Blog

Oct 19

2021

Author Interview: Jeffrey Dean, Vampire: The Masquerade—Parliament of Knives

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (2)

The undead Prince of Canada’s capital city has disappeared, and his second-in-command, Eden Corliss, wants you to find out why. You’ve been loyal to Corliss since she Embraced you and made you a vampire, but this could be your chance to take her place. Vampire: The Masquerade — Parliament of Knives is a 600,000-word interactive horror novel by Jeffrey Dean, based on “Vampire: The Masquerade” and set in the World of Darkness shared story universe.

I sat down to chat with Jeffrey about the project and his familiarity with the property. Vampire: The Masquerade — Parliament of Knives releases next Thursday, October 28th. You can play the first three chapters or wishlist it on Steam now!

This is the third World of Darkness universe game Choice of Games has published, and what I love about it is how it differs so dramatically from both Night Road and Out for Blood. Can you talk a little about why this was the Vampire: The Masquerade story you wanted to tell?

I’m absolutely fascinated by vampire politics and the nature of these creatures hidden in the dark, controlling the world’s economies and politics while fighting each other as much through social slights as physical attacks. When we were discussing pitches, I immediately gravitated to ideas more focused on a high-born vampire who would be brought low by a series of events and be given the choice of how to shape the future of the city’s Camarilla.

My past work for Choice of Games, the “Werewolves” series, is generally pretty story-heavy with less focus on stats, and I wanted to continue that style here. Because of that, Vampire: The Masquerade — Parliament of Knives differs from the other two games not only in subject matter, but in game design as well. I cut the stats to the essential 9 attributes in an effort to lean into the medium’s strengths as a story-teller while still allowing for fully customizable characters. My goal was to keep readers’ eyes on the text and not worrying about checking their character sheet before every choice for a more organic experience.

What’s your personal history with “Vampire: The Masquerade?”

My very first experience with “Vampire: the Masquerade” was during my freshman year in university. It was a very intense LARP that threw me in the deep end of a politics-heavy Camarilla campaign full of intrigue, action, and back-stabbing. It was pretty intimidating, to be honest, but they hooked me up with a core book and within a few nights I was forming alliances and backstabbing Council members like I’d been doing it my entire unlife. After that I was hopelessly hooked. In the years since, I’ve played in campaigns where I was able, and when it wasn’t, I still kept up with the material the same way one might with a favorite book series.

What surprised you most about working on a licensed property in the sense of a world you were bringing your writing to, rather than inventing yourself?

I’m not sure I’d use the word surprised, but the biggest adjustment was the additional oversight and the amount of research I ended up doing. I tend to write very off the cuff; I’m what some authors would call a ‘pantser.’ I’ve often joked that my characters tell me what they want to do and I roll with it, so I had to rein them in a little bit with this one. Canon World of Darkness material for Ottawa (and Canada in general) is pretty sparse, but it still needed to be accounted for, so I designed my characters’ back history with that in mind.

Which of the NPCs in Vampire: The Masquerade — Parliament of Knives did you most enjoy writing?

I was surprised by this one, but the Nosferatu Primogen, Michel Bouchard, was a joy to write. He’s a vulgar, irascible monster who has no hang ups about killing whoever he needs to as long as it gets him what he wants. But if you ally with him, you’ll find in the latter half of the story that he’s a more complicated and vulnerable creature than he lets on. For whatever reason, he just sprung onto the page whenever I was writing him like he knew what he was doing before I typed it.

You’re an American living in Canada, and I know Ottawa gets a bad rep even amongst Canadians as being boring, but I actually think it’s a beautiful city. What of your knowledge of the place informed the writing in the game?

Ottawa is beautiful! I don’t think I’ve heard many people up here call it boring; usually that’s reserved for Oshawa, which I’ll admit sounds pretty similar. (Sorry, Oshawa readers!) I spent a week in Ottawa with my partner not long before writing my pitch and I fell in love with it, so when I was encouraged to pick a Canadian city for my setting, I decided pretty quickly. I used a combination of my experience walking through the city, my pictures, research, and street-view for my descriptions. I used several real-world buildings, streets, parks, and suburbs for my scenes, many of which should be recognizable in real life. I also used my home city of Kitchener in one of the endings as well, which was fun to add in.

What are you working on next?

