Blog

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!

Apr 30

2020

Coming Soon: Three Vampire: The Masquerade interactive novels!

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (3)

In partnership with World of Darkness and Paradox Interactive, Choice of Games is proud to announce three upcoming games based on Vampire: The Masquerade and set in the World of Darkness shared story universe!

Vampire: The Masquerade — Night Road by Kyle Marquis
Vampire: The Masquerade — Out for Blood by Jim Dattilo
Vampire: The Masquerade — Parliament of Knives by Jeffrey Dean

In these games, your choices control the story. They’re entirely text-based—without graphics or sound effects—and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

Steam Wishlists Really Help

When we launch these games, they’ll be available on all of our usual platforms (iOS, Android, web, and Steam), but on Steam, each wishlist gives us extra visibility. So, even if you don’t normally purchase our games on Steam, we’d really appreciate it if you would login to Steam and click the “Wishlist” button there for all three of these games.

Vampire: The Masquerade — Night Road

by Kyle Marquis

The elders have entrusted you, an elite vampire courier, to deliver their secrets. Can you outrun the hunters, the other drivers, and the rising sun?

It’s a new Dark Age for the dead. When the Second Inquisition’s vampire hunters hacked phone lines and computer networks to expose and destroy vampires all over the world, the elders turned to undead couriers like you.

Race across the desert to deliver secrets, promises, and threats. Unleash the powers of your blood in ancient Disciplines to change form, vanish from sight, or dominate the minds of your enemies—or just run them off the road and keep driving.

Death is a hard road. You drive it every night. Coming soon, summer 2020. Wishlist it here.

Vampire: The Masquerade — Out for Blood

by Jim Dattilo

Gather your allies to hunt the vampires that terrorize your town! Study their ways and exploit their rivalries, or you’ll become a vampire yourself.

Take on the role of a vampire hunter to save your town from the influence of Chastain, a vampire more than a century old. When a group of young thin-blood vampires start a war with Chastain, will you choose sides, or hunt them all?

Gather your forces and sharpen your stake to take back the night!  Coming in spring 2021. Wishlist it here.

Vampire: The Masquerade — Parliament of Knives

by Jeffrey Dean

Dominate undead politics through cunning and violence! Will a missing Prince give you the opening you need to seize power and take control of the city?

The undead Prince of Canada’s capital city has disappeared, and his second-in-command, Eden Corliss, wants you to find out why. You’ve been loyal to Corliss since she Embraced you and made you a vampire, but this could be your chance to take her place.

Will you defend your sire from the accusations flying, or join forces with her rivals to bring her down? One careless word could get you stabbed in the back—staked through the heart, and left to burn in the sun.

Who will you save when the knives are out? Coming in fall 2021. Wishlist it here.


To sign up to be notified when these games are released, wishlist the games on Steam, or email subscribe@choiceofgames.com to sign up for the announcement mailing list.



About Choice of Games

Choice of Games LLC is dedicated to producing high-quality, text-based, multiple-choice games. Since 2009 they have produced over one hundred titles in-house, including Choice of the Dragon and Choice of Robots, and three of their recent titles have been nominated for the Nebula Award for Game Writing. They have also developed a simple scripting language for writing text-based games, ChoiceScript, which they make available to others for use in their projects, and they host games produced by other designers using ChoiceScript on their website. All of their games are available on the web at choiceofgames.com and on Steam. They also produce mobile versions of their games that can be played on iPhones, Android phones, and other smartphones.

About Paradox Interactive
The Paradox Interactive group includes development, publishing, and licensing of games and brands, consisting of a portfolio of more than 100 titles created both internally and by independent studios. Paradox owns an array of award-winning and top-selling brands including Cities: Skylines, Stellaris, Crusader Kings, Age of Wonders, and many more games available on PC and console platforms. Paradox is the owner of the World of Darkness IPs and is publishing Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 on PC and consoles in 2020.

From the company’s start in 2004, Paradox has published its games worldwide, with top markets including the USA, UK, China, Germany, France, and Russia. Today, over four million gamers play a Paradox game each month with a global community reaching over ten million registered Paradox users.

