Twine

Twine is a program that allows users to create their own stories by using text boxes and a small amount of simple coding, through these it is possible to create playable narratives by exporting the stories to a html format. It wasn’t too hard for me to get the hang of and meant that I was able to organize my narratives far easier than I would have with something like Word.

Initially I had used Twine as way to and plan out my routes as trying to plan them out on paper was proving to not be a viable option, especially as I was working on A5 sized notebook. Since this was one of the first times using the program, needless to say, I didn’t fully grasp how to use it and I soon gave up on trying to plan anything out on it as it just wasn’t working out for me. I would later plan out the routes by setting up a starting point and rough endings, letting the natural flow of the conversations take the routes to appropriate endings.

Every Priest to Sin interaction starts with the initial setup where they are greeted by the Priest and explain their situation and the issue troubling them, this pre-interaction of sorts leads onto the first dialogue choice for the player and the single track dialogue splitting into three separate columns. Why three? As suggested by James, a three column is the most efficient way of laying out the routes as I had previously been using a branching dialogue method which was getting too messy and would have taken far more time to write as there would have been a good number more responses to write than if I’d stuck with three columns. The branching narrative would have provided a more…unique experience with a somewhat better replay factor, but as said, it would have taken exponentially longer to write and it was already taking me long enough to write the interactions with just three columns.

The boxes that lead onto dialogue choices for the player would have two to three arrows coming off of them which indicated which route they would be directed down depending on which option they chose. My columns were organized in the order of: good, neutral then bad, with the corresponding boxes having an initial to match as well as a number which would indicated how far into the route they were, these of course would be obscured from the player. The ones that were marked with ‘GO’, ‘NO’ or ‘BO’ were usually the Priests responses to whoever he was talking to and having them be marked differently made it easier for me to distinguish the options from the standard dialogue.

Alongside the Twine file I had a Word document up that held the dialogue options as I often had to put more thought into how the Priest would respond and had to make sure that the replies were similar enough to make the transition from one route to another smoother and not be a jarring change. I could have the characters dialogue up on Twine and the other routes dialogue options up on Word whilst I wrote what the Priest was going to say for one particular route. It helped me gather my ideas and keep things consistent.

Obviously, not every route could be the same length as naturally some conversations will come to an end sooner than others, especially if the person you’re talking to is being hostile towards you, this led to the bad routes often ending before the neutral and good routes. For the sake of keeping things look neat and organized, dialogue options that led to the same outcome were put next to one another, even if that left big gaps between the boxes, but doing so made keeping track of where all the routes were in reference to each other.

Whilst I the interactions between the Priest and the Sins, I had August work on the pre and post interaction chats from Ezekiel and the Cardinal which had no dialogue options, just a simple two-way conversation between the Priest and one of the two beings. Depending on which route the player took, depends on which variant of the conversation the player gets. With the Cardinal, on a good route the player receives praise for doing well and doing the right thing, on a neutral route the Cardinal says that the player can do better, but at least he’s not doing awfully, but he does become gradually more unimpressed and on a bad route the Cardinal wishes for the Priest to be kinder to the people coming to him before loosing faith in him and dismissing the Priest instantly.
Every interaction with the Cardinal is the same length and ends with the Priest leaving the office in basically the same way, the only exception being on Saturday, the final talk with the Cardinal, where he will make very clear what route the player is currently on which, depending on how the player has been playing the game could alert them and give them a chance to change their route last minute.

Ezekiel greets the player in the mornings before they start their Sin interaction and is the one to explain the setup of the game and what the player must do without giving away the Sins presence or the fact that it is all a test. Like the Cardinal, each of Ezekiel’s daily interactions are the same length and have three variants for each of the routes, and he is the last one the player talks to before taking on Pride and being given their final ending. Being the opponent of the Cardinal, Ezekiel favours the player who goes down the bad routes, encouraging them to show passion and get the sinners to repent, excusing the Priests aggressive behaviour as being the fault of other person who cannot face their sin. Like the Cardinal however, Ezekiel does express the same kind of apathetic behaviour towards the player during the neutral route, growing more and more passive-aggressive as the days go on.

Above shows all the interactions that would be featured in the game, all the Cardinals and Ezekiels being organized into two stories to tidy them up and to not clog up Twine with all the short interactions.