WIP: Heal (Working Title)

Okay so, I’ve been working on a COG style game for a while (years in fact), but recently I’ve picked it back up, given it a dust off and tried again. So far, I’ve written up the introduction, which basically introduces you to your character, and gives you a few ways of defining your character.

First up, the character herself is predefined - her name is Nemi Macska, and she is a healer. I suppose my inspiration is taken from rpgs like Ultima, where you travel in a party of companions, one of which had the fun job of healing duties. Nemi is a character in that vein. The introduction basically gives you the opportunity to decide what type of healing she’ll specialise in, introduce you to your new boss, and just let you set up the type of character she is (i.e. is she pragmatic and blunt, sarcastic and feisty, etc).

I very much enjoy COG/hosted games titles where there’s acknowledgement to your decisions - however small - so I’ve tried to do this in Heal. Also, my primary focus is less on branching paths, and more on relationships with other characters. So the story itself is going to be fairly linear, but the way people speak and react to you is really going to be quite different depending on how you speak to them, how you handle certain situations etc.

There is some very lazy ‘artwork’ which is based on public domain photos run through a few paint.net filters - these are intended as placeholders only, if this ever gets finished I have a good friend who I think would be willing to do some proper character portraits (there’s little point in her doing any until I finish this which could take a while if ever!).

A lot of work has already been done on the first chapter (which follows the introduction) but it’s not complete. I suppose my purpose in posting the link here is to see if :
a)it’s something people are interested in me continuing
b)getting opinions on what could make this a really worthwhile diversion
c) picking up any nasty typos/errors that I haven’t

Also, if anyone has any suggestions relating to some interesting medical dilemmas that could be explored, they’d also be very welcome.

Link: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/11379019/COG/Heal/web/mygame/index.html [latest version as of 22/09/2012]

Comments, suggestions and feedback are all very welcome. One problem I’ve noticed is I have a bit of an issue writing in the present tense, so if you spot any typos/switches in tense that seem off, please let me know so I can fix them.


Found an error: line 1159: non-existent variable ‘elricassault’

Otherwise the writing is pretty nice. It’s a good slow game :slight_smile:

Ok, first thing I noticed was the intro. Please. Drop it.
You should be able to tell the reader about your world through the story, you don’t tend to informatively tell them.

Also for some reason the italic markups aren’t working for me.

Asides from those, this looks interesting, definitely a fresh format, which is always nice!

The italics didn’t work for me either, I just had a lot of i’s strewn about through the text.

I think it is very interesting so far. Like you said, it is quite different than most of the games using ChoiceScript, and reads much like an interactive novel than a game. I like it.

Oh, and at the part with the brother at the end, it is mentioned that a decapitated hand would ruin his livelihood. I don’t think you can decapitate a hand, can you? My understanding is that decapitate means to cut off someones head.

Wolfwriter 20: Hah, yes you’re right about the hand. I’ve fixed that - a limb is dismembered not decapitated!

FireSeraph: Thanks for the error re elricassault - it was *set in the wrong place which meant there was a possibility of it not being set at all which caused the error, so I’ve fixed that now.

CJW: Re the intro - I wasn’t sure whether to include it or not as it takes the reader out of the setting immediately which I don’t usually like. I agree that a well written piece would have this information woven into the story, so I’ll have a rethink and see if I can drop the information in a bit better. I’m glad someone has pointed it out, as the original introduction was a lot like the preface - i.e. quite dry and factual and getting the player to answer questions on their background - I re-wrote it entirely to be a bit more natural and story like.

I don’t think the [i] and [b] markers work in the current version of choicescript, but I read somewhere that they were going to be implemented in a future build - they’d be easy enough to remove if that’s not the case, but a bit of a pain to put in afterwards.

Thank you all for your positive comments on the story itself. I think it is a bit different, though the pace should pick up in future chapters as there’ll be more events/scenarios for the player to react to.

Just the fact that you’re not allowing a name change alone is pretty interesting, I started a topic on it: http://www.choiceofgames.com/forum/discussion/736/preset-player-character-names/#Item_8 - Seeing as up until now, no one had done it.

Yes, I did read that topic with interest a while back as I knew I was planning to do it. At the time I wasn’t sure whether I’d ever let this see the light of day though.

It would be something I’d consider changing in the future, but I grew up playing games like Lone Wolf and quite like the idea of playing a game where I might not necessarily choose the gender/name of a person, but still get to influence their character or relationships (I mean this in a broad sense - not purely romantic) with other characters.

One of my favourite IF’s was a game by Rob Sherwin - Fallacy of Dawn - where the character was very predefined and with a ridiculous name to boot, but it didn’t make me enjoy it any less. In fact because I could identify with the nature of the character - a bit of a geek/slacker - I probably enjoyed it more. Thinking on it, I guess FoD is similar to this in the sense that the story is linear - Y will follow X, but it’s how things are handled in between that interests me.

Nemi is based on a character I made up years ago for a forum role play. The idea of exploring a character who isn’t really the hero, but more of a ‘companion’ has always appealed to me because it’s not something that I’ve seen much of in games or fiction.

A more sideline perspective? That’ll be interesting.

With regards to the italics I noticed their placement more than their faultiness - you had spaced them out over the whole ‘“Blahblahblah” said X’ rather than just the “Blahblahblah” as would, I think, be proper.

Also: “I could care less.” - Gives no indication of how much one cares about a matter. If we were to have a scale from 0-10, with 10 caring the most and 0 as not caring at all, saying “I could care less” would apply from any number from 1-10 inclusive, since with any of those numbers it would be possible to not care as much. The correct phrase is “I couldn’t care less”, i.e. “I care so little it’s not even hypothetically possible for me to care less”. Sorry, but this is a pet hate of mine.

