Guides for all games?

Very interesting. Personally, I don’t give hints or walkthrus to my games. But this is more due to the fact that I’d rather spend my time writing the next game than helping someone with an old one. :slight_smile: Also, I find that my fans are better at playing my games than I am! I have millions of lines of code in my head from all my games, including unfinished games and paths that got removed before publication. I’d need a hint book to get certain endings in my own works at this point!

I’ve actually sent a few people to these forums for help, since I don’t want to do it. This is why I’m the only person with the very pretigious Campaigner Badge, by the way. :slight_smile:

As for the philosophical debate, I am 100% against the idea of a back button and I think people need to play the game as a story for the first several playthrus, but after that, I think it’s wonderful for people to discuss what they’ve found and share their experiences. :slight_smile:


Thank you for your input. I totally understand where you are coming from. I personally wouldn’t use the hints a lot, but seeing the different achievement guides and walkthroughs scattered around the forum, I thought it might be best if there was a specific section for that. This way, you have to go looking for them in a section, and not accidentally stumble across one.

Well but this really just creates a new issue, in a way . . . because those asked and answered questions, those bits of historical knowledge, do reside in threads all over the forum. So I’m not sure what this section is going to look like and how much chaos it may or may not create as new users come here and start posting questions like “How do I get a mate in Dragon?” under Hints. The fact that people do or don’t search for information for posting is another issue that we’re talking about in other threads. My feeling is I want everyone to be civil, and I worry about the Hints category getting used properly in this regard.


These are great points. I think it is very much up to the authors if they want to provide this kind of guidance in any formal capacity and I certainly wouldn’t want any pressure put on those who would rather not. As such, it seems like even if provided with a dedicated category, “Hints” will still be a bit of a hodge podge of user and/or author-originated content, with some games having more or less by comparison. I would hate to see people get more confused or frustrated in that regard, especially if a question has been answered in that game’s main thread already.

We don’t do walkthroughs (I do think people should attempt at least one reading solo without hints, to not ruin the fun), but we have given achievement guides for some of the trickier ones. I tend to be a completionist in video games myself, so I sympathize when someone has tried everything and still can’t seem to figure the last remaining few out.

I also support CoG’s overall stance on these topics, especially the undo or “back button” argument.


I did recently put up a few walkthroughs for some of the paths to my game. Wasn’t planning on more than hints originally (there is a hints section in the game itself), however it seems like a lot of readers were missing whole story sections (and often not realising there was missed content as well) and I’d rather that they got read by people interested than missed because it was hard to find them. (Which obviously means I need to signpost better as well so not all games would need this sort of help).

Hints on achievements vs missed storylines can be different objectives though so I can see why it’s nice to find out how to do some things yourself it there’s a clear path as to how to go about it. Still up to the author if they feel inclined to make a guide or not, don’t think anyone should feel like there had to be a walkthrough made :slight_smile:

Threads are full of people asking for hints anyway, at least the hints forum will help stop people who don’t want hints or walkthroughs from stumbling onto them so could work well hopefully :slight_smile:

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Hi all, I’m fairly nervous about putting up a view against the trend (considering this thread’s heavyweight contributors and the line of COG in general),

But there are fairly well reasoned out arguments for ‘back buttons’ too. (see below)

But the rightness of the thing aside, CS does not operate in a vacuum. I believe it attracts the majority of its new readers from paper or ebook traditions. These readers are used to being able to flip back a page to clarify, to re-experience (without the joy of having to do a full re-reading of War & Peace).

Yes, in choice driven narratives this is open to abuse (and in my experience can even reduce the reading experience of someone who is in favour of saving.) BUT we’re attempting to attract readers from a wider literary context. This means some CS should be easier to transition to. And for some people that means a back button.

I’m testing a new chapter return and chapter sub-section return system for my WIP ‘The Aegis Saga - Blood’. Will this mean Cog won’t be interested in hosting?


At the risk of sounding tautological:

To the extent that you’re talking about your Hosted Game, Hosted Games (a different company than Choice of Games) will host your game.

To the extent that a back button goes against Choice of Games’ design philosophy, Choice of Games won’t implement a back button. BTW, just glancing through the other threads you cite–“numerous occasions where I’ve selected an option, only to find the author had loaded it with numerous unforseen consequences, which I didn’t wish to accept” also goes against our design philosophy, so it’s not a problem that needs fixing in Choice of Games releases.


Thanks for the reply @Mary_Duffy (and for raising this part of the conversation in the first place)

And thank you also for the clarification. I should have referred to HG rather than Cog, I do appreciate there’s a difference. Perhaps in that light my contribution was not useful.

If you do consider the remnant of interest:
Regarding the citation - I appreciate the example is extreme but did find it thought-provoking.

You’ll be aware of some of the theory surrounding the relationship between a reader and a text. The dynamicism of that relationship is of course increased in choicescript due to active interaction.

Arguably - the ownership of the CS story cannot be argued to be purely of the author, but of both the author and reader.

