Intentional Choices post and choice length

I enjoyed the blog post that @dfabgmail posted.

But I was curious about something–some of the examples of good choices were such things as

“Walking around downtown where everyone can see us. Alison’s shy, so she might not like it, but I want to see and be seen.”

During the final revision phase of my game, I was told to cut the wording of my choices down to some number of characters–I forget the number–but it was shorter than this example choice. I believe there is an issue with the amount of characters that look OK onscreen on some devices. I think @jasonstevanhill may have recommended that to me, but I’m not sure.

It was painful to have to trim out wording in the choices, and this blog entry makes a compelling case for longer choice text, anyhow.

Any insight into the technical side of this issue?

1 Like

Oh, its ok to have a huge wall of text (because that’s what these games are about) but having a two-liner choice is suddendly too much for some archaic devices to handle? Might as well just ask engineers to cut their cars in half because some people can’t afford the other half or their garages are too tiny… I’m sorry, I may just be a little ignorant and naive here, but that sounds like BS to me.

I’ve seen cases where devices sometimes don’t render text as they should and it gets a bit scrambled or even doubled on top of each other but I think that’s more to do with the device itself than a problem with the game… its not fair to cut corners here (because that means double work for you and sometimes missing a certain “elegance” and momemtum in the story) and its not fair for us because some of us would have appreciated reading the original work rather than a watered-down version.

Most devices nowadays are either large enough to handle it or give you the option to zoom in and out as necessary. I’ve played Delight’s text games on my small iphone and so far I’ve never had any issues with it.

I found the original email from the copyeditor. It reads,

“These options contain more than 120 characters, which works out to about 20 words.”

I asked Jason for clarification, and he said that their Style Guide recommends that #options be short and punchy because they are easier for the reader to digest, but also because they look much better on mobile devices. So it’s not necessary (and Jason was clear that it wasn’t necessary) but it was preferred.

The example from Psy High above is around 20 words, so there’s no contradiction there–I think I just tend to write long #options.

The blog post on intentionality was written by @ladybird, not by me. (The author tag on the post was incorrect.)

I play all this in mobiles and while wall of text are annoying , I prefer long choices. Because I want to know what the hell I am choosing. Cogs nowadays have less and less text in the choices to the point have zero idea what I choosing. It is not first time I ended doing exactly the contrary I wanted due a bad way to express the choice .

1 Like

I’d be curious to know how much of that is due to technical issues–I too prefer long choices.

It can’t be technical because hosted games had long choices , it’s question of style really


There you go. They want less text because it “looks” better and because they’re trying to catter to all sorts of people, including youngsters (who probably don’t have much pantience to read in the first place) and those with short atention span. You make something too heavy on text and there’s a chance it may scare away potential costumers who aren’t big on reading. I understand technical issues are a possibility but it just seems so far fetched to make sense here… so this explains a lot.

But in my opinion, if you’re willing to read a text novel containing 200k-400k words then care to tell me why having a slightly longer choice is suddendly bad? It sounds silly to me… Of course if you’re trying to cater to everyone then at some point we will all have to deal with watered-down versions for the sake of the new people… and in my experience that doesn’t usually bode well for any party.

The authors/publishers want more costumers so they can have more money, but the casuals they’re trying to lure aren’t interested because the game is a tad “intimidating” or too dragged out, meanwhile, the original bookworks (like us) will be annoyed because the games no longer feel like the same quality material we were used to. Nobody wins. These games are called ‘gamebooks’ or ‘interactive text adventure books’ for a reason - heaving reading is to be expected.

1 Like

I’m usually in the same exact situation. Walls of text? No problem (and I read on a not very big tablet). Two or more lines in each choice entry? Not a big deal. Making a bad choice that makes me restart the game just because the options weren’t explicit enough? I hate it.

From where I stand it all comes down to a very basic question (but I’m no expert). Is your project more similar to a novel (lets say, for example, Magikiras, Guns of Infinity or the first Zombie Exodus) or it feels more like a game (lets say, for example, Life of a Mobster, Lost Heir or the second Zombie Exodus)? If it has a more “novel” nature keep the long choices so that the player knows what he is getting himself/his character into. If it feels more like a game keep the choices more simple and clear when it comes to the stats influenced/checked.

Or don’t.

In the end, if it is a Hosted Game just go with your gut and preference. Different people will always dislike different things. Long choices seem fine by me, and definitely preferable over non-explicit/misleading choices. But that is just me.

