Yggdrasil: Branch of Defiance

Another sleepless night. What few dreams you’ve recently had have been strangely cryptic. Foreboding. Unnerving.

They’re of a machine. A helmet attached to it. Sometimes you hear a mysterious voice telling you to put it on.

The dream feels like it means something.

The chain of events that follow prove you right.

Death. Conspiracy. Impossibilities. At the end of them all, you will be forced to find a single truth:

The world cannot be changed.


Hello! Welcome to the thread of a small project of mine I’ve spent the past few weeks working on. It’s my first foray into choicescript and interactive fiction exclusively focused on making choices, so I’m quite intrigued with the results. My main focus is to create something that gives the player an experience of always seeing something new, with seemingly trivial decisions having major impact. As a result, the final product will be somewhat on the shorter side I suspect, but hopefully with plenty of replay value.

The game is still work-in-progress. The demo currently sits at around 30k or so words.

I’m afraid I’d rather not go into too many details regarding the plot, because so much of it is based on getting a chance to see how it progresses in the narrative itself. (That, and a more detailed description of the inciting incident would give away a fair bit of the demo.) Best I can tell you is that you are a college student of an undefined major struggling with their inability to sleep.

You can play the demo here: Yggdrasil [Demo]

There’s likely to be plenty of typos. English isn’t my first language and I write fast to the point I just don’t notice even the most blatant of mistakes.

Either way, I hope you have fun! If you have any comments/suggestions/critique/bug reports, I urge you to leave them here!

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Yggdrasil That name kind of reminds me of Overlord.

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A primer:

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This was amazing work and that ending damn i would love to see more.

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isnt that what the actual game is called?

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I need more!

More I say!

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This had me hook almost immediately. Some of the best writing I have seen on this site keep up thegreat work

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Ooh time machines…murders…whats not to love?

Anyways, the repetitive, curt one word sentences, and often rhetorical questions left me somewhat irked.
It was an interesting gimmick the first few times and I understand the tone you are trying to achieve through its use, but further on its just too overbearing.

Perhaps try and cut down on a few of those. It might come off as padding or annoying otherwise.

Best of luck.

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My thanks to everyone for the feedback so far! Happy to see people enjoying it!

The former is more my style more than anything, so I probably didn’t pay too much attention to it while writing… The latter was sometimes a concern. Is a bit tough between hitting that right note where you instill a sense of consistent questioning and self-doubt in the player without it seeming repetitive. I’ll see what I can do. The later parts increase in pace, so I don’t think there should be too much breathing time for those, I don’t think…

Unless they’re a part of my writing style, too.

In which case, well.

Oops.


Also, just a reminder to try replaying and seeing where you end up! The demo has several pretty different outcomes, all of which will eventually span into completely distinct chapters.

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After “We’re here” shouldn’t it say Hagen instead of Asmund?

and your writing style is amazing especially hooking at the start.

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Because in Overlord it was the name of the DMMO-RPG the protagonist was in.

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Very well written and the premise is quite interesting. I’ll start following the project, best of luck.

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Can’t do screenshots from my phone but I think here:

he smiles, but her body language exhumes worry. You smile back. It’s all you can really do. The voice in your head is screaming in a desperate effort to keep the gears moving

…you want “exude” instead of “exhume”.

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Thank you both for pointing those out, fixed those up real quick. (Also changed a wording a bit on the paragraph Lola pointed out there in general. Twice referencing “Hagen” so quickly in sentences that aren’t too far apart. Using the word “unit” in two subsequent sentences. Nnn… The horror.)

Anyhow, now that the initial excitement of announcing the game has slightly worn off, I do have a few more specific questions to those who have played the demo:

Some potential spoilers
  • How long did it roughly take you to get through it?
  • Did you find the pacing to be dragging or boring at points? Did the transition at the end of the demo to something more action-oriented feel jarring or did it feel natural? (For this second one, please do tell me which conclusion of the demo you got.)
  • How do you feel about the characters (given what you’ve seen)?
  • Did the fact you don’t really know Asmund at the time he dies make the scenes of grief tedious or uninteresting?
  • Speaking of, was there too much time spent on grief? I was trying to hit a believable balance, and even tried to have the narrative itself later sort of have the characters acknowledge that it’s probably time to shut up about it. Kind of hard to guage since, due to differing paths that all need their dose of it, I found myself sort of writing it again and again in different ways. So it’s kind of hard to judge.
  • if you’ve played the demo more than once, how different of an experience would you say you had?

I’d appreciate it if you left your answers in a “hide details” block just to save space and minimize discussin’ too many potential spoilers.

Thanks in advance! Happy to see so many people playing, judging from the clicks to the link!

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Here we go, hope it’s useful enough.

Summary

1- 20-30 minutes bec english isn’t my native language.
2- Personally, I didn’t find the pacing boring, in fact, I believe it was really good. About that transition at the end of the demo, I felt like instead of an ellipsis (where the character lays on the bed with your best friend) describing how you got to that point could actually be better, you could also point out something about that shady guy that’s looking for the machine.
3- The characters are interesting so far.
4- I didn’t care about him the slightest, you should probably add a flashback about a moment in the past.
5- Nope, it was balanced.

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Just played the demo. A few comments and suggestions:

  • I really like the way you describe scenes, characters and your overall writing style. So far, I found it very atmospheric and it sets a specific tone for the story. This might be a weird analogy, but the short, often one-word sentences felt like a ticking time bomb that kept me on the edge.
  • I would appreciate it if you could possibly add some sort of a prologue accounting a misadventure that the MC had in the past with Asmund, Eira and Hagen, which would hopefully help showcase the emotional bond between us and these characters. I say this because (as the player) it felt like these characters were kind of thrown at me, and I wasn’t invested in them enough to care about them apart from a few paragraphs that imply that I should, because they were old friends.
  • You might want to specify in the first post that there are no stats. I decided to check the stats screen towards the end of the demo, and it threw at me a game-breaking bug. I had to refresh the page and start over as there are no save functions yet.

