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Jun 01

2017

Demon Mark: A Russian Saga — Battle dragons, witches, and an undead army!

Posted by: Rachel E. Towers | Comments (0)

We’re proud to announce that Demon Mark: A Russian Saga, the latest in our popular “Choice of Games” line of multiple-choice interactive-fiction games, is now available for Steam, iOS, and Android. It’s 16% off until June 7th!

Call upon the power of your cursed Demon Mark to battle dragons, witches, and an undead army! Beware: each time you use it, the Mark grows stronger.

Demon Mark: A Russian Saga is a 200,000-word interactive fantasy novel by Vlad Barash and Lorraine Fryer, steeped in Russian folklore. It’s entirely text-based, without graphics or sound effects, and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

Once upon a time, in the land of Rus, you lived a simple life as the firstborn child of peasant farmers. But when the evil demon Uhin places the Demon Mark upon you and kidnaps your parents’ second child, you’ll set out on an epic adventure to reunite your family.

On your journey through Russian folklore, you’ll confront the treacherous witch Baba Yaga, the seven-headed dragon Zmey Gorynych, the mythic giant Svyatogor, and the villainous Koschei the Deathless with his army of corpses.

Team up with the bogatyrs, the heroes of Russian folk tales: strong Ilya Muromets, pious Alyosha Popovich, and wise Marya Morevna. You and your talking animal companion will journey all the way to the Tsar and Tsaritsa’s court in Kiev for assistance on your quest. Will the bards of Kiev sing the tale of your heroic victory, or your tragic sacrifice?

The Demon Mark is whispering to you. Do you hear it? Should you listen when it calls your name?

• Play as male, female, or non-binary
• Meet the monsters and marvels of Russian folk tales, from Kiev to Koschei’s Fortress.
• Convince the Tsar and Tsaritsa to help you hunt down the demon who marked you
• Court the Grey Wolf, a mysterious creature who can assist you on your journey
• Defeat the seven-headed dragon Zmey Gorynych
• Listen to the stories of Svyatogor…and stay awake!
• Complete Baba Yaga’s impossible tasks
• Escape the dungeons of Koschei the Deathless
• Battle the demon Uhin and reunite your family
• Embrace the power of the Demon Mark and become a demon yourself

We hope you enjoy playing Demon Mark: A Russian Saga. We encourage you to tell your friends about it, and recommend the game on StumbleUpon, Facebook, Twitter, 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.

Jun 01

2017

New Hosted Game! Treasure of the Forgotten City by Danny McAleese and David Kristoph

Posted by: Rachel E. Towers | Comments (0)

Hosted Games has a new game for you to play!

Three priceless star jewels. A century-old, cryptic journal. Using only the resources left by your grand-uncle, it’s up to you to find Atraharsis—the legendary lost city beneath the sands. But the way won’t be easy. Raging sandstorms, sinister traps, and a whole host of mysteries stand between you and your Ultimate goal.

Treasure of the Forgotten City is a 40,000 word interactive fantasy novel by Danny McAleese and David Kristoph, 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.

Can you solve the riddles and recover the fabled star gems in time? Or will you, like so many who’ve gone before, become the next permanent resident of the forgotten city?

• Filled with clever riddles and challenging puzzles.
• Hours of story-forging, problem-solving enjoyment.
• 49 possible achievements to unlock.
• Find clues, tips, and items that can help you in your quest.
• 26 unique conclusions based on your decisions.
• One ULTIMATE ENDING!

Danny McAleese and David Kristoph 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.

May 30

2017

Author Interview: Vlad Barash & Lorraine Fryer, “Demon Mark: A Russian Saga”

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (1)

Choice of Games’ latest release will be Demon Mark: A Russian Saga by Vlad Barash and Lorraine Fryer. Once upon a time, in the land of Rus, you lived a simple life as the firstborn child of peasant farmers. But when the evil demon Uhin places the Demon Mark upon you and kidnaps your parents’ second child, you’ll set out on an epic adventure to reunite your family. On your journey through Russian folklore, you’ll confront the treacherous witch Baba Yaga, the seven-headed dragon Zmey Gorynych, the mythic giant Svyatogor, and the villainous Koschei the Deathless with his army of corpses. Look for Demon Mark: A Russian Saga later this week, releasing on Thursday, June 1st.

