My Deepest Concern

Hello everyone,

first of all, I’m really sorry that if this post will offend someone or ultimately, everyone, but here are my thoughts and I think y’all might already have some of them for so long.

so, the community itself argues that COG are mostly story-driven rather than game mechanics, okay I’ll play along with that argument even though I genuinely disagree with that path.

however, there are some posts about “guides” and people asking for directions, which choices should be picked to make a desired ending, like excuse me what the fock?
you need guides for a “next-next-and-next” game?

it means the players didn’t read anything and simply hit next until they get bored or confused,
isn’t that a total failure from what the community were hoped for?

a fantastic story with one million sugary words, not to mention a mandatory choice of genders and sexual orientation on every title even if the story doesn’t revolve around romance, genders, or sex, all those efforts only brought confusion and people asking for directions.

It also it means the author didn’t made a clear and distinctive choices and its effects on the story, which makes it worse, a title released without quality assurance (yes there are forum testers, but…) and bring confusion among players.

am I simply too far and sounded like an asshole? or these are facts that rarely talked about among us?

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They’re not facts. Every story varies. Some are very mechanics focused, such as Breach: Archangel Job. Some, the mechanics only serve as flavor text to change how character view the MC, and the MC views the world. The stories — and the authors who write them — aren’t interchangeable. It’s incredibly unfair to paint all of the stories with the same brush.

So, yes. Some of the stories you may need a guide to get certain results; these results may be purposely obscure to encourage thinking outside the box by the author, or trying a new path; sometimes, a reader’s first language isn’t English, and so a turn of a phrase could lead to a snowballed confusion of what’s happening.

It isn’t a ‘quality control’ issue. It’s just what happens when multiple people sit down to read the same thing— they get a different interpretation out of it. ‘Death of the author’ comes into play, and so a person may need help to get the results that lead to XYZ outcome, because they understood it as ABC.

There are things I’ve read, and understood, in a COG story that others stumbled over. The reverse is also true.

In my opinion, all these are a sign of a good story, and make it worth replaying.

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I think the issue here is the way you view choice based games, with this false dichotomy. They are not either a story or a game, they are a story based games.

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I will take this at face value, and presume that it’s not just trying to stir up drama.

Why is guides for CS games so weird? Why would needing one mean that the person didn’t read the text?
People make guides for dating sims and other visual novels, which I would argue is usually a lot simpler in structure than CS games.
Why? Because it’s boring and frustrating trying to figure out which little changes are needed to get a specific result, a specific romance or achievement.
And CS games have the extra handicap of not having a save-feature, which mean that not only are the amount of possible choices much greater than most other games, you also have to start from scratch to make any little change.

And how is choice of gender and sexuality bringing confusion? How is that the reason for people needing directions?

Writing choices is difficult, and writing them so everyone who reads it will always understand exactly what is meant, is damn near impossible.
It can be done better or worse, of course, but you just cannot completely avoid misunderstandings.

Also, I will point out that most of the calls for guides that I see is for HGs not CoGs, meaning that the game in question was probably made by one single person, who is rarely a ‘professional’ in the field beforehand, and based on their own personal vision for their text-game, without any set structure imposed.

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This, right here is the biggest reason for guides.

Also, I have read some games/stories that are so specific in what choices have to be made to get certain outcomes that without a guide some readers would become so confused and frustrated that they might give up on CoG altogether. One game in particular sticks out in my mind, Witchcraft U. If you don’t follow specific choices you will often get very bad endings if you make it to the endings at all. I literally played with the code up in a second window trying to figure out how to get some outcomes and even one varied choice away from the path screws it all up.

So there are reasons people will beg for a guide to certain games.

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The only thing I agree with here is that some games really do not have a very clear connection between the choice and the outcome of that choice. I have absolutely no idea why you’re trying to attribute that to mandatory gender and orientation choices, though, especially considering they aren’t mandatory. The actual cause of this is that the author ostensibly knows the outcome of the choice and so it would not necessarily be obvious to them that their wording is confusing. Also, this isn’t solved by walkthroughs, so I don’t know why you think this is why people are asking for walkthroughs.

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I don’t get it. Even games (Like say Assassin Creed Odyssey) have a Walkthrough and guides. It always has been like that. Even virtual novels have them.

