Saturday, August 27, 2016

Six years on

Good day to you gamebookers! Today is the 6th anniversary of my blog (and also the 34th anniversary of Fighting Fantasy), so I thought I would look back to the past and forward to the future. So, first of all, here is a list of things I've been up to in the past year:

Asuria Awakens: My contribution to the Gamebook Adventures series was released on September 11th 2015 and the people who reviewed it loved it, which is something I am very happy about. I'm so glad that I managed to complete such a behemoth (running at about 160000 words!) and that it went well. It really marked a point where I upped my game in gamebook writing.

Windhammer 2015: Last year's entry, Isaac Newton: Badass Ninja Crimefighter didn't win anything, but I had great fun writing it and gained a lot from it. Renowned Interactive Fiction writer and consultant, Emily Short was kind enough to review it and describe it as "...what you would expect from the title.', which in itself is a triumph as before that, I considered myself pretty bad at titles. I won't be entering this year's competition, I'm afraid to say because I wanted to finish off some other projects first (but there's time to get your entry in. The deadline is the 7th September)

Legend of the Wayfarer: This has changed so much from the original that it is almost unrecognisable. I have decided to use maps, changed the skills and changed the world. The updated versions will appear in the above link. If you want to 8 books from the original system, they are available for PWYW here. I might go with Taigaole's suggestion and give it a new name when it is complete. For the moment, it is something I work on when I have enough time and material to work with.

Project Reboot: I recently finished a book which is a reboot of an existing gamebook - it has most of the original scenarios from the book and some extra ones that I have written in. I can't say any more about it until I have permission from the original author to release it.

Crypt of the Vampire: This is a new shiny version of the book written by Dave Morris, but with extra bits added by David Walters. I had some input in the form of proofing, so I know what David added. I am looking forward to seeing this in all its glory :).

Tunnels and Trolls Magic Weapon solo: This is a project I was saving for when I got hold of my copy of Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls. I made a start on it. The basic premise is that through a thinly veled plot device, you travel all around Trollword on adventures which give you points to make your own custom magic weapon at the end of it. Most of the work has gone into making solo rules for dT&T and then making a system for building a magic weapon that gets more powerful as you grow in level. The adventure itself is currently up to about 100 sections and I'll be working on it periodically for the rest of the year.

Advanced Fighting Fantasy stuff: I a regular contributor to the Advanced Fighting Fantasy forum with extra ideas. The link above has adventures and other things and I have collated all the new items, spells, skills and other things into one document.

Warlock of Firetop Mountain app: I'm really looking forward to this from Tin Man Games. This is where they are pushing the boundaries of their script and taking it to the next level. I also backed to a level where I designed a room and wrote a death paragraph, so I'm looking forward to seeing them in action.

Frankenstein Wars: I also contributed to this to the level where I have a character named after me, so I'm looking forward to seeing that. In fact, thanks to Kickstarter, I now own a load of books with my name in, so I'm really chuffed.

Another super secret project: Something that should be out early next year, if all goes well.

Another super secret collaboration project: This is a big one. And I'm going to love working on it.

Things to check out:

Greek Winter Media: Jeffrey Dean, creator of the Road Less Travelled Books, part post apocalyptic survival, part meta humour, part mind screw, all fun. The covers are done by the excellent Tony Hough.

Emily Short: Emily Short is an interactive fiction consultant who posts regularly on several topics to do with interactive fiction. A great go to blog.

Interactive Visual Gamebook Adventures: An excellent blog with in depth analysis of games and gamebooks.

Way of the Tiger blog: Here, Timothy Byrne plays through the Way of the Tiger series. He has almost finished, so you have plenty of entertaining posts to get through.

Trollish Delver: Scott Malthouse has loads of good stuff on the go. He has just released In Darkest Warrens, an awesome minimalist RPG as well as Magnificent Artifacts, a collection of artefacts for the game. They are both cost PWYW (but they are worth lots of money!)

