The Survivor Closed Beta


Hey folks,

The Survivor (which may not be the title when released) is up for Beta. Feel free to jump in and play without reading anything else, but if you’re considering giving feedback please read on.

Edit: A few things have changed since I started this open beta. I’ve been informed that a closed beta would be sufficient, my thread has been moved from the beta section to the WIP section, and I’ve noticed the the number of ‘clicks’ on my dashingdon link vastly outstrips the number of people who have provided me with feedback.

So as a result, I’ve decided to move into a closed beta. I’ll break the public link some time this morning. For anybody who wishes to be involved in the closed beta, please either post in this thread requesting access, or send me a PM.


Oops! It only just occurred to me to write this. The Survivor features some mature content. I think there’s minimal profanity, but there are some explicit images of both sex and of violence. They’re not used gratuitously, but they are in there. You have been warned… belatedly (sorry).

About the game

The Survivor was written as partial fulfilment for my undergrad degree. It’s experimental in a few ways, but most obviously (and likely most jarring for people here) in the way that it deals with agency. The Survivor is a lightly-existential narrative, and it deliberately sets out to limit the players’ choices (which is kind of anathema to a good CoG game). Here’s what it’s like for the player:

Ideally the player will start off with the assumption that she can actively influence the unfolding of the story. Around a chapter or two in she starts to suspect that she has less control than she initially thought (though with veteran CoG’s familiar with the *fake_choice command, this will likely come sooner), and as the story reaches its climax it becomes painfully obvious that the player never had any real say in the story.

Now the experiment was: Could the use of existential themes and imagery reconcile the player with the absence of agency? The idea being that the protagonist is kind of a mirror for the player, and ultimately a cautionary tale. Here’s what it’s like for the protagonist:

Initially the character is entirely in control. She’s the head of her legion, she has almost full discretion to do whatever she wants. She’s self assured and powerful. At the end of the first chapter that power is taken away from her, and she struggles with her inability to affect the political landscape (end the war). As the story progresses, and it becomes more and more obvious that ending the war is beyond her, she becomes increasingly invested in doing so, losing her morality along the way. By the end of the story she is willing to throw away everything–her career, her friends, and even her life, to find some kind of existential peace.

What I’d like to see happen is the player’s emotional arc coinciding with the protagonists’, converging at the middle, and then diverging towards the end. I’d like the player to go ‘dear god Commander, just let it be,’ right before the protagonist self-destructs.

The kind of feedback I’m looking for

Because of the nature of the game, there aren’t a lot of variables or choices to juggle. It’s programmatically quite simple, and I don’t anticipate a great need for technical testing (but by all means if you find something, speak up).

Since I’ll be passing this off to a colleague for a professional line and copy edit, spelling and grammar aren’t a big concern either. I’m aware that I’ve inconsistently applied capitalisation for ‘The Empire’ and ‘The Emperor’, that my dialogue tag use is occasionally inconsistent, and that my paragraphing needs a good once-over. You’re welcome to point out any errors that fall in this category, but they’re certainly not a priority.

High level feedback–How the story made you feel, where you got bored, what you think the message is, is very welcome. I don’t plan on doing a substantive edit before submission (i.e. any big changes to story, adding or changing a character, etc.), but it’s something that I’d consider if I got some very persuasive feedback. The little high-level stuff though? Like ‘so and so creeped me out’ and ‘I think blah blah blah’ wants to get in my pants’ are great, because that’s the kind of thing that I can remove or reinforce by adding or taking away a line here or there.

How to leave feedback

Feel free to simply comment on this thread, or send me a personal message (does this forum support PMs? If it doesn’t shout out on the thread and I’ll send you an email address.)


You might have seen in another thread that I wasn’t thrilled by the requirement of an open beta. I just wanted to make it clear that I appreciate the function that open betas serve, and while I’m not 100% comfortable with them, I am 100% committed to this one. Know that any feedback you give will be considered carefully. I’ve always been awed and humbled by the idea that anyone would take time away from their own life to improve mine, and I’ll engage with your feedback accordingly.

Thanks folks.


Will you be able to choose your gender.

So, this is your WIP you said before.

You know, the concept is actually really interesting. It’s like dismantling the railroad trope and serve it intentionally. Maybe with little polishing here and there, it might be received by potential readers well.

I’ll try to take a look at it when the time permits. :thumbsup:

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Unfortunately you won’t. I was initially writing it to support male, female and non-binary playthroughs, but due to time constraints I cut the male and non-binary options. I should clarify that the gamebook is ready and available to play now.

@Szaal I’m really glad you’re intrigued (I was worried that it wouldn’t be well received by the CoG community, because it breaks a lot of conventional IF rules [which are there for a reason]).

