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Jun 11

2020

Light Years Apart–Outfox a galaxy-spanning AI to save your planet!

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)

We’re proud to announce that Light Years Apart, 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 June 18th!

Can you and your sister outfox a galaxy-spanning AI to save your home planet? A rollicking adventure with space pirates, spies, and snarky computers.

Light Years Apart is a 230,000-word interactive sci-fi novel by Anaea Lay, 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 trained at the Kempari College, an academy for super spies, fighting against the Aydan-machine interplanetary AI. Aydan-machine and its affiliated megacorp, the ICA, have monopolized control over FTL weft-drives.

You resigned from the College when your teachers ordered you to commit murder. Since then, you’ve wandered the galaxy for a decade, so long that your shipboard computer has become your surrogate parent.

But now, the ICA has blockaded Kempus, and you’re in a unique position to prevent thousands of unnecessary deaths. Will you ally with the enemy, or return to the rebels who once betrayed you?

What’s more, your hacker sister has brought your old flame back into your orbit, and the love you left behind is now mission-critical. As a former spy, you have flexible morals, but there are certain lines you won’t cross. The blockade is real, and it’s killing kids.

When your planet needs you, will you step up or storm off?

• Play as male, female, or non-binary; gay, straight, bi, poly or asexual
• Unleash artful and infinite swearing
• Swap stories and strategies with your secret agent peers
• Drink yourself silly on extraterrestrial moonshine
• Team up with space pirates
• Watch a planet breed with its moon
• Smuggle two weird teenagers past an interplanetary blockade

We hope you enjoy playing Light Years Apart. 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.

Jun 08

2020

Author Interview: Anaea Lay, Light Years Apart

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)

Can you and your sister outfox a galaxy-spanning AI to save your home planet? A rollicking adventure with space pirates, spies, and snarky computers.

Light Years Apart is a 230,000-word interactive sci-fi novel by Anaea Lay, author of Gilded Rails. I sat down with Anaea to talk about the challenges and surprises in writing interactive fiction.

Light Years Apart releases this Thursday, June 11th. You can play the the first three chapters today

This is your second game with COG, the first being the historical management game Gilded Rails. It’s kind of amazing to see the same author tackle two such completely different settings. Tell me a little about that.

Part of it is that Gilded Rails was really far outside my normal comfort zone for setting. In the pitch and early development process I was preoccupied with what would make a cool, interesting game, and forgot that I would be the one developing it at the other end. I learned a lot from doing that, but one of the things I learned was that I definitely prefer reading history and historical settings more than I enjoy working in them.

Light Years Apart, setting-wise, is much more in my wheelhouse. It’s based on a universe I’ve written several novels in and know really well, which meant my focus on the development could hone in on mechanics and gameplay elements rather than working out setting details.

Aside from the settings, though, I think it’s pretty clear they’re the same author. Light Years Apart is more plot-forward than Gilded Rails, but the parts of GR, I think, that are strongest are the characters and how the world they’re in interacts with and shapes them. Because of when its set and the material its focusing on, there are very explicit themes around justice, oppression, and reform. All those things are still in Light Years Apart, the scope is just narrower here and the focus is more on the personal level than the society/world level. Also, I’m still sarcastic.

What drew you to tell this story?

The story in this game is actually a single POV plotline I pulled out of a novel with an ensemble cast. I wrote the novel mostly to work out the world building and firm up setting details for a universe I’d been cooking at the back of my head for a long time. The plan was to tear around the universe, having as much fun as possible, so I could figure out what did and didn’t work before getting into the seriouz bizniz ™ plot.

I was about halfway through work on Gilded Rails when I decided I wanted to adapt that into a game. I’m not much of a planner when I’m writing normally–which is probably obvious after saying I wrote a whole novel just to figure out world building–and that process does not work well for game development. Taking something where a lot of the overall arcs were well known meant I could be much more savvy about designing mechanics and stats, planning out scenes, all sorts of things that work better if you’re pragmatic up front.

Besides, who wouldn’t want to write a game full of snark and pirates and having to balance split loyalties while zipping around the universe?

There’s a lot of fun space piratey stuff in this game. What part of building this world did you most enjoy?

