19 Jun

5 Questions for Choice of Games

Steam LogoIn case you didn’t know, Choice of Games is a company that’s been putting Interactive Fiction back on the map. Their apps are available through nearly every provider, and they represent a new era in the classic Choose Your Own Adventure style but with the added depth that working off of an electronic device can provide. Now, in very big news, two of their IF novels, Heroes Rise: The Prodigy and Heroes Rise: The Hero Project, are now available on Steam! They are also Steam’s very first text adventure games, an impressive milestone indeed.

Choice of Games logoIn the grand tradition of networking, I was introduced to friend-of-a-friend, Jason Stevan Hill of Choice of Games. You see, fellow author Andrew G. Schneider (author of Nothing Left to Wish For and Undercaffeinated and Overexposed) introduced me to Alana Joli Abbott (author of Choice of Games’s Showdown at Willow Creek and Choice of Kung Fu as well as Into the Reach and Departure) who introduced me to Jason. Jason, in turn, graciously provided me with plenty of information and advice about Interactive Fiction. He spared a few minutes for me to answer some questions about Choice of Games adding Steam to their distribution channels.

5 Questions for Choice of Games

How long has Choice of Games been working toward getting distribution through Steam and who initiated the first move?

We’ve been trying to get on to Steam for at least 18 months. Between working personal contacts, trying to get things together for a competent Greenlight application, and working the awards circuit, it’s been a long haul. Really, it was all due to Keith Nimitz of “Mousechief” fame. Thanks to him, it seems we’ve finally made it.

Do you think text-based games will be able to hold their own against more traditional computer games or do you see interactive fiction thriving more as a phone/tablet app?

It’s important to remember that there’s a place and a market for IF. IF (and multiple choice-style IF in particular) is at an amazing juncture of games and literature. I’m not really sure where we’ll end up “doing the best,” but especially as long as digital bookstores (Kindle, iBookstore, Oyster, etc) continue to refuse to incorporate interactive content, we’re going to have an uphill battle for both recognition and respect.

Do you think interactive fiction returning to desktops is a precursor to the return of full text adventure games like Zork and Planetfall?

I don’t know. There’s been a big push recently with companies (Inkle, Tin Man Games, Versu) and languages (Twine, Undum) doing new and exciting things. It’s truly a renaissance. Will we see AAA text games? Doubtful. But will we see AAA taking cues from text games, or turning text games into AAA games? Absolutely.

The point is, you can do things in a text game–experimental things–in a low-risk way. And some of those risks will fail. But they’re not huge losses; this isn’t something that cost tens of millions to develop. But if we can tell new stories and new types of stories and change the larger narrative and support our families all at the same time, then I’d call that a win.

Is Choice of Games considering entering that realm, moving away from multiple choice actions and toward entering in full actions like “pick up brass lantern” and so on?

Uh, no. Not in the least. We have been using the multiple choice to make games accessible to a large audience; going to a parser would reverse that effort. Also, the types of stories you can tell are vastly different.

Are further releases on Steam contingent upon the success of the Heroes Rise series or is Steam comfortable with letting you release additional games as you see fit?

The former.

Onward Choice of Games!

Heroes Rise: The Hero ProjectThat last answer is very telling. Choice of Games has made excellent progress in returning IF to readers and making their stories accessible to a larger audience. Steam represents an even wider audience and success there can only mean good things for Choice of Games and Interactive Fiction in general. I am eager to see them succeed alongside Steam’s current products because I think that gaming benefits from varied offerings, particularly those that engage you in ways that most of Steam’s catalog does not.

Check out the games on Steam here and here or through your platform of choice via links on the Choice of Games website. And, if you’re on a mobile device, you can always search your app store for Choice of Games or any one of their titles.

Note: During the first week of the games launch (ending June 30th), Steam is offering a pretty amazing discount on your purchase of Heroes Rise: The Prodigy and Heroes Rise: The Hero Project as well as a great Steam bundle option.

2 thoughts on “5 Questions for Choice of Games

  1. I’m not at all surprised by the choice to eschew the parser in the name of accessibility. It’s cool that Hill is aware of the range of things going on in the text space as it is fairly exciting.

    One question that left me with though is whether they’ve checked out any full action games with more of a multiple choice bent. For example, I haven’t played it, but Vincent Baker’s Murderous Ghosts, as I understand it, is a two-player multiple choice game. Similarly, many of the moves in Apoc. World and derived RPGs work using multiple choice mechanics. The GM parser might prove irreplaceable although who knows, maybe multiplayer multiple choice could be an accessible digital thing in the future.

  2. I asked the parser question despite expecting the answer I got. I think the Choice of Games niche is well-shaped and I wouldn’t want them to change it. I was just curious in case they had a Project X being worked on in a garage somewhere that nobody had thought to ask them about.

    Oh, Muderous Ghosts sounds interesting! The idea of multiple choice with multiple player input is intriguing (although obviously the technical details of such a thing are beyond me), in part because of the old TSR One-on-One books and also the various combat books games by Nova Games(?). It would also be interesting to have a co-op game being told simultaneously from two different perspectives, with each player “seeing” the scene through their own character’s point of view. I can imagine some very interesting narrative opportunities arising from that.

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