Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April A to Z - M is for Mysterious Path

Good day to you all!  Today, we have Grey Wiz, the writer of the Mysterious Path blog a blog about his journey to write a comic/8-bit game/gamebook.  his blog contains great artwork and some very insightful posts with his the problem with gamebooks/how to fix gamebooks series.  Today, he gives us a lovely interview.  You can also follow him on Twitter and Google+.  He is also making  a game called Break!  On another note, this is the 400th post that I have released!  Woo!  Maybe I should do something nice for post number 500.

Tell us about yourself.

I'm someone with big ideas, a scant time and little to show!

I have yet to actually publish/achieve anything, so I feel like a bit of a charlatan rubbing virtual shoulders with the other 'actual' writers & artists in your April A-Z series. It's an honour.

Tell us about Mysterious Path.

Mysterious Path will be a mash-up. It's half comic, half 8bit RPG, half choose-your-own-adventure.

I see it as the mutant progeny of Citadel of Chaos and SNES Zelda for the internet generation.

Hopefully, one day, it will become more than my creative flirtation/vaporous imagining.

Where did the idea for Mysterious Path start?

The idea grew from a simple wish to draw again, certainly not from any grand design ambition or market insight. It just kinda happened.

After recently rekindling my childhood passion for illustration I set about trying to devise a project to focus my creative energies on. I had always been fascinated by visual storytelling and concept art and so elected sequential art (comics!) as a suitable vehicle.

I'm not sure if gamebooks where in the zeitgeist at the time (or whether the notion sprung forth from my inner child) but the idea of representing non-linear narratives visually seemed an alluring prospect. At this point I was still thinking about creating a physical artifact, but it quickly became apparent that the printed page was too limiting. Thus Mysterious Path "the hypercomic" was born!

Mysterious Path has a lot of aspects to it - the comic, the 8 bit games, the gamebook - what is your favourite part of writing it?

Well, my least favourite part has been developing the narrative as I'm not a confident storyteller. I recently drafted in support in the form of the brilliant Lee Williams. He's been an inspirational collaborator and provides invaluable (game + writing) experience.

The drawing part I find hard work, but it's an enjoyable struggle. I feel like I've been making steady progress in this area but there is so much to learn!

The design aspects of Mysterious Path are more within my comfort zone. I like systems. I like problem solving. And my hypercomic has some interesting mechanical issues to wrestle with. Bring it on.

What is the most exciting thing about writing a gamebook?

Unraveling the gamebooks formats many idiosyncrasies. Deconstructing them. Trying to understand why they worked and how, with a little invention, they might better fit into today's entertainment ecosystem.

What is the hardest thing about writing a gamebook?

Trying to resolve (or accept and work with) the paradox at the heart of the gameboook: How can reader/player agency work within a pre-scripted narrative.

I wrote few posts on this subject over at the Mysterious Path blog in an attempt to clarify my thoughts. A story is essentially an optimal linear argument, allowing a reader to 'mess' with it weakens its construction. We are trying to add user choice into an inherently static format.

What makes a gamebook stand out for you?
A nice cover.

What spoils a gamebook for you?
Having to write things down, remember things, roll polyhedral dice and turn actual pages.

When will Mysterious Path be out?

What future projects do you have that you can talk about?

I've been working on an RPG called Break!! A gonzo fantasy tactical game.

I've never understood why RPG rules, being such information rich tomes, don't do a better job of data visualisation. Usually such things contain page after page of simple tables, surely there's a better way to bring a games concepts to life? For the Break!! project I've been exploring some less orthodox layouts as well as providing illustrations, it's been refreshing to just concentrate purely on art direction.

Reynaldo Madrinan (the game designer) has a similar aesthetic sensibility and so it's been a fun ride so far. It's still very early stages but hopefully its got some legs.

More details here: http://breakrpg.blogspot.co.uk/

What is your wish for gamebooks?
That they grow-up. That they don't continue to tread the same weary path but re-imagine themselves to appeal to new and broader audiences.
That they wholeheartedly seize the digital opportunity, and that technologist collaborate with writers in the development of interactive narrative.
I look to to successes like Walking Dead and (the sadly defunct) Versu as shining examples of the gamebook reborn. More please!

You can follow the Mysterious Path blog, the Break! blog and follow Grey Wiz on Twitter and Google+.

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