I suppose, then, that whether or not a CoG is economical not only has to do with whether it sells well, but also (perhaps even more importantly) how the author allocated their time creating the story. If a 250k word game earns $13,000 in a year and took around 325 hours for the author to make, (like it might for authors like myself or @gower who write at relatively quick paces) that’s actually quite good. If that same game took the author 1500 hours to make, that’s another story entirely.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Every author works differently, and I don’t want to say that any certain way is correct. All I’m saying is that I don’t want everyone to think that writing these games is actually economically non-viable as some would make it seem. A single successful HG can’t replace a full time minimum wage job as far as total funds go, but that’s because no one is writing HGs 40 hours a week, every week. (For me, at least, I write my stories for about 10 hours a week, on average.)
I agree, genre definitely makes a difference. In many ways I’d say it seems to outweigh word count in importance. There’s a lot of contributing factors. There are short games that haven’t done well which actually had more to do with execution than length. If you have a game that is highly railroaded, you’ll have the same complaints whether it’s 30,000 or 100,000 words. Comedy is another genre which is hard for choice games. There’s a lot of variation in people’s sense of humour and they can be hit and miss on the stores for that reason. I also write short interactive stories and like them, so my feelings on length are probably skewed that way as well where I can enjoy very long and very short games as long as they appeal to me.
I actually really liked Aether, it was one of my favs this year. Like everything though personal preference for topics and writing style are going to influence what you like to read .
Yeah, but you can see the same on games twice that size as well. I’m even starting to see too short comments on games upwards of 150k. But yes, that probably has affected the rating. I’d also say that anything from 4* and above would class as a good store rating for google so it’s definitely not doing badly in the ratings department!
I agree with that.
But I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree on that. I’d rather read something that’s been tightly edited to a lower word count ans moves quickly keeping my attention, rather than one that has a lot of unconnected or filler scenes to bump up the word count simply because it’s expected to be a longer length. (I’m not saying long games are all like this, of course they aren’t, but the danger is that if it’s seen that anything under 200k is bad, I suspect you’re going to end up with games containing filler scenes in to make the counts higher, rather than the game taking how ever many words it needs to be finished .)
Just on that, at the moment in my currency Fallen hero which is 320k words more than Aether is only $1.50 more to buy ($4 to 5.50). If an author was trying to make a living out of making these games, think about that for a moment. I'm sure COG knows what they're doing with the pricing as they have all the info for sales and downloads. There's probably a threshold amount over which people start to become reluctant to buy games I’d imagine. A lot of HG authors are writing these primarily because they like to. (I’m one of them). I could earn more working extra hours at my job (and being a student that’s actually important as I need money to live on), but being able to get some money back for my time does give me the justification to put time aside and spend extra time trying to get the game as good as I can and adding extra storylines requested by beta testers before it goes out. So sales/time spent does factor in for the quality of the games that end up in the store for at least some authors out there. (And just as an aside, COG does pay their authors well, there’s no complaints there from me at all.)
Oh I agree the customer won’t lower expectations based on anything at our end but I think you’re kind of missing the point I was trying to make before. It’s not being lazy, it’s a combo of writer efficiency, enjoyment (which to me leads to better written scenes) and just plain logistics for getting out a game that is well made, bug free and polished.
If a writer can make a game that is well made at 150k, but has pacing, bug and editing problems due to the scale of it at 500k, which is going to be more enjoyable for the reader on average? They could put the same amount of effort into each, but it does get harder to make something that is larger as perfect as a game that is smaller. You’ve also got to remember that many HG authors are producing their first game through this label. I actually think it would almost be good to encourage a shorter game as the first one to get it well polished and actually finished, rather than embarking on something far longer that has a higher chance of being abandoned.
It doesn’t sound like it’s a big deal, until you’re writing something over 100k. Coding isn’t really nightmare-ish but getting everything to tie up neatly and continue a good flow through the game can get progressively harder and more time consuming the longer and more branched it gets.
Anyway, just my thoughts on it. No disrespect intended either, everyone has their own thoughts and feelings on this
COG does pay their authors well. If you want to write, they’re a good company to produce games for
I think I’ve made this point before, but in my own experience (and Im not pretending to know everything, but I did work for a book publishing company briefly after uni, and I have also written a handful of academic books) the royalties offered by CoG are far above anything else offered in publishing elsewhere (if I’m wrong, please somebody correct me).
