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Their branching narratives offer multiple endings, all based on reader choice.But these branches are static; they can’t do what games do, which is to every one of your decisions and use that information to shape the narrative.I thought I’d hit the jackpot by finding a way back into fiction that also satisfied the experimentalist in me.I came up with half a dozen stories to pitch before settling on a literary dating sim set in my former hometown of Boulder, Colorado, which I miss every day of my life.
In this scenario, writers need to account not only for multiple potential storylines, but for stat assignments on every single choice.“Imagine two thousand people reading your interactive novel and each having completely unique story experiences.To me it sounded like the future—and I, as a writer who believes in exploring new storytelling tools, wanted a piece of it.” Returning to his “Quotes & Notes” series, Steven Wingate explores the pleasures and pitfalls of writing interactive fiction.Choice Script, a Java Script based language developed by Choice of Games, offered the possibility of unlimited stat tracking; all I had to do was build it into the code.(Yes, I learned the language and did the coding myself; it was a steep learning curve to climb, but code is the raw material of interactivity, and to truly understand how my game would work I needed to get down and dirty with it.) For I ended up using eight opposing stats that gave weight to every player choice—things like romance, sexual appetite, faithfulness, etc.
It’s daunting, but it opens up the way we tell stories.