Halloween Jam 2022

I love Endmaster’s work! Great interview Mara. It’s very interesting to see his thoughts.

Oh and I’m also interested in the Discord server!

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The Jam server is running! If someone want to join the jam can pm me or posting here.

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I’d be interested in joining! My writing has stagnated recently, and seeing the progress of others could be inspiring!

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Invitation send! Welcome

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Hey! (First forum post woo)
I suffer from a chronic writer’s block, but I’d like to try to overcome it :] I’m interested in joining!

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I’m interested in joining :slight_smile:

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Unfortunately there’s so much going on IRL right now that I won’t be able to participate this year after all. The best of luck to all the people who are still participating :jack_o_lantern:

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No problem. However, you can always participate in a speed jam version. Trying to do a small story in 4 hours or less. You can plot it however, without time limit.

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In the Halloween jam discord we are celebrating a small 1k story mad lips random event; we had a little bit of writer’s block. Each one grabbed the random world generator to pick our prompt. Mine was champagne.

I think this is helping in our Writers block.

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halloween HANNAH JAM

Thanks to @HannahPS to reply my questions. I learned a lot from them

1. Do you first create your characters and then design the lore and storyline, or is it the other way around?

At the concept stage I’ll decide what the premise of the game is - where the main character is and what they’re doing, and broadly what will unfold over the story. I won’t always have characters fixed in stone at that point, but I’ll have some ideas. Then once I’m going into more detail about the plot, I’ll develop the characters in more detail alongside. In most of my games the storyline is very interwoven with the characters because relationships are at their heart.

I play fairly loosely with lore and do what serves the plot. For example: in Creme de la Creme I wanted to write about a finishing school, so I made a world in which that was an important part of upper-class life.

2. What do you advise beginners to do to better plan their characters and stories? Any program to help us?

If your brain works visually, I suggest flowcharts either on paper with post-its or drawing it out, or software like Miro. I haven’t used CSIDE myself but have heard that it’s fantastic for planning and writing. But really it’s good to experiment and figure out what works for you.

3. You have worked on all Cog branches. How do your planning and writing change based on the different formulas? (I am a dumb dumb I know lol)

[ Heads up, I haven’t worked on Hosted Games or Hearts Choice, only CoG! I’ll describe how I plan below, feel free to tweak the question: ]

I go through the outlining process with my editor to plan out the setting, characters, stats, and overall storyline. So when it’s time to start writing, I’ve got that all sorted out which means I can focus on the chapter structure. Of course, sometimes things change - I’ve tweaked stat names and the way they’re used, and even rethought whole chapters, as the project continues. But it’s good to have something pinned down.

I then write my notes for the scenes of a chapter in a notebook, then write the code straight into Sublime Text, automatically testing as I go to make sure it works properly. Once the code is done, I start writing the words the player will see. Again, that will shift as I go but it works for me to have the bare bones there.

4. Many novice writers and I suffer from stress and uncertainty when we have to show something publicly. Have you ever been through that? If so, how are you able to cope with it?

When I was younger I wrote novels and sometimes did finish a first draft, but often didn’t manage to. I found the idea of sharing my work very stressful and mostly didn’t show it to anyone. For me, because something interactive is designed to be shared and played, it feels easier to share. Ultimately if you can show it to one person, it’ll be scary but the more you do it, the easier it getes.

The autumn after I released Blood Money, I exhibited it at AdventureX, a UK games conference. Standing behind the table and watching people as they played was VERY nerve-wracking and was a bit of a trial by fire, so now anything else feels a lot easier!

I won’t pretend I don’t feel nervous when I put things up, and it’s tempting to stare at numbers or an inbox to see what anyone’s thinking about it. If you see something negative about your game, it’s hard for that not to take over, but with Noblesse Oblige, I made a document containing all the nice things people posted about it during testing and after it was released. That’s a nice thing to look at!

6. You have written in different media in the industry, even in more fan part of it. Where lies the difference between the cog formula from more traditional interactive writing?