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That makes the game basically uninteresting for half of us.

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I am ready to provide my first feedback - would you prefer it done in the open or would you prefer PM (which is supported by the forums here)?

I can see the different merits of each, and I’m happy for you to use your own discretion. I’m looking forward to reading your response. (Thanks for the quick turnaround–I’m a little stunned.)

I’m working on my own project, so a break from my frustrations is just what re-energizes me. I’m glad to help everyone I can.

As an experimental academic piece, I think you’ve shown the potential of Choicescript as a scripting language to achieve your focused intent. Your writing is above par for a Hosted Game, your world-building is both deep and broad, showing a knowledge of basic Greco-Roman campaigning life that most don’t. The role of agency in a choice-script game is challenged quite successfully - even from the beginning I felt constraint and frustration growing with the protagonist. It seems you’ve accomplished your set-pieced goal with this submission.

With everything said above, as a commercial piece released into the wild and designed to establish yourself in the Choice-script storyverse, the project will require some work to succeed.

Unfortunately this goal is not met; inherently because the protagonist is not in your (the author’s) total control. The player’s emotional arc is going to be all over the map and unfortunately the medium chosen to accomplish this goal undermines your desire in its inherit properties. Even the illusion of choice will influence the reader’s emotional arc and with the presentation of the first choice you begin the scattering of your reader’s into the wind.

There are specific places that you can focus in particular to improve the coincident arcing desired but over-all from a commercial stand-point your fighting the inevitable tide.

To improve the commercial viability of this story there are things you can do - one of which I will detail here so that you can see, perhaps what work will be needed to be undertaken.

The stat-page is totally ignored currently and if you desire to increase the viability commercially, this will have to change. Such basic mechanics differentiate a game from a story and when it all comes down to the bottom-line CoG/Hosted publishing is not a vanity press but a game publisher.

In addition to a mechanic-structure, if you desire to make further fan impressions, sells and to capture loyal gamers for future titles you can do simple additions like adding a basic glossary to the stat-page construction. Yu can define the Greco-Roman wrestling highlighted when you fight the distiller there - you can go into as much or as little detail as you wish. There are plusses and minuses for doing different styles.

Things like adding graphics, maps, glossaries, encyclopediac-type of entries and so forth will attract many cross-sales from the traditional RPG and Adventure gaming categories.

In conclusion: As an academic project solely used in a thesis environment, you have written an acceptable entry but if your goal is to start a series or establish yourself as a Choicescript author, there still needs to be a lot done.

This is a pure-high feedback critique; ignoring editorial, writing and all low-level issues. Also, this is just my take on it and there are many people here who might agree or disagree with me. Such is the life of a tester. :smile:


This…this was…I’m not quite sure. I don’t know what I was expecting. But I know for a fact what I read broke whatever they were. It was different. And different in a very good, very unnerving way. I never felt I was truly in control. But not in a way that felt like it was due to Fate’s machinations. No, it just felt like my character had no other choice. They were following the instincts of their role. That’s what it felt like to me. And that feeling escalated as it went on. I think the parts that stuck out to me the most was the dream about being with Tessarius, the dream with the host of soldiers leaving and the fight with Hans.

The first dream just gave me a feeling not of guilt, but of failure. Sheer, utter failure. How it was the only option after that battle, the only possible perception.

The second dream was more akin to guilt, but it also seemed like abandonment. Partly because everyone was gone and they were no longer with you, but because at that moment, it seemed like my character was coming to realize that they’re far too gone in trying to stop the war. How they feel all alone against everything.

The fight with Hans cemented that feeling. It brought to light just how far you’ve fallen. Part of it due to losing sight of the well-intentioned extremism and going too far with the ends justifies the means, the other part due to being beyond anything you could do to stop it. How the wills of others more powerful than you can shape how you are perceived.

The Southern culture and monastery also umnerved me, the former because they seemed so relatable while simultaneously being so alien to me that it bothered me. The focus on honor and tradition and how they act overall. It was so different, yet so similar, from how I expect people to be that it ends up bothering me. As for the Southern religious group, I was more unnerved by their complete neutrality. They just carried on, knowing but uncaring to the rest of the world. Of course, that may just be my aversion to large religious groups and unfamiliarity with them talking, so who knows. My unfamiliarity with how both of them act could probably be blamed as to why they bothered me, but that works in their favor. It makes me eager to try and familiarize myself with them.

All in all, this was interesting. I wouldn’t say it fits the mold of a typical CoG game, in fact, it feels like the opposite with how the choices broke down, but I liked it. This was a nice read. I think I should get on to some little nitpicks now.

Old Gwendal pulls aside the blanket and freezes when she sees you sitting up. She cocks her head.