Next up is to get my butt moving on Werewolves 3: Evolution’s End, before my readers start camping outside my house with pitchforks! But seriously, I’m looking forward to delving into the werewolf side of the supernatural spectrum again!

Oct 07

2021

Two New Hosted Game! “Interstellar Airgap” by John Lance and “The Horror Behind the Walls” by Alex Ryan

Posted by: Kai DeLeon | Comments (0)

Hosted Games has two new games for you to play!

Interstellar Airgap

The country of Panwestia has conquered half the globe–and they’re not stopping. Backed by terrible interstellar weapons, the leaders are preparing to pull the trigger on the other half. Information exists that can bring the hegemon down, but to retrieve it? You’ll need to shoot for the stars.

It’s 40% off until October 14th!

Interstellar Airgap is a thrilling 220,000-word interactive science fiction novel by John Lance, where your choices control the story. It’s entirely text-based—without graphics or sound effects—and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

  • Play as male, female, or non-binary; gay, straight, bi, pan, or asexual.
  • Pilot a nimble ship through the infinite darkness of space.
  • Mastermind a brazen escape from an asteroid prison.
  • Work alongside those looking to dismantle the power structure–or crush their resistance beneath your heel.
  • Find romance with a reformed cop, a revolutionary firebrand, a forthright rocket pilot, a pacifist with a troubled past, or one of the most brilliant minds of their generation.
  • Experience more than a dozen unique endings, all with unique twists based on your companion and/or romantic partner.
  • Run away from a very scary bear!

Stay one step ahead on a galaxy-spanning heist!

The Horror Behind the Walls by Alex Ryan

The Horror Behind the Walls

The sun had set across the mountain tops, save for a single flicker that still glistened from a single peak. The locals know not to investigate. Not only because the German government has forbidden it, but also because those who do never return the same, if at all. The few known survivors, in-between their lapses of madness, speak of great stone walls that uphold a structure more imposing than any known today. Little does the world know, however, that these walls no longer serve their intended purpose of keeping intruders out, but rather, to now keep something in.

It’s 33% off until October 14th!

The Horror Behind the Walls is an immersive 34,000-word interactive horror novel intended to provide phenomenal imagery in every scene. From the author of The Aether: Life as a God, Alex Ryan, your choices control the story. It’s entirely text-based—without graphics or sound effects—and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

All you know is that someone, or something, has been calling to you. With hundreds of cases solved and thousands of spirits laid to rest, your name has become synonymous with the paranormal. Renowned as one of the world’s greatest private investigators, you are about to uncover a secret far more disturbing than any case you’ve worked on in the past. Night after night, nightmares have been sent across the world to plague your dreams. Something that’s been hidden away from a time long forgotten now beckons to be remembered. 

  • Play as a male, female, or nonbinary.
  • Track down the source of the nightmares that have haunted you.
  • Explore an ancient castle and traverse its labyrinth.
  • It is up to you to piece together the clues and discover what happened.
  • Uncover an ancient secret and determine how the story ends.
  • Survive the horrors and find a way to rid them from the world forever.

Uncover the truth and witness The Horrors Behind the Walls.

John and Alex developed their games using ChoiceScript, a simple programming language for writing multiple-choice interactive novels like these. Writing games with ChoiceScript is easy and fun, even for authors with no programming experience. Write your own game and Hosted Games will publish it for you, giving you a share of the revenue your game produces.

Oct 04

2021

New Hosted Game! “Rain King” by Marvin K

Posted by: Kai DeLeon | Comments (0)

Hosted Games has a new game for you to play!

Rain King

In an alternate future where medieval laws coexist with scientific and technological advancements, a revolution is boiling. Personal reasons will force you to be at the forefront of it. Your place in this world is a simple yet powerful role, granted to you thanks to your haunting past and the current political situation in the empire. A long war threatens the autocracy of your ruler and soon you will find your life thrown upside down, engaging in an emotionally fueled conflict you never wished to be part of. As you dig deeper, you will find untold truths.

It’s 33% off until September 30th!

Rain King is a 50,000-word science-fiction interactive novel by Marvin K. It’s entirely text-based, without graphics or sound effects, and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

Inside this unique world you will have to deal with a lot of characters, each with their own goals and mentality. They might be part of your plan, or you theirs. Decisions will have to be made. Power or catastrophe might be the consequence. Your true nature will be exposed in this game of philosophy, drama, action, faith, death, family, friendship and love. As you forge your own prism of reality you might watch it shatter to pieces. After all, truth is but a fly caught in a web of lies.

