Hollow: Outbreak

Player Rating4.40/8

"Too few ratings to be ranked"
based on 23 ratings since 02/16/2020
played 484 times (finished 30)

Story Difficulty1/8

"no possible way to lose"

Play Length7/8

"It keeps going and going"

Maturity Level5/8

"aren't you a little too old to be trick or treating"
Some material may be inappropriate for persons under age 13. If this were a movie, it would probably be PG-13.

The world gets overrun by an unknown virus and soon it invades your way of life. Your college grounds turn from a friendly and possible romantic field to a desolate land filled with danger and loss. 

Can you fight back and keep as many of your friends alive while you seek safety, or will you perish alongside the bodies of your former friends?

This is my first ever story :D

Player Comments

This is a excellent attempt as a first storygame, so you ought to be proud of yourself/yourselves.

I greatly enjoy reading Steven's relationships with the other characters, especially with Michael (I was surprised that I feel saddened on what happened to him in the end), and I can tell you put a great emphasis on making sure each of the group gets enough screen time in order for us to know them a bit more and flesh their characters out. This adds a depth to each of them. The only one I felt was underdeveloped was the Snakeguy (cool nickname). There's only one line that mentioned his motivation in getting in between Michael and Alyssa's relationship. It's a bit of a mystery. It's been said that Michael does have issues and a tendency to become violent, so I wish you explore the connection between him and Snakeguy. (Unless it's already been said and I haven't find the answer, in that case feel free to ignore this part of the review.)

Romance was nice - I liked each of them well enough, and I like the banter each of them have with Steven in accordance to their personality (Keira was my favourite). Though I have to admit it is a bit strange that that a relationship is possible with them even though we don't know them for that long.

In regards to the writing itself: it's well done. Grammar was good, and the dialogue between the characters were decent. I have spotted a few typos though, not much of an issue, but despite that here's the list that I've remembered from the top of my head, so that you can find them and correct them if you decide to edit your storygame. I'll try my best to add more if I can:

(From the page "Steven, a handsome 20 year old") "Lions are a way cooler, dad!" Get rid of the "a".

(From the page "A little bird chimes in") "Hello, I'm Molly who is you?" Replace "is" with "are".
"Molly her eyes grow wide for a second." Either get rid of "Molly" or get rid of "her" and add an apostrophe and an s to Molly.

(The last page) "Rest well Little bird." Lowercase the l in "little".

Moreover, another minor issue I have is that the flow of the story can be a bit awkward; some sentences are a bit too long and winded. My suggestion is don't be afraid to use more commas as well as adding adverbs (calmly, sadly, knowingly etc.).

And lastly... the choices. Like you said, there's not really much branching there and I often felt that my choices didn't matter e.g. I chose to save someone but that didn't help in the end. Although I do notice when a few choices that did change the story a bit etc. if you protect Alyssa's secret or told her to tell Michael will affect how much she warms up to you at the end. That was really neat.

However, you acknowledged the lack of branching because of scripting. I just want to say that as this is your first storygame it's not required for you for be ambitious (I should take my own advice) and do what's easier for you. No need to copy and paste and make entire new pages for a change in one sentence to two - that's unnecessary work. Though I do admire your resolve in making this despite the difficulty.

In conclusion: very good attempt at a first storygame, some loopholes in the plot (The fates of Steven's brothers being the other I just remembered), decent romances, few grammar and spellings mistakes, limited choices and branchings. You guys have a knack for writing and definitely have the capability to write some even greater storygames in the future if you stay in this community long enough. Good luck in your future stories!
-- Pirate on 3/15/2020 9:16:22 PM with a score of 0
I know you said this story doesn't have as much branching as you would've liked, but to make a first game of this quality is still something to be proud of. Even if you couldn't figure out the scripting, all the copy-pasting needed to make the changes needed still takes some dedication. Like pretty much everyone else here, I hope you do wind up coming back here and writing another game sometime. Maybe try a Time-Cave style story, that way you won't need as much scripting for little dialogue changes in order to have meaningful choices.

Your character development at the beginning of the story was pretty nice. At first I was a little concerned that just taking us through the first day of school would result in a boring beginning, but you surprised me by using it to introduce all of the stories characters. I think that was actually my favorite section of the story, because I liked the characters so much.

That said, I did notice that all the girls in the story were quite forward with their romantic interest in me, to say the least. It would have made a little more sense if it was just one character, say, Abigale, but the others seemed just as willing to cozy up with some guy they'd just met. Now, it may just be because I spend a lot of my time indoors playing video games and writing instead of going out and actually talking to people, but in my experience, most girls aren't so direct in their flirting. I get that you only had so long to develop a romantic relationship in this story, but it still would've been cool if the flirting was just a little more subtle in the beginning there instead of escalating as fast as it did.

