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Blog started

March 7, 2015

Building egamebook — the system for writing non-trivial electronic gamebooks — has been a years-long journey already and I have poured lots of energy, time and thinking into it.

I have built about 10 prototypes, written thousands lines of code in 3 different programming languages, collaborated with 3 amazing people, and put down more than 200 notes and ideas. I have learnt a great deal about interactive fiction, storytelling, game mechanics, API design, user experience, the addictive nature of chance, product development, natural language generation, goal oriented action planning, and much more.

So I’m starting this blog.

You can put it into your RSS reader if you’re into that kind of thing (the url is http://egamebook.com/feed.xml), or you can join the mailing list.

48% Americans know what gamebooks are »

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Complex game worlds, simple interfaces 25 Aug ’15 The whole point of egamebook is to allow for complex game worlds that are controlled by a series of simple choices. By simple, I don't mean "easy" or "without complex consequences". I just mean they're not a complicated interface.[^2] They're a list of 2 to 5 options to choose from. [^2]: You could say that even strategic games like Civilization only present a few buttons at a time. But you're forgetting the world map where each of the thousands of tiles is a potential option. [^3]: In the Ludum Dare version of the game, there is just one opposing faction: the humans. But if I get to move the game forward, it'll be easy for me to add others. Also, the same code can be used for monsters (something like captains) inside the player faction, so the player can delegate. [^1]: Almost all games are simulations. Super Mario or Pac-Man are simulated worlds, although very simple. [^7]: Move unit A to location α, move unit A to location β, ... move unit Z to location ω. [^8]: Think games like Grand Theft Auto, where almost any player has tried at least once to do something self-destructive. [^9]: I'm sure some Civilization players out there have done it, but probably not more than once. [^10]: Actually, the algorithm of choosing the options to show is a bit more involved. To ensure that there's always variety, the algorithm makes sure that there are no more than three options of the same _type_. So even if the AI things the 5 most desirable actions for the player right now are to attack (the only thing changing is the city), then we only choose the 3 most desirable ones, but also give the player other types of options: laying eggs, moving, and so on. [^11]: The [rocket jump](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocket_jumping) is a good example. [^12]: Railroading is the term used when a game keeps you from doing what you want and leads you in an overly linear fashion. TV Tropes has a [good article about it](http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Railroading), as usual.

48% Americans know what gamebooks are 10 Mar ’15 I recently ran a miniature survey to gauge interest in [egamebook][] and to find out more about the kind of people who might be interested in it. I thought I'd share what I learned because much of it could be interesting to others. [^2]: Source: [wikipedia](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Consumer_Surveys). [^1]: I'll be a horrible person and report differences even when error bars overlap. Scientifically, it's wrong to say there's a difference. But I feel like in some cases, the error bars overlap so slightly it may not be scientifically correct but it's still worth reporting. You can see the data anyways, so make your own mind. [egamebook]: http://egamebook.com/ [Google Consumer Surveys]: http://www.google.com/insights/consumersurveys/home

Blog started 7 Mar ’15 Building egamebook — the system for writing non-trivial electronic gamebooks — has been a years-long journey already and I have poured lots of energy, time and thinking into it.