  • Play as male or female; as gay, straight, bisexual, or asexual.
  • Explore a fantastical world reaching the limits of human advancements but being far from an utopia.
  • Make allies that would give their life for you and try to manipulate and win the favor of your acquaintances.
  • In retribution change your life and that of the biggest empire on the planet.
  • Try not to get deceived. Choose which truths to believe.
  • Help and care for others or think about your own life and let them die.
  • Choose your arsenal and unleash your inner demon in the action sequences.
  • Follow your heart and fall in love or use your admirers’ feelings for your own purposes.
  • Open your eyes and find a meaning to it all.

As you forge your own prism of reality, you might watch it shatter to pieces.

Marvin developed this game using ChoiceScript, a simple programming language for writing multiple-choice interactive novels like these. Writing games with ChoiceScript is easy and fun, even for authors with no programming experience. Write your own game and Hosted Games will publish it for you, giving you a share of the revenue your game produces.

Sep 16

2021

Wraiths of SENTINEL—Dying made you the perfect spy!

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)

We’re proud to announce that Wraiths of SENTINEL, the latest in our popular “Choice of Games” line of multiple-choice interactive-fiction games, is now available for Steam, Android, and on iOS in the “Choice of Games” app.

It’s 33% off until September 23rd!

Dying made you the perfect spy! Will you use your phantom powers to defend the United States government, or overthrow it?

Wraiths of SENTINEL is a 250,000-word interactive novel by Paul Gresty where your choices control the story. It’s entirely text-based—without graphics or sound effects—and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

You are a phantom being of supernatural energy, working as a covert intelligence operative for SENTINEL, a secretive government agency. Your unrivaled powers of surveillance can safeguard the freedom of the country; your paranormal wraith abilities will make the difference between being hunter and prey.

SENTINEL has tasked you to investigate the No-State Separatists, a ruthless band of domestic terrorists. Can you uncover a link to the extreme-right True Freedom Party? Your investigation will delve into the realm of political corruption, draw you into the spirit world, and bring you to the nexus of all reality itself.

As you’ll soon discover, the true threat to the nation is far closer than you’d ever imagined.

• Play as male, female, or nonbinary; straight, gay, bi, or beyond notions of mortal sexuality
• Investigate enemies of the state with two other wraiths, Marly and Zhou, as well as a range of field operatives and high-tech equipment
• Pursue romance with a fellow wraith, a sorcerer, or a medium
• Explore the cause of your own mortal death! What role did MetaHuman Inc. play in your demise?
• Go rogue! Escape detection by the best ghost-hunters in the world
• Return to your mortal, human life—or revel in the abilities you possess as a wraith, forever
• Prevent god-like power from falling into the wrong hands—or pursue that power for yourself!

The fate of the world is in your intangible hands!

We hope you enjoy playing Wraiths of SENTINEL. We encourage you to tell your friends about it, and recommend the game on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other sites. Don’t forget: our initial download rate determines our ranking on the App Store. The more times you download in the first week, the better our games will rank.

Sep 13

2021

Author Interview: Paul Gresty, Wraiths of SENTINEL

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (1)

Dying made you the perfect spy! Will you use your phantom powers to defend the United States government, or overthrow it? You are a phantom being of supernatural energy, working as a covert intelligence operative for SENTINEL, a secretive government agency. Your unrivaled powers of surveillance can safeguard the freedom of the country; your paranormal wraith abilities will make the difference between being hunter and prey. Wraiths of SENTINEL is a 250,000-word interactive novel by Paul Gresty, author of MetaHuman Inc. and The ORPHEUS Ruse. I sat down with Paul to talk about the evolution of his work for Choice of Games.

Wraiths of SENTINEL releases this Thursday, September 16th. You can play the first three chapters now.

This is your third game for Choice of Games, after The ORPHEUS Ruse and MetaHuman Inc, and we’re absolutely thrilled. Tell me about the world of Wraiths. Does it overlap with the worlds in your other games?

Wraiths of SENTINEL crosses over with MetaHuman Inc., for sure. That company appears in this game—and it’s still employing dark powers in the service of capitalism. Links to The ORPHEUS Ruse are more subtle, but there’s a tonal connection, for sure—the player’s own Possession ability is not unlike the body-switching metempsychosis of The ORPHEUS Ruse.

