Length of game influences buying?


Strongly disagree. Customers constantly write in for information we don’t provide in our marketing, like number of chapters, to name just one under the hood thing people ask about.

And re bloat: I…don’t allow it in the games I edit, and I probably annoy my colleagues to no end with my coding efficiency notes when I review their games. Here’s a good 40% of all the notes I give a first time author until it is drilled into their head:

-"*fake_choice, delete *gotos and subsequent *label,"
-"*fake_choice, nest resulting text/vignette under option rather than use *gotos,"
-“use a *gosub here, here, and here”
-“String *if/*if not or use multireplace rather than *if/*else testing booleans”
-"one blank line above the *if, not two blank lines under *if/*else (Yes, I care about unnecessary blank lines in my fascistic quest for efficient code.)

So sure, HG authors can bloat as much as they want (or rather, code as inefficiently and advertise as large a word count as they want,) but CoG games are simply not incentivized to inflate this number, and it’s precisely what the editorial process prevents.


Do you think these constant inquiries represent the majority of customers? I would think people who are concerned about number of chapters fall into the discriminating category. This word count number for most people is like horsepower. More is better without much regard given to why and what horsepower really represents.

To your second point I think it is inevitable people will compare your HG selection to the main line titles. Code bloat and consequently advertised word count permitted in HG titles will effect the perception of the value of word count in CoG titles as well.


I probably wouldn’t buy something that was advertised as a very short game, unless it was by an author that I knew about or something that I had the chance to try out beforehand as a WIP.

But I don’t really know how long most of the games I have played are. Sabres and Guns of Infinity are both set at a pretty perfect length, in my opinion. Choice of Rebels is maybe a bit too long, but it’s also amazing in lots of ways and extremely ambitious (and successful in most of those ambitions!).

HMS Foraker is pretty short, but that was the whole point of the game so I was in no way surprised or disappointed by that. I also tried the WIP before I bought, so I knew exactly what I was getting in on there.

The biggest motivators (for me, and I am maybe not the average buyer) to buy something are:

  1. Do I recognise the author and like their other work? If so, buy.
  2. Have I thoroughly played the game in its WIP stage? If so, buy.
  3. If neither 1 or 2 have been fulfilled, see if it looks interesting, play the free chapters, and all that stuff and decide from that. Word count shouldn’t really matter if everything else looks/feels good.


I mean, I agree! But I’m confused as to why you think the average playthrough count, a truly under the hood number is going to help customers. I think it’s a number you in particular want. The average choice of game title (meaning, the average of all our games) is 184,000 words with a playthrough length of 34,000. Those numbers are a little old, and need updating with more recent 2018 games, so grain of salt. Authors are required to write games of a minimum of 100,000 words and an average playthrough length of 20,000. Some hit that ratio perfectly, some have a smaller ratio, some have a greater ratio, the average ends up being 21 rather than 20. So. In principle, your average Choice of Games title could be played five times and see five very different stories.

I honestly don’t know. If we went just by numbers as to who the majority of paying customers are…I think there are like 10,000 forum accounts. There’s nothing about the average game’s number of units sold/downloaded in the first weeks and months after release that tells me that Venn diagram of forum user and customer couldn’t be a perfect circle. I don’t think they are, at all, but.

WELP. They do. Constantly. But frankly, I’m much less concerned about inefficiently coded HGs making CoG word counts look fake/bad/whatever, than I am that lack of brand differentiation makes potential customers believe any CoG is going to have the same level of prose and design as any given HG.


Not really. I don’t consider the word count number at all useful in my buying decision, and I venture for most forum goers it is probably of diminishing importance relative to WIP testing participation. Mostly I was speaking to the marketing effect of the current method of calculating word count. It very well may not matter, but anecdotally the reviews concerning shortness and comments here regarding word count seem to indicate otherwise.

This probably couldn’t be reasonably answered without marketing research, but something along the line of gameplay time might make more sense to gamer oriented audiences on steam.

My comments are all relative to increasing market share among those non-IF gamers who’s eyeballs you might grab for a second with a steam sale.


While I haven’t tested in a while, I am looking forward to this offering - I’ve already budgeted for it so it should be a purchase sooner than later.

I am also still looking forward to the Gilded Rails game - another promoting both a historical topic I love and a topic that is overdue to be explored in IF. I just wish it was proceeding apace as others are, it seems to have taken a few steps back in its development but hopefully it too will be out soon.

