On the Matter of Words Per Playthrough

Interestingly enough, Tin Star “only” has a playthrough of 80k because the replay ability is so massive. So technically MMM’s playthrough would be longer. But I definitely get what you mean, haha.


I’m not surprised at this, honestly. Which, in itself, surprises me that I’m not surprised.

Most buyers of CoGs/HGs aren’t forum goers and are therefore probably “casual” readers of this type of media. Hence, they don’t have the context that we as forum goers have about all the clockwork behind IFs.

Really? That’s interesting.

Where did they say this?

@Jacic - This is interesting to hear. Can you point me in the direction where you learned about this? Thanks!


I can’t remember exactly, but it might have been in the style guide for the CoG contest, or maybe an old blog.


There’s a few threads around that have talked about it (I’ll see if I can find them.) It’s actually where I was getting that 20k min figure. It seemed to be where the Too Short!!! Comments started dropping off in frequency. (Although it’s been creaping up in number since then.)

The other thing is both from polls and what you can assume from reviews, is a lot of people are often only playing a game once, and the remainder maybe 2-3 times tops, so breadth makes very little difference to the 1-2 time players and length is preferred over replayability. More like a customisable story than an old school cyoa. I found with my first one, most people focused on a single path so a) found it short, and b) if they did replay, most tried for the same ending and didn’t try wildly different decisions so thought it was linear and with little replayability. I would have been far better off writing a linear story with a single main track that was longer review wise. Heaps of reviews basically boiled down to, “it’s too short” as the main complaint in a time when 100k was a good size for a game. Only a couple mentioned they liked having different stories on play throughs. And that’s something you will see repeated in other games. Few reviews praising replayability (unless they’re also very long.) But large numbers of complaints if they’re too short.

More linear games such as the heroes series and fatehaven have done very well for themselves, where as it’s hard to find the equivalent in games that are the same length but widely branch into different stories. It’s probably why so many branch and return games are being written now. It seemed to be the best overall compromise.

Anyway, I’ll see if I can dig up some of those threads for you later today if I can find them :slight_smile:


"Another downfall for me as a player was the avalanche of options. It was overwhelming, XXX had choices but not to this degree. At some points they felt like a chore and at other times I wanted to just stop playing.

The other thing I got mad at was that when I played the demo, in my path I didn’t know I had played about 60-70% of it. So when I payed for the game. I was expecting to get more than just “3 new scenes” and 30 minutes of game play.

It was way to short, had I not played the demo it would have been worth it, but since I did played it, I feel like I spent money for nothing. This brings me to my next problem.

It’s called the “milking.” I am all for supporting hard work and authors and what not, but the milking has to stop. I payed separately for the chapters of XXX but I forgave it cause those chapters were long as hell and the story was so good.

This time around I didn’t feel like I got enough bang for my buck and I have an epic feeling that when the second part releases I will still have to pay for it. That just drives me nuts. Money does not grow on tress but what can you do.

It does say the game is about 500,000 words and that its about 50,000 words a playthrough which means to get the most of it you will have to replay it. The problem is that i’m not a player that likes to replay stuff unless I really like the game.

I did try to replay this but I stopped because although I chose different options, to me the story was still the same. Except you got a few different scene and you could do different actions related to your job. Then I stopped because of the choices, like I said way to much.


The above was the complaint made by a fan about a game ( which i don’t want to reveal its title ) , where he/she insist that the title looks short even though it has many options and replay value …

there are others who may have felt the same sentiments about other games…

But personally i like that game, it had been one of my favourite title and i enjoy replay it many many times… hence that should be individual perception or interest :slight_smile:


Man. That review was painful to read for a whole bunch of reasons.


Personally I prefer length over breadth, and concistency over randomness. I am probably an outlier but when I play a game I choose the way I want my character to behave and do everything I can to further this. I might have over 50 restrts to get my ideal playthrough. From there I might try to get other ROs through the same important choices. After I have explored and understood the characters and my playthrough I will replay over and over, simply because I have functionally created a way of playing it that reads like a novel.

I can fully invest in the setting, characters, etc. without worrying about hoyw my stats might positively or negatively impact a situation. So as long as the game is long enough for me to care about the story in one playthrough, I am happy.

I have played Choice of Robots more times than I can count. Always avoiding military, romancing the employee or the robot. Maybe changing the world. And I love it. I am still finding new scenes simply because I found an achievement for them.


@Samuel_H_Young - Thanks! I’ll do some digging - see if I can find it.

@Jacic - I have a vague idea of what you mean, but can you clarify “branch and return games” means? Thanks!

@Eric_knight - Interesting. Thanks for pulling that fan comment.


It’s basically this:

The story follows an overall linear plot. It can deviate within the chapters (the branches) but always returns/ merges/bottlenecks into a central plot line.

Branch and return summary:

A bit of a summary of common types of choice based patterns in games.


Nice thanks!