Player Comments on Tales of the Solar Schism
TALES OF THE SOLAR SCHISM: 52%
Preview: After defecting from a genetically enhanced totalitarian state, you join the army of the Second Solar Commonwealth, and work to fight against the oppressive Solarian Aristocracy.
Basic Plot & Coherence: 3/5
The basic plot is solid and intriguing: You are a prominent defector from a totalitarian regieme where social status is based on genetic enhancements. This puts the player immediately in an interesting and dynamic political position, suggesting many possible directions for the story to proceed in. To what extent are you willing to betray your home country and wage war against it? In what position will your knowledge and enhancements be most useful, that of a soldier, a diplomat, a spy, or something else? What do your beneficial genetic enhancements and upbringing mean for your role in a society that has learned to hate and fear those who are genetically enhanced?
The problem is, none of these questions are really addressed. You’re totally willing to betray and fight your home country, you’re being positioned as a soldier, and all your genetic enhancements do is cause some social conflict with your peers (and allow you to beat them easily). This story starts off with an intriguing premise and a number of promising ideas, but doesn’t address them in an interesting way, and certainly not in any way the player has control over.
A few details:
-One confusion I have about this story is, why does the commonwealth decide to give you command of a spaceship? As far as I can tell, they still have no real reason to trust you. The game says that you are “too valuable” to waste as a resource, but there doesn’t seem to be any reason why that should be the case. Though the main character is genetically enhanced mentally and physically, they don’t seem like a very good tactician or diplomat.
-Also, it strikes me as unrealistic that anyone would pick a fight with the ship’s captain in the middle of the mess hall. It’s one thing to say that the higher-ups won’t bother to defend someone who’s genetically engineered, but as the captain, the main character holds real power over these people right now.
I’m giving this category a lot of credit for the idea, which is quite interesting and promising. I quickly became invested in the political structure of this world, and curious about the far-reaching and personal ramifications of the protagonist's decision to defect. But the execution feels more like a rough outline or a draft than a complete work.
Characters & Development: 1/5
There’s not much in the way of character development here. The main character’s choices never affect their personality or growth, and none of the side characters stick around for more than a scene or two.
Though the player has many opportunities to establish the main character’s personality, none of them matter. The first choice in the game is to state your driving motivation for betraying your country—an important character detail—but your choice has utterly no significance. The main character as they currently exist has almost no personality, and the player doesn’t have many options to customize it either.
Some of this is forgiveable, as this game is intended as a prologue rather than a complete work. In a longer work, I would hope to see many of the characters introduced in this section develop distinctive personalities and motivations, as well as giving the player the opportunity to decide what kind of person they want to be.
Mastery of Language: 1.5/3
Though the narration was both descriptive and entertaining, much the dialogue seemed stilted and forced. I had a hard time believing that this was really what the characters in question would say in the circumstances.
Mechanics & Coding: 2/3 (usually 5)
If you’re going to have the player select their own gender, it’s a good idea to have them do this at the beginning and then use on-page variables to have “he” or “she” in the text. As it is, the way the protagonists’ gender is handled on the first page is distracting from the storyline. This really jumps out when you later get to customize your own name (a much more difficult and genuinely impressive feat of coding), but the protagonist’s gender is still left clumsily ambiguous by the writing.
Also, you might benefit from including the images directly in the page rather than forcing the player to copy-paste links. I didn’t bother to use the links.
Branching: 0/2 (usually 3)
Virtually none. With one exception at the end, none of the choices you make have any impact on the plot other than flavor text.
Player Options/fair choice: 1/3
In short, none of the decisions the player makes actually matter.
Also, in many of the circumstances when the player is given a choice about how to approach the situation, the outcome seems slightly different than what the link would indicate. For example, choosing to deal with a group in the mess hall “diplomatically” led to me threatening them with a court martial, which doesn’t seem exactly diplomatic.
For the one important decision, however, I thought the game foreshadowed well what the best course of action was.
