How to write a “distraction-free” gamebook draft.
Table of Contents:
-What is this?
-Why I wrote this book.
-What you can get out of this
PART 1: WHAT IS A GAMEBOOK?
-What is a gamebook?
-A history and background
-How you should approach reading gamebooks.
Why write gamebooks?
-The second person genre
-Like an avant-garde genre
-Not enough second-person books
-Playing with the text is reading
-Gamebooks are part of literature
What is “distraction-free?”
-What it means to be distraction-free.
-What you need to write before hand (the Freewrite)
-Avoid using the computer. Writers are not game designers.
PART 2: WRITING A DISTRACTION-FREE GAMEBOOK.
Writing a “distraction-free” gamebook.
-Writing phase (stream of consciousness advice) (adding numbers before and number paths)
(before you go into edit, assume the writer is done his book)
-Editing phase (edit the whole document through)
-Sequcning phase (what is it, why it’s important)
-Formatting phase (how to make a fancy pdf document. easy for the reader to read)
PART 3: AFTER WRITING YOUR GAMEBOOK
-Publish it on lulu or give it as a free pdf (get your audience right)
-Conculsion (ready to write another gamebook? Recap why the “distraction-free” method is the best way to write a gamebook).
Hellfire Temple draft after the writing phase, what your finished document should look like. In no way is it the “finished” product.
In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how I write a Gamebook without being distracted.
If you don’t know what a gamebook is, a “gamebook.” is a type of second-person narrative that relies on the reader to make choics and has some kind of game system, such as stats, built into the novel. The defining gamebook franchise are Fighting Fantasy, Lone wolf, and Quest!. They are differnt from the chose-your-own-adventure book because they expand upon the choices being made and the reader’s characther could die at any momenet depending where his stats are at. Think of the gamebook as a varaint or expansion of the chose-your-own adventure book. Instead of just choosing paths, the readers is also interacting by using the game system learned prior before reading.
Gamebooks have been quit successful in Europe. While in America, the chose-your-own-adventure book dominates. This is one reason why the gamebook has not reached international fame. Along with the popularity of dungeons and dragons, the role-playing market came out of America. Role-playing games like D&D, always stressted there should be one “Dungeon Master” and at least one other player. For the gamebook, the text is the dungeon master and the reader is the player. Some gamebooks in the past have created two-player and even four-player book, such as Steve Jackson’s X and Y. But the popularity remains it being a single-player, or solitare role-playing experince. One of the very first gamebooks, The Warlock on Firetop Mountain, was directly infulend by roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons. Gamebooks are like single-player roleplaying games. (mention tunnels and trolls along with quest). The reader is interacting with the text through a buil-in game system. This is a very similar experince to text-based-adventure games like Zork. Except that the book is analog and is not a computer. Today, computers and video-games rule the second person narrative. Gamebooks, along with role-playing games, is a dying art. Only those apperiate such entertainment will gravitate towards them. There is still so much to be done with second person writing than just chosing paths.
Most gamebook euthanist come right from reading Fighting Fantasy. I read The Warlock on Firetop Mountain when I was 17 and since started collecting gamebooks. FF has certainly defined how gamebooks should work. However, the FF combat system, Skill Stamina nd Luck, is unfortunely trademakred, and cannot be used for any commericial reasons without written consent by the creators. So only non-commericial, fan-made, public-domian, Fighting Fantasy PDF adventures have been appearing online since. To really publish an original gamebook, means to also create a game system with it. Game systems can vastly differ. But the system should be easy enough for a reader to learn and apply it to the text.
Fighting Fantasy also popularize the “turn-to” mechanic. Most choose-your-own adventure books will often give readers a choic to turn to “page 5 or 6.” Fighting Fantasy re-invetned the path system by introduction numbered “sections.” In most FF books, 400 is the average length of a FF gamebook. Section 1 is the introduction of the narrative, and then branches off into other sections, such “to turn to 54, 86, or 13.” The reader turns pysical pages and finds the section in sequntial order. Eventually, a random section, like 274, will lead to the ending of the narrative, section 400. Anytime the read could “die” because of his stas, make the wrong choice, and then the novel ends. The goal is to get to achieve an ending through any way of play. This could be bad or good. It is really up to the author.