Paradox Interactive AB (publ)’s shares are listed on Nasdaq Stockholm First North Premier under ticker PDX. FNCA Sweden AB is the company’s Certified Adviser. For more information, please visit www.paradoxinteractive.com.

Apr 23

2020

Mask of the Plague Doctor–Stop a deadly plague with medieval medicine!

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)

We’re proud to announce that Mask of the Plague Doctor, 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 30% off until April 30!

Stop a deadly plague in a medieval fantasy tale of swords and surgery!

Mask of the Plague Doctor is a 410,000-word interactive novel by Peter Parrish, 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 town of Thornback Hollow is under quarantine. Its people are unable to sleep, tormented by a disease known as the Waking Death, and the infection is spreading. The Crown has commanded you and two other plague doctors to end the plague, even if that means destroying the town.

In your quest for knowledge, will you try to ease the fear and paranoia of the citizenry, or fan the flames of political unrest? Will your fellow plague doctors become your rivals, allies, or lovers? Will you grasp the true power that watches over the town?

• Play as male, female, or non-binary; gay, straight, bisexual, or aromantic.
• Select from a range of mask designs, or opt for one of your own.
• Specialize in surgery, medical theory, or uncanny mysticism.
• Unearth a cure for the Waking Death, apply traditional medicines, or explore more experimental methods.
• Respect the local deity, or throw your support behind a banished sect.
• Work with the Crown’s appointed mayor, aid a revolt, or do your best to avoid political intrigue altogether.
• Find time for romance with one of your fellow plague doctors, or a dashing mercenary.
• Recruit others to your medical cause and perhaps leave a lasting legacy.
• Seek induction into the Fellowship of Royal Physicians, or be happy just to escape with your life.

Thornback Hollow is in peril. Can your healing hands soothe the Waking Death to slumber? Or will the town perish to fire and disease?

We hope you enjoy playing Mask of the Plague Doctor. 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.

Apr 20

2020

Author Interview: Peter Parrish, Mask of the Plague Doctor

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)

Stop a deadly plague in a medieval fantasy tale of swords and surgery! The town of Thornback Hollow is under quarantine. Its people are unable to sleep, tormented by a disease known as the Waking Death, and the infection is spreading. The Crown has commanded you and two other plague doctors to end the plague, even if that means destroying the town.

Mask of the Plague Doctor is a 410,000-word interactive novel by Peter Parrish. I sat down with Peter to discuss fantasy plagues in the current midst of the global SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

Mask of the Plague Doctor releases this Thursday, April 23rd.

It feels very strange that this game is being published during the coronavirus pandemic, but we’ve of course been working on it since the summer of 2018. And interestingly, sales of the table top game, Pandemic, have soared since this began. I wonder if being able to role play in similar scenarios can help people to cope with the stress of the real thing.

It’s been quite surreal to watch most of the world enter into varying states of quarantine across the past couple of months, and to be subject to a moderate one myself here in Washington State. When I started writing this game, the 2018 World Cup had just finished. That kind of international, communal event has just ceased to exist for the near-to-mid future – with good reason, of course.

I think you’re right that the renewed interest in plague and pandemic related materials comes from people trying to deal with, and understand, their present circumstances. There’s a level of control, especially with games, that you simply don’t have over the real life. They let you act out and explore anxieties in a more abstract way. Games won’t feed you or pay the rent, but they can at least provide a good distraction while you’re stuck indoors.

I hope Mask of the Plague Doctor can entertain people in the same manner. But I’m sure for some this is the last topic they want to think about, and I completely understand that feeling too.

That said, this is a total fantasy setting with a medieval-fantasy tone. And the disease is far deadlier. Tell me a little about the world of Thornback Hollow.

Thornback Hollow is just one town within a wider realm, but for the player and protagonist it is pretty much their whole world for the game’s duration. It’s loosely 13th-14th Century European in character, so the main industries are timber, a tannery, and (outside the walls) agriculture. The inhabitants find themselves afflicted by a strange and terrifying sickness that prevents the infected from sleeping. If you’ve ever gone without sleep for 24 hours, suffered from insomnia, or more severe sleep disorders, you’ll have an idea how rapidly that takes a toll on body and mind.

