The Watchwood (WIP, Updated 3/15/20)

Hey! Thanks for checking us out!

The Watchwood is a modern fantasy horror interactive novel. In it, you’ll take on the role of a member of the Grey family, the family that built the Watchwood centuries ago, and has inhabited it ever since. The Watchwood stands between the small town of Greyvale (founded decades after the Watchwood was built) and the Woods. As a child, you broke the rules, and you went into the Woods. Very Bad Things happened. Your parents took you, their only child, and the three of you moved very far away. 22 years later, your grandmother, the head of the family, has died, and the three of you have returned to your ancestral home for the first time.

In all, this is a story about trauma, recovery, and family. There are some horror elements, including gore and body horror, and you can decide both at the beginning of the game and at any time from the stats page whether or not you want to be warned about these elements at the beginning of each chapter.

Latest Update: 3/15/2020 - Chapter 1 rewrites are live!

Currently the demo build is 1 chapter long!

Demo Link: https://dashingdon.com/go/5356

To anybody who checks out the demo, I have a few requests! Please let us know if:

  • you spot any errors in pronouns for the variable gender romance options B, S, and V. They should be consistent, but we may have missed a few variable tags.
  • the game breaks at any point! It shouldn’t, but, again, we may have missed some things.
  • if you spot any spelling or grammar errors! Some issues with punctuation are a result of weird coding nonsense, but we’re gonna do what we can to fix everything anyway.

3/15/20: I did a few rewrites, we cleaned up some variable tags, and I think Chapter 1 does its job a lot better now. I’ve got Chapter 2 pretty well plotted out now, and I’m well stuck in on writing it!

Goals for the next build:

  • A much more full stats page, including relationship stats for the ROs and Magpie.
  • A little more substance to B’s introduction scene, maybe. (I’m still figuring out what would work.)
  • HOPEFULLY Chapter 2! (we’ll see how long it takes)

Thanks again for checking the demo out! While we’re planning to be around the forum, we also have Twitter and Tumblr! Finally, we also have a Discord so you can come hang out with us! I like to post pictures of my pets there.

Be safe on your way!

173 Likes

It really seems interesting so far. I couldn’t play the demo for now, but will play it when I can

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I enjoyed the demo, never too many spooky woods! I think the scene with S had an acceptable amount of creepy (wouldn’t say no to more). I also like Magpie and Abuelo very much, I hope we get to spend more time with them. I look forward to reading more and getting to know the characters!

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The opening scene is deliciously creepy. The “unsettling and unnatural silence” trope has been done time and time again, but this is one of the few times I’ve seen it employed to maximum effect. The use of increasingly frantic page breaks and the sudden dropping of punctuation helps in feeding the eerieness of the situation. It’s enthralling, and paced perfectly.


Something odd I noticed is that the MC is stated to still have inherited something from their grandmother despite selecting the adopted option. I’m not sure if it’s deliberate, but it reads a bit strange.


I’d really appreciate having some preset first names to choose from! I’m usually indecisive about character nanes and being confronted with a text box sometimes stalls me for a long time :sweat_smile:


I find it a bit weird that Spanish nicknames are used for abuelo and the MC, but Grey doesn’t seem like a Spanish name? It’s not a huge deal, but I hope it’s addressed at some point.


Nitpicky Grammar

"…You’re a part of it now, it’s Heir, and it is incomplete without you.”

“it’s” should be “its”


“Their long, colorful locs are tied back out of their face, and they peer at you curiously with deep, brown eyes.”

I think “locs” should be “locks”?

S’s introduction is definitely unsettling and creepy. I feel like you could push it a bit more, though. They seem to fit right in.

They’re cool and I want them and my MC to be friends. Why are they named Magpie? It seems a bit weird, and out of place. Did they choose their own name?

I didn’t get much chance to interact with anyone other than S, so I guess them out of default. B and V did also immediately invite my MC out for food and coffee after meeting them, so I look forward to getting to know them better!

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The MC inheriting something from their grandmother is intentional, and you’re right, Grey isn’t a Spanish name! I have things planned that dig into and explain these aspects of being a Grey, regardless of blood relation or lack thereof.

Thank you for nitpicking the grammar! We’ll get the its/it’s problem fixed up real quick. (Sometimes I spend too long staring at words to realize when they’re wrong, so I always appreciate extra eyes.)