Speaking of things escalating quickly, the virus seemed like it kinda came out of nowhere. With something like the coronavirus, we had a lot of warning before it got to us. It's been sitting in the back of our minds for a few months now, only really causing chaos here now that we've known about it for a while. It would've been interesting if the protagonist had seen a broadcast about it on the news in the first couple of pages, but simply brushed it off as something that would be resolved within the week, and therefore wouldn't affect him. In this story, there was only a gap of, like, a day or two between when they heard the news and when it actually impacted their lives.

Other than that, I really did enjoy this story. 4/8 from me this time, but I certianly think you could get at least into the 5-6 range if you ever come back to write another story.
-- jster02 on 3/15/2020 12:42:21 PM with a score of 0
Even if this had a lot of padding and copy and pasting it was still a pretty hefty story and an impressive first effort from a newbie. (three newbies?)

I'll just address the main issue right away which is obviously one you're aware of based on the last page author's notes: again, it has a lot of padding and copy and pasting. The "true" length is probably about a quarter of the actual word count. I know you said you didn't understand the variables and all that, but there's an active community here and a board on the forum for questions about the advanced editor. In this case I see you already created the variables, all you needed to do was set them when certain choices were made, use a single line of script to identify that and send the player directly to the relevant page, or use another line of script to change a line or two of text wherever.

You said this was your last game here but I really hope that's not the case, because it's obvious to anyone you have a lot of promise. I'd be happy to give explanations of the script you needed or even screenshots if that would help. It's true this one felt lacking in choices in many places, but branching stories can be intimidating to structure and easily get away from you unless you're familiar with them. The experience you gained here would only make the next project easier however.

As for the story itself, I admit I'm not the target audience for either school drama or zombie stories, but the writing itself was solid and the characters kept my interest, and even with the linearity, if someone is really into these genres I'm sure they'd enjoy it even more. Coming at it expecting a CYOA style thing though, it's a bit of a rough start clicking through all those pages in the beginning only to get hit with the big choice of who to sit next to on the bus.

The strongest and most interesting part of the story for me was the trouble between Matthew and Alyssa. That kind of high emotion human drama suddenly being subjected to the stress of an actual life and death situation is a powder keg and keeps you wondering how it will all play out. And of course you spent a lot of time building up the relationships of everyone in the school itself which I thought was an interesting choice that took some restraint. I think it's really only in the last third that the genre shifts to start in with the actual zombie content, and at that point the reader is invested enough in everyone's more personal problems that it takes you by surprise.

The bits about the teachers trying to keep the zombies a secret on the other hand felt kind of pointless and weak. Nothing really comes of it since it's an 'obstacle' gotten around immediately, and from a realism standpoint, they wouldn't be able to cut phones and internet and all communication in the entire town without that itself causing a panic and having everyone demand answers. This would have benefit from either being developed more or simply cut so that the kids can track the developing situation in a more natural way.

Anyway, seeing a story this size from a complete unknown was pretty unexpected, and as I said I hope it's not REALLY the last one.

-- mizal on 2/16/2020 6:16:26 PM with a score of 0
Not a bad game and in the future I am sure that you will include more choices.
-- A on 7/1/2020 8:39:56 PM with a score of 0
I postponed reading this new story until I had some proper time allocated for it. An unknown author threw his claim for glory down with a story containing a whopping 150k words. That's extremely impressive, even if you pumped yourself full of Adderall several weeks straight.

Still, for all its mass, it received a mediocre rating and only 20 ratings. And instead of reading the few reviews like a chump, I wanted to discover it for my own. I'll focus on my reactions during my reading of the story. Then talk a bit about the plot, characters, and the writings itself. Maybe I'll come off as too strong, but I hope it'll function more as constructive points of improvement.

Alright, the story starts strong. It had the zombie and horror tag, so this first page immediately drew my attention. It added suspense, stakes, and action—all great to lure your readers and capture their attention. But then the story performed some sort of a bait-and-switch. Instead of continuing the story of a soldier fighting for his life, I'm reading about breakfast in a kind of a teen romance, judging by the descriptions and overabundant mention of eye color. There are no stakes, no suspense, and there is no action. This would be fine on its own, somewhat of a slow buildup, but the earlier high octane dream contrasted it into tedium.

