enhanced novels? digital ergodic literature?

I thought maybe this would be a good question to ask here.

I’m looking for some enhanced novels or short stories, something that may come as a stand alone app.

Some examples:

  • SHERLOCK: Interactive Adventure By HAAB
    They describe it saying, “We have created the perfect combination of a classic book, an audio book, a film, a historical study, and an illustrated encyclopaedia, incorporating elements of gameplay.”

  • BLACKBAR (described as a “text game”)

  • DEVICE 6 (described as something that "plays with the conventions of games and literature, … “blends puzzle and novella.”)

These are all a bit different from typical IF, adding more graphical and audio elements, and maybe less traditional parser or multiple choice-based interaction.

My problem is I’m having a bit of trouble classifying these. How would one go about googling for a list of these? What would be a common title? Something like, “best enhanced fiction apps?”

I’m also thinking about something like Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, classified as “ergodic literature,” something that post-modern and literary but that takes advantage of the digital medium.

Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature by Espen J. Aarseth seems to be another resource, but that was published before the rise of the smart phone, app store model.

I’m not sure there is a single term that will reliably turn these up. However, I can point out a few other apps sort of in this general area:

  • Pry is relatively low-text compared with the rest, but it’s a story with various physical interactions as hooks. I particularly like the bit where you trace over some braille with your finger and get it read aloud to you.
  • Simogo (creators of Device 6) have several other works available, in varying degrees of puzzliness. I think my favorite is actually their least puzzly, Sailor’s Dream.
  • Chopsticks is a Penguin app from a couple of years ago; I think there was also a printed version.
  • a whole load of children’s book apps exist in this general arena. Nosy Crow ( nosycrow.com/ ) is one publisher for these.

PRY looks great!

As I’ve looked around some, these popped up as well:
Someone in the reviews for Chopsticks also recommended Anomaly: an Interactive Graphic novel.

Inkle, Frankenstein for iphone
Future Voices, a free one that looks interesting also by Inkle.

Living a book:

And these threads:
forum.makega.me/t/interesting-te … -games/730
reddit.com/r/iosgaming/comme … _device_6/

But let me narrow down what I’m looking for a bit more. Something more innovative, that plays with the medium more, like if House of Leaves was an ebook that took advantage of being an ebook.

I think almost all of these are innovative in some respect, and there are loads of other things that are also innovative in other respects – 80 Days for its combination of board game mechanic and story, 18 Cadence for letting you construct your own poetic interpretation of fictional elements, etc. Even things that are straight-up gamebook adaptations or re-inventions (inkle’s Sorcery!, stuff from Cubus and Tin Man Games and Choice of Games) often push in some interesting way on the game-story interface.

But it sounds like possibly you’re specifically for something that is a) as consciously literary as possible while still using sound and graphics, b) not necessarily a game, and c) specifically playing with the expectations of linear narrative, reader relationship to the text, and perhaps layers of fiction and frame story/annotation? Is that about right?

I’m not sure any of these is quite on target, and they’re not apps, but collectively they might interest you:

daddylabyrinth (Stephen Wingate) is a biographical/autobiographical website about the author’s relationship to his father (my review here). If what you’re looking for is the sensation of constructing meaning by doing research-like activity through a large body of material (and maybe getting lost, and maybe not being sure when you should consider yourself “done”), daddylabyrinth pulls that off.

Patchwork Girl is a classic (1990s) piece of hypertext literature that requires assembling meaning from fragments. It used to be unavailable for some computers, but it looks like Eastgate Systems is now able to distribute it again.

Solarium (Alan DeNiro) is a supernatural cold war narrative with light graphics and some beautiful writing; it employs loops through the text to good effect, so you wind up revisiting certain passages and finding that they have new meaning when you get there. My review is here.

Living Will (Mark Marino) is a document that purports to be an interactive will, in which the terms of the will depend on how the heirs respond to the document. Light multimedia with some maps. My review.

Colorado Red (Alice Maz) is a piece about same-sex lovers during a mining strike, with some embedded pictures. Some of the text has annotation links; when you hover, you bring up the protagonist’s thoughts about what is going on, which are otherwise obscured.

Pale Blue Light (Kazuki Mishima) puts the reader into the story at different layers of fiction – at some points you’re interacting with or as an author, and sometimes on the level of the characters in the author’s story. This one is parser-based and maybe more of a challenge to play than the others listed here.

And with the usual disclaimers about mentioning one’s own work: First Draft of the Revolution is an interactive epistolary story, by me with tech by Liza Daly and inkle; the conceit is that you’re actually altering letters before they’re sent.

