How much is too much reading in a game?

Hey gang!

How do you all balance the reading and playing of your book games. I fear that I may have too much reading. Is that a thing? Do people still like reading? :joy: Maybe its just my friends don’t read much but they seem overwhelmed by the reading. How long ( many words) should a game be? I’ve been pondering these questions for days now​:sweat_smile:

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Everyone varies in their ability to read extensively, but I think the general rules in the past have suggested with Interactive Fiction on here you ideally to keep each section at most a few paragraphs each and try to have a choice at least every third section, otherwise it comes across as a tad linear. Best policy is to have it beta read ahead of time.

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Respectfully, if someone doesn’t enjoy reading, I honestly don’t know how much they will enjoy text-based games. CoGs and HGs are marketed to clearly state that images are either minimal or non-existent, and that use of your imagination, as compared to being bombarded with graphics like with console games, is key.

I agree with @derekmetaltron that you should plan on how to break up the text with choices, but even the choices themselves are obviously text, so again people who “don’t read much” probably wouldn’t gravitate to these products.

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Ok, fantastic! I was thinking about the same. I agree it gets to linear with not enough choices and such. But sometimes you really need to paint that scene to get the reader there. Yeah I think perhaps my friends are not the right audience all together :rofl:. I love the introduction scene to the games! I will need a beta testing for sure. Not quite sure how all that works.

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my golden zone is 300k +

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Dont think theres a thing like too much, weather its amount of games or the length…especially the length. Longer the better imo. (Study in steampunk and fallen hero/wayhaven come to mind.

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Wow! thanks everyone for your opinions. Sounds like everyone is a fan of reading if it is good reading; makes perfect sense. I think I have enough material to go several games at least. I have been working on branching scenes that eventually lead back together. Making all that make sense has driven me nuts;but,I think I did it. I feel like Momento guy :joy:. I know I read that most games are not played more than once but my goal was shoot for some playability if possible. I mean I read books more than once and a few quite often.

I don’t really think there’s a single right answer to that question, since as people in the thread have pointed out, everyone’s attention span and ability to read varies greatly.

Summary

Personally, I don’t mind a lot of reading as long as it’s interspersed with a lot of choices (ie, it’s not just one long chunk of text). As someone with ADHD it’s difficult for me to keep my attention on the page, even if the writing is good or I enjoy the story. Sometimes I stop paying attention without realizing it. In a traditional book, I can go back and re-read previous pages if I need to, but you can’t really do that in CoG games, so I appreciate games that have a lot of choices to break up long passages. Seeing choices can actually be a reminder to me to slow down and pay closer attention, because I know that there is important information being conveyed on that page.

Still, that’s just my personal experience and I don’t think you should let word count deter you from making your game however long you want to. Tin Star is one of my favorite games, and it’s over a million words long! Make your game the length you think it should be. For every person that gets turned off by the word count, there will be others who see it and are excited that the game has a lot of content to offer. There’s a reason why many of the most long and complex games on CoG are also some of the most well-received. And while some people are put off by long passages of world-building exposition, there are others who live for that stuff.

Seeking out and listening to criticism is a great thing. But in the end, I think you should always write your game the way you want to, even if it might not be for everyone. As long as it’s good, there will be people willing play it.

I think that might be due to the fact that a lot of CoGs (the ones in the store) just… don’t have that much replayability. Many of them are fairly short and linear, and while that’s not a bad thing there isn’t a ton of replay value aside from getting achievements. On the other hand, I’ve found that many Hosted Games, as well as WIPs on the forum tend to have more replayability, more customization and more branching paths. That’s why most of my favorite games are either forum WIPs or HGs. So if you’re aiming for replayability I wouldn’t necessarily be too worried about word count, since there is definitely an audience out there that appreciates games with more replayability.

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@DrewWolf There are several factors that go into this, but here’s what comes off the top of my head: page length, page layout, distance between choices, and content of choices.

  1. Page Length: Some authors use the Next button as a way to break things up by having key moments be in the button rather than on the page (one thing to keep in mind is that some people, myself included, could easily miss these because they don’t read the button because it usually says Next Chapter or something similarly unimportant).

  2. Page Layout: Shorter paragraphs are easier to read. Period. If you can avoid the ‘Wall of Text’ as much as possible, people will be able to read it much easier.

  3. Distance Between Choices: This one seems pretty self-explanatory. If your game has a long time between the eye-catching and interest-renewing choice boxes, then people begin to realize that they’ve been reading for the past hour, and begin to question their life choices. You’ve got to keep giving them those steady shots of dopamine to keep them entranced.

  4. Content of Choices: You should try to word your choices so they are interesting to read (and accurately portray their effects).

For example: The monster approaches, snarling with murderous intent.

-Choice 1: Use my sword. This is boring.

-Better Choice 1: I draw my blade and advance. I’m hooked! What’s gonna happen next?

You advance towards the monster, blade at the ready. And so on and so forth.

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Sometimes, a work can resonate so well with someone that they want to read it again just for the words, for the mental experience. That’s hard to capture.

Then, there’s the replayability that comes from making different choices: that a second read can be different from the first. That, I think, comes down to branching choices, and having many unique angles for players to approach problems. Each choice isn’t just a matter of progressing the story, but also of showing the player that X is what they could do on a different playthrough.

Then, following through and delivering on that something different rewards the reader and encourages them. (This is a potential advantage of having branch-heavier beginning chapters that consolidate further along: it’s a stronger replay hook.)

