Hello


#1

(Apologies if I’ve posted this in the wrong area. I wasn’t sure whether to post here, in the off-topic section or the interactive fiction section, but I saw someone else create an introduction here, so . . . )

Hey there,

I just thought I’d post and introduce myself after discovering this website a few weeks back. I’m really glad I’ve found the site and it’s good to see people keeping the interactive fiction genre alive, especially without dice rolling being needed (though those books are indeed more gamebooks than anything else in my view). The ones I’ve bought so far are Star Captain and Sabres of Infinity. I’m waiting to see what Slammed is like tomorrow.

So, what about me? Well, my name’s David. I’m 27 and from Manchester in the UK. I enjoy watching films, playing games. Not really sporty. I’m also a fiction writer with one short story currently published on Amazon and I also do editing work. The editing work I do is related to the technical aspects of writing though, as I prefer not to touch content.

Aside from introducing myself, that bit about being an author brings me to the reason I’m posting. The main reason I’m posting is because I’m actually working on an interactive short story - novelette myself at the minute to pop on Amazon. I’m not using the choice script, as I’m not a programmer, but I am using Microsoft Word’s hyperlinks to offer people choices throughout the narrative, so it’ll be an ebook. And when I say a short story - novelette, that means you will get anywhere from 3,500 - 17,500 words ‘per readthrough’ (I estimate it being a long’ish short story at the very least and the short stories aren’t really short stories when they breach the 7,500 word count). It’s a low word count compared to Choice games, but it’s my first attempt and I always do my best to deliver quality content. It’ll be priced accordingly too, though I can’t go below 77p/99c unfortunately. Oh, and I don’t expect it to be full of dead ends or have plenty of deaths. (I’ll probably offer a non-interactive version too, where it’s just one path)

Anyway, what I’m looking to do with the story is attempt to tell an adult horror story, with plenty of branching, and make sure it’s coherent without all of the madcap adventures people can normally go on with the usual choose your adventure books. There won’t be any humor at all. It’s my goal to try and make the choices meaningful as well, though with it being a short story/novelette, I don’t imagine the story differences will be major with me wanting to tell a coherent story. It’ll definitely affect character relations anyway and I’ll be saving the major branching for full blown novels, as I’m basically viewing this as a test run.

I can’t give many story details right now either, as I’m not a planner. Especially as I only have around 1,600 words written, but as of right now, I have a guy suffering from headaches because he can read people’s thoughts and can’t stop himself from doing so. He’s also homeless and the headaches only get worse when he’s around more than one person. While he’s sat underneath a bus shelter one night, he runs into a woman who believes she’s being followed and that’s pretty much it right now, as I’m still trying to work out the story details beyond the main character grudgingly or not so grudgingly trying to help her. (Btw, one of the first choices you’ll get to make is determining whether he’s a drunk or trying to clean up his drinking act, so you will be able to dictate the guy’s personality a little at the very least and there will of course be multiple endings.)

As far as my writing is concerned, you can find my published short story here:

The sample you can read online/download will be brief, due to the story’s length. I’ll probably offer it for free before the interactive story is published to give you a folks a taster.

And well, that’s that. I’ll do my best to keep people updated on the project if people are interested.


#2

Well It’s should be on the other IF section but i think self advertising like this are not allowed ???
Edit : just read through your story it’s good although i’d much prefer a CS one (ChoiceScript)


#3

@bezment78 - Haven’t seen anything in the rules regarding self-advertisement. I think the forums have been generous about this though, while primarily this is COG’s forums I’m quite happy that they’ve not been blocking works from other sites and areas. Personally I’ve always thought the forums here support not just choicescript games but (within reason) all manner of CYOA style games? (Otherwise I reckon my own topic would have been kicked off ages ago.)

@DavidGil - welcome, join in, post, have fun. Working through MSWord? Never tried that to be fair, you might have an easier time with GBAT - you write the text, add the link choices and it’ll format it into a ‘book’ a la the old style CYOA paper books. Might be worth looking at, if only for ease of planning?


