Measuring word count


#1

How are people measuring word count of their Choice games? I have seen authors state 50k or 100k but are they measuring all code, only text output to readers, or some other measure?

When I took a count for Zombie Exodus, I went through the story as if playing it once, cut & pasted all text to a Word doc, and found it a few hundred words over 50k.

I have been asked for ZE’s word count a few times, so I am just trying to determine a standard way of counting so I give accurate info.


#2

I’d use the text that the player will see during a playthrough and give an average as players can miss stuff by choice such as not talking to people in the cathedral.


#3

I write in UltraEdit. There’s a Word Count function. Posted counts are assumed to include code.


#4

In Notepad++, under TextFX Tools there’s a Word Count function – it’ll count whatever text you’ve selected.

Like Jason and I think most other people (pace Nocturnal_Stillness), I count code, not just the text the readers see. (I’m currently at around 77,000…)


#5

Thanks for the replies. I calculated all text and code of Parts 1-3 at 232,000 then. The actual playthrough text is only 50k, so the coding is a substantial part.


#6

I mentioned what the players see because if you tell someone your game is over 200k words but they’ll only ever see 150k they may think there are scenes they have missed when they haven’t. Not to mention it makes the game seem longer than it is.

But that’s just me. I must be the odd one out lol


#7

In mine it would to time consuming to weed out the text from the code. Will have to see where my count is when I have a chance.


#8

I think it’s probably good to include code in word count, because amount of code should add to the entertainment value of the product. In print publishing, the consumer can get an idea of the time investment required to read a story based on the word count. An interactive fiction title with a certain word count might not take as long to read through the first time as it would take to read through a non-interactive fiction title with the same word count, but the expectation is that, because of the code, you can read through the interactive title more than once and have a new and enjoyable experience each time. So it makes sense to me that code is included in the word count for interactive fiction.


#9

It will always be debatable as not including code would seem to be the more “honest” indication, but I’m entirely with @eposic on this one and for all the same reasons. It’s all part of the game, it all had to be written (and, for some of us at least, scripting is the hardest & most time-consuming part!) so including the code is the more accurate figure by which to judge the true depth of the game rather than just the story content as for an ordinary novel. @JimD’s figures for Zombie Exodus are a case in point–the game involves so much more than just the story.

Besides, it also saves all the hassle involved in separating the two . . . :wink:


#10

All good points. Coding certain parts of ZE was extremely time consuming, such as the timed mission in Part 3. Other coding is repetitious so it feels odd to count that code multiple times.

Those people who have asked (prospective reviewers) are looking for a measure of how much time it takes to read it, and therefore, I can give both numbers (text and text+code). Some are asking from the perspective of those wanting to develop CYOA games and are probably judging future effort, so text + code is a better figure for them.


#11

But how to count both, I did not track word count to start and now it would take me hours to do so. I would. have to go in to the code dig out all the words from the code. To many random and varibles to try to pull it from the play screen. You have a valid point @JimD but that maybe something I track in new games, but for now it will just have to be total.
*edit mayybe have beta testers give you a time it took to read your story then you could average them out.


#12

NotePad++ and MS Word give me different numbers when I look at their word count features. Do you have any idea which of the two is more correct.

NotePad++ shows a bigger word cound. My current work is 19 514 words according to it and only 19 300 if you ask MS Word.


#13

The simplest way I use is to perform Randomtest and ask it to show the line statistics.

If you then copy thsee line statistucs into ms word you can do a word count (- 2× the number of lines because each line starts with “startup 10000” or something similar)

That make sense? Gives you a word count without code then


#14

I always sort of assumed the word count meant all of the text that can be visible to the player throughout all available paths, but reading this thread it would appear that both people’s expectations and authors’ conventions are all over the place.

I find that counting only the words visible in a single playthrough doesn’t really do the authors justice, especially when we’re talking about a relatively short story with immense replayability.

In the same way, I find that counting the code as well goes into the other extreme, since it might end up being double or triple of the words the player can see in total, throughout all of the paths.

Think about it, when the player reads about the number of words in a CYOA, will his first thought be how much the author worked on writing it, or how long is it going to take him to finish it? Inflating numbers like that might leave some people disappointed, since I doubt anyone except other CYOA authors would ever think that code would be included in a word count…

Counting all of the actual words( without code) from all of the paths seems like the most accurate representation of a CYOA, at least to me.

As an aside, I personally recommend writing all of your text in a program with a spellchecker (like MS Word) and then pasting it in the code. It might take you a little longer, but if you’re going to have a lot of paths and choices, it will be almost impossible to find mistakes like that just through beta testing. If you don’t use a spellchecker when you’re writing, there’s bound to be some mistakes left over in the final product, and that will ruin some people’s immersion.


#15

A big problem with writing things in word and then pasting them into a .txt file is that word automatically changes quotation marks into curly quotation marks. ChoiceScript can’t read those, and they tend to create all sorts of funky errors. I personally write in notepad and copy-paste everything to word every once in a while just for the spelling check. I’ve heard notepad++ has got a spelling check option somewhere too, so that might be a better method, but I’m too lazy to try and figure that out :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

But to get back on topic, I personally prefer to count code as well as text for the stuff I write, which in my case doesn’t give such a warped image as @Nemeean_lion describes in the post above because I’m no coding wizard and like to keep things simple. I’d be surprised if I even had one word of code for every sentence of actual writing. (And it’s just a lot of work to separate the two)

Then again @Nemeean_lion does describe a pretty extreme case I doubt applies to any ChoiceScript game ever written. ChoiceScript simply isn’t all that code heavy (you generally don’t have to use too much code to get it to do what you want it to do). (And besides, if you’re referring JimD’s message from a few years ago, I think he refers to the word-count of a single playthrough rather than to all the text that a player can reach)


#16

I agree that my example is a bit extreme, and it is not to be taken as a generalization, but if you look at this link for instance, this would be a good example of a game where including the code in the word count would be a bad idea. Since he’s keeping track of a huge amount of variables, and he’s giving lots of choices, there will be screens where his code takes up ten times more than the actual text. If you’re not keeping track of a lot of stats, influence points and the like, then I suppose the difference wouldn’t be big enough to justify separating the code and text.

I was just referring to the people who said that including code in the word count is a good idea, because the authors worked hard on it.

In my previous post I was mostly referring to all of the posts in this thread in general, and not specifically to JimD’s initial question, since it’s kind of hard to tell from his phrasing if he refers to the word count of a single playthrough or not. He’s clearly talking about a single playthrough when he gives the 50k number, but then, when he gives the 232k number with the code included I think he’s talking about all of the playthroughs combined, otherwise it would be too many words added to be just code.