I am not sure if choice of games is my platform to write for?

First off, I really enjoy choice of games as a player, especially choice of robots still sticks with me to this very day. As a writer however I have a bit of trouble.

The thing is I am working on a piece of interactive narrative that has a fixed protagonist and fixed characters which I am not even sure of fits the platform as a whole. The gist of it is that it is a techtopia (a variant of post cyberpunk story not unlike glasspunk) but the kicker is, that it has fixed characters.

My goal is to provide a narrative space to explore, and not a space to explore player expression. Its meant as food for thought similar to visual novels, quantic dream games or telltale games. That in turn would mean that it misses hallmarks that choice of games seem to bank on like customizable characters in terms of looks, gender and such, wheras my goal is specifically to have fixed characters that can explore a given narrative space.

On the other hand I really like the technical platform that is choice of games. Now the question is if I should bother doing it in choicescript? Is there any realistic chance that it even would be put up there? And if not, why not?

The reason for fixed characters is due to the fact that I want to focus on exploring a fixed narrative space as deeply as possible instead hat seems to be the norm for choice of games which tend to provide a lot of narrative space that is however only tangentially related and explored. I am not saying either is better or worse mind you, just my personal preference lies differently.

Any input is highly welcome.

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Go for it! There are stories with pretty fixed characters out there that’s going well. If you write it for Hosted Games, you can do it the way you want it. As long as it’s functional, be as fixed as you want to be. I have a pretty fixed mc when it comes to personality/background, though I allowed for variations on gender/looks.

Look more to what YOU want to do with the story first, if you decide to adjust some things to get a better reception later, you can add that. But you need to start with your vision first.

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I would say you should go on and do it.

HG games like The Wayhaven Chronicles, Samurai of Hyuga and Fallen Hero comes with a fixed narrative and fixed characters (especially SoH), and they’re some of the most popular games here.

So yeah, go on and break a leg :grin:

However, if you’re doing that I would recommend you to outline your plot like a linear story and then apply it to an interactive format. It would make your writing life a lot easier.

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Thanks, and the plan was that I heavily outline it using a node based editor for sure. I will give Samurai of Hyuga and Fallen Hero a read to see how they did it. I am very relieved to hear that a story like I am envisioning still has a place here.

I personally just prefer fixed protagonists that can then express a wide spectrum of morality through their actions, or lack of actions, which is what I am going for in my story.

Thanks to the both of you who replied.

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Personally, I don’t see any problem with fixed protagonists. I even prefer that if it means a more fleshed out character. The Hosted Games label have no stipulations on this regard and is generally very lax, hence the greater diversity in styles.

However, character customization has become something of a staple in this community, and some people might be turned off by it. Honestly, nothing wrong there, not all games must appeal to everyone.

Finally, if you decide to go for another tool, like Twine, there are ways to make it look like a choicescript game, but it’ll demand a lot more coding. Not to mention, and for me this is the real upside of choicescript, you would miss on the community help and input and would have to publish the game by yourself (if that’s what you’re going for).

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I will buck the trend. If this is both fixed protagonist and sci-fi, I really don’t know that I would recommend you doing it here. Or to clarify, I would not write it here if your goal involves making money. If it is for personal fulfillment rock and roll. But fixed protag and science fiction is a poison combo that gives you a very high chance of your title not selling more than a few hundred copies at launch.

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Or do what I did and add some minor variations to my fixed protagonist with looks and gender, and then call my sci-fi story superheroes :wink:

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Write what you want. If you’re going to tell the next Witcher 3 or Mass Effect, go ahead. Those games had fixed narratives and were wildly popular.

You can’t compare IF with regular games. Almost all actual video games are fixed protagonists. Almost no successful games here are. Even Malin’s isn’t really, it just has some fixed elements. I could most certainly be wrong, and this makes a mint. But the numbers say it isn’t likely.

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Personally, I’d say go for it. I think the Choicescript audience needs to lose their fear of fixed protagonists. I don’t really understand why some people claim a fixed protagonist does not make a game interactive fiction (though that is another discussion to be had, and not here).

I know it’s been mentioned already, but Samurai of Hyuga not only has a pretty fixed protagonist (with a few personality stats that change the dialogue here and there), but it’s incredibly railroad-y, and yet it’s been doing great numbers for years. I think it all comes down to good writing and planning. :slight_smile:

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I love complex and well-written fixed protagonists. I’d even love them in a scifi setting. I’ll be honest that I didn’t love the ones we have in that genre, but its more a game content and story decision dislike than a fixed protagonist one. I honestly hope to see a greater number of well-written fixed protagonists in a number of settings.

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You can definitely do fixed/preset protagonists! It helps to be clear about exactly how much of the protagonist you can customize, though. Usually, it’s better to either go full-ham customization or to put tight restrictions on what you can change and explain in a note at the beginning why you chose to do so.

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How fixed are your fixed protags? To write for COG they need to be player choice in a lot of ways. (I think it’s minimum of gender, name, sexuality, and appearenceif they’re mentioned.) Could always write for HG though which doesn’t have that restriction. It will probably cut down on your audience but you can do it. Defined PC’s have been done in HG’s but they usually take a hit to their sales because of it. (Speaking from experience and also listen to @hustlertwo, they’ve been there too :slight_smile: .) IMO they allow for stronger narratives in some cases like what you’re trying for, but they seem less popular to the overall audience.

