New to programming - need some help!


Hey everyone!

Great forums!! I have been going through the forums trying to find answers to my questions, but I have some pretty specific questions that I couldn’t find.

I should probably give a little background as to WHY I am wanting a CYOA game. I have been doing research for the past few years on media’s influence on people’s attitudes towards to use of torture in interrogations. Not to get too into it, I have written my Master’s thesis on that topic and have done follow-up studies, etc. I have presented research at a few psychological conferences and am in the processes of writing for publication.

That is why I am here now. I am looking to develop a CYOA game where the player assumes the role of an interrogator and has options on what they would do to the suspect, traditional interrogation all the way through to options of torture. I want to see if people will choose the more extreme methods of torture and how long it takes them to move towards those options.

My main concerns are:
A. Is there a way to save users responses, I need to be able to see what options the users choose and what path they take.
a2. Is there a way to use, but hide the stats screen. I could use the stats screen to code in a “torture vs interrogation” methods scale, but I wouldn’t want the player to see that, as it may skew the results.
B. Is there a way to install a timer to see how long it takes someone to complete the game, so I can determine if the participant is reading the scenarios and not rushing through.
b2. Is there a way to install a countdown clock. The plot of the game will be assuming the role of an interrogator, and you will be interrogating the suspect to extract information to stop an attack, the countdown timer would induce a sense of urgency, panic and the “ticking bomb” scenario.

Overall, this is the best CYOA community that I have found, but if there isn’t a way to log and save players data, then I don’t think this would be a viable option. If these things can’t be done, would anyone have any suggestions and ideas of any other programming options. My research is on a stand still until I can figure this out.

Unfortunately I know little to nothing about all of this.

Thanks in advance for any and all answers and advice!


The experiment will not give you usable data no matter what you do. Someone who clicks the torture option in a text game where you can’t even see the victim’s face or hear their voice, where it is immediately obvious that it’s all just a story, probably just wants to see what happens and cannot be assumed to have any greater likelihood to actually torture a real live person. Even if the system could support what you want to do, all you’d be testing for is how many people want to read a story about Jack Bauer rather than a straight-shooting cop who does things by the book.


Exactly, I role play my game experience like a character Mara a bard assassin so for your experiment would like a psycho. But in real life, I’m a lawyer, anti death sentence activist.


A) The only way to know what choices users made is to ask them.

a2) The stats screen is there only to show variables you want users to see. The torture vs. interrogation would be coded in the game, not the stats screen.

B) I think you could code a timer in JS and have choicescript show it. It wouldn’t be useful as the only way to know how much people played is to ask them.

b2) You can code the countdown with choicescript. It wouldn’t be an actual countdown clock. It would be a number you would decrease with every choice the player makes, depending on how much time the chosen action takes.


DSeg, if thats the case. Then this may not work, I would need to know what they click and what outcomes they get.

Chamomile and Poison-mara, I am fully aware of the drawbacks in this method. I can’t have someone torture someone else.

The participants would be exposed to different media, torture (realistic vs non realistic) and nothing and then those conditions would each have probably, a ticking clock vs non ticking clock scenario, all of those groups would then be compared. The question is whether or not the media the person is exposed to influences their choices. A minimum of 6 groups would be compared, and again, which groups, if any, make choices on the “torture side” after being exposed to the media.

Most people are against torture and wouldn’t actually do it, but I have shown multiple times, that there are situations in which people are more accepting of the use of torture.


Interesting idea.

These are all very feasible features but most of them would require some additional modifications and services be integrated into the core choicescript code.
If you’re not an experienced programmer, it might prove somewhat difficult.
You also probably won’t get much help from the community, as modding/hacking choicescript isn’t something that’s widely done yet.


You can track all variables in the game through the password feature, though (as DSeg) stated), you need the user to send you the data. If so, you can incentivize users to do so by giving them a code to use in replay for some special character reward. When you receive the passwords, you can decode it using something I believe CJW figured out.