This system is fascnianting because the potential endings increase within the book. A reader could say, “I tried to get the golden token, but then I died missing the ledge and falling down in a pit of snakes,” or “I had to choose three wifes to marry, but I chose Sarah is because she has a passive-agressive personality.” However, these endings and choices should statifis the reader. Endings like “falling into a pit a snakes” should not be negative, but encourging enough for the reader to rewind back and read again. Choose-your-own-adventure books often fail to make great choices is because they are often like relgious tracts. The Choose-your-own-adventure book was targeted for young kids, and often would they be in a situtation wehre they had to make an ehtical choice. Such a cliche example would be “do drugs and you get the bad ending, say no and you get the good ending.” This means the reader is at the will of ethics and is not free and confident to make his own choices. It’s such second-person narratives, like “Depression Quest” leaves a bad-stain on the second-person narrative. Section introduced by Fighting Fantasy, is truley radom and not forward. The reader is using his books by constanlty bookmarking random pages and flipping towards the next. The sequence of events in unexpected. Gamebooks should give freedom (freewill), power, and enjoyment to the reader (or player) than force the reader to be at the will of the selfish author. Whenever we read any text, technically we are at the will of the writer. But with the second-person narrative and the gamebook genre, the reader is truley free from the writer, since the text is his.
Gamebooks have been hard to write becuase of this paradign and because of creating a unique “game-system” and random sequnce of sections. This has hurted than writer and has rewarded more of the computer programmer of game desinger. Often, gamebooks are asscioated with games and not literature. That is true. But because they are also books, they can be as well treated as literature. All avant-garde genres of the past 50 years, like Ouliep, Deconturtion, Cut-up, fontism, and “langauge poetry,” are considered forms of literature. This strange genres have rewarded the aritst more than the articulate and logical English writer. These genres are about “messing with the text” and in some way, are considered to be “post-modern” that is, anyone could write something and art has no innate meaning. Which is intresting about the genres that ijust mention, is that they let the reader become free from the will of the writer. That is, the writer is just as free as the reader. It is a pleasure to read “cut-up words from a newspaper to create potry,” or to “interepted European philosphy to really mean that they are arguing for Communism.” This method is a lot like Ernst’s Hemminway’s Iceberg. What we previced to be written lanague on the canvas is assumed to be lanague. However, a artist truly creates art when a writer, just liek the artist, picks certain words and creates meanings that reward a sense of a apperiation for athestics than meaning. In other words, the written word can be just like painted pictures ina museam. A reader, just like a veiwer of an art piece, can aesthically enjoy written lanague just like a Jackson Pollock paintint.
This is where the genres of Science Fiction and Fantasy come in. Both genres have their origin in pulps written for children and adults. The purpose was for sheer entertinament, not high intellectualism like the works of J.R.R Tolkien or Kurt Vonnegut. It’s why gameboosk have latched on to such playful genres. But gameboooks can incoprated any genre it want’s to, so as long it gives the reader freedom and enjoyment (and readers vastly differ from on another). There has yet to be a gamebooks written about Shakespeare or a simple adventure in Vaporwave Japan. The scond-person, like the gamebook, is avant garde just like the infulncial literature genres in the past centuray. Already meaning is implied in the text. Gamebooks can be post-modern, artistic, and playful. In a nutshell, gamebooks are both literature and games in one. Someone can be a literatue aficando and enjoy a gamebook just like reading Stpehan King, and someone who has never read a book but has played hours of online games can find enjoyment in the “game” aspect of the gamebook. The second-person narrative is a future genre.
But, how can a writer write a new genre of writing that is almost unknow and has a complex discpline? Simply, by writing! Ther is no preresuites to write a gamebook, only wisdom and experince. You do not need a computer program to write a gamebook, only a word processor and time to write it down. It’s why I have made this video to teach you how to write a “distraction-free” gamebook.
