Bad stuff. Unpopular choices. Terrible games. (In your opinions)

I dislike dark mode. I dislike even more:
Games where the bright mode is light gray on glaring white.

Manon, as far as I remember there is no dark mode in Docteur Jeangille. How did you playtest your own game?


What playtesting :joy:

(I did the UI at the last moment)


Two of the same (circa):

• Three screens of introductory text. Just get me to the action! Although some games feel like a novel, they are NOT a novel, so I need to live through it, not being textdumped. Even Moby Dick succeeded in not giving too much backstory before the story begins.

• The kind of game that starts by stating the mission like we are still in the Eighties (“oh no! The big snake has captured all of your children, and you have many! Your mission is that of finding them and bringing them back to their rooms before night falls!”). Not only this I find boring, but also gives me some sense of agoraphobia. Sooooo many things to do and I have still to dress up for work…

The second is even more irritating to me. That’s why I will never make a game like that. I know of a lot of people who prefer this approach, though :slight_smile:


Speaking as someone with photosensitivity issues, I think it’s a perfectly fine intentionally-bad-game choice as long as you warn for it! If you don’t warn, though, you’re my enemy forever.

Ohh, yeah, that is the actual worst. Especially when the font weight is really light too.


<Frantically checking my WIP for everyone’s pet peeves…>


In my opinion, more “gamelike” IF should always start with an introductory section that does three things:

  • Hook the player and make them want to continue
  • Establish the tone and genre of the story
  • Establish what the player’s going to be doing

If you fail the first point (e.g. a big wall-of-text dump) players lose interest, if you fail the second they’ll be lost, and if you fail the third they’ll often hit choice paralysis (especially in a parser game).

This is why Death on the Stormrider has the section in the starboard walk, and Loose Ends has the negotiation in Varkonyi’s basement. Both of those are designed (or at least intended) to immerse you in the world without overwhelming you with lore, set the tone and the stakes, and introduce you to the game’s mechanics. In Stormrider you can’t talk so you’re sneaking around and trying to manipulate people’s movement; in Loose Ends you’re managing your relationships with people and factions and trying to turn them to your benefit without making enemies.


You’re in good(?) company! Tax Heaven 3000 was a valid (once again, please append a healthy question mark here) helper for the 2022 filing year only, apparently, so the future is free! Viva los gamified taxes! :joy:


Now that the Twine version is out, would a Gruescript parser-choice hybrid approach work better?

I’m familiar with their methods, and yes, it’s more or less a convention, but nobody objects to said convention since they do it “in the name of inclusion”.

Edit: Specifically, nobody in the CoG-sphere. But I’m drifting towards parser, and character customization is non-essential.


While I don’t like the convention either I don’t think this is the case. It’s more that this mechanic really does appeal to some people and CoG caters heavily to them. I imagine it’s the same type of person who gets really into D&D character creation. The inclusivity of that is definitely part of the appeal, but it’s in service of games that give players the experience of either RPing as themselves or a very detailed custom OC. It’s super not my jam, but they’re making money so it clearly doesn’t have to be? I honestly think they’ve leaned into it more and more as the years have gone by and cultivated an audience that really likes it while it’s simultaneously become more off-putting to people who only casually play.

As a heads up, “everyone’s afraid to criticize this because it’s done in the name of inclusivity” is never going to be well received. Especially when there’s other people criticizing it along other axes in this very thread.


An “I don’t care” or “Random” option or its equivalent for people who just want to get on with the story might be appreciated by some, while still supporting those who want detailed character creation.


On which note, one thing I learned through Sam Kabo Ashwell’s reviews long ago (and have seen in action many times since) is that if you ask for a character name right away, a lot of players will delight in putting in nonsense and seeing how badly they can break your game’s text. You need to get them to engage with the tone and the setting first.


Oh god, yeah, having to input my own character name is always a big turn-off to me—I don’t want to self insert, so I always just put in a random name rather than my own. If there’s going to be a name-entry text box, I much prefer when it comes pre-filled with a name and I can just click “okay” and proceed, as opposed to when it’s blank and therefore I have to come up with something to type in before I can continue.


