More Things in Heaven & Earth – WIP (Updated 6th Feb 2021)

The story of Hamlet (sort of) as told by Ophelia (sort of). Think Shakespeare, but with more female agency.

Use your choices to shape Ophelia and her role in the play. Build relationships with the residents of Elsinore Castle and use them to strengthen Claudius’ grip on power, usurp the throne or leave the kingdom forever. Save your friends and family from their unfortunate ends or damn them to their tragic fate.

Hello!

So, I am pretty new to the world of CoG (although it has been a notable feature of my 2020 and lockdown)! This started out more as a coding project than a writing one, one thing led to another and here I am with my little demo.

Play it here: https://dashingdon.com/go/7327
Check out my Tumblr for more regular updates or to have a nice long chat about any aspects that you don’t want to clog the forum with: morethingsgame.tumblr.com

Features
  • Play as gay, straight or bisexual.
  • Choose Ophelia’s personality and skills and help her develop as she progresses through the play.
  • Make choices to change the course of the play, rescuing the characters from fate or damning them to it.
  • Influence who ends up on the throne, take it for yourself or abandon Elsinore altogether.
Romance Options
  • There is a heavy romance element in this story. In the original play, Ophelia is very much controlled by the characters around her. While this retelling is very much about Ophelia calling the shots, her relationships with the people around her will still be of great importance.
  • There are 6 romanceable characters: 3 male characters (Hamlet, Horatio and Reynaldo), 1 female character (Marcella) and 2 whose gender is determined by Ophelia’s selected sexuality (Guildenstern and Rosencrantz).
Feedback I’m looking for
  • What did you like/dislike?
  • What do you think of the characters?
  • How are you finding the pacing? Are there any sections that drag on for too long or rush by too quickly?
  • Please tell me if you spot any continuity errors!
  • I’m particularly grateful for constructive feedback on my writing! This is my first attempt at writing anything and I definitely do not consider myself a writer, so tips would be great.
  • Basically, I’m open to constructive criticism about pretty much any of it!
Update Log

08/12: Posted the first demo! 17,000 words total covering the prologue and first scenes of day one.
09/12: Snuck in to fix some typos and coding errors, but no major additions.
01/01: My first major update. We’re now up to around 48,000 words! I’ve expanded upon the prologue content a little, although there is more that I still want to do with it in future updates. I have also added the first half of the day one content, including a choice of 3 ways for Ophelia to spend her morning.
15/01: Added some fixes to various coding issues (specifically the Polonius scenes which were all super buggy) and added two extra scenes as an apology for my very poor code lol
06/02: Finished off chapter 3! We are now up to 70569 words. I have added a save system (with the caveat that it will likely go all wonky with the next big update).

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What a piece of work! Here’s some things I noticed as I played through:

In choosing to kick Reynaldo, it would be nice if he responded to that treatment.

“Ophelia, darling!” My father looks up from the stack of paperwork at his desk

–that makes it sound as if Polonius is speaking, when it’s Laertes speaking.

it has been just father and Laertes and I

–Laertes and me.

Some choice options end with periods, some don’t. (like “I reply flirtatiously.” and “I laugh”) I find it best to end every choice with a period.

Typos:

Would you like to join us?" They asks,

They is leant back on one hand

They leans forward

They looks down at their hand

They opens and closes their mouth

how could you let this happen?!” He exclaims, (needs lower case “h”)

The writing was nice and bounced along. I am wondering about interest for those not very familiar with the source material. It was interesting in and of itself seeing Rosencrantz for me, but I wonder to what extent that is fun for someone who won’t get that frisson of pleasure just knowing the fellow. Similarly, I wonder whether setting up stakes for Ophelia would be worthwhile–what I mean is, it would be interesting to see how this game will diverge (if it will) from the play–to get a glimpse of where the game points external to the play.

Are you familiar with the game Elsinore? (a choice-ish game in which you play Ophelia, but with a sort of timelooping mechanic: https://store.steampowered.com/app/512890/Elsinore/)

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Typos:

Oh thank you, this is super useful! I must admit that I hadn’t fully considered the grammatical implications of using the singular “they” so that’s definitely something that I will need to finesse.

I am wondering about interest for those not very familiar with the source material.

Yes, I totally get what you mean with the characters. I found incorporating and amending the more minor players really exciting, but I can imagine it would be totally uninteresting to someone who doesn’t know the play. That said, I’m not sure how much appeal the whole thing would have for someone who doesn’t know the play already?

