I'd love to talk more if anyone's interested!
* [Unfold Studio](https://unfold.studio/) is a web app for reading and writing interactive stories, using the programming language Ink.
* [A draft](http://chrisproctor.net/media/publications/proctor_2018_unfo...) article offering a conceptual framework, documenting the web application, and analysis of how student authors used it.
Not involved with the tool itself, but have created a few works with it and enjoy the fact it can run on so many platforms and target so many others.
For example of its growing ubiquity, it was admitted that most of the Black Mirror Bandersnatch CYOA episode was written and tested in Twine.
I haven't looked much in to languages for open-ended interactive storytelling, but I thought Nick Montfort's dissertation was pretty interesting--a technical treatment of a system for heavy-duty worldbuilding.
I'm also interested in using this system for language learning, particularly in multilingual classrooms/contexts. In some of the early classroom workshops, students were exploring how they get treated differently (and some people open up more) when speaking different languages.
That's some very powerful and clever up-selling, but was it not enraging in practice?
It's got a number of elements inspired by D&D 5e, as well as from Game Books I used to enjoy as a child. Interestingly, it has analogues for many of the conceps in the Squidi post you link to. For example, it's got "encounters" which perform essentially the same thing as GOSUB routines, and has "Expressions" which are calculations that can rely on adventure state and can be used to conditionally hide or unhide particular actions that an adventurer can take.
In case anyone's interested, the reference documentation where you can see our structure and how things work is here: https://www.mycenacave.com/kb/adventure
I'm extremely proud of it.
From time to time the name was used to refer to Norway, Iceland or Greenland but no real place is really consistent with all the stories that were told about it. The historian Polybius refers to Pythea "telling us also about Thule, those regions in which there was no longer any proper land nor sea nor air, but a sort of mixture of all three of the consistency of a jellyfish in which one can neither walk nor sail, holding everything together, so to speak."
Some Nazis also thought it was the mythical origin place of the Aryan race and there's been some fuss made about that, but Nazis thought (and think) a lot of stupid stuff.
The CYOA book was just making reference to this mythology.
From what I've read I imagine the CYOA conceit leads to the the same kind of tradeoffs relative to more linear storytelling as in the books. The story ends up serving the structure, and the necessity of generating more content leads to a decrease in attention paid to to the stor[y,ies] as a whole. And there's nothing exactly wrong with that, I guess, since many pieces of art are dominated by structure over content. In particular, the interactivity leads to better engagement with the viewer, and may be used to explore concepts such as free will. Or it can allow there creator or viewer to engage in solipsism. Or it can just be a cheap gimmick that gains attention (clicks, hours of user engagement, sales, etc.).
Netflix had previously landed several less important interactive works in 2018, such as Puss in Boots, before attempting Bandersnatch. And this approach is effective at reducing bootlegging - there aren't existing tools that let "pirates" make an interactive video, so if you want the actual experience you'll be stumping up for Netflix. That means it helps underpin their financials.
Definitely apropos for HN
His greatest book IMO was Creature of Havoc ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creature_of_Havoc ) - as a 12 year old I took me and a friend of mine several months to finally complete - it had game elements which made it very hard to cheat.
Inkle studios did an interesting adaptation for the Sorcery series for mobile. Their games feel a little closer to CYOA than traditional interactive fiction: https://inklestudios.com/sorcery/
They've also open-sourced a markdown format for CYOA games along with a compiler to json and an engine to execute it: https://github.com/inkle/ink
Right? No matter how many polygons, what analysis, how many months spent
rendering a single tentacle, there will never be a CGI Great Cthulhu that will
make me step out of my house in the middle of the night shining a flashlight
at the shadows to make sure nothing is hiding there. But good old H.P.'s
purple, racist prose did that to me. Or, I guess, my own imagination did.
(I was just small, OK?).
Adventure games, in general, do not have branching narratives of any kind. They use interactive mechanics to amplify/guarantee the thrill of relevation. Apart from this interactive twist, they are very close to normal Detective Fiction (which also tries to deliver similar things through non-interactive mechanics).
I actually really resent CYOA's influence on gaming. This idea of Audience Control being a kind of grand distinguishing feature of gaming as an art form is an absolute cancer.
The actual experience of branching narrative fiction is in my experience, without fail, shit. To the extent Bandersnatch works at all it's due to the meta nature of the story. Can you imagine any other Black Mirror story adapted to this format?
It ends up being either (1) the same story with 3 slightly different endings or (2) three completely different stories, supposedly linked together.
I think the best executions of this genre try to do something creative with the storylines and tie them together. If Alice does something in storyline A, perhaps when we go down storyline B in the future we’ll realize why Alice did what she did, etc.
