Wikivic on my first post about digital storytelling gave me some great links to all types of interactive stories. I mentioned these briefly in my previous post, but I thought I would go over them in a little more detail.
Choose your own adventure
Available through an online tool called inklewriter, you can create your own story where at intervals the reader can select which path they want to take. The stories created on their sitecan be downloaded to ebook formats, and there is an Apple app, but otherwise they seem to only be available online. From a cursory glance the writer interface looks a little clunky and unstructured. Sections are created automatically and can only be renamed or removed. You can jump around between sections a little, but the contents lists out the section without any kind of tree structure to show what goes when. There doesn’t appear to be any way to add pictures, but it has a good looking interface and reading the story only a paragraph or two at the time makes it easily digestible on the screen.
One of the advantages of this is that you can also get the reader to select the point of view they want to read from and write different branches from those points of view. The first thing that came to mind for me when this was pointed out to me was senior management engagement. If you can get senior management to navigate through the thought processes and issues that people on the ground face it could be a fantastic tool for communication.
Text-based adventure game
Quest has a relatively simple tools for making text based adventure games. Having grown up with Wikivic constantly playing the things (and me constantly failing to do anything every time I tried to play) I find them hard to describe. They’re a type of puzzle game in a way, in which you have a number of objects, rooms and verbs and go around, looking in all the rooms, and verbing the objects you find. Often talking and verbing objects with characters you find there as well. They are heavily story based: there generally isn’t any fighting and your character can’t level up, but the stories often require you to do odd things such as trying to pet a unicorn to make it angry so that it will knock you into a tree, from which you can get to the next area.
Text-based adventures come from a time when few people had computers so many people aren’t familiar with the type of gameplay, and while the basic mechanic is in theory relatively simple I find them quite frustrating as there is very little guidance on what it is possible to do. The interface is quite dull and difficult to get your head round if you don’t have a map of where you’re exploring and I can just imagine how off putting it would be for people to be told they have to learn a new system just to work through a story. You also only play as a single character which narrows the options somewhat.
Quest has another form of text based game which they don’t advertise as much on the site (the help wiki even doesn’t seem to cover it much): the gamebook. This is very like the choose your own adventure style like inkelwriter: a simple paragraph of text is followed by links which will take you to other sections of the story. The gamebook also has the option for a pictures, sound and video for each paragraph, but the real advantage from my point of view is how you write them. The Quest software can be downloaded and so you can create them offline, but also has more options, a more straightforward interface and clearer structuring. This may be a personal preference thing, and arguably the final result doesn’t look as slick as inklewriter. Still, I think I prefer to read the gamebook style and prefer to create with it.
Finished gamebooks can be uploaded to the Quest site for access anywhere, and unlike inkelwriter, it can be marked as unlisted so that only people you give the link to can see it.