The town also has the (mis)fortune to lay on the main trade route to the ocean, so the Crown authorities are especially keen to find a cure – and willing, if necessary, to take far more drastic measures to clear the way and get the economy going again. That’s where you and your plague doctor companions come in.

In MotPD‘s world, the history of medicine and surgery has progressed rather differently from our own. It’s at a 13th Century level in many ways, but there was no Four Humors theory developed here, nor any astrological tables to consult. But Thornback Hollow’s realm does have its own deities, and those who practice medicine by communing with them (as well as many who prefer more grounded methods).

The feudal period provides a lot of clear-cut themes of class and power too, which are topics close to my heart. As a plague doctor you carry a certain amount of authority, but you ultimately answer to a ruling class whose interests may not align with your own.

Can you say a bit about what informed your initial conception for the game. Why a plague doctor tale?

It seems a bit funny to be saying this now that the game is over 400,000 words long, but I wanted to keep things tight and on a manageable scale! Before this, I’ve only ever written short fiction, so a story where the player would literally be stuck behind town walls seemed like a good way to keep the tale somewhat confined. I took a fair bit of inspiration from Albert Camus’ The Plague, which has a similar premise (albeit in the 1940s).

For MotPD, I wanted a fantasy-medieval theme because medicine in that 13th Century era is such a fascinating collision of techniques. There are some that still have contemporary relevance, there’s some well-meaning guesswork, and then there’s a whole lot of absolutely wild nonsense. You have doctors disinfecting wounds with alcohol and applying honey as a sort of early antibiotic, but others trying to treat gout by saying “well, wait until the next solstice, then decapitate an owl…” It provides a lot of reference material for real medical methods, and a lot of flexibility for inventing weird things of my own.

Plus, I think almost everybody agrees that plague doctor masks are eerie and cool. There’s that duality of purpose where they’re worn by those who could save your life, but their appearance in town symbolizes tragedy, decay, and death. That appeals to my inner goth, I suppose. Catherine Joo’s cover art really helps convey that feeling, I love how she depicted my characters.

Funnily enough, although most people associate plague doctors and their masks with the medieval Black Death, the popular beaked aesthetic comes from far, far later in the 17th Century. I’m afraid MotPD is perpetuating this myth. Sorry, historians.

What I have found so compelling about the current pandemic is that there are obvious parallels to what happens in the game, which I guess speaks to the nature of public health management in general, whether it’s real or fictional.

I think in a situation like this, where despite what we do know about SARS-CoV-2 there is no current vaccine or cure, we fall back on these older, tested techniques. We know this is a virus, not some vague “miasma,” but the idea of reducing spread by reducing proximity is the same. Without any reliable form of treatment, the best prevention is to not catch it in the first place.

I’m really intrigued to see how people respond to the game now that most will have experienced some degree of quarantine. Will it influence the sorts of choices they make? Are there measures they would like to implement that I’ve not accounted for? For a while I worried that I’d written my ruling authorities as a bit too self-interested and cruel, but reality has since convinced me otherwise.

You come from a background in games journalism, but I believe this is your first foray into writing interactive fiction? Tell me a little about your other work.

This is my first work of interactive fiction, yes. Also my first work of published fiction longer than about 5,000 words.

For about ten years I primarily wrote for a site called IncGamers (now PC Invasion), doing reviews, interviews, and the like. Archiving procedures might have messed with things, but I think most of my work is still hosted some fashion. Anyway, I’ve always loved reactive RPGs that respond and acknowledge your choices with significant narrative branches – games like Fallout: New Vegas or (especially!) Alpha Protocol. Long before that I’d play extremely frustrating text adventures on the ZX Spectrum, where you had to pretty much know the exact verb the designer was thinking of when they wrote the puzzle in order to solve it. I’d read a lot of Fighting Fantasy books as a child, too. I’ve still got the Sorcery! set on my shelves somewhere.

So I guess all of that background, plus my dabbling in short stories, made interactive fiction a natural fit.

I’ll be on the receiving end of reviews for once, instead of writing them. That should be…interesting.

What are you working on next?

Given how this has played out, I should probably write something utopian and hope that comes true as well.

Honestly, I’ve really enjoyed writing interactive fiction. If Mask of the Plague Doctor is well received, perhaps you’ll see another Choice of Games title under my name.

Subscribe by E-mail