That’s a hard question since I basically mashed together everything I like about space opera. I definitely have a soft spot for all the sentient computers, though. How they wind up interacting with the human characters, and the tension around what even the existence of what we’re calling “strong AI” these days means for human society is a rabbit hole I am always happy to fall down. Very fundamental disagreements about the ethics and wisdom of throwing in with artificial intelligence, versus a more Luddite approach, and how that interacts with questions of exploitation and xenophobia, are the background of a lot of the conflict. There aren’t tidy answers in the game because these aren’t questions with tidy answers. But the computer on the PC’s ship, the intelligence running the pirate ship, a few others you may or may not meet in the course of playing the game, they were all fun to write. And the way they tie into those core questions made them important in ways that went beyond cracking easy jokes about human-robot relationships.

Were there things that you surprised yourself with during the writing process?

I had two big surprises working on this. The first was in working up the original outline. I mentioned above that this an adaptation of one slice of a novel with an ensemble cast. The ending of that novel is very much the product of elements from each cast member coming together. That meant I had to throw out basically that whole ending, because so much of the setup for it had no way to come over for the adaptation. If I’d kept it, it would have been a very unsatisfying deus ex machina. I’d expected a lot of change around the ending, obviously, because there were going to be a lot of different possibilities. I hadn’t expected that no version of the original ending would be feasible, but it was obvious very quickly that was the case.

The other surprise was something I didn’t expect up front at all, and didn’t have an inkling of until feedback started coming in, though it was related to the other surprise: Calvary as a setting did not work as well in the single-POV game format as it does where it gets more context and nuance. The “back-worlds” in this universe have all been set up as large scale social experiments. This is something that’s relatively common knowledge on the “civilized” worlds, but not well known elsewhere. Calvary is a place really designed to highlight the problems you get when you deliberately construct a xenophobic society just so you can see how it plays out, and stand as an indictment of the forces that are preoccupied with arguing over human-AI relationships without stopping to question how they’ve both bought into the virtue of turning whole societies into pawns. Basically all of that nuance and theme work vanished with narrowing down to a single POV. I wound up spending a lot of time on reworking the setting to remove hints and pointers to things that weren’t getting picked up or addressed in the game because of the narrower focus.

Usually when I’m revising or editing I’m adding in or refining complexity and details, not pulling them out or undermining them. It was really startling to face plant in the middle of needing to make a whole setting and society do less.

I know the working title for this game was “Sentient Domain” which captures certain elements of the story, but I also love the title “Light Years Apart.” They both seem to reveal a lot about this game.

Sentient Domain is the name of the novel this was adapted from, but that element of the world building is much more important to the ending of the novel than it wound up being for any facet of the game. It’s still important for the worldbuilding and some of the thematic routes you can pursue, but it doesn’t capture the core of the game the way a title should. Light Years Apart works for pretty much any path you take through the game, and works with the more personal, focused stakes here.

What are you working on next?

I don’t know what day of the week it is right now. I’ll figure my next project…someday.

Jun 04

2020

Black Lives Matter

Posted by: Jason Stevan Hill | Comments (0)

At Choice of Games, we uphold the self-evident—yet surprisingly controversial—idea that anyone can be a hero. It should not matter if you are male, female, or non-binary; gay, straight, bi, or just plain queer; cis or trans; black, white, or brown. Due to its history of structural racism, the egalitarianism that we espouse is not reality in America.

Let us be clear: Black Lives Matter.

George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. Adama Traoré. João Pedro Matos Pinto. 

These names haunt us, as they should haunt you. And these are only a few recent victims of white supremacy and police brutality.

Over the course of the past week, police officers and other security forces have committed disproportionate, illegal, and immoral acts of violence on protesters demanding accountability for the police.

This comes at a dire time in the history of the United States, when our president, unable to acknowledge the possibility of defeat, is willing to jettison democracy in favor of his own ego. We at Choice of Games have real concerns that if these protests fail to effect change, there will not be an election in November.

We support four specific short-term demands:

  1. An end to qualified immunity for law enforcement.
  2. An end to the sale of military equipment to law enforcement.
  3. An end to the use of tear gas and other chemical weapons.
  4. The creation of a national database of law enforcement officers dismissed for misconduct, that would prevent those officers from being rehired by another department.

Yet these demands only address the symptoms; they will not cure the disease. The entire United States criminal justice system must be reimagined.

We encourage everyone that can to attend a protest—socially distanced and nonviolent. If you can’t protest, we encourage you to donate money to bail funds and other community organizations pushing for police reform; you can even stream this YouTube channel, whose advertising revenue will support bail funds and other organizations. If you can’t donate money, we ask that you donate your time by calling your elected representatives—from your city councilmembers, to your state representatives, to your Congressional representatives—and express your outrage at the conduct of police and other security personnel.

