What do you want more of in IF-games?

Ahh, so something similar to how Kingdoms and Empires handles personality traits with the only difference between your approaches being KaE asks you to lock in a personality trait and you’d have it determined by how many times players selected similar responses when reacting to events.

Not to anyone in particular and a bit off topic but I wanted to elaborate on the following a little:

CoG/HG and the Twine games that are in the same vein as them are actually a tiny part of Interactive Fiction. They are usually considered choice-based Interactive Fiction apart from the parser-based IF (with creators usually using programs like ADRIFT, Inform, TADs, and Dialog). As a whole IF and it’s various communities are a very broad category (and technically Visual Novels also fall under the umbrella). The Interactive Fiction Database is a fairly good resource for finding more IF outside of the choice-based sphere.

@Nemureru_Mori For your third point; Fields of Asphodel uses a choice that toggles character initiative when it comes to romance that gets set prior to the game starting. And while it’s a Twine game Superstition from 13Leagues has a similar-ish system.


Tin Star had an incredibly customizable MC. All of the traits would come up one way or another, and there were many ways that you could react to what Lander County threw your way (even sitting on your hands and staying out of the mess). Even whether they committed the murder (and whether it was indeed murder) that kickstarted their role in the story was something that you could set. But they didn’t ever fall prey to the usual traps that people are describing for blank slate MCs.

I suppose that Tin Star was also a standalone game, which is what allowed it to be so open-ended. And part of me wants more long standalone games with a lot of freedom of choice and the sense that the game world is a living world in its own right.


I liked the way Lemons handled it, with clearly marked flirts initiating RO’s actions.


See, I think starting with no real history could work if you allowed more agency moving forward. You could either slowly bring in the character history as the story moves along and the ROs share their own or ask questions at the beginning about how the MC got where they are.

I’m not saying it would have to be something out of control, but rather a limited group of options. Think about it like Dragon Age: Origins only done a bit differently. The game would start after the Warden is already doing the job, and someone asks/they share how they got there.

A few questions is all it would take. Obviously, the Warden was conscripted (much like the detective was forced into the job in Wayhaven), but what was their life before? So in DA:O, doing it this way would be something like:

  • I was a noble and my family was betrayed and killed.
  • I was a city elf and everything went to hell.
  • I was a Dalish elf and encountered a relic that effed up my world…

And so on, with a short description of the backstory and choices sprinkled in throughout the story to share how the MC dealt with the things that happened to them afterward, going up to the present (helping to shape the history of the MC).

In Wayhaven, it could’ve been an equal number of choices, ranging from an extremely innocent/backwater type history (someone who never left the town until they went to the Police Academy) to a darker backstory (where they got involved in some shady shit after leaving the town then came back to escape it, hide, whatever) and a few in between. The choices themselves would result in set histories for the characters, but also give a chance for a few different branches for future books (since this is a series) where the MC’s past either comes back to bite them or, for the innocent ones, someone from their past pops up and helps to give a clearer picture of that past.

By doing the above then other choices make more sense (example: the one about “I fired a gun before and have no trouble doing it again”). It provides a deeper history for the MC with a more set character base, gives the player input into the MC’s history and what got them where they are, while also allowing the author to keep control of the story. It would give a richer RP experience, make the MC less bland, and give the chance for multiple playthroughs just based on character past. So the choices of “I joined because it was that or jail” or “I joined because I couldn’t join the army” actually have far more meaning rather than being something to set a stat or to have a two-line throw off in the next book.

Yep. Even if the choices were offered without any real effect on the romance or the story, it’d be better than not getting the choice at all. I hate playing MCs that are forced into being so passive no matter how they’re treated.

This is coming from someone who absolutely loathes SoH, so take it for what it’s worth…

The writing is really good. I don’t tend to like flowery writing in the respect of describing landscape/surrounding areas (I don’t care unless it’s relevant), but I do like writing that explores the characters’ thoughts, emotions, motivations, etc. I think the author is pretty good at that, actually. Where I have a problem is having my MC forced into feeling a certain way, no matter what.

What you were saying about letting the player shape the character after the story starts does not happen in SoH. Any choice your MC makes means nothing and is ignored if it differs from how the author feels the character should respond. I won’t get into specifics because I don’t want to start a war with fans, but I will say this: if you want agency, this is not a game you will like. If you don’t mind constant quizzes over crap that happened before, and don’t mind having your MC’s emotions determined by the author regardless of the choices you make, then you will likely love it.


I wanted broken characters, imperfect in the moral sense, who struggle with mental problems or have at least suicidal ideation, and the game having the option for the characters to treat themselves or wallow in their own misery. And of course, strong women as a romantic option, not just in personality but looks, some muscles, tall, etc. Medieval fantasy game with resource management, too, but including lgbt options and not forcing the mc into heterosexuality.