Obviously as pointed out in this thread expectations are ever increasing, given that games are constantly getting (on average) longer and better. Which eventually might lead to it all becoming uneconomical… For new authors anyway? Or those that are comparatively slower at writing/coding…
I wouldn’t buy a if shorter than 100k, beacause i don’t pay 3 or five dolars since dollar is not my currency i pay more, specially if i buy on google play, steam tends to be cheaper, but i use my phone way more, sorry, not saying that cgs bellow that word count can’t be good
Well, Choice of the Cat combines its cats-eye-view humor with an acutely drawn portrait of a marriage at high risk of disintegration, and allows the player to either rescue or destroy that relationship. Despite being a comedy, there’s a lot more serious stuff going on there than in 90% of CoGs. Tastes vary, and it’s futile to try to talk someone into liking something…but if “childish” is your main takeaway from CotC, I think you might be focusing on the tip of the iceberg instead of what’s there just beneath the surface. Still doesn’t mean you’re going to enjoy what’s there under the surface, but it deserves to be noticed, and it’s not childish at all.
Trust me, it didn’t. I was very mindful that Rebels came out right on the heels of three terrific games, one of which was longer when considering code efficiency.
(The CoG website also displays the games in reverse order of release, in case you ever want to check what order things got released in).
There’s a discussion of it further down on that thread I linked to. It’s possible to wirte a ChoiceScript game with a lot of cut-and-paste, so the same words (or nearly the same words) appear multiple times. Tin Star is legitimately a huge game, but if you looked at its code, you’d see a lot of repetition across different choices; it’s not really twice as long as Choice of Magics.
CS has some features (mostly added after Tin Star was written) that let you code without cut-and-paste repetition. *gosubs, notably, where instead of copying out the same text in multiple places, you just use a gosub command to repeat that text wherever it needs to appear. “Multireplace” can also be more efficient compared to older workarounds for e.g. plural pronouns. An efficiently coded game makes use of these tools.
Well, I was comparing three games of roughly equal word count. I’m sure word count is significant, but genre is also an important factor in driving game sales. It would be interesting to know how e.g. the Superlatives or Hero Unmasked sold compared to Choice of the Cat and Tally Ho – games that are (more than) twice as long, but in a less popular, less action-packed genre. They’re all in the same sales bracket on Google Play.
For six or seven years, I’ve been reminding people that the forum != the market (usually in the context of pointing out that the market likes Zach Sergi’s games a lot more than the forums do). So I entirely agree with you that we’re a small, unrepresentative share of CoG’s base, and “helped somewhat” was all I was suggesting for Rebels’ devoted forum following. I hope we eventually get confirming evidence from other CoG authors who post their live WiPs on the forum as I did (though there are good reasons they might not).
Finally, I’m very glad you liked Rebels, and thanks for the kind words about it.
Completely variable. Depends on the words, depends on my mood. Sometimes it flies, sometimes it really doesn’t.
The issue here is that you’re not giving an example. And because you aren’t giving an example, I can’t really connect with what you’re saying since, to me, there isn’t a game I can look to to concede or argue the point. If you just say, “I’d rather pay for a good short game than a bad long game.” I’d say “No shit. So would everyone else.” No one is buying long games BECAUSE their long. They are buying long games because they are more likely to be enjoyable due to having more options and character development.
A prime example for me is Tallyho. I honestly thought the game was enjoyable enough on some level but the stat arrangement was frustrating and I was tired of feeling like I had to play the game the way the author wanted me to and thus quit. The story itself was fine and the various characters were enjoyable and most people loved it. Point is, while I hear you saying that there are filler games with bloated word counts, I’d need to know an example to get what you mean.
That’s less the point. The issue is that if something is valued at a certain rate, that is what people will pay. Your annoyance shouldn’t be with people making larger games, skewing the expectations of readers. It should be with CoG not charging a higher rate. If they simply charged more, the root of this issue (money is always the root of an issue) would be resolved.
Unfortunately, as true as that may be, when I see a game that plays me as a cat, has a cartoony picture of a cat, and has a description talking about how silly it is to be a cat, that is going to come across as Childish. For kids. Now, if that is 4% of the game and the rest is “hard core” adult issues and content, then that’s a problem with the marketing.
Again, you shouldn’t be getting “mad” at me the reader. These issues I’m pointing out aren’t coming from a negative place. They are coming from a real and honest observation. And in this case, CoC came across from the opening aspect as something I’d give my 10 year old cousin before playing myself. I’d then argue that that is a reason why it is currently selling as many copies as CoM despite CoM being only a month old.
Unfortunately this further proves my point. I’m taking from this that you are the author of Rebels. The reality is, and I’m really not attacking the game; I’m making a specific point about reader perception, using myself as the example, the game made so little impact on me, I legitimately didn’t register when it came out. Again, while its a bit off topic, that shows that despite it potentially being an amazing game, it’s marketing was very poor in attracting an audience that was sizable enough to appreciate it. (It is also sitting at a 4.1)
If I’m reading this correctly, it’s possible to “bloat” your game via the coding being larger than it needs to be?
