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[Talking about CYOAs] Another game (sort of) successfully finished

13

Posts

  • blahmcblahblahmcblah I never drink... wine. Registered User regular
    Since no one else has mentioned it yet, Dread Pirate Arbuthnot recently started a V:tM CYOA for our amusement.

  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo But do you really believe him? Registered User regular
    Oooh, with exciting hand drawn art. I like this one upmanship.

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
    blahmcblah
  • PonyPony Registered User regular
    edited September 2013
    I have another CYOA I am working on when Dark Matter is finished (Dark Matter has another couple weeks left in it, at its current pace)

    this one isn't going to be Mass Effect-based but will still feature computer generated imagery by way of Gmod

    here's a teaser
    80EOkN0.jpg
    yfWqYpU.gif

    Pony on
    The Ender
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    Pony wrote: »
    I have another CYOA I am working on when Dark Matter is finished (Dark Matter has another couple weeks left in it, at its current pace)

    this one isn't going to be Mass Effect-based but will still feature computer generated imagery by way of Gmod

    here's a teaser
    80EOkN0.jpg
    yfWqYpU.gif

    hyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyype

    With Love and Courage
  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus Registered User regular
    @Mojo_Jojo I am sorry but you have an inappropriate apostrophe in the thread title and it irritates me so.

    wpyz0Y5.png
    Gamertag: PrimusD | Rock Band DLC | GW:OttW - arrcd | WLD - Thortar
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo But do you really believe him? Registered User regular
    Jesus fuck. You're right. Why did nobody mention this earlier?

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo But do you really believe him? Registered User regular
    I've got a concept buzzing around my head about a CYOA in the spirit of Stargate Universe / Space Hulk. Now, as we learnt in Space Invaders I don't have time to do a game justice right now. Would anybody be insane enough to want to try and co-run a game?

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • wiltingwilting Registered User regular
    Don't tempt me.

  • see317see317 Registered User regular
    Tempt him! TEMPT HIM!

    Ringo wrote: »
    Well except what see317 said. That guy's always wrong.
    KaplarRingo
  • Gandalf_the_CrazedGandalf_the_Crazed Vigilo ConfidoRegistered User regular
    Do we have a limit on how many CYOAs can exist at once? I...kinda wanna try this again, with a theme that will require a little less creativity-on-demand from me. Creativity-on-demand seems to be the bane of my emotional well-being. :P

    PEUsig_zps56da03ec.jpg
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo But do you really believe him? Registered User regular
    That would suggest anything even vaguely official governing these things. It's a big forum. I'm sure there's always room for more.

    On the subject of temping wilting, I've got half a draft of not-so-tempting mocked up game update. Sexy stuff.

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
    jakobagger
  • Gandalf_the_CrazedGandalf_the_Crazed Vigilo ConfidoRegistered User regular
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    That would suggest anything even vaguely official governing these things. It's a big forum. I'm sure there's always room for more.

    On the subject of temping wilting, I've got half a draft of not-so-tempting mocked up game update. Sexy stuff.

    Yeah, I just know there's rules about how many Phalla threads can exist, so I wasn't sure if the same had happened to CYOAs and I just hadn't noticed.

    PEUsig_zps56da03ec.jpg
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo But do you really believe him? Registered User regular
    A mod has yet to comment on the number of simultaneous CYOAs. Although I didn't realise we had limited numbers of other board games, so let's ask a mod.

    @Echo , given that there are two CYOA-style games going on, are we in danger of annoying other bits of the subforum if somebody else was to make another?

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • Gandalf_the_CrazedGandalf_the_Crazed Vigilo ConfidoRegistered User regular
    So I'm not ready to open the XCOM CYOA yet, but...

    ...hey @Spoit

    I just figured out an easy, quick way that I can indicate what's in LoS and what's not.

    PEUsig_zps56da03ec.jpg
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo But do you really believe him? Registered User regular
    edited October 2013
    Mojo_Jojo on
    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo But do you really believe him? Registered User regular
    ELM presents: The Company

    Evil sex/robot/OS megacorp business. With trains and undersea cities.

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited August 2014
    ELM Presents: The Company, a lesson in accidentally stumbling into video game design (post-mortem)

    So, firstly: code. The script and data files of the game as it was running last are available here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/9cv4m87gh11dh29/thecompany-src.zip

    None of those scripts existed when I made the first post. I made it, then immediately started coding up a way to count votes automagically based on what was in my head at the time.

    My big goal, was to try and script enough of the game that I wouldn't have to pay too much attention to the mechanics and could just focus on content generation, which is really what a CYOA is all about when you get right down to it.

