Seeking feedback/beta testers for 'Stray Heirs', a romantic fantasy WIP


#1

Hi!

I would really appreciate any comments you guys have on my WIP. This is my first IF so anything you can tell me is useful. The first few chapters are posted here:

http://strayheirs.neocities.org/

Blurb:

When an embittered outlaw kidnaps a wilful princess, two kingdoms are brought to the brink of war.

Life as the Crown Princess of Thronheim can get a little dull. That is, until you’re abducted by a brutal criminal and embroiled in a plot to overthrow your own father. Can you survive the monstrosities of the Twisted Forest, save your best friend’s life, escape being sacrificed by an evil sorcerer, and stop a war?

Also, if you might be willing to beta test the full story when it’s ready, please let me know – that would be awesome!

Thank you!


#2

I’m interested in your work - let me read your sample. Consider me for a tester :slight_smile:


#3

I got kissed by a dog, TWICE :smiley:

It’s a fun read, I wish there were more opportunities to be tricky though, like making a certain bandit leader dance to my tune.


#4

It’s interesting. There don’t seem to be any stats, is this planned to be a game or more of an interactive story? How many plotlines are there and is there any chance to go off the beaten path?

I kept trying to fight Andreas and run away, I even stole a sword and found a horse, but something always came up to force me back to him. I’m not sure if I’m failing stat checks, making bad choices, or if there’s an element of “But Thou Must” at play.

Regardless, it seems like a fun story so far and I’ll keep an eye on it.


#5

I’m definitely interested in beta testing-- I love romance games.

I really liked hiw snarky the MC could be.

And Andreas is :heart_eyes::heart_eyes::heart_eyes:


#6

Wonderful! Thank you so much!


#7

:smiley: That darned dog! The second time was in the bath right – it didn’t loop?

Re being tricky, that’s an intriguing thought. I’ve been worrying a bit about the lack of agency. Will try to work on that! Thanks very much for the feedback!

Thank you very much for the feedback! Yes, it’s an interactive story not a game. No stats (well, maybe I’ll add a couple eventually). The plotline is modular – things can diverge somewhat within chapters, but they converge by the end of the chapter. There will be several different endings to the story as a whole.

So yeah, you’re not doing anything wrong, that’s just the story converging. Sounds like I need to make it much clearer from the start that players shouldn’t worry about making bad choices?

Awesome! I’m thrilled you liked it!


#8

Ah, so this is the Choose Your Own Adventure-style, rather than the cornucopia of customization that COG sways toward.

And yet, I was clearly and keenly won over with: When an embittered outlaw kidnaps a wilful princess.
It would be a gem of a thing to beta.

One note: These two choices result in an identical sentiment?

[quote]Sometimes, you like to imagine that.

You don’t like to imagine that.[/quote]


#9

just finish reading it… eventhough i rarely play as a girl. i found this story interesting. just notice that there is no specific branch of story yet, and sometimes the choice feel a bit forced and nothing much happened differently… so i still wondering how will you turn the story after this to different ending. so i would like to beta test as well :grin: oh, btw did you by any chance have some proofreading? coz i didnt manage to find any typo and im impressed by that :grin:


#10

I really like what you’ve got so far! Just wondering, is there a potential love triangle between you, Andreas and Rain, yknow if you wanna pursue one or even both of those ROs? At least, that’s how I played it. The way I planned out how I wanted it to go was I have conflicting feelings for Andreas and even fool around with him, but I’m ultimately in love with Rain. So is that a possible path to follow? Or will this (understandably) deter Rain, despite him having reciprocal feelings?


#11

Your blurb got me interested and once I finished the first two chapters, I was hooked! I really like the details behind the plot and overall idea for the story- I’m excited to see how it will develop as you continue to work on this project.

The only thing I’d want to comment on is that there were a few times where it seemed like no matter what different choices I could make, I’d always be ‘nudged’ back towards a certain scene.
Otherwise, I enjoyed the variety between the various options and how engaging the story was towards the reader. Can’t wait to see where you’ll take this story!! ^^


#12

Also, is anyone else highly intrigued by the moonlit naked magician who plucks us from the grasp of the giggling spider people? Mmkay, just typing that sentence gave me a crooked smile.

Tiny errorling: “I owe you my life, brave stranger. Might I know my saviour’s name?” ]


#13

I suspect he is the dog that both tracks you down and doggy kisses you named Prince

Now -feedback time:

@elyneknight - so far you are threading the needle between too little and too much on the details - good job.

one minor quibble - there is no customization of the MC - does the actual looks of the MC matter to the story? If not, allowing customization options might allow your readers to identify with the Crown Princess closer - just something to think about.

one major thought - After the Tent scene I do hope I get the choice of naming the kidnapper (Andreas?) the “Crown Princess’ SpyMaster” - at this point in time his desire to see to the welfare of my people and help keep us out of war makes him perfect for the job and once I am Queen, he will be my SpyMaster. Oh, I know he won’t accept the job gracefully or with class but he’ll eventually see I’m right … because the Crown Princess is usually always right :wink:


#14

Pretty fun game, but there’s a couple things:

I think the biggest issue you face presently is a lack of player agency. In particular, I got tired pretty quick of reading about the incessant underwear-moistening around Andreas. I mean I may have wanted to get ravished anyway but only if that’s my choice. Not everyone’s going to be on board with getting all hot and bothered over the guy who just kidnapped them.

There were also several points where I wanted to be able to ask why Snooty McBanditbitch hated me so much.

Overall was pretty interesting though. Really drew me in.


#15

I’d like to beta[test


#16

It has been mentioned before, that there is little to none player agency, and picking whom the player gets all hot and bothered by, is a no-no. There are people here that will only play for same sex pairings, or for the romance alone (with out the need for hanky panky), but they will gravitate to an romance option that intrigues them the most.