Then, oppose top that, why is writing a gamebook full of distractions? One, because games today, mostly video-games, take palce on the computer. A video-progammer has to sit in front of a computer all day a type a long list of C++ commands until each model is correct and working. Writinga gamebook is not computer-programming! If you are writer, you might have realized that writing on a computer also leads to surfing the internet, checking mail, and playing with the desktop. How is a writer suppose to write a 40,000 word novel is he or she cannot commit the time or pay attention to write it? This is especially hard that if writing takes place on the computer, you will start to asscioate writing with the computer! And for gamebooks, arn’t new games based around the computer too? And the readers who will be reading your books also consumer the computer too? That is all true, but this has damaged the method of writing and the asscioation of writing a gamebook. Writing a gamebook is like writing anything else. There only needs to some wisdom learned and some experinced gained. Writing a gamebook is pretty much writing a a style that you have read and wish to interpert, or mimic.
In this information age, what should you do?
First, you should buy a distraction-free typewriter. That can be a $100 computer or a small machine that cannot go online. I am writing this right now on my Astrohaus Freewrite. The Freewrite is a “digital” or “smart” typewriter for the year 2016 and beyound. It can switch between 3 active folders, store up to 10,000 plus typed documents, and constalty save your written work online through online (wifi) cloud. It has a bttery of over 3 weeks! They only interface is an “on” button and the QWERTY keyboard in front of you. Once everything is written, just press the “send” button and a PDF/TXT file is sent to your email.
The Freewrite has definally changed my life! I can write anytime I want! The thing is small, portable, and reliable. I can wake up at 4AM and write whats ony my mind and be back in bed 30 mins later (bright up screen too!). Also it has a handy word-count measure and stopwatch. I just press the “special” button and check my progress. All writers know that word count is the center of any written work. Knowing this is important to consider how much time you ahve spent typing and how long the reader will lread your text.
Furthermore, the Freewrite is NOT a word processor! It does not have arrow keys and no wordcheck! That is up to you to send the file through ther computer and edit it in your own word processor. The Freewrite does one thing and does it so well.
All you ahve to do is just write. Get everything on paper and edit later. No wordsmithing! Writing that novel is a process.
1.Writing 2. Editing 3. Formating.
Once everything hs been written, take the time to edit the giant document. Hire an editor or do it yourself. Once that’s done, go ahead an format it to your desire. Most writers nowadays depend on self-publishing, since that is where the reader market is at (everything else is shameless self-promotion). And once that is done, your ready to sell your book! Don’t expect to anyone to buy your book immeditaley, what matters is your written word is avaible for the public, either free or on sale.
The Freewrite has change the way I write. I suggest you should go ahead a buy yourself a Freewrite. It is the only existing method to writing a distraction-free gamebook. Assciaoting writing with the computer creates a distracted, hyper, autistic reality. As a writer, you want to asscioate your gamebook with every reader. Do not asscioting writng with a computer. This will hurt your freedom to write whatever comes to mind and you are at the will of programs and windows.
Once you have found and created a writing enviorment (just like all writers do), you cna start writing a gamebook. But once again, how do you even write one? Or even where to begin?
Already, you have either never read a gamebook in your life or have reads tons of gamebooks and is watching this to look for advice. First, I suggest anyone who hasn’t read a gamebook, go buy and read The Warlock on Firetop Mountain. If you found this video for the first time and still never read a gamebook, keep watching. Because you will learn how a gamebook is written and will apply the knowledge learned once you read your first gamebook (and hopefully you will too start writing a gamebook). As for everyone else who read a gamebook, keep watching.
All gamebooks have some kind of game system. This game system usually involves printed paper with an eraser and pencil and some dice. This is almost protocol for every gamebook. Though there has been gamebooks in the past that do not rely on random genration dice and have xteneded amount of choices or stats gained and lost. This once again bothers a line as an advacne choose-your-own-advanture book. Dice, Paper and pencil have been crucial to the gamebook genre. It is the use of outside components that have made a “game” within a gamebook in the first place. However, it is at the same time that these outside components scare off new readers into gamebooks. All books are physical and do not need anything else to be read (maybe glasses). Gamebooks tried in the past to create random genration through page flipping and obtains stats or “keys” to open certain section paths. This is nice method and lmost like rolling dice. Dice should never be the pinncale of the whole gamebook genre. Gamebooks should have diverse and unique systems for each book (or series that is). Also, gamebooks should not be defined by path taken, as that would lead to the gimmick of choose-your-own-adventure books. Gamebooks are more than just “paths” and are advance versions of the choose-your-own-adventure book.
