Playtesting and Announcements -Elemental Tango-

So after working on this since the release of the second beta, I have finished my world Syn. Syn is actually a background story for the main antagonist of my upcoming game Elemental Tango which will actually share the same world as Syn so people may be a little confused by my URL. I will end up locking off Syn content before the release of Elemental Tango but that is down the road some yet so please enjoy this little morsel.

Some tips:
Read EVERYTHING, at least the first few cards you play in each section. I purposely made a lot of writing very similar and the experience very different.
Syn is meant to be replayed and actually encourages it, so don’t worry if you feel like you miss something, you will experience the whole story eventually.
Please don’t be afraid to criticize me, I actually enjoy it but prefer that of a more constructive kind.
I want to reward the people who start playing within the first week or so but my creativity is a little exhausted at the moment (pushing your limits tends to do that) so I am open to ideas! It could be a unique accomplishment, or a trophy or maybe I will give you a special quality that allows you to have two achievements when all the other players can only have one… Let me know of any ideas!

For now, I will accept all types of communication (typos, bugs, technical issues) through messages on here or my email, just let me know why you are contacting me please.

And at long last for all you enjoyment I give you Syn:
edited by Kitsune on 9/21/2012
edited by Kitsune on 10/16/2012
edited by Kitsune on 12/6/2012

For typos and words:

On the naming page, “Nobody realizes how powerful knowing a persons’ real name can be…” should be “person’s”.

On “You Awake With a Start”, for “Run downstairs with the closest make-shift weapon”, the Oxford Dictionaries list the word as makeshift.

On “Brush her hair aside to look at her face”, for “She has strawberry-blond hair that is currently covering her face and you feel like it is important whether or not to know if her eyes are open and if she is indeed alive.” the phrasing feels quite off; possibly “She has strawberry-blond hair that is currently covering her face and you feel it is important to know whether or not her eyes are open and if she is indeed alive.”

On “You reveal her face”, for “Her face is so perfect it reminds you of a porcelain doll with it’s eyes closed” should be “its”. As well, “Then with a wave and beaming smile, she vanished.” is past tense; everything else at that point is in the present tense, so it feels odd to have it not be “vanishes”.

For “You are living a normal life. Fun right?” I feel that there should be a comma between “Fun” and “right?”. Same with “Well I guess it must have been real if you remember it right?” on the “Oh yeah…” → “She strangely disappeared” option. ETA: Same with “There isn’t any other explanation right?” on “The Girl is Back!”

On “Visit a Day Spa”, for “There are better pleasantries”, pleasantries are bits of pleasant or funny dialogue; maybe “other luxuries”, or “better ways to treat yourself”?

On “A Game of Dice”, “There is a few teenagers and young adults tossing dice against the gutter” should be “There are”, and periods are missing on both “There is a few teenagers and young adults tossing dice against the gutter” and “You never really understood the appeal anyways”.

I placed a bet and won. “Winning” is usually the act of winning; “A decent winning” sounds odd and I think it should be either “A decent win” if you’re referring to the fact that the player won, or “Decent winnings” if you’re referring to what the player won.

On “A Street Performer”, for “It is a rare treat around here but a welcome reward in its’ own right.” should be “its”, no apostrophe. For failure on attempting to work the crowd, “Every mans’ wallet is in their front pocket and every womans’ purse is close to their hearts.” it should be “Every man’s wallet is in their front pocket and every woman’s purse is close to her heart.” (I’d also suggest it be “his” and “hers” rather than “their”, since you’re referring to individuals of a known gender–believe me, I am all about “they” as a gender-neutral singular pronoun, but this is not one of the times I would use it.) As well, “At least you don’t raise any attention to yourself.” seems like it should be “At least you don’t draw any attention to yourself.”

On “Go to the Mall”, there’s no punctuation to finish “All the stores you love are here still and seem to share a very particular problem”.

On “A Scream Nearby”, if you successfully intervene,

[ul][li]“You have my thanks. I don’t want to think about what could have happened if you were even a second later.” The victim said with a sigh of relief.[/li][/ul]should be

[ul][li]"You have my thanks. I don’t want to think about what could have happened if you were even a second later," the victim said with a sigh of relief.[/li][/ul]On “The Girl is Back!”, for “Is she a run away?”, that should be “runaway”. As well, “A Naïveté Heart” should be “A Naïve Heart”.

