Talon City: Murderous Prey (WiP, Chapter 6 added 5/16/19! Story 15% Finished!)

thriller
gender-choice
#1

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I’ve rewritten Talon City, and I’m finally happy with the plot! In it, you play an owl attorney who finds themselves in the middle of a high-profile murder trial that threatens to tear the city apart! The story has elements of fantasy and legal/crime thriller, so basically it will move pretty quickly with lots of short chapters.

I’d guess the story would be rated PG-13, possibly R, based on some intense scenes and violence, just to give people a heads up. Themes of the story include the injustice of a system where most residents face death one day a week (the Balancing), and the conflicting ideas of the sometimes cruel natural world versus a more “civilized” society that forces both Raptors and Feeders to make some trade-offs. If you were a Feeder, would you rather take your chances in the Open, where nothing is guaranteed, and death can come at any day or hour, or would you rather live in Talon City, where for 6 days a week, you are safe, protected by law, but knowing you face the the murderous Balancing on the 7th day, where every Raptor in city has their eyes on killing a fellow citizen?

I plan to introduce a romanceable character before Chapter 10, but when I say “romanceable,” I mean just that, a character who the MC might become attracted to, based partially on appearance perhaps, but much more significantly on intelligence, character, and chemistry. A slow build, if you will! There will be no “bird relations,” just in case someone is into that sort of thing! :eagle::heart::turkey:

The demo has the first two chapters, about 5300 words, but I have a lot more material drafted (still fine-tuning it) that I should be able to post later this spring. I anticipate about 35-40 chapters in all. This is something I want to submit to Hosted Games before year end. Anticipated length is about 100k words, with about 2,500 words per chapter on average, although some will be shorter to account for the much longer final chapters that include the trial.

To play the demo, go here: https://dashingdon.com/play/ericmoser/talon-city/mygame/

Feedback sought:

  1. Errors, if you find any!

  2. Comments/suggestions on pacing, worldbuilding details, etc. This is my biggest area of concern, because on one and I want to keep the scenes moving with too much description slowing things down, but on the other hand, I do want to paint a robust picture of the world. I’m trying to sprinkle in world details organically in every chapter instead of starting with an info-dump. Oh and I might also get a city map done at some point.

  3. Feedback about the protagonist’s personality. I am avoiding the empty slate approach for this story, so it’s the opposite of CCH in that respect. The story requires lots of dialogue and I want to be able to include some zippy back-and-forths without having to have the player choose everything the MC says, which really slows it down, and/or renders the dialogue sort of generic. The player will have the ability to mold the MC as the story continues, but the MC will always be a bit egocentric and verbose.

All this being said, I have a pretty tight plot pretty much mapped out, BUT, as we all know, sometimes one of you fine folks will come up with a great idea, one that’s just too good to pass up, so I will remain open-minded. Also, I’m very open to suggestions for possible endings down the line!

Here’s something else you could help me on. I’m torn about whether I should include “side missions / small cases” for the MC to complete while the main story chugs on. One one hand, I fear it might slow the momentum of the main plot, which takes place only over a few days and has high stakes. On the other hand, I know that including a few “side missions” might appeal to the more “gamey” side of interaction fiction and would add replayability. So thoughts about that are welcome!

UPDATE: 5/06/19 added Chapter 3 (7,350 total words, 7.5% finished)
UPDATE: 5/10/19 added Chapter 4 (2,700 new words; 10,050 total words, 10% finished)
UPDATE: 5/13/19 added Chapter 5 (2,525 new words, 12,575 total words, 12.5% finished)
UPDATE: 5/16/19 added Chapter 6 (1,896 new words, 14,471 total words, 15% finished)

69 Likes
#2

I love how the MC’s personality is especially with the confrontation with the geese :joy_cat: and the idea of sprinkling in some side missions does sound like they’d be interesting especially if they varied on different scales of felonies.
The chapter headers are also beautiful.:heart_eyes_cat:

I was excited it was owls and almost named my character Soren from the Ga’Hoole series. Good thing I didn’t since the Justice is named Sorin :smile_cat:

2 Likes
#3

I’ve been waiting to see this rework – glad to see it reach this stage Eric.

I view these as a way to develop characters and settings outside of the main plot - as such, I consider these important parts of an author’s development plans.

As a random example: While you may not be able to explore “mouse addiction” of an owl in the main story-line, you can in a side-quest and thus show either character development or societal issues within the story-verse.

I love using these mechanics myself.

4 Likes
#4

Woah this is pretty cool! I never had the pleasure of seeing the original but this has definitely got my interest. Although playing as a Pigeon attorney would be bette-I’m only joking. Good stuff, this.

