How to get players engaged with plot


I'm feeling like I'm hitting a bit of a wall on my game, and I'd be curious about people's opinions. I'm having issues with players just playing the game in a very surface way as if to see what the rules of the world are (can they eat the walls? can they punch people). But refusing to engage meaningfully with the plot itself. I'm having difficulty navigating how to encourage the player to play the game as it is written (solving a mystery). Which involves interacting with objects and talking to people to gather information. I'd prefer not to use something like an achievement score, but I'm unsure if players need something like that to engage... or if I need to do a better job of spoon feeding the information to the player :/

Is this an issue other people have navigated? I'd be curious of suggestion for how people have worked through this.

...also on a side note, does anyone know if posting our game as unlisted on this site (and only giving the link out to beta testers) counts as publishing in terms of ifcomp? I think I'm hitting a point where it might help to reach out to a beta tester who knows how quest works better then I do.


No offense to your current players, but it sounds like you need to switch fishing holes.

...but you did just make me wonder if me adding every single scenery object I mention in the prose to the game is more distracting than anything else. I mean, the Infocom gang left out meaningless, scenery objects because they didn't have the space on a disk to waste. I've been preaching that anyone who doesn't include every thing mentioned in the prose is just lazy nowadays, seeming how there is really no maximum file size when using Quest or compiling to Glulx in Inform, but I'm rethinking my position now.


You are in a small room.

The walls in here are filthy, and the floor looks like it hasn't  been vacuumed in years.  In the center of the room, you see a coffee table (on which you see a mug (empty)), and an old, ripped-up bean-bag chair, which is full of what appears to be half-eaten Cheetos.

There's also a raggedy-looking television set (currently switched off) on an entertainment center which is slightly leaning to the right and a copy of today's newspaper.

Now, the only purpose is to get the newspaper from this room. What all objects should be created?

I've been creating EVERYTHING. I mean, the player will probably try to interact with each thing mentioned, especially if they are currently stuck. Right? So those objects should exist. Right? Examining the entertainment center shouldn't return, "I can't see that." Neither should the walls, the floor, the ceiling, or anything. RIGHT???

This is what I want to believe, but you've just made me realize something, JJ:

Those things are just distractions! Leaving them out of the game world is more helpful than anything, because each object in the game is technically a puzzle piece. That room only needs 1 puzzle piece, but I'd normally put at least 10 puzzle pieces in that room. (Walls, floor, ceiling, table, mug, chair, cheetos, tv, entertainment center, and newspaper)

Maybe I should just leave useless objects out of the games and change "I can't see that" to something more vague...

Hmm... That is something to think about...

Sorry I couldn't be actually helpful! (Hopefully this rant was not completely off-topic.)

I think it just depends on your users and/or what you want for your game, in how immersive you and/or they want it to be...

take for example morrowind... there's so much open-ended-ness and rich story/plot/immersion/etc to delve into...

is this the game you want to make and/or what your users want in/as/for a game?

or do you and/or your users, want a more closed-path game (like most RPGs) and/or with less richness/depth of immersion, as you/they only care about playing and/or beating the game, learning/doing its mechanics, but not interested in super immersion with it... then such a game as morrowind would be a total waste, as you put in all of that depth/richness of the world immersion... only to have all of it go unused by the users playing the game.

as for an engaging story/plot (and writing it well))... that's something I'd need help with myself, as I'm not an author... sighs...

I’ve been thinking about the same thing.
I have no answers in the matter but my filosophy is this: If the player only wants the surface play, and the fastest way through he/she isn’t that interested in the plot/story to begin with.
My game, as you know (for those of you who don’t know: J_J is the Superman of betatesting game logic/story!!!) require quite a lot of the player. I don’t provide all the backstory “for free” which, I’m sure, will be annoying to some, a deal breaker to some.
I guess I’m writing my game for the players that, not only don’t mind this, but appreciate it.

Again, I don’t have any answers but I honestly think the best way to do it is to make a game you like. A game you would like to play.
I honestly believe someone will appreciate that.


K.V. I think you actually are summarizing one of the things I've been concerned about. I have been trying to include every object you could interact with because I want the world to feel immersive. The majority of objects give you information about the world/character and a portion of the objects are puzzle pieces. I sort of assumed people would be interacting with 30-50% of them (which would be enough to progress the story and give each player a slightly unique experience), but at the moment maybe 10% if the items are being interacted with and mostly in a functional sense, not with any recognition of how the information being given connects to a plot. It's a bit discouraging. I guess it doesn't really matter, I just need to knock out the middle section, and assume at some point people will start piecing together the plot. Ha.

hegemonkhan do you have any suggestions on how to indicate to the player in game which type of game it is they are playing?

CheeseMyBaby - thanks. Ha. I am pretty into continuity and the logic of things, so I might just have to accept that I have obsessively added details that only really matter to me :P
Also - let me know when you have more you need played through : )

Yeah I noticed! I’m hoping you will want to beta test Act II when it’s ready. (In 16 years or so).


Ha, I just edited my post to add that I was excited for the next section of your game, because I hadn't realized you'd already replied. Yes. Work quickly, I want to play more : )

If you can pick it up, turn it on, use something on it, or move it, then you need descriptions obviously. Other than that, I think it’s entirely up to the author. I like to observe EVERYTHING as a player so I try to write everything in as an author. I’m not offended if an author does not have descriptions written for non-important elements however. The writing should make those non-important element obviously unimportant though. My 2 cents.