On other things:

When the strawberry-blond child woke up, I wasn’t seeing myself as having picked her up–I remember actually flinching a bit at the idea of picking up someone who might have non-visible internal injuries, and was vaguely thinking my character would want to move her hair to see if she was alive and then get medical help–so having her described as “she jumps out of my arms” felt strange.

For Monday morning, “Well I guess that means it is time to start the day.” felt a little stilted after the casual contraction of “Oh it’s your alarm…”; a minor thing, but maybe “Well, I guess that means it’s time to start the day.” wouldn’t startle me that way.

On the recap of what happened last night, “She vanished into the starry void with a smile after a small exchange of words, how strange.” feels weird. I was imagining looking down at her standing in my backyard (because she’s shorter than me, because she just jumped down out of my arms and she was on the ground before that), and having her suddenly blink out of existence and leaving me just staring at the lawn. “Into the starry void” sounds like I was looking at her and the only other thing I could see was the sky when she disappeared into the sky. I’ve got a bunch of conflicting images of exactly what happened, and I think it’s distracting me from the story.

“Well I guess it must have been real if you remember it right?” seems pat. I remember my dreams, too. Would it work if you told me that it seemed too real to have been a dream, rather than suggesting that I was sure it was real because I remembered it?

As well, on “A Game of Dice”, the “They scowl at you and chase you away. Hey, nothing beats free money.” message threw me for a second, especially with the message “Well, you certainly know that money makes the world go around!” appearing below. I was wondering if it was a rueful acknowledgement of the fact that because money was important to them they’d chased me away before I could collect my winnings, so they had gotten free money (the amount I’d put down) but I hadn’t won anything, or had actually lost something, but by damn I’d learnt that “money makes the world go round.” I had to click over to my inventory to see that I’d gained $50 cash. Is is possible to have cash be a quality that shows a message telling me what the new total is when I gain or lose money?

As well… well, according to my decision to turn down the spa, I like hard (presumably physical?) work, and according to the failure message on the dice game, “at least I have a job”, so I do begin to wonder exactly what work my job is, that it lets me wander and fall asleep in the park on a weekday. Curious for clarification. :)


When the “The Girl is Back!” pinned card first appeared, all the branches were locked. I had “A Concerned Heart” at 1 and “A Cautious Heart” at 1, and was being told I needed to have a Heart quality (any one of them) at at least 2 and no higher than 3. It was disheartening, to say the least, to have a pinned card appear when I couldn’t play any branches.

Zipping through the Opportunity cards got me the Cautious Heart challenge on “A Scream Nearby”; it took me three tries to do so, but I succeeded. My Concerned and Cautious both went up to 2, although the messages “A twist in your tale: You now have A (Whichever) Heart” suggest that this was supposed to be something new.

Also I’m not sure about the difference between Concerned and Caring; Concern suggests worrying about something, but the option to follow up on the feeling that there’s some reason she’s looking for me seemed more curious than worried.

  ETA again: Okay, the course of events is starting to make me want explanations, which I suppose is a good thing.  I wake up when I hear a noise, and find an unconscious (?) little girl.  When I check to see if she's okay, it (seems to) turn out that she was playing possum; she bounces up just fine, congratulates me on being a nice person, and vanishes into thin air.  Clearly she isn't in a hurry to get back to her parents, or she couldn't interact with me for long enough to get em to find them for her before; will see where this goes.

(Also, why don’t I believe her about having a huge house? “My” house has two floors and a back yard; I know that houses exist which are three times bigger than that.)

edited by Torrain on 9/20/2012
edited by Torrain on 9/20/2012

Okay, I am really liking the way things change on Tuesday.

The locked content is actively frustrating. I have nearly 900 dollars, but I can’t take Emily on a VIP tour of the amusement park, because I don’t have a quality that I’ve never even seen mentioned before it shows up as a requirement. I can’t try and save the cat, because I haven’t already done something that would make me a cat-saving person. A little while later, I have $810 and the only option I can pick in response to the “Go Clothes Shopping” opportunity is to explain to Emily that I’m broke.