So what about the future? I'm writing fewer posts for several reasons - my insight into gamebooks is running dry - when I started, I had 2 decades of gamebook experience to use and now I've almost used it all up. I also just want to get on and write gamebooks. I have a list of gamebooks that I want to write and I want to work through the list rather than write much more blog stuff. In my current situation, the list will take several years to get through. Also, the group of us who started writing about gamebooks a few years ago have all started writing gamebooks. I don't now about them, but in my case, writing my analyses down was a case of having an "education" period which I now feel that I have graduated from and so I should carry on with gamebooks. So I'll still post, but probably about once a month rather than weekly. However, I'll have more gamebook stuff coming out. I still will write analysis as my survey said that analysis was the most popular post that people want, followed by news and Kickstarters.

So happy gamebooking, people!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Computer games and me

This is me.
I'm a computer game addict.  Which is why I don't play them any more.  I used to play games for hours on end and despite the lack of enjoyment, the tiredness, the headaches and the feeling of emptiness I felt after finished them, I would still come back for more.

Eventually, I decided that there were far more good things in my life that I should focus on - my wife, my friends, learning things and creating things of value.  They all contributed to a lasting feeling of happiness.  

It all started when I was very young and I was visiting my aunty and uncle, who had a computer.  This was a big thing for me at the time because the only other computer I had seen was my primary school's one RM nimbus which could play the game Snake.

Naturally, there was always a big rush to use this amazing machine.

However, this tape based computer that my aunty and uncle owned could play this great game called Tachyon Fighter.  I'm no neuroscientist, but I can imagine that the game probably gave the biggest input of information I had ever had - the lights, the colours, the sounds, the need to win.  It was hypnotic and it gave me a great rush.

Every time I visited, I would spend most of my time in front of this computer, waiting for several minutes in the hope that the tape would work and load the game properly this time.  As time went on, the tape based computer was replaced by an Atari ST with floppy discs and a wider range of games with better graphics and more addictive gameplay.

Then came the day that they upgraded to an Apple Mac.  And I got the Atari.

I remember that within ten minutes, I had put a lead in a socket incorrectly and almost broken it.  However, it was fixed and that's when my gameplaying started in earnest.

My uncle had collected all of the ST format magazines which I had read cover to cover before, but then I also got to play every game from the cover discs.  I played them all, spending thousands of hours perfecting my game playing skills.  Many school holidays would fly by in front of the little green desktop.  Sometimes, I would have a platform game day and sometimes I would have an RPG day.  I have a bit of an obsessive nature where I want to explore everything to its fullest extent and this made me a sucker for most computer games like the roguelike game Moria. 

I had the ST for about three years before it ran down and it was replaced for a really old second hand Atari cartridge console which had games with terrible graphics and simplistic gameplay before that also broke down and I received the Mac in 1999 when my uncle upgraded again.

This computer only had a couple of games, but that's when there were plenty of games on the internet.  I played a game called Archmage and a cute little RPG called Dragon Court.  I was definitely showing signs of addictive behaviour.  I never had the internet in my home, so I would spend half an hour walking into town, just to use a library or internet cafe computer to play Dragon Court.  Then I would have to walk back.  I wasted money on an internet cafe if I couldn't book a free library computer just so I could get access to my game accounts.

I never realised that I was addicted until my final year of university when I would stay up until two in the morning playing Command and Conquer, not realy enjoying it and going through the motions.  I had done this before with the game Civilization IV when I was a teenager but I could stay up all night once in a while and it didn't affect me at school etc.  This was affecting my grades and social life at university.

It never got to the stage where I missed lectures or never came out of my room for days on end, but I could have done a lot better in all fields if I hadn't been playing computer games.

NWN:  10% action,
90% trudging back and forth
After my degree, I started training as a teacher, which took up huge amounts of time.  However, I still played games.  I was now playing and creating maps for Battle for Wesnoth and trying to complete the adventure in Neverwinter Nights.

It was not until I moved in with my girlfriend (now my wife) and I was teaching as a job, that I realised that I had to prioritise my time.  I couldn't do my job well if I was playing Neverwinter Nights for two hours a night, mostly involving level grinding and getting an item in one far corner of the city and transporting it to another far corner of the city in order to get to the next stage.

She didn't mind the gaming but it
he went too far when he started
doing a poo at the console.
My girlfriend did not appreciate it either although she is too tolerant to go to extreme lengths.  I had to cut something out.  All I had to think about was how I felt after saving a game in Neverwinter Nights.  I would always think to myself 'What have I got to show for this?  A file with some code in it, a headache and a feeling of tiredness.  This is no way to spend your free time.'

