Hi! I found a couple of 80s Lone Wolf books in my attic, and I’m currently making my way through them. This has inspired me to try writing a physical CYOA book myself, as a change from Inform, but I’m unsure about the choice conventions. It seems the jumps are very arbitrary, like “if you choose to go left, go to 185. If you choose to go right, go to 53”, and it’s a frenetic jumping all over the book.
What’s the basic approach? Do I just select random numbers for my choices, or can I follow a set principle?
It needs to be arbitrary to not give any clues away. e.g if all choices leading to death were low-numbered, readers could quickly figure out the best option. Similarly if you advance sequentially, it becomes obvious when you leave the “main track”. And the same with any other “set principle”. So yes, random is the best way.
If everything is branching (i.e. no two choices ever lead to the same result), and you always have K choices per page, you can do something like having the choices on page N always be KN, KN+1, and KN+2. But this means people who don’t like their decision can just flip to the next page to change it.
I believe that many CYOA software authoring programs include a “shuffle the pages” function to accomplish this. Essentially, you don’t want the pages/passages to be too orderly so that a reader doesn’t see the result of a branch they didn’t take inadvertently.
Those are all very good points! Seems my OCD was looking (hoping?) for a structure where there shouldn’t be any Thank you all!