So I've read all the articles on writing multiple times and I've played a good few games here since I'd joined, but I'm still not 100% sure what people want from a story game. Most comments are about grammar or specific details, but I want to know what shapes a really good story. I want to leave my mark here and contribute something to the site, may it be just decent, but you guys have such high standards, I'm not sure where to go next. I have a few questions that may help me.
What type of gameplay is most fun? Are linear storylines or branching sub-plots better? How much freedom is too much? Are items even enjoyed by players?
Are puzzles best spoon-fed or should you really have to search for the answer? I've seen a lot of people complain about the wal*mart game for its seemingly random puzzles but I found it challenging and extremely fun.
Should the main character be defined and detailed or should it be up to the reader's imagination? I love making characters, but if it's too hard to play as someone you're not, I get that.
Is it better to have branches stick close together or completely different? I like the idea of getting an entirely new story each time you play, but if that's confusing for players, I don't want that to effect the gameplay.
Lastly, am I thinking too much about this? Is it just better to write from the heart and whatever bullshit pops in your head? I love writing but I feel like I make it a chore more than anything. If anyone has any tips on how to motivate myself to write and how to write quickly that would be much appreciated.
Have a great day and a happy Halloween!
Well, what I look for in a story is that it's good enough for me to get lost into the world. I don't want to feel like I'm reading something, but I am immersing myself into the happenings of that particular story-game. If it's like a fantasy setting, or if it takes place in a world that's not ours, I do appreciate the thought to weave together background information for the reader to digest. Creating lore, no matter how generic or not generic it might be, shows that the writer themselves are investing in their own writing enough to go beyond simply creating a path or two for their audience to go through.
Now when it comes to linear stories, or ones that branch, well, I can be fine with either. If a story is linear, I feel that it has to be an entertaining adventure that makes itself have an intriguing prologue, and a satisfying conclusion at the end. Epilogues are cool. Now if a story-game is one that branches, I feel as if the writer should make each branch feel on the same playing field as the other. I don't think you want one branch of your story way more enjoyable than the others. Like if one path has you engaging in combat a lot more, maybe the other branch of your story-game is more introspective, and it's about properly maneuvering through the hidden plots of murder and poison or something, while we see how the character reacts and responds, and ultimately changes at the end. I think each branch should have a theme that’s going for it. That in my opinion would create some good replayability for your story-game.
When it comes to items, I enjoy the items that can get added to your inventory, but they're not things that you actively have to use. I think it can mess with my enjoyment a bit if I choose an item, and it does nothing. Like only one or two items actually progress the scene or does anything. That really doesn’t inspire much in thoughts of freedom and player choice for me. However if it's a possible game, well, I guess only the proper use of items in the proper order would be the crux of the puzzle.
On your main character, I'm sure there's plenty of people whom enjoy being able to project themselves in someone that hasn’t too much in the terms of already properly defined set of traits, goals, etc. However if the main character is someone with grand ambitions in an overarching world with other characters with their own ambitions that can either be for or against that character, well that story can be an awesome read.
Really what I'm saying is that it's up to the player's discretion, but you as the writer will have to decide on what you want to do. I don't think one way of writing a main character is stronger than the other when the story-game itself is enjoyable at the end of the day.
On and motivation for writing? Well just write what you enjoy. You can say it's generic, but it works and is true! I think the best stories can only come from writing what you personally enjoy rather what you believe everyone else would enjoy. I think that would resonate more in life and general and even with the total Chad regular members on the site, and the noobs alike.
I think that this thread was a good first step when it comes to your writing.
Hope you stay safe and enjoy your Halloween as well.
Thank you for all this, it was really helpful! I'll keep this in mind.
First, yes, you are thinking about this way too much. Write for yourself first, that way you'll put more heart and soul into what you come up with. Making your story accessible to others is a second-draft thing, not a first-draft thing. However, given the length of this response, I'm also obviously thinking about this way too much, so here's my longer and less helpful answer:
I'm more inclined to read works that pull you in quickly. I force myself to completely play and write a looong review for each game I read, so I tend to avoid committing myself to games that don't seem like they'd be worth the effort.
For literary games, I like pretty much the same things in storygames that I like in traditional fiction, such as engaging characters and well-developed settings. There are a few themes that I personally like, such as stories about developing competence, and stories with a lot of humor, but my personal preferences probably aren't very helpful to you.
If you're specifically looking to attract readers, I recommend choosing a target audience and sticking to it. Then, you ignore the complaints of anyone who doesn't fit the description, and pay close attention to the complaints of those you do. As a writer of storygames, your choice of a target audience is already very limited.
Any genre or style of story can work with the choose-your-own format, but I think the format lends itself well to puzzle games, combat or challenge based literary games (such as a quest or spy mission), stories where the protagonist's choices will have far-reaching effects on the setting (so you can see those changes play out in different branches), and large-scope stories that allow the protagonist and setting to change greatly over time in a variety of ways. I like to see stories that really take advantage of the interactivity this format provides, and do more than just show the player a series of related stories.
As for what's popular/preferred on this site's target audience specifically, here's my general impression of what people like:
-The setting is richly detailed and complex. It will often be fantasy or sci-fi, but a real world story can also have significant lore.