As well, when the pinned cards “The Girl is Back” and “Heading Home” first showed up, all the branches were locked because I didn’t have enough of a specific Heart. Honestly, if I’d picked the game up casually, I might have called it a day on “The Girl is Back”. It took going through the opportunities deck seven times to have “The Mysterious Garden” opportunity show up often enough to raise my Aware Heart to 3, and by that time I was up to having $1350 in cash on hand (dear god they pay servers well in that restaurant) and still telling Emily–lying to her, by this point–that I was too broke to buy her clothes.

Also, I should have known better, but: I was in a hurry to finally play the pinned card, and now I’m stuck with “Go See A Movie” and “To The Mall” in my hand. They both require “A slightly strange day” and “Tuesday”, and I have no way to play them to get rid of them.

Finally, for a game that started with my absolutely accepting as fact that a little girl disappeared into thin air, it’s really jarring to find that I’m trying to treat weird things as not really happening. I’m blaming her eyes turning red on my eyes playing tricks on me, I’m suggesting there’s no possible explanation for why the animals are frightened of her except the pet store employees treat them badly–the writing fits if I’m trying to cling to an illusion of normalcy, but it doesn’t seem to fit when it’s established that I’m the kind of person who will wake up and go “Huh, last night I saw someone literally vanish.” It’s a shame, because the slow increase of the weird is generally very well done; it’s just that starting point which seems to throw everything out of whack.

In the Dungeon

My “A Revolutionary Heart” quality was 1, and honestly, I was losing left-right-and-center; I made it through five challenges without succeeding at anything, and by that point I nearly clicked through the sixth without reading it (I did catch myself, and caught the length of time of Syn’s imprisonment). Things went a bit more smoothly once my Revolutionary Heart started increasing, though. :)

It seemed odd that my “Seeking the Truth” quality increased when I knocked the sorceress out and she gave me a book and a magic potion; it’s seemed a very Syn-focussed quality so far. (It also seems weird that it increases when I get told the same thing again, but I don’t know that that can be helped with the game mechanics.)

edited by Torrain on 9/20/2012

Wow that’s a lot of notes. Thanks!

So my choice of using the apostrophe at the end of words comes from the fact that I was taught both “it’s” and " its’ " (or any word) to describe possession as acceptable and always choose the latter as not to confuse my readers as to whether or not it is a conjunction. I was also taught that compound words such as “makeshift” could also be written with the hyphen, depending on sentence length which translates differently from the designer end to the player end.

Rearranged my tenses though as well as reworded where necessary. It was supposed to feel strange that she jumped out of your arms ;-) but I was meaning to imply in that same storylet that she ran off into the night instead of vanishing into thin air or flying off into the sky so got rid of the word “vanishes” and replaced it with “ran off.” Yeah I wasn’t really sure how to handle the increase of money since you get more than a single digit back while still being creative so I put faith in my players that the change qualities will pique their interest enough to check their inventory.

In regards to your job, there is an opportunity card that is only available Monday Morning that sends you to work, so I see it as whether or not the players choose to go to work that day. My thinking for the differences between Concerned and Caring is that Concerned is a normal response for anyone with a shred of kindness, while Caring is excessively doting on a person and going out of your way to make them happy.

I purposely placed minimum requirements on branches to encourage people to keep playing and drawing cards to move on in the story at a decent pace instead of zooming through in a matter of minutes. As well as showing that their are other options that will open up to you the more you play and gain certain qualities.

I tend to put too much faith in my readers that they won’t continue on in the story with cards from their opportunity deck still in their hands but will see if I can do something to help those that do. I also purposely made the dungeon in a way that you aren’t necessarily prepared to face it but can still survive in and was worried about the difficulty as well so I will see what others think too. Yeah, seeking the truth is just the final leg of your journey and is the truth about your circumstances that you come to realize.
edited by Kitsune on 9/21/2012

I meant to put this before but was half-asleep when writing this thread but can everyone who plays please give me their character name? It will help with fixing issues as well as knowing who to thank for being some of the first few people to play. Thanks!
edited by Kitsune on 9/21/2012

[quote=Kitsune]Wow that’s a lot of notes. Thanks!