I’ll add that’s it’s a great feeling to be publishing my third story for Choice of Games. Thanks to everybody at CoG for their support throughout this process. Writing this game took a long time—like, a bonkers amount of time —and the patience of the CoG team was very much appreciated. Working with you guys is always a fantastic experience.

MetaHuman Inc. is one of the most popular games we’ve ever published, and thematically, I feel like Wraiths is a bit of a spiritual (pun intended!) successor to it. We’ve moved from the corporate world to government. What shifts in theme did you observe as you were writing?

MetaHuman Inc. is probably the piece of work that I’m most proud of having written. Even now, nearly six years after it was released, I still from time to time get messages from readers saying how much they loved it. That kind of thing really gives you a boost.

I think that government, and potential poor governance, is one of the themes of the game because it had been a rising concern in my mind for some time at that point—as it had for many people. Some of the game’s excellent playtesters mentioned that the game included some not-so-subtle parallels to Trump’s government. And I guess it does, but the roots of the game go back further than that. I’m English, and I was planning this game after six years of leadership by David Cameron, one of the more nakedly self-serving prime ministers the United Kingdom has had, and the installation of Theresa May as prime minister, despite a shocking stint as Home Secretary in which she eroded civil liberties and carried out some pretty evil attacks on immigrants. So my frustration with politics and governmental bodies was already running high.

The focus on surveillance, and of the potential for a government agency to overstep its mandate, absolutely stems from the documentary Citizenfour, detailing Edward Snowden’s disclosures concerning the overreach by the NSA, and various governments. It’s a rare example of a documentary that’s being filmed as the story takes place, rather than after the fact, and so you see the strange contrast between the humdrum and the incredible—you have shots, say, of Ed Snowden styling his hair while he’s listening to a radio show about whether or not he should be assassinated. I saw that film in 2015, and it terrified me more than any horror film—because the monsters in this case are real, and they are scrutinizing you. Human eyes might not be reading all your emails, but keyword-scanning bots definitely are, and that data can be made available to a lot of organizations as needed. Ever since I saw Citizenfour, I’ve put aside a budget every year for software and online services that protect and respect data privacy.

So, yes, a theme of the book is the constant anxiety of unseen eyes upon you, and the struggle to escape from that glare.

There’s a ton of things in Wraiths of SENTINEL I think of as “good clean RPG fun”—to me it’s very much a power fantasy in that respect. What kinds of powers and abilities does this PC have?

In Wraiths of SENTINEL the reader takes the role of a ghost, of sorts. And yet I very consciously wanted to sidestep existential questions such as the existence of an afterlife, or of “souls.” I wanted to avoid looking at ghosts from the perspective of any one particular religion or belief set. And so here there’s an almost scientific rationale for the presence of wraiths, and other ‘formerly alive’ beings. Every being that exists possesses a scientifically observable form of energy called “quintessence”; physical beings possess both a tangible form and quintessence, while beings such as wraiths are wholly comprised of this quintessence energy. Most “regular” living humans aren’t capable of perceiving quintessence, and so they can’t see wraiths at all. But once you understand the principles of this energy, it’s possible to calibrate microphones to detect wraith voices, say, or to fabricate special types of glass that will show their reflections.

That said, the player essentially has many of the classic ghost abilities. It’s possible to learn to manifest, so that you can speak to living beings for a short time, or even visually appear before them. You can learn a poltergeist ability to move objects around, or you can possess living people, or you can create havoc with electrical devices. Y’know, all those fun things that ghosts are rumored to do.

What do you think will surprise readers about this game?

I’m really happy with the range of outcomes that are possible in this game. Stylistically, it’s rare to be able to “fail” a Choice of Games title—the objective isn’t to beat the game, it’s more about the journey the player experiences as he or she traverses the story. And in Wraiths of SENTINEL in particular, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to fail to save the day. Some of the most fun parts to write were sections in which the player has to deal with the fallout of any inability to complete all of his or her objectives.

What else have you been working on/what are you working on next?

A few years ago I wrote The Serpent King’s Domain, the seventh book in the Fabled Lands gamebook series originally created by Dave Morris and Jamie Thomson. To my mind, the Fabled Lands books are the most innovative and replayable dead-tree gamebooks ever written, and it’s a joy working on that series. I’m now working on the next Fabled Lands book, The Lone and Level Sands.

