While many digital adaptations of novels are just words on screen, Tinman games have taken steps to make the choose your own adventure book into a more traditional game. But do new combat mechanism work when you’re still trying to remain an interactive novel?
Developed by Tinman Games
Published by Tinman Games
Released in 2018On May 17th 2020, Ian Livingstone CBE, made me laugh. The co-founder of Games Workshop, former Life President of Eidos and "the father of 'Tomb Raider'" posted a picture of the Supreme Leader of North Korea. The accompanying caption said "I never knew he was a fan". To many I’m sure this remark makes no sense, but behind Kim Jong-un are rows of green books with green spines, the exact same colour as that spines of Livingstone's "Fighting Fantasy" books that were hugely popular in the 80s.
Created alongside fellow Games Workshop founder Steve Jackson, these books were the most successful "branching narrative" novels in the UK. The first in the series, 'The Warlock of Firetop Mountain', came out in 1982 and established the structure of these pre-teen literary essentials. After a passage of text, a reader has to make a decision about how the novel should continue. "Turn to section 341 to open the chest with the key or turn to section 202 if you'd rather hit it rapidly with an axe just in case there's a goblin in there". According to Livingstone each book had around 400 decisions to be made. For each one, I would tentatively flick to the page of my preferred option and quickly skim read to see if the outcome was a good one. If it wasn't I'd turn to the page of the other option and then try to convince myself that's what I wanted to do all along. I wasn't alone in doing this, Livingstone even had a name for the technique; "the five finger bookmark". “You used to see it on public transport everywhere” he says. “It’s like peeking around the corner. You can’t call it cheating – it’s taking a sneak peek.” But choosing the path through the book wasn’t all a reader had to do, there were also monster battles that were fought by rolling dice. "Combat is a simple case of rolling six-sided dice, pitching one creature's stats against another" says Arcane magazine's former editor Paul Pettengale. "It's fun, quick and easy, which explains its popularity" .