Ex. I claim a game has a word count of 500k words but 200k could be just the coding under the hood.
Fair point. I’d argue that a more accurate depiction of where word count comes into play is when comparing games of similar genres. Like I said, I disregarded CoC entirely because of its child-likd feel, so your certainly aren’t wrong about genres playing a factor.
I’d also argue that despite its childish appearance, it still managed to compete with games that are considerably more attractive to the average reader. I’d then argue that that was primarily because of their word count.
Definitely. I’ve gone on record many times that your game was the standard bearer for the longer more enthralling games. I truly believe that if Rebels hadn’t done what it did, many of these larger games out/coming out wouldn’t exist in the format that they are in. I couldn’t imagine not playing games like “Fallen Hero” or “Silveryworld” or “I,Cyborg” so, despite what you might say, you do deserve congrats for that, imo.
If you want to look at a game that supposedly has lots of filler in it, look no further than my newest HG, The Magician’s Burden. The story is 230k words and roughly 115k has to do with the MC going to their jobs and hobbies.
Now, I personally don’t consider this filler. At minimum, Chapters 1, 2, 4, and 5 accomplish a few different things: stat building, character development, and romance development. However, because of the very relaxed plot that the majority of my game has, I’ve had a vocal minority say that the game is boring filler, where it all could and should be thrown out in favor of more exciting plots. Whether that’s true or not is up to the tastes of the individual reader.
@Havenstone Havie I hope you don’t hate me for being one of the guilty of your long word account insisting in addition of more background … Now I feel guilty about how much work I give to authors that at the end they won’t be rewarded with money for it.
It is sad that Bad written stuff with racist and anti human (for me someone that mock trans , women gays etc… are anty humanity) sells a lot. There are certainly scary stuff out there in the app store …
Here at least you could be secure you will never read something machist or racist and the author are decent paid. Sadly, market makes people expect writers has to die by famine because everything has to be free.
Funny enough, while I had my own issues with MB, I didn’t consider what you are talking about as “filler”. You also are somewhat missing the point, especially when you frame it as “vocal minority”.
When someone says “I’d rather play a good short game over a bad long game.” That implies there are a large enough number of bad long games to warrant that point. When you bring up a game, by your own admission, isn’t widely viewed as bad, as a bad, it kind of doesn’t go with the issue.
Is there a long game (200k+ words) that is currently not good? I personally didn’t like MB but that had to do with my personal views about how the characters were portrayed. The ground work was done well enough and while I’d have liked the meat to have a bit more substance, I understood where you were going so that helped.
To keep from getting off topic, my only point is that long games simply add more than shorter games and give the author more chances to sway a reader.
Rebels, a game I just finished praising, was unbearable during the first half of the first chapter. I had to slog through that and get into the lore before falling in love with it. Now, imagine if the lore wasn’t there because they wanted a smaller word count? The game would factually have had less stakes because there would be less outcomes (No getting sick or having most your men nearly die from an ambush you were too stupid to see coming). This would have directly translated to me:
Lamenting my purchase
Making a decision not to buy anything from them again
Actively ignoring all future games from that author
Thank you, that’s a really good way to talk about Cat, which I edited, which was I think the second game I got under contract, and which was our first CoG over 600,000 (fairly efficiently coded) words. The more you look at that game, the more subtle and interesting I think it really is. Childish is the exact thing it is not, though there is humor in roleplaying a cat, of course. Humor I liked and I think many of our players did too.
I want to add a couple of things about it, as well as about game length and commercial success, though you’ve addressed a lot of the misconceptions of @ChristandJackel already.
First, let’s talk about the history of long games. Yes, Tin Star, sure. I’m not going to talk about HG games.
For a long time, the longest game was Choice of the Vampire: The Fall of Memphis, aka Vampire 2, published in August 2013. That was 306k words.
Robots is 307k words, published in December 2014. (My first day was around July 1, 2015.) The next game to beat Robots’ record was Kyle Marquis’ Empyrean, at 324,000 words, in December of 2016. (Though the week before Empyrean’s release was Saga of the North Wind, a respectable 304k.)
After Empyrean came Choice of the Cat, 607k words in September 2017. Now, classing 600k word games in a league of their own, we can drop back down to earth and give the nod to Heart of the House, October 2017 and 365k words.
