power of X. Then of course you have square roots, and cube roots, and so on. Just about then, someone tries to find the square root of a negative number and you get an imaginary number (i) and most people’s brains break. By the time we get to the fact that i^3=-i, smoke is pouring out of some peoples ears, and then we take -i, square it, and end up with -1, and people start crying tears of blood. And all of that just because we wanted to multiply a number by itself.

Now, before ChoiceScript, the most complex thing I’d ‘coded’ was some basic HTML (and I mean absolute bare bones basic), so I do have a little step up above some people here, but not much of one. The thing to remember is that ChoiceScript is only as complex as you want it to be. If you want, you can make a good, full game by just using *choice (and maybe *goto/*label) without any variable, any stats, or anything else. Everything beyond that is just extra.

The nice thing about CoG games is that they generally are content > complexity. You can do a lot with simple coding and as you gain comfort in the syntax and logic, you can do more complicated scenes/vignettes. The early part of my 1st game is really simple and as I got use to ChoiceScript, my later scenes have more tricky coding segments. Just master the basics and build up your skillset over time.

If you plan to publish the game, it will get screened by the App stores and given a maturity rating. My game was rated fairly high in maturity, which comes with a warning that may affect whether or not someone downloads it. Also, if there is anything explicit, it could potentially be rejected by the App stores.

Just something to consider.

Jim is correct. We’ll publish anything that we find interesting. That said, the content may restrict the platforms on which a title is publishable. Android will take pretty much anything, but Apple has specific rules about what’s acceptable and what isn’t. We haven’t found that edge yet, but at the same time, we don’t exactly want to.

Many thanks for the helpful replies. I’ve been studying the helpfiles too and it’s clear now that only some of the most “Advanced” scripting options are likely to prove tricky for a complete noob, which time and testing (and perhaps occasional posts here!) should serve to clarify. I note that there is at least one other collaborative project underway so perhaps that is also an option–should there be someone here with a good grasp of the scripting side of things and a shared interest in the subject matter.

I should add that my aim would be “gritty realism” rather than gratuitous violence, whereby every Choice serves a purpose. My point was only that, within the criminal underworld, few Choices are what you or I would likely consider “nice” or acceptable ones. Such is the nature of the criminal mind.

I will however look into the Apple restrictions more first, assuming there are guidelines available? Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Here is a link to a copy of their own guidelines (possibly outdated):

Note that (as per the first bulleted point) Apple considers parents too stupid to activate child locks, so it has to be kid friendly, and that (as per the fourth bulleted point) they are completely and utterly arbitrary in deciding whether something is unacceptable.

Also note (more FYI than anything else), you won’t actually deal with Apple directly. You’ll submit your game to Choice of Games, who will then turn around, package it so that it will run on Android, Iphone, ect. and submit it to the various ‘stores’. If something happens with the submitting process, they’re the ones that end up dealing with it, not you. (At least I’m almost certain that’s how it works.)

Thanks, Reaperoa, that was extremely helpful. It looks like I’ll have to tread a very fine line with the descriptive prose to avoid causing CoG any unwelcome problems, but I should be able to manage that. Unfortunately it also means I’ll have to rule out any possibility of the player being able to become directly involved in certain types of criminal rackets - which directly impacts historical fact & realism - but I guess there’s no arguing with censorship. (Oddly enough, I was of the opinion that Apple collected more than enough membership info to be able to rate apps accordingly and thereby simply deny certain downloads to minors, but I digress.)

All considered, I’ll go ahead with my plans for Part 1 anyway. It would be a shame to waste the time I’ve already spent on the main storyline and various sub-plots, not to mention the time spent reading all the various CoG bloggs and helpfiles, this forum, and getting to grips with the scripting itself.

If all else fails and publication is still denied, I guess I can always stick it on its own website just for interested & mature players.

I saw your post on that thread and I want to say that even though it is set in a more sexist time, a lady boss can still happen. Not easy and would have to take a lot of shit, but they can still happen.

True enough, and to a certain extent, it actually did - the likes of Al Capone and ‘Lucky’ Luciano are major historical figures, but there were in fact female bosses from the turn of the century who ran major rackets and commanded gangs of their own, with powerful political connections and everything else we tend to associate only with the better-known guys. Some retired extremely rich, even by today’s standards.

