Hello all! Today we have Christopher Liu and Yuliya Geikhman from Adventure Cow, a website which allows people to write their own Choose Your Own Adventure style stories. They have also started writing an app version of Destiny Quest (by the way, the Eye of Winter's Fury is out now!) which will be out soon.
You can visit the DestinyQuest Infinite site here. Take note that the app name does not have a space between Destiny and Quest.
Here they are...
Tell us about yourself.
CL: I studied math in college, and I’ve been a programmer since then. I like building things, and I’ve been playing games my whole life (you’d think I’d like Minecraft, but I’ve played far more of the Civilization series).
Tell us about Adventure Cow.
CL: In 2011, I started a game with some friends where I wrote a Choose Your Own Adventure-style story and they would play by email. Every week, our program would email a new page and you would make a choice by clicking on a link in the message.
It was originally just for fun, but when I found DestinyQuest, I realized that lots of people were interested in gamebooks. I decided to start Adventure Cow so that more people could write them and play them. We’re starting small, one book at a time.
What attracted you to doing DestinyQuest?
CL: DestinyQuest is a 600+ page book, about 6 times larger than the Fighting Fantasy books, and I've always been a bit of a masochist. In all seriousness, it's a fantastic world that manages to be intense and silly at the same time, and I felt it would translate well into a digital game. That, and it's difficult to lug the massive book around (and fiddle with all the rules), so it was the perfect candidate for digitizing.
What spoils a gamebook for you?
YG: I'm actually a relative newcomer to gamebooks, and my one big pet peeve with them is arbitrary choices. Whether I go east or west should not determine my fate as much as it does in many gamebooks.
CL: A lot of things - I’m actually quite picky about gamebooks. Most gamebooks have just a few ideal endings and require you to play through dozens of times; having to do repeat readings through the same story can get pretty old, pretty fast. A lot of gamebooks deal with this by keeping the prose short (gamebooks usually have shorter passages than CYOA).
What makes a gamebook stand out for you?
CL: A good gamebook is one that pulls you into a new world. If the story and the game work well together, you become the main character - the story’s experiences become your own. That’s what gamebooks promise, but it’s a rare game that does so, of any genre!
YG: In video games and gamebooks, great storytelling is a must. I'm a sucker for a story that can pull you in and not let go until it's 2 AM and you wonder where the time went.
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to write a gamebook?
CL: I’m not personally an experienced gamebook writer! But I’d say the best games are really mindful of what their players/readers are experiencing. Write a lot, read a lot, and focus on making an experience.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to write a gamebook for an app?
CL: It’s a pain in the butt. HTML goes a long way. I’d love to help anyone who wants to start, having spent 3 years on this myself, so send me an email! (chris at adventurecow)
When will DestinyQuest Infinite be out?
YG: Soon, very soon. We're hoping to have the final kinks out within a month or two, and then Act 1 of 3 will be released.
What other projects do you have in the pipeline?
CL: Part of our goal, besides DestinyQuest, has always been to help people write their own gamebooks. We can’t say much about what’s coming up next but safe to say we will be coming up with more DQ and also giving people ways to write more.
What is your wish for gamebooks?
CL: Gamebooks have a lot of potential. Digitally they can go anywhere games can go, and in some ways further. They should be going to those places!
You can visit the Adventure Cow website here to play their games. You can find the Destiny Quest app page here at DestinyQuest Infinite. You can also buy the latest Destiny Quest book here.
If you want to see Michael J. Ward, he will be at Collectormania in Milton Keynes on the 16th-18th May and also Nine Worlds Geekfest at the Radisson Heathrow on the 8th-10th August.