So let me get this right... (Hosted Games and General Q)


#1

Hi, all. I’m new to the forums, posting this in General despite noticing a Hosted Games section. I want to ask about a few other things besides the Hosted label, to make sure I am understanding this process of publication and reception.

I’m an editor, and a published writer now too as of recently(non-exclusive)! But I also love programming and it’s kind of like a hobby that I fell into with Unity. Not long ago, I started on a project with a group of people as the writer, but sadly that game fell apart. Now that I have a little time back again, I have been making a tutorial series for programming, but I’d also like to learn more about how CoG works.

With that in mind, I downloaded Chronicler because it reminded me a little of ‘Playmaker’ - if anyone knows what that is. I realized I probably would like to code from scratch, because it seems faster, but I like the structure of Chronicler. Is this tool still recommended? I read there were some bugs - so any experienced users, any advice on this plugin?

I saw that the Hosted Games route seems like anyone can just write a piece, upload to the forums, request testers, and release. Am I misunderstanding? How long does this usually take once a completed work hits the forum? I saw some stating that the stories take a very long time to do, months and months on end, but what exactly is being implied by that? I’m under the impression that these books are in the realm of 30k-100k words , and they are somewhat more of a genre fiction write-up, thus reliant on some reader stereotypes to ‘fill-in’ gaps and project the self into the narrative. If I am telling the reader he feels this way and that way, sprinkling in dialog as summary over writing whole scenes of dialog, this is not going to take months to write.

I’m trying to understand a little more about this publication process in general, so my exact question that I think I need to ask is: after I finish writing something, do I just upload the work to a certain forum? Or do I have to be more involved in the community here, and can’t just come in as a new person? I have read Choice books, but I just signed up as a community member today. There are not that many Choice of Games stories I see, which I know is due to the Choice label being a publisher. However, why are there so few Hosted games? Is there just not as many people writing… or do games just get rejected? And if so, by whom?

I want to keep my thread in General if that’s okay, because I have more questions to ask, but just going to see what is said about the Hosted Label and Chronicler first.


#2

Okay, so for non-commercial games, it’s pretty much, whatever, whenever. For commercial games, see this:

And probably a bit late to start, but if you can write real fast, this:


#3

Thanks for such a fast reply! I saw both of those things. But regarding the first item, the Hosted Games link, I saw some mention in the forum of people talking about rejected works and I didn’t see a clear time frame on how long publication takes, even with Hosted. You’ll have to excuse me, because it can sometimes take years until you see your finished manuscript go into circulation.

Hypothetical: I upload {what I imagine to be complete} [not WIP] story. I presumably have a few people that agree to read it. After a few weeks, again presume no one found any errors and any problems had been fixed. Then what happens? CoG hosts it as a Hosted Game, but they’re still the publisher, so they can still take as long as they need. Is there a precedent for that period? Assume I as a writer have my cover artist draw something up, and the copy-editing - I got that covered :smiley:


#4

I think there are something like 150 HGs and CoGs combined. That sounds like a lot to me. And it usually takes anywhere from 3-6 months to get published after submitting your work.


#5

And welcome to the forums, by the way! It’s nice to have you here.


#6

Thank you Samuel. I appreciate you giving me that time frame. That is pretty quick. Since you’re a Hosted author, after you submitted, did you just get an email and then you had to do anything in particular to help the process…? Just wondering a little bit more about your experience.

The reason I say a low number of published is because I noticed the forum here is active, there are hundreds of thousands of downloads of some games on the app store alone, and less than a few hundred people publishing. I thought there would be more like a hundred books a week coming out – something along those lines is what I was thinking,

@Gower Thank you! I am pretty excited about this concept(CoG). I love writing and I love reading the other things everyone has come up with. I’m a serious reader and writer!


#7

Er, what? My current WIP, the Magician’s Task, will end up being 200k words, and it has a lot more depth than that. Most of the choices give you significantly different outcomes; there are several “mini-scenes” that contain several choices within themselves and can’t all be reached in one play through; you can choose between three kinds of magic to use that will give you different options throughout the story; your relationships with any of the dozen major characters can be vastly different depending on your choices; and there are a total of four romance options in this installment, who all have much different dialogue, personalities, and activities associated with them.

There are several interactive novels that are 600k words, and even one that’s over 1 million words long. So the depth and how long it will take really depends on the author. Most of the time it takes months but it can also take years, but I’ve never heard of someone writing a gamebook in a matter of weeks, and I can only imagine how terrible it would be in that case. It will likely take me about 8 months to finish writing TMT in January, and that’s at an average of maybe 750 words per day.

I think most of that has to do with people not finishing their works. The vast majority of writers on this forum never complete and submit their stories.

Yeah, I got an email whenever my HGs went into the publishing queue. Pretty much all of the work on your side should be done by then, so at that point, it would be in Hosted Games’ hands.


#8

@Samuel_H_Young I am looking forward to the story you’re describing. That absolutely takes more planning as you are providing a backstory and rich character development.

