Dragonchoice - You Choose

After two years, and a lot of help from the experts on the forums here (especially mrangel and bluevoss) I've finally launched my Squiffy text adventure game at https://www.dragonchoice.com/you-choose

It's called Dragonchoice - You Choose: Candidate, and it's a fanfiction adventure based on Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern novels. It doesn't matter if you're not familiar with the world - there's some intro to get you up to speed with what you need to know.

You play as a young candidate - a prospective dragonrider - and having built your character, the puzzles and quests you solve and decisions you make contribute to whether or not you Impress (bond with) one of twenty unique and fully illustrated hatchling dragons.

There's pretty much infinite replayability, and over 60 Achievements to unlock.

Check it out at https://www.dragonchoice.com/you-choose!

Dude! I haven't played it yet, but I took a peek at the game. It looks so good! Really nice pictures and overall presentation. Professional level!

I also noticed the character record sheet and it is pretty complex. I mean... Having just three of those attribites would be enough for me doing kind a ton of decisions and branchings. I will really need to play the game and see how you use it and how the game system supports the experience.

Congratulations for the finished project!

Thank you - it actually means a lot coming from a fellow Squiffy developer! It was a long learning curve to get it do certain things, but if you wanted to talk about how I did things (usually with the help of mrangel who is a legend!) I'd be very happy to share!

There are several things I managed to wrangle, like integrating a Squiffy game into WordPress, including enabling players to post their results directly to the site which took a ton of trial and error, so if any of that experience would be useful to you or anyone else I'd be delighted to pass it on!

Oh! It is very nice hearing you would like sharing your process! Thank you!

I imagine those tons of attributes ultimatly relates to the taming/bounding to specific types of dragons, and as it seems to have lots of dragons, that's why you need them all. Do you make other uses of the attributes during the story? I played just a small part of the game, pokig here and there and restarting to test things. I see some of the initial choices are for changing attributes, but not branching the story, what is a smart use of the attributes without sinking into tons of branchings. It makes a good use of the system and keeps making every choice matter.

But I got a little curious about the Quests and objectives at the player's record sheet. They sounds a little bit like and orientation or a sidetrack, what means the players would choose completing or at least fail completing it. How do you deal with that? Or is it just a remainder to the player about what are the character's drives?

With so many attributes, how was the process of giving each one opportunity to shine? Did you got concerned about balancing them or you just did flow with the story and then used the attributes as tools for reference of changes and branching?

There are probably way more attributes that you've even noticed on a first play - every dragonet (there are 20) has about 150 attributes, ranging from colour and size to where they fall on the trait scales (eg selfish-altruistic, honest-deceitful), and a LOT of flavour text that gets plugged into the sections after your character Impresses one. The idea was to make each one feel like a complete individual, as well as creating replayability - you can play the game multiple times, Impressing a different dragonet each time, or landing on one of the non-standard game-overs.

And there there are probably 500 or 600 other attributes not related to the dragonets specifically. There's a lot being flagged in any game! The opening section, which you'll have seen sets up your character, has a lot of Squiffy ifelse statements, so if you select one origin the next section offers you the two possible backgrounds for that origin.

Getting the sidebar working, reflecting what's going on in the main panel, was almost entirely mrangel's work. You can speedrun straight through the game without doing most of the quests, but you're not likely to have a very good ending if you do - logging available and closed quests helps players remember what they have to do.

As for balance, that was tough because most people want to play a 'nice' character! So finding ways to offer options that are Selfish or Reserved or Blunt was a challenge. All the dragonets have preferences when it comes to character traits, and each one has a Primary Trait that your character has to match for the dragon to even consider him - if you don't have the Vindictive trait, then the dragonet whose primary trait is Vindictive won't even consider you. We've had about 500 playthroughs posted to our leaderboard, and three of the twenty dragonets haven't been Impressed yet, because they have less common personalities.

We also have a very, very well hidden secret that no one's found yet. I don't think that will go until someone takes a really experimental, unintuitive approach to the game. (Someone with Squiffy knowledge could probably cheat and root it out of the Squiffy code, but we've put in a couple of anti-cheating measures to try to avoid that!)

Oh! Nice! Looks like a lot of work!

I confess I'm already having troubles with simple branching because I need to let a few things go out of control because my story is about a character very skilled on making mess. But to get a hold on things I'm using tons of flags, so I may collapse the story again and then use flags to reroute the story as appropriate. How did you deal with the branching in the story?

Honestly my code structure is pretty shambolic, as I was learning as I went along, and the scope of the project kept growing. But I sometimes set attributes in the link to the next section, and sometimes set them in the section itself - it depended on the scenario.

Actually, I'm not refering to code, but to the planning of the branching in the story. Did you have all the branchings in your mind or did you realized it dureing the writing?

I always knew what the endgame was, but it took a while before I fully developed all the different things that would affect the outcome. And even then I kept adding sidequests and more achievements until literally the afternoon of launch day.

We've had around 1400 playthroughs posted in a week (there will be many more that the players didn't post a result for) - my main frustration right now is that there seems to be this intermittent bug with Squiffy where sometimes attributes don't get set immediately, but a couple of sections after they should be. It's creating some weird behaviours in a small number of playthroughs.

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