Blog

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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Apr 14

2017

New Hosted Game! The Daily Blackmail by Mary Duffy

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

Hosted Games has a new game for you to play!

Something is rotten in City Hall—can you uncover it and…win a Pulitzer? When the mayor unexpectedly resigns, it’s up to you, the rookie reporter on the City Desk to find out the real story and get it into print. Right away you smell a rat. As you track down sources and information, your reporter’s instincts, brains, heart, or impeccable writing will lead you to the truth.

“The Daily Blackmail” is a 33,000 word interactive fantasy novella by Mary Duffy, 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.

In The Daily Blackmail, you’ll get all the news that is (and isn’t!) fit to print.

• Play as male, female, or non-binary.
• Cross paths with an evil editor, a mobster, and even scarier: the publisher.
• Lie, cheat, and steal to get your front page story.
• Press your colleagues, political cronies, and underworld sources for information.
• Reach for every reporter’s dream—a Pulitzer Prize.

Mary Duffy 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.

Apr 14

2017

New Hosted Game! Paradigm City by James Rhoden

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

Hosted Games has a new game for you to play!

The Golden Age of heroes is over, but you’re just beginning. Will you use your powers to help the world or help yourself? Set on a near-future Earth that has been irrevocably altered by the arrival of superhumans, the world has been dealing with a radical shift in the nature of humanity. For thirty years, those with world-altering powers – referred to as capes – have been at the forefront of the world’s media. There has been heroes, there has been villains, and there has been world-shattering confrontations when those two groups came into contact. For a time, those individuals walked the world like modern deities. For a time, it was good.

But things change. Given time, all things resolve to entropy.

The Golden Age is over. The player, a member of the newest graduating class of an international academy for powered individuals, needs to find their place in this new world, and whether that place will be determined by their own hand – or by the machinations of others. Assigned to the troubled Paradigm City, it’ll be up to the player to determine whether their name becomes a byword for fame or infamy, idealism or pragmatism, and loyalty or ambition.

“Paradigm City” is a 110,000 word interactive fantasy novel by James Rhoden, 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, straight, gay or bi!
• Experience your life from youth to the end of your first big mission!
• Multiple endings, with differences both big and small! How will your actions affect the future of the world?
• Utilize the three precepts of epic heroism – brawn, bravado and brains – to solve challenges!
• Increase the potency of your electrokinetic superpower to overcome dangerous threats!
• Work with a team of elite heroes to solve a mystery – your relationships with them will determine their fates, and whether you’ll learn their stories.
• Uncover and unveil a conspiracy, or work to use it for your own ends!
• Embrace the traditional values of the classical crusader, or embody the cutting-edge pragmatics of modern powered heroes!
• Sixty achievements!
• Three romance options to choose from – or don’t, and keep things strictly professional!

James Rhoden 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.

Apr 07

2017

How We Judge a Good Game—Part 3

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

As part of our support for the Choice of Games Contest for Interactive Novels, we will be posting an irregular series of blog posts discussing important design and writing criteria for games. We hope that these can both provide guidance for people participating in the Contest and also help people understand how we think about questions of game design and some best practices. These don’t modify the evaluation criteria for the Contest, and (except as noted) participants are not required to conform to our recommendations–but it’s probably a good idea to listen when judges tell you what they’re looking for.

If these topics interest you, be sure to sign up for our contest mailing list below! We’ll post more of our thoughts on game design leading up to the contest deadline on January 31, 2018.

This is the final part of our three part series in designed to give concrete ways in which our Guidelines connect with our Judging Rubric. For a refresher, here’s the previous blog post where we covered Creative Stats, Balanced Choices, and Conflicting Goals with Satisfying Endings, and here’s the first blog post where we covered Inclusivity, Length and Coding Efficiency, and Setting and Plot. Here we’re going to cover writing Original, Interesting Characters, and what we look for in Prose Styling, in addition to explaining what the judges personally look for in games to give you a better understanding of how we approach things.

Original, Interesting Characters (15% of score):
Characters should be fresh, interesting, and distinctive. They should feel different from each other, and have their own personalities and motivations distinct from the PC’s. Interesting characters require a balance of characteristics that make them identifiable, relatable, and unique. The details of what this means, however, is fairly specific to the game. For example, a gritty noir may have characters that are most identifiable by the different way each one talks, relatable in that they have very human vices, and unique in their complex motivations and desires. A more heroic epic, on the other hand, may require characters to be identifiable in much more vivid and exaggerated descriptions, relatable in that they represent more absolute emotions and thoughts, and unique less in their complexity and more in how literally one of a kind they are.

