Looking for Epic Villains

I’m looking for IF games of any kind that revolve around significant villains that really have an effect on a plot beyond just cackling and guarding the macguffin or killing your girlfriend. They can be literal monsters, dark lords, supervillains, or something more down to earth, although I do appreciate a flair for the dramatic.

Either games with the focus on your rivalry with them, or games where you play the villain yourself.

I apologise if this isn’t the right place for this thread, I’m really struggling to find my way around this forum and didn’t see any obvious place just to chat about or recommend games to others.

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Welcome to the forum! Great question.

This is the first villain that springs to mind:

Morrodox from Delusions. (Delusions - Details (ifdb.org))

You can also create a poll on IFDB asking people about their ideas.

Create a New Poll (ifdb.org)

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You’re in the right place, welcome!

Off the top of my head there was an IFComp entry last year that may fit:

I believe a lot of Choice of Games titles have significantly developed and multilayered villans.

I also made a game where the uber villain was a rather unmotivated pickle in a jar.

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My own game, Alias ‘The Magpie’, and its authorised sequel, The Magpie Takes the Train by Mathbrush, feature an affable gentleman thief as the player character.

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Hmm, interesting question! Off the top of my head:

  • Varicella. I haven’t played much of this but the main character is basically the worst person in the world, and the plot is all about his machinations (and rivals’ counter-machinations) to become regent.

  • Spider and Web. A spy story framed around a battle of wits between the captured main character and their interrogator.

  • The Baron. Might be a bit darker than “epic” implies, though.

  • The Owl Consults. You play a supervillain consultant (like, you’re a supervillain who consults for other supervillains – so maybe you’re actually a supervillain supervillain consultant?)

  • Make it Good. A detective game where you play a cop who’s definitely not on the up-and-up.

  • Turandot. The titular princess probably qualifies as a villain given her proclivity for death-traps, though the protagonist is no paragon either – the banter and relationship between them is the core of the game, and to my mind their tete-a-tete is one of the best conversations in IF.

There are a lot of great heist games where you play a thief of some kind – the Magpie games, as J.J.‘s already mentioned, are lovely examples, and Lady Thalia and the Seraskier Sapphires from this year’s Spring Thing was lots of fun too. But mostly the player characters in this genre aren’t very villainous save for their disregard for rich peoples’ property rights so again might not fit the bill, though there’s a bunch of high-quality work here.

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Vespers and The Warbler’s Nest and Slouching Toward Bedlam all give you a set of options that includes playing villainously in some meaningful way.

Vain Empires, from last year’s IFComp, has you playing a demon doing demony things.

For the Moon Never Beams (which I helped to beta-test) and The Horror of Rylvania and Vampire Ltd all put you in subject positions that are often assumed to be villainous for at least part of the narrative. Arguably, Coloratura does the same kind of thing, though it’s less clear-cut there.

Fat Fair (IFComp 2019) puts you in the shoes of a destructive child.

What Are Little Girls Made Of has a really creepy examination of children’s bullying and violence.

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In Broken Legs the protagonist is a theatre diva sabotaging rivals:

Sting of the Wasp is reviewed: “Sting Of The Wasp brings one of the year’s nastier PCs in the person of wealthy socialite Julia Hawthorne. In the grand tradition of Primo Varicella, Julia is a vain, preening snob who looks with utter disdain at almost everything around her, including the country club in which the game is set… SOTW is one of those games that let you gleefully and maliciously wreak havoc on a wide variety of places and characters, all in the service of advancing a thoroughly rotten character.”

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In defense of Primo, he’s probably more like the third- or fourth-worst person in the world, depending on your estimation of some of his rivals :wink:

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One game that came to my mind:

However, while I do remember playing it to the end (so it must have held my interest), I remember almost nothing about the actual game. Something in the back of my head tells me that I found the ending to be somewhat ridiculous, but that’s about it. Does anyone else remember playing it?

