Re-playability with Game Mechanics


#1

I’m incorporating game mechanics found in other forms of computer games to add re-play value in addition to multiple story paths.

The One Finger Bandit, is the first in a set of tech demos I’ll be presenting to show off some techniques using strictly Choicescript.

I enjoy CoGs for the narrative. However, I also believe the game play can be more than just a branching story. The challenge is achieving a balance Game and Story.

Lets Discuss.


#2

I’ve always considered myself an advocate of precisely what you’re proposing so it goes without saying that I’m very much looking forward to seeing what you come up with in future tech demos.

It does go against the grain though, it must be said - the clue is in the phrase “Interactive Novels”. We may shorten this to “Choice Games” but around here the story is, and will always remain, paramount. As has been proven, you don’t actually need much more than just a handful of simple stats to make a perfectly good, best-selling CoG. It’s what the current audience seem to want, so there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

But is this short-sighted, or at least a somewhat narrow, blinkered point of view? I believe it is.

At present we fall in a niche somewhere between playing games and reading novels, leaning strongly towards the latter (readers) and yet actually being pitched far more towards the former (gamers). Spot the ambiguity? Ergo: if we simply continue along these lines it will always remain something of a niche market, rather than truly straddling both forms of leisure entertainment and being equally appealing to (and more effectively marketed within) both.

More “game” needn’t come at the cost of less “story”. As you say, it’s all about aiming for a better balance, and thereby ultimately - in my view - potentially appealing to a much wider audience.


#3

So Choice Games currently fall into a niche between games and stories, but if we have more gameplay elements somehow they’ll be equally appealing to both because those creating choose to focus on one half of that more than at present? I don’t think I follow that logic.

I certainly think that skillful use of “game” elements is no bad thing - but those not drawn to the stories (from the readers camp, which I speak as a member of) won’t become drawn to the stories simply for more skillful coding or more “game” stuff.


#4

Probably because you’re taking it too literally? I read historical novels, fantasy and sci-fi; I don’t read romance, murder-mysteries or horror. I play strategy games and almost anything with a fantasy theme; I don’t play FPS or platform games.

My point is simply that I see no reason why there cannot be more than one type of CoG, designed to appeal to a different type of reader / player and defined by more than just its genre. There is certainly no suggestion of including gameplay elements which have absolutely no bearing on the story, but instead to make the most of what the story offers to enhance the gameplay (in its simplest form, this would perhaps be reflected mostly on the Stats screen - “the game behind the story” - but other possibilities exist).


#5

Then where is this “being equally appealing (and more effectively marketed within) to both” coming from?

Frankly, all I see it is doing is promoting the game element (if even that), and the story element may or may not be served (Not actively neglected, hopefully, but in no way assured of benefiting from the change).

If you want to have more Gamer flavored choicescript games, I don’t have a problem with that - but I do have a problem with characterizing the current model as “narrow and blinkered” as if a few simple stats aren’t actually enough for perfectly satisfactory games - using that word consciously and intentionally.

Even if you are looking for at “playing games” angle, more stats don’t necessarily translate into a better game.

Some creators will find this to be very beneficial for their creations (as a generic term), and I wish them the best with following techford’s example, but will it make the story-game hybrid better for them to be the model to follow and stats-light dropped? Not from anything presented here.


#6

From the simple fact that in its current “standard” format a Choice Game appeals more to readers than gamers, because (although the percentages may vary from one game to the next) they’re about 90% story and 10% game (the interactive bit). Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with this; all I am saying is that something in the 66%/33% range, or even intentionally 50/50, would have a good chance of appealing to a different type of person and so broaden the market - in exactly the same way as covering as many different genres as possible also broadens the market.

You seem to be suggesting that only this “pure” form of CoG is in any way viable, simply because these games are essentially story-based. I beg to differ, is all.


#7

I’m not against people who want to try 66/33% or 50-50 approach giving it a shot for the things they choose to make (as distinct from “as what will be what CoG accepts on this website”) to see how it sells, and certainly not going to take a stand for purity.

My objection is to the idea that what they’re doing would be all positive, that more game will mean that the type of person who wants more game will be interested and the interest of the people who actually like a heavy story emphasis in these creations will not be diminished.
.
In other words, not having “Let’s have some 50-50s too” but “Let’s make things 50-50 and not make the story favoring games”, which frankly seems to be what you’re promoting - replacing the current mix rather than supplementing it with other choices.