Sep 09

2021

New Hosted Game! “The Vampire Regent” by Lucas Zaper and Morton Newberry

Posted by: Kai DeLeon | Comments (0)

Hosted Games has a new game for you to play!

The Vampire Regent

You rule over the vampires of a city in the heartland of the United States, and your decisions dictate the lives of mortals and immortals alike.

It’s 30% off until September 16th!

The Vampire Regent is a 460,000-word interactive dark fantasy novel by Morton Newberry and Lucas Zaper, where occult political disputes and clashing loyalties tell the twisted story of a town designed for deceit.

Manipulate the mayor so her projects align with your interests. Use high crime rates to conceal the activities of your kind, or suppress them to maintain an unsuspecting façade of order. Provide nourishment and safety for the vampires under your rule while trying to preserve the secret of their existence, and face the enemies that threaten it.

Drink blood at nightclubs and listen to rumors and tragedies—or make some of your own. Practice the centuries-old tradition of fencing and put your skills to the test. Quench your thirst for blood, power, or knowledge, and even find love… if such a thing is possible for a non-beating heart.

  • Play as male or female, and explore your sexuality beyond mortal conventions.
  • Choose your bloodkin: the shapeshifting Balkanics, the future-seeing Aznuits, the blood-controlling Neshmaals, or the mesmerizing Merovingians.
  • Spend your nights pursuing different activities and interacting with characters whom you can befriend, antagonize, or get rid of.
  • Fight vampire hunters, criminals, and others of your kind—or manipulate them toward your goals.
  • Unearth buried secrets about the world, the people around you, and even yourself.
  • Find love in the sleepless nights, including a centuries-old buccaneer, a Scottish fencer who is not yet used to immortality, and an altruistic outlaw vampire.
  • Craft your personality through your decisions, and face the consequences of your choices.

Mordhaven is yours to command—but for how long?

Zaper and Newberry developed this game using ChoiceScript, a simple programming language for writing multiple-choice interactive novels like these. Writing games with ChoiceScript is easy and fun, even for authors with no programming experience. Write your own game and Hosted Games will publish it for you, giving you a share of the revenue your game produces.

Sep 09

2021

New Content for The Soul Stone War!Behind the Scenes” by Morgan Vane

Posted by: Kai DeLeon | Comments (0)

Hosted Games has a new game for you to play!

The Soul Stone War

Thrust back onto the world of the Soul Stones, discover all-new content with every companion and love interest available in The Soul Stone War. Catch a glimpse of future interactions with your companions after the main series is concluded. Whether romantic or platonic, experience small, heartfelt moments between your main character and your friends and partners!

It’s 30% off until September 16th!

The Soul Stone War — Behind the Scenes is a 40,000 interactive fantasy novel by Morgan Vane, where your choices control the story. It’s entirely text-based—without graphics or sound effects—and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

Embark on a new journey of companionship, friendship, and love as you once more meet the friends and lovers you made along the way to fulfilling your fate. Catch a small moment of reprieve and spend time with the companions in scenes that will not appear in the main series! What will the world be like after the threat is over? Who will you be, and how will you relate to the people who went through it all alongside you?

  • Play as female, male, or non-binary—with options to be straight, gay, bisexual, or aromantic.
  • Spend time with all the in-game companions—including the antagonist—in scenes both romantic and platonic!
  • Nine standalone interactive stories featuring the whole cast with your main character thrown back into the thick of it all!
  • Glimpse into a time after the main threat is gone and your main character is in established relationships with the love interest(s) of your choice!
  • Experience a moment of reprieve with your found family where all the companions and your main character can relax and be themselves!

The time to dive back into the world of the Soul Stones is now.

Morgan Vane developed this game using ChoiceScript, a simple programming language for writing multiple-choice interactive novels like these. Writing games with ChoiceScript is easy and fun, even for authors with no programming experience. Write your own game and Hosted Games will publish it for you, giving you a share of the revenue your game produces.

Aug 26

2021

The Play’s the Thing—Break a deadly curse to save your theater!

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)

We’re proud to announce that The Play’s the Thing, the latest in our popular “Choice of Games” line of multiple-choice interactive-fiction games, is now available for Steam, Android, and on iOS in the “Choice of Games” app. It’s 40% off until September 2nd!