So what’s the issue again? Don’t say ‘Get good’ plz…

Ever heard of Games FAQ? By your logic, games that were worked on say by 100+ people, over 5 years… people should use their eyeballs and not ask for solutions or anything and just…keep at it.

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They’re assuming that “story-driven” ‘games’ are just entirely linear where choices have no affect, and that every play-through is exactly the same. So a guide in such a case would be pointless because there’s nothing to “guide”.

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Sorry, this isn’t my experience at all. There are near-constant cries for a regular save feature and/or a “back” button because those people want to experience as much of the story as possible. Barring those features, a guide helps those players find content they didn’t know existed or easily knew how to access before, and it may have nothing to do with the author’s skill as a writer or game designer. These are all accessible areas of the game that the player may have missed if they wandered down path A instead of path B. These are features, not bugs.

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I would say, in a lot of cases, when people are asking for guides, its because they’ve already played the majority of the game and are just looking for extremely specific scenes.

The majority of guide asks I see here are either

  • romances (in which case most of the time there is very little change to the majority of the text except for select points where there are specific scenes and the ending)

  • achievements (which the ones hard enough to require a guide almost always are one scene specific).

Other but rarer cases are

  • someone wants to read a cog as a book with very specific outcomes which while an an unusual way to experience cog, it is valid (I know a few people who only play CoG once in which case it is essentially a book to them). While this may spoil plot twists, these people tend to read everything, they just want a specific result from their one playthrough without having to restart.

  • some branches/achievements are really, really hard and require incredibly specific answers which could be a misstep on the part of the author for being unclear or making checks far more difficult/specific than they should be (Sin of Sires on release comes to mind), but could also be someone replaying the game wanting to experience a secret rare scene/ending that would likely take tens of replays to brute force (Soul Stone War secret romance and to a lesser extend, Herofall Black Magic ending come to mind here). In these cases, someone has read through the story multiple times and has gotten frustrated trying to achieve a specific desired result.

Overall while there might be minor issues with authors making things unclear, its usually not something that can be or is ever fixed (although kudos to the Sin of Sires author for making adjustments almost immediately when issues were reported) so in these cases guides are helpful for people on their Xth playthrough. Even if guides are being read for a first playthrough, I don’t typically see an issue of people not reading, just knowing what they want and shaping their experience accordingly.

And I’m not sure of a polite way to put this but, if someone buys a CoG and does just want to skim read and “next-next-next”, only reading the parts they want to and thats how they enjoy the game, then let them. They bought the game and should be able to enjoy it however they want free of judgement. People play and read CoG differently and for different reasons, so let them.

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People often ask for guides because they’re in a replay and want to experience a particular route but are not sure how to get there or have spent tons of time trying to get past a particular puzzle or find a certain clue. This is especially difficult in IF games that require a player to make several “right” choices to get a particular result. It often comes down to, “I have spent enough time on this game, but I want to see the different results.” ETA: I have a pretty busy schedule. Sometimes I’m tired and brain dead from work. I don’t want to think so much as experience the game. Guides can help me do so in those situtations.

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From all replies so far, I conclude that it was my fault to view everything from my own perspective, never knew some players really enjoy things that I personally dislikes.

thank you for all the replies, it’s an eye-opening for me.

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Assuming this isn’t sarcastic, this is a really important realization you’ve made. Great work.

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Story driven or game mechanics. Isn’t it both to an extent? The Breach series, Zombie Safe Haven series and Samurai of Hyuga are all prime examples of titles that do both of these.

And guides are just guides, it doesnt mean people are ignoring the story and its details. Some people create them even just for hunting the achievements in the game. Plus, if someone is looking at a guide for a certain outcome. Doesnt that also show that they have the intent to play again, for the outcome they wanted?

Ill admit, i sometimes do the “NextNextNext” playstyle, but thats only ever having played the game multiple times, and am trying to rush to a specific choice; after which I go through it normally.

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Honestly… I’m not sure that’s the conclusion you should be coming to here. Unless I misunderstood your original post, there didn’t seem to be any disagreement regarding what you should or should not like, at least not from me. Where we seemed to disagree was the root cause of the issue.

