I have had ideas for a Choicescript game kicking around for a couple of years now, and I am finally in a position where I might be able to begin writing it. I think it has the potential to be a good one.
My problem is that this game may have some qualities that many players don’t like, and too many of these qualities might turn off a lot of people. I would hate to spend a year or more working on a game, only to find that no one wants to play it.
So I’m asking for a bit of preliminary feedback/discouragement/encouragement from anyone who cares to weigh in. So far, this game has the following potential turn offs:
MC is gender-locked. You have to play a female character. I don’t think I can make the story work otherwise.
Setting is medieval fantasy. Because that hasn’t been done before. I can probably change this if the genre has become unworkably clichéd, but medieval low fantasy (not high fantasy) is the best setting for this story I have come up with so far.
It Has Religion in It. Religion won’t be the main focus, but it will be around. Any problems with portrayals of religion can be addressed in beta testing, so I am not too worried about this.
Would you play a game with these qualities, if it was otherwise a good game? Should I give up on this story idea and find a better use of my time, or is this still worth writing? I’d be grateful for any preliminary feedback.
If it’s well-written with an interesting story and has meaningful choices that push the story forward then sure, why not?
Keep something in mind when you read responses to your question, though. Your questions are posed to the active members of CoG forums, not to all players of CoG games. Even if you get a majority of ‘oh I would never want to play that’ here, it does not mean the game won’t appeal to many people who play CoG games who aren’t on these forums. And the converse is also true.
Sure, you can spend time and effort jumping through hoops to write to a specific audience or to ride the latest trend. That might be successful or it might not. There’s no guarantee either way.
Your best bet is to write a story you are passionate about telling. That will come through in your writing. And that’s what the player will pick up on.
I actually tend to avoid games that are gender-locked, sadly. I think it’s mostly because I prefer open-world sort of games (like the Fallout games). But I’ll play a game if I like the story (which I usually do, so it isn’t much of a turn-off, I guess.)
I’m a big fan of fantasy. All of the books I read are either fantasy or sci-fi. But, for some reason, I dislike fantasy settings in games. I’m not entirely sure why. I’ll still play a game with a fantasy setting.
As long as it’s not the main focus, and not forced on me, it’s fine. xD I usually don’t run into religion turn-offs in games. I have in books, but I read them anyway because the protagonist isn’t me.
I have no problems with that. I actually love the “fallen royalty” sorta theme. Ever read the Iron Fey books? I’m in love with anything with the same sorta theme.
Anyways, I’m not very picky when it comes to games, I think. Maybe I am. Dunno. But I’ll play just about anything. c: I’m sorry if my answers were too vague or too wordy.
Don’t mind, but why is it always medieval fantasy? Why not just medieval? The dark ages were dangerous and dramatic enough without dragons and goblins and magic; you have the plague, you have bandits, corrupt despots, a-hole knights, sexism that would work well with the gender-locked female. You don’t need fantasy to make the medieval ages exciting. I would love a game that is just the Dark Ages
Well it would be weird to write that time-period without it, even if it does have fantasy tied to it
Bit over-done, but there’s ways to make it unique. Even if you don’t, I still wouldn’t mind playing it
So, you pass. I would play this game if it was interesting and those 4 things would not stop me.
Thank you everyone for the replies, encouragement, and candor!
@ballmot Religion will entail a somewhat fictionalized version of real-world practices and institutions, as much as casual research can bear. I am not an expert on the period, so I doubt I will be going into a lot of detail.
I plan to have a capital-C Church. There will be a chapel in the MC’s castle, and probably an altar or two to Thunor or Baldr just outside the local village. I currently have an NPC, one of the MC’s older sisters, residing in a convent after taking a vow of virginity, though I haven’t figured out how important she will be to the story.
Things like that. I don’t plan on having the MC commit to any particular tradition or ideology, but she probably will have to develop relationships with characters who do.
@Interestedparty Good point about fantasy, but the story I am planning is specifically about magic. Working title is Rise of the Witch, though I will likely change that to avoid confusion with similar titles.
I think Lords of Aswick fits the description on three out of four accounts. As so, I’ll give you a quick glimpse on what I found during the writing effort and after release.
From the feedback I received from readers and reviewers when compared to the forum regulars and visitors, it is clear to me that the actual story matters much more to the bulk of the people who will be reading it than if it has gender option. On this forum, it is much more common to see the “include gender option” opinion.
Some feedback said they usually ignored stories without some kind of gender selection, but were quite happy with trying it out. There are going to be people that will tell you that you should add in all sorts of customization options, and there will be people who will find it fantastic that it’s a more planned and rigid story you’re trying to tell. There’s going to be conflicting opinions thrown at you no matter what.
Write a story that you want to tell. No matter who the MC ends up being.
Also, make a decision very early on; do you want to make an choice-based game, or an interactive novel?
I would say that if you consistently treat your work as an interactive novel, readers will pick up on that and accept a more rigid story structure.
If you wish to make a choice-based game, they will wish for much more freedom in the selections they are going to make.
Ultimately, just write what you want to write. If you want community feedback, post a thread and let people give you impressions that you can use to shift your view on what works and what doesn’t. Just remember that writing by committee is going to result in a bland and generic story that may fit the taste of everyone, but doesn’t satisfy anyone.
@Goshman Thank you so much for sharing your insights. My lack of familiarity with the market, and my lack of experience in interactive fiction, are what lead me to bare my insecurities here. Among the HG stories I’ve played, Lords of Aswick stands out in a lot of ways. I’d like to stand out too. (Who doesn’t?)
I’ve gone back and forth on this. Perhaps another way to look at it is to ask what purpose the interactive aspect of the story serves. In this case, the focus will probably be on developing the MC’s persona, cultivating (and exploiting) relationships, and selecting various strategies for overcoming her obstacles. For now, this looks like it will be more of a conventional, old-fashioned Choicescript game than an interactive novel.