Oh, same, I really appreciate having a default name option! Otherwise I spend like 20 minutes staring blankly at the “What is your name?” screen. It’s easy for people who roleplay as themselves or have a go-to OC they always/usually play as, but I’m just like “You want me to come up with a name for a whole new fictional character on the spot? Before I even know anything about them???”


Marco, your comment bring back the 1980s… Italy, if you know Arscom and BDB’s IF, you got the picture, I agree that background & intro should be out-of-story, that is, in the feelies.

On the colour scheme, I surely appreciate a day/night distinction for a choice-based IF, but said scheme, both “day” and “night”, should be relaxing to eyes, and I hope that is unquestionable that in text-based games a eye-relaxing colour scheme IS important.

Daniel, I think that a mystery/detective story allow the true ideal in giving detailed background & objective inside that object called “case file”, whose has the advantage of allowing players the decision on the level of exposure to said background.

a little not-so-white whale of mine is a RPG version of Moonmist (not necessarily a mystery story…), that is, asking the PC’s class at the beginning, altering the story/map/NPC behaviour/answering according to the selected class. so only one choice, but significant story-wise, in character creation.

OTOH, character creation IS my favorite part in WRPG, fine-tuning my PC into my RPG playstyle, but in text-based RPG I recognize that can be annoying.

I suspect that the char creation in a textual, both parser and choice context perhaps suffers from its roots, specifically in the intrinsic linearity of pencil-and paper rules, (I always browse quickly the first chapters, always on char creation, read the setting/combat/magic chapter (the real meat of a core rulebook…) then back to the char creation rules…) so perhaps taking from Elder Scrolls/Fallout the idea of a “char setting prologue” can be an interesting alternative solution to the char creation issue in text/choice RPG ?

Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.


I feel like this character is now destined to crop up as an Easter Egg in some future game.


Strongly agreed. Give me a skip or random option or some prebuilt options. Fallout 2 did this. You could choose from a few prebuilt characters and dive in or you could meticulously design your own character.

Prebuilt options:

Making your own:


Too many items. Many IF games are object oriented, but sometimes your inventory can get… overwhelming. I finished Cragne Manor recently, and the coffee helped quite a bit, but there were many times I found my inventory extremely confusing. I started my playthrough about three years ago. I stopped and started many times, often forgetting derails in the interim. It was a great game, but I personally had difficulty with it. I’m not sure what to suggest, as this style is entirely valid and often appreciated by many players, other than finding a narratively appropriate way of removing an item from play when it no longer serves a purpose. If I still have the item, that means it still serves some purpose yet. And don’t get me started on red herring items that actually serve no purpose other than to confuse the player and pad their inventory. If I don’t need the toilet seat for anything, don’t let me carry it for several hours of gameplay trying to repeatedly find uses for it only for the game to end with it still unused in my inventory. Again, please note, these are personal preferences and utterly ignoring them in your game is entirely valid and I support you doing so. You’ll never please everyone; trying to is folly.


@Piergiorgio_d_errico yes, I do remember. But I think backstory should not go in the feelies, either. You just can recount it during the play through. There are a thousand ways. I’ve used recording machines, diaries, flashbacks, whatever. Just put me inside the action. I will discover the story on the go.

@pinkunz to be completely fair, Cragne Manor was a unique kind of game and managing items for how it was built was incredibly out of the human league. This said, I think that the point and click solution (an used object simply disappears) is a nice solution. Sometimes I remember to use it and I.e. an used hatchet breaks or a piece of paper burns etc.

About character creation: CoG are most often kinda rpgesque. So it fits the medium. Skipping it would surely be a nicely welcomed element as, in the end, how many times in your thousand hours playing so may games did your stats actually influence the outcome of a game?

About naming: I used to play a lot of Ultima games (since U4; how much do I miss those games!) and I kept using the same nick. I was young and naive, so it was meant to inspire awe and killer-instinct. A sort of F14 pilot tag. Very cool.
How ultimately (sic) anticlimactic it was to read, by the end: “Congratulations, GEMINI ONE, for saving Britannia!”

Ps: I still use that nick on mobile games, from time to time. One never learns, right?


(Moves game idea 12 a bit higher up the priority list)


(Frantically revising my WIP to add more pet peeves) :grin:

(For legal reasons, this is a joke!)