Sunday, July 17, 2011

Reviews using my gamebook player types system

In this post, I will review four gamebooks using my gamebook player system.  Three are very old and very well known and the fourth is Destiny Quest, which I reviewed in May.  Please comment if you have an improvement for the system or if you think that I have left something out.

The Warlock of Firetop Mountain

Explorer appeal


There are plenty of places to visit and you can choose to attack or not attack some of the denizens.  The maze after the river is a black mark against it as since there is very little that is actually interesting in the maze, it does not count as explorer appeal.

5/10

Puzzle solver appeal


A lot of the problems you come across cannot be solved and have to overcome with trial and error.  There is no clue as to which keys to the warlock's chest are the correct keys.  You have no idea which lever to the portcullis is correct or whether or not you should look at the paintings.

0/10

Champion appeal


Since you can only use gold pieces once, the amount of gold you get in this book is more of a measure of success than a useful item.  There are also items that boost your stats such as a magic sword (that adds to your initial skill but only if you leave your old sword behind) and an iron helm (that adds to your attack strength).  It is not too difficult to kill Zagor if you know the secret, but it is far more difficult to get the treasure.

6/10

Storyteller appeal

There's not much narrative, character development or character interaction.

2/10

Fabled Lands - The War Torn Kingdom

Explorer appeal

You get a huge place to travel around.  You can either side with or try to kill the King and it links in with five other books (and potentially eleven)

10/10

Puzzle solver appeal

There is an overall strategy that you can develop to do well at Fabled Lands, but there are no actual puzzles in the book.

7/10


Edit:  I originally put 5 but I think 5 was a little harsh for this so I've changed it to 7.

Champion appeal

You can measure your success by your level, your stats, the amount of money you have, your titles, the number of quests you have completed, the number of codewords you have and a hundred other things.  There's just no overall victory.

9/10

Storyteller appeal

There are a few stories such as the war between the king and his deposer, what happens to a thief you meet in Yellowport, a secret that a scorpian man shaman has but no overaching plot.  There are plenty of characters, but none are too deep.

7/10


Explorer appeal


Your aim is to cross the enemy countryside to get to your capital city and you can make many choices in which direction to take.  You meet a lot of interesting characters and explore quite a few places.  In addition, you are given the option of doing very unheroic things such as running away when innocents are in danger.

7/10

Puzzle solver appeal


I couldn't see any puzzles in the book.

0/10

Champion appeal


You cannot increase your stats and most of the items you get are mundane weapons, food or money.  You get to improve your character by picking a new skill in the next book.  Most of the champion appeal happens over the whole series.

6/10

Storyteller appeal

The Lone Wolf series' strength is its storytelling.  The world is immersive and detailed.  The prose is full of action and descriptive.  However, you are forced along a particular storyline.

10/10


Explorer appeal


You pick a location on a map and then go to it to see what happens.  This very open ended format gives you lots of choice.  Also, every combat you fight involves lots of decisions.  In some of the quests, you can choose to take sides which provides variety.  However, the consequences of such decisions are usually very similar.

8/10

Puzzle solver appeal


There are some numerical puzzles, but most of the puzzle solving involves working out the best way to defeat each opponent.

10/10

Champion appeal


The whole point of the game is getting the best character.  This has great appeal to champions.

9/10

Storyteller appeal


You are in a very immersing world with great characters.  However, the story has the same general path and ending despite your choices.

6/10

7 comments:

  1. Wow you totally can tell you like that Destiny Quest book. I may have to buy it myself to check it out.

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  2. @Hikaru - the strength of the book is its versatile system which gives you many many options when fighting combat. You also get to choose the quests you want to do by using a map. I found myself getting hooked on trying to get just one more item.

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  3. I agree with your assessment. DQ is an excellent system. I'm still working through my first character, but I foresee more to come.
    I haven't played FF, so I can't speak to that one.
    FL is annoying to me because there is no real ending to it, but I love the openness and the linking to other books.

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  4. Hi Lloyd! You speak so well of DQ that maybe I'll give it a chance. (despite the "not dying" part. I found that it annoying).

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  5. I don't know...to me, the appeal of a solo gamebook is all about the writing. The quality of writing. Period. End of sentence.

    I could really careless about how open-ended or how much freedom of movement I have. Or I should say, how much of an illusion of freedom of movement the writer has given me. Because that's exactly what it is. An illusion. There's a finite number of choices.

    In the end, it boils down to creative writing technique. The Lone Wolf books, particularly the first five, were fantastic. Book 2, "Fire on the Water" still has my vote as the single best gamebook ever written. Because the quality of writing was so high, the experience was that much better.

    Many of the FF books are,as well, fantastic in regards to creative writing. If the writer is good, can engage me early-on, immerse me in his/her world, they've won.

    The jury is still out on the neophyte, "Destiny Quest." I will play it soon. Then, we'll see. If the guy can't write, it will be a quick death. I don't give a flip about "Oooh, you can go on X number of quests. It's so open ended..." Give me a break.

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  6. @Brian - thanks for the comment. There is more Destiny Quest planned. Here is what we know so far - http://virtualfantasies.blogspot.com/2011/07/somethings-up-in-land-of-destiny-quest.html

    @Ikaros - Thanks for your comment. I'm confused as to why people don't like the not dying part. It seems like there are quite a few people who do though as Michael has made this post - http://www.destiny-quest.com/news/death-is-not-the-end/

    @Soren - Thanks for your comment. I think I may have neglected the quality of writing in my assessment, making storytelling the only part that cares about writing. However, it is a gamebook and while I think I may focus more on the game than the book side, a well written gamebook can be spoilt if it is too linear (which means that you will read most of it in one sitting and you won't have to read it again) or if the dice rolls are unfair, making the game element impossible or the puzzles are too obtuse, which leads to frustration. I may add an extra section on entertainment or increase the weighting of storyteller appeal, but if the game part is not don correctly, then I believe that it will spoil the story.

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  7. Fairness - obtuseness?

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