In keeping with the ideas of inclusivity, characters should not play into stereotypes. While the reasons negative stereotypes are damaging to marginalized groups is relatively obvious (anyone should be able to understand the implications of having all the villains be the same ethnicity, and all the heros be another), games should also avoid ‘positive stereotypes’ such as “all women are nurturing”, “all Asians are good at math”, “all black men are good at sports”, and “all indigenous people are naturally spiritual.” These stereotypes limit characters from being unique and interesting in addition to limiting our understanding of the roles available to minority groups.

Games with characters which are fun, interesting, engaging, and relatable are likely to score higher in this category. Games with characters that are entirely defined by their tropes, or their physical characteristics, or that are indistinguishable from each other, are likely to score low on Interesting Characters. Games that lack enough distinction between characters, or that otherwise lack characterization, may receive an 0 in this category.

Prose Styling (10% of score):
Your writing should attempt to be as word-perfect as possible: that means correct spelling, grammar, and usage. While prose styling beyond those elements is subjective (How good is this writing? Does it engage me and do I want to keep reading?) we expect to see evidence that you’ve worked to submit clean copy to us. Writing should conform to our Style Guide both in terms of text (second person games should use first person options) and punctuation (no smart quotes, correct em-dashes, etc.)

Games which are beautifully written, or that deeply engage the player with their prose, are likely to score higher in this category. Games which are boring to read, or that that contain odd, confusing, or difficult writing are likely to score lower. Games which are unintelligible, which lack proper punctuation, or that are otherwise very poorly written may receive an 0 in Prose.

Judge’s Choice (5% of score):
The Judge’s Choice category is, obviously, how much the judges like your game. While it’s possible to discuss what makes a “good” game to the point of exhaustion without getting anywhere–especially once you start trying to account for taste–there are still three major things we can start off for games that are widely appealing. Most objectively, how does your game hold up as a cohesive whole? Cohesiveness can mean a good, logical interaction between stats and end states, while the lack of game balance, like having branches that are excessively difficult or far too easy to reach, or that have systems that make the player’s choices meaningless, can indicate some cohesiveness problems. Likewise, stats that match up meaningfully with theme and storytelling indicate a good game, while games that have odd combinations (such as a core choice of strength, agility, intelligence in a love story) might lack a sense of cohesion.

There are also more subjective standards. For example, is the game enjoyable? There’s a certain element of “fun” which can be very elusive both to make and describe, but the degree to which a game is gripping–how much it makes you want to keep playing to see the end–is a strong indicator. It’s very possible to paint by the numbers and end up with a game that at first glance appears decent, but in actual play isn’t all that enjoyable. In avoiding that, it’s very necessary not to lose that element of enjoyment in trying to hit all the right keys. Finally, and already mentioned briefly, is taste. While our rubric is designed to put the best games at top irrespective of our personal tastes, the fact of the matter is that we all play games and read stories to have a good time. So rather than break down what’s good and what’s bad for this category, here’s what the judges have to say about what they personally enjoy in our games:

Dan: A good story is like a good joke. The ending has to be surprising but inevitable in hindsight. A great ChoiceScript game makes players complicit in the process, allowing them to surprise themselves in ways only they could have predicted.

Jason: The thing that I want is to not be asked the same question repeatedly. I want the choices to be in different registers; about different plotlines; to be at cross-purposes. I want narrative tension. I want to be anguished by having to make a decision. In short, I want to be compelled to replay the game.

Becky: Does the story make me feel something? Does it make me want to know what happens next – by letting me connect with the characters enough to feel invested in their stories; by setting up enough tension in the plot to make me want to see how it gets resolved?

Adam: I focus on whether a game keeps me hooked. I want a game to grab me early on and make me determined to play more. I want choices that keep me interested–and that means I want variety of choices, not a repetition of the same choices over and over again. When I get to the end of the game, I want there to be different strategies that call out to be tried in a replay.

Mary: I tend to look closely at the prose of a game. I like to see polish at a sentence level–that is, prose that moves me through a scene in an exciting way, or slows down to a level of detail when I need to know more about an interaction or what’s happening. The dictum of fiction is: “Does this sentence reveal character or move the plot forward?” If it doesn’t, cut it.

Rachel: There’s a certain joy in having everything intricately–yet still neatly–tied together. When subtle changes in one early choice ripples out, the consequences of which gather steam until it shifts the whole course of the story, it feels like anything can happen.