Unfortunately, because novice writers like myself sometimes struggle to pen a choice clearly or in an objectively understandable way, we can create a disconnect. The reader clicks on a choice they believe they understand, only to find they do not. Perhaps they choose to be a bird to enjoy the freedom of the sky, but are told in the following sentence that they are a dodo.

While the gradual improvement of an author’s writing will help diminish the capacity for these misunderstood choices, in the meantime paper and ebook readers have a last resort. They can flick back a page and try to understand what they missed.

Apologies if this seems dull and off-point given the succinctness of your answer. But if you enjoy thinking about the reasoning behind these particular structural choices, perhaps this is of some limited interest.:blush:

Not dull exactly, but . . . I think there’s a different view, perhaps a privileged one I have, as an employee at COG that makes all the requests for a back button seem ill-considered. Two things go into that feeling. One is practical, and the other again, a reiteration of why we’re philosophically opposed to a back button. (Reminder: I’m more or less speaking for myself, since we have a FAQ that covers this issue.)

  1. There’s widely (amongst people who email our support email) an assumption that our team is capable of implementing UI changes on demand. “Can you make your games’ UI do ? It would be really simple to code and implement,” is something I see regularly. Implementing any design change would mean, let’s see . . . at last count we’ve published 101 Choice of Games & Hosted Games titles, combined. At a minimum those games were released on 4 or 5 platforms, and since we’ve added Steam, could be that’s 5 or 6 platforms a given game is on. So tell me again how simple is it to prepare re-releases/updates to what are effectively 500-600 “games?” That’s not to say there will never be a UI update to our games, but that it’s a massive undertaking. We’re not sitting here, tenting our fingers and cackling because we refuse to push that one button which will allow you to change the font size, add a nightmode or . . . add a back button, which is not really a UI improvement but indeed a change in the way CS functions, I’m guessing.

  2. We have a very strongly established sense of game design. That game design philosophy is not quite proprietary, and we blog/write/talk publicly about what it entails. But needless to say, when a game does things a certain way, it’s probably because we’ve had a hand in ensuring it meets our standards for design. And that philosophy of game design is not readily apparent to the average reader. While different members of the team have slightly different takes on how best to implement that design and what things to encourage in the games we edit, in general, the answer you see on our FAQ as to why we don’t have a back button remains the clearest statement.

Again, going to my experience of fans’ perceptions, I get a lot of emails that say “Oh no! I picked the wrong option.” Well, it’s only “wrong” to the extent that you fat-fingered the option, because you wanted to pick something else. Our game design philosophy is such that we wouldn’t publish a game where one of the options is “wrong.”


I believe I follow your points on the logistics and the philosophy.

I also appreciate the time you took to respond (and had I spotted you were a staff member would certainly not have tried to pull you into a time-consuming and self-gratifying discussion).

As you see I’m still pretty shiny new - and though I’m getting around I haven’t absorbed everything I need to know. I can also see I’m letting my enthusiasm for a beautiful medium run away into vacuous and well travelled areas.

So thanks! - for both the time and the enlightening answers @Mary_Duffy.

I can definitely see everyone’s points.

On the back button: if you added a back button, why would you need to add it to previous games? Sure, someone who played a game with a back button would be disappointed there wasn’t a back button in earlier games, but they can just chalk that up to technology. And while I do agree back buttons have the potential to be highly abused, they also could be used for saving the 2 hours it takes for you to restart the game, redo all your choices and get back to the point you were before you misclicked or min/maxed the wrong stat.

On the hints: I also agree that hints have the potential to be abused, but I, like most people on this forum, will usually play a game through multiple times, and then want to figure out how to get the most of a certain stat, or unlock a path, or interact with a certain character. I’m too lazy, and other people simply might not have the time, to go down every single path to find their ideal ending. Going through the code takes hours, if not days. If a few people can help us out, why not?

(I already know you’re weren’t offering an argument above, I was just stating a few points so people could see all sides of the situation. Also, sorry for the late reply.)

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Which is the rub, isn’t it? The guides exist. The walkthroughs exist. This philosophical statement of opposition to achievements now exists, for all to understand why you, personally, believe some people are not enjoying these games as intended.

The question isn’t whether or not to create a walkthrough or a guide. If there’s an achievement, which is an optional feature (yes?) which many authors have chosen to add, then people will find a way to get it. That’s much of the point in achievements existing. If one involves a path that’s very difficult to find, and the author hasn’t seen fit to provide a guide to get there, some fan will (if they care enough about the game) find and post the answer.

Your only input in this process is whether to index the answer, or leave people doing searches wondering why your games don’t have walkthroughs, and whether it’s because no one cared enough to write one.

In visual novel games, many of them allow you to re-read as much as you like (the equivalent of a “Back” button) though you can only re-choose options if you have a save point. While some longer games (HGs, I believe?) do have save points, being able to re-read without re-choosing options doesn’t really apply to your philosophic objection. Is it a technical limitation, then? If so, it seems disingenuous to say you refuse to do it because of philosophy.

Which, since there are no save points in most COGs, means you’ve effectively broken immersion by having your well-considered character you’ve spent hours crafting suddenly do something totally wrong for them. Maybe you’ve thrown away the achievement path you’ve been working on. To some gamers, that matters.