Overall this work is a very well written piece, but seems to me a little linear. I was initially doubtful of the forced named female character, but later into the work it became less of an issue when this static identity allowed you to include nicknames and the gender-specific eventualities. The one problem I had with the writing was not in the text proper, but the text of the responses: they didn’t seem to incorporate a varied spectrum of responses as would befit different characters. This might push players towards a cluster of overly-similar generic protagonists, which isn’t ideal for a choice-game.

As for the story itself, I was a little thrown off when the tuition period came to an end so soon. Any momentum which may have been behind the first choice of where to study (which could have been exploited more, by the way, with a little elaboration on the impact) was stripped away by having the study-period cut short after a few pages and a pittance of decisions. Perhaps consider having one chapter being solely chosing where to study and then completing said studies?

Thanks Drazen.

Re the placement of the italics. As that part is during the ‘dream’ sequence, I think I was toying with using the italics to seperate the dream parts from the protagonist’s actual thoughts - so there’s parts where just the dialogue would be italicised, but other parts where a past action was described with the dialogue i.e. ‘he said’. It’s tricky to look at it without it actually being in italics, so I might play around with it in word and see what it’d actually look like.

I could care less - not sure why I had written that version of the phrase, I would never say it personally! Thanks for picking it up.

I agree about the overly similar responses. Because it’s a fairly linear introduction, if I make them vastly different, it’d mean probably making additional changes that I’m not quite prepared to do. I think currently, there’s the opportunity to be a fairly sarcastic type, or a fairly reserved type. There’s no outright bitchy options though they could be fun, but they’d make less sense at this point as no matter what happens the character is going to finish their studies and return to their family and then join Otho’s company.

Regarding the studies…again, this was originally written along the lines of ‘where did you complete your studies’ and the impact was on the type of medical lore you’d specialise in. The current version is actually a bit more developed but it’s still brief because I suppose it’s not the focus of the actual story. A chapter of study could be fun to write, but at the same time I’d really have to think about how I can portray past events and transition it to the current time of when her journey with Otho’s company begins. I’m already a bit nervous about having a dream sequence in there to recap past decisions, so I wouldn’t want to go down that route again.

To include it, I’d also want there to be some actual impact which is difficult when there’s little that can be changed at the beginning of the story. It’s something I’ll think on though, so thank you for bringing it up.

No problem. I will await future updates, then.

I was so bumed when the demo end. Its good. I want more. Great story, and I like the way the choices are. Sigh, now into waiting for the next installment of what could become one of my favorite games…

Love the story. It’s rare to find a CoG That lets you choose what kind a personality of sorts. I find that most just ask what type of views your character has. It’s well written and an interesting concept- keep up the good work ;:wink:

One thing I have thought about that I really like is because the main points of the story will stay the same, unlike if your choices changed the story ending by a lot, it gives you the writer time to really put the way you see things and choices/the way people see you/ unlike other games where the choices dictate the end game story. Not that these choices wont impact that, But its a deferment concept then the other games on this site, except for dilemma maybe. If that makes since.

Thanks for your comments. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it so far. Though I’ve really enjoyed a lot of COG titles and a fair few of the hosted games too, the branching plots can sometimes lead to a somewhat more shallow story I think (as it’s a big enough task to cover all of the branching plots). By keeping the story fairly linear it means I can afford to flesh it out a bit more, whilst still giving players a bit of wiggle room in defining the actual character.

Thank you for your words. It’s nice to know others are enjoying this too. When I play rpgs, it’s not the level grinding or dungeon crawling I enjoy, it’s the interactions with other characters - NPCS or companions. So I suppose this is focusing on that kind of theme.

I’ve thought some more on the ‘study’ phase and I’ve made a slight tweak to the section with the mentor which gives the player a bit more background regarding their studies. It’s not fully fleshed out at the minute, but it allows the player to establish just how studious their character is, and how they spent their spare time. I might revisit this at some point and develop a larger study phase, as I think that could be quite fun. I’ve also updated my choichscript, so the bold/italics bits should visualise properly now. Hopefully it makes the dream sequence a bit more defined.

The challenge will be in how much Nemi can impose her will on the situation. I don’t want it to be an entirely sidelined experience - I think to begin with though I can get away with some of the choices being taken away from her as she’s a novice in the company. As she gets to know her companions, and show them just what she can do, I think the plan is to show the change in people’s perceptions of her, and how much influence she has over events. So to begin with she’ll be very much a follower, without much say, but as time progresses, and as her companions respect grows for her (or doesn’t!) then maybe she’ll have more sway over the types of things the group does. That could lead to some actual branching - I guess I’ll just have to see how far I can get!

In truth, the linearity is there to try and and limit the scope. I’ve started a handful of projects like this (in various different world builders from Adrift to Inform) and always, always failed because I’ve given myself to much to do. So I want to finish this. If I try and start small, then there’s nothing to stop me from expanding upon a limited framework as I grow more comfortable with choicescript (and writing in first person!) which is happening all the time.

@bawpie And I am really glad for this. Its nice to have something different!

@bawpie - Scope problems? Not finishing projects? Story of my life.

So good, want moar

@ AustinPercey: Glad you’ve enjoyed it!

I’m working on the first chapter now, quite a lot was already written, but I’m adding in an extra scene and implementing some of the aspects that I added to the intro. Still, everyone’s feedback so far is really encouraging, so I’m hopeful to have in completed in the next week or two.

@bawpie Sweet. I will wait.