Episodes – Creative and Entertaining Interactive Fiction

Interactive fiction is a blast. Games, visual novels, choose your own adventure books, these are all entertaining ways to spend your leisure time. Lately it has been very popular on android and ios, as you will find various types of mobile games offering stories with choice based options. I suppose calling them various is a bit of a jump as they are all fairly similar. And I have found most of these, at least the ones that I have tried, provide fairly interesting stories. Episodes is one of these. 

Episodes, I should state, is a bit different from other apps of similar quality because not only can you read from their collection of stories but you can also make your own through their website. The code can be a bit tricky to learn, but there are a great number of useful tutorials on how to use it! It is always fun to see what one can come up with using a creative coding system. I played around with it a bit myself; I have not managed to publish anything, and do not believe I will on that platform, simply because it does not suit my personal needs, BUT I did play around with the coding enough to make sure it was in fact accessible to new users. After a few days of studying tutorials, I have to say it’s not that hard to learn, and if you enjoy the way Episodes is set up, it is a great system to use.

Episodes, unlike similar apps, uses an animation heavy display, which does not work for those of us who prefer to write over coding. However, if you do enjoy these aspects, and being more like a director than a writer, it is a great fit.

Now, beyond the creative options, this app does have a fairly good collection of stories, though most are of a romantic nature. A good thing though is that there seems to be a bit more variety than in similar apps, which seem to be drowned in vampire and werewolf stories. If you like them great, but I have read far too many that are way to similar. Sadly, it does lack in my preferred genre’s as well, which tend to be fantasy based.

Now, as most of these apps go, Episodes does have one major issue that bothers me, though I do understand the reasoning for it. Paid choices. Episodes, like many similar apps, allows you to purchase gems to progress through these paid choices, or you also earn diamond for reading certain stories. So if you love to read, you will come up with plenty of gems. Though that does not really help you if you are on a current story and you want to see a premium rout.

Now you may be wondering, Tawny, what is your problem with paid routes in games, after all this is not the first time you have brought this up! Well, dear reader, I am simply a spoiled reader who enjoys having full access to content. However, given Episodes is a free application, I will not complain too much as even without the premium choices the stories are top notch and worth the read.

Overall, whether you are a reader or a writer, you can probably enjoy Episodes.

Story Charmed, A must in interactive stories

Now and then I find a website or app that I will put a decent amount of time into, one that interests me enough to want to share with other people. Story Charmed is one of those. Now when you first look at Story Charmed, you may think, as I did at first. Oh, look, another interactive fiction app/site great, there are an endless number of these and they seem to be popped out by any development company capable enough to pump out romance stories.

Story Charmed, however, differs from these other story apps. And that is for one enormous difference. Story Charmed allows you to make your own stories! Now this isn’t some site asking you to submit your stories, hoping they will see them fit to publish. You get to create your own story using their application or web-based story creator. This creator allows you to create various characters, pick from an assortment of backgrounds, and create a story with choices. Some of these choices can even be made premium, and you can choose the amount of currency it takes to pick that option.

As mentioned Story Charmed uses a currency if an author puts premium choices in their story, one of these currencies is called StoryCoins, these coins can be purchased through the app and can be used used through the site and app, they are used to pay for premium choices, buying special outfits for your avatars and giving kudos to authors who you want to see more of. There is also StoryPoints, which can be used similar except you get these through reading chapters and rating stories.

I have a story on Story Charmed that I am slowly working my way through, and I frequent the Discord and speak with people on it regularly. But I wanted to know more about Story Charmed than is available on the site, so I reached out through the app and got an email reply from Chris Hughes, a member of the team who was willing to answer a few of my questions.

The first questions I asked was how the concept came to be.

“We were big fans of interactive story games, but there were a couple things we didn’t like about what was out there. 1. How hard it was to create stories on other platforms and 2. The lack of diversity in stories – and specifically in picking your own main character and love interest.   For creating stories: We brainstormed on ways we could make it easier and when the idea hit us, we knew we had to make it.  Our background is in gaming and game development, and there are lots of tools out there to help people make games with no coding.  We wanted to marry that idea with writing an interactive story game.  For diversity: we took another slice of our game-making expertise and landed on a robust Avatar system.  With an avatar system where users can create their own characters, users would feel more connected to the story.  They would be in control of the race, gender,  and sexual orientation of their character and love interest.”

Interactive story games are common these days. How was it decided to let people make their own stories?

“The very first stories created on Story Charmed were created by us – the people who built it.  We love writing and we wanted to make it very easy to write interactive story games.  Our goal became to make it the easiest way to create these sorts of games and we hope that we’ve done that (but we also have much more planned!)”

Is there an in house (those of you who work on Story Charmed) favorite feature to the apps and site?

“We’re pretty proud of the platform as a whole.  But, one of the innovations we are particularly proud of is our mobile editor.  You can write an entire interactive story game on your phone! “

How do you moderate this sort of content? Do you ever get stories you can not accept?

“This was something we thought of early on.  Every story has to go through an approval process before it goes live. We’re a “13+” platform, so we do reject content that gets a little too graphic.  We hope to have an 18+ version of the app at some point, but we wanted to reach as many people as possible with Story Charmed, so we limit stories to “PG13”-type ratings.  Cussing, sexual situations, and the like are totally fine, it’s just an issue if they are overdone or extreme.”

Are there any features you want to add to the app in the future? 

“We have a very long “todo” list of features we want to add. We will be adding much more functionality on both the reader and writer side of things, and we’re going to beef up the community aspect and have better interaction between writers and readers. “

Can you tell me a little about the group behind Story Charmed, how you came together and the like.

“Our company is FGL (fgl.com).  We’ve been around for almost 15 years and have published thousands of game apps. However, Story Charmed is our very first in-house developed app.  We usually work with other developers to help them make their games successful.”

Is there anything you would like to add for potential and existing users of the platform? Words of wisdom for those who want to strike out as a creator of stories with your system?

“Have fun! And leverage the Story Charmed community.  We have a great group of writers already that chat in our discord channels and through social media.  I’ve seen writers improve their stories tremendously by getting peer feedback. And also feel free to reach out to us directly.  We want this to be the easiest and most useful platform for writers, as well as the most enjoyable platform for readers.  We can’t get there without hearing where we can improve, or being told where we are doing things right.”

If you enjoy reading or creating interactive stories, Story Charmed is a must for you.

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