With technology today, a gamebook system can be emulated on a phone. Random dice can be genrated and stats recorded. Game systems are becomming more minimal and more of an ease to get into. There will always be complex or diccult gamebooks, such as the classic Quest! series. This books are also rewarding as they give the reader more freedom and is a bigger game than just a novel. However, all gamebook writers should start writing simple and easy gamebooks before they start writing more complex and advance gamebooks in mind. It is also true that a majority of people would prefer to read The Warlock on Firetop Mountain over Quest! And ultimatley why chioose-you-own-adventure books sold better in America than gamebooks. The levle of diffucilt can scare away any potential reader. The reader must engage the text naturally like reading any other book. Therefor, the introdcution “how-to-play” text must be as short as possible. Rules to a game is only the guidelines, not the game (or novel) itself.
The most popular game system is none other than Fighting Fantasys. It requires two dice, pencil and the adventure sheet in front of the book. The name is written down, all three stats are rolled for, and in some situation, the begginning inventory is selected and recorded on the adventure sheets. Obviously if anything is used, stats go down or items are erased. What makes this system fun is because the reader feels engaged with the text and has the freedom to interact. It is said the motion of rolling dice itself is fun, and brings to mind that of gambling. Even though, random numbers can be gnerator either way, and if a number is randoming gnerated throguh flipping pages, well, the reader wishes he or shw could just picked a differnt and higher number anyway. The aspect of random numbers must be fun too. Whatever this situation might arise of sneaking acorss the room or fighting with a monster. The reader must feel engaged the system. The game system is the submarine costume in order to go deep below the sea and swim with fishes. The game system should not take over the novel itself. The reader is the center of the text, not the system or the writer (a gamebook writer of course, may be jsut be good at what he or she writes, so the reconized name is a dfeinity choice).
The hard truth is that gamebook writers must create (or borrow for the easy path)a game system before writing a gamebook.
Now, the big question is, what do you want to use? Do you just want to use Fighting Fantasy’s system, or do you want to create a varaint of the system?
I suggest creating a varaint of the system you like to use (for that matter, Fighting Fantasy). Instead of using two dice, why not use one dice? And for stats? Well, for one thing, life is imporant and attack. why not add a starting stat for both LIFE and ATTACK at 10? And if a monster appears, give him a “X” ATTACK where X is the diffculty. Both roll a dice, and damage is absored. Characther that reaches to 0 is dead! This is just one of many ideas you could intergrate in your game system. You want to write a game system that is easy to learn and to use. Give extra perks to make the system more fun, like gain experince points when a monster is dead, or be alined with a certain characther class that gives you benefits and new paths to follow. Adding these things will make your system intresting and original. I beleive you should write you feel is a system that asscioated as a form of play. Like fighting monsters all the time? Just add one monster after another? Like money? Add shops and things to buy? Like equipment? Add bonuses to stats. Your created game system should come naturally to you. Pretend, as if, you are really just writing a choose-your-own-adventure book. But add in stats to interact with the path, random number challenges, fighting of monsters, and buying things. The reader will feel more invested into the text when given this freedom. Try to make the text like a role-playing game. Give the reader freedom over his characther and allow rules to help him break the rules! You could not do this in a choose-your-own adventure book. Make your gamebook have it’s best potentional as a game and not just choosing pahts. If you still don’t know how to create a proper system, just borrow one. The ultimate purpose is learning how to write gamebooks in the first place, and creating a game system prior before writing should not deter you. If you plan on writing a game system before writing, write the game system first! If not, but you still are looking for your game system, just start writing and add game elements in the text to help you make sense what will become your future system. Most gamebook writers love fighting Fantasy and will often mimick Fighting Fantasy, though they canno use FF’s game system. Mimick what you would want to read. Just remember, the game system should not be the center of your gamebook.
Every writer knows that there are 3 processes for the published written work.
1.Writing 2. Editing 3. Formatiing.
