Questions for people who read/make Choose Your Own Adventure

Trying to get into the planning stage of a thing rather than just pantsing it.About all I know for sure is it will use Twine, since that is open source with multiple languages for creation and a ‘how things connect’ presentation style, and I know this will be terrible as it’s a one man project with no editor and I’m an emotional nutbag right now.

Should I go with a traditional story with each chunk divided by A Choice or should i go with tried and true locations that keep getting revisited and things happen in them? Both are totally doable and I suppose each favors differing tory types but I wanted some idea of which works for what.

If I go with a ‘traditional’ story and pepper it with hyperlinks how important is a multilayered bookmarking function? As in ‘oh hey i got off on a tangent and wiki walked from the history of this location to the rise of robotics to the Old War… now how the hell do I get back to the story branch I’m on?’ Do I even go with a complex bookmarking function or just have an appendix thing?

Short passages maybe at longest a page or so long and usually at most a paragraph, or something more chapter length between each choice? at what point would one go ‘you know what? Attention span’s gone.’

What has worked in a majority of cases? I’m approaching this as if i have no knowledge of the medium or its history to try pushing for one outcome over another.

What works? What does not work? What looks dead simple but turns out to be horrifyingly difficult to actually get right?

1 Like

Ok, I’ll take a crack at this since no else has.

I have no real experience of writing one of these (apart from futzing around as a kid) but I have played a few. Books though rather than software so I can’t help with that at all.

I’m going to be a buzzkill and suggest that ignoring what has been done in the past and what worked/didn’t work is perhaps not a good idea. Granted, technology and tastes/fashions move on but there are always some fundamentals that you can take from past history.

I would say it’s a good idea to start with deciding what kind of story you want to tell/make available to the reader/player.

Ultimately, no CYOA can be really openbox. Trying to make it so will probably just dilute whatever experience it is you want to provide your reader.

So pick a few stories that you want to offer, plot those through from start to finish. Look at which locations are universal, which crop up several times, which only get visited once.

That should give you some steer on how best to lay the thing out.

I would suggest staying away from allowing ‘wiki-walks’. Quite apart from the technical difficulties of getting lost in the appendices, ‘Show, don’t tell’ is a good rule. Lots of good authors break it, some even get away with it - that’s why they are great authors.

As well of course, it’s often the unexplained that catches the imagination more than the info-dump.

“Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate”, for example.

We don’t need and would probably be disappointed by a detailed history of the events referred to.

I would go with short passages between choices but that’s probably just because it’s what I’m used to. Long passages could be great too but I suppose in that case the writing would need to be a lot better and more consistent in quality than with short passages.

With short passages if one is dull, I don’t mind because hopefully the next one will be great.

Ultimately, it depends on whether the choices are interesting/meaningful or not. There’s no point peppering the game with choices just because “I need one here or the text is too long”.

I think once you’ve sketched out your story-path, those decisions will be easier because you’ll know the structure of your story then.

I hope that helps a bit. If not, ignore me but please - write your thing!

I have a bad tendency to think something would be cool and then either not starting at all or dropping it when it turns out that I can’t actually produce the cool thing I envisaged in my head.

Turns out actually finishing something is cool enough - who knew?


Yeah, I know nothing about this but I’d probably start by writing the story and then visually mapping the tangents you’re going to offer. Seeing it that way might give you insight on how you’ll want to set up the choices.

Good Luck!

1 Like

Funny, when i asked the same question on IF forums ‘oh it’s all subjective.’ No it isn’t. Sure ‘everything has an audience’ but at the same time ‘what generally works’ does so for a reason. I’m not talking gimmicks or granular. I mean very course ‘in general what seems to function in this space?’

Like you my experience is mostly in ye olden CYOA books where you died roughly as much as you do in dark souls, and there were by and large at least one if not several paths that on reflection as an adult… went straight to LSD land.

I’ve been looking at this as 'it is something that is totally doable. I just don’t have a thought going on with how the format would benefit beyond 'here is a story you can choose to keep following This Guy or you can swap up to That Guy to see what they went and keep character hoping to chase a scenario down with paths merging and splitting as needed til you get to The End, not A End. The End with ‘replayability’ being in seeing who’s doing what in other facets so you have a better grasp of what’s gone on during this chunk of time such as ‘ok if only Sue had gotten there two minutes sooner-’ except Sue was busy dealing with an interstellar dragon warlord’s minions burning her house down and trying to eat her.

I have absolutely no idea if that’s appealing, but I figure if books are going to be electronic, have the book do something Paper can’t easily do without a LOT of page flipping.

1 Like

Thought you would get a kick out of this- I still have these from my kidhood, they were hand-me-downs from my older sisters. They were fun for a 5 minute read back then.

1 Like

Yea those are the sort of things i think of when I think ‘choose your own adventure’ decent ‘oh hey i’ve got five minutes to kill let’s trace one of the routes and see if I die or not’ stories.

I really should play more of the digital ones. For some reason haven’t and I don’t know why.

1 Like

I agree with that definitely.

For me, it was these:

and things like the Lone Wolf/Magnakai books and The Way of the Tiger.

Slightly different in concept and certainly require more than 5 minutes to work through.

Despite what the Wikipedia text says the books did not require dice, there was usually a little grid you were supposed to blindly stab with a pencil to generate a random number.

Obviously a lot of cheating ensued.

That’s one of those areas where electronics can both do a better and worse job than paper. You can obviously get the gamebook to generate the random numbers itself - no cheating!

But then again, no cheating! So you don’t actually get to choose your path, it gets determined by the RNG.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 30 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.