One thing of note: my game is long and though it passes all automated tests, some errors slip by. When a user encounters a fatal error, I receive an email with their data and the current variables in the game.

I don’t know if these features help you but they may offer starting points for solutions.


Thanks CJW. I am sure there are ways that it can be done. I wouldn’t even call myself a newbie programmer. I just stumbled across one of the games and thought “this format would be perfect!”
I am reaching out to people I know and people like members here for suggestions and advice. People have mentioned Java as well, but I am just as inexperienced in Java as I am here.
I am also going to try and reach out to the computer science dept and see if anyone can help me as well.


Thanks JimD. All suggestions and feedback are welcome. I have been contemplating this study for a couple of years now and have been on and off looking into finding someone I know that can help with the programming language. In the meantime I have been doing other related experiments. I have the ideas of the “questions” and scenarios, but I need to actually write them all as well so once I find the write program, I can get it going. I would like to have it, if possible, done by the end of the summer, So I can get participants this Fall semester.


Comparatively learning and modifying Choicescript/JavaScript would probably prove much easier than learning Java and writing a Java program.

Good shout, I completely forgot about that!
Yes you could use the inbuilt password generation and error emails (with minor tweaks) to send you the game data, that shouldn’t be too difficult.
If you’re wanting to actually publish your game on mobile app stores though, you’ll need to talk to COG about modifications. If you’re happy to just provide it to people through a desktop web browser, feel free to hack away! :slight_smile:

Note that JavaScript != Java


Hmmm, so I am sensing some "it might be possible"ness going on :). I wouldn’t want to publish the game, I would have either a laptop or desktop set up in the lab and have it set up ready to go for participants.

I may know a couple people in “real life” that may know enough to modify the existing code, as long as its allowed, since I wouldn’t be using it for profit and CoG would get full acknowledgement and credit/reference/citation if I do end up using it.


@BladeCollector if you had the subject there, you can definitely access that data. You can easily code the save_game function (on the ending scene, for example), export the text string, and decode it.

Timing outside of CS can be done in a separate window. I am sure you can even tie it to a macro where “on_click”, the timer starts.


@JimD Thanks for the input. I am going to just have to play around with it.

But keep the suggestions coming. I am sure you get the same questions over and over, but I really appreciate it!


I don’t care how many scientific trappings you attach to the experiment, you are only ever going to get results back concerning people’s taste in fiction, and never anything to do with their actual willingness to torture a real person under *any* circumstances. Running into ethical barriers and deciding the solution is bad science isn’t just wrong in the sense of being the wrong answer to that problem, it’s an unethically willful propagation of falsehood.

I am also not amused by the hubris in declaring yourself to be the one who has shown that people will be willing participants in torture under certain circumstances, because the Milgram Experiment and its recreations (most notably the extremely recent Game of Death), while not properly scientific, certainly demonstrated that it could be done, and did so long before you did. Probably before you were even born. I can’t imagine any reason past narcissism as to why you would cite yourself, an unverifiable claim, rather than the Milgram Experiment, which is common knowledge.


@Chamomile ok, so did you have any actual advise on the creation of this game or not? I didn’t come here for lectures of ethics and psychological experiments.

I referred to my OWN research studies, just used Milgrim as an example, what people would be willing to do in situations.

If I show a group of people a video clip, and then let them play the game, then show another group of people a separate video clip and let them play them game, and then let people that did not see a video clip play the game, and compare those using an analysis of variance, I can see if he differences (if any) are statistically significant or not, if so, then if all other variables are controlled, then you can show support that the video had an influence on the decisions.

When I said I had shown these results, again it was my own research studies. I showed people video clips and gave them questionnaires and that research showed support that when people saw a particular video, their acceptance of torture was higher than others. We then followed that up with a new experiment, controlling for a potential confounding variable and got the same results, so we did another experiment, and determined there were three mediating effects which were needed for the video to work

Another reason I mentioned myself, is after 3 experiments and working on this research for the past few years and presenting at conferences, this is the next stage in the research.

I came here because I was looking for help in learning if this type of game and programming would be useful to me.