Limitations of ChoiceScript as a medium

Unless I am reading you wrong, strategy and its associated mechanics are “gamey” in your opinion. Having dealt with such mechanics from an engine’s use of them for years, I agree but not in the sense that you mean it.

Regardless of RP, a person can design mechanics that match with the gamer’s personality as being exhibited in the game being played. The trouble is, in strategic simulations there is an eventual break from what can be accomplished within the simulation and what can be accomplished in reality. As such, it will fail, sooner or later to match outcomes within the simulation to those expected from reality.

Unless you are focused on a min-max approach that utilizes all flaws and limitations, a person can avoid “gamey” outcomes by buying into the simulation and its mechanics as presented. As an example, in Crusader Kings 2, the type of feudalism modeled may not match the reality in 90% of the world depicted. Yet, if you buy into the simulation and refuse to “game” the mechanics, your outcome will further the story’s momentum and RP will continue to be enjoyable for the hours you put into the game.

With the narrative-focused game such as Guinevere, the narrative aspects can be bought into by the reader and a strategy system can compliment their narrative. If the gamer follows true, their RP, the narrative and the strategy used will compliment and reinforce each other. The only way to break this association is to “game” the system in a min-max effort to “win”.


Bringing up Crusaders Kings is a good example, because that’s another excellent game with a strong narrative and other great mechanics that is utterly inaccessible to casual gamers. I think you are underestimating the amount of skill involved in any strategy mechanic - casual players can be immediately intimidated and turned off by what seems to an experienced player a natural progression. From my experience, it is extremely difficult to take any complicated decision making process that requires planning and calculation and make it truly accessible to everyone. And as I think narrative based games should be accessible first and foremost, I remain skeptical that any such system beneficial to the game as a whole. I didn’t even like the ME war assets mechanic, and it was easily accomplished by going about the game normally and never looking at it once.

Can a battle fit into the narrative of Guenevere? Of course. Does monitoring unit HP and damage output? No, in no way and form, no matter how well justified in game.


This is the crux of our disagreement. As a designer, my goal is to present a simplified and easily grasp mechanical structure that simulates the reality depicted. Strategy in a simulation, or story-game needs to be grasped by its readers/gamers and if it is complicated and hard to grasp, then the design as presented is at fault.

In a narrative game, as most CS games are, this means a very simple and easily presented mechanical structure for strategic situations. It should compliment the narrative and not try to outshine it. At least this is my goal when presenting strategic situations.

I bring up Crusader Kings because of the “strategy” genre, it is the most orientated to the narrative. As such, it has a very powerful mechanic in its decision structure to further that narrative it presents. It is so powerful that an entire expansion (Way of Life) was based on furthering narrative.

CS is even more powerful in presenting the narrative but that does not mean a designer can “mail in” their mechanics. It still needs to be able to present a situation in an understandable and complimentary way for the reader.

I don’t underestimate the skill needed by the gamer or reader but I do think it takes a designer skills to pull the narrative and mechanics together and have them working together instead of against each other.


Which intellectual property was killed off by EA, and how was the Frostbite engine responsible?

Mass Effect: Andromeda; all DLC and single-player updates are cancelled with multiplayer being minimally supported.

The series itself is officially on “ice” with no further follow-up even in the works - so there is still hope that the series will survive. The fear of many Bioware loyalists is that EA will morph the series into a pure multiplayer type of game or something closer to their recent Star Wars titles.

As to the Frostbite engine - There is an article that will explain this better then I can trying to restate everything from memory - here it is: Kotaku’s article

Here is a summarized quote from that same article:

“Frostbite,” the developer said, “is a sports car. Not even a sports car, a Formula 1. When it does something well, it does it extremely well. When it doesn’t do something, it really doesn’t do something.”

“Whenever you’re trying to do something that fits the engine—vehicles, for example—Frostbite handles that extremely well,” the developer said. “But when you’re building something that the engine is not made for, this is where it becomes difficult.”


A few thoughts on this, with benefit of XoR’s early sales figures and reviews. Happily for my coffee reimbursement budget, Rebels is doing very well on all platforms. But on Apple rather more of the reviews sound like @Jackrabbit’s, yielding the lowest score on any of the major platforms; while on Steam XoR is doing great, with nary a negative review in sight. And the Steam audience loves the winter specifically, with a grim and masochistic passion.

So I don’t think adding the number-wrangling to survive the winter was a thoroughly selfish indulgence on this author’s part. It was a choice to incorporate an element that made the game more satisfying to one audience, and less satisfying to others. I did want to evade the dilemma, and tried a storymode option for the winter. But it wasn’t entirely successful, so I did end up alienating some of the audience who came for a story rather than a game.

That’s a choice I own, and ultimately wouldn’t change. I’m glad I didn’t leave the experiment in the lab. It didn’t do everything I was hoping for, but most of the reviews reflect the experience I was trying to create. And I don’t think it ultimately reflects a prioritization of my enjoyment over others’, but a prioritization of some audiences’ enjoyment over others’.


I love this point. And I will reiterate. Do what is fun for you instead of worrying about who will like it and who will hate it. You might just be surprised at how well it does.

Also, great job @Havenstone :slight_smile:
To quote the Coldwraith (a card from Hearthstone): “Winter is here. And it’s cold!”