As I just wrote, writing should be a “idstraction-free” process and every stream of consiousness should land onto the canvas. Later, let’s say after all 400 gamebook entries have been written, the process of editing comes about. Technically, your gamebook is finished, but is poorly written. Editing goes back and checks every mistake and incorrect grammeer error. After the editing process comes Fomatting. There is no misspelled word or wrong sentece before formatting. Anyone can read. However, the perfectly good written word needs to be applied on to a document that has paragpraht idents, page idennts, page nubmeriing, and everything that would be digitally sawed as an actual book. Open up any book. It was formatted before it was pbulished. After the diting phase, your work would look like a jumbled mess of words colliding together. Fomating cleans the sapces. After fomratting is done, the document is published into the book and it is ready to sell (or be created as a private book).
Now, this sequnce pretty much applies to all written novels. Writing a gamebook is no differnt than writing a novel. However, one extra phase is added inbetween editing and formatting.
Remember about the random sections I told you about? Your written sections needs to be both radom and re-organzied into sections 1-400. The first room could be at 72 and the second to last room could be at 14. This process of Sequncing is the longest phase of editing/fomrating (or both) the gamebook. The good news is that every single word is edited and there is no need to correct anything. And after sequncing comes formatting, which should be very short compared to sequencing. Think of sequcing as formatting itself. Sequcning is just an exculsive phase of “formatting” for the gamebook genre. You are bascially genrating a random number sequnece, copying and pasting each number to your written sections, and then finally copying and pasting each written section through a correct number seqeunce number 1-400. It’s a lot of inane copying and pasting, scrolling up and down, and making sure numbers 1-400 are in correct order. In fact, what’s so annyoing is you have to do it 400 times while staring at a computer screen. You eyes should hurt for a bit. But you should know everything is done at this point. The labor ofg sequeincing is just the msot crucial part of the entire gamebook.
Sequencing has three parts
1.Generating a random number sequence (1-400 in this case).
2.Copying and pasting the random number sequence, top to bottom, to your written sections, written as XX or the number uptop.
3.Creating a new document, copying past sections 1-400 and reorganzing the sequence back to normal.
Already, this seems like a lot of hard work. Why do it if you can get a program for it? Truth is, there isn’t any program for this. The written word is free and is up to the writer to make sense of it. Just like an actual lanaguage. The langue of the gamebook requires this crucial sequencing. In the end, it’s worth it. It’s not worth sepend the money to do it for you.
The first part of seqeuncing is creating a random number genrated line. Suppose you are to write a a gamebook that has 400 sections. Section 1 is the introduction and section 400 is the best ending possible. Sections 2-399 will be random. Each correct oder of sequnce will be scrmabled to a differnt number. Such as going to 54 from 344 and 295 to 66. 1 and 400 are not scrmbale. This is both the start and finish of the gamebook. To create a sequnce of random genator line of numbers, I suggest going online, type in a search for “random number list generator.” The site I go to is random.org. Find the “Random Sequence Generator. The smallest vaule is “2” and the highest vaule “399.” Type it in, click “Get Sequnce” and the list should be genrator for you. It should look something like this:
This is what I got from the random generator. What you want to do next is copy everything, top to bottom, and paste it into a new text file. This sequence will be very important.
Now, you should have probabley wrote your gamebook by now. The next section that follows 1, should connect the paths with “69,"137,” or “345.” The original paths of 2, 3 and 4, should be replace with the correlated number. Delete the three numbers that follow. For every path you wrote, right the disginated numbers until the whole chart you wrote is deleted. See where you going from hear? You just gave each of your sections a number to follow. They no longer are called “sections 1 2 or 3.” They have meaningful number to go with it.
What is next after this? The last and lognest part of the process.
Re-oragnaize all sections into the correct order!
That’s right. The new section 2, should follow 1, and then 3-4-5-6-7-8, until you get to 400. The differences this time? Everything is in random order. There is no correct order after section 1. It’s rather an event that happens later on in the narrative. So now the reader must flip pages until he gets to the desinated section. If turn to 72, the reader must now follow section order until he gets to 72.
No program was used to make this. Only a number sequncer found online and your own time re-organize everything. This is how Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone wrote all their old books. No frills. Sequncing is a discpline just like formatting. It is in between the art of editing and formatting. Getting this right means you have created a perfect gamebook. Most will give up on this process and rely on someone else to di it for them. The problem is, this is your text. You should edit the text how you see approiate and how others will read it. The sequencing process has nothing to dowith game desing or computer programming. It just is. It is not a writing process either. You are simply editing the book to be read as a game, or form of play. Get it right and you are one step closer from finishing your gamebook.
