I know it might come across as dumbly anachronistic, talking about paper gamebooks, but it’s something that interests me for the sake of a friend that’s decided to go down that route.
Now, as for repeating passages, I mean alternate story nodes where stuff like 200-300 words repeat themselves in every passage of the branch, with the difference being mostly at the end. I contended that you could set apart the repeating text in a passage of its own and decide how it will continue with the help of a codeword. Now, what has your general attitude been with repeating passages in paper CYOAs?
Personally, I would just write variations on the text. I would not make it repeat verbatim. I would change a few details and try to give each of the ‘repetitions’ a slightly different mood depending on what was the nature of the decision that led up to splitting the story nodes in the first place. Even if there were no different mood to be found/invented, I would still vary the phrases slightly in the same way a human would. I’ve noticed that a human tasked with repeating something will consciously try to avoid sounding robotic by adding little extraneous words and grace notes to each iteration to make it feel less like monotony and more like… dancing. I would try to reproduce that effect.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen what you’re describing here done this way. Repeating text increases book size and cost, so mostly it’s probably not been considered.
I can think of two Fighting Fantasy books off the top of my head which let you return to almost all locations, though there may be more. One was ‘Scorpion Swamp’ (#8), whose locations were arranged in grid-like fashion, and if you revisited one of them, it would simply ask you to turn to the same paragraph as before, but at the end of the paragraph it might have a modifier, often as raw as ‘If you’ve been here before, turn to 232’. Or it might be more specific - ‘If you’ve encountered Jack Sprat, turn to 100.’
That book was very early in the series. A late book ‘Island of the Undead’ (#51) used a mechanically similar though much more sophisticated-feeling scheme. In this one, the locations weren’t arranged in grid fashion. There’d be broad geographical areas you could revisit and recross, and some specific locations within them you could only visit once.
I know that in those books, I either sped-read or jumped down to the options when I revisited the paragraphs I’d been to before, so I can’t imagine having interest in re-reading material the way you’ve described.
Yeah I don’t recall any significant reptition in a FIghting Fantasy book. Heck, think of all the different death scenes they wrote! They could have just written one scene to cap off most of the dead-end deaths, but they typically didn’t, they would tailor every one. But they did sometimes do the ‘split, rejoin, and then split again’ thing, only instead of a codeword, they’d give the character something in their inventory. For example…
You find a sword. If you pick it up, goto 2. If you leave it, goto 3.
You grab the sword and start up the hill. Goto 4.
You head up the hill unarmed. Goto 4.
The trees get thicker as you head into dark forest. If you have the sword, it begins to glow. Goto 5. If you don’t you hug yourself and pray. Goto 6.
[continue armed storyline]
[continue unarmed storyline]
To get more options remembered than just sword/notsword, you could use an item that can have varying content, like a note, a photograph, or a drawing. If your drawing is of X, goto Y. Etc.
It was also by an outside designer (the U.S. Steve Jackson, no relation to the Steve Jackson most Fighting Fantasy fans think of … and I think they downplayed that it was a different Steve because the U.K. Steve Jackson’s name was a reliable seller)
Yeah, the U.K. Steve Jackson is a co-founder of Games Workshop and the founder of the Fighting Fantasy series … the U.S. Steve Jackson is the founder of Steve Jackson Games and the co-designer of Car Wars … and my former boss. Most of the Fighting Fantasy titles credited to “Steve Jackson” are by the U.K. Steve, but two of them are by the U.S. Steve.