Honestly, I think you’ll get as many different responses as there are players. Everyone’s looking for something that’s unique to their psychology, and, what’s worse, I don’t believe most people actually want what they think they want, especially when it comes to an interactive story.

I might say that I just want a simple game featuring a simple bread baker in a small village where nothing bad happens (and I do! Honestly, that sounds delightful to me). But when it comes time to play that game, I’m like, actually, this is quite dull, and not like a game at all. When do I get to kick ass as a simple, small-town baker with a heart full of dreams and (possibly magical?) yeast spores?

So I would caution any would-be writers from taking too much of this to heart. But if you do manage to write Fresh Baked Hearts, full of bakery puns, I’ll be rooting for you!


I agree with this. And we need more non-humanoid protagonists cause if I come across another game with playable Tolkien races and nothing else I’m going to scream.


I’d like to see more variety in supernatural or mythological beings (as the MC and otherwise) being included in stories. It’s usually only vampires and werewolves, and some sort of spirit but there’s a plethora of untapped potential.


While 'medieval" fantasy dominates the scene and for very good reasons, most settings seem to work between two poles that while popular, become rather unsatisfying after a time: The high fantasy, modern style in which the world can be described as Seattle with magical paint, and a “”“realistic”“”, grimdark, miserable and nihilistic style that relish of being as unromantic as possible.

What I would like to see are fantasy settings similar to the works of Umberto Eco and Guy Gavriel Kay: Worlds grounded in reality, dark when they need to be and distanced from us in order to be exotic, yet also unafraid of giving in to wonder, idealism and magic, not turning it into fake science. Difficult, I know, but rewarding like no other.


I could see that as a romance story maybe? I’m definitely the one to write it (unless I spin a fairy tale from it), but it could be delightful.


Ok this might sound a little nit picky/odd and its more of a stylistic thing really but i want more games to actually have their dialogue options written into the scenes. A popular example of what i mean is the wayhaven series. That is to say when you pick a dialogue option in wayhaven, the next page will have your character actually saying it and is written into the scene as opposed to some stories where you chose a dialogue option and that is seen as your character saying it with the next page only being the other persons reply. An example of this off the top of my head(because its the most recent example ive played) is the heart of battle(understand im not saying its bad because of this and i happen to quite enjoy it). Its sorta like the difference between a silent protag and a voiced one in a rpg. To me he former helps ground the character into the world and makes them well feel like an actual character in the story as opposed to the latter which makes the mc feel like a disembodied video game “avatar/mouth piece” for the player(note i actually prefer “unvoiced” protags in rpgs just not in IF) .

Pretty sure i haven’t explained what i meant properly but i hope someone gets what i mean :laughing:


I used to feel that a “silent” protagonist was the way to go. Then I went from writing a very silent protagonist in Blood Money, where the only MC dialogue was what the player clicked on, to incorporating MC dialogue on-screen in Crème de la Crème and subsequent games. I’ve seen a comment or two saying people would enjoy more lines from the MC; I do like it as long as the lines are either broad enough that any MC would say it, or are successfully linked to personality stats. When playing I get a little nervous if I see very long sections of MC dialogue because there’s more potential for it to feel out of character or as though the game is taking control of the character and “making” them say things that I didn’t intend or wasn’t clear from the choice text.

I think a lot about predefined vs blank slate protagonists and there are pros and cons to both. Obviously in games like inkle’s games, or a lot of parser games, it’s common to play a specific MC. My experience with ChoiceScript games is that players (including me) tend to enjoy playing an MC with predetermined traits that match the game they’re in (eg few Creme players felt they should be able to overpower and escape a massive hired goon as an 18 year old at a finishing school). I love it when my MC’s traits integrate with the game themes and events. But where “predetermined MC” may run into less positive reception is where an MC’s personality or responses to events are out of a player’s control.

Of course there are exceptions even in the Choicescript space where “blank slates” are more common. See also among others: Fallen Hero, which is hugely popular and embraces specific psychological states of mind for the MC.

Re slice of life, I am always fascinated to know what that means! It seems like different people mean quite a variety of different things when they call something slice of life and I’m never quite sure where to categorise it in my mind.

Anyway, some things I’d love to see more of:

More spying, conning, and/or deception themes and mechanics

More opportunities for friendship and friendship group dynamics; often romanceable characters and friend characters are put together when choosing who to spend time with, and the romanceables then tend to get the spotlight (I’ve done this a bunch myself and would).

More unconventional romance/fling paths. No-strings hookups that turn emotional; exes falling back together; friends-with-benefits; one-night-stands; asexual romantic life partners; breaking up and reconciling (or not). Any and all varied stuff!


Response to @HannahPS :
I really like how in depth this is so apologies if my response is a tad long winded.