My understanding was that you noticed an interest in walkthroughs, and figured that this was likely because of confusing writing. You then appeared to attribute this confusion to choices of gender and orientation. It was this attribution that I feel was incorrect. Did I misunderstand what you were trying to say?

apparently yes, I was questioning the mandatory need for choice of sexual orientations even when the story doesn’t revolve around romance and sex. For me, being asked about sexual orientation when the story revolves around zombie swarming the city is a bit off the place, but then almost all titles do that which seems like an agenda.

I was just afraid that when the time comes for me to start my own WIP and hopefully release a title, people will be asking for guides as if the story is not blatantly obvious enough, but then I get that people that playing these may come from many backgrounds and not always from english speaking countries, which me myself fall to that category.

the “confusion” part is when an author put a great effort into their story, reaching almost or even surpassing 1 million words just to get a handful responses from people being confused and asking directions. One could ask themselves are their wording were really that bad and confusing?

but then I found some good answers from replies above so I try to tolerate those things now.

Ah, ok, I think I understand you now. But, honestly, that was very confusing wording… so if you’re questioning whether people really can be that confused by a writer’s wording… there’s your answer.

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As someone who has had quite a few guides written about their not very stat-intensive game I’ve realized a few things (this is mostly about FH):

The guides are not about winning/finishing the game, they are about getting to the specific outcome you want. Why?

  • You want that final elusive achievement.
  • You heard someone talking about something happening in the game that you never got, and have no idea how to get there.
  • You want to get the maximum stats possible for some reason.
  • You want to start your chosen romance as early as possible.
  • You want to build up non-visible stats and want someone else to have done the code-diving for you.
  • You want to make sure you haven’t missed any of the scenes/dialogue with your favorite characters.

I think it’s related to code-diving, sometimes people prefer to read about how to do things rather than trying to reproduce them by playing/replaying. It might be because of time issues, because they have focus problems (I do have plenty of ADHD readers), issues with reading/english, or just a general anxiety about the unknown. Some of the most fun parts in FH are hidden behind failures, and many people are taught that failing is so bad they don’t really dare to mess up on their own. They are taught that’s bad, and that it will mean a game over, or less content. So checking what will happen beforehand can help them feel more okay with messing up.

People really experience stories in so many different ways, and none of them are wrong. I have talked to people who play a single route each time and are using guides to help craft the perfect route for their character and then screenshots every page and keep it as a book. Others use guides to ferret out every path there is because some might hide behind non-obvious earlier choices. Yet others prefer to code-dive and read everything because they still want to know all possible outcomes even if they don’t have the heart to play them.

All valid. All different.

As an author, it feels great that people are taking the time to write guides or tips. I don’t see that as a failure, I see that as engagement! It’s people spending tons of their own free time to do stuff for others just because they want to. Pure magic. Same with code-diving.

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It is an agenda. But that isn’t a bad thing. Not every CoG game specifically asks “what is your orientation” but whether or not that question appears ingame, CoG games are designed for inclusive romance. A lot of HG games are the same, though it’s not a requirement.

People looking for guides doesn’t necessarily mean the game/writing was confusing, or that the game is lacking. It often means they’re more passionate because they want to explore everything! They might be interested in finding less common paths, figuring out how to solve puzzles, optimising their character to meet mechanical challenges… One playthrough isn’t going to reveal everything. So players are curious about how to access other parts of the story.

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I think there’s a lot of truth to this. A lot of people who play these games skim read, or just read the choices. Even for more gamey IFs, that can lead to them missing things and then sometimes needing guidance. I guess it could also lead to them enjoying the game/story less.

It’s a real skill to just sit and read something until you understand it imo, but it gets harder to practice that these days because something visual or auditory is just easier. It’s the reason I don’t put much stock in sending emails at work, especially if it’s something complicated. Half the time, people skim read emails or misunderstand them, this includes native english speakers.

I don’t think this is a failure necessarily though, it’s just something to be aware of when you’re writing. If you really want the reader to understand something, it’s better to put it inside or close to the *choice block or even with the *page_break or stats page. Using short paragraphs/reducing scrolling might encourage them not to skim and there’s also the harder task of making your writing engaging enough so they don’t want to skim.

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