Interactivity Theories?


#1

Hello everyone,

I’ve finish drawing my outline for my book and am now beginning my draft on Choicescript. Stylistically speaking, this story isn’t built around a customized character or multiple plot endings but, instead, I want to establish interaction of the reader in being a part of the story. I wanted to get perspectives on this particular approach as I’ve seen a very common formula in the HG library:

1.) The player will choose to decide if the MC is a male or female.
2.) Sexuality won’t play a pivotal role in the chemistry of plot-related characters, however; the player will have opportunity to journey into specific dialogue.
3.) The player will be atheist
4.) Plot-related characters will not be interchangeable (completely static as they all play a role in the story)
5.) The ending will always happen the same way, the path to get there will vary.

Okay, so what does the player get to do?

The idea behind the story is simple: this is a prologue, a foundation for a much more significant story that I want to write in the future. Because I need this book to establish a ground for future works to stand on, it has to finish a specific way. I do love the interactivity of Choicescript books. So, I decided on a heavy-dialogue approach.

How heavy is too heavy? I don’t feel an “every sentence” type of choice system is a great approach as that can get very tedious for a reader but I do want significant choice options so the player feels involved in the conversation rather than a bystander. I think the power of reader involvement in the story is something magical that only interactive novels can offer and it’s something that revived my interest in reading again. So…

1.) Heavy dialogue options.
2.) Stat sheet will be more like a reference guide based on MC’s knowledge and journal entries of their progress
3.) Truth-seeking
4.) Sociological and psychological decision-making to keep things interesting.

I want the player to feel the anxiety of being in the situation, making tough decisions and trying to get to know what everyone knows; truth seeking and problem solving.

In closing, I just wanted to receive some feedback on your personal theories of interactivity in novels and if this approach could be potentially powerful or deadly to the entire piece. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

  • Thank you!

#2

It is my understanding that…

Writing for Hosted Games (the self-published label) allows for a great degree of design and freedom.

Writing for Choice of Games (the you-got-published label) must adhere to minimum standards.

The Writing for Choice of Games document can be found by clicking the link, or by going here (which is the same link):


#3

To my understanding, interactivity in IF is divided into 2: action and dialogue. I think I don’t have to explain both, it’s quite self-explanatory.

But stuff you mentioned, like sociological and psychological decisions, are somewhat… umm, I don’t think “restricted” is the correct term, but it is definitely easier to put such things into a dialogue interactivity. Or it isn’t?

Oh well, I’m broke.


#4

Well, the idea surrounding it… the book will be horror/thriller/investigative. So there will be actions to be taken. I’m just more focused on that socio/psycho aspect to really wrack the reader’s brain. Your actions/word choice will dramatically affect the way everyone in the room will treat you (one will love it the other hate it etc.) there’ll be consequences to everything, reactions to every action, etc. I just want to know if it’s an effective means of telling a story to a reader vs all the other, common approaches I’ve seen. I’m looking more for feedback, personal experiences, ideas… not necessarily “read this article here”


#5

Yep, emergent storytelling/gameplay can be very effective if done properly.


#6

Is it lazy atheism that we see in the majority of the day or is it actually intellectually reflected atheism.


#7

It can be done - in my opinion three games you should look at which are attempting the same thing (2 WiP one published):

1: Monsters - Monsters(WIP)- updated 04/27/17 -Link is updated

2: Highlands, Deep Waters - Highlands, Deep Waters [Released]

3: The Tomb of the Khan - Hosted Game

Hope this helps.


#8

Intellectual. The MC is a historical/experimental archaeologist that has done heavy research into spiritual sciences by studying ancient locations known to be origins of divine enlightenment. The atheism was due, in part, to a troubled childhood where the parents forced the MC into a Pentecostal way of life shoving religion doing their throat to a point of rebellion. More or less, the fascination of enlightenment encouraged the MC to yearn for the discovery of the origin of spirtualities and trying to prove the principles that Hell actually exists.

There’s more background to this topic but I figured I’d drop a quick synopsis on it :slight_smile:


#9

I will definitely check those out, thank you!


#10

Pentecostals will do that to anyone. Is that protagonist has that level of intellectual knowledge academic background. The may of read Anatheism by Richard Kearney.
The particular brand that Hinduism he doesn’t bring it up in this video that he studies is very similar what sure if your protagonist is looking for not necessarily hell but the proof of spiritual enlightenment.