And so along with the rest of the Judging Rubric, that makes up everything we’ll be judging our games on. Of course no game is or can be perfect in all of these categories, but each should make should strive to be as good as they can in all of them.

Mar 30

2017

The Eagle’s Heir — Defend the heir of Napoleon’s steampunk France

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

We’re proud to announce that The Eagle’s Heir, 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 20% off until April 6th!

Defend Napoleon’s heir in this steampunk alternate history game of political maneuvering, airship adventure, and romantic intrigue! Will you bring liberty to France, or plunge Europe into bloody war?

“The Eagle’s Heir” is a 200,000 word interactive novel by Amy Griswold and Jo Graham. It’s entirely text-based, without graphics, or sound effects, and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

Since Napoleon won the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, seventeen years ago, Europe has enjoyed an uneasy peace. While the great empires of Austria, Russia and England have tried to stem the tide of revolution, France has mastered steam power to conquer the air and sea. Now, Napoleon’s health is failing, and France is torn between his legitimate heir, Franz, and his illegitimate son Alexandre.

Luckily, Alexandre has you, his loyal bodyguard and childhood companion, skilled in the arts of the duel and the ballroom, and ready for anything from diplomacy to airship combat!

It’s brother against brother as you choose who will rule France, and how. Will France have a king, an emperor, or become a republic? Can you guide your lifelong friend Alexandre to the throne, and keep not just your prince but his revolutionary ideals alive? Or will you throw your weight behind his half-brother Franz? Will you defeat France’s enemies with the thunder of airship guns or forge a marriage alliance in gaslit ballrooms?

• Play as male, female, genderfluid, or non-binary; gay, straight, or asexual
• Race airships across the English Channel
• Find romance with a journalist or a lady’s maid, or ménage a trois at the Tuileries Palace
• Join a motley crew of actors in the revolutionary cause, or spy on them for your allies
• Duel aristocrats to preserve your and Alexandre’s honor
• Plan a scandalous elopement which sends Europe into an uproar

When swords cross before the throne, who will be the Eagle’s Heir?

We hope you enjoy playing The Eagle’s Heir. 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.

Mar 24

2017

How We Judge a Good Game—Part 2

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

As part of our support for the Choice of Games Contest for Interactive Novels, we will be posting an irregular series of blog posts discussing important design and writing criteria for games. We hope that these can both provide guidance for people participating in the Contest and also help people understand how we think about questions of game design and some best practices. These don’t modify the evaluation criteria for the Contest, and (except as noted) participants are not required to conform to our recommendations–but it’s probably a good idea to listen when judges tell you what they’re looking for.

If these topics interest you, be sure to sign up for our contest mailing list below! We’ll post more of our thoughts on game design leading up to the contest deadline on January 31, 2018.

Last time we gave some concrete ways in which our Guidelines connect with our Judging Rubric, covering Inclusivity, Length and Coding Efficiency, and Setting and Plot. For a refresher, here’s the previous blog post. This time we’ll cover our more game design and coding related categories: Creative Stats, Balanced Choices, and Conflicting Goals with Satisfying Endings.

Creative Stats (10% of score):
Stats reflect the main purpose of the game, and as such stats that reflect standard RPG scores like Health, Wealth, and Reputation generally do not lead to compelling decisions and rich end-states. Games that only include stats like that are likely to receive a low score in Creative Stats, and are also likely to have low scores in Conflicting Goals and Balanced Choices because they lack the necessary depth in tracking how the player character has reacted and presented themselves. Creative stats should be unique to the game or universe, should fit in the genre and style of the story, and should also compel a player to think about what the stats mean to them personally. For example:

  • Je Ne Sais Quoi in Thieves’ Gambit: The Curse of the Black Cat is an interesting stat. It represents the PC’s ability to act and speak in a smooth manner, and is very much in the spirit of the heist genre. It is creative and unique in that it is distinctive to the game’s genre. A “special something” being one of the primary way in which the player interacts with the world is unique.
  • Sleep in Choice of the Deathless is actually more creative than you might give it credit for at first glance. While almost everyone knows what it’s like to go without sleep, it takes on a special meaning in the context of working in a field such as law, where it’s very common to go a long time with only a few hours of sleep a night. It also acts as a foundation for the player’s understanding of the world, helping the fantastical to both appear more magical, and to be more relatable, because of that connection to the real world.
  • The robot’s stats in Choice of Robots are a good source of internal conflict for the player, forcing the player to balance what they want very carefully. Autonomy and Empathy are naturally compelling (the game does a lot to build a natural parental feeling for the robot) but those come at the cost of Military and Grace, which help to save human lives more directly. In addition, Autonomy and Empathy are a unique application of stats to a story about artificial intelligence, a subject most people won’t encounter in everyday life.