-The protagonist can make morally gray (or black) choices that don't lead to immediate death or endgame links.
-The plot and events are large-scope and consequential, and the protagonist has the power to majorly affect them.
-Puzzles are not as popular as other games, and should not be too difficult.
-There's a surprisingly large number of popular stories about the protagonist practicing necromancy, demonology, or some other form of dark magic.
-Games that poke fun at or play into traditional fantasy cliches and plots.
-Games that have a protagonist with a strong and distinctive personality, sometimes an abrasive or antisocial one.
-Games that have easily accessible endgame links.
Am I missing or incorrect about any popular CYS trends?
Sounds about right.
Though the puzzle games do have their following. They were probably more popular here during the earlier years of the site.
The folks into them seem to be more of the lurker members or driveby guests. At least a few of the admins here appreciate them and it certainly doesn't hurt to have variety.
I like in-depth puzzles when they're good and charming enough to make you think.
People who make terrible puzzles, such as, but not limitted to "turn the entire house upside down searching individual pieces of furniture for the item you need", should be forcibly twisted around by factory machinery and forced to shit in their own mouths.
Nah. Fuck that. Puzzles are gay.
Even the ones that I rate favorably, I find to be gay.
Straightforward story-games like End's are the true Chad material. It's why he remains our beloved superior. He doesn't use items, or the advanced editor in ways which make you have to click links in the proper order or some shit. Or you to use an item a certain way, or you have to figure out a riddle in a way that can't be guessed, like actually typing the damn thing out manually. Or trying to unlock a chest, and having to type numbers manually! End would never do that. Because he follows the straight and true path.
Just straight fucking page links that you click.
No gimmicks. The next person that makes a difficult puzzle story-game is getting fucking banned!
I'm kicking their ass! I'm a mod but I'm not fucking unbiased and impartial! I hated Mystic's haunted mystery game! I rated it higher than the numerical value it has, but I FUCKING HATED IT!
I swear I'm banning the next fucker that makes me have to solve a difficult puzzle! AND I'M KICKING THEIR ASS TOO! Not physically of course, because that's impossible to do. It's impossible in a logistic sense.
But I can totally kick everyone's ass, no cap. Just trust me, bro.
mizal if my next story game has more puzzles in it than thara likes could you convince them not to ban me
You're joining the dark side with that action.
Oh deary me, it looks like I should reconsider republishing my puzzle-heavy storygame in the next few days as I had planned :)
Though you already rated it, so I may be safe.
Do you mean the part about CYS's popular themes, or the whole post?
If it's the CYS popular themes thing, does anyone know of any more that I missed?
I took out the quotation marks, but I'm fine with it as it is. Thanks!
Well, I'm late to the party. I also am a nobody who's opinion doesn't matter, but these threads are fun to weigh in on. I'll just briefly comment on each section/question.
Gameplay is whatever is preferred by the individual. That being said, I think the fun part of a story game is having different branches to interact with and explore. However, writing quality comes above all else. One amazing linear storyline is better than two or three really boring branches in a bad branching story. A story that is immersive will be good regardless of how many branches and such. Too much freedom is simply the point when choices stop mattering or the writing quality drops. Items don't seem to be necessary or loved, but it all depends on how well you use them and how they are incorporated into the story. Quality of the story should come before using items for no reason. Put the items in if it adds to the story.
I like puzzles to be challenging and logical. They should not be random so that a player has to guess, but they shouldn't be so easy that there is no point. If you are concerned about it, you can make an answer guide in the forums with a link in the story synopsis. That way a reader can try to figure the puzzle out if they want to and have a way to get answers if they are frustrated. This will also vary based on the readers opinion; however, why even put in the puzzle if it's too easy/obvious? We already get choices in your story without puzzles, so making a real or challenging puzzle is what separates a "puzzle" from another choice link in my opinion.
Characters should be well made like anywhere else in general. I believe the main character is included here. There are some very popular stories that have a generic main character (like marooned-on-giri-minor and its sequel); however, I think you have to know how to make that work to do it well. If your character can interact with other characters without pronouns or a name, have logical choices in the story without a personality to base these choices on, and carry the story forward in an interesting way without a personality, then go ahead. In Marooned on Giro Minor the main character is always referred to by their military rank, makes survival choices that are presented by other characters, and basically just describes the outcomes of these choices on a fantasy planet where they are forced to be in charge due to everyone with a higher rank dying (from what I remember). This allows the generic main character to do what they need to do without ruining the story. If you can't do all of that, it's okay. Make a character that is well developed. People will relate to them as long as they hold their logic.
Yes. It's good to think about this, but try just writing your first draft without editing and thinking about it too hard. You can go back and edit the story after it's written. Believe it or not, everything gets done faster if you write a complete rough draft then go back to edit. People who edit as they go (like me) just never allow themselves to finish a story.
I hope this helps! Good luck with your story. Also, sorry if I just repeated a bunch of stuff. I didn't read everything that was said previously to avoid repeated advice.
Oh no you're fine! This was really helpful, thank you. :)
Sorry, my ass is too full of frogs to do that.