Saturday, March 16, 2013

Refining my outlook - gamebook player types

Greetings, lovers of all things gamebook!

I have now come to a proud moment in my blog - the moment where I can reference my own posts.  I'm going back to my gamebook player types post.  I think I can improve upon my classification, especially the puzzle solver, which I didn't like as I thought its definition was a bit too narrow.

So I'm going to try to refine my gamebook player types.

Also, there are plenty of gamebooks that are not entirely devoted to one player type.  Some gamebooks have strategic combat and a good storyline, for example.

Also, whilst gamebook players may have a preference on their play style, it may change, depending on their mood.


What does an explorer want?  The explorer wants to see what happens when they make different choices.

How does an explorer decide what to do?:  Explorers generally pick options that they have not tried before. Explorers are also the people who think the lease about their choices, doing them purely to see what will happen.

How would you appeal to an explorer?  Fabled Lands is the quintessential explorer's book.  Choices in explorer books involve deciding which places to go.  Each location will have a set piece.  Some explorer books make a good use of maps with paragraph numbers on them to help with this.  

How do I know if I am an explorer/in an explorer mood?  I know if I am in an explorer mood if I want to try something that I have not done before.  I also make choices that seem dangerous or illogical just out of curiosity.  Basically, I stop thinking about my choices and just choose with a completely open mind.

Puzzle solver which I will now call the Strategist

The puzzle solver was the player type I felt least happy with as the idea of puzzles in gamebooks sounded a bit narrow.  There are plenty of gamebooks with no puzzles, such as Choose Your Own Adventure books and even some dice based books.  I did mention that battle tactics came under this, but I think that battle tactics are a bigger part of gamebooks than puzzles so  I will widen this out to call the gamebook player type the strategist

This article which I found on Grey Wiz's blog sums it up nicely.  It talks about the difference between a puzzle and a problem.  To quote it (from the top of page 3):

'What’s the difference? With a puzzle, the challenge is working out how the designer wants you to solve it. A problem is something that you solve on your own. A problem can have consequences, and ones that are all the more effective because they were your solution.'

What does a strategist want?:  A strategist wants to work out the best way of overcoming a situation which can be overcome by using the information provided.  This could be a classic puzzle or a combat where you are allowed to make choices about what strategy you could employ which will lead to certain consequences or manipulate the die rolls in a certain way.  Books where your decisions affect just the narrative would not appeal to strategists unless there were some clues in the text to help your decisions.

How does an strategist decide what to do?:  In a book with a random element, the strategist's decision is based on improving their odds.  Destiny Quest is a great book for strategists as it presents a simple combat system and then offers you tons of items and abilities that give you options for combat.  Most of your choices are about which tactic to use in combat or which item you think would help the most.  Choices outside the puzzles and combats would usually revolve around finding items/abilities to help them out with the puzzles and combats.  E.g searching for all the elementals in Stormslayer.

How would you appeal to an strategist?:  You need either a puzzle element or some kind of random element in the book that can be manipulated in various ways so that the player has to work out a best way.  The satisfaction comes from beating the puzzle.

How do I know if I am an strategist/in an strategist mood?  You are wondering which ability you can use against monster x.  You are wondering when the best time to drink your potion of strength is.  You want to try a new way to beat the big monster at the end.  That's when I'm in a strategist mood.


What does a champion want?  A champion wants to win.  They want to find the best ending and they don't care how.  It doesn't matter if they don't have to explore new lands or think something out or play a deep and meaningful character as long as they get to the paragraph that tells them that they have killed the wizard and won the treasure.

How does a champion decide what to do?:  The champion will base their decision on whether they think it will get them to the winning paragraph.  If they know a route leads to death, they will avoid it.

How would you appeal to a champion?:  Having some level of difficulty will appeal to a champion as if it is too easy, they will not enjoy the challenge.  Also, the winning paragraph has to be something that befits a champion and describe how grateful the people are and how much treasure and glory you will get.  Deathtrap Dungeon is a good champion book.

How is a champion different to a strategist?:  At first a champion seems similar to a strategist as they both want to win, but in different ways.  A strategist gets intellectual satisfaction from beating a puzzle or winning a combat through the use of their thought processes.  Winning each combat does not necessarily mean winning at the gamebook.  A champion just wants to find the right sequence of choices to get the best possible ending.  They can do this without thinking and by using trial and error and they don't necessarily get their satisfaction by overcoming a puzzle through thought but just by being able to move past it.  


What does a storyteller want?  A storyteller wants to interact  with interesting characters and be part of a narrative.  

How does a storyteller decide what to do?:  A storyteller thinks about their character and the characters around them and base their decisions on how they think the characters will react or how they want them to react.

How would you appeal to a storyteller?  Having a book with several named characters is a good way to appeal to a storyteller.  If you are part of a group, even better, such as Down Among the Dead Men or several Choose Your Own Adventure books such as the Race Forever.  Also ways of growth and change are good in a story, either in the narrative or through stats, though stats are not necessary and may detract from the story if they do not fit in well with it.  Many different endings, all with different degrees of success also appeal to a storyteller.  Also, storytellers may not be too worried about bad endings for the character as that is just their story that they have played out.  Bad gamebooks for storytellers are ones with one happy ending and the rest ending in your death.

Endings that appeal to storytellers have epilogues about the characters involved or are quite open, implying that there are future adventures to be had so that the storyteller can imagine what happens next (or buy the seque, if there is one).  Avenger! and Lone Wolf are good storyteller series.

How do I know when I'm in a storyteller mood?:  I don't want to just chop up orcs but I want to interact with some characters and see what happens to them.

How is a storyteller different to an explorer?  There is some similarity between the explorer and storyteller as they both want to take lots of paths.  An explorer does so purely to just see what happens whilst a storyteller  bases their choices on how they want their characters to play out.  

There's plenty of gamebook stuff going on - check out the Gamebook Feed for more info.

Also, check out part 2 in Grey Wiz's excellent Gamebooks are Broken series.  Part 1 is here.

April A to Z:

I have emailed various gamebook people about what they are up to for the April A to Z and I will put them in order for April.  If you would also like to be part of the April A to Z, email me at and answer the following questions.  I will the npost the answers with a link to your website.

  • Who you are and how you got into gamebooks/solo adventures/RPGs/art. 
  • What you have done since April 2012 (if you posted last year) or what you have done relating to gamebooks/solos/RPGs/art (if you didn't)
  • What you plan on doing now related to gamebooks/solos/RPGs/art. 
  • What you think the future of gamebooks/solos/RPGs/art  is. 

1 comment:

  1. I'd be curious to see which bloggers you think fit into which of these categories :)