This is not to say that more “standard” stats must be omitted. If they assist in telling a better story they should certainly be used, but a game with only such stats lacks a certain depth that more individualized stats can give.

Stats should also be consistently applied throughout the game. This means that, at the very least, it should generally make sense why a stat is changing. From reading the text preceding a choice, the player should have a general idea of how the options and stats are tied together (although this is also a factor of the design of the choices). You should also be clear and consistent about what makes a particular stat rise or fall: for example, if the option “I put on a baseball cap” raises Charisma in Ch 3, the same option in Ch 6 shouldn’t raise Stealth instead. Finally, you should make sure that you don’t suddenly change how stats are tested: for example, if the game’s mechanics generally favor having multiple stats at medium levels, suddenly have the final few choices require one stat at a very high level can make the game feel very difficult and unfair.

Games with interesting stats that help to bolster the rest of the game, and that are both interesting, and consistent in their use, are likely to score higher in this category. A game which contains only very simplistic, uncompelling stats that do not give the player any sense of engagement, which fail to use stats in a consistent way, or which fail to track stats a significant amount of the time, will likely score low in Creative Stats. A game which simply does not track a player’s decisions with stats will most likely receive an 0 in Creative Stats.

Balanced Choices (15% of score):
Most, or even all, choices should have three or more options, none of which should be “do nothing” options. If the player can choose to not do anything, it should only be in direct pursuit of a goal. For example, “I keep silent in order to pressure the culprit into confessing on their own” is a perfectly valid option, while “I’ll wait and see, because that will let me get more information” is a little more suspect (why not just give the player the information without them asking?), and “I don’t join the adventure” should not ever be an option.

No option or path should be better or worse than any other—that means both in terms of how interesting the decision you’re offering the the player is, and in terms of the stat effects each option has—the options in your choices must be balanced.

When reading the choice, a player should have at least a rough estimate of what the outcomes of the different options are going to be. If the choice is testing stats, they should have an idea of what option tests which stats, while if it’s going to raise, lower, or set stats or variables, the player should be able to gleam which stats are being changed. For example, “I put on a baseball cap” doesn’t tell the player much, while “I put on a baseball cap because it looks good on me”, or “I put on a baseball cap because I can pull it down to hide my face” indicate what kind of stat they may be raising. (More on Intentionality can be found in this blog post by Becky Slitt)

Games which compel a player to think deeply about the choices before them, or that encourage a player to play again to see all the other options they could have chosen, can score higher in Balanced Choices. Games with options which are uncompelling, or which continually encourage only one path (either one specific path, or choosing one path early and never deviating), are likely to score lower in this category. A game which contains many choices with only two options, with unbalanced options, or with options that routinely do not contain enough information, may receive an 0 in Balanced Choices.

Conflicting Goals with Satisfying Endings (15% of score):
Every game should have multiple goals that the player can try to achieve. Ideally, these goals should conflict with each other: the player cannot pursue all the goals at the same time, and must choose among them. The outcome of the game should never simply be “did you win or did you lose?” There should always be multiple ways to win.

More structurally, no ending should come earlier than about 75% of the way through the game. There should also be something dramatic and satisfying about every ending, even if the ending is unhappy. It’s fine for a game to have tragic endings, such as the player’s character valiantly giving their life to achieve at least some of their goals, but endings where a player simply fails everything should not appear.

While it is fine to have some endings be less satisfying, especially for failing a test near the end of the game (e.g. the player tries to push their loved one out of the way of an attack, but doesn’t have the speed to do it, and so while they save their loved one, they die in the process, while if they succeeded, both of them would have lived), there shouldn’t be any endings which are obviously more satisfying, and there certainly shouldn’t be an ending which is the most satisfying. For example, if the player has a choice between succeeding at running a small business doing something they enjoy or a big business they hate, that’s a good conflicting goal. If they can change the big business to be something they like, or can just purchase the small business at the end, that becomes an obviously more satisfying goal and all sense of conflict is lost.