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Well, Epic Villain is certainly the right descriptor for Eternal, which is a massive piece of extremely high quality IF. I myself haven’t finished it yet, and it’ll definitely take a large chunk of time for anyone to do so, but the volume of positive reviews speak for themselves.

By the same author, there’s Necromancer, a considerably shorter game that would probably be a better starting point, and is arguably just as good (apparently, opinions on these games are split).

These stories also have a level of meta enjoyment to them, because Endmaster is an outlaw author on the IFDB, so perhaps that could tickle your fancy of antiheroes even more.

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Another good (evil?) one from Choose Your Story is
The Path of Death. (The Path of Death > ChooseYourStory.com) It’s about an orc raised by a necromancer after falling in love with his daughter. You have to be able to handle a certain number of typos, and beware the spoilers among all the enthusiastic comments, but I found it immensely entertaining. The story has a good sense of humor for all the grim fantasy themes.

For the kind of involved villains BilboB is asking for, with character arcs and motivations, narrative choice based IF seems the most natural fit. That kind of character and plot development is difficult to do with a parser due to the more limited scope and the ways the player interacts with the world.

There’s a lot to choose from out there among Choice and especially Hosted games, but I’m not sure paid games were what he was looking for.

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Eternal by EndMaster over on CYS is really good. Every choice leads to a different path, and in many of those you are definitely a villain to most people. Many paths have a character named Semra–who is popular for various reasons-- as a notable villain too.

Necromancer
In Necromancer, also by EndMaster (you should really check out all his work), you can kill all life if you play your cards right. It really doesn’t get more epic than that. Like nearly everything by End, each choice goes down a different path, so definitely read every branch.

Rogues has a stupid brownie fairie asshole thing that sucks. Also an STD elf. Among others. There are a lot of characters and a lot of very different paths.

Love SICK Last one for tonight. Love SICK is a great for romantics like myself. You play as a doctor juggling important research and anniversary preparations. When someone knocks on your door everything changes and…well, you’ll just have to read it.

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Well two weeks late responding to this, but it took this long to be able to finally try out a few of the suggestions! We were visiting my wife’s family in Florida for a week when I originally posted, I thought I’d have a lot of downtime for reading and playing but, well, I forgot what my wife’s family was like. Lol.

Varicella seems right on the money, even though I’ve accomplished nothing so far except dying. Turandot, while not quite what I was looking for, also looks impressively good.

I’m aware of Choice of Games, I’d consider games there if anyone has any serious specific suggestions, but a lot of the games I’ve seen are sort of…furry aligned? In any case besides not being a person interested in having sex with wolves, I tend to be a bit butterfly minded with these games and like to browse here and there before settling on the ones to seriously get into. Which is easier to do from games in this community where they’re all free.

Huh, turns out I already read this one, many years ago when the author had it on another site. I hadn’t been aware of chooseyourstory at all, thanks for this, and to the others who suggested stories there. Looks like they’ve got a lot of stories to browse and some innnnteresting drama, I’m surprised to see a site that old still active.

First order of business however is beating Varicella. And trying to ignore the fact I just got the Nemesis expansion for Stellaris…

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Maybe I should make a new thread for this, but another thing to mention is that I’ve recently started reading the IDW Transformers lines, Til All Are One and More Then Meets the Eye. They’ve been hugely inspirational for me, dealing with the aftermath of a four million year war (and of course previous iterations of the franchise painting everything black and white good and evil) and the attempts at rebuilding and peace. The writers treat them as complex characters dealing with their traumas day to day, while the story explores love and religion in this alien society and really doesn’t shy away from anything and man this really, really does it for me in a way nothing I’ve read in a long time has.

No offense but I hate asking about IF authoring tools on a site like this, because I have a feeling everyone will just recommend the one they’re using, but on the other hand I’m really getting the urge to write something small and personal with epic space things going on in the background.

There’s Twine I know and…the various things other authors use, but which are actually good for beginners? Is there a list somewhere comparing pros and cons?