Can you win fame, fortune, and romance as a playwright, before a deadly curse brings the curtain down for good?

The Play’s the Thing is a 245,000-word interactive romantic fantasy novel by Jo Graham and Amy Griswold, best-selling authors of Stronghold: A Hero’s Fate and The Eagle’s Heir. It’s entirely text-based, without graphics or sound effects, and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

Become the official playwright at the Odeon, the most prestigious theater in Medaris. Here, high society gathers to gossip, frolic, and flirt. Dazzling special effects, enhanced by real magical enchantments, keep the audience in their seats. The plays you write have the power to manipulate public opinion, changing the course of history.

But as you’re waiting for your first opening night, rumors begin flying. Deadly, shadowy creatures are stalking the city’s streets. Mysterious accidents threaten your productions. It’s a curse, people whisper—but only where the city’s harsh ruler, the Raven, can’t hear them. And to discover the roots of the curse, you’ll have to dig deep into secrets that the city’s nobles would prefer to stay safely buried.

The city’s quarreling rulers have strong opinions about your theater, but they’re also susceptible to its powers. Will you inspire them to save Medaris, or destroy it, as they destroy each other? Will you insinuate yourself into their hearts and minds? Will you expose their darkest secrets?

Will you write your way out of the tragedy that threatens your city, or call down the curse deliberately, carving your name in the annals of infamy?

• Play as male, female, or nonbinary; gay, straight, bisexual, aromantic, or asexual.
• Win popular fame, critical acclaim, or royal favor and avoid scandalous exile.
• Find love or lasting friendship with your actor buddy, the theater’s acerbic director, a swashbuckling city guard, or the heir to the city.
• Manage quarreling actors, skeptical critics, deadly enemies, and a dancing bear!
• Uncover mysterious secrets from the Raven’s past—and your own.
• Battle dark creatures with enchantment, swordplay, or spectacular monologues.
• Assassinate the city’s tyrannical ruler, or win them over with your inspiring productions.
• Use your fabulous wardrobe to play whatever role will win the day.

We hope you enjoy playing The Play’s the Thing. We encourage you to tell your friends about it, and recommend the game on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other sites. Don’t forget: our initial download rate determines our ranking on the App Store. The more times you download in the first week, the better our games will rank.

Aug 23

2021

Author Interview: Jo Graham and Amy Griswold, The Play’s the Thing

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)

Can you win fame, fortune, and romance as a playwright, before a deadly curse brings the curtain down for good?

Become the official playwright at the Odeon, the most prestigious theater in Medaris. Here, high society gathers to gossip, frolic, and flirt. Dazzling special effects, enhanced by real magical enchantments, keep the audience in their seats. The plays you write have the power to manipulate public opinion, changing the course of history.

The Play’s the Thing is a 245,000-word interactive romantic fantasy novel by Jo Graham and Amy Griswold, best-selling authors of Stronghold: A Hero’s Fate and The Eagle’s Heir. I sat down with Amy and Jo to talk about their latest game, a wild new fantasy. The Play’s the Thing releases this Thursday, August 26th. You can play the first three chapters today.

The Play’s the Thing is such an interesting addition to your oeuvre! I’m really amazed at the diversity of setting between this game, Stronghold: A Hero’s Fate, and The Eagle’s Heir. Tell me how you dreamt this game up.

This spark for this game actually came from a tabletop RPG campaign that spawned a side plot involving a playwright trying to run a theater company while momentous heroic fantasy events loomed around him. We knew we wanted a game looking at fantasy politics through the lens of an artist trying to make art in strange times, and that part of the game was going to be working to inspire your audience to take various actions through the themes of your plays. The city of Medaris isn’t a real place, but it’s meant to have a sort of Renaissance Italian feel to it, and we got the chance to play with a bunch of theatrical tropes (and make a bunch of theater jokes).

The PC of this game is a playwright—not an easy profession to depict in the first/second person fashion of a text based RPG. Tell me some of the challenges around “writing writing.”

The trick was to dramatize writing by turning it into interesting challenges that depend on the PC’s stats and choices. The process of writing the various plays in the game tends to break down to three questions: What do you want your play to say, how are you going to make your play good, and how are you going to get your play staged the way you want it? Some plays will inspire people to hope, or to follow their hearts, or to act with honor. Others ironically poke fun at those things. As the game progresses, the influence you have on your audience and on the city’s rulers will change the choices you have available for dealing with the magical threat to the city.