WRITING SUGGESTIONS: The story might have more interesting dynamics if the main character is assigned to an important, but still middle-ranking position, rather than being immediately promoted to captain. This would give you the opportunity to throw more obstacles at the player (a hostile ship’s captain, lack of protection from rank, limited influence over decision making), while opening doors for some new plotlines (earning the trust of crewmates as a peer rather than a superior, having to persuade superiors to adopt certain strategies, climbing through the army’s ranks over time). This wouldn’t change the story much if the player is assigned to, say, and important tactical advisor position on the ship, as the player would still get the opportunity to give speeches/get into fights in the mess hall/advise the captain on tactical moves in combat.
Given the story's current structure, you may want to consider trying to turn this into a linear story rather than keeping it in an interactive format. You have a clear sense of the world and story, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of wiggle room for the player within that structure. I think this concept would fare far better as a traditional narrative, as you wouldn’t need to railroad the player back onto the main plot, and could focus on giving the main character a stronger and more specific personality.
CONCLUSION: 13.5/26 = 51.92%
on 9/9/2021 2:31:55 PM with a score of 0
that was pretty damn fun. the decisions were logical and extremely witty. good job man
— John Harridan on 10/12/2021 1:14:24 AM with a score of 0
Upon seeing the premise, I thought, "Interesting! There are plenty of sci-fi stories, but few of them deal with the social and ethical ramifications of genetic engineering, let's see what these random noobs can do!"
Well, you guys did something. It wasn't a bad something, but it still had a few errors and didn't quite live up to my expectations.
Concerning the writing: it wasn't bad, and I dare say that it was pretty good. The only issues here were that the "fight" scene was poorly written, and that you occasionally screwed up parentheticals with some comma usage. Another minor thing is that you use (S)he or his/her, which is kind of jarring (especially if used in speech). My recommendation is that you just pick a gender for your character (since you pick a name anyway), or just create a concrete character.
My next issue is that there simply isn't enough depth, at least for me, in the various descriptions of the Commonwealth. The first one is actually good, with the calls of street vendors and the clothing of the citizens being described and creating a pretty solid image. However, you then begin handwave this description by simply saying "it's all very new and bizarre to your sheltered self", but this just creates an impression of a very generic sci-fi setting, and could describe anything from a happy Star Wars/Star Trek universe to a darker WH40k one. To improve this, you could do something like describe one of the TV shows, or a specific location you visit (outside of boring military buildings).
There's also the issue of linearity. You try to disguise this by having multiple choices at some points, but they all lead to the same result. For a prologue, this is bearable, but if you actually decide to finish this story (which you should), then this would be unacceptable.
Overall, this wasn't bad, and is certainly better than rotting in the SHAME pit, and is also better than what many noobs do, when they create an account, talk big, and then do nothing. Hopefully, you will take some of the feedback into consideration, and eventually publish a larger work!
(Oh, and figure out the images, or remove them).
on 9/14/2021 8:16:52 PM with a score of 0
Not the biggest fan of stories on here that are essentially prologues. Even if a story is meant to be part of a series, I much prefer the story to be something that can be considered its own little self complete narrative even if it is part of a whole. Oftentimes, stories are started and then never returned to and we're just left with a skeleton of what was to be something much more.
For what there is, it's well-written and concise. I named my character Gay and that certainly was appeasing to my immature mind. So that's one positive I think there is. Being able to name yourself basically anything you want. From what I read, this is somewhat linear, and could do with more polishing if or when this is returned to. Was interested in seeing where the writer was going with it.
on 9/12/2021 4:30:34 PM with a score of 0
Published prologues aren't generally well-received here. The world itself was cool, a little Ender-like in some points. Whatever images were supposed to load didn't for me. I just saw an Imgur link. I think this could have been a decent story to read if it were fleshed out and tested. The writing itself was good. But as it stands now it feels incomplete.
on 9/7/2021 9:30:51 PM with a score of 0
The premise was interesting, and the story was engaging. I also liked the part where you entered your name and that name was used for the rest of the story; I haven’t seen that done before.
However, I’ve had to take marks off for linearness. All the “choices” just join back up after on page. There is only one possible way to lose, which is by choosing the wrong choice out of 3 at the very last choice. Storygames are supposed to be about making choices, which determine the course of the story. Your “choices” don’t do this at all.
4/8, make it less linear and it would probably be a 5 or 6.
on 9/6/2021 5:16:11 PM with a score of 0