2 Likes
#5

When choosing from the listed names instead of putting in your own, the option reading “Tegan” then gives the MC the name “Teagan”

The chapter and stats headers aren’t inverting their color levels when I shift to night mode

Including side missions/smaller cases could be included optionally. If there’s a hypothetical owl who still wants to show their mettle but doesn’t think the dove should win their trial, there could be the option for the MC to instead divert focus to other cases? Otherwise, I guess it’s a question of whether you’re satisfied with the world building you show through the main case. Time away from it runs the risk of cutting down on rising tension–but it’s also an interesting world with interesting dynamics, so that might be worth it to make the reader feel like the setting is more real

2 Likes
#6

Yes! I am so glad that this game has returned!!!
Also what was your inspiration for this game? I’d love to know.

#7

Is there going to be romantic subplots?
You know what they say, if you’re a bird… I’m a bird.

#8

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

1 Like
#10

@StarFoxed, I’m glad you are willing to roll with the personality! I’ll be honest and say it’s much more fun to write this type of MC! Loathsome geese! And a vote for side missions, okay.

@Eiwynn, Another vote for side missions. And I do agree with you, such missions could help me start world-building in different corners of the City. And I could inject some humor into them, as there won’t be a ton of humor in the main plot (other the MC’s musings, and Concordia).

@Pigeon, thanks! And I’m sorry that the pigeons are used as comic relief here, but that is sort of their function. Expect to see more pigeon couriers in other scenes (maybe the same pigeon, actually).

@HomingPidgeon, I will fix the name thing, and maybe I can PM you about the image issues. And another vote for side missions. I am still worried about losing narrative momentum, but from yours and other comments, I think I am convinced side missions have a lot of pros and that I should be able to use them well without slowing down the story too much.

@Dragongodess, I have no idea lol. I guess I like the old fables where the animals teach us lessons, and I loved Animal Farm, and I loved movies like the new Jungle book, so I’m just mashing them together.

@AntPat, Well…probably. But there will probably just be one romantic interest in this story, a gender flippable character who you’ll meet in a few more Chapters. This character’s interests are directly opposed to the MC’s interests, so I think that will make for some enjoyable banter and tension. The character will be a foil no matter what, but it will be the reader’s decision as to whether their owl is attracted to the character or just views them as an obstacle.

4 Likes
#11

I’m big fan of speculative bureaucracy, so I’m rather biased, but I love everything about the characters, premise, and worldbuilding in this game. A litigious bird society? Hooked!

(1.) The pacing and exposition felt right to me. By the time the demo ended, I wanted to know more about the society, but I wasn’t confused about the information already presented and I didn’t feel info-dumped on.

(2.) It did take me a moment to realize the characters use the terms songbirds and raptors to refer to much wider ranges of birds than in real life. I don’t think of hummingbirds as songbirds, so Concordia = songbird flew right over my head at first. Not suggesting this is a problem or anything, just an observation I had while playing.

(3.) For images to invert in nightmode, you’ll want the *text_image command.

(4.) Personally, I think it’s fine to not have side missions or small cases. I’m already invested in the outcome of the main plot, and as you mentioned, the main plot is high stakes and taking place over a few days. That doesn’t leave much room for multiple-scene subplots with stakes of their own. Stakes fatigue is a real concern. Not that you couldn’t or shouldn’t do it, but I definitely don’t think it’s necessary.

If you’re looking to add replayability / develop the setting and characters more, perhaps add / add more branching to the some of the quiet scenes. For example, maybe we can choose to hang out with minor character X, Y, Z, or W. Or maybe we have a choice to shop, go to a park, or attend a social event. That sort of thing. It’s a unique setting, so even relatively mundane activities would be fun to play.

Ultimately, you can always add more scenes later, especially tangential ones.

An error, I think?

You gracefully swoop around him as the other geese honk at his idiocy, as if they could have faired better.

fared?

2 Likes
#12

Well I have found my target audience! Welcome!

Thanks so much for the image command advice. I’ll make that change in the next update as well as left justify the stats screen headers.

I’m still working on the labels that the birds would use, so yeah “raptors” versus “songbirds” is a bit…not accurate, but I want labels that basically differentiate raptors from the other 99% of birds. Thankfully, the answer is just a find/replace command away if I come up with better labels. Sorin uses some pejorative language of his own, and it’s possible I’ll go with a label like one of those.

And yes, I need some quieter scenes to slow things down once in a while, and your proposed options make a lot of sense. I have a ton of world details in my head (restaurants, slums, schools) that I’m debating whether to use now or to save for a possible sequel. I don’t want to overwhelm the reader with a “must throw in everything!” approach. It’s just not feasible to explore every corner of the city over the course of a few days. I’m leaning even more strongly to having a map created so that you’ll be able to see there is a lot more left unexplored.