In this specific case, I thought the storymode option was a satisfying solution that indeed resolved the issue for me - as well as for other people who I know were interested in the story, so I’m surprised to hear it didn’t go well with some people. Is it because you cannot achieve optimal results in that mode?
And I’m not surprised it does well on Steam but not iOS, since the PC crowd is known to be more hardcore than the casual mobile gamers (and I say that as a proud casual). That said, CoG reviews on mobile platforms are often rather misdirected or overly vitriolic, so do take them with a grain of salt.

There will, of course, be exceptions to all blanket statements. And there will always be people who enjoy certain elements that are widely derided or unsuitable to the game (not referring to Rebels, necessarily). You could claim that adding a shooting element to your 4X game is simply prioritizing the action love fans among the strategy fans, over the main audience. And it might be a valid approach - perhaps this unusual combination allows people bored with strategy gameplay to be invested in it, because they look forward to the shooting part. But strategy fans would be understandably upset with having a barrier to the gameplay they were interested in, presented in a form they are neither interested in playing nor comfortable with, and might entirely stop their progress artificially.

But in my mind, even if it worked out well, it doesn’t mean it was the right choice and the way to go. Basically, I dislike the tendency because it’s high risk, and I’m a risk averse person by nature. So even when this method works, and works well (and I myself very much enjoy several games who use it), I am still reluctant to support it or even consider it really beneficial, because it comes from selfish or short-sighted motivation even if it worked out for the best.

I hope you don’t take this as a dismissive of your hard work! I consider the winter mechanism to be incredibly impressive, engaging and even rewarding for players who enjoy a challenge, and very pleased it draws in a wider audience than traditional CoG games. But I believe it succeeded not because it is a good approach, but because your skills managed to take it past the hurdles that would have made it fail. In other words, it could have very easily undermined the story and become actively harmful (and I believe the many, many, many changes done during the beta showed how easily it could have harmed players’ experiences). Possibly you, personally, would not have implemented it in that state - but you had every right to insist that this punishing difficulty is your vision for the game and how you want us to experience it, and in doing so prioritizing your vision for the game over the audience’s enjoyment. Perfectly valid for the creator to do, but you can see why I am unhappy to consider such a possibility, I’m sure (and it happened in other games, so it’s not me being pessimistic for the sake of it).

So yes, it’s a high risk course which I do not want to see become commonplace, because I am too cynical to believe most can pull it off. I may be too stubborn, but I’m afraid it will take more than one or two exceptionally well-done instances before this concern of mine would be entirely settled.


I think this highlights a major difference between playing games primarily or exclusively on mobile devices versus playing primarily or exclusively on a laptop or desktop computer. :thinking:
Comfortably sitting at a desk or table with a computer that has a better and larger screen is a rather different approach to gaming that, at least in myself, instills more desire for and patience with game elements (managing numbers, button mashing challenges, etc), that require my undivided attention, versus playing the same on a phone in a noisy environment that I need to keep at least half an eye on and occasionally engage with, when sitting down in say a waiting room or on a bus or train.

This is a very big reason I still have a big old bulky e-reader I bring with me on trips as I’m not really a mobile gamer and prefer traditional stories or browsing the news, or even making the occasional post on a forum such as this one when on the move or at random locations.
Lastly while I can’t speak for all pc gamers obviously my peeking at the code usually gets me out of things I can’t quite figure out myself or don’t want to engage with at that moment, as do cheat codes in AAA games.
Yeah, I’m a bad old modder/cheater when I can find the time. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Great news guess I need to start saving for my Himalayan vacation then, while I don’t exactly like drinking the stuff maybe a resort where I can bathe in it will be different. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Well, yeah, but that’s why beta testing and hopefully the author, developer or studio actually listening to and processing the feedback is very important and why I wish larger studio’s particularly in the AAA business did more of it, as well as hire actual gay lesbian and black, asian, etc people as consultants and hopefully listen to them too.

Sadly most major developers these days think like that too, whereas I think that is incredibly stifling, no risk no reward after all. Not taking risks is why we still have execs at places like Bioware apparently thinking including even token gay or “bi” guys in an rpg is forward thinking and edgy and that you can suffice with doing “research” on it by apparently just watching a bunch of bad 1990’s era gay sitcoms filled to the brim with thirteen in a dozen stereotypes. :unamused:


I don’t know if it’s kosher to comment on old threads like this. I just found this while stumbling around on the forums and wanted to chuck in my two cents into this dusty piece of html.

As to limitations in the production of a game. The main one is that it’s a lot of work and it’s not easy to divide that work across a large team of people. Some poor sod is stuck doing most of it. But the silver lining is that the poor sod can probably take bigger creative risks with their subject matter because they don’t have to compromise with a team.

I created a popular rpg (still in print 20 years later) over the course of a weekend. Nobody knocks out a Choicescript game out over a weekend.

So the main constraint is how much work you can get out of a single person over the life of the project. And how much complexity can this one person manage because you don’t have infinite monkeys to throw at the problem.

Another limitation which is also a High Class Problem is subtext. There’s so much potential subtext to consider as a writer that it becomes a constraint. But again this a high class problem because most games wish they could pack in more subtext. In Choicescript you can pack in so much subtext that you eventually hit complexity/single author limitation.

The only easier way to get more subtext in a game is to go multiplayer, where you essentially outsource the subtext to other players. But that multiplayer subtext isn’t always what people want. Sometimes they want a story well told. One charming and articulate monkey is sometimes more interesting than lots of monkeys.