#8

Ah, gotchya. Crossed wires. I’m certainly not advocating that all authors should drift away from CoGs in their “pure” form - interactive story-telling should most definitely remain at the heart of this. But I do feel that those among us who possess either the game design talent or the programming ability (and preferably, both - or perhaps teamwork) should strive to reach beyond this in both style of game and potential audience. There is certainly scope for more diversity other than just genre.


#9

Diversity is to the good. I wouldn’t say it’s “reaching beyond” in the sense of being an improvement in itself to go outside the norms, but we do need people who can make the Game elements successful to use that talent. Whatever the proportions are, quality is always a good thing.


#10

I’d like to express something that I feel to be related…

I play Japanese Visual Novels. VNs. Which is… basically what a CoG with graphics would be. With regards, VNs are considered ‘games’ in Japan, although Kinetic Novels fall into the category- and are just that- novels. So… CoG is… but isn’t, a pioneer in this ‘niche’. The VN market is actually rather large in Japan- this style of ‘story-game’ just seems a little strange elsewhere to a lot of people (but not everyone, like myself, for example, who is quite used to ‘novel-games’.

However, what I love about CoG is the… accessibility. That anyone, literally anyone with a computer and internet, can write up their own creative vision. I have this pretty grand stretch of a dream that in my game, after I’m all done with it, I can go back through the whole thing and somehow add ‘New Game +’ content. I’m not even sure if I can, or if I can, how. But I do like the -potential- for doing … I guess you would call them ‘personal touches’ in an author’s game. But, likewise, that’s just the thing- at present, the format is most friendly towards the creative writer. To whom it is a dream tool, essentially. I have been obsessed- literally obsessed, with writing ever since learning I could turn what I’m writing into something interactive that other people can talk about. Eg, "Hey, did you reach this part where so and so happened?’ … ‘No! Wow! I had this and that happen instead in the same part!’ - That’s what gets to me; the concept of having a book that the reader is essentially working with the author to help write. An experience that is more immersive for a reader… even if sometimes detail must be sacrificed. I’ll still love a good novel- truly and dearly. And I’ll still enjoy a good game- truly and dearly. I’ll still play VNs… and I’ll still play CoG games ravenously. They are… the new wave of choose-your-own-adventure. New and improved. And so I will love them, no matter how they evolve (or don’t evolve).


#11

I’m not sure if it does actually add replay value as such. I’d ask, can you do it without the images? Could you use ascii art instead? Since one of the benefits of choice games is that people who can’t do images can still play the games. By adding in images you make the game less accessible.

I coded up a game of rock paper scissors. Although I think it’d be fun to change into a magic contest instead. I had fun playing ‘Dodge those Bullets Neo’ (which no longer seems to be around.) I know LordIrish was doing something with Hangman. So these sorts of things can be fun coding exercises. There was also a forging alchemy thing about, and a card game in a prison? (Or I could be misremembering.)

It’d be interesting to see a raising sim done in choicescript, or even a tamagotchi-esque pet, or trading.

But, well a lot of these things are, padding, and I wonder are they fun? Because fun is most important. Do they add to the game?


#12

Well… mini-games in CoG can be either really cool or really frustrating. For example, playing chess with Maria in Tin Star is one of my favorite moments in a CoG. But trying to defeat the ‘boss battle’ in Silent Gear made me want to tear my hair out because I -cannot beat that fucking thing-! >.<

@FairyGodfeather I’d like to see a raising game with CoG, too. Or any of the others you mentioned. I’m going to try to make my next game (after the current one, oh yes, I have the dream :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: ) a bit like that… RPG/dating sim-esque.


#13

I do appreciate games that can be re-played and feel like it’s not the same old stuff happening just with gaining a higher stat on a different something or another …this however, I know can be a hard thing to do. I feel some COGs are not really worth playing again because the story doesn’t change much (still doesn’t mean the first time ready wasn’t good!)… but this is how it might go for me…first time read: “wow this is awesome!” second time through: “ooh…it’s almost all the same”…and loses the magic =p

either way- if the cog leans more to game like or novel like, it can still be made to feel like a new experience as you play through it again. it’s just up to the author to come up with creative ways to make it where each play through can feel different. personally, I like a novel feel more: It is all in text after all! yet the idea of getting to change the story based on your choices makes it different from a book. it does take more time, but I think it’s very worth it to throw in different options such as: different PC personality options and different ways that you can interact with others and thus affect how the relationships play out. that’s at least what I focus on in my writings.