Because we believe that this moment requires more than words, Choice of Games LLC and Hosted Games LLC will each be donating $10,000 to this collective bail fund, which will split the money between more than seventy community organizations across the country.

Now is the time for all of us to be heroes.

Jun 04

2020

New Hosted Game! War for Magincia by Philip Kempton

Posted by: Kai DeLeon | Comments (0)

Hosted Games has a new game for you to play!

In this prequel to Swamp Castle and the Great Tournament, lead a medieval faction as it attempts to secure the Kingdom of Magincia. You must deal with other hostile factions and fight off barbarians to gain ruling power of the realm.

It’s 40% off until June 11th!

War for Magincia is a 200,000-word interactive novel by Philip Kempton. Set in the world of Swamp Castle and The Great Tournament, in War for Magincia you’ll experience randomly generated events and stats results each time you play, and a deep story tree with many different endings, in addition to three difficulty modes: easy, normal, or hard.

  • Use diplomacy, war, or intrigue to defeat your rival factions.
  • Work for the betterment of the Kingdom and people, or take all its riches for yourself.
  • Send diplomats to rival factions to sue for peace or spies to cause chaos and war among your rivals.
  • Train your army with a variety of unit troops. Upgrade their equipment and training.
  • Choose your general and level him/her up with a variety of military maneuvers.
  • Hire advisors to help in your quest to secure the Kingdom of Magincia.
  • Unlock achievements and new modes of play.

Swamp Castle and Life of a Mercenary are now available on Steam and on sale! You can also enjoy The Great Tournament and The Great Tournament 2 on sale until June 11th!

Philip Kempton developed these 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.

May 21

2020

New Hosted Game! Journey into Darkness by Jonathan Clark

Posted by: Kai DeLeon | Comments (0)

Hosted Games has a new game for you to play!

Embark on a Victorian adventure that begins in the heart of London and takes you across the world in a race to obtain a fabled jewel with mysterious powers. Navigate the deadly river Mjaa Nto and twisted jungle paths where danger lurks beneath the surface and around every corner.

It’s 30% off until May 28!

Journey into Darkness is a challenging 50,000 word interactive fantasy novel by Jonathan Clark, 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.

There are eight full-size color lino-cut illustrations and six smaller handmade stamp illustrations within this text adventure.

Will you beat your rivals to the prize? Can you fight off the dangers along the way? Will you find the right path and the knowledge you need to succeed or will you succumb to the darkness?

  • Play as male or female.
  • Travel to exotic locations.
  • Solve the puzzle of the one true path.
  • Fight monsters and other horrors.
  • Endure the sarcasm of your traveling companions.
  • Awaken an ancient cosmic horror.

Jonathan Clark 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 21

2020

New Hosted Game! AI — Aftermath by Ivailo Daskalov

Posted by: Kai DeLeon | Comments (0)

Hosted Games has a new game for you to play!

Unleash your psionic powers and help your eternal lover in their quest of preventing the imminent AI apocalypse!

It’s 30% off until May 28!

AI – Aftermath is a 36,000-word interactive science fiction novel by Ivailo Daskalov, 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 must set out on a mission of saving the world from an imminent apocalypse caused by malevolent AI activity. Along the way, you’ll meet your lover, and help them choose who they are in this incarnation. Together, convince the forces of heaven and a beautiful fairy being to help you in your mission.

  • Play as male or female, gay or straight.
  • Rediscover your eternal love.
  • Choose between his/her four aspects.
  • Wield psionic powers.
  • Recover from the traumas of AI wars.
  • Change the timeline to a better one…or not.

Ivailo Daskalov 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 15

2020

A Squire’s Tale–Outwit the faeries to rescue the prince!

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)

We’re proud to announce that A Squire’s Tale, 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 25% off until May 21st!

Battle evil faeries and traitors at court to rescue the prince of England! Can you resist the call of faerie long enough to complete your quest?

A Squire’s Tale is a 150,000-word interactive fantasy novel by Benjamin Appleby-Dean, 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.

The prince’s abduction has tipped the country toward civil war, and your Lady has been sent on a secret mission to recover him. Save the heir apparent, and you could finally earn your knighthood and leave your squiring days behind. But when your search leads you to a magical market in the middle of nowhere, your loyalties and your Lady are put to the test.

