Mats & Mats writes an IF: Horror ensues [Vanguard WIP Demo]

Hello from Norway! I’m Mats, and together with my friend; Mats, we decided to embark on the perilous journey of writing an interactive fiction together. We started the 25.December with me using ArticyDraft to plan the story and Game Design elements while Mats began writing out the script.

Fast forward to now and we have a fairly strong Demo (We think) of the first chapter in the prologue, along one of the primary paths (There are 3 planned major deviations in the Prologue alone).

Currently, the demo only has about 7k Words, but this is after 1 week of writing and coding, so we expect to have weekly, if not daily, updates to the demo as we progress. (We have the entire prologue + the first part of book 1 in a first draft state already)

Why post a demo so early in development?
We are experimenting with a tone and narrative voice, using a Superhero sugar to coat the medicine of eldritch horror and philosophical musings. This is a minefield of pretentiousness and confusion, so we want to ground ourselves early to ensure we are not making major mistakes early on.

About Vanguard:

  • Play as male, female, or non-binary.
  • Revel in the powers you possess, or maintain control.
  • Explore the world, and yourself from a unique perspective.
  • What kind of Hero are you? your choices affect how others perceive you.
  • Will you delve find forbidden knowledge or find comfort in ignorance?
  • Beat up some Swedish thugs (They deserve it)
  • Secret paths that provide valuable insights
  • And remember; Ḑ̴̰͇̭͕͓̽̎̌o̷̻͎̭͖͍͙͑̅n̵̛̞̱̱̍̌͋͗̒’̵̗̓͒̋̐̕t̵̢̿̈́͋̈́͝ ̸͍̰̘̗̥͍̃̈o̵͓̖͉̯̲̱̓̑͂p̶̛͍̦͙̩̟̏̄͋̐e̷̋̾͜n̴̪͈̙̻̆̓̈̐̓ ̸̢͉̜̟͙̯̍̽̾̈y̴̛̺̅̉͊̇o̵̯͔̪͎͚͎̾ų̴͍̄̄ȓ̷̢̨̪̰̞͍ ̸̣̝͆̃͒͋͜e̵̦̣̺̞̐̄̈́̔̈́y̸͔̞̳̠͛̽̓̆ͅe̵̙̝͍̭̗̒̆̂͘ș̴̝͉̥͉̂
Contents of the Demo

Experience Argus re-acquainting himself with his powers in the middle of a hectic fight for a bridge that some unknown criminals have barricaded.

Why has our heroic figure chosen to dim his powers for so long that he has now forgotten their terrible implications, who knows? (hint; you do)

Use your teleportation and experience traveling through the fae realm to flank some unsuspecting goons before providing them with a solid beatdown (Or a gruesome execution, if you swing that way).

The “Current” demo ends as your team, Vanguard, arrives with backup.

Check out the demo here:
https://dashingdon.com/play/allistaar/vanguard/mygame/

Check out our fresh new Discord!

Changelog - 08. January 24

08.01.24

  • Added generic name selection.
  • Added more choices in the early stages to make stats more customizable.
  • Added tags to denote what skills are needed for specific choices.
  • Fixed some typos.
78 Likes

Something i’m curious about getting feedback on:

  1. How was the start? Too slow? confusing?
  2. Did you get shot? If so, did it feel fair?
  3. Did you feel your stats mattered?
  4. Did you open your eyes during teleportation? if so, why?
  5. What did you think of the confusion experienced by the protagonist, too much?
  6. Was the glitch text annoying or effective?

That and much more of course, but let’s start there!

2 Likes

‘Avent a chance to read it yet jolly good for taking a chance though mate

1 Like

i would recommend adding a discription of what the wip is even about, the bullet points give small info but nothing all that useful.

As for the game itself its interesting and i am looking forward to seeing how it grows and changes, its a bit short and i cant really judge it much yet but i’m sure you’ll do great

4 Likes

Once the prologue is fully complete (Hopefully by the end of the week), I’ll write a more comprehensive description as you suggested since I can then more coherently package the whole prologue into a more concrete delivery.

The links for the WIP wiki on the first page of the game don’t seem to work.

Non-capitalized “i” - I saw quite a number in the game. I’m guessing those are typos?

I supposedly got a bad end for opening my eyes, it says I ran out of willpower, but I don’t think the general stats and game mechanics, if any, are communicated very well.

1 Like

Thanks for the feedback! fixing the links now.

As for the “i”, that’s just a typo i always find myself falling into, I will give another pass on that.

As for the Willpower “ending”; it’s a scaffold right now, i’m intending to include a claw-back mechanic to get back on track, and it “normally” only happens when you run out of willpower. Opening your eyes in the fae instantly drains all willpower. I would be interested to know your thoughts on that specific scenario, what did you want to happen when you chose to open your eyes? What did you expect to happen? Would be quite useful feedback to tune that section more. :blush:

2 Likes

Could we get some name options? I was drawing a total blank and got stuck :sweat_smile:

Oh! Of course! Fixing right away, Other Mats will be furious with me as that was explicitly planned in the script.

