Sunday 9 September 2012

How to Innovate in Solo Gaming Part 2

Last time, I talked about adding an element of interactivity and immersion in solo games using the internet, audio and video. However, I am aware that there are other ways to innovate the solitaire genre, more specifically, gamebooks.

I've been pondering ways that gamebooks can be turned on their heads and changed up in order to present a new sort of experience. Here are some ideas I came up with:

"Tandem" Gamebook
This idea would link two or more gamebooks, allowing the story to change depending on actions you take. This is explored to an extent in the wonderful Fabled Lands books, but those don't strictly follow a linked narrative. I admit that I've only player one Lone Wolf book, but I don't think these do this between books.

Points-based Gamebook
Think of an 'arcade mode' on a videogame. The aim of this gamebook would be to score the most points at the end of the book.

Miniature/Board-Augmented Gamebook
This would add another dimension to the genre. Imagine having a miniature that travelled across a map, and locations on the map corresponded to numbers in the book.

Multiple-Perspective Gamebook
It would be cool to see a book that explored multiple characters that the player flicks between. This could be a group of adventurers that eventually meet at some point in the book to destroy the big bad. If one of the characters dies, then they don't meet.

Two-Player Good and Evil Gamebooks
I see this working in a similar way to Clash of the Kings, which is a two-player gamebook. In my version, one player would be the hero and the other the villain, with each character affecting the actions of the other. If the villain releases a fire elemental to destroy the village the good guy is staying in, the good guy with have to fight it.

Audio/Video Gamebook
Rather than being in book format, this idea relies on a list of audio or video files complete with acting and sound effects.

Tournament Gamebook
I love the idea of competitive gameplay, like who can complete Deathtrap Dungeon. This type of book would have to be electronic in order to prevent cheating and could even be played in teams. The winner is the one to make it to the end alive.

Episodic Gamebooks
Like videogames that come in episodic formats, you could do something similar for gamebooks. They could even be done in 'seasons' with each season having its own story arc. Alternatively, each gamebook could contain a handful of 'episodes'.


  1. The "multiple-perspective gamebook" is the form of interaction that I would like to try.
    The same adventure would be "entered into" by different characters (belonging to the same player or not) at different points. Each of the adventurers would approach the plot/mission/situation from a different perspective, and perhaps with different constraints and/or motivations, much like in a fantasy novel.

    Also, I would be interested in the following variation of your "episodic gamebook": success in adventure #1 would be a pre-requisite for adventure #2. That way, the character would be able to evolve in a quest consisting of several adventures. Knowing certain NPCs and possessing certain artifacts could then be taken for granted, which would give the players the feeling that they are playing a "tailor-made" adventure. That's nothing really new, of course, but even this well-known avenue has hardly been explored in Tunnels & Trolls.

  2. A points-type game book. Sounds great. When are you going to get started?

  3. A board game gamebook already exists, in the form of Barbarian Prince:

  4. Greater simationism The points based gamebook reminds me of NetHack, could be fun to play a DungeonCrawl with randomised monsters and items even played in tournament stylee!

  5. With touch screen phones being the norm these days, and mp3 players too, the idea of an audio gamebook seems pretty feasible to me. It work fine as an app on tablets and PCs too, but I love the idea of going for a walk with my headphones on, and tapping at the screen when needed to have a fully immersive role playing experience.