Announce: Sacrifice


I wrote this a while ago and I wondered what you guys think about it. This is the first IF story I made, so please don’t be too harsh on me :slight_smile:

I think unspeakable things.

Namekuseijin - either you’re trying to be funny, or you’re trying to be hurtful, but either way, your comment contributed nothing worthwhile to this thread. Next time, please don’t.

He asked what we think. I told without being harsh.

if you can’t stand people’s opinions and discussions, you shouldn’t be hanging around in a forum rather than try and patronize in bursts of control freakness

It’s okay if you dislike it, really. If you told me what exactly you didn’t like and why though that’d be nice.

I didn’t like that I was for the most part reading static fiction with “click next” disguised as inconsequential single actions such as “look at wound” or “wake up”.

my favorite part was the next link called “Use distraction” where I have no saying on how I’d do that and am instead submitted to long patagraphs about how the protagonist of this static fiction, called “you”, managed it.

please don’t call things like that IF. it’s insulting. But you’re not alone in that assumption these days…

my pleasure and welcome btw

Well, you’re probably right, it’s rather a short story than core IF. I’m just using twine as a platform instead of a single long text since I think it helps the reader connect with the protagonist. The ‘Use distraction’ option refers to what happened before, the distraction is already given and doesn’t have to be created by the reader. Anyway, I was hoping on a response on the content rather than whether it can be considered IF or not.

Nothing like a bit of heat to make you wonder what it’s all about and check out the actual game.

It’s a good start, for your first creation, so first of all well done on getting something finished and released. I would now encourage you to flesh it out, and rethink some aspects.

For instance: at the beginning, I find myself supremely disinterested on what’s going on. There’s a fight, and I’m in the middle of it. I’m offered a one-sentence description, and two options which look pretty similar and which I have no way of distinguishing between - I have no reason to choose one or the other. So I randomly, disinterestedly, choose one. Then the process repeats for a little while, and I don’t get any more interested.

It’s not an engaging beginning. I can see that you probably intended it to feel fast-paced and energetic, hence the short one-liners and the immediate actions. In that case a rewrite might be in order - being dumped into a fight scene per se isn’t dramatic enough to hook me, but if you write it distinctively enough, it might. Make it less generic, would be my advice. By the time you started talking about “everything you’re fighting for” and “the wound in your leg” (which, I’m sorry to say, is still quite generic), you had already lost me.

Then when you get past that, you go into a few screens where you don’t actually make a choice, you sorta “click the link” as the equivalent of “turn the page”. I started skimming the text, faster and faster, because I was not drawn in. My lack of agency didn’t improve things; I didn’t feel as though I had to understand what was going on, because I could just click the link to continue. And then the game ended.

I routinely see, by other Twine authors, various ways of fleshing out a static-fiction short story just like yours. A common method is to have two sorts of links: one advances the story, the other one allows you to examine objects, or try other actions, or remember something from your past - things that don’t advance the story but flesh it out.

Another one is to use fancy text effects, like text appearing and disappearing, or choices disappearing. At its worst this is just gimmicky, but I’ve seen it used to brilliant effect, often by Porpentine.

These are just ideas. Bottom line is:

a) Well done on getting something actually finished, and even releasing it. That isn’t easy.

b) You’ll find it worthwhile, I think, to look upon this as the barebones draft of the story you want to tell. The skeleton’s in place - I would encourage you to experiment wildly and insanely!

EDIT - This was all written before you posted saying you wanted feedback on the content. Again… it didn’t draw me in, so I didn’t pay much attention to it. This is par for course if you write an interactive story that’s low on interactivity - I didn’t go in expecting static fiction, after all. If you use the interactivity to your advantage, the content will be that much richer. If you don’t, you’ll need a killer story and killer writing to make it fly - and if you were satisfied with that, you’d be writing static fiction, wouldn’t you? :wink: You obviously want something more!

Congrats on making your first release!

To add to the comment above, I didn’t feel like I had any agency. In some Twine works that is the Point (representing some sort of helplessness of the character, for instance) but a.) that trick has now been done often enough you better have a really good reason now and b.) it doesn’t seem appropriate for here. The character is clearly Doing Stuff but there is no motivation for the player why to pick one or the other.

The choices should be motivated by either observation and thought making it possible to pick the “right” one, build character attributes in some coherent way, or taking moral stances. Here it was just ‘sword or shield – not really any reason to pick one over the other, I’ll just be random’.

Thanks, that helped a lot!

