How to Win is an episodic online adventure game where the story is controlled by player's suggestions and votes.
Created in Unity, and designed to be played in-browser, players make a series of moral and dialogue choices within each chapter, before being presented a larger question at the end of each chapter, asking what should happen next in the story.
Players are then invited to send in their own suggestions for the next chapter via an online form, and a selection of those suggestions are put to a live public vote.
The winning selection then becomes the main subject of the next chapter to be released, while alternative suggestions that did not win the vote still feature in the game, but in a smaller way.
The game plays largely like a visual novel, with occasional extra gameplay elements and minigames taking inspiration from various genres including clicker games, tycoon games, and RPGs.
The game consists of multiple stories and genres, each described as a unique 'Way to Win', with a brand new Way to Win being selected by the audience after the first Chapter. Current ways to win include:
- Make the Most Money - A business parody where the player must generate money. First by working in a warehouse, and then by progressing to management, and eventually becoming a venture capitalist.
- Slay the Dragon - A fantasy parody where the player gathers a party of adventurers to Slay the Dragon with the legendary 'Sword of Redistribution'.
- Have the Most Fun - Suggested and voted by players, the 'Fungineer' in an enormous theme park, making a variety of rides, games and attractions as fun as possible - while doing everything possible to ignore the world outside.
All of the writing is heavily satirical, often exploring a range of political and social themes including worker exploitation, income inequality, racism and trans rights.
Players can make a number of choices within each chapter, ranging from dialogue options to choosing different party members to recruit. The wider, audience-sourced choices have ranged to many different types of decisions, including the creation of entirely new characters, new genres, and even the incorporation of art sent to the dev team by players. These choices have included:
What new business venture should we explore?
- A Potato-based Pyramid Scheme. (64% of the vote)
- A workplace raffle (27% of the vote)
- Open a Jelly Baby Factory (9% of the vote)
Who should join the adventure?
- Sadia Slick, Competent Narcissist (17% of the vote)
- A Three-armed, Ex-princess Freedom Fighter (33% of the vote)
- The Great Elephant of the North (50% of the vote)
How should we fight the Dragon?
- Politely suggest the Dragon drink poison. (0%)
- With this monster drawn by my 5-year-old child (80% of the vote)
- Humiliate the Dragon in a Papier Mache contest (33% of the vote)
What is the best way to everyone to win?
- HAVE THE MOST FUN (19.57%)
- Give Everyone Free Education for Life (18.84%)
- stealth ninja style (15.22%)
- Save the Trees (A Green Industrial Revolution) 13.04%
- ¡Viva la Revolución! Overthrow the Government!!! (11.59%)
- Make Robots Do All The Work (10.87%)
- Nationalise the Pharmaceutical Companies (8.7%)
- Conquer the Most Land (2.17%)
How to Win is made by multi-award winning theatre company Hidden Track, who began developing online games as a response to the COVID pandemic, when all theatres were closed during lockdown.
They teamed with indie game developer Cael O'Sullivan to create the game, which was commissioned by Harrogate Theatres and HOME, Manchester in the UK.