The player should always understand why they reached the ending that they did. Having an ending come from nowhere, or an ending which feels like it’s not accounting for something leaves a lasting bad impression. Endings that ignore stats (e.g. no matter your ‘swordfighting’ skill you lose the duel at the end to build tension), insert a standard piece of epilogue which doesn’t work (e.g. you always settle down to a quiet life after the adventure, even if you were a bloodthirsty barbarian during it), or come out of nowhere (e.g. you make a wrong turn, fall off a cliff, and die) are not satisfying. No matter the case, if a player feels like it assigns qualities or actions to them that don’t fit, it detracts from any feeling of satisfaction. (Read through this blog post by Adam Strong-Morse for more about writing conflicting and independent goals.)

Games with multiple interesting goals, and that require players to decide what they want, will score higher in this category. Games with few goals, or that don’t have balanced or interesting goals, are likely to score lower. If a game has only one goal or a goal that is obviously far more important than any others, or only unsatisfying endings or endings that come suddenly, early, or leave the player wondering what they did wrong, it may receive an 0 in this category.

Next week we’ll finish explaining our Rubric by talking about Original, Interesting Characters, what exactly does Prose Styling mean, and give a bit of personal insight with the Judge’s Choice.

Mar 17

2017

New Hosted Game! The Lost Heir 3: Demon War by Mike Walter

Posted by: Dan Fabulich | Comments (1)

Hosted Games has a new game for you to play!

Defeat the rampaging demon horde, save the Kingdom of Daria, and avenge the death of your parents in the thrilling conclusion to this epic three part series! You’ll need all the power you can muster to finish building your legend, tapping into any of the dozen new prestige classes, including Druid of Decay, Dragon Knight, and even fighting the demons with their own fire by becoming a Demon Master!

The Lost Heir 3: Demon War is a 250,000-word interactive fantasy novel by Mike Walter—the conclusion to the trilogy—where your choices control the story. The game is entirely text-based—without graphics or sound effects—and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination. It’s 20% off until March 24th!

Face betrayal, seek romance, battle enemies in war, and navigate the intrigues of court. The fate of the kingdom of Daria is in your hands.

  • Play as male or female, gay or straight.
  • Pursue romantic interests, get married, have a child!
  • Acquire legendary magical artifacts.
  • Reach one of seven different endings! Restore peace and harmony to the Kingdom of Daria or plunge the world into chaos, the choice is yours!

Mike 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.

Mar 17

2017

Hosted Games Life of a Wizard and Life of a Mobster Now on Steam

Posted by: Dan Fabulich | Comments (0)

To celebrate the launch of The Lost Heir 3: Demon War, we’re also announcing that two of Mike’s other games in our Hosted Games program, Life of a Wizard and Life of a Mobster are out now on Steam!

Write an archmage’s autobiography in this 80-year 130,000-word interactive fiction. Play good or evil, man or woman, as you bring peace to the kingdom or take over the world with your sorcery. Brew potions, raise the dead, summon mythical beasts, control men’s minds, and blast away your enemies.

Life of a Wizard is an epic interactive novel by Mike Walter where you control the main character. In each chapter, your choices determine how the story proceeds.

Will you find romance, get married, or have children? Will you become the arch-mage, grand bishop, nature-loving druid, hardened battle-mage or even an undead lich? The choice is yours!

Join the mob and rule the city! Will you become a celebrity mobster, or rule from the shadows?

Life of a Mobster is a thrilling 145,000-word interactive novel where your choices control the story. The game is entirely text-based–without graphics or sound effects–and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

Will you betray the five families to win the heart of a good-looking FBI agent? Will you end up as a prisoner, a senator, or FBI director? The choice is yours.

Mar 14

2017

Author Interview: Amy Griswold and Jo Graham – “The Eagle’s Heir”

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)

Choice of Games’ latest release will be The Eagle’s Heir by Amy Griswold and Jo Graham. The Eagle’s Heir is a steampunk alternate history game of political maneuvering, airship adventure, and romantic intrigue. Will you bring liberty to France, or plunge Europe into bloody war? I sat down with the authors to learn more about their game and their experiences writing interactive fiction. Look for The Eagle’s Heir later this week, releasing on Thursday, March 30th.

Eagle’s Heir is an alternate history or uchronia, in which Napoleon actually won at Waterloo. There’s also a bit of a steampunk flavor to it, because in this world there are airships used in combat situations. It’s a very fun, very exciting world. Tell me what drew you to invent it.