I hope to have been helpful. If I wasn’t feel free to make more questions or to ask me to clarify.


Some short, sharp points of where my opinions lie:

  1. Wall of text = bad. I should not need to scroll at 1080p or higher screen res.

  2. Paragraphs should be 3 to 4 lines of text and 2 to 3 relevant sentences for clarity and ease of reading. Ideally, you should be 1 paragraph per-point but split over several if necessary.

  3. Choices should be brief - the text leading up to the choice should lay the groundwork for you.

I consider an author to be “doing it wrong” if they miss these 3 points.

1 Like

This is important.

This is also true. But that groundwork, in my opinion, needs to be good/long enough to don’t mislead the reader. May that be brief or long. But as I said, it is just a matter of personal preference. The majority of the CoG readers might have a different opinion from mine. :smiley:

1 Like

True, except the last one brief, is not the important. CLEAR is the important. If being clear you are brief better. But is better secure that your reader following you.

A good example of bad wording misleading choices is Hero rise 2 hero proyect. In several choices vignettes There were extremely similar with a minor difference in a word or two. I remember having to grab a dictionary to understand the difference and fail. that in conjunction with the system based in roles… I only could have a role or two because the rest are mixed.

Cannonfire concerto have some misleading ones became A ONLY WORD CHOICE IS NOT CLEAR WHETHER I AM GOING…?


If the rest of the text is clear the choices will be too.

One of the biggest problems with short text for choices is that sometimes multiple interpretations can be present for the same sentence, like if a choice were to be scold or praise, motivations for either could differ from person to person, thus RP of a character may be difficult as the choice may cause you to come off in a way that doesn’t fit your character’s personality.

That said, as writers the job for choice text is to present things as clearly as possible in as few words as possible. So I believe that unless you absolutely cannot find a way to shorten the text without changing the meaning, you should keep it as simple as possible.

No it doesn’t work that way,text could be clear as day and choices be misleading. For instance a text saying in detail who and you could aid in a political voting. then author for want to be brief say something like aid Peter. So I said I like Peter so I would choose that. Choice didn’t mean vote for Peter, No it meant something like ROMANCE HIM… That happens a lot . Or go with x person is understand as go bang him or her. Bad wording is a issue with new cogs .

1 Like

In my opinion, having a clear choices is important, as what everybody here seem agree.

However, one more thing that you guys might want to take note whether do you want to go short or long choices is:
Why you have to choose?

To put it simple, why we have to choose on the first place?
Is it because we have many options to buy drinks at a shop?
Is it because our best friend being choked to death by a monster?

Both case will require different approach of this short-long choices. As the “drink” case may only need short for the choice to be clear, the “monster” one will definitely require longer choice so the player will understand what they have too choose.

“I want to order the espresso, because I want to look sophisticated in front of Robin.”


1 Like

No. Don’t you dare to…

For some reason, your eyes heavy and you’re feeling sleepy. You gone into a deep sleep even before you know it.
As you wake up, Robin’s nowhere. Instead, you found a letter near your place
“Pay the bill for me”

You run as fast and as far as you can. Once you feel far enough from the monster, you turn your head back, looking to whatever happened to your best friend.
To your surprise, the monster’s dead. Your dear best friend stand atop of the monster, with that glorious pose.
Soon, he’ll become the hero of the kingdom. And you’re nothing but burden to him.

1 Like

I played some good 'ol RPG to kill some time, and for some reason I didn’t noticed their “intentional choices length” which are… pretty short, until just now. I figured out that I might as well revive this old thread as what I’ve in mind are quite relevant to the topic. So… here it goes.

What do you think about “short length” choices, like, very very shorty length that consisted only 1 or 2 words?

Something like “What question will you ask to Bob?”

  • Life
  • Financial
  • Adventuring experiences

Compared to

  • I’d like to know his personal life.
  • Ask him how he makes money while killing monsters.
  • Share some stories about your travel.

If it’s a repeatable question that doesn’t lead to any choice, then I have no problem with short form. (For instance, questioning a character about all of these things, and there’s a separate option to quit the conversation.)

But if it’s a “choose one of these things to ask but you can’t ask the others”, it’s essential that my choice is told in clear terms. Which often means using more words. Because if I have no idea what’s going to happen, I’m not actually choosing anything.