Interactive-Stories or Traditional Novels?


Hey Everyone,

I am the author of The Aether: Life as a God, which has been getting really positive reviews, I am so glad everyone is enjoying it!

I have many more stories inside my head that I would like to write, but another one in particular has enough depth to fill multiple series, I feel. I know asking here may receive bias responses, obviously, but I am asking mostly just out of curiosity, along with writing, I also love data. So, my question to you, the readers, is:

Which kind of story would you prefer? An interactive story in which you make choices that may alter how the world turns out or a traditional novel that has the ability to go further in-depth with each character and view the world from multiple perspectives?

  • Interactive Story
  • Traditional Novel
  • Either, whichever is better

0 voters


Taking a page from @Eric_Moser’s recent story (and also fabulous series like the Falconers or of course hereabouts, Deathless and @WayWalkerLeigh’s Way Walkers series), why not both?


Thanks @Fiogan. :slight_smile:

But also my two cents, having published both: so far in my experience there are pluses and minuses with both, though I will say my novel sales are mostly from spillover from my CoG readers, and pushing novels even when u do have a publisher is tough work (even if u have a big publisher). To date, the CoGs have made more $ and achieved more sales than the longer novels, despite taking far shorter time to write (with the exception of WWU3, but that’s because I’m an insane person who decided to create enough branches to fill out 2-3 more interactive novels alone).

Anyway, hope that mild rant was helpful!


I believe placing this kind of poll here will elicit a rather biased vote, considering this is a website for interactive fiction. Honestly, you could go the dlc route and write a novella as dlc for aether life of a god, I wish an author would do this tbh.


Admittedly, with this poll being on an interactive fiction forum I think the outcome was pretty much preordained. But I also think part of the reason there are so many takers for a deal that sees the content creators make literally less than two dimes for every dollar their work earns is because the conventional fiction world is worse for at least 90% of the people. You can pay for a vanity press to publish you and be lucky to break even. You can publish online and get buried in the hordes of schlock out there. Or you can publish here, and take a smaller piece of a much, much bigger pie.


Depends are you trying to sell us a game or an E-book? I think this is a site for games but if you have it in you to write a novel reach for the Stars.


Hey @TheMaker!

I’ve been asking myself the same questions recently, so you’re definitely not alone in this quandary.

If you are just balancing the artistic side of the equation, I’d write the story in the way you prefer.

But if you’re also considering the market aspects of the project, then yes, I suppose you’d also have to include sales and money.

I think for most writers, a well-designed and well-received Hosted Game would probably earn the author more money, because even with just 1,000 sales, you probably pass over 99% of indie authors of traditional novels. And yes, indie authors can earn a much higher per-unit profit if they self-publish paperbacks, for example, but many of them end up selling most of their units as $1.99 or $2.99 Amazon e-book offerings, so they’re not making huge profits off each sale either. And in most cases their volume is nowhere near a decent Hosted Game.

And I think the costs for self-pubbing a book are much higher. I have already budgeted $2,000 for the novel form of Talon City, because you MUST have professional editing (likely structural AND copy edit, at the very least), and you MUST have a professional graphic designer (not just an artist) who knows how to make a “buy me!” cover, or else you shouldn’t even bother. And frankly, $2,000 is probably not nearly enough. I’d guess it will take closer to $3,000.

Just things to think about it! Feel free to PM me if you’d like to chat about any of this in more detail.


Hahaha having this poll on an IF forum is going to make the poll terribly biases. So the results are def gna be skewed.

Ultimately, I think it really depends on what kind of audience you are looking at and what kind of medium you want to do. There are writers who hate IF as a medium as they feel it dilutes their control of the story, which can make pacing, timing and intent a lot harder and complicated. Also, sometimes it’s easier to tell a story and go deep into the world and character if you’re focusing on a single plot line.

IFs on the other hand have this great role-playing, immersive aspect. It allows readers to throw themselves into the fray and make decisions to affect how the story would go. I think that’s the strength of IF, and the main draw of the work on this site. So you do see a lot of cross pollination between RPG fans and IF fans.

I think it would be cool if you experiment, planning out the plot line of the story you want to do and seeing which medium would suit it better. Of course, I’m not considering financials at all but that could change things as well!


Traditional fiction and interactive fiction are structured differently. A set strongly developed main character with their own goals and motives is great for most traditional novels, but has IF readers questioning “Why is this unnecessarily gender locked and why am I forced to romance NPC X?” and all the other things people criticize CoG for.

IF also needs a balance between narrative and choice which differs depending on the medium (Visual and video novels can get away with a lot of body text, because the images serve to break up the text).

There’s also figuring out the balance between branching and how to trick the reader into thinking their choices matter and that the whole game isn’t scripted to some degree while also providing each playthrough with enough content to satisfy the readers.

Traditional novels just involve writing and maybe pictures if it’s a graphic novel, and maybe a little different formating if it’s a book of poetry or something. However, most novels are basically the same even in the different digital or paperback format, while IF can differ with VNs (set protagonists are more expected, original pictures and at least public domain music needed, better for Let’s Plays), RPG maker style (more game like and Let’s Play friendly), text-based (CoG). I pretty much define IF as any story heavy game-type work where player choices impact the ending, so I consider it a very wide category.

I prefer IF because I like the character interactions and game-like aspects.


I will just mention that not all IF gives the reader/player the ability to customize the protagonist. That’s not an IF thing, that’s more of a CoG thing.

For example, the offerings from Delight Games generally feature well-defined protagonists with set name, gender, personality, etc. You guide the main character’s decisions, but you don’t create them from “whole cloth.” The Delight Games main site even expressly says:

“Finally, the stories we produce are from a specific character’s perspective, a character with a personality, a gender, a sexuality, etc. You don’t play as “you”, you play as the character.”

Currently, I’m reading “Noble Man” and “Blood and Snow.” They are both well-written, but the paywall approach they use (buying coins in order to read chapters) is annoying, at least to me. If I wanted to blast through Noble Man (it has over 40 chapters) in a weekend, I think I’d pay over $20. Maybe $30, as I didn’t do the math. Geez.

My current project, Talon City, is told from third-person POV and features a well-defined protagonist that is not “you.” I think there is room for lots of different approaches in IF.

Oh, and happy forum birthday, @Sovereign2Lilith!