What do you want to see in new Choicescript games?


#1

I was lacking a little inspiration and thought this might be a good idea for those in a similar position.
All you do is post your general ideas on what you’d like to see in a Choicescript game - it doesn’t have to (and probably shouldn’t) be a full idea, just a small mechanic or plot device - something simple, bullet point them if you like?

The idea then is that if a potential developer is struggling for an idea he might come and take an idea - or several - from this thread for inspiration, and in return they’ll effectively bring about what you want - so everyone wins!

I’ll start:

In new Choicescript games I would like to see more innovation and complexity - I want to see the language used more adventurously.

I want to see some out-of-the-box thinking, games that make me think… That’s new. Not just in plot or stats/choices, but in gameplay too.


#2

I’d like to see;

Longer, more descriptive pages to a story. Far too many are written around quick routes that have choices hammered into them rather than nice, long, descriptive works that flow through the choices (or even bypasses them). There’s far too many games on here that have a paragraph, click continue, paragraph, continue, paragraph, choice, little blurb, choice.

I’m not five years old, I can read a lot longer than a mere few paragraphs strung together.

Another is; Items - probably difficult to implement but I’d like to see someone implement a few weapon choices that allow you to pick up and change as you go through the plot. Maybe even ‘develop’ the weapon through upgrades.

And codexes. I’d love to see a well written codex in future games. It’s tough work though.


#3

Oddly enough, I’d like to see more emphasis placed on choices, because as it stands, the PC doesn’t seem to have much control over their environment. They could be standing at Point A, with a list of options in front of them: But regardless of which one they choose, they still end up at Point B, albeit with some slight changes of nature and interaction. I’d want to see the chance to be at Point A, and end up at Point B, C, or D. The fixed nature of the plotline makes it so that one is being railroaded, in the background, with only control over oneself; this seems to me more of a story than a game.


#4

I was recently made aware of Fritz Lieber’s short story “A Pail of Air”. What would life on Earth be like without the Sun? How will human life adapt? I think it makes a great setting for a Choice Game.


#5

I agree with @RVallant because we really do need alot of descriptions to help paint that picture in our minds!


#6

I like more choices, less description. More significant choices. I don’t want to be playing a visual novel where I may be getting a handful of choices. I want games like those old choose your own adventure books where I feel part of the narrative. Otherwise, as far as I’m concerned, I may as well be reading a book.

I liked Terminal and the starkness of it. Of how it stripped everything back to just dialogue. I could have done with more choices, more important choices, but I think Terminal was an interesting experiment. I’d like to see more games going along those lines.

I do not like large reams of descriptive text.

What I want to see is more protagonists with personality. Not just blank cipher self-inserts. (Which I’ll admit is often the appeal of these types of games and not actually a bad thing in itself). I want protagonists who can outshine their co-stars.

I want less stats and more difficult choices. The heart-breaking, gut wrenching choices that are grey moral dilemmas where you’re forced to choose and want to throw up your hands and say “no!!!” Real choices.

Something like all of these movies I’ve not actually seen, but which I’ve read synopsis of. The Box, Phone Booth, Saw, Sophie’s Choice.

I want story first, game second.


#7

FairyGodfeather, honest question here: do you have ideas on how to create more meaningful choices (and stronger protagonist characterizations) without also increasing the amount of text that makes those choices meaningful? You want story first, but not a visual novel or a novel, and as a writer, I’m not entirely sure how to reconcile those.


#8

@Rvallant @trollhunterthethird
So Terminal doesn’t sit well with you guys then? xD

I agree very much with the weapon pickup/drop - customization thing. I’d like to see a lot more of that kind of thing.

@Drazen Agreed, though I understand why developers do that - adding “true” branching takes a much longer time than the twisting of a single branch.


#9

I know CoG don’t have to be pleasing to the eye, but im working on superficial kinds of things. like putting sound effects in CS and lots of other weird things. I know story comes number 1 always but I like making things visually unique.


#10

@Chrysoula

In interactive fiction, I think the easiest way to create a stronger protagonist characterisation is to steal away the choice to name the protagonist.

