Interactive drama/novel submission

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javier
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Interactive drama/novel submission

#1 Post by javier » Fri Nov 16, 2007 7:40 pm

Hello,

Great job you're going here. I want to submit Masq, our indie Interactive Drama/Novel. Masq just made the PC Gamer’s Top 100 Games of All Time. I'm sure you'll enjoy it. http://www.alteraction.com

Here is a description of Masq:

Chosen by PCGamer as one of the Top 100 Games of All Time and hailed worldwide for its uniqueness by critics and gamers, Masq is a surprisingly engaging Interactive-Drama/Novel. Masq is set in an edgy, erotically-charged world of gorgeous fashion models and dangerous mobsters. As the protagonist of the story, your actions allow you the freedom to live the adventure any way you want: as hero, villain, or anything in-between. You can replay Masq over and over and experience an unprecedented variety of plot twists and endings including murder, sex, betrayal and yes...even love. The twist is, in Masq...it’s all up to you!

You can download the whole 5 episodes file (17MB) from http://www.alteraction.com/downloadpage.php or you can play the first two episodes from your browser at http://www.alteraction.com, check what people are saying about Masq, and then download the whole novel.

You require Windows, Shockwave if played from the browser, and unfortunately you need to be online to play the browser episodes, but also the download. It's a long story but Masq is free and currently we're not even showing ads, there is no spyware or anything like it, we're clean, you can google us. We're looking just to let people know about Masq.

From start to finish it takes around 45 minutes to play, but most people play it several times looking for alternative plots and endings. We (AlterAction) released Masq in 2002 but it just got discovered a few months ago by magazines and players.

I believe it should be labeled for ages 16+. Masq It is not porn at all.

You can get screenshots at http://www.alteraction.com/screenshots.htm

Please let me know if you have any question

Thanks

Javier
jjm@alteraction.com

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Mr. E
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Re: Interactive drama/novel submission

#2 Post by Mr. E » Fri Nov 16, 2007 10:35 pm

Hmm... Despite the different style, I think this qualifies as an authentic visual novel. The "animation" and branching seem very impressive.
Would you mind if we uploaded it to the Ren Ai Archives? It's a website where we keep original english language VNs and similar, so that they won't fade in time, and also to store a good database for people that enjoy VNs. It mostly works for the Lemmasoft Forum comunity, but it has many games from outside as well.
That said, thank you for calling this game to our atention and good luck with any future projects, games or not. :D

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Re: Interactive drama/novel submission

#3 Post by javier » Fri Nov 16, 2007 11:02 pm

Yes, you can upload Masq to the Ren Ai Archives...and thank you.

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Re: Interactive drama/novel submission

#4 Post by Asceai » Sat Nov 17, 2007 9:33 am

I think, in present form, this game violates #7 (http://www.renai.us/submit.shtml) "playable offline - It should be possible to play the submission without connecting to the Internet."

I dunno how flexible this is, or how willing you'd be to release a version that's entirely playable offline, without activation et. al

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Re: Interactive drama/novel submission

#5 Post by Mr. E » Sat Nov 17, 2007 10:07 am

Tch... I should have read the submission guidelines. I hadn't read them for ages, I even forgot about that rule... :roll:
Well... I was intendind to notify in the archives that the game is only playable online, and that you have to register, warning any potential player. But it really IS very different from the other games of the archive in that aspect... Hmm... Any suggestions? Opinions? Anyone? :?

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Re: Interactive drama/novel submission

#6 Post by monele » Sat Nov 17, 2007 10:20 am

What's the effect of registering. Is there any money involved?

EDIT : I ended up trying it out after reading a few reviews of Masq on the web. No money involved, but I'm still curious about *what* is this registration for. I suppose it's for statistics, but I'd still like to have an official answer.