#4

@rvallant right just a little reminder


#5

Appreciate the kind words (and purchasing it if you did, though I didn’t expect anyone to do so :slight_smile: Just expeted people to check the free sample with mentioning about it giving it away). My intent wasn’t really to advertise. I just kinda wanted to post and say I’m working on something with it being similar to what people are interested in here. I’d like to use the choicescript, but I wouldn’t have a clue where to start and I’d possibly have a tough time with the stat part of designing a choicescript game. I’m a writer first, but a gamer second. I kinda want to try it with liking rpgs and often being disappointed with the choice and consequence part of things, so I want to bring both together.

I intend to be a member of the community, so it’s not a ‘post, advertise and leave’ deal. :slight_smile: I won’t be spamming at all. That’s a promise.

And yep, if it’s in the wrong forum, my apologies again. Feel free to move it. Also, if it does go against some rules, then feel free to delete the parts that are non-introductory.

The story probably won’t be ready for a long time either, so it’s not like I’ll have anything to post about it for ages. I’m a perfectionist. (There’s a reason I’ve only got one short story up after several months. :wink: ) And then it’s got to be edited by my editor. So yeah, I won’t be posting about this regularly at all.


#6

If you need help coding and using Choice Script, here are a few links to help you.



http://countersongscloset.webs.com/tutorial

“You cannot open a book without learning something.”
― Confucius

You cannot code in Choice Script without learning it. Good-luck.


#7

Thanks, BlueOwl. :slight_smile:


#8

Choicescript was actually made for people who aren’t programmers to write games. Most of the people on the forum are writers first and foremost. The coding language is easy.

Glad to see you plan to be part of the community. I’d suggest looking into Choicescript. It’s simple to learn but very flexible and the best thing about it is that since it can remember past choices that have been made (if you set variables) you can have past actions impact on future events beyond the immediate branch. I find that actually improves a story rather than everything being immediate and choices not really having a lasting impact.

Have you tried Twine?


#9

yeah you dont do anything wrong we love writing here not only cog but i hope you try to write one language is easy when you read the basic blue owl post already so cheers wellcome to the family @DavidGil


#10

Thanks for the welcome. :slight_smile:

To be honest, I don’t have much inclination to try choicescript. Not because I don’t want to, but I just know I’d be hopeless at it. I did actually download the zip file after Blue posted and read the tutorial. Guess how much progress I made? I got the example file open, but I couldn’t work out how to even get started on my own work. :wink:

Honestly though, I don’t really have the time to learn something new either, given my finances. It takes me ages to just get a normal short story to the level I’m happy with, too. My editor probably wouldn’t be able to edit it if I used a program that’s not a word processor either. I’m probably already complicating her job, due to using hyperlinks and story branching.

@Fairy

I just downloaded Twine now. I doubt I’ll end up using it, because I find Word quite easy to use, but I’ll at least look into it. Appreciate the suggestion.

@RVallant

I couldn’t find anything on GBAT sadly. I did do a quick search for it. But again, I’m not sure I’d use it. I don’t know how easily these programs would work for creating an ebook on kindle either.

@everyone, regarding MS Word

For beginners without an ounce of programming skill, I’d recommend using MS Word. I’ll outline how easy it is with an example, and please excuse the rough writing. I’m in no shape or form happy with it at the minute, but that’s what editing is for. (It’s part of the final paragraph before the first choice and I’ll probably end up writing everything from the first person perspective, as I feel that is what’s needed for the prose to work, as having someone hearing people’s thoughts makes it a bit harder than usual to get the prose readable in my view)

Was he sane? No, he’d decided. Because even if he did really hear people’s thoughts, would anyone be sane after it? He was just surprised that he hasn’t really gone mad yet.

Choice:

Does Darren not say anything and pray she leaves?

Does Darren ask her if she’s all right?