Finally, Rebels is published in November 2017 and is 638k, our longest game ever.* It is immediately followed in December by Tally Ho at 640k words, which is where the record stands. I didn’t code read Tally Ho, though I did copyedit Rebels but my guess is you can shave a couple thousand words off of either game in coding inefficiencies. So they’re fairly equal in my mind. I am also a bit of a martinet in terms of coding efficiency, down to eliminating unnecessary *gotos, as my colleagues and authors will tell you (right, @HannahPS? :D)
Again, dropping down from the lofty heights of 600k, @Cataphrak finished calendar 2017 with Cryptkeepers at a respectable 394k.
I want to believe that excitement about a game during beta/lead up/posting the author interview, trailer, and demo on the forum lead to sales. I want to think that our upcoming games post makes folks interested in games months ahead of time. The forum does something to sales. I don’t know what. I can’t quantify that.
OTOH some really nice little (i.e., short) games we’ve put out in 2017/2018 haven’t done as well as other short games we’ve put out. When I was first starting, three years ago, we had some very successful games that were 150k or under. Now. Was it genre? Maybe. Are players “spoiled” for shorter games by the rash of very long games we’ve published, such that they now turn up their noses at 150k word games? Mayyyybe. Has the Omnibus impacted things? Probably somewhat. But I will point out that our game design has frankly only gotten better in that time period, and the demands we place on authors for quality in both design, prose, and creativity in genre has gotten more and more stringent and selective. So what I’m saying is, I don’t know. I think it’s a lot of things.
But, moving on, I am eager to see what happens with both @HannahPS’ developer diary as well as a game I’m currently cooking on, that the author is considering posting openly as a WIP on the forum once we get to around Chapter 3 or 4. (We’re currently at Chapter 2.)
How long does it take an author to write 1000 words? Completely variable, but surprise surprise I have the data. But some of the fastest guns in the west, doing over 1000 words per day on a game include: @Cataphrak, Jordan Reyne author of Cat, and @gower.
*I’m not talking about HG games, and so don’t @ me with TIn Star and Magikiras.
I’m inclined to agree with you that it is not just one thing. You already mentioned several of them, and there was a whole thread dedicated to cost. I loved Choice of the Cat, but I was hopeful it would do well because I was afraid the price point might put some people off.
Of course, there is just general competition from other interactive media as well as well as audience perceptions. I mean, it wasn’t all that long ago when a new CoG was released, and some joker would always post a thread in Steam of “Is this really a game?” Though I do think your moderators certainly have that part under control now.
What Do you want that people say you directly what games consider bad and put examples in front of everyone. Letting authors in bad place? I am sincere and know for my bluntness. But even I know that this is not the place nor time to put what we consider bad writing or wall of text bashing authors publically.
I will make my point brief, I do not care about price/word-count. Does it have romance is my buying factor. That is why I am here.
Yes, I will play all demos that are put out and give them a fair go, but I can count then number of times I bought anything other than a story that had anything without it on one hand since I have been here on the forums, we are talking 2012 people.
So for tl;dr version if it does not have no romance the story has to be spot on or I will pass. For the record Choice of Cat was my last non romance purchase. Great story telling and world building, and fun shenanigans.
Oh I did not vote on the poll since it was lacking my choice of romance…It is kind of a big staple here yah know?
I haven’t had a chance to read your newest game yet so I wasn’t talking about yours when I brought that up, if it’s written into the game with a purpose in mind and adds to the overall experience, it’s probably not filler I’m talking about scenes that don’t really have to be in the game which either probably should have been edited down, or are deliberately put there to increase the word count. For example I did think about adding an extra scene into Oedipus to get the word count up a bit after it was finished, and decided not to because what I was going to put in there would have been what I considered filler. It really didn’t add anything to the final game, it was just an extra scene that would have gone in to make it longer.
Again @ChristandJackel I can point to multiple games all under 150k that I prefer when compared to some others that are longer but it seems as if you and I just like to read different things. I can also point to multiple short games that are outselling longer ones, but yep kind of over this particular argument. Can short games outsell longer ones: Yes. Do longer games have a better chance of selling well: Probably but it doesn’t have to be that way in very case, it depends on a whole heap of additional factors. I think we’ll agree to disagree and leave it at that.
I’m not annoyed with anyone if it’s come across like that, people are welcome to write what ever they wish as far as I’m concerned whether it’s 30k short stories or 1mil word epics. I’m just commenting . I’ll likely continue to be stubborn for the near future at least since I’ve already got mulitple games in progress and will finish them off as I think they need to be whether that’s long or short. (I’ve got both types happening depending on how I’ve planned them out.) Later, well we’ll see.
Take a look at the ratings for HG games on the google play store. I’m more reluctant to label games as “bad” rather than good as it’s subjective (and also why I’m not giving you the examples that you require), but if you want the consensus of the app store patrons you can find what you need there.
Has flashbacks when I saw watership down as a kid.