    My other big goal was to use that power to correct something I always wanted to see: where the CYOA could accept new players readily, and allow individual players to get their way all the time, while also having to cooperate and lobby for big picture things.

    Unfortunately, when you do this you're moving away from make-it-up-as-you-go territory and into game design territory. My problem was I didn't have my mechanics and structures defined in advance, so I was coding on the fly from day 1. This is a bad way to do game development. There's blogs and articles and millions of wasted dollars where developers got stuck doing exactly this. If you're going to do a complex game like this, the mechanics need to be rock-solid and essentially unchanged at the start, since in the middle trying to constantly adapt your save files to new things takes a lot of time and testing - the thing I ultimately ran out of, and the reason I only ended up being able to post once every 2 days despite being on holidays notionally.

    Things That I was happy with:
    Counting votes automatically is totally possible and you all should do it for future games. The vote counting script is separate from the order counting script which is separate from the game 'tick' script. The main thing I found right away was however you tell people to post, you can basically assume that if you ask for a number then some number, somewhere on the line they put it on is probably the one you want. Everything I parsed was massacred down to punctuation removed, lowercase text, and then I used the hashes to wrangle out a vote decision. But this all worked amazingly well once I had the kinks ironed out. I highly recommend building on it!

    Check out the 'state' file - it's important. The big thing I did was make it so I could stick a thread URL into it, and the script would automatically download messages in raw BBcode format and turn them into votes, while remembering it's place. There's a few hardcoded 'electricitylikesme' bits which should obviously be changed if you do use it.

    Storing game data as JSON is a great idea. It takes some wrangling since Python JSON module is quite picky about what it wants to write - you basically have to assume you will only have dictionary types, and you should plan to manually serialize/unserialize them (the code has a couple of different ways of doing this as I was working on the fly). Provided you know which numbers are changing and why in advance, you can make all the economy and research stuff entirely automated. The science output, bonuses from science and the like were all being calculated automatically in the end - I could just write a function which transformed an input object into the correct output and passed it on, and that would be a bonus.

    I'm really happy with my techtree definition format - as you can tell from it, I started using it for everything and this is absolutely the right way to do it. The technology module writes it's own template Python with new techtree entries, which makes adding them very easy. And a flat text file is actually a really fast way to enter this type of data it turns out - any GUI (and I did try to find one) just slows you right down. If the rest of the game had been 'done enough' then I could've sat for hours (and did) just making up technology and buildings and weird new chemicals to shoot at people. It was a lot of fun.

    Auto-resolving combat: this was a source of problems, since it's a big game design concern in trying to integrate it, but if you can you should absolutely do this one to. It's more complicated, since you're into AI issues and the like, but it does all the dice-rolling for you, and with a little magic with giving combat messages its a great source of inspiration for how to write about a battle in the game. I got pretty nice behavior from just having my NPCs either charge enemies, or flee if they were unarmed, with some dice rolling to determine their hit probabilities.

    Attendant to that: item generation. I resisted this, and I shouldn't have. The bit of it I had implemented was great, and the surprising outputs added a lot of flavor. I settled on the rough idea of tech-tree levels that determined how things behaved, and then randomized over unlockable damage types which meant I could specify a few things to give a weapon it's basic characteristics (i.e. machine gun that shoots bullets) but then hilarious bits of flavor happened like a company made one which did acidic damage. If you automate combat, then you basically want to have item generation as well since you can randomly drum up mook hordes and have them fight each other to hilarious resolutions.

    Automatic name-generation: scientist names weren't made up. I pulled them a web-service. This is an awesome way to do it since set to "world wide" you get all sorts of diversity and very authentic names. I wanted to have all the random civilians and security people get assigned names too at some point, since a huge theme of the game was, well, corporate overlords crushing the individual.

    Auto-generation in general: I basically can't get enough of this. I assume it's why Toady the Great went insane making Dwarf Fortress. I'm not so good at imagining up completely new settings, but given a few basic constraints trying to imagine what it might mean is a lot of fun. I really wanted to sit down and write descriptions for all the technologies as they came up, and the items and things as they were created.

    Things I wasn't happy with in the end:
    Well the coding day-by-day was a huge burden. Also a danger: the coding was a challenge and got a little more interesting then the CYOA at times, but it gave a lot to do as well. But you definitely need to have your mechanics and commitment level day-by-day figured out in advance. The problem is, automating a little leaves you realizing you can automate a lot - but the need to keep your game's state consistent makes it tricky.