Answers to the questions posted above:
  • About 30 minutes, because I was noting what I liked and didn’t like as I was playing through it, and I am a slow-reader.
  • I did not find anything about this demo boring. I got the ending where the mysterious guy shot me dead in an alley. It felt like a quick increase in pace in a short amount of time, which, given what was happening, felt natural to me.
  • Like I pointed out above, I wasn’t terribly invested in them. A flashback of some sort would be helpful if to signify the relationship between the player and the characters. From what I’ve seen, however, I really like Eira. Hagen, I’m not so sure about and he makes me want to keep my guard up for some reason. Asmund… I really feel like I wasn’t given a strong reason to feel about him strongly either way.
  • Even though I did not particularly care for Asmund, I was able to place myself in the MC’s shoes; and the grief from the other characters felt absolutely natural. It was relatable because I have lost people I cared about and I know how it affects their loved ones. If anything, it would bug me if it was underplayed.
  • No, absolutely not.
  • I have only played the demo once so far. I’m definitely going to do many more playthroughs.

All that said, I really loved what I read! I wish you the best with this story, and I’m looking forward to more and will provide feedback whenever I can!

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Thank you both for your feedback!

A comment regarding a common point between the answers
  • Asmund is a bit of a contradiction to me in terms of writing. I intentionally want to leave him as vague as possible at the start – both to communicate how little the player truly knows him, but also to build up the mystery on what kind of person he actually was. What did these people that grieve him so much like about him? How did he talk? Did he joke? How did he even look? etc. etc. It’s a mystery with an eventual pay-off. But the contradiction is, of course, that the majority of the demo is spent on characters grieving him. So my worry was that, by extension, the grief won’t come through, and thus a large chunk of the text will just be floating in the water. But, if the grief does seem alright and not too grating… I think it might just work out.
  • Especially since the flashbacks you’re looking for will make an appearance at one point down the line. As things stand, however, I can’t see it fitting in smoothly with the current chain of events without distracting from things.
  • The idea was for the player to see the type of person Eira is from their first interaction. Hagen will get his time (well. depending on which route you took.) Asmund, too, as I’ve mentioned, will be developed, even after his death.

Also, thanks for letting me know about the stats thing, @soprano. During testing, there was no issue – I’d only get a blank screen. It appears that dashingdon just doesn’t accept an empty file. For the time being, I’ve uploaded a palceholder to combat the glitch.

In the future, I’m considering turning the stats screen into a history of all the player’s more notable decisions – specifically marking the ones that ended up deciding their current route. The latter part is more of just an idea, since each route will have minor and more significant variations based on the “smaller” choices.

Thank you both again for answering!

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Answers to the queries above

Summary
  1. 15 mins maybe
  2. The pacing was really good, I also really like how you said the demo can have very different endings. I have only played once so far and that was yesterday.
  3. What I’ve seen about the character is fine so far a pretty standard Hosted Games character, I feel like I would need to read more to have more of an opinion.
  4. In regards to Asmund I really feel like we should see one or more flashback scenes because I don’t really know him as a character.
  5. The time spent on grief did seem like a really believable balance which I appreciated.
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Whoops I answered before finishing the post straight above. well I guess you have another persons thoughts now.

I don’t have a lot of updates to give out at the moment. Progress has been more or less non-existant during the past week due to commitments and other projects I have to get around to. The only thing I’ve changed so far is an incredibly minor one, but somewhat important from what I’m seeing of the routes people are getting at the end of the demo.

Choice structure

The main sort of “hiccup” for me at the moment is that the first significant branch in the game happens when the player has to choose whether or not to go to Asmund’s apartment to check up on him. Given everything, it’s… highly unlikely there’ll be too many people who will, in a choice between Something’s wrong. and He’s fine. pick the latter. Which is somewhat of an issue, because the differences in the routes become massive.

So, I’ve currently tried rewording it to this:

Something’s wrong. --> “Kind of annoying he hasn’t at least said something by now.”
He’s fine. --> “If something’s really wrong, we would have heard about it by now, right?”

It’s a change that makes the choice more ambigious now. The issue being, of course, that it becomes less apparent how your character will act. Maybe. I’m not actually sure? Would love to get some ideas on how it could maybe be reworded.

Since I don’t want to leave people completely empty-handed with these updates…

Plans (Contain some story structure spoilers)
  • Currently, there are five main routes the demo can end on. I am considering adding a sixth one, but I’d rather only proceed with actually adding it once the main five are close to completion.
  • The routes, as I’ve stated in the opening post, are not designed to be terribly long In other words, an average player should be able to get through the game in about an hour, assuming average reading speed.
  • Therefore, a player would, per playthrough, experience the content of the demo + unique third chapter that is formed depending on the route they ended up on in Chapter 2.
  • Of course, this unique third chapter will have its own significant branches to split off to, leading off to a specific ending.

This seems, to me at least, like something managable given my own time constraints. I don’t wish for this project to be an undertaking that ends up taking me more than few months. I want something short and replayable, as I’ve stated.

I just want to once again thank everyone who’s played through the demo, everyone who has given feedback, and for the likes. I hope you’ll all still be interested in playing once the full thing is complete.

Of course, any and all feedback at this stage is highly-welcomed.

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