Are you familiar with the game Elsinore? (a choice-ish game in which you play Ophelia, but with a sort of timelooping mechanic: https://store.steampowered.com/app/512890/Elsinore/)

I actually haven’t played Elsinore (yet!) - when I was reading before setting this up I came across it, but I didn’t want to play it before I had laid down the groundwork for this and risk being a little too influenced by it. I do have it on Steam, though, so it’s something I’m looking forward to!

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That’s a wise idea. Probably ignore it utterly until you have thoroughly laid all of your groundwork.

So far, so fun! I will check back on this WIP!

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What a coincidence, I just finished Elsinore this morning (loved it, btw)! I do think this is an excellent idea for a choice game. :blush:

Feedback

I’m sort of wondering if you really need the “six months later” headers — you already do a pretty good job of making that clear from the text itself, I think. :thinking: But then, it’s not as if it matters much that they’re present. One cool way I’ve seen this done is to have that text show up in the button before you turn the page, instead of just “Next” but again, YMMV.

I did spot some typos:

  • If Ophelia has fighting as a weak skill, the text says something like “it would be appropriate if I wanted to, so it’s probably just as well” — think you meant to have inappropriate, there.

  • (That’s “conspiratorially”)

(Side note: I refuse to believe that Rosencratz even has a first name :rofl:).

Not a typo, per se, but two of the options end on a period and the others do not (I believe the general recommendation is to have them all end with punctuation).

  • A little pronoun inconsistency here (“where they plan to restore…”, he/him pronouns are used everywhere else):

  • Not sure about verb tenses for this one. I’d probably say “has left” instead but then, I’m not a native speaker, so I might be wrong.

  • I hate to be that person, but Ophelia asks Hamlet “You saw who?” and I think that should technically be “You saw whom?”

  • Here, “uncertainly” sounds to me as if it means hesitation, which is the opposite of “firmly” so I guess that’s not what was intended?

image

Not really Feedback

I low-key thought he was about to tell us about the ghost here, in a very casual, oh-by-the-way fashion :joy:

Aww, don’t worry, pet. Once you’re dead she’ll go on about how she always wished for you as a daughter-in-law.

image

These people sure are very kissy, for Denmark — Laertes does this a lot, too, but then again, he is our brother, and just returned from abroad — he is always just returned from abroad, but still.

Yeah, so does everyone else, I’d say. And this ghost thing ain’t gonna help, let me tell you that much.

My dumb ass hit enter too early and sent this before I was finished with my playthrough, so huh, guess I’ll take that as a sign and come back to this WIP later. :sob:

Anyway, I’m enjoying this experience so far, can’t wait to find out in what ways we can change the original plot with our choices. :kissing_smiling_eyes:

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I’m so happy we have new Shakespeare retellings here! They’re always welcome.
I would normally advise against gender-locking any game unless there’s a very good reason. As it happens, you have a very good reason. This game should be gender-locked, in my opinion. Ophelia’s figure has always been the center of many discussions about womanhood, in literature, in history and reflected in the present. This game would lose part of its meaning if Ophelia wasn’t a woman.

I will replay the demo more and give better feedback later, but for now, regarding your question about keeping the appearences of characters vague: I personally have no issue with Ophelia not being described, but I think most players prefer to have customizable appearences. Example: allow them to choose how their hair looks like, how tall they are, etc., and give a bit of flavor text as the story goes where those choices are reflected. If a RO is playing with Ophelia’s hair, mention the color the player chose, etc. If Ophelia has to hide but there’s little space: is she way too tall and will she bump her head against something? Or is she short enough to be comfy in the restricted space?

As for the other characters: personally, I like it when there’s detailed descriptions of what they look like. Sometimes, if the descriptions are kept too vague, readers can’t build a proper face or body or clothes for that character in their mind. This is more my personal thoughts on the matter, though, and I don’t know if the general public feels the same way.

I’m excited to follow this project! Good luck :hugs:

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I REALLY enjoyed the WIP! I can’t really give any um…advice since I’m not really good at it. All I can say is that I loved it! Keep up the good work! <3

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You got me sold at hamlet

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(Side note: I refuse to believe that Rosencratz even has a first name :rofl:).

@Myrtle Hahaha I spent longer than I would care to admit to agonising over what Rosencrantz and Guiltenstern’s first names should be! Thank you so much for your feedback - all super useful comments.

This game would lose part of its meaning if Ophelia wasn’t a woman.

@Kirlett I am glad that you agree! The day after I started writing it I saw a thread about how much people seemed to prefer not having gender-locked stories and I was like uh oh, but I do feel like Ophelia’s role as a woman is important. Also very useful re: character descriptions - I think I’ll probably flesh the NPCs out a bit :slight_smile:

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I came for the pug. I stayed for Shakespeare.

