Getting over ChoiceScript "Stage Fright"/Feeling Overwhelmed


#1

Hello everyone. I’ve wanted to make a game in ChoiceScript for a long time now. Unfortunately, every time I start, I look at what goes into making a ChoiceScript game (balancing stats, making choices have impact, testing considerations) and my brain just freezes. I have trouble thinking of proper stats and choices, let alone making sure that they’re functional and impactful, which severely hampers my ability to get anything done in my potential games. How do you get over that feeling of “stage fright” when starting a ChoiceScript game? Is the key to just make sure you’ve got your outline completely locked down, or is there some other trick to making the heap of things to do less intimidating?


#2

I definitely felt that way at first. My first suggestion is to get CSIDE or Chronicler to streamline things a bit, and other than that just post any questions you have. Nothing is too small or inane, and no one mocks you if it is something that seems obvious. When I started it took days just to figure out proper indenting. I have a whole thread called Ultimate Noob Coding because that is what I was. Now, I have coded 12,500 words of my story and can proudly proclaim myself a Moderate Noob at coding. Everything starts somewhere. Posters here are great and they’ll help you through the baby steps until you are able to star moving on your own.


#3

The best advice I can give is start simple. Making the coding too complex for your first game is going to cause you trouble. When I was writing UnNatural I had lots of ideas I had to scrap because I was worrying about how to make certain things work. One of the things I’ve learned recently is a lot of my coding was more complicated than it needed to be and more code = more chances of errors.


#4

I would say just start writing. It’s the story that matters most. Especially if you’re having trouble thinking of proper stats and choices, shelve that question for the time being and just start writing. The story itself will throw up choices as you go, and you can look for the common themes in those choices to see what the stats should be. After you’ve done a bit of that, step back and try again at your broader game outline. It might be easier doing it once you’ve done some of the writing, rather than trying to outline everything from the beginning.


#5

Thanks, you three. I’ve used the C-SIDE before a while ago, and have since grabbed the desktop version for this project. It looks as helpful as I remember it being (very much so).

Simple is how this story is going to go, most likely. Maybe I can pack more dynamic things in later.

I do like the “start writing” tip; the problem is that I’m more of a “planner” than a “pantser” (to use NaNoWriMo terms), and I get nervous if I don’t know what I’m doing. Well, I suppose we’ll see what happens.


#6

I think you should have a general outline of what you want to do. If you’re making a game about competing on a cooking game show, then having a magic skill might not be that important.

You technically don’t need any visible skills and can worry about balancing in your later edits.

For choices, pacing is pretty important and people don’t want too many long walls of text at the beginning without choices. The easiest choice you can ask is " what do you think about X?" The reader can define their point of view of the setting and feel like they have choices even if you have to railroad some of the events in the story. Another choice is to ask the readers how they want to acomplish a certain task (maybe through skills). If the reader’s task is to clean their room before their parents get back maybe they can charm or pay their siblings to do it or do it themselves. All can result in the task getting completed, just in slightly different ways which is easier to write.


#7

I’m more on the planner end of the spectrum, too (I decided to turn the story I’d been planning into a game when I couldn’t decide which of several endings I preferred). I’d suggest, once you know generally what kind of story you want to write, planning out several contrasting endings. Then think about what makes them distinct, and what kind of choices would makes sense to bring the character there. That’ll give you an idea of what kind of stats you’ll want to use, and how to structure the plot leading up to those endings. (And you could try not using stats at all if you’re not sure what to do with them.)


#8

As @Alexandra indicates, you can overcome your inertia by turning your planning abilities directly into story building.

I start with npc characters and I plan them out in detail. I’ve done so for so many that I have a composition book dedicated to nothing but characters I can draw upon later if needed. Then I piece interactions of those characters together and plan a vignette with those characters involved. Then I string the vignettes together into a scene and scenes into chapters.

The key is to take a part of story building you love to do and start planning out that little bit, then build upon your plan, bit by bit.


Also, this community is super-supportive. I really have learned a lot from everyone here and they all help me when they can. A lot of people have different perspectives that will help you see things you wouldn’t otherwise see. I’m glad you felt comfortable enough to open this thread :slight_smile:


#9

Hey @SamiFire, I feel exactly the same way. Been “coding” my first CS game for two days now, while outlining it the last few weeks. I’m still in the middle of both but feeling equally overwhelmed with the prospect of writing a CYOA story and coding it in CS. It’s a lot more work than “merely” writing a linear story!

In the beginning, as others have said, there’s almost too many things to choose from. So many ways to direct the story, characters, stats, and calculations.

It sounds like you have the right idea when you mentioned outlining the story ahead of time, because that at least gives you a map to follow along with as you do the more complex coding/Chronicler-ing.

I’ve spent the entire day in Chronicler and I’m realizing my outline should probably be better fleshed out before I add yet more variables and stats to deal with throughout the story. I think writing a complex story, in the simplest code possible, would be ideal.

Just wanted to let you know there are others of us out there, you’re not alone. While everyone else on the forum seems like seasoned veterans to all of this, others like us just got started this week.

Good luck! Hope to see your finished work someday as much as mine. :slight_smile: