Gamebooks (DOG EAR)

Gamebooks (DOG EAR)

kay, this one seems like a natural for me.

You might have heard of Gamebooks. These are the branching type of adventures we used to see in all the wargame shops in the 80s. In them, you’d buy a book and read the opening chapter. Perhaps you were crossing a picturesque stone bridge and realized there was a troll under it. The story would break, and you’d see something like If you want to fight the troll, goto page 14. If you want to cross the bridge and continue up the path, goto page 24. Each of those pages would continue you along your way, presumably towards any number of grisly story ends, or perhaps the happy outcome.

These developed into computer games (including Scott Adams Adventures, which I dearly loved back then). Here, a computer would walk you through your adventure, rather than a paper book.

So I’ve discovered a group at textadventures – not only do they have hundreds of adventures for you to play (check them out – I died quick in two of them), but there are two engines you can use to create your own adventures (Quest, for those room/object sorts of adventures, and Squiffy, for those scene-to-sceen stories).

Now, I have to admit that I’m partial to Squiffy – it is more of a novelization effort and less of a spatial game. Been playing with it and have written a couple of test games (and am now trying to produce a full adventure). The neat thing – you can pretty much freeform a game in nothing flat. More advanced logic (if-elses and such) are a little more difficult, but if its pure logic, they’ve got you covered.

So here’s why this is such a good fit for me – first, I’m a writer. I think I can come up with very interesting plots and descriptions to makes my story sing. Second, I’m a game designer: I can come up with a fun game that people will like. And third: I’m creative: I might be able to come up with a game system that uses Squiffy in ways beyond how it is currently used.

For example – in my first adventure (2/3rds done), I’m realizing that once you play a couple of times, you’ll have to paths figured out. I tend to make event paths with some branching, and once you get the “lay of the land” and make it through once, all that exists is to play down a couple of other paths just to see where they go. I want more from a game – replayablity, that’s my motto. So I’m considering a scifi game developed in GridSims Solar Trader universe, one where you arrive on a Lunar base as a co-pilot of an Orelugger Inc run. There should be a number of different scenarios that might (or might not) be active when you play. This will turn on and off possible encounters. Using a bunch of flags, you might find yourself embroiled in a mob war, white slavery, a personal vendetta, wanted for murder, whatever. Critical clues as to what is going on (data files, evidence) will be scattered around, in different places from game to game. And each time you play, the game will be different.

When you think about it, it’s almost magic. It’s a book that rewrites itself every time you play. So I’m working up the story-paths and figuring out how these will work. Watch this space for more information.

Who knows – I might put out a call for early readers. Or playtesters. Whatever they would be termed…