The most important of a gamebook, is how to even write one? It’s like poetry really.There are differnt method writing poetry. All poetry is similar in some sort of way. All gamebooks are similar in some sort of way. What do gamebooks have?
-Gamebooks have a personal game system.
-Gamebooks use out components, like dice and pencil, maybe even a smart phone.
-Gamebooks have sections. Depending how long the gamebook is, sections can range from 200 to 400. 400 being the average.
-Gamebooks have paths to choose from. A gamebook could have up to tow, three, four or even more paths to chose from.
-Gamebooks have combat or “fights.” The reader’s charactyher encounters an oppoent usiong dice, satistics, or choice.
-Gamebooks have “keys” or “items.” Some objects obtain will further advance a new path the reader can take or advange in a fight.
-And Gamebook sections are short and descriptive. They rely on the second-person narrative and describe the enviorment in a great amount, but short detail. “You are in a wet, dark cave. You can hear waterdrops falling from the stagalites ahead. It is so dark, you can not see ahead.”
These 7 factors make up the elements of the gamebook. For the factors of a simple choose-your-own-adventure book, they only have 2 factors. 1, to chose a new path everytime, and 2, if a recorded item system is ever introduce. The reader of choose-your-own-adventure book will often forgot the so-called objects they collected anmd cheat by flipping back and choosing the “right” path. This would mean the choose-your-own-adventure book really only has 1 factor, that is, jsut choosing paths.
This is what makes the gamebook truly unique. The writer must be aware of all 7 factors added into his book. Now, none of these factors are defninite. They are only innate charteristics of the gamebook genre. Any of these factors can be altered anyway. However, the writer must acknlowedge that these factors are the structure of the genre. Not the science. The game system is the writer’s gamebook should not supercede the narrative itself. Outside components should not be cumbersome to the reader and should be natural for the reader. Sections should be short to read and not long to read (at least 150 words). Fights with opponent characthers should not be too difficult or inane. Objects and keys come natural to the reader’s senses. And the reader should always remain as the objective reader and not the critic agaisnt the poor writer. The gamebook allows to be free within the second-person narrative. This freedom should not supercede the writer’s art. The reader then might as well drop the book and go play an online video game. The reader is niether at the will of the writer. The reader is enjoying and engaging the text just like a science-fiction or fantasy pulp.
It is hard to think about these things all at once. This is not game design, it is writing after all. The best way to incorporate these factors is to write sponetenously. The writer is creating the text not for himself, but for the reader that might enjoy his world. Poets write poetry that might give a certain feeling to poet lovers. The gamebook writer must persuade his feelings too.
So, you want to write a gamebook?
Do you have an interest in gamebooks or know what one is?
Have you written a gamebook before and is interested in advice in “distraction-free” writing?
Or you don’t know anything about writing gamebooks and is seeking advice.
It’s why I wrote this.
I love gamebooks. But I don’t know how to compose one. I use to think I was a “bad writer.” No. Not at all. That is a deafist attuide. You can check my attached copy of Hellfire Temple at the end of this document.
I use to think that I was just not “writing” right. Nosense. Anyone can write. You can too. The problem is composing the gamebook. It’s about putting it together and making sense of your writing. After all, you want to write a second-person narrative. That is what gamebooks are. “You,” talking to the read. Any writer knows this. There should be no problem addressing your reader.
I want to share with you two things I learned about writing a gamebook. First, how I (I) write one, and second, what you should avoid when writing a gamebook. I am only sharing the wisdom I know about writing a gamebook.
it is best to write a gamebook when your, as a writer, is free from distractions.
That is, away from the internet, the TV, video-games, anything that could deter your commitment and mediation towards writing and enabling of ther media. These distraction won’t help you.
This is what I see with the problem of gamebook writers. I see them indulged in technology, such as computer programming, and they based writing their gamebooks like programming a video game.
Are you one of these people? I have bad news for you. Writing is not programming.
Writing is writing.
There is no innate science, only the written word of the English lanague. Therefor, gamebooks are just like any other written form like the novel and poetry.
The problem is, normal people do not apperaite the art because they don’t understand how the gamebook works. Normal people find gamebooks too comnplex or nerdy to be apperiated. Maybe too much of a niche audeince.
Your interested obviously writing a gamebook without distractions. Yes. This is the best way to write. Gamebooks in the past have aquired the activity of computers and paper grpahs.
You won’t be needing those to write your gamebook. Just a typewriter and self-discpline is all you need. Just like any other piece of written work of art.
How can this be if the gamebook is a "
game.” Wouldn’t that be game design? And that would mean the writer is a game deisgner.
Yes and no.
The gamebook is both a “game” and book together. That is, if you define a “game” as being a form of play. The reader is playing with the text, yes?
But reader’s also enjoy reading Asimov and getting into his own worlds. There is an enjoyment in “knowing” about the fictional world of robots nad thier laws.
The reading is playing with the text that offers him zero infulence. He or she is rather spending time talking to other friends about the worlds Asimov has wrote about. And that is entertainment? Yes.
Game of Thrones on HBO has reached some level with normal people. Now everyone wants to talk about George Martin’s pulp fantasy novels. They don’t offer any higher significane. Just ccheesey pulp stuff for normal people. It’s enjoying talking about such simple things.
Now, if only normal people could interact with such text they could be free from Martin’s will. This is the beauty of writing a gamebook.
Writing a gamebook is writing a whole new genre of literature. the second person narrative. It is about the reader and less about the writer. The reader “plays” with the text though devloped innovations, like chosing paths, built in statistics, and fighting monsters by rolling dice. Still, gamebooks are experimineting with ideas how to increase freedom for the reader. Some ideas have became insituted, like rolling dice, stats for life and attack, andwriting down things being carried. The reader is really enjoying himself through this new narrative based around “you.”
You can thank roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons and Tunnels and Trolls for such infulence. That gave players total control of the enviorment.
Notice “players” can be exchanged with “readers.”
Is a reader a player? Shakspeare once argued that we are all “players” to one grand theather show. The reader “reads” the text. But also interacts with it. What does it mean to them? Is it intresting? How much does it relate to their personality? What wisdom can learned from the text? The reader is constantly asking these questions.
It’s get boring, first person and third person narrative, because readers only observed what is being written. It is up to the reader to make up the rest. Why engage in the text if it is nothing but meaningless.
Why not just stop reading now and go play a video game online with internet friends?
This text written must mean something.
The power of reading is important. Less people are reading becasue of technology. Sooner or later, social media will become dominated. People will “read” through flashing images, like videos and games. It will be less about the first and third person narrative.
“You” are the most important person existing. It might sound solipsit, but it’s true.
The gamebook is defining a genre about “you.” You are the characther on an adventure around detail and choice. Your imagination is reaching a new level of higher consiouness. It is no differnt from reading any other text.
It is why I would like to argue that the gamebook is for everyone. Not jsut for computer nerds and acifandos.
This may be your start to writing the next big genre of fiction.
It dosen’t require a computer and it dosen’t require any other external forces.
It’s up tfor you to write it, edit it, “sequnce” it, and format the text properly, jsut like any written novel.
Writing a gamebook is writing a novel. No presquites needed.
I will share with youhow I wrote my own draft of Hellfire Temple and how you can apply it to your own writing. I wrote everything without a distractions. I wrote all the paths straight through wihout random connections. I later “sequnce” the story manually by myself without hte need of any program.
Writing a gamebook can be just like writing from a stream-of-consiousness. The rest is just making the structure.
First, I will explain the hsitroy of the gamebook and give a baackground on it. I will also talk making the game system and share some infromation on the writing process. And the most imporant part, the manual labor os “sequncing.”
Before I can talk about seqencing, a major important facotr in writing the gamebook depends on "forking." Forking precede sequncing in a unique way. Imagine reading a novel start to finish. The narrative stars on the first page and ends on the last page. In a gamebook, the narrative can be skewed, or "forked" to a differnt path. If the reader choose to go the left path or the right path, the reader ends the novel with the path taken. That way, the reader could read the novel again, this time, taking the other path to read a new experince. This would mean that there is a fork of two paths. Gamebooks are know to have many differnt forks. Choices can be from two to four. Either way, the path is taken by flipping to the new page section accordingly. Once all forks have been written, it is in sequncing can happened.
