Oh my God I’m with you I find it up noxious
Challenging games and puzzles suck. I know the lost heir series is probably great, and I’ll never truly know cause I suck at it. I even tried cheating with a guide and I failed at that too.
Ah yes, those puzzles that are supposed to test the MC’s intelligence but are actually testing mine. It’s kinda breaking it for me when the MC fails because I fail. If you want play with a smart MC you have to be smart in real life apparantly.
And those “have-to-include-Ro” games mentioned earlier. If it is a focus in game then it works great but if they’re added as “a second thought” then in my opinion the game just suffers, its quality decreases. Most often I play these games without RO’s, much more fun.
The following opinions are my own and by no means I would try to force them on other developers. I just personally, both as a player and a developer, value those elements. They are my personal taste more than anything else, but also serve as a guideline for when I am making IF.
1: Letting the player have full control of its character’s actions and dialogue.
This means not making the MC say or do anything that isn’t a direct consequence of the player’s choices.
2: Non intrusive narration.
I prefer when the narrator describes what happens without inferring things the character wouldn’t be able to perceive or know for sure. Purple prose also falls into this. I like when the text serves as a vehicle for the plot and the action without taking too much focus on itself.
3: Acknowledging previous decisions and providing long term consequences.
I like when there is a vast array of choices and most of them have consequences that can be cited upon later, sometimes even coming up in unexpected ways later on. I don’t like when many choices lead to the same outcome or when they are never brought up again when they clearly could. That one is the least controversial, I think.
4: Not all choices should be mutually exclusive
Unless dealing with the urgency of needing to make a quick decision, there are many circumstances where you realistically shouldn’t be able to pick just one option. I prefer when there are ways to work around this in order to make the player choose multiple options. This one can be hard to balance, though.
5: Romance options aren’t a must.
Romance is better when it comes naturally rather than being inflicted upon the player, and it isn’t absolute necessary in order to have an enjoyable experience. I also don’t like when the NPCs fall in love with you just because you are you, or when there is just a list of checkboxes you have to fill in order to get them to fall in love with you. Complex relationships would be very cool to have. If I’m being honest here, I didn’t have the opportunity to make this in a way I would like yet.
@Rogar I think there’s room for both :). They can actually create to quite different types of games. Some one said the other day that authors who gender lock a character have a story they want to tell, not a game they want to be played due to restricting options, and that’s half true. Obviously authors want their work to be read, otherwise they’d be personal projects sitting on a computer rather than in the app store. But I do think it’s true that in locking certain aspects of the MC’s character (and I’m not only talking gender here, it could be anything from an entire character creation through to a single personality aspect) to tell a story, you can sometimes get a more directed/focused story that can be much harder to get with completely blank slate characters due to the number of possible combinations an open character creation creates. (I’m not saying it’s not possible it depends entirely on the story and isn’t always needed, but for some types of stories it can help.) The trade off is obviously that people can’t always make a character that represents themself which is what a lot of people want it of choice games, particular ones where you get to be the hero of the story. So yep, definitely room for both types IMO
It can be done well. For example in Donor, I’m directing the character of Lenore, instead of her being “me”. (ie: I’m imagining what I’d do IF I was her, instead of it being me specifically in the story.) She has anxiety and a Xanax addiction character locked in, which only serves to highlight the really scary, dangerous and sometimes helpless situation she’s in, and although sometimes she has relatively little control over certain aspects, it only highlights the decisions you can make. In Oedipus, it let me explore some situations that you probably wouldn’t be able to include from a “this is me” instead of a “this is what I think it’d be like to be this character” perspective. You’d probably have to water down the story to make it palatable.
I also think it’d be possible (if a bit difficult) to do a really awesome story where you’re swapping from the perspectives of two people (whether they’re friends, lovers or enemies) and each person’s decisions then have a follow on effect on the other’s. You could also do some really interesting things with historical and mythological figures. Like imagine being Cleopatra, Blackbeard or Elizabeth I themself and seeing how if different decisions had been made, how that might have changed history. But you don’t have to go that large, you could take an unknown figure but give them a really rich, specific backstory and a basic motivation and go from there. Anyway, possibilities are endless. I’d like to see a mix of blank slate, and locked characters. As long as there’s something there for everyone it could work well.