Jo: I’ve been writing in this period for a long time with my Wars of Revolution series of novels, The General’s Mistress, The Emperor’s Agent and the forthcoming The Marshal’s Lover. Madame St. Elme (grandmother in The Eagle’s Heir) is the main character of that series. As I work on it, I asked the inevitable question “What if they’d succeeded? What if Elza and her friends had won?” One thing that was clear to me in telling her story is how very close they came to winning. It only takes a tiny tweak here or there.

The point of departure in The Eagle’s Heir is that on the second day of Waterloo, d’Erlon reinforced Reille at Hougoumont Farm, forcing Wellington to withdraw from what had become a trap for him. Wellington pulled back before Grouchy arrived, allowing Ney to defeat Grouchy when he came up unsupported. Wellington then retreated to the Channel, as British Expeditionary Forces do, allowing the French to take Brussels. This caused a crisis in Parliament and Castlereagh’s government fell. A Whig Prime Minister was asked to form a government, and he signed a more favorable peace with France than the Tory government actually did in 1815. Consequently, Napoleon has remained Emperor for twenty years. He has embraced technological superiority, including giving free rein to the inventions of American Robert Fulton, which has caused a leap forward in steam power. As the game opens, France, England and Austria have been engaged in something of an arms race to the air.

One of the things I love about this world is that it’s not fantastic at all. It’s our world with tiny, plausible changes. Many of the main characters, like Alexandre, Victoria, Conroy, Madame St. Elme, and Franz, are all real people. Many of the others are based closely on real people as well. For example, the fascinating and romance-able Julien Lamarque, the news reporter, is based on young Alexandre Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers. I hope players will enjoy this visit to a world that might have been.

Amy: I’m always fascinated by the Victorian era and its mix of the entertainingly strange and the frankly awful. Here we’re at the boundary between Regency and Victorian, with Princess Victoria about to ascend to the throne (or not, depending on some of the players’ choices!) –the period of early Charles Dickens and the setting of Les Miserables. There’s a tremendous amount of energy devoted to the idea of “progress,” and a great deal of flailing around trying to define what progress might look like and what price should be paid to achieve it. Playing in an alternate universe lets us explore some different ways that people might have tried to change the world.

Also, it lets us have the heirs to Napoleon’s empire battle it out in airship combat over the Tuileries, which was just too much fun to pass up.

As a writing team, how did you divide up the work? Do you prefer writing with a partner and how did you decide to do this project together?

Jo: Amy does the coding and we divide up the writing by chapters and scenes. For example, the country house party is Amy and the pirate attack is me. The theater scene is Amy and the scene with Napoleon is me. (I love writing Napoleon, and I’ve written him quite a bit before.)

Amy: In the early chapters, we divided the writing up into larger chunks (as Jo says, I wrote almost all of “Lions of England,” and she wrote almost all of “The Old Eagle on His Crag.”) In the later chapters, there are some individual choices where some branches were written by me and some were written by Jo.

Jo and I have co-written a number of times before, particularly on the Stargate Legacy series of tie-in novels for Fandemonium Books, and I enjoy it. It’s great getting to bounce ideas off each other and work out a story together, and I think we both brought our own strengths to this project; I’m more comfortable with the coding, and Jo’s experience writing and running tabletop role-playing games was very useful in our game design.

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

Amy: There was definitely a learning curve involved in learning ChoiceScript, and I’ve gotten intimately familiar with pretty much every error message ChoiceScript can produce (plus the error messages I inserted to check for certain persistently recurring bugs, like “You shouldn’t be buried if you haven’t died!”) In terms of game design, experience with tabletop RPG campaigns where early decisions can lead to numerous possible states for later situations was very helpful. Probably the biggest challenge was making sure that there weren’t “wrong” choices – that every choice a player could make had advantages (and, usually, also disadvantages).

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

Jo: I love a bunch of Choice of Games stories, and I’ve been playing a while. My absolute favorite is Choice of Alexandria! I also love Affairs of the Court (which I’ve played through twelve times!), Choice of Broadsides, Choice of the Rock Star, Hollywood Visionary, and Saga of the North Wind.

Amy: I also particularly liked Affairs of the Court, but I’ve enjoyed a number of the games from Choice of Games, and I find Twine games generally interesting. In terms of narrative games defined more broadly, I’m a longtime player and fan of Fallen London and its Victorian space bats.

What are you working on next for Choice of Games?

Jo: Our next story is called Stronghold, and it’s high fantasy.

Amy: It’s a game about defending a town, finding a family, and building a community, and we’re excited to be starting the outline stage again with this project!

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