[Non-Program Specific] Newbie CYOA Questions

Trying to get into the planning stage of a thing rather than just pantsing it.About all I know for sure is it will use Twine, since that is open source with multiple languages for creation and a ‘how things connect’ presentation style, and I know this will be terrible as it’s a one man project with no editor and I’m more or less trying to find a project I can point at and go ‘I did that’ and not hate once it’s done.

Should I go with a traditional story with each chunk divided by A Choice or should i go with tried and true locations that keep getting revisited and things happen in them? Both are totally doable and I suppose each favors differing tory types but I wanted some idea of which works for what.

If I go with a ‘traditional’ story and pepper it with hyperlinks how important is a multilayered bookmarking function? As in ‘oh hey i got off on a tangent and wiki walked from the history of this location to the rise of robotics to the Old War… now how the hell do I get back to the story branch I’m on?’ Do I even go with a complex bookmarking function or just have an appendix thing?

Short passages maybe at longest a page or so long and usually at most a paragraph, or something more chapter length between each choice? at what point would one go ‘you know what? Attention span’s gone.’

These are all aesthetic questions with no consensus answer. What are your favorite Twine games? (What are your favorite short Twine games?) How do they approach these questions?

OK Rephrase:

What has worked in a majority of cases? I’m approaching this as if i have no knowledge of the medium or its history to try pushing for one outcome over another.

What works? What does not work? What looks dead simple but turns out to be horrifyingly difficult to actually get right?

Your questions really don’t have best/most-popular answers.

Regardless, the first rule of writing is to read a lot. I assume you’re exaggerating somewhat when you say that you have “no knowledge of the medium or its history,” but you should answer your questions by exploring what other folks have done and see if you like it.

Here’s a list of Twine games with at least 5 ratings sorted by average rating. What do you like? ifdb.tads.org/search?sortby=ratu … tings%3A5-

Well i do Exaggerate a bit for effect and also because while I do know things I might have picked up bad habits so ‘ask as if you know nothing and set ego aside.’ I come from a background of short fiction and a few novels. I’m in a rough patch and my options and outlets are rather limited, so… Oh hey this thing I Tried awhile back seems like fun and i’m totally able to do this.’

I personally like the size of the text to be related to how important the choices are and how many there are

In the last comp, Ash had a ton of small choices with short text. Stone Harbor had a few big choices with large text. I rrally liked both of these games

Personal observations:

Other than perhaps during an intro, I’d like to read no more than a paragraph or two before making a choice. If the text block is much longer than it is wide, I will skim. And that intro had better be good - I’ve bailed on games that insist I know every fiddly detail of court drama and the entire history of the Kingdom of Floodyhauftenfloo before I interact. Pacing, pacing, pacing. I don’t mind an occasional long description if it seems like a reward for completing a section or doing something interesting.

Even better, let me interact before the text dump. Even better, integrate the world building details into the active story and choices and forego a text dump. I want to discover things by interacting, not being lectured to by a gravitas-voiced narrator right off the bat. (The IF equivalent of “show don’t tell”).

Back and forth dialogue can be a little longer since stuff is actively occurring. Unless the dialogue is dreadful. Better yet, let me keep up one side of a dialogue.

I’m much more likely to stay with a narrative if I can see that my choices are being actively integrated into the plot, even if they don’t specifically change the plot direction. (Talk with me sometimes, not always to me. Don’t forget in writing your epic story that there’s a player over here waiting to do something.)

Hubs are good. Don’t train me to lawnmower every optional pop-up description the first time I’m in a scene because I’m afraid I won’t get back. Hubs that change are even better! Oo, punish me for skimming! This author is tricky, I need to read more closely!

Don’t instadeath me randomly. Instadeath has its place, but only when it’s completely clear that’s what it is. Give me a “really, you want to jump into this bottomless pit that has a sign reading “Warning: spikes!”?” fall back warning. If you give me instadeath options, make them attractive or funny and really really worth it, and then let me jump right back to the story with a minor scolding instead of making me start over.

Rules are meant to be broken. If your prose is fabulous then disregard all of this. Caveat: If you think your prose is fabulous, it probably isn’t.

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