    No map or graphics. Mojo says it further up the thread, but this is a big oversight that I wouldn't have made had I planned in advance. The game mechanics got built around no map - so travel times were instant. This was partly because I initially wanted to procedurally generate an infinite city that I could just keep expanding, but that's not simple and I've not done graphics stuff in like, forever (though in Python it's pretty straight forward to spit out an SVG it turns out). But I absolutely should've had a game map - mid-game there's a pivot where I decided "buildings" were becoming "facilities" and would be spread out. A game built around the map would've been very different, since everything could've been coded with directions, spheres of influence and travel vectors and the like - it wouldn't have been tricky. Towards the end I realized that with my very long combat logs, the better thing would've been to have it create an animated GIF of circles shooting at each other, which would've been awesome and fun to watch. Overall I really would have liked to figure out a game-map system, and then build from there - that's what planning would've been for.

    NPC AI: this I should've given more thought in advance, because it's not especially hard. I wanted near constant combat to try and kill off player agents about as quickly as they were created. Getting my NPC corporations to do that would've been easy. It might not have made a lot of sense, but insane corporate overlords in a violent world can do a lot of non-sensical things. It was poor because I gave the player corporation special status early on, whereas I should've had the NPCs relate to each other as well as just the players. They didn't need complex behavior, just random stuff they would do to each other so I'd have things to narrate about.

    Agents: sturdier and longer lived agents should've been upgradeable. This would've had a lot of narrative benefits - see below.

    Couldn't make my own events up easily: despite all the code, I had a dearth of ways to easily inject content into the game world. I needed some commands to let me say "right, at the end of the turn spawn 50 French soldiers and send them after Tellex and tell me how that works out."

    Story: I wasn't especially sure of the story I wanted to tell going in. I knew the theme: the science and industry HL mod was the inspiration (security guards kidnapping rival scientists to work in science mines) but trying to get a feel for the character of the world, as well as how I made "The Board" the players left me struggling for characters to make the story about. Probably I should've realized XCOM did this perfectly, and picked some support characters who couldn't ever be killed by the game randomly, but I think also that the agents should've been more reliably named, and less expendable so I could give them more personality. This probably would've entailed limiting their number to 4 or so per player, and talking about just a lead agent.

    Not realizing it was all about the tech-tree sooner: Seriously. I cannot say this enough - a CYOA is a techtree. *Everything* can be expressed as some tech-tree dependencies. This is the easiest structure to add to dynamically for players, where you get like, 70% of your content ideas. Things improved a lot once I had the techtree nailed down, and it linking more things up to it just made sense.

    Game mechanics in general: having these figured out in advance is probably important. Having them figured out so a computer can implement them is vital. For example I had no real idea what bribe and threaten were supposed to accomplish compared to just killing a bunch of people. Eventually I had those nailed down to affecting various numbers about how the company reacted to things, but then I had no means of what "killing" a company would actually involve or yield. This is all really vital stuff, and needs to be communicated to the players, but I didn't have it figured out.

    EDIT: one more thing to add here - something silly, but since I was automatically generating so much text, I really should've had a small tab and space images to use to space out and tab align my various columns. With auto-text it would've been really easy to make work, I just didn't get around to it.

    Would I try it again?
    Probably, but only if I genuinely had all the above stuff working and tested so I knew I wouldn't be bugfixing on the fly. It takes a ton of time, and makes it hard to write a compelling narrative. It's practically writing a 4X game which you then run in edit mode so you can force certain events to happen - which is probably another way to go with this sort of idea (take Civ4, turn on cheat codes, rename everything and then force stuff to happen). I'd also want to write down more of the world narrative in advance, so I'd have more to prompt the players along - ideally in conflicting directions.

    Whew, wall of text. Questions?

    electricitylikesme on
    GethMojo_Jojo
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo But do you really believe him? Registered User regular
    I think accidentally stumbling into video game design is a very succinct way of summarising The Company.

    It's really cool to see how different people approach making these games. Hoodie13's treepeople game was super light in terms of mechanics and was more about taking creative input from the players and structuring it into something entertaining. I tried to copy that but found I needed more structure, so hung together a rather broken but adequate framework. TheEnder and ELM both have gone even further trying to create a balanced game that might stand up in it's own right rather than needed to be swaddled in other stuff.

    I was sceptical about vote counting needing automation but given that ELM was handing each player individual power that meant quite a lot of stuff going on I can see how it made sense.

    The mixture of a player vote and each player having individual actions was a good one. Rewarding the players who stick with a game is always a good idea, although I'd hate to make newer players feel excluded. I think this is an approach that maybe I could have lifted to improve Space Invaders. Every player gets to dress up a soldier. Perhaps.

    Hopefully, other people can steal your scripts though and modify them to ease the burden on running their own game.