It's become clear that this won't be an action write, but one more focussed on the characters. I have to say that I enjoyed the dialogue. It comes off naturally, is enjoyable to read, and highlights the personalities involved. I could remember and picture the types like Michael, Alyssa, and Nolan. Notably, Michael reads to me like a true bro.

On the other hand, I feel the characters could be deepened more, for a story focussed on them. Most girls seem to be characterized as them being either insanely cute or insanely beautiful and actively flirting. Michael appears to be a bit larger than life, with nothing holding him back and making him a more interesting character. And the Bad Trio never felt like a threat; there was a scared one, a mouthy one, and a silent one. Snake guy didn't even receive a name, but he was a snake.

To piggyback to the stakes portion. That was what this section lacked. The fight was too easy, and there were hardly any struggles or dark clouds on the horizon. As the 'quiet before the storm' part, it lasted too long. A bit offhand, is it normal in America to have a college class with history, gym, and biology classes? It read more like a high-school, which could provide some leeway of blandness in characterization. The kids haven't matured yet.

Then things started happening. After a quick quest about withholding information (couldn't they have listened to the radio or looked it up on the internet?) and romantic drama, zombies started to appear! We're back into the high octane dream!

This part was well done, which gives me room to talk about writing style. There was a very high variation in paragraph length. Some were four sentences; others lasted half a page. I like the shorter ones. Recently there's been a brief discussion about the length between (I think) Shadow and our resident professor, Gower, and I agree wholeheartedly. Large laps of text are simply harder to read, and thus to get away with as an author, when it's projected on a screen. Call us lazy readers.

Also, a significant improvement would be to add more commas and 'indicator words' like finally, furthermore and until. Without them, and combined with the large laps of text, the writing felt jittery and was uneasy to read. If I focussed hard, I could see a rough diamond beneath it all; the writing painted a clear picture, especially at the bloody busses part. It just needs a slight bit extra to make it shine.

The long buildup made the ending come off as abrupt. I expected the base to be overrun as a second, larger arc to make the whole feel more balanced. Although I understand you lost motivation on such a large project.

That brings me to the end, which led me to review this as a straight narrative, instead of interactive fiction. I fear this last point has been what made the ratings drop.

Overall I see a lot of potential, whether you decide to give the interactive fiction another try or keep writing straight narratives, and I'll be looking forward to any new work. My biggest tip would be to pace the whole better.
-- enterpride on 6/27/2020 7:49:33 PM with a score of 0
This was fine, I won't go into the details of the issues I had since all of them already seem to be mentioned here.

The only thing that I really didn't like is the whole way the author has represented the way people in college interact with each other...it literally felt like one of those over the top, extremely dramatic, and so cringe worthy comedy shows. It doesn't work like that AT ALL in real life. Like, seriously c'mon. Aside from that, the personalities were explained well, and I kinda generated a connect with everyone. The way things shifted from calmness to apocylapse was really good.

Just work on creating more realistic characters and not some that seem straight out of a cringe romedy soap opera in the future, and I'm sure you'll manage to make some good story games.
-- ShoujoAddict on 4/4/2020 12:14:05 PM with a score of 0
The first page was really interesting. I enjoyed the introduction of the dangerous hordes killing military. It is odd for me to see many pages pass without a choice or decision even if it didn’t matter but your writing and storytelling in the beginning is done well enough that it doesn’t bother me at all. Side note is the first few pages a lot of the time you wrote send but sent would have been a better form.

Okay, bud. You should definitely continue writing. It was well written and kept my attention. It was a little saddening that the ending wasn’t really done but it did hold an apology at least. You should come back and finish this properly. There was a lot of linear storytelling but like I said, kept my attention. I like how you chose to add more problems than just surviving. The relationship issues allowed for more emotional actions and not logical which is more realistic, bravo.

I enjoy apocalyptic themes and this one certainly wasn’t the worst one and I will be checking on it here and there to see if you added to it or improved it at all.
-- TheDeadKin on 2/22/2020 10:00:31 PM with a score of 0
Very good job for your first storygame :)
-- historicfictionlover on 2/20/2020 6:07:24 PM with a score of 0
Forgot to mention as well, there are several pages throughout this where it looks like the text has been specifically set to black, meaning they're unreadable in dark mode unless highlighted (which means the return of the bright white we hate and fear). Not a huge problem but I guess it's caused by copying from Google docs while having the Rich Text Editor turned on like a scrub, if you ever unpublish to do edits and that's something you want to address. Many of the active reviewers are using dark mode through the site extension though which means they'll run into those pages.
-- mizal on 2/17/2020 6:10:03 AM with a score of 0
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