Demon Mark is really a wonderful introduction to Russian folklore, and we have some amazing characters in it. Tell me a little about your background and how these fairy-tales figured in your upbringing.

Vlad: I was born in Russia and grew up with Russian fairy tales as a child; one Saturday, my mom had to go work, so she left me at home with some food and a book of Russian stories. She came back to find that I had not eaten any of the food, but I read the entire book, and clambered up the bookshelves (I was, like, five) to get more books down and read them as well! Needless to say, she was very alarmed, but I survived that adventure and my love of fairy tales has only increased since then.

When I came to the US in 1993, I kept reading and learning about Russian culture. It was very important to my mom, a teacher of Russian language and literature, that I not assimilate into America culture completely, and that I retain my roots. At this point, I started reading big novels, but I never forgot the charming, fascinating stories of my childhood. I think they have inspired a lot of my writing as an adult — for example, I have written a novel draft about kids playing an online game based on Russian fairy tales.

Lorraine: I have always loved fairy tales of all kinds. While of course I grew up watching Disney movies as they came out — the Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, etc. — I also obsessively hunted down different versions of fairy tales at my local library and would read them over and over and over. On my bookshelves right now I have stories from at least a dozen different countries, several of them told in multiple ways. Included in that is a book of Russian fairy tales that was my dad’s before me. As I grew up, I moved into reading fantasy, but I have always been fond of the simplicity and the staying power that fairy tales hold for us.

Tell me a little more about the world we’re in in Demon Mark. Not being overly familiar with Russian stories, how much have you kept true to the tales, and what did you innovate and imagine here?

Lorraine: We included a number of canonical fairy tale creatures, for instance: Baba Yaga, Koschei the Deathless, the various bogatyrs from the court, all of whom have their own stories in the Russian fairy tale canon. However, it was also important to us that we contribute something new, and not just retread old tropes of fairy tale stories. Some of the parts I am proudest of are we places where we took the traditional hero’s journey and twisted it into a new interaction with familiar characters; the time the main character spends in Kiev, the long journey through Russia after they meet Svyatogor, and the time the main character spends beneath the Earth with the Lady of the Mountain all stand out to me.

Vlad: As above! And also, I am very glad we incorporated some of the non-Kievan-Rus tales and cultures into our game. The game’s villain, Uhin, comes from “Arzha Borzhi-Khan and the Heavenly Lady Uhin,” a folk tale of the Buryat people who live in the southeast of Russia near Lake Baikal. It was important to us to not have the non-Kievan stories (which are also the stories of the non-white people living in Russia) to not just involve the game’s villain. We give the player a choice about where the main character comes from, and incorporate the cultures of the various regions of Russia, from the Chukchi in the Far East to the Saami in the West, into their background. These cultural elements come into play throughout the game, and give characters from different backgrounds unique abilities and advantages in certain situations.

As a writing team, how did you divide up the work? Do you prefer writing with a partner?

Vlad: Our division of labor really evolved over the course of the two and a half years we’ve been working on this project. Initially, Lorraine volunteered to help with editing while I wrote. She quickly got more into the process, and we eventually decided to split up the work evenly. As we got to the meat of the story, we did a lot of co-writing — we would put the text up on our TV and edit it together. Towards the end of the process, we split up the sections that needed filling in / editing and worked on them independently. And yes, I really preferred to write with a partner! It seemed like every time I ran out of energy for this project, Lorraine was there to step in and push it forward until I had recovered.