As for the game itself, I've played the "demo" twice (up to the end of Episode 2) and the whole game twice. While it didn't feel extremely different, there were interesting variations. What was really nice, and is something you usually don't get in most games, is feeling the consequences of your choices up to the very end. I have the feeling there a few important happenings in the game that don't really have many variations, but everything in-between might have. I'll try to play rather differently on my third time, just to check these assumptions ^^.

On a technical point of view, I have a few remarks : I don't really mind Shockwave in itself, but it seems it makes the game unavailable to some people (Linux/Mac users?). This is probably something you'll want to think about for the next games (Flash would probably be the way to go). Also, I've seen people complaining about th font you used. I guess I don't mind the font in itself (though finding a nice comics font might help), but I think using some antialiasing would help tremendously for the look of the game. I mean, there's not much on the screen, so better make what there is look as nice as possible ;).
The graphics are very... "simple". I'm not saying this in a bad way. It's obvious that it helps in giving a lot more of them, the fact they're in grayscale is probably part of this too. In the end, it's really *not* a bad thing since they express what they should express perfectly, especially when coupled with the little animations or even the simple slideshows (I'm thinking of a Thelma scene near the end).
Oh, btw, why the 40 lives thing? Again for statistics?
And also, while it seems you've really studied your part of the market, and thought to differenciate Masq from other "twitchy" games, you still have timed dialogues that sometimes demand that you react quickly... That's twitch reflex for me. Plus, you *have* a "Do nothing" option pretty much all the time and this should be enough for the player to express things, instead of simply waiting. For action scenes, you could still use "Do nothing" as a mean to wait for the right time to act (thus, choosing one of the actions too quickly would be bad, and waiting becomes a valid option here too).

Finally, I'll just state my personal taste and say I'm not really interested in the sex & violence theme of this particular story. Are other themes planned for later games?

EDIT 2 : Oh, I forgot something about the story itself! During my first playthrough, I was really lost as to who was who. So many people the protagonist is supposed to have known for a long time... yet we, as a player, don't. Thus, the many names are overwhelming. I think the game could actually benefit from a small non-interactive introduction where you get introduced to each character in a more thorough way (your friend, your wife, your colleagues). This introduction should be skippable if it's not interactive as it's only for first-timers.

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Re: Interactive drama/novel submission

#7 Post by DaFool » Sat Nov 17, 2007 2:26 pm

I thought at first this was a spam posting, but since one of the creators posted a reply then it's not. :D

It shouldn't be too hard to make a stand-alone version, is it? If so, then it should be archivable.

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Re: Interactive drama/novel submission

#8 Post by monele » Sat Nov 17, 2007 4:20 pm

I thought at first this was a spam posting
My first reflex, I'll admit, was to run "Masq" in Google and see if there was an official website, and maybe a few outside reviews, just to be sure. And as I wrote above, my second doubt was when it asked me to register to get the rest.

Now that I've played the game enough (I might be on my 8th play o_O...), I can assure this is a genuine game and that... *finally*... it delivers in terms of choice -> consequences, and variations (sure, it still follows a "main story", but there's a lot of dancing around the main thread, allowing you to discover quite a few secrets about the characters).
I'd still suggest going with less mysterious schemes for distribution. At least explain why there is a registration. On one hand it's *very* generous to offer 40 lives (40 playthroughs) before asking for money, but on the other hand, all the steps needed to play the game in a regular way make it suspicious.

On a side note, I realized this game reminds me a lot of Gloria, the japanese H-game with the hundred endings (or something like that) : there are many choices to make, and while they mostly lead to the same happenings, there is always something new to see. From a full story arc to a new scene, including very slight variations here and there (sometimes it's a character appearing in a picture, sometimes it's just one more picture than usual).
The only problem with this is that it makes it really hard to "game" it, unless you feel like writing a very complex chart. One very good idea is to show a bunch of pictures of what *could* have happened during the game. This definitely shows the player that there's more to see. More interactive stories should follow this when they have complex charts.

