Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Submissions are now closed for the 2023/2024 Lindenbaum competition

Hello all! 

Submissions have now closed for the 2023/2024 Lindenbaum competition.

I am excited to say that we have 8 entries for this year's competition. The entries will be made available on the 1st March when voting opens. 

Votes need to be sent to lindenbaumprize@gmail.com. Each voter must submit 3 books. If they submit less than 3, their votes won't count. If they submit more than 3, the first 3 will count.

Voting will close at 5pm GMT on the 30th April 2024.

Happy gamebooking!



Saturday, February 3, 2024

GNAT adventure gamebooks released


I first found out about the GNAT system with the Lindenbaum 2023 entry Escape from the Tower of the Stars (found here - Escape_from_the_Tower_of_Stars.pdf (teuton.org)).

Now we have more gamebooks released using that system, created by David Donachie.

GNAT is described as:

"...a rules system for solo adventures that emphasises speed of play and minimal record keeping.

GNAT defines your adventurous character with two numbers: Talent and Vitality. Talent covers both your luck and expertise, while Vitality measures your will to survive and capacity to endure harm. A limited pool of Fortune allows you to cheat the odds.

GNAT requires two six-sided dice."

The core rules are here - David Donachie's Website : GNAT Rules Reference (teuton.org). They are short and versatile, covering most common situations that adventurers come across.


Temple of the Skull God by Paul Partington

Welcome to the Kingdom of the Sky, a land of adventure and opportunity. Discover the secrets of the lost city, hidden in the teeming jungle. Explore remote islands with fierce monsters and even fiercer warriors. Face evil demons in their underwater temple. Challenge a mighty dragon who is laying waste to the countryside. And finally, if you are brave and resourceful enough, confront the priests of the death god before they can bring ruin to the kingdom.

In this adventure gamebook you decide where to explore, which dangers to face and which quests to pursue. With over five hundred sections and a complete game system, are you brave enough to enter the temple of the skull god?

You can get the PDF from Drive Thru: Temple of the Skull God - GNAT Adventure Gamebooks | DriveThruRPG.com

You can get the paperback from Amazon: Temple of the Skull God: A GNAT Adventure Gamebook: Amazon.co.uk: Partington, Paul: 9798873830152: Books

You can get the keywords list from here: Temple_of_the_skull_god_checklist.pdf (teuton.org)


Grave of the Kraken by David Donachie

In a world only just recovering from the devastating wizard's war, you are given the task of brokering peace between two rival city states, but the road to Heldad bears dangers you could never anticipate, and an evil rising from the war-torn past.

This game is set in the World of Paldoria and is compatible with all other Paldoria adventures.

You can get the PDF from Drive Thru Grave of the Kraken - GNAT Adventure Gamebooks | DriveThruRPG

You can get the paperback from Amazon: Grave of the Kraken: Amazon.co.uk: Donachie, David M: 9798875974021: Books 

You can get the keywords list from here: teuton.org/~stranger/GAMES/gnat/GK_checklist.pdf


City State of Treysham by David Donachie

Treysham, city of Mages, city of the golden towers, has opened its gates after the long war and ushered in a new age of prosperity and madness. Emboldened, you can seek fortune in the ruins, glory in the arena, or death amongst its insane wizards.

City State of Treysham is designed as a hub adventure to be played between other Paldoria games. A place to resupply, gain XP, and accumulate rumours that will lead you to other games.

This game is set in the World of Paldoria and is compatible with all other Paldoria adventures.

You can get the PDF for free here City_State_of_Treysham.pdf (teuton.org)

The paperback is coming soon.


Friday, December 8, 2023

Entries are now being accepted for the 2023/2024 Lindenbaum Prize

Entries are now being accepted for the 2023/2024 Lindenbaum competition.

The rules have changed this year. This year, 50% of the weighting for the results will be due to judges and 50% of the weighting for the results will be due to popular vote. 

I also won't be hyperlinking any books this year.

Entries are to be sent to lindenbaumprize@gmail.com.

The closing date is 5pm GMT on the 20th February 2024.

Full rules to be found at:

Lloyd of Gamebooks: 2023/2024 Lindenbaum Prize announcement

The Lindennbaum Prize is sponsored by Agapov, contributor to Lloyd of Gamebooks and owner of  Augmented Reality Adventure Games who is very generously providing the first prize.

The Lindenbaum Prize is also sponsored by Crumbly Head Games who is providing free licenses to The Gamebook Authoring Tool as prizes and also has a free version of the Gamebook Authoring Tool that goes up to 100 sections.

The Lindenbaum Prize is also sponsored by HJ Doom who is providing a miniature to the winner.

