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.