@MahatmaDagon I actually don’t mind 2. unless it’s overdone. Sometimes it can set up scenes and atmospheres nicely. I do like 3. where possible, and definitely agree with 5. (There really are some stories where it feels tacked on because it was expected and to me it seems as if it would have been a better game without, but each to their own )
@snowgoose Definitely the option to skip if a detailed (but cosmetic only) character creation is included from me as well. It’s fine to be there for those who want it, but an option to jump over it is always appreciated. A few games do that (like Imprisoned.)
One thing I’ve taken from tabletop RPG design discussions is that you have to restrict player options on some level; in tabletop RPGs you have to at least provide an implicit reason all PCs will participate in the plot the game is designed for. So in Shadowrun you can create a huge variety of characters of all kinds of backgrounds, personalities, and abilities but to play the intended way they have to be a Shadowrunner; they have to be criminals for hire working as deniable assets for megacorporations. That means all heists, smash and grabs, grand property destruction missions, and assassinations generally don’t need a motivation beyond “and then we’ll get paid”. You’re also encouraged to have additional unrelated goals and interests so as to provide plot complications when they conflict with getting paid, but that’s not really necessary for the local version of “you all meet in a tavern” which is “Mr Johnson has a job for you.”
I’m generally of the opinion that some stories call for the Choice Of Broadsides treatment to work as non-locked but there’s a pretty broad range where gender matters in the setting but the story doesn’t need a specific gender at the fundamental level. My grand go-to example is Fate/Extra where it’s clearly for a male protagonist because there’s scenes here and there where it has “despite the fact that I’m a woman” shoved in very awkwardly, but the broad story arc is a massive wizard death tournament and half the participants are female and due to a variety of reasons involving crossover appearances I’ve nicknamed the male version Inferior Hakuno and the female version Superior Hakuno. Which became hilarious when the Fate/Extra Last Encore had a scene where Superior Hakuno dropped in to tell Inferior Hakuno he sucked and was worse at this than she is. No seriously that is literally what happened. Probably the best way to put it is they made a soft-locked male story but could just as easily have made it soft-locked female instead.
On cosmetics, no more than three cosmetic non-name choices for me. I like picking a couple to help fix my mental image but rapidly lose patience with successive choices that I already know won’t really matter. Fallen Hero gets away with more because I made my character then selected a puppet.
One could say that Guen and also that Tudor game WIP (not sure if it’s been cancelled) comes under that type of game. I’ve toyed with doing an alternate history based game where you can interact with and even romance alternative versions of famed historical figures before…
I thought I mentioned Gwen. Whoops, yes good example I think the Tudor one is in the publishing line if its the one I’m thinking of.
It’s the one where you get to be part of Henry 8th’s court and have the option of romancing Henry, Catherine, Anne and the like? Least that’s what impression I got of it…
Edit: JRY’s Tudor Intrigue, that was what I was thinking of, good guess.
I’d note that any deterministic game, which choicescript games usually are, reduce to one of those two options; at most it can have multiple checklists. The goal isn’t to stop having a checklist, it’s to make the checklist not feel like a checklist any more than the main plot does. I have no real advice on how to do that, though, because I’m personally content with being able to hit the “begin romance” button and watch it play out and don’t have very high standards for romance stories. As long as I like both characters I’m happy that they’re happy together.
I do dislike feeling pestered to change my mind too often after hitting “begin romance”, though. I mean, it usually doesn’t say begin romance but you pretty much always know (and if it’s not signposted then you can accidentally romance someone you’re not interested in) and usually I don’t tend to change my mind much. Only time I really thought about it repeatedly was Fallen Hero, and that was because it specifically mixed in multiple motivations that encouraged romancing someone you’re not interested in* so the various factors can shift at any time.
*fwiw, I actually would’ve romanced Ortega in another context, but in primary body that’s a serious security risk and in pawn I just felt it’d be hideously unethical. Not a blocker, but I only did unethical things for tactical reasons so I kept her at “friend with a chance” level. Thought about taking her as gala date, checked my psi stats and decided it wasn’t necessary.
Here’s a thing. I’m a woman and that’s about as relevant to my life arc as the fact that my hair is brown. I don’t play IF to be reminded that I’m a second class citizen, I play it to spend five minutes away from being a second class citizen. It might shock you to realize this, but I’m the hero of my own story, and my gender has NOTHING to do with why I’m a successful hero. Being a woman is not central to my narrative. Interesting that the example of a game you like is a genderlocked one.