The style of book I am writing is a little bit shorter, more of a comedy, and more plot driven than character. It was similar to choice of Dragon in terms of character development. I noticed some Hosted Games were shorter like that, and the requirement for some is only 30K words. I wanted to go through the process with a shorter book and see where that leads.

Which brings me to the next question. I usually write in another program that I won’t be using for this and in which I can see my word count per chapter; I’m not sure what constitutes a word in CoG stories, as it seems to be code as well (from the description.)
How do you usually verify word count of the .txt files?

After what you said about people not finishing their stories, maybe I should post my game as WIP and maybe people can be kind enough to tell me if I’m doing something incorrectly with the formatting.


#9

The word count we use is by running wc on a mac on all the scene files (with comments removed if necessary).


#10

Most games of 30,000 words are not particularly satisfying to our customers and fans. I think we’d have a difficult time deciding to charge for a 30k word game, and it would likely be free with ads and a tip jar to turn off ads. If you haven’t yet had a chance to play through the highlights of Choice of Games’ catalog and some of our more popular Hosted Games, I think you’d find it enlightening in terms of why there are not…100s of games being published each week.

The publishing process for Hosted Games is speedy but not automatic. Your game’s text has to be reviewed. You have to beta the game, provide art assets and achievements; we have to build the apps and find a suitable release date, etc.


#11

First off, welcome to the site ^^

I’m not published on here, but I will point out from a consumer standpoint that 30k sounds very short. I probably wouldn’t play a game that length, and I’d definitely not pay for it, because either you’re not giving me enough branches for me to feel like I’m interacting with the text or you’re not giving me enough substance with each of the branches to be worth it. I’d say it’s a good practice project to get a feel for the coding and get some feedback, but I’m not sure about anything further.

Typically, the games present a scene and let the player react to it–you aren’t “telling” me how I feel, you’re presenting me with a scenario and letting me tell you how I feel and respond (within reason) Then, you’re telling me what happens as a result; summarizing if it takes a lot of time, giving me a scene if it doesn’t (like with novels). The months and months come when people try to provide a wide range of options (thus allowing players the freedom to develop their own character) without adding more code than is physically possible.

Plus the debugging and editing and testing every possible route to make sure it reads well.

I’d read through the forums (there’s some good critiques around here, and everyone’s cool about giving advice), and play some of the more recent releases (Choice of Dragons is fun, but incredibly simple compared to most of the published stuff now). Being involved in the community is never a requirement, but it’s incredibly good for feedback and advice (and just some interesting discussions).


#12

Thank you for the feedback. I will probably go for a practice project that you’re suggesting, then, due to the style and type of story I’m trying out right now. It is very much like Choice of Dragon in execution, though intended to be longer. I liked the short approach of that book between sequences, and I showed a few people around the table and they liked the short paragraph followed by choice too.

As of right now, I am concerned about the IDE I am going to use and may want to try CSIDE. I’m not sure which one is the right choice for me right now — if anyone wants to offer any opinions.

Also, I wanted to point out to please bear in mind, I am NOT looking at Hosted just because it has a shorter wc, and I am not aiming for 30k words specifically. I never meant to give that impression, but I think I implied it because I didn’t want to immediately go for the longer endeavor in writing an untested project type for the first time. I think what I am starting out writing will be shorter than a complex storyline, but understanding a little more about word count, I am seeing mine is higher than a straight narrative right off the bat. I’m a pretty fast writer from draft to completion, because that’s what I do for a living - reading and writing and reading again, and formatting and checking for content, so this is a practiced process for me. I know what 10k words look like at a glance, and what 20k looks like, and I know how much story can be told in such a short space. I was having a hard time envisioning a 400K word count like some of the CoS books here, and I’m beginning to understand - I think - that it, essentially, comes from code and non-words. The //comments an exception.


#13

I don’t think it’s quite true that the long word count comes from code and non-words. These texts are honest-to-goodness hundreds and hundreds of thousands of words of prose. Yes, there’s a bunch of code in there, but it’s mostly lovely, limpid prose, at least the projects that I have worked on.


#14

Code only accounts for like 5% of the word count, if that. So a 400k gamebook would consist of like 20k words of code, and all of that is vital to making the story, so it’s just as valid.


#15

CSIDE is BEAUTIFUL in my opinion. Good visual organization for the most part, you have a couple of themes to choose from for comfortable coding, playtest/debug is simple, and you have a command window to allow you to alter variables during playthroughs.

I’ll apologize for the misunderstanding then. Wanting to start out shorter to test a new style is a good plan ^^

The code itself isn’t a big contributor in the wordcounts. It comes more from the layered storytelling (that itself is created using some coding tricks). You’re essentially writing a generalized novel shell that will be made to fit different protagonists. For some reason I feel like using Tin Star as an example. It’s more complicated than many, but you can get a sense of where the words come from:

Tin Star is the story of a condemned individual being sent to Nevada to act as a county marshal during the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. The basic story is the same: You start of condemned to death, get hired on, and solve several problems in the style of an old western. You’ll get whole scenes that are setup the same.