Many thanks to Tammy Badowski for donating her time to the Lindenbaum Prize.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

2023/2024 Lindenbaum Prize announcement

 The Lindennbaum Prize is sponsored by Peter Agapovcontributor to Lloyd of Gamebooks and owner of  Augmented Reality Adventure Games who is very generously providing the first prize.

The Lindenbaum Prize is also sponsored by Crumbly Head Games who is providing free licenses to The Gamebook Authoring Tool as prizes and also has a free version of the Gamebook Authoring Tool that goes up to 100 sections.

Many thanks to Tammy Badowski for donating her time to the Lindenbaum Prize

Hi all! I am excited to announce the 3rd annual Lindenbaum competition!

The award is inspired by the Windhammer competition which ran from 2008-2015. I loved entering my books, seeing other books, voting and getting feedback. To be fair, I loved every aspect of it.

So, when it was discontinued, it left a hole. Between 2016 and now, I was very busy. However, I have a bit more time now and I was also shocked when I was on an online gamebook meetup to learn that almost no one there had heard of the Windhammer competition.

If you look at the list of Windhammer entrants, you will see a few familiar names. This is basically what kickstarted a lot of careers for the new gamebook writing crew.

I would love for that to continue with the new fans we have picked up along the way so that they can have a gateway into the gamebook community. I found the chance to meet new people and get lots of expert feedback invaluable.

So, without further ado, here are the details for the Lindenbaum competition:

Entry requirements for the 2023/2024 Lindenbaum competition

All entries must be in English.

All entries must be original works incorporating unique characters and world settings. This can include real world settings, people and events as long as they aren't the property of someone.

All entries must be previously unpublished works.

All entrants must state clearly on the first page of their entries that they are the authors of the work submitted.

All entries must be in any format that I can edit and turn into a pdf and sent as an attachment and link to lindenbaumprize@gmail.com.

Formats I know I can do this with are: RTF, doc, docx, Google docs, pdf, - leave a comment if there is a format that you want to know about. I don't have access to Apple devices.

All character or status sheets provided with entries must be presented in a simple layout that does not include complex table formats.

All entries must be spell-checked and thoroughly tested prior to submission.

The total length of the entry does not exceed 100 sections and a word count of 25,000 words.

Illustrations will not be accepted as a part of an entry except in two specific circumstances. 

Exception 1: Maps that are integral to navigation within the gamebook.

Exception 2: Graphics necessary as a part of puzzles or clues integral to the entry's narrative.

Graphics provided for these purposes must be in a format that is compatible with pdfs.

Graphics purely of an illustrative nature will not be accepted.

The entry may either be a complete stand-alone story or a self-contained excerpt from a larger gamebook adventure of your own creation.

The entry can be of any genre except erotica.

There is no entry fee.

All rights remain with the author and the author can withdraw their entry at any time during the course of the competition.

An entrant can submit one entry only.

All participants must have some way of receiving the prize money. I can send Paypal or BACS or a cheque in the post. Any other method will need to be agreed. Account information is not required by the organisers of this competition unless you are one of the winning entrants. Only at the time of winning a prize will you be asked for your details.

Hyperlinking

I will not be doing any hyperlinking of any entries. It is up to the entrant to hyperlink their entries or not.

Competition deadlines for 2023/2024

5th November 2023: Competition guidelines released

6th December 2023: Entry submissions begin

20th February 2024: Entry submissions close.

1st March 2024: Voting begins.*

30th April 2024: Voting closes.*

10th May 2024: Winners announced.*

* If there are more than 10 entries, these dates will be extended. The length of the extension will depend on how many entries there are.

Winning entries

This year, the winning entries will be decided from a combination of judges' decisions and reader votes. The judges' votes and the readers' votes will have equal weighting when determining the winning entry.

Judges

We have 6 judges for this year's Lindenbaum competition. Here is who they are:

Andrew Greene (winner of the first Lindenbaum award and merit award winner of the 2nd)

Hieronymous J. Doom - presenter of the awesome Fantastic Fights podcast and writer of many gamebooks that you can get if you become his patreon.

Ashton MacSaylor - 3 time merit award winner of Windhammer, writer of The Good, The Bad and the Undead and other gamebooks (see his blog).

Keith P. Phillips - author of Siege of Sardath and currently writing A Moral Paradox with several young people. Keith is currently doing an Arts Council funded project to make a gamebook video game: Literature Alive - Digital Writes

Paul Gresty - Writer of The Frankenstein Wars, Fabled Lands 7 and Windhammer entrant.

Peter Agapov - writer of great gamebook analysis blog posts on his blog and mine. He also provides the winning prize money.