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I know nothing about the play, but I do know that this game is great and Hamlet is a cinnamon that has to be protected at all costs. Still the romance with him felt a little sudden. He basically confesses his love after what felt like five lines of interaction. Maybe fleshing those interactions out a little more would help with that. Keep up with the fantastic work!

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Still the romance with him felt a little sudden. He basically confesses his love after what felt like five lines of interaction.

@Peli Thank you for this! I’m glad that he comes across a lil cinnamon bun, that is very much what I had intended. I do agree that the romance is a little quick at the moment so I’m glad you said that! I was worried that giving more background would get tedious, particularly for players that don’t have an interest in Ophelia romancing Hamlet. I think I’ll add some more prequel scenes and do some more thorough establishing of all the early characters. Thanks! :slight_smile:

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When it comes to gender locked games usually you should have a good reason as I’ve read some wips that had…not good reasons to put it lightly :sweat_smile:. I’ve never read Hamlet, I was gonna read it this year at school but then Covid happened soooo, but I think I get the gist or the story still? Maybe? :sweat_smile:

I think other comments r better at giving feedback but from someone who’s never read the book I think the story and characters are great so far. There may be ways to make the timeskips a bit more smooth and maybe add more to like introduce the characters? Sorry I’m not the best at feedback giving :sweat_smile::sweat_smile:but I can’t wait to see where the story goes from here :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes::+1:

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Isn’t that your typical Shakespearean romance though :joy::joy: (Jk, I’d love a bit more of build-up).

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Isn’t that your typical Shakespearean romance though :joy::joy: (Jk, I’d love a bit more of build-up).

@Kirlett hahahaha right?! I don’t think the Hamlet/Ophelia romance will ever be a slow burn (given that he has confessed his love by letter before the play even begins!) but slightly more build up in this rendition is definitely doable.

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Well I love it. Hope you don’t mind me stalking this WIP from now on.

I could not agreement more with the gender lock on this one. I like gender choice but for some stories it just does not work or would make implementation way to complicated.

Also even if the interactions are short I could get a feeling for the relationships right away. The kind of familiarity that childhood friends have with each other. Ofcourse I will not decline more interactions :sweat_smile:

I think your story has it’s own feeling while still being… hamlet… if that makes sense?
Wonderful idea and I look forward to more. Also I am very eager to explore all the RO patches and look how they influence the story and in game relationships

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I really enjoyed this! This has a lot of Guinevere vibes so I’m interested in seeing where this will go. I did notice a few typos though.


It might flow better if it was: “They smile, shaking my hand in return, before leaning back to their original position. They do open their mouth as if to speak again, but are immediately interrupted.”

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I officially love the “you are x character from y classic literature with a twist” genre of IF. Not gonna lie I don’t actually remember Hamlet beyond a few general plot points and a certain someone becoming just… increasingly unhinged but I really want to see this twist on it and y’know, not die. Playing as a clever, savvy Ophelia poking into conspiracies and solving a murder looks like its gonna be a ton of fun. Oh and keeping Hamlet out of trouble this time because Honestly how many people can you get murdered in like a week.

feedback

I think the option to let Hamlet down a little more gently would be nice? Not to say politely telling him to piss off isn’t an understandable reaction to being woken up at stupid o’clock in the morning to an unwanted confession by someone you’ve barely seen in the last five years but! He’s also clearly not in a very good headspace so a nicer/friendly Ophelia might want to be a bit more gentle with him.

Secondly the romance scenes seem like they’re being triggered by accident? Even when I didn’t flirt or express interest in either Horatio or Reynaldo the game seemed to think I have some kind of ~connection~ with both of them. (On a character attracted to any gender if that makes any difference)

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@ApplePi Thanks for your comments! I am really excited about the impact the various different Ophelia personalities might be able to have on the plot.

I think the option to let Hamlet down a little more gently would be nice?

So originally, there was a skill check here and only the more charming Ophelias could let Hamlet down more gently. I definitely agree that a compassionate Ophelia should be able to do that as well though, so I’ve just updated it as an alternative route to that particular scene :slight_smile:

Secondly the romance scenes seem like they’re being triggered by accident?

This is also a super useful comment - at the moment setting the sexuality automatically turns on any romances of that gender, but with 6 possible ROs that could get ~intense~ for anyone who selects all genders haha! I’ll definitely need to amend that and add a more sophisticated way of identifying who is/isn’t being romanced.

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Bookmarked this for now.

May I ask though. Do readers need substantial knowledge about Hamlet to be able to grasp the story? I honestly am not very familiar with it, personally. :confused:

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