Will you join with the faeries, or deny their existence? Journey further from court and comfort, or seek to rationalize the impossibilities in front of you? As you hunt for clues and amass allies, you’ll master the knightly arts of music, combat, riding, and even falconry. Emerge victorious in the tournament, and you may even win a kiss. But stay focused on your quest—you’ll need all your skills to survive the tricks of Faerie and discover the truth behind the prince’s disappearance.

Do you trust the fair ones?

• Play as a male, female, or nonbinary squire.
• Romance a faerie, a squire, an alchemist, a dancer, or even your own Lady.
• Master the knightly arts of archery, chivalry, falconry, and more.
• Marvel at a world whose wonders depend on how much you believe.
• Battle in tournaments for glory, or duel after dark for blood.
• Uncover long-hidden family secrets.
• Visit a fourteenth-century abbey and ally with its prioress.
• Solve faerie riddles for future boons.
• Insult your enemies in rhyme!

We hope you enjoy playing A Squire’s Tale. 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.

May 11

2020

Author Interview: Benjamin Appleby-Dean, A Squire’s Tale

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)


Seize victory for your Lady in medieval England! The crown prince has gone missing, and only you can rescue him. But can you resist the call of faerie long enough to complete your quest? A Squire’s Tale is a 152,000-word interactive medieval fantasy novel by Benjamin Appleby-Dean. I sat down with Ben to talk about medieval fantasy and the inspirations for his game. A Squire’s Tale releases this Thursday, May 14th.

I love the medieval fantasy setting of this game. Tell me a little about the world of A Squire’s Tale.

A Squire’s Tale is set in a hopefully-accurate version of 14th-century England. The country was in a constant state of unrest and rebellion due to the unpopular reign of Richard the Second—the Black Death and the Peasant’s Revolt had been followed by expensive and unsuccessful wars abroad, and he was barely clinging to his throne at the time of the story. The collective upheavals of the time also led to more equality among men and women due to the labour shortages, and many other medieval norms were frequently broken—priests openly took mistresses or common-law wives, and same-sex couples faced less persecution than they later did under the Tudors.

It’s also a time when the very idea of knighthood was being reinvented—many of the older chivalric ideas were seen as having died with Edward of Woodstock (the famous Black Prince), and knights and jousting were on the cusp of becoming a kind of formalized play-acting.

Most of the characters I’ve written about here were real historical figures—although I had to invent Lady Catherine D’Arundel and Prince Bertram for the sake of the plot!

I tried to write the fantastic elements of this story based on how people of the time would have perceived them, rather than more modern ideas of Faerie—most medieval tales of otherworlds are anarchic and socially disruptive, or downright surreal. Alchemy was widely accepted and even practiced by the Church, and what we think of as the supernatural was seen in a much more everyday, matter-of-fact light.

This is your first piece of interactive fiction, but certainly not your first publication. Tell our readers a bit about your background as a writer.

​I’ve been writing for about ten years now, and have had two novels published through Wild Wolf—a contemporary horror story (Lamplight) and a coming-of-age fantasy novel (The Stickman’s Legacy). All of my work is set in the same fictional world—sharp-eyed readers might notice a few places and background characters shared between my novels and A Squire’s Tale, despite the difference in time periods!

I also write occasional poetry, and published a short collection last year.

I have a particular interest in LGBTQIA+ fiction, especially where the identity of the characters isn’t a major focus of the plot—I’m a firm believer in incidental representation, and it’s one of the things that first drew me to COG. I’ve dabbled with game development on a number of occasions as a hobby, but this is my first time releasing anything interactive to the public—I’m very excited (and a little nervous) to see how it goes!

What did you find most surprising about the process of writing a branching narrative game?

​​​​I found coming up with balanced, compelling choices at every stage of the game to be surprisingly challenging—especially when it came to avoiding dead ends and “wrong” choices. I was also pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to hide things in the narrative—most of the choices and consequences in A Squire’s Tale should be fairly obvious, but I’ve added a couple of well-hidden secrets for anyone who cares to go looking…

What’s your experience and background in playing games? Do you have any favorites in the COG canon of games?

​I’ve probably spent rather too much of my life playing games—from the Fighting Fantasy and Lone Wolf gamebooks of the 1980s to the more modern digital worlds of Silent Hill, Baldur’s Gate, Portal, Life is Strange, and so on. I’m fascinated by the possibilities of storytelling in a more interactive medium—the way you can use player awareness of their own role within the story, for instance, or using environmental details to tell a story rather than explicit narrative. Nowadays I tend to play a lot more independent or low-budget titles rather than big releases as I think a lot of the more interesting games writing is coming from smaller developers—Night in the Woods and Heaven Will Be Mine are among my recent favorites.

