"Monster" a demo created with Sadako

I finally completed my first substantial demo using my game engine, Sadako, which is a hypertext fiction system.

I don’t know the exact length of time that it would take to complete because I’ve now gone through the whole thing so many times, but I think if you were to read every word in a single playthrough, it might take 5 to 10 minutes, maybe? Maybe longer? I have no idea.

The conversations in the game branch a bit, but most of the choices are honestly just flavor text and don’t really affect anything. This was a design decision for this story and not a limitation of Sadako. There are however a lot of flavor text and some events that will happen if you say certain things or do things in a certain order though, so you may not see it all the first time around.

Anyway, I would really love any input at all about this. I started writing this as a story that I would want to read, and I’m a bit of the dork and so the subject matter is probably kind of lame, but I would like to hear what people think works and doesn’t work. Thanks in advance!

Anyway, you can find the game here: https://tayruh.github.io/monster/

And since this is also an example of my engine, I’ll throw out the links to that too, I guess:

4 Likes

This is a nice demo story, and the engine seems solid enough. I played on my phone, and the interface was smooth and to the point. Maybe take away the paragraph-by-paragraph fading effect when returning from a subcontext (like a conversation)? But that’s subjective nitpicking.

There’s a lot of wandering around and examining and listening to exposition, and very little action. But that’s all right for a demo.

You are underestimating the time it takes to read the story. Admittedly, I am a slow reader, but it took me about an hour to reach the end of the demo. So perhaps half an hour for the average reader. I can read faster if I have to, but I don’t enjoy rushing through fiction.

3 Likes

Wow! I didn’t think it was that long. Haha. :sweat_smile: Thank you for taking the time to play it!

You’re right that it’s mostly exploration and conversation instead of action. My plan was to introduce everyone and then have the game begin proper. But perhaps I should add some more things for you to do in the demo. :thinking:

Took a quick look and I love the aesthetics, and that there’s a functioning inventory system!

My one nitpicky suggestion is for in-text links (You explain that they are for examining only) would be to use a pop-over window like the inventory instead of changing screens with a “go back” link. But that’s just because I love the pop-up windows in Axma. In my head, it reinforces the “you haven’t gone anywhere yet” feeling of examining.

2 Likes

I actually had the links done that way in early versions, but it personally felt kind of annoying when reading it on the phone, so I scrapped it. :sweat_smile:

2 Likes

I played it, and @lft was right : it takes at least an hour… (But I’m a slow reader too ! :sweat_smile:)

About the engine : it seems a good trade-off between Twine and Axma (and even the parsers). The top bar is small enough to not disturb the reading, and the tasks notebook in the inventory is useful to help the player advance in the game (especially if it’s an exploring one like your demo). The saving option is useful too.

The distinction between links which bring the player to another room and links which simply allow him (or her) to examine things is useful, but maybe it removes a bit of surprise (the salt of Twine games) ? Nevertheless, it finally depends how the designer will use it, and you did it quite skillfully in the demo. That’s also why I think the pop-up suggested by @HanonO may finally appear disturbing : in the in-text links, there are also pieces of dialogue or “picking” moments, which are really parts of the game, and not only small details.

Did you also make sound (and/or graphic) macros as in Twine ?

About the story (under Fablehaven and Dark shadows influence ?) : again, I agree with @lft, and I add that it could give an interesting game once finished. The monsters characters are promising ; the sister character is sometimes a bit stereotypical, but it’s only the beginning…

2 Likes

Thank you so much for playing it and giving so much feedback! :smiley:

I kept the choices and the links separate because (contrary to what you said) I actually feel that not knowing what happens when you click a link is the worst part of Twine games. There’s a difference between not knowing what will happen when you pull the trigger, and not even knowing what your character will do when you click the word “gun” (shoot it? drop it? kill yourself with it?). That layer of disconnect in player agency is what turns a lot of people off from hypertext games, I think. At least that’s how I feel about it, and my game was designed around that principle.

I don’t have any audio stuff implimented. Normal graphics like loading images works fine because it’s HTML. In previous versions I had some images pop up to show roughly what the characters look like, but I wasn’t sure if people would like that or not. Plus it was stolen art, so I couldn’t use that as a good example for my engine. I’d have to draw my own, which I may in the future.

As for influence… I’d love to say that it was based on something somewhat respectful, but the truth is it’s just based on monster girls and harem anime. :sweat_smile: They say to write what you know, and I’m a weeb and there’s probably nothing I know better than harem anime, and I always enjoyed monster girl stuff. (Watches everyone deduct 3 stars from their review.)

