Thanks for the Inspiration (teaser included)

I am getting ready to work on my first game and am still learning how to use ChoiceScript (thanks to @peaches for the CSIDE, btw), but before I talk more about that, I want to talk about some of the wonderful games I’ve played here, and what I loved about them and learned from them.

Note: this will likely contain spoilers.

Hollywood Visionary: If you haven’t experienced making a movie in this engine, PLEASE play it. If you have, you know how amazingly satisfying it can be. The author clearly knew a lot about the period, and it shows. Unfortunately, there is a lot that distracts from the production aspect, some of which is no-win choices. That was the biggest take-away for me. Never give someone a choice that is a clear “wrong answer” unless it is a skill test. Tests can have wrong answers, but a choice needs to have pros and cons. This is one of the most frustrating games I’ve played, but I’ve come back to it so many times for the joy of creation.

Tin Star: The variety of skills really helped me get invested in the character, and I tried multiple approaches. I thought it went downhill at the end, as I didn’t really care that much about the plot. I thought just being a frontier marshal, with a variety of challenges, was more than satisfying. There was some great writing, but I think what really made this story for me was the first time I died and got presented with a re-telling of my character’s “legend,” which was very satisfying. The take-away here: take time with the reader to reflect at the end.

Samurai of Hyuga: I didn’t actually enjoy this series, which I did still complete. Part of it was due to feeling too important, too fast, but also the lack of mechanical growth your character goes through made progression unsatisfying. However, I loved the use of challenges throughout the story based on the reader’s ability to remember details or apply logic. I intend to include skill challenges in my game as well.

Choice of the Vampire: Wow. I was extremely intrigued by all the skill options, especially with some of them hidden. It added a lot of replay value, though I did wish I could see the choices before unlocking after a while. The main story was kind of dull, but the mini-stories on certain paths before branching back to the main narrative were breathtaking. This was some of the finest writing I’ve experienced.

Choice of Alexandria: I’ve seen a LOT of love for Choice of Robots, but I really feel this was Kevin Gold’s best work. By staying focused on characters introduced early on, and knowing that you had a responsibility to the heir, I cared more about the impact. And the fact that it was very grounded in reality made it so that I was never confused about how it got from one point to the other. Like Robots, this story works heavily toward unintended consequences, which is a remarkable premise and works very well in a story about mentoring an eventual ruler. I loved reading about how Alexandria fared as a result of my influence, and never felt more invested in an ending.

Community College Hero (both original and sequel): The closest to a perfect CYOA story I’ve encountered. Your character starts off weak and slowly grows stronger. There are interesting characters. There are plot elements occurring outside your bubble of awareness, both local and far away. There’s genuinely emotional moments.

A Study in Steampunk: Choice by Gaslight: This was actually too short for my liking. I find it unsatisfying for whatever path I start down to be the end result without option to change, but there was one path where the build was so convincing and the ending so gripping that I didn’t care. If you played it, I think you know which one I mean.

Zombie Exodus: Safe Haven and the Infinity Series: Putting these at the bottom since they aren’t completed, but they are stories I start over and play through again every time a new segment comes out. Both are just excellent examples of an epic, despite very different worlds.

That’s it. I’ve obviously enjoyed a lot more stories and games, but those were the ones that I feel impacted me the most and made me want to try one of my own. Speaking of which, the one I am trying is tentatively called Adapt and Overture, and centers around adapting a Broadway musical into a movie. I want it to be more about learning about pitfalls inherent in such a task, and I’ve always been intrigued by musicals, which have so many more ways to fail than other types of movies.

If you want to ask me about other CYOA games/stories, or questions about the project I am starting on, feel free. Or just talk about something you experienced through this medium that really grabbed you.