Length of game influences buying?


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?


Choice of the Cat is one of my favorites in the library and I agree especially with the bolded part.


Are you in the Death Collector beta? (idk if you do beta testing at all) but it’s the author’s second game, which is a “short” 290k. Should be out later this fall.


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 :slight_smile: 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 :slight_smile: . 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.


I was going to choose two of the options but the poll only allows one vote. I don’t really care much about word length in IF games. But I do care about the theme of the game. Is it giving my curious brain the go ahead and read more or not. And my second choice would be the author. I guess i’m the type to buy all of the games about the author I like even if it is a flop or top rate. On the other hand if my brain has set to not like the author, even if they make giantsized games, flop or top rate. I ain’t buying their works.


That’s what counts short for COG employees? Wtf (sorry)? While I claimed I prefer longer games, for me games under 200k or 150k word count actually even the ones between 100k and 150k could be okay for me if it seems really promising. So yeah it’s a surprise for me that 290k would be a short game while most COGs hardly reach the 200k word count


All I can say is I enjoy the things I read being LONG. I want to take a good while to read it. Especially if it keeps me interested. Major flaw with me is I read really fast.

So yeah, the higher the overall word count, the more likely I am to be interested. That’s just me though.


I put it in scare quotes because Jordan’s first game was 600k words. Her second is about half that. So for her it’s “short.”


Yupe i agree with you that longer games can have lower rating and sell less than games that are shorter… as there are clear example from playstore too, but i won’t point out the name of the titles …


I’m not “mad” at you at all. :slight_smile: We’re all readers here, except Mary and Jason. Not all of us shared your reactions; of those who did, some got past them. Don’t get “mad” at me the reader for pointing out that you’ve overlooked a terrific game.

I’m sure Mary and Jason are taking in your honest observations on e.g. the marketing of Choice of the Cat and what it did to your expectations. They’ll weigh that along with all the feedback they’ve received (including all those reviews on the App Stores and the bottom line of how many people bought it), and the sum of it will influence future editing/marketing of games.

But just as they’ll keep all forum feedback in perspective, I’m sure they’ll keep your example in perspective too. The fact that a game didn’t register with you when it came out (despite being CoG’s highest word count to date by a mile) doesn’t necessarily show that the marketing was poor.

Yes, but it’s not something anyone does on purpose, and some of the most notable examples were written before there were code features ilke gosub and multireplace to help tighten things up.

Here’s an example of inefficient coding, from the hypothetical Choice of Skyrim:

  #Turn left
    You find yourself walking down another long passage with runic inscriptions on the walls.  A draugr jumps out and fights you, but you win. In time, you come to a great hall where the final boss awaits.
    *goto hall
  #Turn right
    You find yourself walking down another long passage with runic inscriptions on the walls.  Two draugr jump out and fight you, but you win. In time, you come to a small room full of treasure.
    *goto treasure_room

The reuse of words in the descriptive passages is coding inefficiency. The author could use a few different coding techniques to avoid that duplication.

Thanks–but if I’ve understood you rightly here, I think you’re giving me too much credit. Big long ambitious games were coming to CoG no matter what I did, as witness the fact that two appeared almost immediately to either side of Rebels. Of the ones you mention that came out in 2018, Fallen Hero had been in development on the forum for ages before release, and I’m sure Kyle had been working on Silverworld for a long time without any regard to what I was doing with Rebels. I can’t take any credit for inspiring the scope and ambition of those games.

It’s possible, for better or worse, that the success of Rebels will open up more space for more people to write stat-crunchy iterative games like the winter survival chapter. That, rather than word count, is where I suspect Rebels stood out a bit from the pack. We’ll see whether others follow.


That is a very fair point made.



which I hoped to elucidate with a short history of long games above. I think one really standout element of Rebels and one thing that contributes to length (but could be more efficiently done now with multireplace) is the hard binary choice of helot or not at the start of the game. This kind of binary choice is something we historically discouraged in our design because for one thing it can lead to a game becoming so long the author can’t finish it (but you did!! :smiley: ).

BUT. Jason floated a theory recently that if done in a certain way, these kind of hard branches could become more common because players truly enjoy them. I do think they’re easier to do and manage than we perhaps initially thought. And that would certainly lead to longer games.

Also, I think it’s important to acknowledge that long games are really very differently designed and hence are longer for different reasons. Kyle Marquis’ games (Empyrean, Silverworld, and the upcoming The Tower Behind the Moon which is a charming uh 395k, I think) are long for Kyle-ish design reasons. He’s also, like @gower, a bit of a prolific maniac, but even so, just speaking of Tower: you can play as like one of six different types of archmage…and believe me when I say there is custom text for each type of archmage. The game is just bound to be longer because the author is offering choices that matter, in the sense that the game is responding to your choice to play as a vitalist archmage or a necromancer archmage and giving you an appropriate experience as such.


Is there anyway to advertise word count a bit more transparently? Like unique words or non-code words?

I think when consumers are factoring word count into a purchasing decision they translate word count into “words to read.” An indicator of “branchiness” could also be developed by play through readable words vs total readable words. The description might be something like “80k words per playthrough and 200k readable words.”


The problem there is that code has a direct effect on a player’s experience even if they aren’t words that they won’t read. If there’s more stuff going on under the hood, that’s probably a good thing (assuming that everything is efficient). Readable words is a lot more meaningful…to us, as sophisticated Forum dwellers, but probably potentially perplexing to the non-Forum user. I get why CoG chooses to just give a single number.


That’s true but to continue with the car metaphor only the most discriminating buyers pay for what’s under the hood. The current model creates a perverse incentive for authors not to eleminate code bloat and leads to customers making incorrect assumptions about the playable length of the game based on advertised word count.

The most useful application of this metric for the uninitiated IF reader is for comparison to novels. In that case readable word count is the most useful.


I’ve always wondered if the word count would eventually evolve into an “average playthrough time.”

I think this can be calculated fairly directly if you come up with a set time as to how long it takes an average person to read through a set amount of words, let’s say 250 just to use as a rough example. I’m using 250 because that number is supposed to be how many words fit on a Word page if you do the formatting a certain way. After that, it’s just about doing math to calculate total possible engagement times in relation to an average novel. Speculation is fun sometimes.


Actually, I’d say it’d actually penalise authors using less repeated text more by doing that. If I use more code to prevent entire cut/pastes of paragraphs, it’d take more off my end word count while having very inefficient coding and still not show a good indication of non repeated words.

More variables generally mean more personalisation, so encouraging less code would also impact that.


That’s the way this value is tabulated for other games. I suppose it depends on where you come down on IF as a game vs book. For me personally hours of gameplay and average playthrough time would be a more valuable metric than word count. It might be for the gamer audience found on steam and the play store as well.

@Jacic I suppose that could be ameliorated by a linearity score: playthrough readable words/total readable words.