Tips/advice from readers and authors about writing sequels and beyond


#1

I think my WIP will have a set conclusion that will allow me a predetermined “launching off” point for a sequel.

  1. Any advice on maximizing choices in a story while still writing toward a fairly set conclusion?

I am including a good amount of character interaction with in depth socializing and teamwork (not just “you hang out with Dirty Girl” scenes), selection of combat styles/weapons, and certain side missions that are unique to your choices, as well as 6 possible romance options. What are some other choices I could add that would still let me write to a set conclusion? Any ideas?

  1. A related, and perhaps more important, question would be: do you find IF enjoyable when you can greatly affect the journey but you have only limited control over the destination?

#2

2.) That’s essentially how my gamebooks are. Like TotDH ends in the same way for everyone, but the journey there can be vastly different for each reader. It’s a good way to give replay ability but keep everything on track. I won’t have different endings until the conclusion of my series.


#3

Yeah Sam I thought of you as I typed this as I haven’t yet read Way Walkers, Vampire or Sabres…are there any other series?


#4

Hmm…there’s Zombie Exodus, and Heroes Rise. HR has one ending and ZE has multiple endings.


#5

About maximising choices: Give the reader a chance to do something optional and/or offer different paths through a scene. That is bound to increase replay value and that way having only one ending is not a problem.

If you think having only one ending would be a problem after all, it’s easy to add more. The simplest way to do this is to have different paths through the last scene and make each path lead to different conclusions. To add more depth to that system, you can make the choices in the final scene available/unavailable based on the actions in previous scenes.

About the predetermined “launching off” point for the sequel: This is easy to do with multiple endings. Simply start the sequel assuming the original gamebook ended with the ending you determined to be canon. That’s what you do if you are not transferring any variables from the original into the sequel. If you are transferring the variables, then you can make that each ending affects the sequel in one way or another. It doesn’t have to be an effect that completely changes the sequel gamebook.


#6

2) A related, and perhaps more important, question would be: do you find IF enjoyable when you can greatly affect the journey but you have only limited control over the destination?

I enjoyed Choice of the Deathless, which allows for some variation before you get to the big confrontation, but…

[somewhat spoilery ahead]

…I did feel a little frustrated/steamrolled into the exact same final confrontation every time. The story begins at that fight and loops back into it at the end, but I might have enjoyed it more if it weren’t predetermined that you always fight the same person. If the Big Bad and the Big Bad Plot revealed at the end were different, depending on whether you eliminated any other threats along the way. After a certain point–albeit close to the ending–I felt powerless and felt that my choices (and my time) were wasted, if no matter how I chose to fight, however much I picked up a clue beforehand that something was going wrong, I’d always end up in the same climactic moment. In other words, the game went on too long after the point where the climactic moment was inevitable, asking the player to make battle-related choices that were completely irrelevant. That worked OK on the first playthrough, but made me impatient and irritated on subsequent ones.

That said, it’s a smart, smart game, very replayable, and the tools you have for that final battle differ depending on how you play the whole game. The endgame–whether you survive, who is there for you afterward–all those depend on what you chose beforehand. If there were a sequel, there’d only be a few variables the author would need to carry over into the next game, along of course with any relevant stats. The MC could go off into a new adventure, because (in my take) it’s more about how the MC is different at the end of the game, not how the entire world is completely different (as if, for example, in one ending the world is reduced to rubble, but in another ending it’s a paradise).

If Book 1 always ends with the Evil Empire being destroyed, but also with the choice of the hero going off to live on the Moon or choosing to stay behind on Earth, Book 2 could concoct a reason for everyone to have to go have an adventure on the Moon and continue from there. One MC might have better Moon-related stats than the other one who stayed on Earth.

I hope all my babbling explains what I think makes for a successful game even with a predetermined destination.


#7

Just one bit of advice, make lots of global variables (stored in startup, not individual scenes). That way, the transfer process tracks those variables across apps. When I wrote ZE part 1, I never predicted a part 5 and wish I had tracked more variables.


#8

@JimD
I don’t use any *temps. I make everything global just in case


#9

This is probably a question for a different thread, but, related to @JimD and @Samuel_H_Young’s advice for starting out with sequels in mind from the start, are there any consequences for frontloading a game with an enormous number of global variables? Does it ever affect performance on any of the platforms? Or could you, theoretically, have a thousand global vars?