And yes, it’s an error! Will fix in next update. Awesome feedback!

3 Likes
#13

Not gonna lie, I was unsure about this story, and I was certainly kinda confused about why an owl would spend so much energy pursuing a hummingbird for food; I didn’t see your earlier version of this story, so I was coming in completely blind. However, I was instantly engaged once the protagonist and Concordia began their dialogue. I truly appreciate that the owl is a bit pompous, it does add some comedic effect to what I can see being a heavier topic.
One suggestion for world-building, I always like seeing details about the scenery, it makes for a more focused picture in my mind. I hope that you can incorporate more details, such as the twigs of the owl’s office, into the story without making it Tolkienesque (detail overload, but very vivid imagery!). I look forward to future updates and playing your game through! Happy writing!

1 Like
#14

This is great! Seems you have made a very interesting society that seems to have a lot of injustice while also grappling with the fact there are carnivorous animals that would eat other animals that are part of their society…
Regarding side-quests I do agree with what has been said so far. They are a great chance to do some world building outside the main quest and more cases for a lawyer game could be rather fun.

1 Like
#15

Sounds very interesting. I have to say pleasantly surprised by the fact the we are birds. interesting to see how the avian community handles crime and upholds it’s justice.

#16

The plan is to have another two chapters posted very soon! I want to build momentum swiftly on this project.

@dusktodawn, so did the swerve last too long, in your opinion? I had considered lengthening the MC/Conc chase to another page or two, but I was mindful that the story really gains steam when they start talking, so I thought an extended chase, under the guise of an ‘actual chase,’ was probably unwise.

And yes I’ll need to find the pacing/description balance. I will probably lean toward a bit less here as a I go, because worldbuilding details are one thing I can layer in a bit later if I feel more are needed.

@Jeeshadow1, yes one thing that annoyed me about the Jungle Book and Lion King, is the simple “Hey the story acts like the animals are all ‘friends’ but ignores the elephant in the room” issue. And another vote for side quests!

@Dpwjeremy, you’ll be seeing a fair amount of crime and injustice along the way, I promise!

2 Likes
#17

So potential names for non-raptors (to replace “songbirds”)

Others? (treats the other birds as an after-thought, so delightfully elitist)

Worm Slurpers? (obviously derogatory, would heighten the sense of injustice)

Feeders? (reduces the other birds to their basic function for the raptors, a food source and little more)

I actually like all of these much better than “songbirds” so I’ll almost surely be changing it, but if anyone has an opinion on this I’d love to hear it. And I won’t make a decision for a while, and yes I understand it will probably help people decide after they can read a least a few more chapters.

So which one do you like the best?

  • Others
  • Worm Slurpers
  • Feeders

0 voters

1 Like
#18

It might be interesting to make use of all of those by different characters. Given that on the stats page for the MC, there’s a bar for whether the MC sides more with the raptors or the little guys, it stands to reason that there are probably other raptors who sympathize with them, or at least respect them, and so might go against the common grain by trying to awkwardly call them something kind, or kinder at least-“songbirds” (even though it’s inaccurate to all of them), or “bug eaters” (still inaccurate, but less derogatory than worm slurper), something like that. And then even among raptors who don’t, there could still be a difference in the way one bird who just thinks of them like dirt calls them “others”, and another who takes malicious enjoyment in treating them badly calls them “worm slurpers”. The fact that there isn’t really a good term for just “all birds who aren’t raptors” could be used to pretty good effect in showing the way different birds’ thought processes

And as for another suggestion–I know it mostly means pigeons, but “sky rats” could work. Show that raptors consider the smaller birds to be no different than their mammalian prey

5 Likes
#19

Hmm…good points, and yes I agree not everyone would need to use the “official” label for the reasons you express, but I’m thinking there should still be an “official” label as the default, so that when a character deviates from it, it sends a clearer message to the reader about their views.

And yes, I am painting Sorin as one of those “old racist types” who is so set in his ways that he uses derogatory language right in front of someone (like Concordia) and it doesn’t even register with him. It seems natural to me he would use the “Worm Slurper” slur.

Plus I need an actual stat name, something to put on the Stats page for that meter.

3 Likes
#20

I really like the “Feeders”. One word names always seem to be the coolest. It kind of makes me think of Dishonored, since they called the plague sick people “Weepers” since they “wept” and puked everywhere.

But maybe I’m biased :woman_shrugging:t2:.

1 Like
#21

Not much of a summery to this so I can’t say if I’m interested