So my choice of using the apostrophe at the end of words comes from the fact that I was taught both “it’s” and " its’ " (or any word) to describe possession as acceptable and always choose the latter as not to confuse my readers as to whether or not it is a conjunction.[/quote]

Ah, I see where you were coming from. For anything except “it” (for cat, Syn, car, house, or job), the possessive is indicated with 's (cat’s, Syn’s, car’s, house’s, job’s). The sentence structure is enough to make it clear; you wouldn’t read “When she borrowed her mother’s jewelry” as “when she borrowed her mother is jewelry” rather than “when she borrowed the jewelry her mother owned”.

If the thing that owns something ends with an s (parents (plural), Aristophanes), then you can go with just an apostrophe after the s (her parents’ house, Ulysses’ companions, Aristophanes’ plays). For “it” and “it” alone, the possessive is “its” (no apostrophe), and “it’s” is short for “it is”.

(There’s an exception with Stephen King, oddly enough. In IT, the word “It” is used as a proper noun, so you can talk about It’s hideout, It’s diet of children, etc. But that isn’t the pronoun “it”.)

Not quite sure what you mean by designer end/player end in this context; when I’m writing storylets for my game the sentences display as the same length as they do when I play them? If you need to break a compound words such as “makeshift” in order to have a line-wrap, then you would want to do it with the hyphen in that spot, but that doesn’t mean you want to break it when there’s no need to. If the rest of the writing was more archaic, it could evoke that feel, but that doesn`t seem to be what you’re going for.

I started playing through it the second time, and I seemed to get the same summary of what happened regardless of whether I had the B&W dream about her and she disappeared, or I went down to see if she was injured in my backyard. Will double-check for that on the next playthrough.

Hmh. Can I ask why you didn’t use the increase messages, even when you get more than one back? “You’ve gained 50 x cash (new total 150).”

Ah! I didn’t see that on my first playthrough at all. Understand.

Understood. (By the way, naive evokes the idea that someone’s oblivious to the unpleasant side of life; I’m not sure that that’s entirely what you’re looking for.)

What I found was that the other options didn’t open up to me, and it felt frustrating. I felt like I was being told to pick the same option again and again, and shown things that I wasn’t allowed to do because I hadn’t picked the right option back-at-a-point-I-can’t-change-now. For example, the card in the park on Monday? As far as I can tell, there’s no way at all to get the opportunity to deal with the boy if you don’t already have the appropriate Heart. I’m playing more, yes, but I’m not getting to play the story. I’m just getting told there are chunks of story (on the Pinned card) I don’t get to deal with until I grind again and again through choices I’ve already picked, and chunks of story (on the Opportunity card) I will never get to play through until I start over from the beginning.

[quote=Kitsune]I tend to put too much faith in my readers that they won’t continue on in the story with cards from their opportunity deck still in their hands but will see if I can do something to help those that do. I also purposely made the dungeon in a way that you aren’t necessarily prepared to face it but can still survive in and was worried about the difficulty as well so I will see what others think too. Yeah, seeking the truth is just the final leg of your journey and is the truth about your circumstances that you come to realize.
edited by Kitsune on 9/21/2012[/quote]

No, that was entirely my fault. :) There is the option to clear your Opportunities later on in the dungeon, though, and I jumped happily upon that.

Thanks for listening, I hope some of it was helpful.

Oh! I’m playing Araminty, by the way.


I also apologize. I went through again and noticed that on Tuesday, I have every option that gives you a heart type locked off with that same heart type… ha ha. I went back and am currently changing things around to free up gameplay a lot and am not really sure what happened. I did everything well on Monday but had a disconnect somewhere along the line.

At least for me using Chrome, when I type something in one of the branch boxes in the design tools, I usually end up with the line of text actually taking up less space when I go to play the game than when I edited it. For example, I would have a sentence that takes up two lines in the editing tools but only one line on the frontend.

They do generally give the same result, with a few very minor tweaks but they are suppose to.

I don’t have a set increased amount of money for any options; I have some that give you 20, some that give you 400, as well as some that take 75 and when I went in and played with qualities, whenever I put "You have gained X amount of cash, it showed that X even if that isn’t what you
actually gained. I will have to go in and play with the naming a bit to see what I can do.

I am actually going for a naive experience being exactly that, to an extreme extent.
edited by Kitsune on 9/21/2012

ETA: first off, now that I have coffee: thank you so much! I look forward to going through Tuesday again now.