    For me, the main time killers were combat (which you did automate) and just the status update (so adding up modifiers for food and energy and whatever). I think you've pretty much achieved everything that needed doing there, and you did it quite simply. My own approach got hung up on putting together a GUI (Although that was also because I was looking at if there was a way to generate the map by adding borders and icons to an image).

    Neat stuff, sad it died, but I think you're bang on with trying to automate this stuff while running a game led to things being a bit hollow and the story suffering.

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    The player actions I tried to balance with the recruiting agent bonus. The rough idea was every new player got an average initial agent count and went from there, and then the companies and things would start being generated to reflect it if the players got too powerful.

  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo But do you really believe him? Registered User regular
    It makes sense, I do wonder about handing off the named NPCs to players.

    I know that at least one person really didn't like it not being explicit who was being controlled in Space Australia. So maybe handing each player an avatar broadens appeal? For me it's not an issue and I don't like the idea of having untouchable NPCs. Maybe the wider audience could weigh in on that. We all agree that you get lasting appeal from telling human stories, but do you need to "own" such a character?

    In a tangentially related thought, I think that one thing I'd like to include in my next game is a bonus based on the total number of votes per round. Quite often in these games you see a landslide and it deters you from posting, and I think that's a shame. Player involvement is great to see for the person running the game whether it's unanimous or whether it's divided (although honestly the latter is much better).

    Exactly how that bonus would manifest, I'm not sure. Maybe just adding #total votes to a random resource? So that more interest could lead to faster research or maybe something getting built faster. You'd need to make sure the numbers stay sensible, so that +5-20 isn't overwhelming or negligible. Or maybe it could just contribute towards a "good random event" fund.

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • PonyPony Registered User regular
    so I'm thinking of running another one of these, visually, using Gmod and stuff.

    not sure what theme or what yet. Dunno if I wanna do another Mass Effect one. I ran a whole one of those and then abandoned one partway through which I have no intention of picking back up. Does anyone have any thoughts or opinions?

    Based on the resources I have (in terms of models and stuff) Mass Effect is the easiest thing for me to run, but I dunno if that's what I want to do.

  • TipharethTiphareth Registered User regular
    I can't offer you any solid advice as to what to base it on, but it would be fun to participate in another CYOA.

    Also, don't rush things. Think through on what you want to do, if Mass Effect is your thing then go for it. But since you've abandoned a couple games with that theme, perhaps there is something that is missing?

  • PonyPony Registered User regular
    I abandoned one game. The other game I completed.

  • jakobaggerjakobagger LO THY DREAD EMPIRE CHAOS IS RESTORED Registered User regular
    I was sad to see the second one abandoned, I liked it a lot. Maybe even more than the first?

    The Mass Effect setting is great in itself, but I think the undercover cop story was possibly even more of a draw for me. No idea what's on Gmod but World of Darkness and Thedas are other great settings I could see working.

    (Although, stories about a crew flying their space ships around the galaxy to various weird encounters are also great (and can easily include a bunch of more or less isolated moral dilemmas for a CYOA. Probably you want a more static setting though, given the work of building it)).

    bgg / steam / goodreads / Bnet: Bygasto#2537
  • jakobaggerjakobagger LO THY DREAD EMPIRE CHAOS IS RESTORED Registered User regular
    @Pony ^

    bgg / steam / goodreads / Bnet: Bygasto#2537
  • PonyPony Registered User regular
    At one point I talked about doing a "replay" of Mass Effect: Freelancer and people seemed interested in that idea.

    Like, new character, new setting, same basic premise, let people make different choices, etc.

    Most importantly it would let people create a new protagonist for Freelancer and take them in a different direction.

    Does that sound like something people would be interested in or nah?

    jakobaggerCheeseliker
  • webguy20webguy20 Registered User regular
    I would suggest something Gamma World themed. I'm a huge sucker for Gamma world though. I would play whatever you decide though.

    Steam ID: Webguy20
    Origin ID: Discgolfer27
    Untappd ID: Discgolfer1981
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo But do you really believe him? Registered User regular
    I decided to do something new: A CYOA with Wizards and so on

    If Space Australia was a rip-off of Alpha Centauri and Space Invaders was a rip-off of XCOM then this one is a rip-off of Master of Magic. And it doesn't have Space in the title.

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo But do you really believe him? Registered User regular
    edited May 2016
    Seven Wizards: My triumphs, my mistakes

    I think we can say that this one was sort of completed. On the one hand it had an ending, but on the other the ending ignored the actual vote by the last players.