I only kind of hinted at it a bit in the demo, but I want to also have a horror theme to it. Like even though they’re all friendly, they’re still monsters that are selfish, so they’ll sometimes be really scary, especially once a love triangle type thing enters the mix. Or at least that’s my thought. It’s just a dumb story that I’m writing for myself that I’m sharing with others, so forgive me if the concept sounds stupid, because it’s something tailored for me. :sweat_smile:

As for the sister, I’m hoping to flesh her out some more. The truth is that I was really just using her as a plot device because I needed someone to ask the dumb questions that forwarded the story and introduced the characters without forcing it all on the player. Hopefully she wasn’t too annoying. Now that the intro is done, you’ll no longer be attached at the hip and the game will be a bit more open. You’ll be able to do multiple “character quests” at the same time in whichever order, which is the real reason I impimented the task tracking. That’s the plan.

Sorry about the wall of text. Thanks again for playing and your input!

Your approach on the links is interesting, it’s just that I’m mainly fan of Twine games, so it troubles my judgement… :grinning:

I didn’t know very well harem manga (I read a few Negima and that’s all), but I like some stories which feature monsters locked in a house (the Dark Shadows movie) or in a reserve (the Fablehaven books, which are really like your game, with other kind of monsters, but with a brother and sister discovering both the monsters and their own powers). More generally I enjoy team stories (like Fairy Tail or One piece to quote well-known manga)…

So your story isn’t dumb at all ! Mixing horror themes with love ones could perfectly work, and your demo is pleasant to read. Now all depends on how the story will evolve…

1 Like

I did used to watch Dark Shadows a bit with my mom (the old black and white TV show). I also saw the movie with Johnny Depp but didn’t think it was that great, sadly. But most of the monster stuff came from anime, manga, and visual novels. Unfortunately, they always choose to go the pervy route with those stories, which I think is a shame. I think it could work as a serious story as well.

A couple of my all time favorite series are Mirai Nikki (Future Diary) and Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (When They Cry). In both series, the main character attempts crossing the line between a friendship to a relationship with a girl that’s clearly yandere. I would like to incorporate this angle into my story, hence the horror aspect.

I haven’t written anything further than what you’ve seen yet, but I have a good idea on where I’m taking it, so hopefully I can put out some more content soon. Writing the story that you read actually went pretty quick. Most of what slowed me down was fine tuning the engine itself, but it thankfully made the engine a lot more stable and easy to use in the process. :blush: I shouldn’t have to worry about that going forward.

One feature of AXMA 6.1 is there are pop-up links (preceded with an asterisk as [[*Link|passage]] and “plus links” like [[+Link|passage]].

These are easy to use and I’ve grown to appreciate the difference. Pop ups can contain other links to other pop ups, new main screen passages, or plus links. The plus links add text and potentially other links to the text on the main screen. I like how pop-ups feel like “I’ve picked this thing up and can examine it and read about it and maybe use it or just ignore it and put it down” and the plus links are more like “I’ve noticed another permanent feature of the room and its text has been added to my main screen.”

I used these quite a bit in CV - the description of your hotel room shows up in the main text initially, and on repeated visits it’s condensed to a pop-up link if the player wants to read it again. Also very useful in a hub type room with a short description - if the player doesn’t need to see what’s on the desk, you can reserve adding that description till they click.

2 Likes

Hmm… That’s true. Those are pretty popular features in Twine and AXMA. I think Texture also uses them to great effect. It’s not something that I’m personally interests in, but I could work them into the engine for others. It shouldn’t be too difficult to implement. :thinking:

To be honest, I have no idea if anyone other than me is ever going to use my engine, so I was holding off on implementing a ton of features that don’t apply to me, but if it brought in other users, it’d probably be worth the time invested.

2 Likes

In AXMA:

  1. If the player clicks on a link in the popup, and the effect of that link is to replace the main text, does the popup also close?

  2. Can multiple popups be visible at the same time?

I just finished implementing the reveal stuff and the dialog stuff. It went pretty well. :+1:

My system can really only do one dialog at a time, unfortunately. Or at least that’s the case right now. I could maybe figure out a way to do more, but it’d probably be kind of hacky.

Yes. When clicking within a popup window:

  • A bare link closes the popup and goes to a new page.
  • A pop-up link closes the popup and brings up a new one without changing the main screen.
  • A plus link adds the linked passage text to the main window underneath but does not close the pop up.

No. It’s not like a windowed environment, and only one popup window can be visible at once over the main screen text. The popup persists until it is dismissed with a link, or the player clicks outside the popup, or on a region of the popup that is not a link.

2 Likes