The sort of thing I hate is GTA IV style, Kill X or Kill Y "choice moments". Quantic Dream games are essentially nothing else, it really annoys me when people suggest those games are somehow the most mature and "artistic" games out there, when to me they are basically bad CGI films.
Video games have a higher barrier to accomplishing this feat. Imho simulations like The Sims, CDDA, or Dwarf Fortress are able to accomplish it best.
The format demands something of you, but it gives very little in return (except for accessing new content). But novelty hidden in the thing I bought, when it's locked not behind some clever puzzle but just a wall of time, well, I'm not interested.
Yes to interactive stories (aka "Games"), No to CYOA tedium. The only thing worth doing with these things is reading/watching them through and making a diagram of the branches. Otherwise it's the storytellers job to pick the branches, and to show me a good sequence.
Here's an example story written with my four-year-old (with some help from her older sister): https://ianb.github.io/Choose-Your-Own-Adventures/Alphabet-F... – if you've had a four-year-old tell you a story, it makes as much sense as you would expect!
Ah, the days of growing up in the American South!
I've noticed that in many of these cases, the parent's conclusion is never "my kid needs help and IDK what to do," but rather it's always the object that's _external to the kid and parents_ that's at fault.
In any case, I don't see the need to bring back the CYA book. As video games get more and more book-like, including the "interactive novel" genre, they seem to fill the role better than any CYA book ever could.
That said, I did enjoy reading some Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid and haven't actually revisited them in close to two decades.
Writing interactive fiction has also appealed to me, but I've been discouraged from even trying for the same reasons mentioned in my first paragraph.
We're still in the silent movie era of internet media and content, where pretty much everybody could (and did) try something, and there were a (relative) zillion releases to prove it. Either by attention or chemistry a lot of it didn't survive, but it eventually built concepts that are still in use today.
If you found an Unfrozen Caveman Painter you'd put him or her to work at a design firm with zero hesitation and arguably it took us until the early 20th century to understand what made cave paintings so powerful.
But you can’t find it for less than $6-8 per used book, even on eBay. They are pretty expensive and very popular. Very disappointing from the point of someone who wants to buy them cheap but it’s nice to see that they are still appreciated.
They have reissues for most of them through Chooseco.
There's an art to driving curiosity that I think CYOA books really plays well with. It's accessible by anyone to anyone without the need for technical skills, given all you really need is a basic understanding of free text editors and maybe some mind mapping software to keep structure. We've seen countless CYOA book-style games out within recent years, including "the uncle who works for nintendo", "Buried", and I don't know who could forget "Stories Untold" which to me shows that the art is expandable from the text form up to a more immersive experience. It lends itself to be improved upon, from base story to games, movies, and more.
I would be absolutely thrilled to see a CYOA revival, and if somebody did a kickstarter or indiegogo where they gathered some notable authors to do something a la "Bandersnatch", I'd happily toss some money at it. It's a facet of my childhood I feel wasn't properly respected and I'm glad to see it getting some recognition at last.
The parser style of IF lends itself well to the medium, I believe.
I always thought of them as a sort of offline version of Zork.
The story I am reading is an app called "Magium." It is a CYOA with an RPG element. I have really enjoyed it so far as my first CYOA story (it is currently unfinished and is being released chapter by chapter).
Sadly, I have not know any push on that direction.
I died to that very squid when I was 11 :-/ :D Though that was already in the 2000s, our school library still had a couple of CYOA that I quite enjoyed.
It’s great for playing with others while you travel!
Or even just playing a CYOA style game (we did with sabres & guns of infinity) like this, we ended getting the worst possible ending short of dying but it was fun.
Legacy of Dragonholt
Works well in groups of 4 or 5, with people taking turns reading from the book.
I don't think real data on Netflix viewership is public, is it? My presumption is Netflix guards that data way too much to share it.
The best I could find was this:
> According to Nielsen ... each episode of ... season (2) drew more than 4 million viewers per episode, and with more than 3 million of those falling in the key adults 18-49 demographic within the first three days of its release (Oct. 27-29).
The article goes on to quote other statistics (including 15 million + viewers of the first episode). And then:
> “The data that Nielsen is reporting is not accurate, not even close, and does not reflect the viewing of these shows on Netflix,” the company said in a statement at the time of the original announcement.
I'm not certain how Nielsen collects data these days, but in the early aughts, our local Fox station waged a campaign to get younger viewers to participate in Nielsen studies because the data Nielsen had showed no one was watching syndicated episodes of the Simpsons, so advertisers wouldn't pay. (I suspect the advertisers knew people were watching and just wanted a discount.) The campaign seemed to work (and was also the one and only time I was in a Nielsen household).
Since then, I still take Nielsen ratings with a huge grain of salt, so I'm inclined to believe the Netflix statement that we really don't have any idea.