I personally like guides and the idea of back buttons because with guides, it becomes more accessible to those with mental disabilities that may make it difficult to play something with puzzles that are incredibly hard to do. It’s something I appreciate and it helps me enjoy the game to have some help with a puzzle before I feel like a complete idiot for not figuring it out.

For back buttons, I don’t mind a lack of as much, but one reason I wouldn’t mind the implementation of them is because sometimes the authors word the sentence in a way that makes me think it means something else and it does something that confuses me completely, like misunderstanding a snarky line and accidentally horrifically insulting someone with my gentle comedian character. Or, when playing a WIP, and an error occurs with the path line I’m following, it would be nice to be able to go back one page and pick a path without the error so I can access later parts of the game to find other errors.


I agree with what you said about the WIPs, I also think it would be cool if some authors wanted to add an option to have a back button. This way, if an author thinks its wrong to have a back button, they don’t have to have one, and if they want one, than they can have one. Or you could implement it for the user instead. If the reader wants to be able to use the back button, they can have it, but if they don’t want to, then they wont have it. The achievements could work almost like an ironman mode. You can only get achievements without a back button, seeing how having a back button would make it so much easier.

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@Mary_Duffy I know this thread is old, but it’s the most recent one referencing back buttons.

I would like to start off by saying that I understand your design philosophy. I just think it’s stupid. Hear me out for a second.

As someone who plays these games on a phone, I have the issue of occasionally misclicking the “next” button. Or I’ll drop my phone, and it’ll click it somehow. This means that, occasionally, I don’t even get to make the choice, and circumstances outside of my control, or yours, or anyone else’s for that matter, ruin my playthrough. That’s a bit of an issue. The same problem can also cause me to miss some bit of crucial information by making me accidentally skip a page. I can understand your fears that players would abuse the back buttons, but I, personally, think the benefits far outweigh the downsides. At the end of the day, it’s a game and a book. In a book, you can just flip back a page. In a game, most of them except for roguelikes allow you to save, load, and go back if you missed something or made a mistake. When you think about it, these games about choice are depriving their players of the very thing they’re trying to give- choice. The choice to go back and undo a mistake, or reread an earlier page, or whatever. Players are going to want to play the game how they CHOOSE to play it, isn’t it a bit AGAINST your philosophy to deprive them of this?

Regardless, even if we exclude the fact that you’re going against your company’s name, it makes sense to have a back button to at least re-read pages you accidentally skipped. And, as a game developer myself, I know that it’s not that hard to implement a back button. You already have one for the stats screen. It’s also not that hard to make it so, if you use a back button, you can’t alter your choices, if you wanted a compromise. And I don’t see any reason a compromise couldn’t be reached.

The only other reason I could see for not including a back button is because you just don’t want to, without considering what your customers want. Isn’t that the definition of ANTI-CONSUMER? If your design philosophy conflicts with what your players want, what do you think should change? Choose your answer carefully, because like your games right now, there are no back buttons, no do-overs, no re-tries, no changing your choice once it’s made.

As much as I love the games you guys put out, I can’t condone anti-consumer practices, so if you continue to put your own design philosophy ahead of the desires of your playerbase, I’ll have to start spreading the word of your anti-consumerism.

Have a good day, and choose wisely.

So what you are saying is
‘I don’t want to play the game more than once. Give me a back button so I don’t have to start over/play again’

Am I getting you right?

Not necessarily. There are consumers who do appreciate not having a back button, viewing it as an achievement if they can do something without needing a ‘do-over’ or ‘scum-saving’ or anything else. In that case, by having those features would be seen as anti-consumer as well by those same people.

And don’t think it can’t happen. When asked by some people to make some games easier like Darkest Dungeon, or Cuphead, many fans erupted in anger at the thought of ‘dumbing down’ the game…even if it was features not implemented. So, at that point…the devs deciding not to make an ‘easy mode’ can be called ‘anti-consumer’ as much as if they did implement it to satisfy their current fan-base.

And there would be many people who would be offended since you presumed to speak for them. What you view as anti-consumer, many others view as a game feature…and would tell you if you don’t like it, then you are free to buy games elsewhere.

In the interests of transparency: I’m actually on record saying that I would like a save/reload feature myself. I actually agree with most of your arguments/stands, but the part about being ‘anti-consumer’ was a bit much, and was why I wanted to post. If they really were anti-consumer, they wouldn’t have implemented ways to enlarge text, or change color screen. Yes, much later than many people would like, but it was done.

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No. I’m saying I don’t want to play the game over just to reread a single page that I misclicked off of, having to redo the same choices over without changing them.

That argument can be countered by going with a compromise of making it so choices can’t be changed retroactively with the back button. Again, I know that can be done relatively easily. Or even just making back buttons optional. It’s not like the people who don’t want back buttons are being forced to use them, but the option should be there for those who do.

My posts are moderated so I can’t edit them-

They’d be wrong. I don’t feel entitled, I feel that having to completely replay the entire game to reread a single page is unnecessarily tedious. As a game developer myself, I’d never force that on my own customers.