Computer games did nothing for me and I had other, more fulfilling things in my life.  After a few weeks without computer games, I felt much better and I've not wanted to go back.

I put hours of effort into
getting a picture on a screen.
I find computer games to be a waste of my life.  I sunk hours into controlling some graphics on a screen, desperate to see the consequences of my actions.

For the most part, I don't remember feeling much satisfaction, I just felt a compulsion to 'get through it'.

However, there was always another level (and if the game had a level editor then I would be on that for hours too), another way of winning, another challenge I could set myself and there were an infinite number of other games to play.

The only way that I would get out of this gaming habit was that if I just said no.

Originally, I intended this post to be an introduction to how certain computer games have given me material for gamebooks, but instead, it was an account of all the hours I wasted playing them when because I couldn't get away from them.  However, I am glad that I wrote about it.

In future posts, I will write about specific computer games and what they have added to my gamebook writing and why gamebooks are better for me than computer games.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

AdvancedFighting Fantasy 2nd edition monster - Bigfoot

Funny thing, Bigfoot.  I would imagine the existence of what appears to be just another species of ape should have been proved or disproved years ago.  However, it hasn't.  some conspiracy theorists believe that this is because the Bigfoot 'race' can actually transport themselves between dimensions.  Never thought of that one. Who knows what bigfoots are really up to?

Bear in mind that not all aspects of Bigfoots are known until one is caught.  Maybe they are just big apes, or maybe they are an intelligent dimension hopping species with their own goals and desires.



LOCATION:  Anywhere.

REACTION:  Neutral

INTELLIGENCE:  Average? High?

CREATURE TYPE:  Animal? Humanoid?






SKILLS:  Strength 4, Awareness 4, Hunting 4, Fishing 3, and possibly some knowledge based ones?

TALENTS:  Survivor, Strongarm, and possible more?

WEAPON:  Large Fist

ARMOUR:  Light


Dimensional blinking?:  Bigfoots can go from one dimension to another. This might just be a case of teleporting from one place to another or they might be able to travel through time or to different worlds.  The cost of this depends on how far they travel and whether it is through just space, or time as well and also if they want to control it precisely.  Teleporting a few metres costs 1 magic point.  Teleporting to a specific year and place would cost up to 18 magic points.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Entries now being accepted for the Windhammer Prize

Entries now being accepted for the 2016 Windhammer Prize is pleased to announce the commencement of the 2016 Windhammer Prize for Short Gamebook Fiction. Entries are now being accepted, with the initial submission phase running from the 1st of August to the 7th of September. All prospective entrants should note that there have been some minor changes to the prize pool guidelines and these should be viewed prior to entry.
Now in its ninth year this contest is proudly sponsored by and continues as a means to promote the gamebook genre, and to provide exposure within a competitive environment for aspiring gamebook authors. In particular this prize values creative and original works of gamebook fiction. The challenge given to those who wish to participate the development of a full gamebook experience whilst meeting stringent requirements regarding length and original content. This competition is open to all gamebook writers and requires no entry fee or other costs.
All information regarding this year's comp including full entry guidelines, competition schedule and prize details can be found at the Windhammer Prize webpage at
For more information on the Chronicles of Arborell gamebook series, sponsors of this competition, go to
May Glory and Renown follow all who enter.
Wayne Densley
2016 Windhammer Prize for Short Gamebook Fiction

Monday, August 1, 2016

Legend of the Wayfarer in its new incarnation

Hello all! I have been tinkering with Legend of the Wayfarer again (is this how games are really made?) and I ahve come up with a new version. It is now more of a solo player hexcrawl. I am also going to tone down the combat with now specific ability for combat, but I will take every combat as it comes. This version is more story based and set in an almost medieval Eurpoe analogue (I will be borrowing from other cultures when I think it will spice things up. There is also some magick, but it is very low key and monsters but they are rare. Faeries make mischeif but usually stay away from humanity and gods roam the world, but they are very low powered compared to what you would expect. In DnD terms, the people are around 0-1st level and the gods and monsters are around 5th level at most).

Since this is moving towards story and exploration, I am working on a more gamey DnD version which will involve hexs, dungeons, wizards, orcs etc.

The new version is for you to have a look at. I will be releasing more materials as I make them.