First of all, my intention was for the reader to read the title and play the first few screens and think it’s the guy who will sacrifice for whatever, but in the end it’s someone else sacrificing for him. I didn’t want the girl to just randomly appear, so I added that dream part.

Concerning the story: In the end I want it to be a story with one particular ending. IF is “just” a tool to make it richer. It should also leave a lot to the imagination of the reader, hence the lack of background information. It’s true though that I should have worded some parts more specifically.

Can I still make this story an IF even though the storyline is basically fixed? The options I tried to give were essentially just alternative screens about the same thing. Or would making an IF require real choices and consequences? I don’t see though how that could be arranged with the idea of the story (the sacrifice thing). Are decisions that don’t influence the outcome part of a good IF?

You could make the ending inevitable. Building character attributes or taking moral stances may not affect the arc as a whole. It still can represent a branching.

(the only game that occurs to me offhand which would be good to look at is De Baron, which is parser/choice hybrid)

Which is a good way of looking at it. But then you’ll definitely want to take advantage of the medium, and that will take some experimenting. You don’t have to branch like crazy, you don’t have to create a full-fledged combat system. Top of my head, the parser-IF games Photopia, Rameses and Constraints all make use of the medium to essentially tell short, not-really-interactive stories. In Twine there are many more games doing it, with variable levels of success. Again, as a rule of thumb, when Porpentine does it, she’s usually the master.

The beauty of IF, be it CYOA or parser, is that you have the chance for the reader to become a part of the story, and therefore care about it a lot more. How you do it is entirely up to you - there’s no map, and in experimenting you may come up with something amazingly novel. Or it can be something amazingly mundane, if it best serves your story.

You’ll definitely want to engage the player. Be it writing or gimmicks or what have you. Currently, I’m not engaged. Engage me!

For what it’s worth, I had the opposite experience: I liked how it opened in media res, and I thought that the superficially different choices felt a lot like the terrified flailing that would indeed result from me being plunked into a battle like that. My choice was no less random than 's, but it seemed like it was for a narrative reason, at least.

The rest of my feelings were roughly in line with 's and jbdyer’s. Some specific details would help anchor the story – what are we fighting for? What are our enemies fighting for? What are the stakes, and what exactly has gone wrong? How does our magic system work? (Do our enemies have magic, too?) These don’t need to be long-winded answers – arguably, the game needs less text, not more, especially in the fighting sequences – but some hints or even just some more precise nouns (the difference between “sword” and like, “dirk” or “cutlass” or “scimitar”) could go a long way.

I had a little go myself this morning.

Initially I was confused as to what was going on, but I do agree with the person above that overall the in medias res opening was actually quite a good way to start off. I actually liked it, but I have some feedback below:

I’m afraid I know little about Twine development, but from what I can ascertain you can track variables in Twine, so perhaps a health system could be added? It would make the combat deeper (e.g. when the player makes a choice and it results in the reduction of health, if the health drops below 0 then go to game over message). I’m also for adding flavour text and flavour choices, anything that stops the game being “click to continue”, even if you’re just disguising this.

I wrote a CYOA a while back in TADS, because reasons. I tried to give the player an amount of agency so that players could (to an extent) backtrack and change their minds about stuff. Also certain parts of the castle have information that fleshes out the history of the castle, so that multiple playthroughs actually give more of a whole story. I am by the way not claiming my game is citizen kane, I know it’s flawed up the wazoo, but I think anything that adds some context to the player is valuable. :slight_smile:

I should clarify: I don’t think starting in media res is a bad thing. I like starting in media res. Cognition is one of my favourite recent games and it started in media res. But the point of starting in media res is that I’m already in the middle of something that should hook me. In Cognition, Erica was looking for her brother who had been kidnapped and was now in a creepy cemetery - all points of great interest, combined with Raleigh Holmes’ wonderful voice acting that gave the scene the extra edge it needed to carry it off. So you see - the point of “media res” is that it should throw you into a meaningful fray, give you some stakes to fight for. “Beyond Good and Evil”, which is mostly about exploration, starts with a high-stakes combat scene as a tutorial.

Your “media res”, in comparison, tells me I’m fighting in one sentence and gives me two random, indistinct choices. See what I mean?

But hey, this is just my opinion and other people seem to have liked it, so welcome to the wonderfully diverse world of gaming public opinion! :smiley:

If everyone’s opinion was alike, we wouldn’t need a discussion forum :laughing:

But yeah, the opening was a little too confusing for me.