Thursday, 6 September 2012

How to Innovate in Solo Gaming


I've been thinking a lot about solitaire roleplaying recently. There's no doubt that the gamebook world is booming at the moment, with the release of Blood of the Zombies and developers like Tin Man Games bringing the interactive fiction genre back into public consciousness. Porting gamebooks to apps allowed for sound and graphical integration, making the adventure feel more immersive. When you're playing without a group, immersion is the key aspect of a roleplaying game; it should take you somewhere out of the regular hum-drum life has to offer, whisking you away into your own imagination. But I think there's room for more innovation.

You can't beat playing a game with others - it's a fact, one which is unfortunate for people who live out in the sticks. In this way, solo games should aim to be effective replacements for group play. This could mean emulating human interactions and mimicking the freedoms you have in group games, which is no mean feat. We need to think about what we have available to us to help create this illusion and submerge us into a new world.

Youtube could well help with the interaction element. What if your online gamebook had links to certain videos, which bring some interactions to life? You meet an old hermit by a hollowed out tree in the book, which links you to a video of the hermit speaking to you. Even better if you could embed videos into your book. If you don't have the expertise to create a video, you can always create audios too. You could also set up a hashtag on Twitter that someone must tweet to get a secret (auto-tweets could help with this).

Similarly, you could have links to music that the player should play when they reach a certain point. If you're musically talented then you could compose your own pieces, but you could possibly link to current music that sets the atmosphere of that scene.

Integrate your book with an online forum that links from the tavern in your book. This way you can have roleplaying interactions with people in your gamebook world.

I know that these ideas entail electronic gamebooks rather than physical ones, which many people prefer, but I feel that the internet can be a huge boon to solo gamers. It would be different from playing play-by-post games, since you don't have to keep track of turns or anything like that, but it would augment the experience and ultimately make it more immersive.