It's in here (I don't like flooding with the length of my replies lmao)

It’s a bit of a bug I have with Wayhaven, some of the reactions feeling out of character depending on your Detective. I think it’s not really that big of a deal though so long as adequate consideration is put in place of the variety of possible MCs a reader could make.

I’ve seen a comment or two saying people would enjoy more lines from the MC; I do like it as long as the lines are either broad enough that any MC would say it, or are successfully linked to personality stats.

Yeah, this is something I’ve touched on. Having a reader select a Personality Trait from a few options then writing a few lines that describe their reaction, depending on the trait, might be a way to work around the concern. Honestly though I am a lover of punishment so following my advice on anything would be suspect at best.

But where “predetermined MC” may run into less positive reception is where an MC’s personality or responses to events are out of a player’s control.

This is, I think, the key to understanding the extent that you can take a predetermined/semi-defined MC. Like, what happened between the birth of the MC up to the start of the story can be largely set in stone, but once you start trying to define for a reader how their character feels about that event, then you are over staying your welcome. I think giving freedom in response to the events of their past is what makes a backstory like in Fallen Hero feel well-met, you get to choose how that backstory molded you.

More spying, conning, and/or deception themes and mechanics

I think the sheer volume of deception involved in Sidestep’s life is the biggest initial draw. At least, that is what it was for me, there was just so much shit that they have to hide. The option to lie is something that I think is extremely important in being able to feel like you can ground yourself in a character.

More unconventional romance/fling paths. No-strings hookups that turn emotional; exes falling back together; friends-with-benefits; one-night-stands; asexual romantic life partners; breaking up and reconciling (or not).

Not my unpublished superhero WIP with 3 of these and a WlW plotline, wat. (I’ve got an asexual casanova, a FwB that gets complicated, and am considering adding an ex-romance with another Operator.)

Reply to @LiliArch :
Unfortunately, not the MC, though a romanceable character! I brought up the premise in the ‘Interest Check Thread,’ it’s the one that talks about an Operator. Though, much like any concept I come up with, it’s vision has drastically shifted rather quickly. (Still on the Operator stint, where the MC is more of a ‘director’ by collecting information and the like, but increasingly aware that I don’t want the world to just be our Earth with superhero powers lol.)

Reply to @SnowPhoniex :
I think it’s much more common for the villains to be emotional or something rather than having a true opponent.

Not to gush about my personal project again butttttt

My story currently has 5 villains that are featured? 2 independent actors and 3 that work in tandem with eachother. One is a literal hero turned hero-hunter, who will gladly kill their former allies. They don’t appear to go into detail to the party about their motivations, “A long monologue is the fastest way to get caught, and I haven’t been caught yet.” Heroes are not stationed to protect the streets of the poor, and little more than props. “They know what they signed up for,” he would state coldly.

I do think that giving a form of ‘tragic backstory,’ like the repercussions of heroes resulting in the death of someone they care about and giving a vengeance ploy could be interesting. Like Hughey from the Boys, but someone who actually had the powers to do something real physical about it. I’m still just writing bullshit right now though so who knows if he will be completely written out lmfao.

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My favourite kind! Well, even more if it’s the MC.

I am getting increasingly interested in that game.

I personally would like more defined villians or antagonists, I been playing choicescripts since its start and for the life of me I don’t think I can name any villain that has really stand out or made an impact. Any time people here dicuss characters in a game, its usually the romance options or characters they want to be love interests.

And I want a variety of them as well, not all of them have to have a tragic background. Just having define character traits and being an opposing force that can cause genuine problems for the main character is a great start.


The best stories are the one where villains are true adversaries to the hero, while depending on the story, it’s interesting to have a constant reminder that you have someone actively working against you and messing up could end up in your death or worse.

That you as the main character have to improve yourself or there will be dire consequences.

Look at the first Devil May Cry, Vergil was handing Dante ass for a good portion of the game. He had an interesting determination and you wanted to see more of him.

Or Jet stream Sam from Metal Gear Solid, an amazing villain and rival. He was charming as he was deadly.

Or Jonah from Monster, probably the creepiest out of the bunch, the man is a sociopath but is well mannered and sweet. All he needs to see is your face and he’s coming after you.

Enough of that rambling, for your story though I hope you’ll be able to flesh out the villains. It would be difficult to have to manage that many along with the main protagonists, and making sure no storyline is underdeveloped :thinking:

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That doesn’t mean no villain is included though?

Sidenote, I’m ridiculously glad I’m not the only one feeling the urge to gush about their personal project.


When was the last time we had in depth discussions about a choices villain that has made a significant impact on this forum?

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No, I mean villains included in the ROs/wanted ROs lists. (I didn’t say them being discussed would have anything to do with their brand of villainy.)

God I wish I could play as an ice queen for once! It would be nice to not do the pursuing for once!