How difficult is choicescript to duplicate?

As a writer for CoG, I just wanted to toss in my perspective on this.

My previous experience was in the dead-tree publishing world, as a ghostwriter ($30K flat fee for delivering a 250 page book) and writer of narrative nonfiction (I got a $17k publisher advance on royalties of 10.6%, but because the book only sold 7,000 copies, the advance was all I got in the end). I was satisfied with both those gigs.

My CoG game is a sales outlier for the company–a big fantasy novel, popular genre with a built-in audience (especially coming out as it originally did in 2017, on the tail end of GoT-mania). As of the end of November 2023, my game had sold nearly 44,000 copies – 47% on Google, 28% on Apple, 21% on Steam, 4% elsewhere. I’ve made roughly $50K from it so far, more than both my earlier publishing projects combined.

If I’d had to not just write the thing, but handle the UI, app store integration, marketing, etc., that total revenue would have been zero, which not coincidentally is my level of skill and interest when it comes to those tasks. I’m grateful to Dan and the publishing team at CoG for making my success possible… and content to let them keep the windfall revenue from a lucky hit like mine so they can afford to keep taking risks on other interesting games. (Including my first sequel, which I’ll hopefully finish sometime in the next year or two).


Today, we announced that we’re offering higher advances, $10,000 advance against 25% royalties, or, if the author prefers, a $15,000 advance against 10% royalties.


Interestingly, I’m in the exact opposite scenario. Within a year or so after my game was released, it was, at the time, the worst selling game in company history, and I doubt it’s lost its title since then.

But, funnily enough, I still profited! Due to advances, I was still paid for a game that sold almost nothing (my game needs to make $5000 more in royalties to ‘pay off’ the advance before I see any more money, and that will likely never happen in my lifetime). But I still got the advance.

So both sides, high outliers and low outliers, can benefit from this current system.


Actually, ChoiceScript is free for non-commercial use, and @dfabulich was even kind enough to explain to me how to remove the standard CoG link from the interface when I was preparing Turandot for the IFComp! (I made sure to keep a link at a prominent place in the game, of course, for proper credit.)


You keep saying this, but your game has a Christmas theme and I’m sure the poor sales have more to do with that than any inherent fault with the game! I’m not aware of any other CoG titles with a seasonal theme. I wouldn’t be surprised if In the Service of Mrs. Claus was one of the top sellers in December!


Exactly. That model already exists (which is why that’s not a good elevator-pitch) and was in my list:


This is true; given my studies on Choicescript games, without a Christmas theme I think my game would have been middle-of-the pack and paid itself off. Sales do increase around Christmas, usually from 10-12 games a month to 40 or so in December.


I’m not as enthusiastic about choice-based games as I am about parser-based ones, but I have explored the CoG site several times over the last few years.

I can see how the site and service would not appeal to everyone and that it would be possible to create an alternative to complement it. However, it would require a lot of effort and dedication.

CoG seems to cater mostly to experienced and/or enthusiastic writers and players. I imagine there would be advantages to a site and service that catered more to the casual end of the market and helping some of those people move on to using CoG after they gained more experience.

It wouldn’t be a project suitable for a solo developer though. Even browsing the CoG site for ten minutes I realised that there is a reasonable sized team behind it all.