There a differnt apporches are theroies about the fork. For example, a gamebook could have five differnt endings. Three deahts, a good and bad ending. This means that all forks eventually lead to these five conculsions. This is like writing a novel five times again. The mutiple choices create a maze eventually lead to these conculsion. A choice made as well be fighting a monster, or a good choice finding a health position, and end up on the same yellow brick row again. Forks create choices, conculsions end the gamebook's narrative.
Think of this like a game Plinko. The show, The Price Is Right, had a game where contestants would use a chip, and let is slide down a maze of begs and bumpers, until it falls into one of the five holes. This is exactly how a gamebook is written. Gamebook writers are rather both a mix of architechs and creative writers. Two subjects that clash and usually don't get along. A creative writer must learn the discpline of the gamebook system, before he starts writing like William Burroughs. The architech, without the spirt of being human or lack of interest in the arts, is just a plain old scienctist, that offers no creativity to the written word. The cliche is that creative writers are read by creative writers and scinetist read by scientist. Gamebook writers synergize these passions and stay focus on creative writing and not be too focuses on the science aspect. The sceince aspect does ruin everything really...
Gamebook writers will often consult drawling a graph of using a gamebook program to "draw" out the Plinko board and create forks and end with conculsions. This is often a mistake for any writer. This ends up being an aspect of "game disigning" than writing like Hemminway. Game designers play games and game players play game designer's games. But, writer;s write books, readers read books, and reader's become writers and writer's are readers. Two subjects of game design and literature clash. The gamebook is both a game and literature. However, it cannot be reserved exculsivly for gaming. Because the gamebook is both literature and a game. Game culture cannot ursurp the written word. Therefor, programs and grpahs just distract the writer from actully writing his gamebook. Gamebooks of the future should be achieved through a stream-of-consiousness method. New gamebooks should be written on a tpyewriter, without stop. The problem is, there is no discplene for this... yet.
It is easy to write forking in a gamebook. For example, the gamebook will begin with an adventuer at the entrace of a temple. He may either enter the temple, go around it, or walk into the jungle. Three choices, one fork. If I decide to go into the temple, I will write as I entered the temple. As I write, I may feel the need to add another fork when possible. This time, I am in a dark, undercave. Should I take thecreeky bridge or go around it? I wrote that on the spot without any consequnce. Suppose my mind wanders off and wants to write about taking the step on the creeky bridge. I write about the experince obviously. Maybe I might also add in a dice system that determines if the bridge breaks or not. Totally improvised on spot! Eventually, the creation of forks, choices, opponenets to fight, dice to roll, items to pick up, item if used, are created through one, stream-of-consiousness writing session. I will get to the end, wheter it may be good or bad. Once that has been written, It would nice to as well write it all over again by writing about how I decide to take the path around the temple! I might right about encountering an outside relic, or meeting a wizard, or find a choice that leads to a fork inside the temple before. This is up to me to decide. Once that's done, I will write it all again by this time, going aorund the temple. Choices made, forks created. Three possible conculsions are amde at this point.
At this point, it would be best to save all three documents, cut and paste them into one single docuemnt, and combine documents 2 and 3 into 1. Connect the paths together/ Most im portantly, for the paths not written, starting with document 1, write them. For the path spotting the monkey hosue to go into, write about, If I fall off the creeky bridge, write about it. Do this with documents 2 and 3 as well. At thise point, this is a mix between and writing and ediiting phase, but still, I would consider this a "writing" phase, because you are looking at the paths not written and adding on them. Editing comes by connecting paths. Really simple suttf.
Forking is an important issues in any gamebook. It is the backbone to choice with the reader. Some choose-your-own adventure gamebooks actully have mutiple forks and choices, but in the end all lead to one conculsion. The fun part was choosing paths that made the reading experince differnt. In the gamebook, however, multiple endings will occure. This can be three to thirty! Choices not determine about prefernce, but as well having certain items in inventary, a roll of the dice, a challenge determined, or having enough stats to get in. It is up to the writer to decide how forks will play out.
Whick forks bring into the concept of sequncing...