General guidelines (perspective, tenses, etc.)?


I am thinking about making my own CYOA, but I looked up to see if there was anything on the general guidelines. Like most of them that I see are second person, present tense, but is it possible to do first person or third person with past tense? Or will such submissions be rejected? There doesn’t seem to be a general faq so I wanted to know before I start anything.

The Choice between 1st/2nd PoV, and Present/Past Tense

There’s nothing against it or anything, it’s just that 2nd person present is the obvious you’re in control of the story placement. I think there’s a couple of Hosted Games that are third person though. Also, without a good reason, choices in the past tense might feel a little odd (and super odd in the future tense). But no, other than questioning why, there’s nothing against stepping outside the 2nd present.


My CYOA is being written in a mix of tenses with both 2nd and 3rd person due to the characters, and past and present due to the timeline. No idea it it works but no one has complained so far


You have two under way - which are you referring to?


Unless I’m mistaken, most of what you need to know in terms of rules, before you start your game anyway, is there. There are very few rules for Hosted Games. I think there is also a requirement that you beta test the game before submission.

The other trends you are noticing (tense, perspective, stats, and so on) might be better thought of as best practices. You won’t get rejected for deviating from these best practices, but adhering to them usually makes your game better.


The followers. Hide and seek was just an experiment in 2 player mechanics to see if it was possible. I’m impressed that you know that though :smile:


2nd is the most popular, but there are published games in 1st person. I’m not sure about 3rd person, but it’s allowed. Just super difficult, coming from someone who has tried to write choice games in 3rd person. However, it is doable, so just go for whatever you’re best at.


In terms of Hosted Games, anything you want to try would be fine.


Everyone here’s probably explained it well, but depending on he’s the game will be about, you could change tenses. For example, if it were a game like Fatehaven or adventure action-y, you could use past tense, as if you were retelling the story,
However if you’re planning to write a suspenceful thriller of some sort (Like shadow horror by Allen someon [I think]) then present would be the the best tense to go with, as past implicitly conveys that you’re alive, and doesn’t keep as much tension. Second person is usually as it keeps it simple: ‘You’ is the reader (urgh grammar) and ‘he/she/it/they’ are other people.

Future tense can be used if you really want to, most likely in character creation, for example stating that

'I'm going to be a benevolent and powerful ruler!'

Ant hae tho affect the appropiate stats, although I doubt the future tense will be necessary in your game.
Lastly, past tense isn’t a common as present (I think, at least) since it makes the reader feel as if they’re reading a book, instead of being in the book (or is that just me?) however the past tense can be useful in writing a short prologue/ intro, maybe like

The year is 2018. We ran out of oil in 3 years. War broke out in 2 minutes.

Hope that helps


Thanks for all the answers and help! I think I know what to do now.