Allowing players to name their character is a false choice. What they name their character likely won’t ever matter, apart from to them. It has absolutely no effect on the story. It aids in self-insertion, it detracts from creating a protagonist with a personality.

Do what Bioware do and create Hawke, or Shepherd. (I haven’t actually played those games though so I’ve no idea if their protagonists actually have personality.)

My favourite genre is point and click adventure games. The protagonists almost always have personality there. They need a personality to keep the game going. It’s easier when there’s a visual representation.

Another cheat’s trick is to use first person, or third, not second. Second person is the one that aids greatest in self-insertion.

Realise that some choices actually detract from the story, and from your protagonist’s personality.

If the Joker is holding Robin in one elevator shaft, and Batgirl in another shaft, Batman would never have the option to just shrug, go meh and say “I didn’t like them anyway, let them save themselves.” Just as Batman’s not going to have the option of pulling out a gun, shooting the Joker at point blank range and saying he’d had enough of that jerk. The lack of those two choices actually aid in characterisation. You’ve established that Batman’s a man who takes action, and one who’s stupid enough to let the Joker keep escaping.

But Batman, being Batman has the choice of Save Robin, Save Batgirl, or Save them both or yell for Superman to come help him. You’d better hope your skills are high enough to do the save them both option, or that you remembered to take your batrope or stick your batboard on autopilot, since if you fail someone might go squish, or that you were nice to Superman earlier and are willing to cover for him later when he wants to go on a superdate. Or even that those escapology lessons you sent Robin on earlier, will serve him in good stead. Lots of choices, none of them out of character. (Apart from yelling on Superman maybe).

It’s not that I actually have anything against large amounts of text. I actually like long stories, what I dislike is pages and pages of text where I cannot interact. Where I don’t get to make choices. Where the text itself serves very little purpose and is just inundating me with information I don’t actually need to know. If I wanted to read a book I’d read a book. I play choice games because I want an interactive experience, I want to leave my mark on the story.


#11

@fairy

I dunno, I tend to write protagonists with strong personalities and tons of dialogue and I still end up with a lot of text.

I mean it can be done, but it’s sort of difficult to write what you’re asking for without a lot of text. I get what you’re saying about false choices that don’t truly mean anything to the story though.


#12

The name in Bioware games is done to allow for voice acting rather than a distinct character; they still allow you to do the equivalent of shooting the Joker.

It’s interesting you’ve seized on a name as such an important point of characterization. But it’s also interesting we’re even talking about this, since it seems to be the ChoiceOf thing to allow you to play ‘whoever you want’ (as long as they’re within the scope of the game). It seems like the strongest characters always show up in non-rpg/choice games, like adventure games, shooters, platformers, etc, where the gameplay isn’t linked to player decisions, just player competence. I don’t think it has to be that way, but doing it reduces the amount of implementation work, for sure.


#13

@FairyGodfeather I don’t know how playable a pre-determined character would be, - after all, the level of complaint one faces whenever the gender, sexuality, background, or, - God forbid, - reactions[!] of a character are set in advance does go some way to noting that people quite like self-insertions. If one’s character came with a pre-built, strong personality, how could one guarantee any empathy from the player? Surely it would just feel like another NPC?

Seems to me that the best thing to do is let the PC build their own strong personality, whether it’s reflective of them, or just created by them. This would, of course, require the game actually reflecting a players possible mindset, - but it does guarantee empathy.


#14

Hmm let me check back and see what I said, since I seem to be getting called on for not liking text.

“I do not like large reams of descriptive text.”

That’s me. I dislike description, especially if it’s pointless description that serves little function. I find a lot of fantasy frustrating because there’s pages and pages about how pretty the buildings are, and another few chapters on background info to the world that’s of absolutely no interest to me. I don’t care, I want to get on with the plot and the characters. That’s me though.

I like long games. I don’t like wading through piles of flowery prose. And I’ll take one page, maybe two at most of text before I want to be making a choice and interacting with the game.

@Chrysoula

I know. It was just an example, the first one I could think of. I should have said, the Final Fantasy games allowed you to name your protagonist as do numerous RPGs. I’m sure some of the Zelda games did too. Does anyone actually know the characters by anything other than their default names though? Link is always going to be Link, unless you’ve modded the game to transform him into Zelda.