I was about to say, “yes, you definitely should” and then I realized it was your thread to start with. :slight_smile:

All of them are probably going to be some work to wrap your head around (more or less depending on your background). All of them are going to turn into “coding” at some point. They’re all best at different things so it depends a lot on what you’re looking to do.

I thought there was a spreadsheet somewhere (not really a comparison, but at least listing various features) but I can’t seem to find it.

Twine is pretty beginner-friendly if you want to write stories made up of pages that link to each other: it’s essentially a wiki engine. Beyond that it gets trickier.

Inklewriter is quite beginner-friendly if you like graphical interfaces and want to write things that are text-followed-by-choices and then choices give you more text. It has a tutorial “game” that you play (and edit, IIRC) as you go through. Ink is like Inklewriter but for people who’d rather working in plain text instead of a graphical tool. Still trying to be very straightforward readable “code” that’s easy to edit and write for wordsmithing people.

Texture is a little editor for making stories that use two-part commands where you drag one word onto the other (drag “deliver” onto “pizza” to make “deliver pizza”). IIRC it’s pretty easy to use.

Inform7 is probably the most popular system for making “text-adventure” style games, where you’re exploring a space made up of “rooms” and you can pick up objects and do things with them. It has English-like “code” which looks friendly (but don’t be fooled, it’s still code). You can twist it into doing other things, but that’s its sweet spot. And there are other tools TADS, Dialog, etc. for doing similar things but if you’re not a programmer Inform7 is arguably the easiest to get started with and the fastest to get help with on here?

If you want to make three-color chunky pixel adventures with little bits of dialog, you might check out Bitsy.

ChoiceScript has a similar output format to Ink or Inklewriter: a chunk of text followed by choices. IIRC it has a couple of license restrictions (commercial games allowed only through their site?) but if you want to make looong interactive novels with interesting character stats and usually romance, they have an existing audience who might buy your work.


There are, of course, a million other tools/systems, but IMO those are a good sampling to pick from for your first game…

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Josh mentioned the most popular ones, but failed to mention Adrift, which I think is a pretty good editor, especially for glorious text-heavy games. You have writing on each page and then your choices are based on the page you’re on, or other scripting wizardry that makes my brain hurt. CYS also has its own editor, which is very similar to Adrift in that it has text, and then more text.

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Thanks so much for the detailed reply, I’m bookmarking this while I check all these out. I’m at least vaguely familiar with most of them but not too aware of their capabilities.

Certainly no intention to sell a game, I just caught the writing bug for the first time in a couple of years and want to see a project through. I’m not sure how hosting works for Choicescript games that don’t go through the company anyway. At this point I think I’ll more than likely end up going with Twine or Ink, but I should do a bit more research into everything first.

I was browsing around CYS a couple of days ago and the amount and detail of feedback I saw on the games was impressive. But I didn’t see any way to play the games offline which I know is important to some. (Or at least it used to be…I suppose there’s not much practical reason to need offline backups these days. Hmm.) I’ll be sure to keep that community in mind though.

Adrift I actually stumbled across not too long ago. It a bit archaic but it seems to be having some kind of resurgence which is nice to see. Another one to keep in mind, thank you.

I will say the appeal of both to someone like me is they seem like a more casual and lower profile way for someone just doing this as a hobby who might in fact be very bad at it to release a game and get some feedback.

Adrift also reminds me quite a bit of Quest, which was another one Josh missed. I’m not sure if anyone uses Quest these days though .

Unless anything has changed since I read the website, authors can use ChoiceScript for free as long as they’re not monetizing the games - like if you just want to use it. In that case you can distribute it yourself or host it on a website, it just won’t be on CoG’s site.

Choice of Games mainline commercial titles are commissioned and contracted for author compensation. Hosted Games are essentially “spec” games the community writes that have to hit a certain number of quality points (length?, no egregious errors or bugs?) and if they meet the criteria, CoG will host them on their websites and the app-stores they use and the author gets a percentage of the profit.

I wonder whether Harry Flashman from George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman Papers would fit your description. Are there any Flashman games though? I couldn’t find anything on IFDB.