The wiki is a pretty cool idea. Had a look, I liked it.

I don’t quite “expect” something, I was just like “wait, nobody told me about willpower” when that happened.

Does the other Mats control this account too? :thinking:

I don’t know if it’s just me, but the stat gains on your personality stats seem very hard to comprehend.
Choosing to “Embrace the Surge” boosts your power obviously, but also… caution?
Choosing “Let me linger in this darkness for a little longer” Boosts… bravery and compassion?

It’s a little tedious to keep restarting to check other stat changes without saves, so that’s all I checked since my stats felt odd when I reached the end of the demo the first time. Anyway, as for your requests for feedback-

  1. Confusing, imo. I had trouble figuring out exactly what was going on, between the MC having his senses spinning out of control (or just outright dying instantly in the intro due to losing Willpower which isn’t even mentioned yet)
  2. I didn’t. I only played through fully once though.
  3. Probably, since I chose Power and it didn’t seem to have a locked moment where I couldn’t use it.
  4. No, the intro gave me the impression that would be dumb.
  5. Too much, which I referenced in 1.
  6. I never like glitch text graphics, but it’s a fully personal bias. I just think it’s overused and I reflexively roll my eyes when I see it used to convey something unnatural. That’s just my opinion on it though.
5 Likes

Thank you so much for this detailed response, I appreciate you taking the time to respond! :blush:

The way personality stat tracking works is by having one stat go up and down with + - and that is reflected in the stat screen by increasing its opposite, there might be some + where there should be - etc. I get the sense we need a pretty big pass in that regard, but i might want to redo how personality works.

The intro might need to be tightened up, though it is important to set up some important elements for later, we have someone helping to tighten up the start and get a more interesting narrative voice.

Glitch text is something we will only use sparingly, i promise :slight_smile:

Again, thank you for taking the time to help!

1 Like

The other Mats is locked in the basement writing the first draft of the Book one.
This Mats gets to go outside, and interact with people.

This Mats would never trust that Mats with the internet. :innocent:

7 Likes

The demo is now updated with the Eyes of Argus path available to try out. Learn a bit more about those dastardly Swedes, quip with Legion, and much more! There have also been some slight changes to the start based on feedback so far.

3 Likes

I would advise if you want people’s opinions, you should make a poll!

Please…mind my humor… :pensive:

  • Do you like Vanguard?
  • You must like Vanguard
  • You are being forced to like Vanguard…
0 voters
2 Likes

Oh damn, didn’t know that was possible! Thank you, will try to figure out a nice way to use this. It’s not easy to get any feedback so far, so maybe a poll would help. :blush:

Although Mats is self-conscious about the quality of his writing, not this Mats though, he is incredibly confident that this is the best thing since the cheese slicer. So this poll might indicate who is correct in their assumption. :innocent:

3 Likes

I’m really liking this, great work :slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like

So, uhm, found the problem :grimacing:… And in hindsight, it should have been obvious.

The personality tracker in stats was… flipped. :upside_down_face:
(+5 Bravery would show as +5 Caution)

It will be updated in the next release. :rofl:

Thanks again for the feedback.

What do you think about the personality system as it is now?
(Note that in the prologue it doesn’t make much of a difference, since that’s when you mold the personality, they will effect how characters react to you as early as chapter 1)

  • It’s perfect like it is
  • I would like to see more personality types
  • I want different personality metrics
  • I don’t care about personality metrics
  • I don’t like personality metrics
0 voters
1 Like

Our new personality chart (maybe?):

  1. Caution vs Daring
  2. Compassion vs Detachment
  3. Compliance vs Defiance

After some feedback and delving deeper into what we want to achieve with Personality, we have arrived at some new personality types. We removed one (Curiosity/apathy) because who would want to choose apathetic responses? :upside_down_face:

The goal is that these factor into the gameplay since they align more with our central theme, all our primary characters will also land somewhere on this axis to help create more dynamic dialogue/interactions.

(Also my monkey brain enjoys the symmetry :see_no_evil:)

Thoughts?

  • I love these new personality types!
  • I guess they are ok?
  • I liked the old ones better
  • I think you should try something else
0 voters

A new big update to the WIP Demo! :open_mouth:

It has gone from 7k words to 12k!

All branches are completed leading up until the end of the Chapter. You will now be able to fully conclude the battle!

We also overhauled the personality system, and started using Fairmath!

Are you ready for a secret hunt? The first person to find the nationality of Legion will have their name in the next chapter! (Hint: You’ll need a bit of Empathy, and some bad luck)

I would love some feedback on Empathy routes the most since they are dialogue-heavy.