You got a strong and brilliant writing style, my biggest recommendation is let the players be the princess that they want to be, else this story is less than interactive fiction and more akin to a kinetic novel, where the story is about the author’s telling of the story only and no player agency whatsoever.


#17

Thanks so much for all the feedback and kind words everybody! And especially those of you who offered to beta test – I’ll ping you as soon as I’ve got the last few chapters in order. And thank you also for the typos and inconsistencies you’ve pointed out. I don’t have an editor so your help is invaluable!

Apologies for not replying individually, I just don’t want to spam everyone given it sounds like most people had the same issues with agency. And I can definitely see this point.

To be clear, what I’m aiming to do is give the player agency in controlling their experiences, whilst still constructing a strong novel-like storyline with meaningful characters and relationships. I can’t afford to write in full all possible MCs and all possible relationships those MCs could have with other characters. So instead, I write an MC whose character is basically consistent throughout, and if the reader can’t identify with that character enough to enjoy it, then I figure the story’s just not for them. The plot is also tailored to the development of this character; until near the end, there’s a clear “best” plot for Seline, so I think giving the reader real agency would only detract from their experience. That plot ultimately places the reader in a position to make diverse and meaningful decisions about how the story ends.

So I guess it’s an experiment? Sort of in between a traditional novel and a full interactive fiction. Obviously, people can enjoy both, and some people prefer one, some the other. Can they enjoy something in between? I don’t know, I only know it’s fun to write :slight_smile:

All that aside, I do agree that capturing the feeling of agency is very important within chapters. I will definitely work on that.

So – a few questions for anyone still reading (and thank you so much for that!):

  1. Can you point me at some specific places where you felt unnaturally forced into a plotline, or frustrated that your choices ultimately didn’t matter? Realistically, I can’t necessarily change the fact of this, but maybe I can do something to make it less annoying when it happens.

  2. Would it help to clearly signal to readers that this is not a traditional IF? I tried to give some warning of this on the home page, but I didn’t want to clutter it with verbose meta-stuff. I would LOVE some suggestions about how to do this concisely and effectively.

  3. Should I remove the “back” button within chapters? It sounds like part of the frustration comes from people wanting to explore all possible paths, and then getting annoyed when they’re shoe-horned back into the exact same plot. I intended the “back” button to be more something people would use just when they didn’t like the outcome of their immediate choices, but perhaps people would actually have a better experience if they weren’t constantly tempted by it.

Thanks again for everything!


#18
  1. When Andreas comes in to kidnap the princess. I’d prefer it if the princess could continue to try to keep him out. Obviously he’s going to get in anyway because plot, but maybe something like the princess moves the chest over to cover the loose flagstone… hey it sure seems quiet down there… oh crap, that bandit asshole is climbing in through my window!
    I’d like to be able to decide who the princess is attracted to. I personally don’t like Andreas, so I hope Rain shows up again soon. And would it be possible to have a female LI?
    Also, at some point I would like the option to try to escape or subvert Andreas’ plan somehow. I did like being able to try to grab a sword and escape, even if it didn’t work out.

  2. Maybe something like “This is a narrative story with a defined character and plot, although you will have some leeway to select the character’s reactions.” Just so it’s clear this is not a game or branching story? I did enjoy it more once my expectations were adjusted.

  3. I liked the back button, even if it made it obvious that the paths all led to the same place. I wish it was possible to do that in regular CoGs, there’s always some button I want to press to see what it does, but it’s out of character and I don’t want to have to restart.

  4. Ultimately, if the story is fun to write, then go for it. Enjoyment is the best driver of productivity, anyway. :slight_smile:


#19

In the beginning, try as I might, I absolutely can’t avoid the princess getting scolded over Tertia by Andreas. I appreciate the choice to point out he’s the one who threw a sword so rocks and glass houses. Also, with Andreas, a lot of the two-choice scened seemed like “obnoxious brat” or just “take me now” and like he’s hunky, so of course, he should do that. I just didn’t want to play someone so forward. Really liked the vase scene.

That might be a good idea. To be honest, I’d use the back bottom when I didn’t like a result only to be :frowning: when I ended up in the same place. I mainly backspaced during the futile escape attempts. I had her try running at every point, but when the naked man rescued her only to take her back for “reasons”, I lost hope lol. Like, honestly, all those times she could just wander off, I wondered how serious these bandits were. I get that the forest is dangerous, but wouldn’t they lose ransom money if she died?

Yeah, Andreas is hot but I’m neither of fan of all his lectures or the subtle air of rape-y. By now my chick’s tried and failed to escape about a 100 times. Also, speaking of the sword, I hope it’s a fixture of the story since it’s been introduced and @eelyneknigh’s into linear stuff.

If that’s a possibility, finding Tertia/Tertia coming to the rescue could be good and…I like Nyora as an option too, to be honest. Like, she’s kinda the worst, but I’m super into ice queens and rivalries that turn romantic.

I love this, by the way. I figure it’s better written than most romances (and I get to pick a guy/lady?) I read and I eat those up, so totally down to beta test or whatever.


#20

(Slight spoilers in this post.)
Minor mistake: Nyora is named in the script before Andreas tells you what her name is. I also thought that Nyora might be an RO when she showed up, so you could work with that if you wanted to develop her as a path. I’m intrigued by the sorcerer - if I get a choice about who ransoms Seline, I’d like to meet him.

I enjoyed how you wrote Andreas’s plotline. The whole “Do I get a choice?” “Do you want one?”, as well as the earlier question about the abduction makes it easier to include a sort of consensual non-consent path without shoving it at anyone who would find it creepy and awful. You’re on track to write something kinky and sexy that doesn’t force all people to have all fetishes, well done.