As for locs vs. locks, locs is the preferred term for dreadlocks among black Americans, as far as I’v seen! I’m not black, so I went and pestered my friends who have locs for information.

Magpie DID pick their own name! I have scenes planned out with them that get into that. I’m hoping people really enjoy everything I have planned with Magpie.

Thanks for your feedback!

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I found this whole thing very erie, but not for the reasons you intended.

You see, I’m also working on a dark fantasy game about the MC going to live temporarily in an old family home, after the death of a family member. And the house in next to an old magical forrest, which the MC ends up going into. And the MC even gets called “Little Rabbit” by an enigmatic character they meet… I’d also considered whether the MC should have a trauma, from having gone into the woods as a child!

My game has more of YA feel, and focus more on whimsy and magic, but still, I guess there’s no original story ideas, huh? :sweat_smile:

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I definitely agree. It could’ve been poorly made and boring but the pacing and the styling is so balanced it gives you a rushed feeling and you have to hit the next page as soon as you finish the page, no waiting.

Oh I would be excited to see which names Scottie can come up with. After seeing the characters names I think it’s safe to set our expectations high ^.^
If I’m presented only an input option, I always go with Felix… So Felix Grey it is.

I love it :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

And thanks for not killing all my parents and instead giving me a nice relationship with them.

Oh indeed it is… It gave me chills.

Well, I bought apple turnovers :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

Being the attention whore I am, started thinking if both having coffee and going to dinner would be possible or am I gonna have to choose. But either way, I would have to know them more if I’m making a choice. I am looking forward for our little cute dates to get to know each other.

S on the other hand, ‘he’ strikes me as a little older like, few years younger than my mother, and I think it is intended. My conclusion is from his mention of my mom. Anyway, there has to be a good reason if I am gonna romance ‘him’, instead of B or V.

Overall, this looks very promising and I can’t get enough of it :upside_down_face:

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Lady Luck, that’s a fun coincidence, haha! I’ll be interested to see the differences between our takes on this premise, especially with yours having more of a focus on whimsy and magic. There will certainly be magic in Watchwood, but… I have absolutely no whimsy planned, lol.

Loved, I’ll have to think on default names! Fun fact, Félix has been my playtest name for Watchwood, so in a way the “default” name for the MC is Félix Grey.

I as a person have a… complicated relationship with family as a concept. I really want Watchwood to dig into what family should always have been: a group of people who love each other and are there for each other, through thick or thin, without reserve and without judgment. The Grey family is kind of …my idealized vision of family.

I don’t want to say too much about the ROs because I have a lot planned for you all to get to know them, but I will say that while I haven’t decided on including polyamory or not (that’s a lot more to write, haha), it IS something I’m considering, and I fully intend for you to be able to spend a lot of time with all three ROs (as well as with Magpie) regardless of who you choose to pursue (or if you choose to pursue nobody).

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Yeah, hopefully it’s not the new fad, and we’ll be swimming in WIPs like that for the next six months! :laughing:

Mine is not supposed to be too long or deep, and it will have pop-culture references, so I don’t think they’ll be too similar. Luckily I’m still fairly early in development, so it’s easy to change some things like the “Little Rabbit”-bit, and not calling a character “Crow” like I’d thought about. And this makes it easy to decide not to use the childhood trauma.

:deciduous_tree: :evergreen_tree: :deciduous_tree: :evergreen_tree: :deciduous_tree: :evergreen_tree: :deciduous_tree:

I liked your demo a lot, but thought you could totally dial up the creepiness. Though I might have been a bit distracted.

We haven’t had much chance to get to know the different characters yet, but I liked everyone well enough. Of the RO’s I’d say that B is the one I’m the least interested in, so far, simply because they seemed the most mundane, like a person-next-door, while the other two had more of a mystery going.

3 Likes

Oooh now this is just my thing.
Seeing as I always found the mix of melancholy and trepidation in these “coming home” stories to be very adept at pulling at the heartstrings!
It’s very relatable as the kids say.

Very much looking forward to the eventual unraveling of the home and more of the dialogue. I feel that may be your forte, as the interactions/banter never felt too stilted or gamey at all.

As per the characters, definitely liked S the most but that’s a definite subject to change. Creepy…but hey at least they’re caring.