Once you have a message, you need to choose strategies for making your play popular, or critically acclaimed, or (if you’re very lucky) both. The idea for failures here is very much “sometimes bad things happen to good writers.” It’s assumed that you can write great prose, but you may still wind up writing something that the public doesn’t understand, or that fails to pull off something emotionally complex, or that relies on special effects that don’t work or a diva who won’t perform, or that winds up with every original element removed by an overly-cautious director. Or you might write a great play that the city’s ruler hates, and find yourself in no end of trouble.

There’s also an interesting amount of lore and magic in this world. What does that inject into the game for the player?

The curse that threatens the city provides an external threat for the player, and acts as a ticking time bomb: if nothing’s done to stop the curse, the city is doomed to an apocalyptic fall. The shadows stalking the streets are the most visible manifestation of the curse, but it’s also an increasing threat causing accidents and bad luck. Magic is also used in more prosaic ways, to produce special effects onstage or to move objects and create minor illusions.

The curse has its roots in events in the past, and figuring out what happened to create this dangerous situation is just the beginning; the trickier part is figuring out what you’re going to do about it.

Was there an NPC you enjoyed writing most?

I’m fond of Nichol, the theater’s sardonic director, and they (the game’s major NPCs are gender-flippable to maximize PC romance options) were a lot of fun to write. Nichol has a knack for cutting through some of the nonsense of actors and playwrights, but also a deep and ultimately sincere dedication to the theater combined with a well-hidden idealistic streak. I also enjoyed writing the Raven, the city’s tyrannical ruler who is determined to deny that the curse exists even as it becomes clearer and clearer that they’re courting their own doom in the process.

What are you working on next?

Amy is working on a gay historical mystery novel set in Renaissance Rome, cowritten with Melissa Scott, and is also writing on a solo space opera novel. Jo has Sounding Dark, the first book in The Calpurnian Wars series, coming out in December. She’s also writing a historical fantasy series about the Borgias.

Aug 19

2021

New Hosted Game! “Blood for Poppies” by ME Smith

Posted by: Kai DeLeon | Comments (0)

Hosted Games has a new game for you to play!

Blood for Poppies

You have wings, but you can’t fly. Your wings are pitiful, broken things made of bone and shredded skin stitched together. Your mysterious benefactor, Doctor, has cared for you for as long as you can remember. Doctor never allows you to leave the 8th floor of the Summerset Apartment Complex, and the only people you have contact with are the other freaks of the 8th floor. Will Doctor’s entrapment of you ever end? Will you escape his clutches and make your way into a bustling city that has always been so near–and yet so far–just outside the window of your cramped room? Will you continue Doctor’s work or will you break the cycle of trauma perpetuated by his dark and tortured legacy of mad science?

It’s 40% off until August 26th!

Blood for Poppies is a 188,000-word psychological horror interactive novel by M.E. Smith about entrapment and the lingering effects of trauma. It’s entirely text-based, without graphics or sound effects, and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

  • Play as male or female; gay, bi, or straight.
  • Romance a seemingly emotionless young woman struggling to feel human, an insecure and compassionate artist striving to achieve his dreams despite Doctor’s control, and a rebellious young man with a temper that eclipses his better nature.
  • Befriend and uplift your fellow freaks or alienate all around you through cruelty, manipulation, and betrayal. Characters respond to your choices… for better or worse.
  • Escape Doctor’s clutches or inherit his scientific work for your own benevolent or malicious designs.
  • Devote yourself to Doctor by expressing loyalty to him or rebel against him at every opportunity.
  • Ally yourself with others for your own goals, but be careful; everyone has their own motivations and betrayal is always a possibility.
  • Revel in the hideous or cultivate beauty, live joyously or give in to despair, express compassion or cruelty, allow your fate to be malleable putty in the hands of others or manipulate all around you; your attitudes and tendencies are up to you.
  • Achieve endings that change in minor and major ways depending on the actions you take and the relationships you build.

Influence who lives and dies; not everyone makes it to the end.

ME Smith developed this game using ChoiceScript, a simple programming language for writing multiple-choice interactive novels like these. Writing games with ChoiceScript is easy and fun, even for authors with no programming experience. Write your own game and Hosted Games will publish it for you, giving you a share of the revenue your game produces.

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