Things the judges are looking for

Literary ability
Good writing: i.e. vivid descriptions, believable dialogue, compelling characters and scenarios, etc.
How well the narrative flows
How good the spelling and grammar is
How engaging is the use of language is

The game system
How good the game system is at complementing the theme and setting
How intuitive the game system is
How much the game system encourages strategic thinking and offers hidden tactics that enrich the gameplay.
No blind choices (where you have no information whatsoever about which way to go)
Reasonable odds (no 1 in a 100 chance of survival rolls)

The story
Meaningful consequences of your actions (i.e. the results seem to actually follow from your choices)
How well does the story flow?
How much sense does the story make?

Technical ability
All the section links work
Every scenario, including draws or unexpected events, is adequately addressed.

Miscellaneous
How innovative is the gamebook?
How entertaining is the gamebook?
How experimental is the gamebook?
How well are these ideas executed?
Voting

A valid vote must be forwarded by email to lindenbaumprize@gmail.com. A valid vote must nominate the three gamebooks most favoured by the voter from the competition entrants. A vote with less than three nominations cannot be accepted. A vote forwarded with more than three nominations will only have the first three accounted for in the voting tabulation.

Only one voter email is allowed per reader. All votes will be checked for duplication of email addresses.

Feedback to the authors may be forwarded to the competition sponsors at lindenbaumprize@gmail.com. All feedback given will be provided to authors at the end of competition as a part of the email notification of results.

Prizes

Winning entrant

A cash prize of £100 GBP (Great British Pounds) to be paid within 48 hours.

A desktop licence to the Gamebook Authoring Tool which lasts for 1 year.

A minifigure painted by Hieronymous J. Doom.

A First Prize certificate memorialising their success in the competition.

Merit awards

Two entries are chosen for Merit awards. These entrants receive:

A cash prize of £30 GBP (Great British Pounds) to be paid within 48 hours.

A Merit Award certificate memorialising their success in the competition,

Commendation awards

If there are 10 or more entries, there will be 3 commendation awards. The entrants receive:

A Commendation Certificate memorialising their success in the competition.

Gamebook writing help

If you haven't written a gamebook before, you might think that arranging and randomising the sections might be a problem. However, there are now good gamebook writing programs out there. One is The Gamebook Authoring Tool, which has a free version specifically designed to write a 100 section gamebook and export it to Rich Text Format. You can try it here: About The GameBook Authoring Tool – Crumbly Head Games

Also, for tips on writing gamebooks, take a look at the reading list I have compiled (found at Lloyd of Gamebooks: Want to write a gamebook? Then here's a reading list (2023 edition))

Ashton Saylor would like you to read this post in particular: http://www.ashtonsaylor.com/2012/02/what-makes-good-gamebook-part-two-game.html

Friday, November 3, 2023

Gamebook Secret Santa (UK residents only)

 It's the 2023 gamebook secret santa!

*******This is for UK residents only******
To join in, simply click on the link below (you might also need to sign up to Elfster).
On the 30th November, Elfster will send you someone to be a secret santa for.
The budget is £20 and make sure you make a gamebook wishlist!
Have fun!

Friday, September 1, 2023

Want to write a gamebook? Then here's a reading list (2023 edition)

Hello all! I first published the reading list back in 2017, but then realised that some people have written articles since then, so I will repost this reading list with updates every year. Here is the 2023 version. 

Whassup! Here is the fruits of my labours on a little project I was working on. I wanted to collect a definitive  list of gamebook analysis that anyone who wants to write a gamebook has to read. So far, I have come up with the following blog posts and links to give you a good grounding in the art and science of gamebook writing. Enjoy!


EDIT: The links weren't working because I had pasted hyperlinks in from a Word document (!?) but I have re-inserted the links so they should all work now.

Grey Wiz

http://blog.mysteriouspath.com/2013/03/the-problem-with-gamebooks-trilogy-part.html

http://blog.mysteriouspath.com/2013/03/the-problem-with-gamebooks-trilogy-part_15.html

http://blog.mysteriouspath.com/2013/04/the-problem-with-gamebooks-trilogy-part.html

http://blog.mysteriouspath.com/2013/04/the-problem-with-gambooks-trilogy-part-4.html

http://blog.mysteriouspath.com/2013/06/the-problem-with-gamebooks-trilogy-part.html

http://blog.mysteriouspath.com/2013/07/fixing-gamebooks-6-dont-break-story.html


Ashton MacSaylor: What makes a good gamebook - Part Two: The Game of Narrative Choices (ashtonsaylor.com)