Ah! I see what you mean. Yeah, the font size and textbox size mean the lines wrap at different points in FF too, and probably IE. It’s honestly not something you want to break words based on, since the display on the editing end is going to change with browser preferences, personal style sheets, and possibly font zooming anyway.

There’s a particular kind of Quality that will automatically give you the message I quoted, correct numbers and all - I’ll check the book and see what it is, if you like?

ETA: Ah! If you set cash to be a Curiosity, and don’t have any change descriptions, then it’ll display the amount gained, the new total, and the level description: e.g. “You’ve gained 200 x cash (new total 315 - Yayyy, money!).” If you put in a change description, it’ll only display that: e.g. “You get that money matters.”

Okay. The bit of the description that said your obliviousness might be because “you simply don’t care” struck me as possibly more callous than naive, so I thought I’d mention.

edited by Torrain on 9/21/2012

[color=#009900]Kitsune - you might want to try the live-editing tools, so you can flip back and forth easily between updating content and seeing how it looks. The Failbetter writing team are finding live-editing really useful for that. [/color]

Torrain- Thanks so much about changing cash to a curiosity! I will go and fix that now, and that actually helps with one of the biggest challenges I had.

Alexis-Yeah that is usually the bulk of what I do when play-testing myself. It is hard to get the wording correctly when you can only see a few lines at a time, especially with larger chunks of text so I almost always slightly reword things when I play through.
edited by Kitsune on 9/21/2012

Since that was one of the biggest issues that was raised, I have made it impossible for cards to get stuck now. I was worried about how people would feel about constantly being juggled around settings by no actions of their own so I minimized my settings but after I found out that players never know when they are moved unless you tell them, it works out nicely.

Please do let me know if you get stuck without cards available to you at all though, this shouldn’t happen but still might, as well as the small chance people got stuck in limbo as I was changing things. Let me know and I will do what is necessary to help.

Hey all! I wanted to thank everyone who play tested and would like people to please head over to my feedback thread, and answer the structured questions. It will be very helpful for polish as well as applying techniques to my long term goal.

I managed to make it stick. Complete all of the endings, then go back through another time.
Edit: Also, the Revolutionary Heart route’s conclusion in the endgame needs to have BVWRF unchecked.
edited by James Yakura on 10/13/2012
edited by James Yakura on 10/13/2012

Oh my…I noticed the way I have it set up would be an issue for people following the Revolutionary and Heroic Paths right after each other. Thanks for that, but you should be good to go now and people will always see the options for the Revolutionary and Heroic paths it seems.
edited by Kitsune on 10/13/2012

Nope. I’m stuck at Wednesday evening, sixth playthrough, with no options to enter the “Seeking the Truth” stage.
edited by James Yakura on 10/14/2012

Ah ok I thought you were in the very final stretch of the game, which you would have ran into this problem again if I didn’t change it there too. Now, though, you should be good. If not, please post your stats and I will go in and change them for you, but please also let me know if you are fixed too.

Okay. I’m now on the Revolutionary Heart route.
By the way, I’d suggest removing the completed-ending locks from that card. I’d still like to go through and see the routes I missed.
edited by James Yakura on 10/14/2012

Glad to hear it! If you are on your sixth playthrough, I think you have seen pretty much everything. You may have missed the Speckled Heart Monday, which is different than everyone else, and only accessible from a Stranger 1. All the other days are the same for everyone, and only the ending paths are different but if you have all the final items you have seen everything. This is why I do lock stuff off so people aren’t constantly going around looking for stories they have already experienced, hoping there is more. I will leave the gateways to the Heroic and Revolutionary ends open, though, so if people grind up their Exemplary heart by playing as the cops, they won’t get stuck.

That being said though, at the end of every day except Wednesday, you have a chance to go back to any day of your choice, just like in the end as well if you want to go back to the beginning again. You will be stuck if you take a peak into the future, though, after experiencing everything until I get around to opening up Elemental Tango, which will ideally be no later than the last couple of weeks in December, hopefully sooner.
edited by Kitsune on 10/14/2012

Are you sure Exemplary leads to Revolutionary? I got it through Aware. (I also got an Evil Heart ending through Overstimulated and entered Heroic through Guiding.) How did you intend for the endgame qualities to go?

Aware leads to Revolutionary and Exemplary leads to Heroic but both Heroic and Revolutionary lead to the same ending.