(From here, simply insert a page break after the final line. On the new page, type one word, highlight it and insert a bookmark. Name it something like ‘a1’ for ease of use. Go back up to the first page, highlight the relevant choice, then insert a hyperlink and make sure you select the ‘location in the document’ option from the hyperlink menu. Choose the bookmark you created, say okay, and then hover your mouse cursor over the brand spanking new blue text, hold ctrl down and left click. Voila, you were just taken to the new page for the choice you made, and you have a functioning CYOA. Will be even easier with Kindle, as you just click without using ctrl.)

As far as actually starting one, though I’m far from an expert with learning it myself, my recommendation would be to write one entire story branch first, before tackling the different ways the narrative can branch. This way, it should help keep consistency.

The only thing MS Word doesn’t allow me to do really is use stats, equipment etc. I can get around that easily enough, though I want to stress I want to make it so deaths are very rare or not numerous, allowing people to reach the end. And this also brings me to what you mentioned Fairy. Past choices having an impact.

Basically, take a typical scenario from Zombie Exodus, just before you go on a scavenging mission. You’ll have a long list like:

Do you take a shotgun?

Do you take a knife? etc.

For each option I’d give, I’d possibly copy and paste the text for most of the options (with minor differences most likely) up until there’s a section where the relevant item could be used. And well, depending on the item chosen, that’ll influence what options are available and whether you’re successful. But the key thing is that it’s the narrative that influences the options etc. rather than stats. It makes things less gamey too.

Take death and injuries as an example. The character you make decisions for takes an injury and it’s made clear in the text so that you don’t forget. Well, a decision point comes up, you’d have to take said injury into account and just live with the possible consequences.

The idea too, which brings me to previous choices having an impact, is to start everyone off with the same story. As you make choices, it gradually becomes more and more unique with previous actions always being referenced, so that it really feels like each person’s story. I’ll basically be trying to accomplish that by making sure I write everything from scratch for each choice, always keeping in mind what’s previously happened for whatever branch the reader is on, rather than copy + pasting unless there’s a really good reason for it. And this is why I want to focus on one branch of the story at a time too, plus recommend it.

Summary:

It’ll be a hell of a lot of work, but I think the end result will be worth it if I can pull it off. And yes, I can say I realise why writers/developers take the route of not making choices matter too much in the grand scheme of things (I just don’t agree with the false advertising). :wink: I don’t mind putting the work in however.

And to end this on a community note, I’m rather looking forward to Slammed tomorrow. :slight_smile: I also enjoyed Zombie Exodus. I should try and offer some feedback on Sabres of Infinity too. I haven’t managed to get an ending on that yet where I live and I received a weapon on it, but I can’t figure out how to acquire said weapon again. It’s confusing me! :wink: (I won’t say more for fear of spoilers) In fact, I did get close to the ending in Sabres, but I managed to have my character have a lance put through his eye/head. Was slightly annoying. :wink:


#11

I realise I basically rambled too. :wink: (A fault of mine and I promise my writing is tight!) So a much briefer summary is that I don’t want people to focus on min - maxing stats, worrying about them and death (possibly running into a situation they can’t get out of). I simply want people to enjoy the narrative and see where the choices lead, while hopefully giving some tough decisions.


#12

Twine has the benefit of having a community, of creating a graphical layout of your stories and of being able to track variables. Although I think the variables are in a somewhat limited fashion, although I haven’t experimented with it extensively.

What I’d suggest doing is have a look at the scenes folder for various choicescript games and just look at the code. Choice of the Dragon is the best place to start. https://www.choiceofgames.com/dragon/scenes/ and look at https://www.choiceofgames.com/dragon/scenes/startup.txt

I read an awful lot of the code before I even started writing my own games. I looked at it while I was playing the games to see how it related to the actions I could do.

There’s also http://www.inklestudios.com/ which I downloaded then went AGHHHH!!! and decided not to venture into further. I have a few other links to tools to make CYOA style games but currently can’t remember them.