Lorraine: I did not expect to write any of the game. I really just stepped in to help the first draft of edits and copyedits, and I quickly found I enjoyed doing the coding as well. But after a month or so, I found myself itching to fill in some of the scenes that had only been sketched out, and with Vlad’s blessing, started writing. When I surfaced again, two and a half years later, we each had written about half of what turned out to be the length of Crime and Punishment. I found writing with Vlad extremely rewarding, because we have different strengths; I think that bouncing our ideas off each other made this game a lot stronger than it would have been if either of us had written it individually.

What did you find challenging about the process of writing in ChoiceScript/our game design?

Lorraine: I think what I found most challenging is that ChoiceScript lets you do so many things, and I would get caught in those possibilities at times when, in fact, a simpler answer is what was needed. Part of me wanted to explore all of the possibilities of writing a game in ChoiceScript with this one project, but that’s not very practical. More than once during edits, I had to convince myself to simplify rather than to increase the complexity of an option.

Vlad: Very specifically, it took a while for me to get used to the if / goto structures. I have been coding for several years now, and the structures are a bit different from what I’m used to. It also was challenging, though very rewarding, to try and make every option equally valid in every given choice. I am so used to Computer RPGs like Baldur’s Gate, where some conversation options lead to a negative outcome, that I had to continuously unlearn that paradigm.

Are you a fan of interactive fiction in general? Any favorites you’d like to share?

Vlad: Yes, I am a huge fan of interactive fiction! I have already mentioned Baldur’s Gate; I love many of the games written in a similar style, from Planescape: Torment all the way through Dragon Age and Mass Effect today. I also have really enjoyed contemporary indie interactive fiction: Gone Home, Firewatch. I should mention that I also run tabletop games, which might not have fancy graphics, but where one can really let one’s imagination soar! I am currently running a classic Call of Cthulhu campaign called Masks of Nyalarthotep, which I have updated to happen in the 1960s and deal with Cold War conspiracies.

Lorraine: My very first choose your own adventure experience was with a Goosebumps book involving werewolves at summer camp. I’ve played a million games since then; recent interactive fiction favorites include Depression Quest and Choice of Games’ Choice of the Deathless, which I have played maybe a dozen times.

What else are you working on now?

Lorraine and Vlad: We have been developing an idea for another Choice of Games game in a more modern setting with some science fiction elements, but also very relevant to social and cultural issues people all over the world are facing today. We’d like to continue pushing the boundaries of the form and see what kinds of new stories we can create with ChoiceScript. Stay posted!

May 26

2017

Free Community College Hero Short Story—“A Very Stoic Christmas”

Posted by: Rachel E. Towers | Comments (0)

Eric Moser, author of Community College Hero: Trial by Fire, is offering readers a free (non-interactive) 2,500-word short story, titled “A Very Stoic Christmas.” The events in the short story involve the character Stoic and take place on an evening several days after the conclusion of Trial by Fire but before the events of Community College Hero 2: Knowledge is Power, currently in development. The events in the story are canon, but spoilers for the sequel are minimal. The story also includes cover art by Adrienne Valdes, the official artist for the sequel.

To receive the free short story, just email Eric at eric@communitycollegehero.com and put “free short story” in the subject line. Doing so will also place you on Eric’s mailing list providing you with occasional updates on the sequel’s development as well as information on beta testing in the future.

May 05

2017

Welcome to Moreytown — Claw your way to the top of this slum for furries

Posted by: Rachel E. Towers | Comments (1)

We’re proud to announce that Welcome to Moreytown, the latest in our popular “Choice of Games” line of multiple-choice interactive-fiction games, is now available for Steam, iOS, and Android. It’s 25% off until May 12th!

Claw your way to the top of Moreytown, a furry slum for human-animal hybrids. Will you take down the gangs who rule the town, or take them over instead?

Welcome to Moreytown is a 150,000-word interactive novel by S. Andrew Swann. It’s entirely text-based, without graphics or sound effects, and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

You’re a moreau: a genetically engineered human-animal hybrid, a remnant of mankind’s last war. Surviving life in a Moreytown hasn’t been easy, but now, someone is out to kill you and your fellow “moreys”—unexplained fires, explosions, and the gangs swirling around the neighborhood add up to big trouble. It’s up to you to save your pelt, and maybe take over town.