    M O D E R A T E S U C C E S S

    (I ended it as I was really struggling to find time for updates in the last month or so and things seemed to heading in a clear direction, so I just skipped the busywork. Hopefully nobody feels too cheated)

    Some time has passed and I've been mulling over what happened as I did with my previous two CYOAs. It won't be cohesive or complete, but ask questions if there's anything you want to know about (why I made a certain choice with my mechanics, what was going on with a plot element and so on)

    Origins
    Back toward the end of last year I sort of realised that I was about to run out of free time for the next decade or two by virtue of a pregnancy. My time to run silly forum games was likely coming to a close and I had a few ideas swimming around in my head.

    Perhaps unwisely I went for it. Whereas Space Australia was Alpha Centauri with the names filed off and Space Invaders was an off-brand XCOM the idea that settled with me wasn't really ripped off so much from a single source. You can make comparisons to Master of Magic (and I did!) but to be honest it's a bit thin for source material. There's no real narrative underpinning things and it's all a bit generic.

    The earliest versions of things had everything set up in the wizard school, but that all ended up seeming a bit tedious with it being quite hard to make the actions of students relevant to anything suitably grand. Avoiding the whole "chosen one" thing

    In the end it lasted for just over 60 updates, which is about half what Space Australia ended up with. The duration was a bit over six months.

    Abandoned plotlines and maybe a few bits that weren't picked up on

    The intention was always for this CYOA to be a bit sleeker and more directed than the previous ones, largely in order to try and finish it in a reasonable time. This meant that if something didn't seem to be gaining traction (which was quite hard to figure out) then I just let it go.

    These included: Cinders' childhood and any attempt from the wizards of the version of the Institute within The Weir, i.e. The Masters, to try and save their world by reuniting all of the shards and going back to the status quo (or the rebel elements within those upper echelons to free themselves at the expense of the rest DUN DUN DUN).

    Much of the understanding of the world came from asking questions, so obviously quite a lot of it was wrong in some way or other - most of this was deliberate! The real history of the world goes something like this: The Vitaetects used to busy themselves by creating life and running various unfathomable experiments with their specimens. Among their creations were a pair of dragons. Eventually, they ended up making humans and they ended up making even more of themselves. For a while they lived together in the City, the Vitaetects as fairly uncaring parents or possibly gods. They were interested in avoiding all of humanity dying out, but not too worried if an individual one got stepped on or stabbed by a business colleague. At this point the world was devoid of most magic, sealed away by The Vitaetects during the process of making humans.

    And then one dad they left. Some created the stone afterlife to the east, setting themselves in rings. This was something of a safety mechanism so that if humans needed to, they could ask questions of their creators (possibly the zalgo text effect was a bit cheesy for this, but I am quite happy with how it turned out). Most left via Ganghaan and the portal there that the Almighty Huri, one of their earlier creations, was responsible for. The portal transferred them to one of the other worlds orbiting the same sun which they promptly detached and sailed off into the distant reaches of the cosmos.

    Left alone, humanity generally found life a bit tougher but stayed in the safe developed confines of the city. It grew and over time scholars started exploring the traces of magic that seemed to have all kinds of potential. From there it wasn't long before one of the seals keeping the toxic magic of the world was broken in an effort to access more of this secret power. And so The Institute was born and wizards became a thing.

    Over time, the Vitaetects were repainted as cruel enslavers of humanity who had hidden magic from them. The obvious next step from there is that they didn't leave for unclear reasons at all but they were driven out by a wizard revolution. Hurray, wizards saved the day.

    For various reasons, the mages of the city came into conflict with Kxkzrileexk the dragon. The attacks led to lots of the mundane citizenry beginning the first real mass exodus. The whole bound giant thing was just an analogy that ended up being taken literally and then was transformed into dogma. Of course, belief and magic being what they are Tzo'lin did indeed end up becoming an avatar of a united humanity that never really existed. Kxkzrleexk was eventually defeated. Not content with that, the other dragon was then proactively hunted down and bound. Incidentally, I'm not sure if it ever came up due to the cosmic observatory never being completed, but the world had two moons - one that was broken and more of an asteroid belt (Kxkzrleexk) and a whole more traditional one (the other dragon). Eating the heart of one of the other of the two moons/dragons was an endgame condition that you were tantalising close to (build observatory -> choose a moon to summon down to arms reach -> eat moon).

    With each seal that was damaged, the background magic of the world began to rise until eventually crops started failing and razor-fanged bison began hunting rural farmers. Most of the wizards didn't really care too much about this, as it was far aware and didn't really affect them all curled up in their wizard towers summoning strange beasts from the seas and so on. Generally it was understood that wizards had elevated themselves beyond the rest of humanity and letting the old ways die was necessary. And should perhaps even be encouraged.