But everything needs to be adjusted for the protagonist: the Marshal can be a fair individual trying to bring order to the land, they can be corrupt, or they can be fairly apathetic about the ordeal. So you need to readjust the scenes for each option. This might just mean tweaking a few sentences, or it can mean adding whole paragraphs.

Then, you need to readjust the scenes further to account for if the protagonist is good enough to “win” a scene. If the character is bad at shooting and is trying to enter a gunfight, you need a scene where they die (and a satisfying one. It’s an ending). If the character is corrupt and trying to appeal to peoples’ honor, well, you need a scene where they tell you to shove off. Then a scene where you have to work without backup.

Plus “flavor text”, which is smaller, single-sentence/paragraph stuff thrown in just to personalize the story to your character a bit more. In Tin Star, playing a Chinese or Native American Marshal will net commentary.

And on and on. With each new stat, you add a new layer of complexity, and new scenes need to be written. So by the end, you’ve written a novel for an honorable, amicable protagonist, a jerkoffish protagonist, a middling guy, who is good/bad/indifferent at shooting,sniping, horseback riding, talking, building…

Most games don’t branch as much, but there’s branching like this in all of them. And that’s where you get the wordcount, in integrating the scenes and making the choices matter to the story.


#16

Hey @ateKna, welcome to the forums :slight_smile:

Many of the HG’s in particular are being written part time by people with other commitments (university, school, work etc) so often they are a write as you get time project. That’s one of the reason why they often stretch over long periods of time to write. It’s also one of the reason why there’s so many abandoned works. There’s also a category for silly people like me that think it’s a great idea to have more than one WIP at a time which slows things down even further.

but they’re still the publisher, so they can still take as long as they need. Is there a precedent for that period?

Can depend a lot on the queue (see the threads on upcoming hosted/choice games where games that are pending are listed). Samuel’s estimate is probably pretty close for most though.

noticed some Hosted Games were shorter like that, and the requirement for some is only 30K words.

That is the min word count, but be aware, there’s a good chance it’ll be ripped apart for being too short in the stores.There have been a few threads around that are worth reading on min playthrough lengths and structuring a choice game that is likely to be better received if you plan to sell it. (If you’re under about 20k minimum per play through (not total word count) they tend to get lots of complaints as a general guide). As Mary said, I’d have a read though some of the games and see what’s being published (there’s a number that are ad supported so you can even start with those if you like). TBH, I’d don’t think I’d start with a 400k book as your first one anyway. The further over 100k WIP’s go for first time authors here, the less likely they seem to get completed from seeing what happens in the forums.


#17

CSIDE is great and is still under development. With the involvement of the forum members, I believe one day CSIDE shall reach its golden age
*reaching for the sky

Anyway, if you wanted more freedom on writing your game in CScript, I personally recommend Notepad++ (Atom is a viable option too). After installing CScript plugin and tidying the layout, you’re pretty much ready to write all kinds of “complex code” you can think of.

P.S. At least until CSIDE supports custom theme and code-style, I guess I’ll stick with Notepad++ :eyes:


#18

Like @catorrina said, I think this is a misunderstanding. Games get to 400K+ words mainly through offering lots of variation – parallel plots/scenes, sometimes nearly amounting to whole parallel novels. Give Choice of Robots a try, both because it’s the best thing on the site and because it branches more radically than most.

Code does add a certain amount to the word count, and different games have different percentages of code. I’m pretty sure mine (in the publishing queue now) is higher than the 5% Sam cites. But most of the word count is alternative storylines, not swathes of code.


#19

To add to @Havenstone, word count includes all paths and alternatives as well as those codes that will not be seen by the players (as well as //comments)

Granted, codes in most CoGs usually doesn’t go beyond 1k words, but… well, at least now you know about that ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


#20

@ateKna - My project is running about 10% script -which is heavy because I’m using some of the more intense scripting such as multiple choices - yet raw numbers do not make or break the story, once you meet the general public’s minimum expectations.

Replayability is one major factor. I purchased two titles with roughly 200,000 words total. One title I played once and never picked up again. The other I played through six times and I still have things I want to explore … so with second title I feel the money spent was well worth it.

Features are another factor. Does your game offer breadth? An example of a game that offers breadth is: Zombie Exodus:Safe Haven - one example of the breadth is that it has 13 romances available. This appeals to straight, gay, bi, aromantic and many other preferences.

The key factor you are missing in my honest opinion is you are setting your expectations as if this was a story. It is actually a game and the elements that make it a game will make or break your success just as much as your ability to write.

The mechanics, the choices presented and the overall achievements offered are all things that audiences are passionate about. If you ignore the game aspect of these works, then you end up turning off a lot of potential customers. This is something that those coming from a pure writing back-ground often underestimate.