I hate MS Word for writing my code in and I think the sort of game you’re speaking of, where everything needs to be repeated and repeated would drive me a little crazy when there’s more elegant solutions out there. (Of course when in doubt with those I just copy/paste and repeat things too.

Microsoft Word is annoying, it likes auto-formatting things. I like the simplicity of just using a raw text editor. I switch between Notepad and Notepad++. I generally write everything (including this post here) in Notepad first. Back in the dark ages when I did wrote in HTML I’d write it in Notepad.

Join the threads for the various games you liked playing. More voices in them are always welcome.


#13

Just tried Twine now. Works well enough for planning it out and seeing the branches, so thank you for the suggestion. :slight_smile: It’s easy enough to use and I already have a functioning html file with two branches.

I can use Twine as planning diagram, possibly write it there as my grammar is pretty good without spellcheck and in rough drafts, then copy it to word for the proper editing.

I can always update passages too with the edited text. I imagine having a html file would work wonders for beta testers as well. (Do the owners of the forum not like people asking for beta testers on non-choice/hosted games btw? It doesn’t matter in any case, as I have two betas in mind anyway, before I release it on Kindle.)


#14

Probably best to ask @jasonstevanhill if you can ask for beta-testers on the forums or not. The main problem is you’ll get people used to choice games who may find your format frustrating.

I use Twine for planning and doing diagrams too.


#15

Will do. :slight_smile:

And you’re right. Depends on whether or not people grew up with the old choose your own adventure games or not, I suppose. Without the dice rolls and stuff. (Good to see Slammed is pretty much ready to go also. :slight_smile: )


#16

I am so excited about Slammed! :slight_smile:

I did grow up with the old Choose Your Own Adventures. I loved the Fighting Fantasy and Lone Wolf gamebooks more though, even if I did generally cheat at them. I liked those sort of stories better and found they were more enjoyable. I never actually kept a character sheet though, I’d always cheat in that regard and I’d rarely roll dice.

I prefer Choice of Games to any of those old gamebooks, but I like other varieties of interactive fiction too. I don’t think your game’s the sort of game I’d play though, even if I wasn’t currently avoiding any psychic related games, I dislike horror as a genre.


#17

@DavidGil - http://www.crumblyheadgames.co.uk/the-gamebook-authoring-tool/

That’s GBAT, though you’ve tried Twine, they’re essentially the same thing afaik.

If coding isn’t your thing you can try the editor at Chooseyourstory.com - Essentially the basic version is code-free, the advanced version is… well advanced I guess.

As for beta-testing, as Fairy says ask the boss :stuck_out_tongue:


#18

An advantage of Choicescript is that isn’t just linked pages. The stats allow special options and if statements allow the same option to go one of multiple routes, either at random or based on previous decisions. The resulting variability and hidden text allows for replayability.


#19

@ADNox - I’m not so sure that’s a unique thing. Both editors I’ve used, currently and in the past have allowed for random variables, stat restrictions, events and if commands, plus the option to hide choices based on them.

Some are easier to code than others though.


#20

You can easily (though it requires more writing, I guess) do it with the way I want to handle things as well. Not that I’m going to include stats, but it’s possible. I have a pretty good mind for writing (in terms of memory) and I’m a perfectionist, so I can account for all of the multiple routes. Random elements won’t be a possibility though.

Stat wise, it’d be a case of just asking the reader to make a note of things or adding the stats to each page following a choice, and the writer just makes a decision regarding what the stat check should be (or what background is needed as an example for a particular option). You could just avoid giving the choices as well that readers don’t have the stats for. It’d clutter the page up though.

But again, I’m not going for stats or anything like that. At least not with this attempt. Replayability though? Yes. Definitely.

One thing I am a bit unsure about at the minute though, is the use of 2nd person. I’ve had my editor friend suggest it to me and I myself don’t have a problem with it. Obviously most people here don’t either, I imagine, with reading Choice games/books. :slight_smile: May as well say the short story I published and linked above is going free for one day as well, so people are welcome to grab it today if they want to.