Play as one of thirteen different species, including tiger, capybara, bear, or wolf. Infiltrate a sinister cult, or ally yourself with a gang of moreys. Choose a side and let the fur fly!

• Play as male, female, or non-binary, gay, straight, bi, or ace
• Fight the police or help them to bring down a terrifying enemy
• Save your neighborhood from utter destruction
• Take over a street gang, or even run your own cult
• Explore multiple potential romantic relationships

We hope you enjoy playing Welcome to Moreytown. We encourage you to tell your friends about it, and recommend the game on StumbleUpon, Facebook, Twitter, 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.

May 02

2017

Author Interview: S. Andrew Swann, “Welcome to Moreytown”

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (3)

Choice of Games’ latest release will be Welcome to Moreytown by S. Andrew Swann. In MoreytownYou’re a moreau: a genetically engineered human-animal hybrid, a remnant of mankind’s last war. Surviving life in a Moreytown hasn’t been easy, but now, someone is out to kill you and your fellow “moreys”—unexplained fires, explosions, and the gangs swirling around the neighborhood add up to big trouble. It’s up to you to save your pelt, and maybe take over town. I sat down with the author to learn more about the game and their experiences writing interactive fiction. Look for Welcome to Moreytown later this week, releasing on Friday, May 5th.

Tell me about what influenced your world creation for Moreytown. What kind of a world is this set in?

Welcome to Moreytown is based on the universe I created with my first three novels back in the early 1990s. The world was built around the idea of the genetically engineered “moreaus;” soldiers engineered from various animals’ DNA. The novels, and the game, are set a generation or so after the wars the moreaus were created for, and after a mass wave of moreau immigration into the United States. Moreaus in the United States, in theory at least, have the same rights and equal protection under the law as any human– a substantial improvement compared to the countries where they were created, where they’re little better than chattel. The literary influences were Noir and Cyberpunk, so a dark and not-quite-dystopian setting. The world of the game, like the books, is gritty and urban. The characters experience street-level conflicts; dealing with cops, inter-gang rivalries, human-moreau relations and so on.

Are you a big fan of H.G. Wells?

He’s a foundational author, right up there with Edgar Allan Poe. Someone I was reading back in junior high, before I knew I was a SF writer.

What kinds of social issues did you have in mind as you were writing it?

The moreaus, like any group, have their own unique perspective and problems. That said, they share common threads with many different marginalized groups. The original novels were written in the shadow of the Rodney King verdict and the L.A. Riots, so the analogs with racial tensions were inevitable. The prejudice many humans exhibit toward the moreau population can be easily seen as a metaphor for race relations in the US. But that’s not the only thing going on. The moreaus are also a multi-generational refugee population with some serious assimilation problems. In some sense, they can never assimilate into the surrounding society, because the barriers are physical as well as cultural. Markers of culture, such as dress and diet, are constrained by the moreaus’ biology. They don’t just look different, in a fundamental sense they are different.

Then there’s religion. Moreaus happen to know the details of their creation and why they were created. That has certain theological implications. Any moreau religion that defines the moreaus’ relation to God, by necessity has to do the same for humans. And given the historical treatment of moreaus by humans, it is easy for a new moreau religion to take a gnostic point-of-view, see creation as a perversion of the divine, and cast humankind as the villain. The political and social problems faced by moreaus mirror those suffered by any minority population embedded in a larger society; they live in a segregated community, they’re economically disadvantaged, individual bad actors are often seen as representative of the whole, and they have to bear with the prejudices and misconceptions of the surrounding society. It’s a story that’s as old as civilization, but the fact that moreaus aren’t a human population helps to emphasize exactly how universal these problems are.

What did you find challenging about the process of writing in ChoiceScript/our game design?