Although every studio is different, the major shift for me is working in a team. I’ve been immensely fortunate to work in amazing narrative teams for my day jobs, and it’s a very different experience having input from several other people before even starting to write. In the teams I’ve worked on, individuals have had “ownership” over particular content they’ve made, but by the time a project is released, I’ll have forgotten which lines were mine and which were other people’s. I always take pride in what I’ve done but I’m not at all precious about cutting things when needed.

There’s also much, much more to consider with other departments. Sometimes it might be as simple as making sure artists have accurate descriptions of a character, or editing a description to match what artists have created. Sometimes it might look like being creative about reworking a plot structure because of technical constraints. Sometimes it might look like requesting software features to make the narrative and mechanics work together the best they can.

With CoG, it’s more similar to publishing a book where it’s usually an author, main editor, and the rest of the publishing staff including other types of editor. Within the CoG guidelines, which are very broad, I have more freedom to go as complicated as I like, though I need to consider whether I’m doing that for the sake of it or whether it’s in service to the wider story!

7. I believe that your developer’s diaries in your game development process are gold to an aspiring writer. But What are the pros and cons of it from the writer’s point of view.

Thank you so much! I definitely found it nice to start doing the Creme de la Creme diary after having done Blood Money without one. I think the first useful thing about it was knowing that people were excited about the concept. An aristocratic boarding-school story focused on being polite was a departure from what I’d made before, and wasn’t something I’d seen much of on the forum, so I was a little nervous that no one would be interested. It’s very motivating, and you can get useful feedback before the stage of testing the whole game, where it’s harder to make big structural changes.

Cons - it takes up time. I feel a bit guilty about not keeping updated as regularly as I’d like because I’ve got so many other things to do. It can feel disheartening if you haven’t made much progress and are just saying “Hey, I haven’t been able to do much this month”. I’d also suggest showing the project once you have a solid idea of what you want it to be; it can feel tricky to figure out what you do and don’t want to change if players want something that you didn’t plan for.

In general though, for me the pros outweigh the cons. It helps me get into the mindset of showing and sharing, so then when it’s time for the beta testing process and release, I’m more used to it having lots of eyes on it and feel less nervous.

8. Who is the character you are more proud of and which one was the more complex to write for you and why?

I like all my characters but at the moment I am particularly proud of Rys from Noblesse Oblige. I am really fond of fancy characters who turn up and stir trouble in an isolated household. I like how I made their mystery unfold, and their increasing desperation over the game. They may be very well-groomed and flattering, and generally poised, but under the surface they’re as much of a mess as the other characters. I enjoy that! In general I feel good about how messy the Noblesse Oblige characters are.

Asher from Royal Affairs has always been complex to write. They’re the player character’s bodyguard who they’ve known for years, and you can befriend or romance them; they generally feel positive about the player character unless the player does something egregious. It’s quite challenging to write developing relationships between characters who are that familiar with each other. I always want friendship/romance options to be interesting, and for them to have lives outside the player character… but at the same time their life DOES revolve around the player character, haha! So it’s been a fun challenge to balance that.

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Thank you for the questions, they were really interesting to think about!

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I have all your games but I am dumb dumb to believe some were hosted and some were heart choice. I am known for my Epic fails for a reason. Sorry Hannah.

I have probably lost all my credibility

Oh not at all, and don’t worry! :heart: The number of fails I have on any given day - including ones about writing - has to be seen to be believed.

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Well, This is my 1k random world speed jam story The world I ended with is champagne. Maybe I will add choices and make it a full game eventually. I will like hear feedback about it.

champagne

Champagne Supernova

https://dashingdon.com/play/poison-mara/champagne-supernova/mygame/

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  1. Do you create your characters and then design the lore and storyline, or is it the other way around?

I’d say it’s a tie. Sometimes I have good stories in my mind, and I design characters for them. Some other times I have great characters in mind who need a story.

If I could choose, I’d love to have great characters in mind instead of a great plot. Characters are what people love most. If you nail your MC, your story will be a success.

