Egamebook

A Dungeon
Master
in Your Pocket

Imagine reading a book where you can do much more than just choose a path. Imagine a book where your actions have realistic and meaningful impact on the fictional, simulated world.

Prototype

GAMES SHOULD BE EPIC
Not in graphics or voice acting, but in stories told and choices given

Egamebook is a project that strives to bring some of the best bits of traditional role-playing games (like Dungeons & Dragons) to a mobile phone near you. It’s not visual. It’s not a videogame. It’s 90% description. Description that your read as a book.

It is not a choose-your-path book, either. It goes beyond the traditional branching-narrative affair that most people associate with interactive fiction or text games. In Egamebook, the player can do many things, and their choice can radically change the game world. In fact, many of the paragraphs the player reads are unique to their experience because the paragraph is generated from the internal state of the world, as opposed to being pre-written by the author.

Egamebook is immersive through its open-endedness, like a good Dungeons & Dragons session.

Paul de la Gironiere shooting the bandit Cajoui, from Aventures d’un Gentilhomme Breton aux iles Philippines by Paul de la Gironiere, published in 1855
An image that shows a video-game screen on the left, an internal representation in the middle, and a description of the representation on the right. The description says: 'Behind Ralof's back, and beyond a large rock formation, you see a sleeping bear.'. Taken from Filip’s article 'Skyrim rendered in text'.

APP-CLASS USER EXPERIENCE
Respects your time and your phone

There are no loading screens here, and it takes well under one second for the game to start. Scrolling is the way you expect from any app on your phone. Exiting the game at any time won’t lose your progress.

Egamebook doesn’t drain battery the way most games do, despite doing some complex simulation in the background.

The design of the game is deliberately as close to a reading app as possible. No superficial animations, thrown dice, or skeuomorphic buttons. The game interface is clean and minimal. If a random stranger looks over your shoulder, they won’t think you’re playing a text-heavy videogame. They will think you’re reading a new kind of book.

When we’re commuting or when we manage to steal those few minutes of “me” time, we’re not whipping out a PlayStation with Uncharted or a PC with Skyrim or a Switch with Fortnite. Even if we do, how well are we able to get into flow in the limited time and space available to us?

Page 443, Mcclure’s Magazine, Mar 1897—Extract of illustration from scan of story, 'Huerfano Bill, the Bandit.'
“I don’t have time for this loading screen bullshit.”

FEWER NUMBERS, MORE IMMERSION
Leave the math to the Dungeon Master

Deep down, egamebook uses more sophisticated game simulation than any table-top role playing game — and most videogames, too. Game characters have full simulated anatomy. Monsters plan ahead. Any combat action’s result depends on wounds, stance, weapon, armor, and much more.

Yet, all this is kept at an intuitive level, so that you — the player — don’t need to keep track of hundreds of different variables. If you understand that being out of balance is bad for you in a swordfight, you don’t need to know the exact math of the simulation.

Dendrono - Der fechtende Student (etching)

INTROSPECTIVE LEISURE
Read a book, play chess, explore an egamebook

Have you noticed how taboo it is to play a videogame in some situations? For example, if you’re in a room with a person who is not into videogames, playing feels weird. Yet, substitute the videogame with chess, for example, or with reading a book, and it’s all good. Why is this?

Most videogames require real time attention. So by playing them, you are effectively forced to ignore the people around you. Videogames can be disrupting others with sounds, music and fast moving visuals. And they can be frustrating to play when you can’t give them the attention they need.

There are times for videogames — and then there are times when you want something less demanding of your real-time attention. That’s what Egamebook is for.

A drawing of women playing chess in a family setting.
“Good game, mama.”