It was intuitively obvious that each scene could lead to multiple branching paths. What’s less obvious is that each scene might have multiple converging paths leading up to it. That means that the PC’s experience of a given scene is going to be influenced in large part by the path by which they got to it. The same line of dialog from the same NPC will read differently if the PC’s prior interactions with the character have been friendly, manipulative, or hostile. Also given that there’s no real way to write the narrative sequentially, it makes continuity problems easy to introduce and difficult to track down.

The other challenge is more in terms of design. In linear fiction you can build the plot around the measured release of information (Who is the villain? What are they planning? What secrets are the other characters hiding?) but, in a game where the player may go through multiple times, you can’t rely on these kind of revelations for drama’s sake. “Luke, I am your father,” is only going to have a big impact the first time around.

Are you a fan of interactive fiction in general? Any favorites you’d like to share?

My introduction to the genre was back in the day on my old Commodore 64. I played a lot of Infocom’s library on that thing. I still have a soft spot in my heart for Zork and its sequels, which I’ve run on emulators on various pieces of hardware since. More recent vintage I’ve enjoyed CoG’s own Psy High.

What else are you working on now as a writer?

I have a few novels in various stages of development. I currently have two SF titles sitting with two different editors, one a time travel/alternate history story with zombies and zeppelins, the other an interplanetary thriller that’s sort of The Expanse meets The Bourne Identity.

Proust/Pivot Style Questionnaire Questions

What is your favorite word?

Three way tie: “Antidisestablishmentarianism,” “Illuminati,” or “Jabberwock.”

Your favorite color?

Red– no Blue!–Ahhhhhhhh…

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

I’ve always had an interest in graphic design. I could easily see that my career could have headed in that direction if I’d done a few things differently out of high school.

Which would you not like to attempt?

Retail or food service.

Creamy or crunchy?

Crunchy.

Apr 28

2017

A Midsummer Night’s Choice Has Director’s Commentary

Posted by: Dan Fabulich | Comments (1)

Do you want to know more about the origins of A Midsummer Night’s Choice? Do you want to impress your friends with how much you know about Shakespeare? And more importantly, do you want to know why there’s a bear? Now you can purchase the Director’s Commentary!

In the “Director’s Commentary” mode, an extra option will appear on certain choices, “View new commentary,” allowing you to read the author’s notes about that moment in the story.

To unlock the Director’s Commentary, you’ll first need to purchase the full version of A Midsummer Night’s Choice on the web, iOS, Android, or Steam. The Director’s Commentary is an additional in-app purchase for $0.99.

The author, Kreg Segall, is Associate Professor of English at Regis College, in Massachusetts, where he teaches and writes about medieval and Renaissance literature. In addition to his scholarly work on Shakespeare and Spenser, he has been writing live role-playing games for over twenty years.

Whenever we try something new, we think of it as an experiment. If lots of people buy and enjoy the Director’s Commentary for Midsummer, we’ll plan do more of it in the future.

Apr 28

2017

Choice of the Dragon Is Now in Spanish

Posted by: Dan Fabulich | Comments (1)

Choice of the Dragon was our very first game, and we’re proud to announce that it’s now available in Spanish!

It’s completely free to play the entire game from beginning to end.

On iOS and Android, if your phone uses Spanish as its native language, the game will automatically be in Spanish when you open it. On the web, you can click the “Español”/”English” link to switch back and forth. On iOS, you can click the “Settings”/”Ajustes” button on the Menu screen to change languages. On Android, use the Menu button and select “Change Language”/”Cambiar idioma”.

Launching a game in Spanish is a big bet for us. Translating a game can cost as much as writing the game in the first place! If the Spanish translation sells well, we’ll be able to deliver translations of more of our games in even more languages. Please share Choice of the Dragon with Spanish-speaking friends and relatives!

Apr 28

2017

Change the Color and Size of Our Text

Posted by: Dan Fabulich | Comments (0)

For years, people have asked us for the ability to change the color and size of the text in our games, and now you can! We now offer a choice of three background colors (black, white, and sepia) and many choices of text size.

