Do you happen to know “The Castle of Crossed Destinies” by Italo Calvino? It’s kind of the same but with static fiction. The author basically decided on some random Tarot card order and then wrote the story accordingly. (Actually, it’s more complicated than that, apparently he also wrote parts of the story first and partly retrofitted the card order to match, but still, the basic idea is choosing a random sequence of Tarot cards and seeing what story comes out of it.)
Something I’d love to do and absolutely should not because I have no background in theater or sense for gravitas, is to steal ideas from @MiloM’s multiplayer choice games and build a CYOA drama for four players, designed to be performed aloud in real time.
It would read like a screenplay, where all the characters get separate plot-influencing choices, and decisions are passed back and forth between clients via network tech instead of codes. Then the players get together in a voice chat and effectively do a table read as they play, like a radio drama, complete with musical cues and foley appropriate to the story. After release I’d facilitate a series of public performances with open seats for new players, to make it more accessible to folks having trouble finding a group.
I know there have been lots of experiments in interactive/branching theater. I just wonder if there’s a sweet spot between improv, roleplaying, and the best choice games that still holds surprises.
There’s a history of folks using the Tarot for narrative building, IIUC, in the same way as John Cage uses the I Ching as a composition tool. And it turns out there’s at least one other video game with similarly flavoured ideas. Always neat to come across more examples!
Definitely 100% suspect none of the ideas behind my project are original, though the particular composition might be. And if that’s not Tarot-/procgen-/aleatoritivity-appropriate…
I got two white whales. One is a turn-based sci fi tank combat simulator (think along the lines of BattleTech), and the other is a surrealist vehicular cat-and-mouse game.
Now, by itself these two don’t seem too bad.
But I want them both to be 100% playable and accessible to players who are completely blind.
The problem is most IF engines have waaaaaaayyyyy too much going on in one field, but don’t have enough going on in another field, because they’re designed for a certain kind of gameplay. I’d have way too many verbs and functionality to block off and never use, and then implement new verbs and functionality of the same size for entirely different things.
I might wind up having to write my own system that plays in a webpage to have maximum screen reader compatibility. I have some ideas of generating sound waveforms that provide blind players with a sort of auditory radar sweep, in addition to written environment descriptions.
Also stuff like cockpit audio and other immersive sound things.
One of the first things I wanted to do was an adaptation of an episode of a show I thought was really interesting. I kept watching it and looking into it, really focusing on the plot and what the likely intent of it was, and it just felt like something that would work as a game. As I developed it, I put in all these small nods to the show. After solving an introduction, you’d be able to play through five sequences in any order, and then there’s multiple endings depending on how you handle the final segment. You also regularly switch between characters, each one having their own style of descriptions and actions. But I’m aware that “first games” are usually weak and boring, with this one having a particular lack of style in the opening segment that I think would lead most players to quit before the real fun part comes in. I was also concerned about using copyrighted characters, even though a lot of the writing and dialogue is brand new. I’m shelving it until I get more experience and I feel more confident in it, and I want to do an original story first.
I had to actually check the rules to see if you could just submit them as 10 separate games to IFCOMP, each roughly 2 hours in length. Short answer, sadly no. ( 5. Authors may enter at most three games per competition year.)
Looking forward to seeing how this looks!
Edited to add: Although, submitting 3 separate interconnected games that, while complete experiences in their own right, work together to be greater than the sum of their parts, seems like an interesting idea.
Now thinking of potentially fun sets of three…
In no particular order:
Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future
The same Star Trek away mission from the POV of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off from Ferris, Cameron, and Sloane’s POV (secret ending unlocks a short fast food job interview for former principal Rooney)
The adventures of the Moe brothers, Eeney, Meany, and Miney
Three games written from a deaf, mute, and blind POV (Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil)
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly done as three separate games with different winning conditions and POV.
Making three games around Brahma, the creator, Vishnu, the preserver, and Maheshwara, the destroyer, would be tempting, but probably best left for someone who shares that cultural heritage.
The Three Kingdoms of China is tempting as well, but probably is also ethically out-of-bounds for someone as ethnically European as I am.
Cartoon trios like Huey, Dewey, and Louie or Alvin, Simon, and Theodore.
Classics, like the Three Musketeers, the Three Amigos, the Three Stooges, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion, etc. (Add asterisks for the Musketeers and the Stooges of course.)
And obviously all of the fairytale opportunities (Three Little Pigs, the Three Blind Mice, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Hensel and Gretel and the Witch, etc, etc.)
I’m sure there are a ton more, but that’s the whirlwind my brain just sprinted with reading the IFCOMP rule just now.
I don’t have a genuine white whale now. I mean, in the 1990s, I wanted to make a horror Eamon with Eurohorror movie ideas. And I eventually made it in 2010; that was Leadlight. I had a sketchy outline of what would become Andromeda Acolytes in 2014, and I’m making it now.
After I remade Leadlight as Leadlight Gamma (2015), I was working out what to do next. I had an idea for a an abstract horror-drama about an actress. The name of the game was/is fantastic, so I’m not going to tell it here in case I can use it later. But this game wasn’t looking very parsery.
While I recorded ideas for the unnamed game in Scrivener, I looked into various non-parser engines I could use to make it. Unsatisfied, or just confused, I started writing a CYOA extension for Inform with an idea I could do it there. The extension got out of control. I abandoned it, and the game, too (because I seemed to remain insufficiently excited about the game.) But I resurrected the extension for my own purposes and now I’m using it in Andromeda Acolytes.
As a point of reference, you might want to try to dig up a copy of “Midsummer Tempest,” a novel by Poul Anderson. It’s literally a Shakespeare novel, and not just because of the title. At a certain point, as you’re reading along, you notice that while the conversations among the well-born characters are formatted as prose, the characters are all speaking in good iambic pentameter. The low-born characters, however, speak in prose.
My “five-act Shakespearian tragedy, in ten or so modules” is meant to be about ten hours of play time from five of the ten-to-twelve bits on offer, depending on the player’s choices. But I’m off chasing a different whale at the moment.
In my “to do” list for some far someday is a game tentatively labelled “Program 66”, in which you try to make the first Apollo moon landing happen, and you have to switch perspectives a lot to get the right decisions made. (There’s lots of backtracking into design meetings and tests, to make the final mission come out right.) And then in the end you have to try to get a marooned Soviet cosmonaut home, too, which involves switching into a whole bunch of Soviet personalities too.
I’m still a noob so I may actually make some of these projects one day, or they may fall by the wayside, but here goes:
A text adventure (in the Hinterlands campaign setting) about an amnesiac cultist trying to escape the humongous temple their sect occupies, all the while learning the disturbing truth about their own culture. I’ll save the details because I may make it someday, but it involves roaming NPCs and stealth mechanics.
A text adventure adaptation of the entirety of the novel Dracula, with lots of letters, journals, and changing POV characters.
A long form JRPG (in the Hinterlands campaign setting) called Hinterlands: Refuge about a refugee from a planet that has been destroyed by a Galactus-like entity. The game focuses on three harrowing days as the protagonist struggles to adapt to life in a big city on a foreign planet while political turmoil unfolds around them. Everything culminates in what I’d loosely describe as Astro Boy vs Godzilla. And I won’t spoil anything else.