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Thanks! These overlaping medium/genre, boundary pushing works are always so interesting.

The 39 Steps is a perfect example of what you’re wanting.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thirty … Video_game

adding graphics or sounds to novels - or to IF indeed for that matter - doesn’t improve them in any way.

Graphic Novel adaptations of classic books ditch descriptions of characters and locations for an artist’s take on it. Most I’ve read had terrible lameass art, bearing very little resemblance to my own vivid recollections from when I read the book.

adding “movie clips” in between bursts of paragraphs is the poor man’s attempt at trying to understand what he wasn’t able to read in the first place

I think people demanding that “reading” should “evolve” into “watching” are really clueless.

I disagree with the above point. It’s akin to saying the moving image can’t be improved with audio. Why bother with additional auditory effects when we can settle for reading subtitles? Equally but less obviously true is the opposite. The moving image can improve upon an audio experience. I can’t imagine putting a Madonna album on my stereo nowadays but I’d sit and watch the music video of Frozen by Chris Cunningham. I’d probably make a special effort to get off my backside and down to the cinema if I found out they were showing Koyaanisqatsi, but that doesn’t mean I’d do the same for Philip Glass.

Obviously no book can be improved by audio, such is it comes on paper. Audio won’t improve badly writ IF either, but I don’t see why IF can’t pull off being an audio/visual experience successfully.

I’m probably being a tad defensive here because I’m aiming to include audio in my work. Not because I think it’ll make it in any way better, just that it ties several hobbies into one.

Hanon Ondricek’s Transparent does a swell job incorporating sound into an otherwise traditional parser.

It’s reasonable to discuss the value of interactive elements in classic novels, but it isn’t reasonable to do them in a way that attacks the OP, or to do so in a thread that starts from the premise of wanting to find more works in this style.

Let’s keep this thread on the topic of helping the OP’s search, and spin off a separate thread if needed. Thanks.

That is why I mentioned House of Leaves as an example. Many would not consider its use of graphics as adding nothing.

Yeah I pretty much agree, and this mis/over-use of graphics and sounds is exactly what I’m not so interested in finding. That’s what makes the search a bit difficult. I can’t just look for “enhanced novels,” or “interactive graphic fiction.” That turns up things that are too much like the first example of SHERLOCK I mentioned, and too much like what you are pointing out.

I think Device 6 and Blackbar are more in line with what I’m thinking. Something where the enhancements are essential to the project and not just decoration.

I agree that this is an interesting list of works – I want to mess around with this stuff myself, now that HL is done.

I also agree that there’s no term in common use for it yet. The common elements are interactivity and text-centric design. Which is generally what people mean when they say “interactive fiction”!

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It might be worth expanding the definition of IF to include these works, then.

A new label for them might help them establish themselves as their own thing - Device 6 is not like Hadean Lands, and it might not want to be sold as Hadean Lands. Or, it could just all get lumped under IF. We’re talking about parser-IF these days, so IF is no longer synonimous with parser.

As long as there’s interactivity, fiction, and a focus on the written word, maybe “interactive fiction” is big enough to cover all these works?

If we want an example of how to adapt novels and still not get IF, then I’d point you towards “IF Classics” and their “adaptations” of, recently, Cyrano.

I just consider them kinetic novels (sometimes stretched slightly in the direction of more interactivity).

This is the standard visual novel term for choiceless stories. See a bunch at games.renpy.org/category/kn

Yay! That would be great.

So, I thought about it more, and the other common element is a playfulness of interface – Device 6, etc are consciously experimental.

But it’s hard to stick a label on that! Labels for “experimental” are always being co-opted by new genres. That is – as soon as a thing becomes “its own thing”, people start repeating the interface conventions. Then it’s not experimental any more; it’s exploration of a form.

Multi-media fiction sounds like something that could be unveiled at some corprorate gathering with champagne and false tales of prospects. Plenty of fiction has images: especially children’s books. The early Fighting Fantasy books had art in them. So it boils down to audio and video. Audio will always be opt-in anyway given not all browsers support the same file extensions and not everyone has speakers hooked up to their PC. And video seems unworkable without audio when there’s other ways to animate stuff without it.

I like kinetic fiction, really I do.

Moving Fiction?

If you want to be plain about it, yes. That idea of motion in a medium that is usually static is the one thing that’s common to most of the works that have been brought up. I’ve played only a handful, but in Device 6, for instance, I know the idea of motion, the idea of momentum, the energy necessary for the story to keep moving, is part of its appeal. “Kinetic” to my mind brings up all these things - motion (usually forward), energetic motion. It’s dynamic.