|It sure is broken. Missing all the es.|
It is a very thought provoking post and I look forward to the next two installments. It got me thinking about why we all read gamebooks and what makes my favourite gamebooks.
My favourite gamebooks include such classics as Heart of Ice, Moonrunner, Necklace of Skulls, Beneath Nightmare Castle and Avenger!.
|So, it's perfect if you use a|
forty six sided die.
When writing my Windhammer entries and during my random scribblings, I have been trying to come up with a gamebook system that is simple, versatile and does not involve lots of book keeping so that it will not interfere with the narrative.
After my first entry, where I used the Fighting Fantasy system (it was awful, not because of the system but because it was linear, had an error with the skill score and had very little story), I tried to come up with a GAMEbook where the system allowed me to balance the gameplay perfectly (which came at a huge cost to the narrative), then I noticed that most of the entrants that did well focused more on story, so I used a diceless system in Sharkbait's Revenge which won me the prize.
Encouraged by my success, I used a similar system in Rulers of the NOW (though I still managed to put too much book keeping into it) and then a simpler system in the gameBOOK Call of Khalris where there was only one stat which covered an array of things and I wanted the player to interact with the story by writing a journal and having a cheat score. Turns out it was too much and it spoiled my entry).
|Just keep writing and it will|
This is the process that I've been through and I have found it very useful, but after reading Grey Wiz's post I realised that I would never get the perfect balance. No one could and that the balance of story and game in my favourite gamebooks wasn't really a perfect 50/50 balance. It was more a case that there was something I liked about either the game system or the story or the setting and that the other aspects of the game did not interfere with it.
I've come to the conclusion that spending ages getting the perfect balance between the game aspect and the book aspect of a gamebook is in no way linked to how good the gamebook will be. There are people out there who just want the story,there are people who want to number crunch and strategise, ,there are people who want to play an RPG system they love solo and there are whole new audiences out there such as people who want to explore different aspects of a story. All of these people fall into the category of gamebook people, so, with such a diverse audience, no one gamebook is going to please everybody. And so, with that in mind, I thought about the gamebooks I love and why I did so.
I think a good gamebook has to connect with the reader/player on some level. For example, with a gripping story, or with some detailed and compelling world building or with some difficult choices or with an exciting game system. As far as gamebooks are concerned, this is both a blessing and a curse. There are so many aspects to a gamebook that there is probably one that everyone is good at and can use as their USP.
|There's something for everyone.|
Destiny Quest - Legion of Shadow had a system full of excellent strategic choices and lots of depth but the narrative choices were a little lacking and most choices determined nothing more than what ability you get.
However, all of the above books are still popular because there are plenty of readers who are not bothered by the flaws. I enjoy all of the above books. I'm not a big fan of Deathtrap Dungeon due to the fact that it is just a dungeon crawl and the die rolls are impossible but it is a hugely popular gamebook (no.7 in the Fighting Fantazine survey) because of the crazy monsters and traps, and, in some cases, because it is so impossible.
So I guess the moral of the post is that I should try to find my niche and make sure that I'm good enough at the other aspects of the gamebook so that I do not spoil it.