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During the scene with S, ran into a couple paragraphs where their gender flipped from ’ she’ to ‘they’:

You watch Sarita closely as her eyes dart to and fro, picking out shapes that aren’t there - or maybe they are and you just can’t see them. After a moment, their hands shift to grip yours, and then they speak.

“Greyvale missed you. The Watchwood missed you more. You’re a part of it now, it’s Heir, and it is incomplete without you.” They take a breath and fall silent again, and you can see the flame reflected in their eyes. “Your grandmother missed you, too. She knows the key is in your pocket, and she wants you to keep it on you. You need it, and it needs you…”

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Lady Luck, thank you! I feel bad that you’re changing some of the things you had planned because of Watchwood, but I’m also still very excited to see yours down the road. Hopefully there are no more coincidences that make you feel like you need to change things! And I’m glad you enjoyed the demo! I do have plans to step up the creepy in Chapter 1, and I’ve got some fun ideas for Chapter 2 as well.

Bumblebee, I’m glad you found it relatable and enjoyed the dialogue! Character writing has always been my strongest skill as a writer, I think, and I’m glad it shows.

Malvastor, thank you for pointing that out! We thought we’d caught all those pronoun variables, but apparently we missed some! I’ve got them flagged for correction for the next build.

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Nah, don’t feel bad. :blush: They’re not things that are important for me to keep, and I’ll probably be changing so much more around, before everything gets settled.

Also, I don’t know if you’re aware, but if you put an @ in front when writing usernames, it’ll tag the user, and they get a notification. Like this @CompassRosePro

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I don’t know if it’s a problem with my phone, the coding, or dashingdon, but I can’t press anything.

Sounds interesting I’ll try it out

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Played it, and it was brilliant.

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It looks super interesting… a little short but you set up everything perfectly.

Couldn’t find any typos or errors. So good work!
I’ll be watching this :eyes::eyes:

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This is definitely on my watch list

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This was an interesting demo. One of the better ones I’ve seen all week. I’ll for sure keep an eye on this even though it’s normally not my cup of tea.

For the eerieness factor, I didn’t really find it particularly eerie? But then again, I’ve never really been scared of written horror stories. I think what mostly took it away is the fact that I can use humor to poke holes in scenarios (mentally; I’m not making puns under my breath like a crazy person lol). It’s rather… Cheesy, I guess. Small town, big secret. Everyone knows each other and (almost) everyone knows you- or at least your family. And the ’Little Rabbit’ nickname killed me by laughter (tho to be fare, ’Little Rabbit’ is an inside joke between my friend and I). I might just be the outlier but just stating the perspective of someone who isn’t taking things too seriously. So don’t think this the wrong way! I’m just weird; I can kinda see how people would find it eerie.

Besides humor, the supportive family and friendly residents kinda deflate the eerie feel. I know that a supportive family is the main point and you did a really good in making the PC feel supported! But why should I fear when I know that ’my family’ got my back, either physically, mentally, or emotionally. I think a small dose of isolation would help for the atmosphere- fear of the unknown. But that’s just me and purely opinion. If I had to chose between eerie or supportive family, I would chose to focus more on the family.

I want to ask if you plan for the PC to have more… Uh, diverse reactions? Don’t get me wrong! I understand you have a vision with the PC and defined sort of perspective to come from the PC! I’m just curious since the opinions is either ”I’m an emotional mess” or ”I’m an emotional mess but I put a smiley face band-aid on it so I’m fine, don’t ask.” I understand that the PC went through some trauma and this game is supposed go through the journey of getting over trauma but… there’s a couple of other tactics people use when they went through trauma. I think the most common, and one I suggest to maybe add, is a humorous/clown approach. The best comedians are usually the ones who suffered the most. Cracking jokes, even in the most grime situations or not taking anything seriously (or more like not wanting to take things seriously). A defensive mechanism and even an offensive one. I think this sort of line of thinking could for your game, I think. Other alternatives are the emotionally detached or ”I swear I never went through trauma”, but I don’t think that’s something you’re looking for.

This is all strictly opinion! So take it with a grain of salt! Either way, it’s a good demo and it’s obvious that a lot of questions are yet to be answered in the future.

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Looks interesting. I’m invested in this. Can’t wait to see how this develops. Good luck, author!

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