You can find the new “Settings” button right at the top of the screen on web and Steam, or on the menu screen on iOS or Android.

This feature is available today in A Midsummer Night’s Choice, Choice of the Dragon, and Runt of the Litter. We plan to update all of our games to add Settings support over the coming months.

White text on black background

Apr 28

2017

We’re Hiring! Part-time Customer Service Representative

Posted by: Adam Strong-Morse |

This position has been filled.  Thanks for your interest.

 

Choice of Games LLC is hiring!  We’re looking for a part-time customer service representative.  If you’re interested, please send your resume to jobs@choiceofgames.com.

Here’s the full job listing:

Employer: Choice of Games LLC
Location: Telecommute (US resident)
Part-time, flexible hours (15-30 hours/week)

Choice of Games LLC was founded in 2009 to produce high-quality, multiple-choice text adventures. Choice of Games has a strong commitment to diversity of authors and representation within its publications.  Its games are feminist and inclusive, and it has been featured positively in press for its embrace of the vision-impaired community and the LGBT community.  Choice of Games is a small, fast-growing company, with over fifty titles published on storefronts such as the iTunes App Store, Steam, Amazon, and Google Play. This is an excellent opportunity for someone interested in customer service and community development within the gaming industry.  This is a part-time position; we will guarantee a minimum of 15 hours of work per week, but individual weeks will vary from approximately 15 to 30 hours of work.

The Customer Service Representative will serve a variety of outward-facing functions in the company.  The two core aspects of the position will be: 1) providing customer service and support in response to e-mails from customers via our company inbox, and 2) engaging with and monitoring our large and active forum community.

Main Responsibilities:

  • Monitor the support@choiceofgames inbox and respond to Customer Service requests.
  • Work with customers to diagnose and solve their problems.
  • Engage with and monitor the (sometimes raucous) forum community.
  • Listen to and support the existing forum moderators.
  • Escalate problems that need additional attention to appropriate members of the Choice of Games team.

This is a telecommute position. The first two weeks will involve learning the current Customer Service processes as well as getting acquainted with the forum community. After that, the Customer Service Representative will have primary responsibility for handling all traffic to the support@choiceofgames inbox and for monitoring the forum community with an eye towards spotting and defusing developing problems.  Volume of customer service work at Choice of Games varies significantly from week to week.  During high-volume weeks, we will expect additional hours of work.  During low-volume weeks (under 15 hours), we will assign other responsibilities (such as Quality Assurance work, familiarizing yourself with our proprietary ChoiceScript scripting language, and other tasks).

This position has the potential to develop into a full-time community management position as the needs of Choice of Games evolve and as the Customer Service Representative gains more experience.  There are also opportunities for this position to develop into other aspects of Choice of Games’s work, including game design, programming and technical work, and editorial work, depending on the interests and qualifications of the candidate.

Required Qualifications: Strong written communication skills, including comfort with communicating by e-mail.  Ability to handle difficult and aggressive communications from customers gracefully is key.  The candidate must be organized, a self-starter, and capable of managing their own time.

The ideal candidate will have a strong interest in games in general and Choice of Games’s interactive fiction games in particular.  A college degree or equivalent experience is a plus, but not required.  Prior experience with forum management or moderation and community building is a plus.  Proficiency in Spanish would be helpful but is not required.  Familiarity with at least one programming language is a plus; familiarity with ChoiceScript is even better.

Compensation:

  • Base wage of $14/hour.
  • Competitive benefits package.

This is a part-time, non-exempt position. We would prefer an immediate start, but the start date is negotiable for the right candidate. Choice of Games LLC is an equal opportunity employer with a strong commitment to diversity.  Choice of Games encourages people with disabilities and people of all genders, sexualities, ages, family and marital statuses, races, ethnicities, national origins, and religions to apply.

Please submit a CV and cover letter to: jobs@choiceofgames.com

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