Sam Kabo Ashwell

https://heterogenoustasks.wordpress.com/2014/09/22/a-bestiary-of-player-agency/

https://heterogenoustasks.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/standard-patterns-in-choice-based-games/

Jake Care 

http://jakecaregamebooks.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/classifying-and-rating-linearity.html

Paul Gresty

http://fabledlands.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/gamebook-design-finding-workarounds-for.html

Fabled Lands: Gamebooks: the value of doing it with dialogue

Richard S. Hetley

http://fabledlands.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/guest-post-richard-s-hetley-on-way-of.html

Jon Green

http://jonathangreenauthor.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/how-to- write-adventure- gamebook-part-1.html

http://jonathangreenauthor.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/how-to-write-adventure-gamebook-part-2.html

http://jonathangreenauthor.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/how-to-write-adventure-gamebook-part-3.html

http://jonathangreenauthor.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/how-to-write-adventure-gamebook-part-4.html

Heather Albano from Choice of Games 

https://www.choiceofgames.com/2010/04/sailors-are-not-dragons/

Adam Strong-Morse from Choice of Games

https://www.choiceofgames.com/2010/05/dont-start-at-the-beginning/

Dan Fubilich from Choice of Games

https://www.choiceofgames.com/2011/03/five-tactics-for-designing-games-while-depressed/

https://www.choiceofgames.com/2011/07/by-the-numbers-how-to-write-a-long-interactive-novel-that-doesnt-suck/

https://www.choiceofgames.com/2011/07/7-rules- for-designing- great-stats/

https://www.choiceofgames.com/2011/12/4-common-mistakes-in-interactive-novels/

Emily Short

https://emshort.blog/2016/04/12/beyond-branching-quality-based-and-salience-based-narrative-structures/

Peter Agapov 

Just about anything on his blog. It's all so in depth.






















Saturday, August 19, 2023

Writing Gamebooks the Uncle Mac Way

 


All right, kids, gather 'round and park your butts. Uncle Mac is gonna talk your ear off for a bit.

Quite a few of you write gamebooks, or want to write them and are still figuring out the best way to do it. Word on the 'net is there are a number of softwares you can use to help navigate the labyrinthine process of piecing a gamebook together. I shall refrain from commenting on those, because I am what you might call a "cantankerous old coot" and prefer not to go out of my way to learn newfangled technologies if I don't find it absolutely necessary.

Writing screenplays, for example, required that I purchase special software to write in screenplay format easily. My word processor of choice is problematic enough without my having to jury-rig its default formatting to the anal retentive degree required by the film industry. So I broke down and bought Fade-In (not a plug, but kind of a plug).

My approach to writing gamebooks was different. I didn't bother getting any computerized aides because I found a way to write and organize gamebooks without them that suits me fine. And also because I prefer to do things the hard way, apparently.

Being a decent writer is a good start to writing a good gamebook. Natch. Most of you probably figured that out already. But it's best if you also have experience as a game designer. For simpler gamebooks like CYOA, it can help you better organize the book's structure and keep it engaging; for more advanced works ranging from Interplanetary Spy to Fighting Fantasy, it's essential if you want to design effective mechanics, puzzles, and games. In either case, it can help a lot with worldbuilding, too. You'd be surprised how much easier it is to world-build with a board game, video game, or tabletop RPG prototype than with a simple novel and a ream of research notes as long as your leg.

So far I'm wearing my Captain Obvious cape. You didn't come here to listen to me prattle about writing a chapter book. Writing a chapter book isn't all that hard. The tricky part is writing a chapter book with forking paths, and then mixing them up, all without losing track of which choices lead where.

I have seen a few useful ideas for structuring a gamebook on the 'net, but when I started out writing gamebooks I found their usefulness was pretty limited. The most common method I've seen is to map the book somehow, either with a diagram, or with index cards / sticky notes.

Ghetto Scribble Diagram Method

Plot Map for Dinah-Mite #2 and several painkillers.

At a glance, the diagram approach looks like it's more trouble than it's worth. I've found it does have its uses, however. Much like writing a synopsis before tackling a story in detail, a plot map like this can help get you started on a new gamebook project when you aren't quite sure where you're going. 

It is messy, however, due to the amount of erasing you'll end up doing whenever you re-plot a section, and I mostly recommend this method if you want a quick and dirty way to get the ball rolling.

Index Card / Sticky Note Method

The index card/sticky note method has its uses, too. Basically it's the same as the plot map technique, except it's easier to rearrange things and add new chapters. It has the added bonus of making it a lot easier to decide on chapter order: once you have all your paths sorted out, rearrange the cards into whatever order suits you and then number them.