    The Nine were in the minority by not agreeing and started looking at ways of avoiding magic from making the world uninhabitable apart from little protected dominions of wizardry. The nine included Novatrice, (By)Garin, Ludovic, Alaine, the one who ended up living in the hole in the ocean and others that didn't get detailed. This search greatly increased the general understanding of magic, and so despite their ultimate goal they were heralded as greats of wizardry. At this point Bygarin started making heavy use of an Augment. The best they came up with was making The Weir, a container for magic that would funnel it elsewhere. An elsewhere that it would create in the form of a new contained world. The issue was that the rest of the wizards could undo this quite easily if allowed to and they didn't want to go down the path of genocide. So they made that artificial world into a prison and in the process of creating The Weir they trapped everybody around The Institute within it.

    Once inside, the wizards wouldn't have access to much magic without drawing from The Weir (or the half that manifested in that world, The Source) which would risk destroying their prison (yay) but would also probably end up taking them with it (boo). So they were stuck.

    This left the threat to The Weir from the other side. The Nine sealed The Institute and left their half (The Sink) inside before flooding the whole city (but slowly, so that rather than drowning everybody, the occupants could just leave). The nine were then the last wizards that would ever exist. Novatrice broke off right away and formed The Drowned Order which evolved into a religion which handily focused on stopping people from rummaging around in the lake. The rest retreated to the castle to watch more remotely, using what little magic remained to use scrying to keep tabs on any threats to The Weir. Years passed, a few died and others left. Eventually it was just Garin, Ludovic and Alaine. The three developed a method of extending their lives indefinitely, although this came a little late and they were preserved in a rather diminished form compared to what they had been. The drain was sufficient that Garin's Augment abandoned him (to later stumble upon Glassalia).

    The wizard who set up her lab beneath the sea chose a form of suspension, waking up only periodically to stretch out her natural lifespan. When magic returned to the world this mage reawoke but ended up being taken by one of Ingvar's agents before Cinders went to explore that particular feature. I was sort of expecting you to go and interact with Ingvar earlier so that his imprisoned members of the nine could be recovered and so on.

    So gradually The Weir came to contain some measure of inhuman self-awareness as it drank the magic from the world. Then it was just a simple case of possessing Ingvar (he was a good target as he was artificially injected with potential like Misty) and using him to usher in the age of automata. The first step of which was the ritual. The other apprentices thought that the ritual was to draw power from The Source but in fact it was really about letting Ingvar escape. In the end, partially due to Axiom's arrival (or possibly Axion's, I was not super consistent with the spelling), The Source ended up not only getting ejected into the original world, but also breaking into the shards.

    One thing that sort of slipped through the cracks was that the whole school of magic of the mechano-sages didn't exist in the original world, but was actually created through the influence of The Weir by the wizards of the second Institute.

    And that's a potted history of things. A few other misc points:
    - I'm not sure if my ham fisted prose led to anybody realising that Cinders' cultists bore a striking resemblance to the Vitaetects...
    - The further from the city you explored, the more weirdness that you would have found. So, there were some references to cannibals in the south. In reality those were goblin-like creatures that had gone from meek scavengers into bloodthirsty monsters due to the influence of magic
    - The northern continent's war on a giant made of jammed together human bodies was something I was sort of sad not to return to, but equally happy you were content enough to leave alone.
    - Ingvar assassinated Selin and framed Cinders for it. Her attack wasn't just motivated by you interfering with her plans for the region.

    Triumphs: Improving on the old formulae

    -I was actually quite happy with combat although it did start to verge on the overly fiddly and once or twice I did notice I'd neglected powers. The key was avoiding bogging the players down with any detail about rolls. I sorted all that out and then just wrote something up based on the broadstrokes of the outcome. I still don't really enjoy writing up combat posts though.

    -Rather than being precious about things I was making a concerted effort to say yes to any player requests. So if somebody wanted to do something (Such as throw The Sink at Ingvar) then I was happy to accommodate.

    -Splitting each turn so that it included a peasant and a wizard action felt like it made quite a bit of sense and generally meant that any given turn had some meat that I could write about. However, it also led to a request for a skip action, which I absolutely loathed, but added in. Similar, the action which allowed burning mana instead of resources ended up being a bit clumsy as it was, and led to some players wanting even more granularity. I think better than that would have been to have just allowed Cinders to mimic any peasant action but with all costs paid in mana. Possibly. I'm not sure about that one.

    -Previously I mentioned voting being disincentivised when there's a landslide in one direction or another. Giving a tiny bonus for each vote seemed a good way to combat that.