Also: Exactly what do you mean by gender being implemented haphazardly in Choice of Games games?
My controversial opinion: When you do anything less than “interchangeable” you’re reinforcing the patriarchy.
While I wholeheartedly agree with what you’ve said, I’d be curious of your views regarding the Sabres of Infinity series; in this series we have a genderlocked-male protagonist and the society in which the hero lives is one heavily divided along gender lines.
We’re presented with a male-dominated world which, as you’ve said, provides little respite for those seeking refuge from such real-world parallels. However, the author has worked hard to include the opportunity to fight these norms, and made it clear that choosing to be socially progressive - or not - will be an important theme going forward in the series.
Thus in a IF story in which we inhabit a patriarchical world, we are presented with the opportunity to smash it; although I imagine that in this regard the Infinite Sea series is somewhat unique amongst genderlocked stories, when you put it like that it seems rather commendable, don’t you think?
It’s a Hosted Game; Hosted Games can be genderlocked.
Choice of Games authors provide their editor with visual references/suggestions for what be depicted in the artwork. The editor shows the author a list of professional artists we work with regularly or would be willing to try to work with. The editor and author might discuss the visual references and whether they’ll work, the editor might help the author come up with ideas if they’re at a loss.
The author reviews the list of artists, selects a top choice and a few back-ups, the COG team makes sure that the artist they chose does work that matches the “tone” of the game, that they’re available for the work, etc, and then we commission the artwork.
There is nothing wrong with interactive fiction being more game-like and based around romances, but as I see potential for interactive fiction to surpass non-interactive fiction provided the writing and such is good, I’d like for titles to be more literary in nature and less self-insert/power fanasies. Whether it requires a set character or not? It can work either way, really, I think. Having a character that is not defined can cause problems though, in terms of choices not being what people would make and in terms of story cohesion. I’ve seen it mentioned where people question why their character should care about their family and such too, which is kind of a problem if it’s integral to the plot.
All of those negatives depending on writer skill of course, and I don’t think coherence is a problem at all with most titles here. Just that I think with a set character, you can more easily write a compelling story. Basically, what I’m getting at is I’d like more stories that are touching. Something along the lines of The Walking Dead Season 1, but in written form. There’s Frankenstein from Inkle which springs to mind as well.
Did you try/enjoy Baroque?
Tell me about it! In if and choya forums. We women are a sack of boobs to men. Collect. Like seriously some directly describe woman protagonist strength -2 due being a woman Charisma +2 because boobs.
Character female are assaulted, raped forced to marry… While men has a harem and are praised because they Have balls and rod not because any skills.
So when I found games were actually a girl could be a hero flirt or not. Or decide being gay or whatever. I found my place. A place tou could say I am a woman and don’t being harassed because of that.
I am very critical with Cog has certain rules in their guide book or way to do beta testing. but I have to praise the positivity and equality Cog has. I could buy a game without fear of being triggered by a rape scene or violence against minorities.
So my praise to that
I haven’t. Been on a hiatus from CoG for quite a while honestly. I’ll have a look at it on the site though, at least.
Chyoa is really just written porn and sexual fantasies (mostly for men) though, I wouldn’t consider it anything the same as a COG game. Same goes for Writing.com with pretty much all interactives being kinks now. It has its place, but only COG and equivalent groups are providing legitimate IF material.
Don’t like setting a sexuality, I like joke flirting a lot and feel like that’s being taken away from me when that shows up.
Don’t care that much about inclusivity, I know that I’m not going to be included, and it’d be unreasonable of me to expect someone to since it’d be difficult.
Also on the subject, discrimination isn’t something I’d shy away from either.
I like switchable gender ro’s. Even better if there’s a default state or I can set it to random, loved mecha ace for that.
Don’t like karma bars or long character creation. It’s a text game, I’m not looking at my mc, and most of the time not a big deal is made of my appearance. And karma bars may judge me for something I see as different anyway. Plus it’s an indication my individual choices matter less.
I hate when the “good choice” is automatically the right choice.
@derekmetaltron I accidentally clicked your link while typing this up, darn you.