#11

Just a few thoughts

May I ask why? If you’re playing a predefined character sure, but I’d be careful telling people what they think and believe otherwise (with anything) unless there’s a good reason as some people will find it immersion breaking. For example playing a paladin character would make it necessary to believe in a deity. Playing your average Joe shouldn’t.

5.) The ending will always happen the same way, the path to get there will vary.

This is actually a dislike of mine personally. Even if the journey is different, having the same/almost the same ending make me feel like nothing made a difference. It didn’t have to be a radically different ending (although that’s nice) but just enough to make it clear your decisions changed the outcome. In saying that, a lot of people only read cogs 1-2 times and there are games with the same/almost the same endings out there.

Edit saw you posted more info. Could be ok. Consider aethiest/agnostic? Anyway seems like you’ve thought about it.


#12

I haven’t given you all the details but just wanted to allow you to grasp a bit of the MC’s motivations. I’m definitely doing my research on several topics surrounding some ideologies as I’d like to be as accurate as possible when tackling theories I’m writing fictional content on top of. Thanks for the video, I’ll check it out. The MC believes that the possibility of Hell is more likely than Heaven as you will find when you progress through the story because of findings during their research excavations at historic locations.


#13

On the notion of religion. Believe me, it was something I thought about because I know that readers like a bit of flexibility for their imagination. Every once in awhile, it’s kind of nice to fill different shoes though, you know? What’s the perspective of this person? And the fascinating part is that the way I want to tell the story can change the way the player and MC can think completely. It’s all theoretical but the atheism is more relative to the MC’s past. When I designed the outline it’s built on introductions. I can say “here’s this character and what their mindset is like right now” but at the end? It’s all variables.

I completely understand your concerns about the ending and, again, something I thought about. I just want to reiterate that this story is presenting a very strong foundation for a future story that will need the outcome to happen a specific way. The problem I have with being flexible on the ending is that I can’t fix holes based on how one person may have completed it versus another. Here’s an example:

Say, one playthrough: MC survives. Now I have to fit the MC into the next arc in the story. I can’t just have them pop up as a cameo when they’ve played such a pivotal role in the plot.

Next playthrough: MC dies. Now I have to build the story around the legend.

Next playthrough: MC saves the world. Now I have a happy ending. You can’t write future stories on happy endings! The hero needs tragedy.

Let’s say a reader only plays once with these three outcomes and I want to write a sequel. Now I’ve got to write something that correlates with their playthrough. I just can’t risk the plot holes or segregate players’ understanding of the plot as a whole if that makes sense.


#14

That’s fine, I don’t have a problem with a lot of backstory or gender locked characters myself as long as there’s a good reason for it and it adds to the story. (You probably will narrow your audience though as some people really do dislike it). I’d be careful how you handle religion, it’s a pretty sensitive topic for some, especially if you’re going to pinpoint a particular one and although I get your meaning, having loaded language like the pentecostal type religion “being shoved down the MC’s throat” might cause offense. But it’s your story and if you make sure to handle it well, it should be fine. (BTW I’m not singling out that you’ve said your character is atheist, I’d say the same if you said they had to be a part of any religious belief system.)

As for the ending, I’m not saying it has to be as radically different as in one you die and in the other you save the world but little things are good. Maybe you end up with a good/bad relationship level with someone you investigate with, maybe you solved things well or there was fall out that wont affect the next book (ie maybe the feeling in the community is still tense because you didn’t stop a murder or the corner store burned down or whatever. I don’t know what your story is about). So anyway you get a bit of a different ending or epilogue. You don’t have to, but I find personally it sours what the ending of something I may have been really enjoying if I replay it and don’t find a difference at the end. You can make save points if you’re planning on a sequel (not sure how to do it but there are those around who do). Up to you though :slight_smile:


#15

I totally agree with you about religion. I want to take an academic approach for the actual book, I don’t want the reader to feel a bias; just a story about it. The word choice I used earlier was just for a quick description but I don’t want to force my personal opinions/beliefs into it.

You have some good points about the ending and I think I’ll sit down and try to figure out how I can create dynamic results to encourage a reason to want finish the story. I just keep my head wrapped around the thought that if they story is strong enough it should be enough motivation. The other motivation is the truth-seeking that I want involved in the story. There’s a lot of details to be covered about everything and it’s especially important for those that will want to read the books following this one. I will definitely keep your thoughts in mind, thank you!