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Re: Interactive drama/novel submission

#9 Post by Guest » Sun Nov 18, 2007 4:53 am

Thanks for all the feedback.

I was not trying to spam this forum but to get Masq included in the Ren'Ai Archive. In the "Submission Info" page of the archive (http://www.renai.us/submit.shtml) it's indicated that if you want to submit a story you can just post the information here.

Regarding having to be connected to play Masq, unfortunately for now there is no alternative. It is in the architecture of the game and we can not invest any resources yet to change this. When we released Masq, back in 2002, we were charging for “lives” so we needed to verify who had pay or not. For now we’re not charging, not even showing ads or doing anything under the table. We’re only able to collect the email from those who register, and we’ll use them in case we release more stories, but we’re not selling or renting the list to anybody or doing anything tricky. Our only goal now is to let people know about Masq. We’ll eventually try to monetize Masq displaying ads or charging to play. Then, making people to play connected will be useful, but for now Masq is totally free.

If you include Masq in the Ren'Ai Archive, I guess you can always remove us if we start charging for play, but you know better.

Masq was done in Shockwave because when we started programming (long ago) Flash was not an option. Now we’re considering porting it to Flash.

Regarding the 40 lives, it is just a number, a month ago were only 15, and in a week it may be other number. For now we’re willing to assign more lives to whoever requests them. Yes, we can see how many lives everybody uses. Again is the way it was designed.

Regarding Monele comment of “all the steps needed to play the game in a regular way make it suspicious.”, we made Masq long ago the best way we could. There were not many standards then. And we’re no doing anything you should worry about. You can Google us or visit http://www.alteraction.com and see the great reviews we’re getting and check out the links to blogs and forums that are talking about Masq.

Monele, great feedback.

Mr. E. I hope you allow Masq be included in the Archive. The most exposure we get, the better the chances to create more interactive stories, with the same, or with different themes as Monele suggests.

By the way, as I explained, I was not trying to promote Masq in this forum but to get into the Archive, but I guess it would be a good idea to promote it here. I assume there is a better section to post an announcement, right? Maybe in "Completed Ren'ai Games Welcome" ? Would you mind?

Thanks

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Re: Interactive drama/novel submission

#10 Post by javier » Sun Nov 18, 2007 4:56 am

The last post is mine, I don't know why it not show my name.

Javier

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Re: Interactive drama/novel submission

#11 Post by monele » Sun Nov 18, 2007 6:42 am

Thanks for the clarification ^_^. I'm pretty sure you're cleared of any suspicion by now.
I do suggest that you officially promote the game in the Completed games sections, yes.

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Re: Interactive drama/novel submission

#12 Post by PyTom » Sun Nov 18, 2007 8:03 am

I lean against including games that require connections to web servers in the archive. The reason comes back to the original motivation for the founding of the archive... several early games disappeared entirely because they were pulled from their web hosts. If a game can disappear (that is, become unplayable), while in the archive, then I don't see much point in including that game in the archive.

I'll point out that this has nothing to do with individual games, but is me suggesting the archive policy in this matter. And since I'm doing so after staying up many hours later than I really should have (reading iWoz), this is subject to revision in the morning (late afternoon, really).
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Re: Interactive drama/novel submission

#13 Post by Adorya » Sun Nov 18, 2007 9:41 am

Flash and Shockwave data can be stored in your hdd using some s*ftware (even streamed only data), but you will have to play through the online game 1st. Which make me wonder also where is the disclaimer, copyright and tutti quanti, didn't found it on the main page of the website...

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Re: Interactive drama/novel submission

#14 Post by usul » Sun Nov 18, 2007 11:33 am

I'd like to play Masq. Is there a version for linux?
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Re: Interactive drama/novel submission

#15 Post by javier » Mon Nov 19, 2007 1:00 pm

Hi usul,

I'm sorry but we don't have a version for linux. If this changes I'll let the forum know.

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