StoryShift is a new storytelling medium. Why hasn’t it caught on?


I’m reminded of how MSPaint Adventures started. Hussie moved away from audience participation, but I’ve always wondered how this might turn out in the hands of authors who moved the other way and owned it.


The Internet’s a good place for this. The trick is balancing responsivity with meaningful choice. For example, A Stray In The Woods was about one page a week of (what looked to me like) high-quality work in a direction determined by the readers. Page 7 is a particularly nice exemplar of what can happen when the artist and the readers are in synch.

On a meta note, isn’t this article a bit of an advertisement?

Didn’t Tad Williams try something a bit like this with Shadowmarch? Was meant to be an online serial, but fell through due to lack of subscribers, going back to traditional publishing?

I dimly remember an episode of Doctor Who where people could vote for what they wanted to happen, too.

Must have been this:

At the end of Part One, viewers were asked to phone in and vote for which EastEnders character would save the Doctor at the start of Part Two. Two versions of the scene were filmed, one featuring Mandy and the other ‘Big’ Ron.

That is very true, we’re still juggling chapter lengths, voting time (currently one week), etc

I’ve seen other projects like that and various takes on the idea and it does seem hard to get an audience and keep it. We’re doing our best to be successful one :slight_smile:

Why not make it an interactive experience? Was there a way they could give suggestions for the direction of the story? Why limit it to comics?

Why didn’t this catch on? Probably because we want to be told a story, not have to write it our selves.

We’ve had the ability to communicate directly with storytellers since there has been story telling, yet, for the most part, interactive story telling never caught on - adding “do it on the internet” to it doesn’t really change that equation.

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Okay. First of all, this isn’t entirely a new storytelling medium. TVTropes calles this type of thing the Interactive Comic, as exemplified by MS Paint Adventures and Ruby Quest.

Secondly, Andrew Hussie moved away from fan participation? Sort of. He stopped taking suggestions for the micro-scale actions of the characters, but fan participation, fandom, etc. has continued to influence the story on a larger scale (for example, a popular piece of fanart put one character in a wheelchair, which got put into canon).

The page is also kind of bletcherous – lots of video ads, I could barely figure out what was going on. And you have to set up another login. I would totally be up for something like that otherwise.

Not sure what you mean, if you mean, that’s newgrounds,com, get it on mobile if you want a cleaner thing.

As opposed to ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’, this acts as ‘Vote Your Own Adventure’.
It kind of seems like a ‘less than’ version of the original game book formula. Longer breaks between page turns, no real control over the narrative and no replay value…

The “replay value” was pretty low in CYOA books too. Typically there was effectively only 1 path through the story, and “wrong” choices ended in the death of your character in short order, typically only a single page.

Like a lot of kids, I just kept a finger on the decision point page and read the bad answers to see what would happen before continuing on. There were some pretty creative deaths in those books, in some ways they were young adult slasher novels.

Some were totally bullshit too though. “You come to a door and a set of stairs, do you try the door or the stairs?”. “Stairs: You slip and fall down the stairs, breaking your neck in two places. White bits of your own spine poking through your mouth are the last thing you ever see. The End”


There are actually quite a few systems / platforms that are out in the wild now…I would peg StoryShift’s struggle to explode as a dominant form to the fact that other things like (or to a certain extent the StoryNexus platform) are out there too, and I feel like these sorts of things aren’t the kind where a given audience member will move between. More likely they stick with one, which means lots of people competing for the same audience.

I’ve been following this. Great for Elder Scrolls fans.

Prequel Adventure

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I don’t think that’s true of everyone at all times. I like to hear/listen to/watch stories, but I like to create too. It’s not an either/or thing.

I’m not sure that’s true at all. Fandom has for a long time been involved in storytelling, for a reason example. While they are responding to forms of stories already written, fandom has long used criticism and their own versions of stories written within a particular universe to move the story along. Plus, there are things like the revival of Star Trek, in part due to the popularity of Star Trek and the rise of conventions in the 70s. Isn’t how people perceive and use stories part of storytelling?

I don’t think there is every really a point where storytelling is ever a passive medium, even when it seems to be so.

Funny you use that as an example. I’ve been playing Star Trek Online a lot lately, an MMO, in which there’s almost no concession to role-playing within the structure of the game. Ironically, one of the reasons I started playing it was to clear out the bad taste I got from the beta test for Elder Scrolls Online, which had the same basic problem. That was more disappointing, though, as I’d been in touch with a group of fans of the Elder Scrolls saga, including one of its creators, who were planning to have a role-playing group in the new game, but the structure of the game practically prohibits it.

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If you want to role play, a MMO is not the ideal platform. There are a lot of concessions made to maintain the persistent world that suck the life out of the roleplay. Single player games can offer a much better experience, but they don’t make as much money as MMOs so big studios don’t make them as much anymore.

There isn’t an ideal platform, currently, but MMOs can offer some practical advantages, such as facilitating your interactions with other players.

What gets me, though, about the trend in MMO design is that they’ve become increasingly hostile to role-playing. Making them more friendly to role-playing is very labor intensive, and there’s not much money in it. But, I suspect there’s an ideological component to it.

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