That’s one of the reasons I’d like to see Choice games with protagonists with more personality. I’ve played Text Adventures and Visual Novels where the protagonist has personality. Where there’s a very strong sense of who they are. For me, it’s something that Choice games haven’t really touched upon yet. They keep things wide open and let you play a blank slate, which I do love. I’d just like to see it mixed up a bit too.

The examples I gave are the quick short-cuts to providing a protagonist with personality. Like, you are Blaize! A fiery, passionate, red-head with a short-temper, explosive powers and pyromaniac tendencies. That’s a short-cut. Of course after that every single choice would be “burn it!” and “kill it with fire!” which I’m sure would get tiresome.

We have a story based medium here, I’d just like to see it mixed up a bit.

@Drazen You read books with a protagonist don’t you? One that’s got specific character traits? Sometimes in first person?

There’s other genres that do it. Text Adventures and Visual Novels both do it, and they’re cousins to the sort of games we write here. Emily Short’s, Bee, over on Varytale does it. I’m sure there’s plenty of other games but I’ve only dipped my toe into interactive fiction, since by and large there’s very little GLBT content.

I think you can do pick a gender, blank slate sexuality, and still create an interesting protagonist.

It’s just something I think would take Choice games in a new direction. I’ve noticed that when the text adventure crowd review choice games they do comment on the protagonists. I think self-insertion main characters do have their huge benefits though.

However, I think that’s sidetracking this discussion a bit and we should likely spin it off onto its own topic if we’re to continue.


#15

To add my voice to the discussion here, in new ChoiceScript games, I would like to see a factual-based game set in historical times. Similar to CotV, but in a different time period (e.g. Genghis Khan, Atilla the Hun, Montezuma, the Roman conquest of Britain). Although it would be a pain to write, I feel that if the finished product was good, it would be worth it IMO.


#16

Thanks, FairyGodfeather. I’m actually really pleased to hear about what you’re looking for because, as Drazen says, many people (at least of those active here) really want to insert themselves into a ChoiceOf game. My own leaning is for more structured characters just because I like strong stories and without a defined protagonist it’s much, much harder to do that (and has historically been done via Ye Olde Amnesia Plot-- your character USED to be X with X’s history but now you can incorporate that into who you are NOW any way you like). Heck, You Have Forgotten Something Important or You Aren’t Who You Think You Are are still very popular… and they do make strong games but they require a gimmick.

I do believe that it’s perfectly capable to empathize with and even identify with a strongly defined character-- I’ve often noticed how even in games like Bioshock Infinite or the Final Fantasies, me and mine tend to use the first person when describing the adventures and plot of the game. I actually think too much irrelevant choice can decrease empathy because they can decrease immersion.


#17

@FairyGodfeather Aye, but when I read a book, its to appreciate the characters and scenarios from afar, not to try and put myself in their shoes - which is what we’re doing here, I would think. It’s one thing to say “Read this, isn’t such-and-such a great character?!”, and quite another to say “Play this as that character!”

Predetermined natures, I think, are better suited for stories than what we have, here, which are essentially RPGs.


#18

As far as pie-in-the-sky stuff, I’d love to see a hugeass game with tons of branching and re-activity, I’d be totally willing to drop 10, 20, 30, whatever amount for it.

For more reasonable ideas, I wouldn’t mind seeing something incorporating more of Treasure Seekers adventure style, where you’re moving between areas and investigating/interacting with things and backtracking and so-forth. Perhaps even an entire game (mostly) like that, though that might be getting into IF territory.


#19

In regards to the length of text. I usually try and limit it so people don’t have to keep scrolling down on their mobile or PC. I don’t always achieve it due to the endless edits and rewrites but I try.

Do people mind having to scroll down to read a wall of text in game?


#20

Doesn’t bother me as long as it’s not literally a wall of text with no spacing. I’m more bothered when I see stories consisting of only a paragraph or a couple of sentences.

Basically I try to use a rule of one story page not being more than 4 pages of text on Word, though sometimes it can be as long as 6 pages (Rare though).