    Mistakes: A pale shadow of what could have been
    (It's so much easier to think of things that I don't think went well)

    -Previously, I made the point that if you can't commit to posting three times a week then don't run a CYOA. I was down below one a week by the end and this really harmed the game both in players struggling to stay engaged through the lulls and me keeping all the details in my head (I should really have made some notes). Also my original plan was to do lots of posting during my Christmas break, but I'd forgotten about the Christmas forum here which made it impossible to do any updates at all in that time. Oops. That gap caused the first momentum slip and I think that's reflected in a substantial drop in my posting quality. Generally though don't try to run a CYOA if you're changing jobs, moving house, trying to buy a house or have a baby.

    -Despite my efforts to say yes and take on board player suggestions, I get the feeling that I managed to be really frustrating to deal with at times.

    -The above also links to the fact that I didn't manage to cultivate much feedback to know which avenues were interesting and/or how much the plot was making sense or being made too obvious. There were exceptions, and those comments are really what makes this worthwhile for me.

    -Space Australia and Space Invaders had a fuzzy sense of who the players were controlling. Here I went with a well-defined central character that the players were driving by committee. I don't think this was a very good choice. First, it meant that Cinders was quite chaotic in her actions which meant she was a real challenge to give any kind of consistent voice or personality that made sense. Second, it made her immortal. There were as couple of combats were technically she would have died, but I fudged the result to just kill off other units. It would have deeply unsatisfying to have this result in a 'Game Over' post and with her power being tied to the shard (mostly) it was hard to come up with a sensible alternative. I think the lesson here is to have a gameplan in mind for what happens when the main character dies. Should I have just transferred over to Misty (before she was captured)?

    -The combination initially chosen by the players of Foreseen and lavashaping was a challenging one. Particularly the ability to see/manipulate the future. I think that collecting fortune was too opaque to be satisfying and I felt restricted in having other minor events happening. The silver lining to your choice was that when you seemed to stall a bit, I could give an ominous "something bad will happen on turn X" prod (although this also meant that I felt constrained in springing anything on you)/

    -Relatedly, it ended up that lava-based magic and fortune-based magic were distinct elements rather than a unified whole. The original intention was to have seven clear types of magic, one per wizard. I didn't really manage that due to a failure of imagination.

    -That original plan for magic was to avoid falling into too many cliches around the magic. Part of this was rotating all the elements by half a degree. So rather than fire magic there was fire+earth (lava) and fire+air (lightning) and so on. Novatrice being a pyromancer, i,e, straight fire wizard, was meant to be a weird contrast to this. I suspect that all of this was lost. Particularly when I gave the option of acquiring a new school of magic and most of the votes were for the traditional elements I'd tried to avoid. I'm pretty happy with successfully interpreting earth into the whole eating stones thing though.

    -Mechanically, having some expensive actions was tricky as the players that wanted to do them had to save up and resist the others spending thosse resources. Maybe the answer is to abstract resources more fully and just present options like "you may build an extra building now" or something. Possibly the ability to build something new could be tied to a bar that gradually filled?

    -Filling bars is great. I sort of wish that bbcode was easier to persuade into displaying actual bars rather than numbers. But where there are bars there is danger. In the end we had growth, study, fortune and loyalty. There's already a disparity between how much effort a post takes given choice of action, but bars increase the risk by allowing that to balloon when research completes, the city grows and some mysterious act of good fortune befalls you it can easily double the required time. Obviously things like resources and whatnot don't really carry that burden. To link to the above point, I do wonder if it might be interesting to try running where there are no bars and actions become the real currency. Spend an action to build something, or research something, or breed new workers or have them toil in the mine. This could potentially offer a much lower overhead game, as you're no longer prone to errors creeping in that mean the players have been short changed by 1 resource a turn for the last eight turns and so on.

    -Why on earth did I bother tracking food and shelter? That was just busy work.

    -As always the barrier to entry rapidly rose despite my best efforts. I think this is less about mechanics and more about the story. I am wondering if keeping a really brief turn by turn summary in the second post would have some benefits - although this would really add to the time required to run a CYOA, which is already problematic

    -I forgot all kinds of things that I meant to do over the course of this game. The most severe example that wasn't just adding an extra action choice or forgetting to update the resource income after a field of study had completed was the lack of achievements. I had such powerful intentions to list a series of snappy title. Things like "Burn the witch" and "Feed him to the volcano" or even "For Cinders it was a Tuesday" Each would have a public bonus associated with them, which could be anything from "+25 resources" to "you may now select growth as your vote bonus". And behind all that would be the secret activation condition linked to each of the achievements, "destroy X dice of enemies in a single turn", "unnecessarily set fire to a major piece of geography", "a player invents a character" and so on. And I forgot until we were about ten turns in and hadn't reserved a post at the start to include the details. A terrible loss for us all.