The downsides here are 1) running out of space, which may require the purchase of a bulletin board dedicated to your gamebook projects; and 2) the page-organizing aspect only really works if you are going the CYOA route of one-page chapters, OR the Fighting Fantasy style gamebook with paragraph chapters rather than page chapters. If you want to write a basic gamebook with more involved narrative like Dragontales, the sticky notes won't help you with reorganizing pages.

Uncle Mac's Method


When I sat down to write the first Dinah-Mite gamebook, Holiday in Castle Quarantine, I quickly realized that the above techniques would only get me so far. I didn't want to write chapters as short as Which Way, nor as long as Dragontales; and I wanted a protagonist with a backstory rather than the generic "You" of CYOA. Essentially I wanted to write a maze-like adventure in the style of The Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter, and The Neverending Story, something that would stand on its own as a story or as a gamebook.

Both Holiday in Castle Quarantine and its upcoming sequel were written in two main drafts: the Chapter Draft and the Page Draft. Someone else probably writes their gamebooks the same way and has their own name for it, so I'll refrain from pretending I've invented something super unique and useful and worthy of accolades. I can only be so pretentious in one sitting.

Phase 1: The Chapter Draft

Let's assume for the sake of argument that I'm writing a Dinah-Mite story where Dinah has a misadventure in the American West. I start by writing the first chapter as if it were a linear novel, and I give the chapter a header that reads "Ch1." When I reach the first fork in the plot at the end of Ch1, instead of listing a page number, I list a chapter number.

If Dinah enters the saloon, turn to Ch2.
If she explores the train station first, turn to Ch5.

Nearly all of the chapters are only a few pages long, so now I start adding blank pages with appropriate chapter headers (Ch2, Ch3, Ch4, etc). As I add each new page, I write a one-sentence summary of what will happen in that chapter. This helps spark ideas for what happens next, if I haven't already started a plot map like the one pictured earlier.

If I don't know which chapter will come next, I'll use "ChX, ChY, ChZ" as placeholders. And if I think I might have a puzzle in a particular chapter, I'll list generic options that I can figure out later.

=========
Ch2
Dinah enters saloon full of surly, uncooperative customers who are angry that the player piano isn't working. She tries to get piano working to lighten the mood.

Solution A? Turn to Ch3.
Solution B? Turn to Ch4.

=========
Ch3
Dinah gets eaten by the player piano, but at least the music her dead body produces is catchy.

~ THE END ~ 

=========
Ch4
Everyone starts dancing. Dinah befriends saloon keeper.

~ Dinah gets the Poker Chips ~
Turn to ChX.

=========
Ch5
Dinah enters train station and meets lost hillbilly kid, who helps her if she doesn't anger him.

Choice A? Turn to Ch6.
Choice B? Turn to Ch7.

=========
Ch6
Dinah and hillbilly kid hit it off. He hooks her up with a horse to ride to the next town.

~ Dinah got the Work Horse ~
Turn to ChY.

=========
Ch7
Hillbilly kid tells Dinah to jump in a lake and won't talk to her anymore. Now has to find another way to reach her destination.

Turn to ChZ.

=========

Eventually I make my way through every possible idea for branching paths, coming up with games and puzzles on the fly (or creating placeholders). Once I know how many chapters I'm dealing with, I go back and write the chapters proper. When the entire book is written, and every chapter has been thoroughly edited and proofread, that leads into...


Phase 2: The Page Draft

So now I have all the chapters written in the order I came up with them, and they all have a chapter header designation. Now comes the tedious part: I rearrange all the chapters until they're thoroughly mixed up (preferably with a lot of space between sequential chapters).

I then go through the document and find every instance of the chapter headers listed thusly: Ch1, Ch2, Ch3, etc using the Find/Replace function, and replace them with their designated page number. So if Ch2 is on page 100, I Find/Replace all instances of "Turn to Ch2" with "Turn to Page 100."

Finally I go through every chapter and remove the "Ch" from the header, and probably add a cute bit of art around the chapter number to indicate which act of the book the reader is in.

==========

Some of you will no doubt find the Chapter Draft/Page Draft method standoffish. The disclaimer did mention that I like to do things the hard way. But I've found this method makes it easy to streamline cranking out chapter content. Also, by the time you're done putting it all together, it's already organized the way you want it, formatting and all. Relying on the sticky note method could lead to chapters occupying the wrong page numbers, forcing you to seek out the point where you went wrong and reorganize your chapters all over again.

Of course, the previously mentioned gamebook software probably makes all of this easier. If you don't want to bother experimenting with a new interface, though, give these methods a try and see if they gel with you a little better.

Time for bed. Uncle Mac out. Come visit anytime.