Too bad that when it comes to ChoiceScript, you cannot define 100% of the character. On the other side, the fact that players define their MC helps the story to be memorable for them :wink:

  1. What do you advise beginners to do to better plan their characters and stories? Any program to help us?

READ. PLAY. WATCH.

Read novels/comics, play video games, and watch movies/tv series. Most of my characters (willingly or unwillingly) come from a mashup of different movies/games MCs. Here’s an example: my next MC will have a giant Buster Sword like Cloud in Final Fantasy VII, be dressed like Frisk of Undertale, and talk like the Sopranos. Using the correct stereotypes at the right time helps get the player’s attention and get in a fast and furious way straight to their hearts.

I don’t use any program to create characters. But I saw a few templates out there that could be useful for beginners…

  1. You are a great fan of Monkey Island. How do old adventure games influence you?

Every single game I enjoyed playing influenced my life. And still influences it. The Secret of Monkey Island taught everyone how a swordfight could be won using the right word at the right time. Loom taught me that the language of music could be the language of magic. Metal Gear Solid taught me to think “out of the box” to overcome incredible difficulties (yes, Mr. Psycho Mantis, I am talking about you).
Video games were (and still are!) an incredible source of inspiration for me.

4: many novice writers and I suffer from stress and uncertainty when we have to show something publicly. Have you ever been through that? If so, how are you able to cope with it?

EVERY SINGLE TIME I write something, I immediately wonder: “Will anyone ever like it?”
Nowadays, after I have written dozens of novels, short stories, scripts, video games, and RPG manuals, I immediately answer: “Of course!”

But I can clearly remember how afraid I was to show the world my writings when I was younger.

Today, I guess that facing that fear and overcomingtheir is a step every writer must take in his c. Ier. There is no easy way through that, I can only give some advice:

  1. Don’t be afraid of critics. Better being criticized than being ignored!
  2. Show your writing to your friends (or to people you trust) first. They will be much more indulgent, and you will build your self-esteem.
  3. After your self-esteem is consistent, start showing your writing to “experts”. They will probably DEMOLISH your writing, BUT they will help you improve. A LOT.
  4. If you survived until here, you’re ready to show your writing to THE WORLD. It’s full of assholes who will try to bring you down: just ignore them. You survived the EXPERTS, which means your writing is good. No matter what those assholes say. Be kind to everyone and listen to the few, sincere advice that will eventually come.
  5. If you managed to arrive here, congratulations! You overcame your fears. Nothing will stop you now from becoming a best-selling author!

5: What is your opinion on stats and romance?

STATS: IMHO, the fewer, the better. I can’t keep track of more than five stats when I make “conscious” choices. I played games with more than five stats: I made a lot of “casual” choices because I didn’t remember how many stats I had and what each stat did.

ROMANCES: Stick to those that REALLY matter in the story. IMHO there’s no point in having the opportunity to romance ten different characters if none of these relationships changes anything in the plot at all.

  1. Being not native has supposed to be an extra challenge for you? What can you recommend? No natives as help in edition and overall process?

Of course, publishing for CoG would be much easier for me if I could write in Italian :slight_smile:

On the other hand, writing in English allows my writing to be effortlessly gender-neutral. If I wrote in Italian, it would be WAY more challenging to be gender-neutral and to change all pronouns accordingly.

I usually ask a few English-speaking friends to help me with my English text. I recommend everyone to do the same.

  1. Any word advice you want to give to the jam audience?

NEVER. STOP. WRITING.
There are so many wrong reasons to stop: ignore them.
Writing is our life.
Being criticized is the best way to improve.

Do your best to comply with deadlines.

Ask for advice/mentorship/help. This wonderful community is full of good people willing to help you.

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Looks really aamaazing, Will!

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Love how you big up all these villains and then big up the villains they plan to kill only to kill him off before they can even get to him hinting at an even bigger baddie.

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Happy birthday! And I agree with you, Will have a gift to promotion their characters

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Thank you.

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