    Catastrophes: Some things can never be forgiven
    -Lack of David Bowie. Seriously, I made a slightly silly game that let people play all kinds of wizarding combinations and I forgot to include "The Goblin King" and "Dance magic" as options. I will literally never get over this. It wakes me up at night. Or that might be my daughter.

    Mojo_Jojo on
    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
    DelmainBursarElvenshaeCinders
  • DelmainDelmain Registered User regular
    I didn't really notice a lot of annoyances. I don't know about the others, but I was fairly certain of the fiddly-ness of the game behind the curtain, and was prepared to be really forgiving on that front.
    - Ingvar assassinated Selin and framed Cinders for it. Her attack wasn't just motivated by you interfering with her plans for the region.

    Did anyone not figure this out? It was pretty obvious, it was just sad that there was no time for us to interject.

    syndalis wrote: »
    Apple is a terrible company.
  • InvictusInvictus Registered User regular
    I always kind of read Cinders as having big-picture plot armor. Maybe if you're going to set up a main character make that explicit? It's awkward because we killed one of the other mages so early; early on I really figured that killing the other mages would be more or less impossible.

    Generalísimo de Fuerzas Armadas de la República Argentina

    Path of Exile current character: Delplari
  • DelmainDelmain Registered User regular
    It's rather irrelevant now, but what if the main character could change. Cinders dies, next day we get a short preamble about our Shard reaching out and grabbing onto Misty, who is our new main character.

    I don't disagree that directly controlling Cinders made her seem a bit... random

    syndalis wrote: »
    Apple is a terrible company.
  • zekebeauzekebeau Registered User regular
    Delmain wrote: »
    I didn't really notice a lot of annoyances. I don't know about the others, but I was fairly certain of the fiddly-ness of the game behind the curtain, and was prepared to be really forgiving on that front.
    - Ingvar assassinated Selin and framed Cinders for it. Her attack wasn't just motivated by you interfering with her plans for the region.

    Did anyone not figure this out? It was pretty obvious, it was just sad that there was no time for us to interject.

    I didn't figure that out :bigfrown:

    Honestly, the fact that the bad thing happened when we tried to tap into the weir and almost next turn we learned bone-lady was gonna kill us, I thought our drawing mana might have precipitated the events. Then the robot prisoner said we had Selin's blood on our hands, so I started to think there was some other force at work. I swear I wrote a post saying "wait, did we kill her? I don't think we did" but it was during tax season and I was working 10-12 hours a day so who knows.

    It was a great game, and I didn't mind the plot armor at all. I actually just felt bad because I didn't have time to add character responses or compose prayers to the mighty cinders, or other fun additions like Space Australia had.

    discrider
  • TipharethTiphareth Registered User regular
    I think the game worked really well as it were, I never felt that it lacked anything. Some of the ideas you had were amazing (Feed him to the volcano :3), but those would all have been bonuses rather than necessary hooks. Well, except for David Bowie. He was certainly what I never knew I needed.

    I loved it, and being Cinder the irrational volcano mage was good times.

    zekebeau
  • CindersCinders Whose sails were black when it was windy Registered User regular
    I like that there was a game about me.

    Mojo_JojoThe Ender
  • BursarBursar Hee Noooo! Registered User regular
    I was right about eating the moon! That's hilarious.

    GNU Terry Pratchett
    3DS FC: 0810-0331-1324 | PSN: Wstfgl | GamerTag: An Evil Plan | Battle.net: FallenIdle#1970
    jakobaggerMojo_Jojo
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo But do you really believe him? Registered User regular
    edited May 2016
    jS86rX7.jpg

    So the only lingering question is which heroic forumer is going to make the next CYOA so that I can play for six posts and then lose track and generally demonstrate that I'm equally bad at actually participating.

    I recommend it's a political thriller set during the secret psychic war that was Watergategate

    Mojo_Jojo on
    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
    jakobagger
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo But do you really believe him? Registered User regular
    I've mentioned this in the past but is anybody interested in trying to co run one of these?

    My ability to post is probably down around once a week but I should be available to do lots of the behind the scenes grunt work and argument

    Let me know if you do. I'm easy on theme but am wondering about some kind of modernish thing about the disintegration of a huge monolithic country into tiny warring states or exploring an ancient alien spaceship

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo But do you really believe him? Registered User regular
    @wilting @jakobagger @Delmain @zekebeau @Bursar @Tiphareth @Invictus

    Any of you lot fancy the above? I'm happy to ramble about the ideas in more detail if it helps

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • DelmainDelmain Registered User regular
    I could not write my way out of a plastic bag.

    If you want some help with the nuts and bolts though, I can absolutely be your guy. I thought about it when you posted that last week, but I figured you were more looking for someone who could help with the writing.

    syndalis wrote: »
    Apple is a terrible company.
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