This was when I first met Gwendal, and she hasn’t given me her name yet. There’s no way I should know her name unless I’m a mind reader, and I don’t think those exist in The Legion.

What in Yagdhul’s great armpit is that noise?

Not a nitpick, but I find it amusing that an armpit of all things is referenced. Also, this quote, as well as others, makes me wish to know the lore behind it. Behind the world itself. I’m a lorehound, I like knowing and trying to figure everything out about a world.

Yes, thank you’, you manage.
‘Oh yes!’ you say. ‘Thank you.’

I can’t quite remember where this was, I think it was accepting soup from Jochi’s mother, but I don’t think I need to say “Thank you” twice.

Commander Shepard, of the 12th Cohort,

And that is my favorite Cohort in the Citadel. Again, not a nitpick, just something I found amusing in Chapter 5.

Well then Comma—Sir,’ he manages, ‘I’ll have to wait here until I get my captain.’
‘Fine,’ you say, putting on an impatient expression, ‘do what you have to do, soldier.’
‘Yes Sir,’ he says reflexively, and hurries off to the nearest watch post.

Who is she? Is she the same commander who left to go fight the Southerners? If she still an Imperial? still a legionnaire? Or has she become something else? turned traitor or assassin?

Also in Chapter 5. Apparently I was a guy for a short amount of time before becoming a girl again. Maybe a relic of when you were trying to write for other genders? Speaking of Chapter 5, may I ask why it’s separated from the other Chapters? Chapter 4 just ends with the Play Again options and so on, and I have to go to Chapter 5 from the very start when selecting a place to go. Any reason behind that, or just a minor issue?

Anyways, I liked it. Wasn’t something I was expecting and unnerved me with how my choices only make small meaningless impacts in the grand scheme of things, showing how just a small band, no matter what they did, had no hope of ever trying to stop the war.

Also, I apologize for the rambling wall of text.


@Eiwynn I really like some of the suggestions there. Glossaries and maps are features that hadn’t even occurred to me, and definitely something I’ll think about.

I really appreciate hearing the perspective of a gamebook fan, and getting an idea of how it might be received by CoG fans. Unfortunately I’m not going to be able to invest a whole lot of time into some of the structural changes that would make it more appetising as a game experience. I’ve already started on new academic and creative projects, and rather than putting The Survivor on the back burner for a year until I’ve got time to pick it up again, I’d rather make the changes within my scope now, publish it, and gain a better understanding of the process for next time. Having said that, I’m still happy to hear suggestions for big structural changes that I can’t afford now–because it’s all stuff I’ll note down for next time.

@Gamemaster I can’t tell you how relieved I am at reading your response. It sounds like your play experience was very close to what I was trying to design for. In some ways, just reading your comment is a validation of my vision. Even if everything falls apart from this point on, I can consider the project a success.

Ahh! That’d be an *if statement playing up. I’ll have a look at that, thank you.

Yep :smile:, I set the name variable to start as ‘Shepard.’ That would have happened because of the Ch 5 error.[quote=“Gamemaster, post:9, topic:26325”]
Also in Chapter 5. Apparently I was a guy for a short amount of time before becoming a girl again

Hmm… I wonder if that’s just my use of the pronoun ‘Sir’. I started by reading from a variable determined by gender, then when I decided to continue with only a female character I replaced them all with ‘Ma’am.’ But that always felt a little clunky to me, and sometime later when I was watching TNG it struck me that even female Starfleet officers are referred to as ‘Sir’. I thought I’d adopt that approach, but I probably haven’t adopted it consistently.

Oh, drat. Right before putting the story up on the open beta I thought ‘it’d be cool if all the “would you like to play again” buttons appeared right at the climax, instead of appearing a page later. I’ll just change chapter 5’s name to ending, fix up any scene transitions that might have broken, update the scene list and then upload.’ Apparently I missed something there… I’ll have a look.

edit: Did not update the scene list. Also misplaced my cranium.

Thanks so much for your feedback @Eiwynn and @Gamemaster it means a lot.

The Hosted Games beta category is for games that have been submitted to HG already.

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I’m perfectly happy for it to be moved (can I move it? Is that one of my superpowers?). But I was under the impression that it should be posted here because:

The way this is written suggests that you complete each of the steps in order.

There is also this corrospondence with Mary:

which suggests that my official beta should begin now, before my line edit. (Is it perhaps the case that I should be submitting my game before the line edit has taken place?)

Hi! Can I join the closed beta? I started reading this yesterday and I’m at the part where I just entered the emperor’s palace but when I went back to the page later it was unavailable.

Yes, submitting before the line edit is done would be best. So long as it’s more or less content complete, sending it in so we can start the long process of production is best. (The first step of the production process is a content review, which can take over a month and I only really need a rough copy of the game for that.)


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