I agree fully XanMag!

@ J_J:

Objects -> 'game' Object -> 'setup' Tab -> Description: type in about your game (this will show up when you publish it, for people to read/look at, in deciding whether they want to play your game or not)

along with the other special Attributes (see below) that are shown for a published game

<game name="EXAMPLE">

you can also of course have a thread/post have information about your game as well


Thanks hedgemonkhan! And thanks to everyone for the good conversation.

for an example:

<game name="Sherlok Holnes">
  <description>WARNING: Must be legally of adult age, as this is a mature 'CSI: SVU' detective CYOA game that also has RPG elements as well, involving gruesome murder, torture and rape, gratuitous sex scenes, profanity, lots of various pitfalls resulting in death/bad-end scenes, and etc dark/criminal/taboo human behaviors/acts, as you try to track down the culprit. You are Sherlok Holnes trying to solve the most atrocius series of crimes you've seen in your 30 years as a detective. You'll development your character with stats and levels and etc, along with different choices and etc actions you make, like an RPG, as you try to solve the crimes in whatever method you wish</description>
  <author>John Doe</author>
  <subtitle>Atrocity of the Century</subtitle>
  <category>Adult RPG CYOA</category>


hegemonkhan... that description is. Something else. I wasn't sure if I should comment in case this was a passion project you've been working on. Which if it is, you can just use his name. Sherlock Holmes is in the public domain ; )

oh, it was just a really stupid example only lol (couldn't think of anything creative so just used a detective theme of the darkest of criminality possible - stuff that the court system and law enforcement has to deal with unfortunately time to time - child rape, incest, kidnapping, torturing, really gruesome murders, brutal sexual abuse/death like what goes on in many African countries due to having no government and thus drugged-up warlords and their gangs/militias/huntas reigning and reigning horrors upon the populations - for example - sticks shoved into female's reproductive system, can't find the resource on this african women who fled to the US, whom watched her mother get sticks shoved up her vagina, raped, having her breasts sliced off, and killed, and then the same, sticks in her vagina and raped, happened to her too, and she was just a little girl at the time... HK shudders... she spoke at the holocaust museum about it, but I can't find it online now, but here's another example, it's only a small part of the documentary as the full documentary can't be found anymore, sighs: , this made me cry at the time, true heroes - not all mercenaries are bad... sighs... and then the UN f'ed up the victims of siera leone... F' the UN!, and read-up-on/google the 'Congo as the rape capitol of the world', etc etc etc really bad stuff that makes your stomach queesy and makes you angry, lol), just to show how you can use the 'description' to give info about your game and warnings of/if doing mature content, etc etc etc (sorry went off on a tangent, though this is an issue, I'm passionate about... as it's deplorable what the world is allowing african warlords to do to their populations... GROWLES, shaking with anger! F' the UN!, again... and again, and again, lol)

no... that (my stupid example description of a game) is NOT my passion (eww/NO!)... lol....

HK's passion: RPG and fantasy/sci-fi, lol :D
(and if the game itself is good as a game, then adult games too, if not too gross, of course)

I wasn't sure... and... likely 'Sherlok Holnes' would still be plagerizing it, as it's clearly 'sherlock holmes' and not my own unique OC, lol. But, that's good it's in the public domain... lol... wouldn't want to get a 'cease and desist' for my stupid example... lol

I'm not necessarily all that interested in making players engage in my game. Entertaining them, sure. I am a slow reader myself and I can't play half the games on the front page most of the time. I think the other game makers either don't care or don't mind. I make fighting/rpg games though, so it's not hard to get started with those types, lol.

hello I am new to creating games of any sort even if they are "one of the easiest ways to make a game" and it would be helpful if I knew how to do this so any general type of advice, tips, or tricks would be helpful again I know nothing about this and would appreciate it if anyone has any advice to give me even on "simple" things like this such as creating links to rooms adding options to interact with objects or even just simply how to add text to the game. also if anyone knows good places to get art for the cover without violating copyright infringement laws that would be great to. I would also like to know how what your games app store would be. would it be your cover art. again if you know any videos tutorials or websites as well that could help me learn that would be wonderful. if anyone could also help me with programming stats or attributes to actually matter or be effected by your equipment or choices. pretty much I know nothing and every little bit helps. Thanks.

sorry i messed up in my message above somewhere at the end I said "I would also like to know how what your games app store would be" and I meant what would your games app store photo or image for your game be. Would it be your cover art

this site has lots of code, documentation, and help, just navigate around, and there's also other site locations too, such as its doc site:

if you need help with navigating/finding anything, or on whatever, just let us know

as for public media usage:

google search (and read/study about): creative commons

and the different types of licensing

Cool thanks do u know anything about how they will get the money to you. If u make any and also will u be able to have the game free but to add commercials and if u add commercials would it pay u if your story was good enough?

all I barely know on this type of stuff is with/from youtube (read/research/ask up on youtube about this stuff), there's:

'adsense' // ad+payment service
'paypal', and 'patreon' // payment service

there's probably more 'ad+payment' services out there too, try google searching on it


If you are using quest it is very unlikely you will make any money off your game. You will want to use a different program if your goal is to turn your game into an app. There is no easy way to turn a quest game into an app, unfortunately.

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