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if the game gives too many dialogues and it gets boring after a while i just switch the game and play Valorant tbh. why should i bother reading so many sentences elongated just to make it miserably boring for the game i paid for

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I don’t think it can ever be too long or too much overall. However individual pages can definitely be a bit long sometimes, so I’d say as long as your pages aren’t too long, I don’t see a problem personally.

Oh yeah and as said above, ofc paragraphs! Splitting too much is better than not splitting enough, imo(as long as it doesn’t make no sense at all contextually). Easier on the eyes.

I completely agree. I actually spend a lot of time ( likely too much) considering whether my variable and it’s choices make sense. Its particularly tough when you try and create a more novel variable. Opposed pairs can really be philosophically tricky. Those are very good guidelines thanks minotaur; makes me feel like I’m on the right track. Branching those outcomes requires a lot of writing but I find those stories fun and rich. Gosh, I’m playing a book now with a nice plot twist that nearly killed me because I was mistaken. I think tomorrow I’ll get back to writing/coding.

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As a rule, people seem to love longer games (and longer games tend to have a slightly higher price point for that reason). My best-selling game ever (done with Tin Man Games) was longer than “War and Peace”!

But people hate the ‘wall of text’. If you don’t have a choice every 200-400 words, then people will probably feel like it’s verging too much towards the “actually this is a novel not a game” end of the spectrum. (As a novelist-turned-game-dev, this is a perpetual issue for me, especially when I feel super proud of my beautiful words.)

You can cheat sometimes by using the *page_break partway through a big section, but if you have two page breaks in a row a lot of players will get twitchy.

Here’s what I do: I try to have lots of choices in the first draft (and to plan them into the outline). Then I come back in the second draft and put a lot of very minor choices into the game to break up the text. *fake_choice is your friend of course, for minor stat bumps. Dialogue is also your friend when you really need to break up text, because most players would rather have a truly meaningless choice

eg
#hello
#Greetings and salutations, sirrah
#yo

than just a ‘next’ button.

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As a rule, I try to have a choice after every 22 lines of text, but here’s the thing they don’t have to be choices that lead to anything special; it can be a silly choice as putting on a hat that doesn’t affect gameplay or the plot at all.

Felilicty And darthmaul thank you . Holy cow longer than War n Piece. Thats Amazing! One, thanks for taking the time to share. Two, I am on the right track having listened to your strategies so I feel great about that. Ok ladies and gents. The question that i want to post but Im nervous. So I’ll ask you, Is this worth it? Can I make a living, albeit modest, writing games. I’ve read the offers they sound good enough to me. But are there hundreds like me? Waiting, hoping. I want to write the rest of my life, creatively write. My job as an Emergency Animal Technician was hard on my body and mind. And medicine is not very creative. Handling animals can be, but it can be very stressful and dangerous. I’m willing to put in the hard work and I already find it rewarding. Will I starve? Should I just get that office job? I do apologize for diverting the topic. I suppose I’m worried I may be naive about my success and the timeline for that success. I don’t need another hobby; I need a career change. Something fun and something challenging

You could probably write a choose your adventure game on running a zoo or something to that effect considering your background. As an amateur writer I wouldn’t be relying on writing as a main source of income. You could start writing a story and just allow people to make donations by creating a Ko-Fi account and linking it to your WIP, a few people will probably give you a couple of dollars ( couple of dollars adds up fast if it’s a lot of people contributing)

That’s the dream, isn’t it?

General Advice for Anyone

The problem with writing and/or game development as a career is that it is too enjoyable. Which means there are way too many of us dreaming of writing full-time.

I am 39 years old and began writing seriously when I was 16. That’s the first time I wrote a longer-length work, which placed well in a national writing contest, and I figured I’d arrived as a writer. It took me another fifteen years until my first novel was published! (The fifteenth full-length novel that I’d written.)

Because learning ChoiceScript makes a lot of writer brains go “eep! computer stuff!” and flee, it is muuuuuch easier to write and publish a Hosted Game than a novel. That small barrier cuts out a lot of people, yay!

As far as earning potential goes, the official “Choice of” label offers an advance of $10,000US, which indicates that a seriously good Hosted Game has the potential to earn that amount. (Official “Choice of” games get a whole lot of promotion, and have a better reputation and a more consistent style than HG, so a successful HG would probably need to have a writer who has the skills to self-promote… which I really don’t, despite pouring thousands of hours into social media, blogging, geek markets, etc.)

Maybe you’re the one in a million writer who can earn $10,000 per game. That hope keeps a lot of us going :slight_smile: But to get the best idea of how much you can actually earn from a game, the best way it to write and publish a HG. In my opinion, whatever you earn in the first two months of release is roughly the same as what it’ll earn over the next few years.

On the other hand, some games gain momentum over time. That’s unusual, but possible.

And, every HG you publish will give a little bump to all your other games.

So, in conclusion, write a game and see how you go. It’s VERY unlikely you’ll be able to make a living from game writing, but it’s POSSIBLE.

Keep in mind that if you’re a machine who churns out 1000 words per hour (all in flawless code that never requires editing, lol) then it’ll still take 100 hours to make quite a short game. The most I ever earned in a year, writing full-time, was $20,000AU. (And the year after that I made MINUS $10,000 while still writing full-time.)

(I should mention here that I’m financially supported by my husband + a disability pension.)

So, if you don’t write for love, don’t do it.

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