The great thing about using choice scrip is that there can be a huge range of ways to write and how they balance game with story and people can get creative with that and try new things!


#14

Have been following this thread with some interest. I have always felt there is room for more game play in the books. I have been working off and on on other projects such as http://www.lordirish.com/Norif/web/mygame/index.html or http://lordirish.com/hangman/web/mygame/index.html, but I feel CoG will always be more story then game. It is what I love about the site. :slight_smile: I would like to see more project branch out in to the more game end of things yet in the same instance am thrilled with what’s already out.


#15

I was working on a dating sim for awhile (still have a whole stack of stuff, maybe half or a third of the entire game.) It was the kind of thing that other independent designers have pulled off - no animation, characters you’re talking to being shown like paper dolls with a few different expressions, some cute art popping up at key moments in your romance. There was also a bit that included point and click mechanics (your day job was solving murders on a spaceship.)

There’s no reason I couldn’t adapt it to Choicescript. CS is exactly the sort of thing I was designing for dialogue. I could give you a full iPhone screen of a cute picture at the key moment. I could replace the point-and-click with “Where do you check for clues” options without losing much. I’ve already figured out how to do a visual inventory in CS (I think) and so that’s transferrable.

The problem? Even that minimal amount of art (backgrounds, avatars, some bonus images, icons) takes a lot. of. time. Like, even more than a massive and well-designed ChoiceScript game, because you have to balance your time writing and designing it with all of that artwork.

This might not be true if you had a partner doing nothing but artwork, or someone who was quicker and more fluent at art than me. Professional comic artists or character designers can pull off in one draft what takes me four revisions, a light board, and some Photoshop.


#16

@Sashira Oh. Ohhhhhhhhhh. How I know. ^_^’ I create my own card games as a hobby- CCGs and deck-building games… and the one and only reason I’ve never tried to market any of my ideas (I’ve made over a dozen) is because I don’t have original artwork or cardframes- I just borrow art from Deviantart for personal use.

I also do draw… I consider myself fairly good, but not professional. I’m well aware how much time it takes to do a -good- drawing. And, considering my style isn’t Manga, I’d need to take extra time re-training myself to draw a way that doesn’t feel natural to me. Doing something like one piece of cover art… that’s easy enough. But yeah, something like all of the cute artwork scenes for a VN… whoosh.

I still think that a text-based VN can be done, though. Like your idea, without the artwork. Or minimal artwork- like in the Waywalker games. (that’s a very nice touch in those games, btw, and it stands out)

But… yeah. I’ve actually wanted to do the story I’m currently working on as a VN for a long time now- but this, Choice Script, has actually given me a tool that’s accessible enough for me to make that dream a reality.

I think- if it comes to the question, you should revive that VN of yours here. No artwork- just story- replace the artwork with descriptive writing. :slight_smile: I’d love to see that- and I bet I wouldn’t be the only person eager to buy a dating-sim-like Choice Script game. :wink:


#17

Rock Paper Scissors code here. https://db.tt/K9oOpca0 It was just a silly exercise. The random generator keeps cheating.

Paste it into the IDE to play with it. On the off chance anyone actually wants the code (ha ha) feel free to take it, edit it, do whatever you like with it.

Next step might be to make a Rock Paper Scissors league.


#18

That’s really neat, @FairyGodfeather! I’ve seen games use the rock paper and scissors mechanic for nifty things. The idea of using it for a magic battle, like you said, is a very cool one. :open_mouth:

As an aside, I don’t think mechanics and story are necessarily at odds. They’re both useful tools for game design, and one enhances the other.


#19

For new authors, there’s a benefit to developing a gamebook under the standard model and not use special gameplay mechanics. If you produce a well-written game, it will get published and get good sales. If you experiment with new features, you have extra development time and the game may not appeal as much to the core fan base. Personally, I like new game mechanics, but they can be risky and take time away from the standard elements if you feel you’re on a clock to publish (like me, even for my Hosted Games project).


#20

I pasted your code into a game file but isn’t working… :confused: