ChoiceScript is one of the many different tools you can use to write interactive fiction. From visual novel creator Ren’Py to a host of other programs for writing Zork-style text adventures, each one has its own style, strengths, and weaknesses. With so much about these programs being a matter of personal taste, what could ChoiceScript have that makes it stand out from all of the others?
Well, for starters, using ChoiceScript can get you paid.
Since 2009, Choice of Games has been publishing quality interactive fiction on web and mobile platforms. Learn about their cool style of interactive fiction, the ChoiceScript language, and how you could get your work published under their Hosted Games label.
Choice of Games’ Style
The cool thing about Choice of Games’ style of interactive fiction, is that it provides long stories full of informed choices and satisfying consequences. Consider the old Choose-Your-Own-Adventure (CYOA) books from the 1980s for a moment. They were full of branches that took the tale dramatically different directions, as shown in illustrated in this map from the CYOA gallery at Samizdat.
What CYOA offered in variety though, it lost in length. Each reading only offered a small number of choices, so the tales felt shallow. In contrast, Choice of Games creates interactive fiction that feels more like Telltale’s The Walking Dead games, or Bioware’s Mass Effect series. Each reader will ultimately experience many of the same vignettes, but how those scenes play out will be strongly informed by the foundation of stats and important decisions carried forward from early in the story.
Have you been developing a close relationship with a member of the supporting cast? Expect that character to have your back when the going gets tough, and maybe even profess their love to you. Have you been solving problems with brute force throughout the story? Don’t expect your underdeveloped social skills to get you out of trouble when you’re cornered by a superior foe. You’ll prove who you are with your early choices, and reap the consequences in later chapters, for better or for worse. Check out some of the stats tracked in the recently released Mecha Ace below.
Have an idea of what you want to make? Great! Head on over to the ChoiceScript introduction page and get the zip file that has what you need to get started. There are several pages of techniques you can use to get your desired results when you make your own game, but if you’re feeling intimidated, just limit yourself to the techniques on the introduction page at first.
Making choices, transitioning across scenes, and setting and modifying stats are all covered in the basics, and that’s plenty of flexibility to get some practice. You’ll be building your scenes in a simple text editor like Notepad, and viewing the final game as an HTML file in the browser of your choice.
So, what can you expect for your efforts? Choice of Games offers two different publishing imprints. Beginning interactive fiction writers can submit works to their Hosted Games label, which pays 25% royalties on your sales. You’ll have to supply your own images and do your own proofreading, but if you make a good impression, you may get a chance to write for their more prestigious Choice of Games label. There, images and proofreading will be supplied, letting you focus entirely on writing an awesome story. Regardless of which imprint you publish under, your game will be announced to over 60,000 fans on their mailing list. See the full details here.
Making a long form piece of interactive fiction is a lot of work, but you may be surprised to learn how well it pays. Writers for the Choice of Games label can choose to take a flat $10,000 for their work instead of the 25% royalties deal if they like. $10,000 sounds huge, but on an interview with The Game Design Round Table podcast, Choice of Games’ Dan Fabulich said that 25% of royalties is usually the better deal for writers over time. The market for interactive fiction across iOS, Android, Kindle, and web platforms is bigger than you thought, isn’t it?
Making interactive fiction is a fun creative activity on its own, but with Choice of Games offering a real opportunity for you to publish your work, there’s that much more incentive to see if the hobby is right for you. Even if you don’t want to write your own works, try out one of CoG’s free works, like Choice of Broadsides or Choice of the Dragon, in your web browser right now, or download them on your iOS or Android device.
Let our community know what you think of those in the comments if you play one of them through!
Do you prefer the more RPG-like interactive fiction of gamebooks? Check out these options on iOS!
Image Credits: thinking at table Via Shutterstock