How long (on average) do you think it takes for a WIP to be completed and published as an HG?

How long is the process of starting a WIP and getting it to the finish line (including beta-testing, writing, editing, publishing, etc.)?

I’m just asking purely out of curiosity: HG authors and WIP writers, please feel free to chime in with your experiences! I only ask because I notice a lot of the HG games being published now or in the current queue at the moment seem to have started their WIP threads in 2016! So I’m thinking it’s around 2-2.5 years on average for some of them? (Barring external delays/hiatuses, very complex or very short games, etc.)…

Authors who are being published now, did you work on your games consistently in the time since starting the WIP thread (or even before then), or was it more of an on-off process? Writers of long-standing WIPs, what about you? Forum-lurkers and readers who have been around for a while, what’s been your observations of the lifespan of a WIP before it was finally published?


Usually a year or so. I heard that Choice of Rebels took 7 years but idk if that’s true.


I started writing February '17. Until today, I’m not done writing even the 1st chapter, though it has been through at least 3x iterations.


@MichaelCrank I was literally snooping around in a thread from 2014 about this topic and found this by @Havenstone:

I started Choice of Rebels in 2011, a few months before my first son was born. I’ll let you know how long it takes me to finish.


@Szaal I know that feeling of rewriting something over and over: I did the same thing!


God I can’t imagine working on The Outsider for seven years


I consider myself a veteran, having published 4 HGs and currently having several WIPs. In my experience, it has taken CoG about 7 months on average to publish my stories after they’re submitted. I write approximately 1k words per day, so it takes a matter of months to finish each title depending on how long they are.

With The Magician’s Burden, for example, it took about 15 months from me just starting it to it being published: 8 months to write and 7 months to get published.


I guess it generally depends on the writers pace. I’ve silently followed some other wips that have last for over a year. I know for mine, since I do write fast, I could be done in a year. But then you’ll have to factor real life events, writers block, and everything else. Soooo…

It really depends on the person


@Samuel_H_Young So it took you about 8 months to write the Magician’s Burden, and then almost as long for it to be published by HG? Or do you mean 15 months for you to be ready to submit it to publication?


Yep, 8 months to write and 7 months to get published. Trial of the Demon Hunter took 5 months, Captive of Fortune took 9, and Foundation of Nightmares took 7.


You’re a prolific writer! :scream::sob::pray: Thanks for the useful info! I wonder if you fall in the minority or majority of HG writers, lol?


There are a lot of games in the que because Choice of Games held a contest that had 15 entries successfully submitted. In addition to those 15 games submitted, there are at least 5 (that I know of) that were started for the contest but dropped out.

Most WiP are part-time efforts that have periods of hiatus or dormancy that extends their life. Vendetta is an example of one that had a six year period of forum inactivity, although the author was working on it without attending to the WiP thread.

The reasons are as many as there are authors (one of the most common reason: converting the game from novel form is harder than it seems at first blush) so there is no real rhyme or reason to these delays.

I’ll provide you with a run-down on my personal experiences:

1st WiP - My Naive Plunge (aka Helvetti Rising )

Most people don’t remember this but some might remember @poison_mara’s infamous feedback that she thought my flowery, artistically-creative writing was about bestiality and animal fornication - what encouraging feedback :wink:

This was started when I first signed up with the community and I was familiar with game design and testing but not comprehensive creative story writing.

  1. Design of game mechanics: Took me about 40 hours to design and prototype
  2. Everything Else - TBD; suspended until further notice

This particular project, I was not ready for. I needed to learn the engine better, I needed to learn to write better and I needed to learn how to execute my vision better.

2nd Project - CoG Contest Entry

This took me the entire contest period. I started it on the day the contest was announced and submitted it the day the contest closed.

With this project, I tried the spontaneous writing/coding method. After designing the mechanics (another 40 hours) I just started writing and coding at the same time, learning in both writing and coding as I went.

For the first half of the project, I had a super testing advantage in that I had a couple of testers that knows CS coding inside and out. They were able to help me become 1000x better than I was on my own.

For the second half of the project, my testing team was interrupted by real life and I had to muddle my way through as best I could - coding is still my biggest weakness, although I still consider myself a novice at writing full novel-length story arcs.

I completed this project and it was accepted into competition, so it met the minimum requirements by passing all the automated tests.

When the results came back, it was apparent there were fatal flaws that existed and so I shelved this for now. From past experience I know that rebuilding a game is just as complicated as writing one from scratch, so I am going to make sure my skillset in coding and story-telling is at an acceptable level before revisiting this game.

3rd project - Contributions to Zombie Exodus: Safe Haven

It took me about a month’s total writing time to complete a side-arc’s worth of material that will be used in the upcoming 2.5 update. This included the basic choice structure but not the actual code, which was to be done by Jim himself.

4th Project - ???

I am currently investing in myself, trying to get my writing to a professional level - from conception, planning to outlining, pre-production and production. So far, I’ve spent a month researching and learning.

I am nowhere near beginning the pre-alpha designing of whatever my next project is going to be.

If you have specific questions relating to anything I know and have experience with, feel free to PM me. Unless it involves NDA material, I will be happy to share everything I have. In addition to the above:

I have 10+ years worth of game testing experience, so my perspective might be different than those coming from a writing background and sometimes this perspective helps.


Wow, thank you for the detailed insight, @Eiwynn! This is all super interesting! (The fact that you spent 40 hours each time designing the game mechanics s speaks to their depth and complexity, which I could never reach…) Can I ask 1) how long the contest ran for and 2) what the word count was like for your contribution to ZE? And if you have any tips or material you’ve found useful during your month of researching how to improve your writing, feel free to share!


Hmmm at the rate I write…3…maybe 4 hundred years.


lololol Priceless! :rofl:

I know right ? :grin:


The time and effort is to avoid complexity and depth and excel in simplicity and execution. This is counter-intuitive to many people but the best mechanics in game design are the ones that offer a simplicity and clarity that let all the game elements shine through.

From Nov of 2016 to Jan 1st of 2018 so … 1 year and 2 months

The final raw word count for the story material was in the 15,000 word range.

I use COG Archive as a starting point for designing CS IF games.

I also found this thread to be useful for writing tools:

and this blog by a CoG published author:


Magics took almost exactly 2 years from contract to publication, working at almost exactly one hour per weekday with a few extra pushes before deadlines. So, about 550 hours.


A year and a half! :open_mouth: Whatever happened to “done is better than perfect”?

1 Like

Testing the water.

That time, I’m really new to all this. Trying different styles, learning LGBT communities, improving my general writing skills, learning game designs, medieval eras.

In the end, my goal isn’t to publish. It’s just a new hobby I adopted since I’m on college, so I’m not constrained with the limits any authors have who write for living.


You know I kinda get that. I wrote and rewrote my first novel half a dozen times. Took me just as many years.

I don’t think it’s good but I’m glad I wrote it.

Honestly though the most improvements my writing took was two years of writing a new screenplay every three months, and then two years of writing encounters for my tabletop RPG club every week which really helped me practice the technique of grounding a scene with precise details.

I think both long form storytelling projects and disposable practice sessions are important.


Blood Money was a year and three months from contract to publication. Definitely the highest volume I’ve ever written in that amount of time.