A while back, you alluded to the aesthetic preferences cultivated by Choice Of Games and their writers. Is this written down or codified somewhere? Is there a critical discussion? Have you written about it?
There’s a lot of advice and material codified for people who are actually working for them, on their website. An obvious starting point would be their three-part series about how they judge good games: 1 2 3
It’s also probably worth looking at their ideas about structure, which covers branch-and-bottleneck (or what they call “stack of bushes”) design, delayed consequence, and stats deployment. Endgames specifically are covered in this post.
Sam Ashwell’s review of Cannonfire Concerto talks about how that work does/does not align with Choice of norms, and there are a few other (admittedly fairly offhand) observations in his review of Hollywood Visionary.
Overall, I’d characterize their preferences like this:
- a highly customizable protagonist who at a bare minimum can be any gender and romance any gender, but who might also embody many other possible variations
- a tendency towards bildungsroman, so that the protagonist’s definition can be incorporated into the storytelling, and because the whole brand was inspired by the game Alter Ego; many of their works start with an education and training period
- less focus on prose style: their structure allows for more verbose writing between choices than inkle or Failbetter, and the undercharacterization of protagonists often precludes using a strong narrative viewpoint
- an emphasis on plot consequence (you did this and as a result the company failed) over internal or emotional consequence
- a tendency (though not an absolute rule) in favor of interchangeable characters
- riffing on core conventions of existing genres (though this is something where they’ve matured over the years, I think — but early pieces sometimes felt focused on “what if we took this standard trope set and then explored the consequence trees possible within it”)