#10

@Carolyne
I have hundreds of global variables and it doesn’t give me any problems. You just have to be careful to include them all when implementing checkpoints.


#11

@Samuel_H_Young: Thanks for the insight. I’m going to revise my WIP with this in mind. I’m sure it’ll help clean up a lot of the code.

I can already imagine a sequel (“You are the new emperor of Rome…” OK, maybe not that…).


#12

@Carolyne
Yeah it’s simpler, if longer.


#13

@Samuel_H_Young @Carolyne
It is - usually - considered bad coding practice (in general, not just CS) to simply make everything a global variable, for a number of reasons. The main one is because you “hog” what’s called the global name space, which in a nutshell, means that you just become more and more likely to accidentally overwrite old data/variables.
Since you have to declare all your globals at the start of a Choicescript, this isn’t actually too much of a problem.

But I think it goes without saying that if you know you don’t need a variable for one scene to be accessible throughout 7 games, you really are better off not making it a global.

I tend to go by the rule if it can be a temp, then make it a temp. I’ll only use a global when it’s absolutely necessary that I access the data outside of that scene.
Even if CS can handle a 1000 variables, to me it just makes sense to only make it handle as many as it needs to. Less is more and all that :slight_smile:

I also think it’s nice to have each scene’s variables defined above where they’re used, particularly if they are only ever used there.

This is just my personal preference though, as I say in Choicescript it doesn’t actually matter anywhere near half as much as it would in other programming languages (in which it would be a big no no).


#14

@CJW
Well it’s too late for my first two gamebooks but maybe I’ll start using temps in the future. However, all of my variables are used in at least two scenes


#15

@Samuel_H_Young
Do whatever works best for you (unless you get serious about programming in a different language). I should have said that TotDH actually seems like a game that would need a lot of globals.
If you have big, complicated scenes with lots of routines, comparisons and branches (e.g. complex dialogue trees?) then temps are really useful. You can make five, ten, fifty or however many you need and then simply forget about them for the rest of the game. If they were global you’d have fifty lines of text you don’t really need cluttering up your startup.txt.
If your conditional branching is on a larger scale and more spread out over separate scenes however, then lots of globals will be necessary.

What I’ve thought about doing (and this is actually on topic ^^), to make data carry through as easy as possible, is look at writing every scene with only temps and then going back and at the end of each scene converting only the temps that I need into globals.

So say you had a game and you had a castle siege scene, you might track the player’s health, inventory, enemies killed, current location and all the basics. You might also want to make the battle quite complicated, maybe you make ‘moves’ and give orders to your troop in ‘turns’ with the AI, all this would require keeping track of (troop positions, numbers, morale) - But at the end of that scene I probably wouldn’t care about all that, late game I might have a check on whether the player won or not, but it doesn’t matter that troop A was in position B or that he took the left watchtower before the right. Not in the slightest, so they’re quite good staying as temps.
It’s really just the win/lose variable I need to carry forward.

So at the end of each scene file you just have a small list of *set commands that move whatever small amounts of temp data you want to carry forward.

I guess it’s like a smaller version of your “many ways to get to one (or fewer) endings” - you might have 100 temps in a scene that change how it plays out, but at the end you only care about a handful. If nothing else it’s just easier to design long term branches that utilize 20 variables as opposed to 100.


#16

@CJW
Yeah I try to make all the choices matter so most of the variables do as well :stuck_out_tongue:

That’s a very good point. I think I’ll do that when writing volume 3


#17

I do the same as @CJW. Anything that doesn’t need to be global isn’t, and I like that I can easily track which variables are used in which scene. Could be the programming experience I already have talking. As CJW said though, it doesn’t affect CS, so it’s not going to wreck your game.

I don’t really have anything to add about the OP though, because I’m thinking my game will not have sequels. I’ll likely try something else when I eventually finish.


#18

When writing TotDH, I was a massive noob and everything I coded was inefficient and wierd :stuck_out_tongue:


#19

@CJW: I’m more accustomed to creating (and, depending, disposing of) variables where needed, but I’m very open to learning what works best in CS from others’ experiences, discoveries of shortcuts, quirks, hidden tricks, pitfalls, pratfalls…


#20

I am still in the “massive noob” stage so all my variables are global. My startup file has a few hundred lines of variables and comments that remind me of what the possible variable answers can be. I actually print out a new copy with every update and tape it to my computer desk for quick reference.