The Price of Choices (specifically, “Choices”)

Someone I know online just gave “Choices: And The Sun Went Out” (interactive science fiction available on Google Play and itunes) a try, and then said they didn’t like how quickly the program asked them for money (the first month of content is free and takes about 40 minutes for the reader; reading onwards costs a few dollars).

There are a few REALLY common complaints about interactive fiction.

  1. Too many words! (Usually caused by someone who expects a more typical video-game-like experience.)
  2. Not enough words! (Interactive Fiction is particularly prone to this. If you sell a novel, people typically read all the words. If you sell an interactive novel, they’ll read less than half, so if you give them a 50,000 word book it turns into a 20,000 word novella, or less. You can soften the effect by having a more linear storyline, but then…)
  3. My choices didn’t branch enough! (Every branch more than doubles the workload… but it also adds replayability. Each writer finds their balance.)
  4. Why do I have to pay?

 

Ah, Number Four. Here we are again. Here’s my response to the acquaintance above, which bears repeating so I can point other people this way:

Thanks for making me laugh with your suggestion to make it cheaper.

Tin Man pays me an advance against royalties (very unusual in this biz, and still considerably less than minimum wage). The free part is four weeks of content. It’s roughly 40,000 words, although each play-through sees less than half of that.

Each four-week chunk represents four weeks of full-time writing (divided between two people) plus editing by at least one other paid Tin Minion (I believe there are 3-4 editors, all of them paid professionals). There are usually four main strands happening at any given time (the first month has a more complicated map than most of the others, but relatively little variety because it’s setting up so much crucial information; one three-month period has 4-6 strands).

So I think a free first month followed by a few dollars per month (or a LOT of advertising to cover the same amount) is fair.

Or you can just buy my novel. Whatever.

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