​My favorite COG title is Heart of the House​—I’m a huge fan of traditional ghost stories, and I love the decaying, Shirley-Jackson-esque atmosphere and the slow descent into surrealism as the player becomes lost in the architecture.

Where did the idea for A Squire’s Tale come from?

The main inspiration was one of my favorite poems—Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market,” with its lyrical, decadent merchants and their wares. The same kind of Faerie Market occurs in passing in a lot of fantasy literature, but I wanted to write something where it was more central to the story—asking what kind of people come to sell at the Market? What brings them there, and what are their own stories and backgrounds?

I also read a number of Victorian medieval romances when I was younger—The White Company, Sir Nigel, Ivanhoe and so on; and although they’re badly dated as novels, I liked the idea of doing something set in the same period. The 14th century was a time of enormous historical change—the oncoming transformation of chivalry, the social upheavals that followed in the wake of the Plague, the subsequent Peasants’ revolt, and the multiple attempts to unseat Richard II. What better time for a mysterious group of travelers to show up, offering to sell people all the answers they’re missing?

What are you working on next?

I actually have several projects going on at present—I’m working on a children’s book set in the same fantasy realm as A Squire’s Tale, as well as my own traditional ghost story for a more adult audience. I also have a couple more ideas for interactive fiction if A Squire’s Tale does well enough!

May 07

2020

New Hosted Game! Wayhaven Chronicles: Book Two by Mishka Jenkins

Posted by: Kai DeLeon | Comments (1)

Hosted Games has a new game for you to play!

Two months have passed since the bloody showdown with Murphy. Wayhaven has returned to its peaceful routine, and you’ve returned to your less-than-thrilling job as detective. But with your new role as human liaison to The Agency—an organization that governs the supernatural—things should be far from dull.

It’s 30% off until May 14!

Along with the job comes Unit Bravo, the team you are learning to live with on a more permanent basis. And with one of them comes the continuation of feelings that were just beginning to be explored…

But an altogether different presence is rolling into Wayhaven, cloaked in striped tents, blazing lights, and clouds of cotton candy.

Immerse yourself in Wayhaven Chronicles: Book Two, a 788,000-word continuation of your supernatural story, where you can grow the romance you began, meet old and new characters, decide how to handle the new situations you’re thrown into, and experience the thrill of the outcomes of those decisions—as well as what they may bring in the future!

  • Play as female, male, or non-binary; play as straight, gay, or bisexual.
  • Continue your unique and lasting romance with one of the four vampires of Unit Bravo.
  • Build on your character by deciding key factors in their development.
  • Grow and define friendships and relationships from Book One, as well as those introduced in Book Two.
  • Will you gain a new ally, make peace, or turn against the new supernatural situation that has arisen?
  • Enjoy the freedom of a playstyle which suits you, whether through personality, stats, or choices.
  • Immerse yourself in a world rich with characters, story, lore, and—most importantly—fun!

The Carnival has arrived. Prepare for the ride.

Mishka Jenkins 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 07

2020

The Parenting Simulator is now on Steam and 25% off!

Posted by: Kai DeLeon | Comments (0)

The Parenting Simulator

In honor of Mother’s Day, we are releasing The Parenting Simulator on Steam!

This is a story where you do something more terrifying than entering a haunted house, more dangerous than assaulting an alien horde, and more important than ruling a fantasy kingdom.  You, and you alone, must turn your newborn baby into a functional adult.  Will you be a tiger mom or a helicopter dad?  Can you raise a child through eighteen years of humor and heartache with nothing on your side except a little patience and a lot of love?  It’s a fun and unique experience designed for potential parents of all ages!

The Parenting Simulator is a lighthearted 189,000 word interactive slice-of-life novel by Matt Simpson, 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.

  • Experience over 60 scenes designed to touch on events both major and minor in your digital offspring’s life.
  • Overcome potty training, bullies, and the dreaded driving test!
  • Live the wild emotional rollercoaster of raising a child as you go from birth to high school graduation.
  • Be the main role model in their life, as every little thing you do can have consequences that reverberate through the years.
  • Maintain relationships with friends and family or burn your bridges to spare you and your little one further heartache.
  • Watch your child grow and change from the choices you make.
  • Find out who they become through numerous possible endings!

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