On the other hand unless you have a better option I’d still say go for it and see what happens. There’s a couple of games in development that have fixed protags that might end up bucking this trend (Donor’s a strong contender) so might as well see how it goes if there’s a story you want to write. Either write it with no expectations and hope to be pleasantly surprised, or alternatively write up a demo and put it on the forum for feedback. Personally, I’d like to see some more protagonist story driven games rather than player inserts. Don’t get me wrong I like both, but the variation is nice to have :slight_smile:

I disagree. Most of those games are not fixed protags imo. They have a setting that the character needs to fit like most themed games, but the character itself is still pretty customisable. (SOH comes closest, but even that’s more like this is your job, and you have to kill a fish at the start. You can still choose what type of character you want to play, name, gender, hairstyle etc)

For a more locked protagonist on the other end of the spectrum I’d look at something like 3 games, nuclear powered toaster or Oedipus. (With 3 games being the most fixed out of the three.)

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Yeah, not a fan anymore particularly after the disgraceful, railroaded handling of gay male mc by essentially forcing them down a feminine character arc in a setting that is absolutely not gender egalitarian. :unamused:

I’d say it is more of a narrative arc dislike for me and obviously I only have an interest in fixed mc’s if they can at minimum be gay men, my escapist time is too valuable to waste on anything else for me.
And I’d have to like their personality and the setting too for it to work.

Fixed mc, particularly if you also make them a fixed orientation mc will limit your potential audience but other than that, it’s your game your rules, although I hope any future endeavours will be up front about it and not put a lot of people, including myself, on the wrong footing as the Hyuga series did.

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Good luck. Need more of it. Try not to cave either if people request character options, if you do not feel it would make your work better. I made that mistake in the past.

I’m glad to see people aren’t really advising against it as well.

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I’m a big fan of this genre of VN’s and adventure games, personally, and have played many of them. I would definitely be interested in an interactive novel based around this concept. Especially if you are implementing any kind of exploration or puzzle mechanics into the story telling.

I suppose my biggest question would be that these types of games traditionally tend to rely a lot on visual story telling. Exploring the environment, examining found items, etc. So I think the environment itself would need a lot of interactivity and opportunities to examine and explore. Some meaningful choices that effect the world.

I agree that more “set” protagonists are generally better for this type of story telling, since the focus is more on the world. Though, I would note that many games of this type still do allow for some meaningful player input, such as defining how that character feels about the world, their relationships with other characters, or even defining romantic interests. So while, the player usually isn’t given a whole lot of control over details, like gender/appearance/background/etc, you do still feel as though you are guiding that protagonist along their journey and influencing their story as they explore the world. In terms of gender selection, this is something many developers have solved with ideas like incorporating multiple protagonists, and/or alternating different protagonists each game (anthology style).

One advantage that a more fixed protagonist has is that you can really tell a deep story with them and delve into details/specifics, since you know exactly what this character’s background is going to be. You can incorporate deep relationships with other characters from the protagonist’s family or background who they already know and have established relationships with them. In games where the protagonist is more blank slate or self insert, these details can be vague or there is a greater focus on meeting new characters or putting the MC into new situations where they have no experience. So I’d say if you can take advantage of this, to really flesh out that protagonist and their background, it could be a great story and offer players something a little different.

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Talking as a reader, even If I don’t know what’s your story is about, a COG where there is a fixed character (you mean like in the Witcher right?) would be a big turn off to me. I could still play it if the story is EXCEPTIONALLY good and EXCEPTIONALLY interesting, but I find it very hard. The only COG where there is a fixed protagonist is SOH (but you can still personalize many things, like gender/behavior etc…) it has been very successfully but as you can see when the story took a turn that many players didn’t like it took much criticisms. Whayhaven Chronicles doesn’t have a fixed protagonist, the only “fixed” thing is the job, but the motivation/behavior/gender etc… Everything else offer one of the best personalization I found in these games.
If you want my opinion, maybe is best if you make a Visual Novel, or if you find another platform, I don’t think you’ll find the audience you want here. One of the first thing you’ll be asked is if you can change the protagonist’s gender and who are the ROs. If you are willing to offer some personalization and the story is VERY good maybe you could find an audience here, otherwise I think it’s better if you try elsewhere.
Of course you could always post a demo and see what the reception is, maybe we’ll be surprised.

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I don’t think that’s quite true. I think it’s true that the audience will be reduced as many people do want blank slate characters, but not that there’s no audience for it at all. There are a number of us out there that are not adverse to locked characters if it’s done for a good reason.

Problem with visual novels is:
a) You need an artist if you can’t do the artwork yourself.
b) They tend to be a lot more limited in scope (both length and complexity) due to having to do up the art panels. (It is possible to do a very large complicated visual novel, but you don’t see them very often.)

For gamebooks, CS is one of the better platforms, and one of the few I’m aware of that has a company that will distribute full length work from unknown authors (and will do so without a contracted pitch which is also great for people learning the system as there’s no deadlines to meet.) Although you can use something like twine for example, it can be quite difficult to get any sort of audience for your game without a lot of work being put in or a good deal of luck. Being the case, even if the audience is reduced, Hosted games may still be the best platform out there to get this game to a reasonable sized audience.

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Adding a further two cents to @hustlertwo’s, I have noticed a tic among the forum community. When authors post an interest check thread for a game idea and the game idea is similar to Choice of Game titles, except for XYZ (in your case, fixed protag), forum members will say, “You’re the author! Write what you want! This sounds great!” with great enthusiasm and welcome. Maybe people who dislike XYZ don’t comment out of politeness; maybe there’s some sort of silent majority effect going on; maybe it’s the commentators over-estimating their judgement of the community. Whatever the case, when the game is released, members will get upset when the game doesn’t fit their preferences. Most acknowledge that it’s a good game, but not their cup of tea, which is well and good. But a small, loud minority will take it as a personal affront that XYZ had the gall to exist. It’s jarring.

I’m not saying Choice of Games is absolutely the wrong platform for your fixed protag techtopia. I’m advising to take early forum enthusiasm with a grain of salt, when you know that fixed protag is against the grain.

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Guilty as charged. :sweat_smile:

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