As far as the car analogy goes - I disagree with it. People look to purchase vehicles for many different reasons, most that relate to under the hood specs and mechanics in one way or another. Gas mileage, comfort, looks and even name brand recognition all are traced back to the innermost workings of how and why a car is built the way it is.

The same goes for games in general and IF games in specific. What is under the hood is exactly what is the answer to any of the reasons to buy games. Someone is looking for breadth in their choices or depth - it doesn’t matter, both are directly related to the mechanics structure. … etc.


This is very nicely put.


Totally agree with you, Is the mechanisms what makes Cog a hybrid between literature and an interactive media. Without them stories would be static and hardly customizable.
In Spanish tradition there is a said “Caballo grande ande o no ande” That means I want a Big horse I don’t care if it walks or not.
It is a powerful psychological thing desire something big for the sake of it. Even if you won’t be enjoying the full of that big thing. .

I really want customization and choices that matters and feel different let me role-playing different characters. But sadly I have no way to know beforehand in a Cog. At least if I don’t test it. So after see the demo. Many times, I am on a fence about buy it or not. So length is a factor I tend to think well is big so probably will have the branches and choices that would allow me role-playing. But there are cases is not , and I end with a long game with barely choices and no replay value. And is a great literature game , but not exactly the reason why I enjoy the media.

The public is really really diverse and competition is harsh. So it is a very complex data and very difficult to handle.


A lot of people seem to think otherwise, which is a bit disappointing to me. I figured that being available for free would make people appreciate that it’s only maybe a 30-45 minute game at most, but apparently not.

With that in mind, maybe a “estimated length of playthrough” bullet point might be a useful one, or at least some indicator of whether a game is supposed to take up a bus ride (like Foraker) or an afternoon (like everything else I’ve written).


My favorite are the complaints are that the meal was terrible…and the portions were so small!


You know game is short in word account but for me like has lot of customization and role-playing options and replay value for me is a longer game that others than duplicate word account. I suppose is the difference between see this as a one time only read or see as a game with a replay value


In a lot of cases, the negative reviews seem to mention the length alone, or even praise the actual writing. I’d understand more if this was some sort of cost/content issue, but this isn’t nouvelle cuisine, the damn thing is literally free.


There’s some overlap here with “the short and rushed.” (Rent-a-Vice — What doesn’t kill you…kills someone else) And also, and I hate to harp, I really, really like some of the “short” i.e., 150k word games we’ve put out. They’re good. And they’re priced accordingly. And long games are priced for that too. So … throws up hands, walks away.


Coding efficiency is one of the reasons I love Fallen Hero for giving and average wordcount you’ll read per playthrough, and am curious what these averages are for other games.
I know it from my own thing’s wip:

The main game atm has 125k words with code, averaging at 30k per playthrough. so about a fourth. Half of these 125k are optional scenes.
The bonus, however stands at 30k with code right now, but due to what happens, even with effective coding the average read is only 3000. This is due to the massive amount of details that can change and are accounted for.


That is the problem with branches and depth choices aren’t perfectly reflect in words account. Oh is only X per play through that’s not enough some people say. But they forget how many different plays they could make. Nobody says Tetris is short due one play through is short


I remember before i start purchasing paid titles at the end of last year, i actually enjoy all the free titles like vampire house , great tournament, swarm castle, choice of romance , choice of broadsides etc … and i never think of them as short… most readers will appreciate these titles…

But now apparently some readers are more strong will about what they intend to get , and for free… it was like when they are getting free meal, they going to complain the food is not michelin star quality… :slight_smile:


I think this is an excellent suggestion, especially in light of my pending game which is mostly actual gameplay. :grin:


Most free-to-play CoG titles I’ll go into expecting them to be satisfyingly average, Vampire House however was one I found to be quite enjoyable though, I’d be more than happy to pay for it out the gate


Yes i agree… most readers volunteerly donate the money after end game ( that’s what i read from comment) just to encourage the author to write the sequel of Vampire House

Another good game is Great Tournament, not only it is good… it is considerably long as well :slight_smile:


A game being mostly gameplay might NOT be a good thing:
Think about it:

If you have let’s say 150k words of code and around 130k of those are gameplay… there’s not really much branching, is there?

But still, having a total wordcount + average playthrough listed is something we might need in the future.