My reservations on this subject stem almost entirely from my own inexperience with Choicescript, to be honest. I simply don’t feel competent enough to handle the rather deep & complex storyline from a female point of view, so for the sake of my own sanity (and the few remaining hairs on my rapidly-balding dome), this is one aspect I’ll have to keep simple! :slight_smile:

You seem to be quite knowledgeable about Prohibition era history so maybe you can use it as a reference. It is helpful, at least to me it is but you can give it a try.

Or if you want, you can finish the current viginettes first and then update it with a female player character when you are ready to tackle it.

Hmm. All considered, I very much like the idea of updating it later (i.e. with more scripting experience under my belt) to include a female character option. It would be a massive update as the relationship dynamics would often be completely different (extremely sexist times, and a very male-dominated underworld culture since the earliest days), and it would likely be an even tougher challenge for a female character to succeed in such a heavily biased & naturally antagonistic world. Besides, female wiles versus savagery and brute strength should make for some interesting new plotlines and more-varied choices. Yep, I like the idea a lot. Thanks. :slight_smile:

You know, women are just as capable of savagery and brutality.

Ain’t that the truth. :smiley:

Seriously though, in that particular world there will be situations where an immediate, extremely physical and violent reaction would be a valid and most obvious Choice for a “typical” (but not all) male character in the game, but much less so for most (but not all) female ones, requiring that different Choices be made available to them. I see no point in adding the female character aspect if their only choices are to behave like macho-men in skirts–a failing of too many games, IMHO.

The female experience is not dictated by how “feminine” she is, but by how the world at large reacts to how she presents herself.

The problem with too many games on this aspect is not that the female character has qualities typically associated with the macho man sterotype, but because the parts of or the entire narrative is obviously written for a male character.

For example, the Mass Effect games. For the most part, I appreciate that there is nothing differentiating the female Shepard from the male Shepard because Shepard’s heroic actions should never have been gender coded in the first place. That’s isn’t a problem, that’s a joy.

However, there are certain parts of the game which tells me that it assumes I am playing a straight male Shepard. Parts like the focus on Miranda’s tits and ass during convo or Garrus and Shepard having a conversation which is totally not unlike dudebros talking about sexual conquests and fistbumping. And that is where your problem is.

She should not be restricted in her capability just because she’s a woman, but the narrative should always be conscious of her gender and react according to the choices she make. So she’s a violent and extremely physical woman, then perhaps her surroundings react to that with fear and confusion and present a different set of dynamics to her interactions and different challenges. And if she’s a Marlene Dietrich, then her surroundings have a tendency to underlook her and she can exploit that.

Extremely thought-provoking comment and much appreciated, thanks. There’s nothing there I would disagree with and we’re definitely on the same wavelength here, but you’ve managed to put it far more eloquently. For all the reasons you’ve stated, a female character option in my particular game world would have to be scripted separately to quite a large extent, otherwise so much of the game would be subject to these problems. Gender-neutral narrative & choices are simply not a viable option.

It should certainly be an interesting challenge . . . but one step at a time!

Well, they certainly aren’t an option for what you are trying to do. But sometimes, you want to play/read something which takes you away from all that crap and that’s when gender neutral narratives save the day. Of course, having narratives which puts more than a passing thought on the issue is also appreciated and there really should be more of that around.

But yes, one step at a time!

@Vendetta Wow, are you sure your expertise on the 1930s doesn’t come from your having lived in them or something? It’s just that I’ve never encountered anyone who is as stunningly sexist as you are.

I personally think that you should sacrifice realism in favour of total gender-neutrality, because surprisingly enough I don’t want to spend my free time dealing with pretend-chauvinism.

I going to interrupt this right here and remind everyone to stay civil.

@Canisa I’m not entirely sure where that came from but if you’d care to elaborate I’m certainly willing to at least try to clarify my position.

As for the game itself, it will be written according to the times it depicts, and that means gender-neutrality is simply not an option for me. I’m sorry those were not particularly enlightened times, but that’s hardly my fault. In particular, I have absolutely no intention of trying to twist history to suit modern morals, or modern viewpoints.