Author Topic: Choose Your Own Adventure / "Programmed Fiction"  (Read 3570 times)

Mark Steels Stockbroker

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Choose Your Own Adventure / "Programmed Fiction"
« on: July 23, 2019, 06:31:47 AM »
I suppose most of us first encountered this through the kids books series CYOA, which is still going and still offering its back-catalogue for sale. What I didn't realise until later is that "programmed fiction" had a history as part of "experimental fiction" for grown-ups, evolving out of Oulipo and various pioneers in the 60s.

It has occurred to me that text-based adventure games on home computers were a further evolution, which then became modern-day computer games with their more cinematic preentation that doesn't rely on pages of text. Of course one of the most influential (in its day) games was the adaptation of Tolkien's The Hobbit for the ZX Spectrum, which had the innovation of an "interactive character" Thorin, who is leading his own life and can't be presumed to be act the same way and be in the same location on every run of the game. Or so I was told, I never actually played it because I am 100% allergic to Tolkien and never owned a Spectrum.

Here's a thing I done, if Neil deletes the link then PM me for it.

Re: Choose Your Own Adventure / "Programmed Fiction"
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2019, 10:34:49 AM »
Fighting Fantasy mate. I have 58 of the 59 original books, which - as you would expect - nets me a shedload of fantastic pussy.

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: Choose Your Own Adventure / "Programmed Fiction"
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2019, 07:36:32 PM »
I didn't know there were serious adult versions of CYOA's, I'll have to check them out. I was fond of the Fighting Fantasy books madhair mentions, but picked one up recently in a charity shop and found it incredibly annoying (mainly as I kept dying). There's also recently been a Choose Your Own Adventure "Survive The Zombie Apocalypse" book that I bought for a friend and read a few pages of, but my tolerance for zombie stuff is at an all time low right now so while I felt it was fairly reasonably well written I couldn't get in to it.

Re: Choose Your Own Adventure / "Programmed Fiction"
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2019, 09:11:09 PM »
Incidentally if anyone has a copy of Magehunter I can have, I'll full-on suck your cock.

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: Choose Your Own Adventure / "Programmed Fiction"
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2019, 09:43:11 PM »
Incidentally if anyone has a copy of Magehunter I can have, I'll full-on suck your cock.

Given how much it goes for on Ebay if I ever find it in a charity shop it'd cost you at least fifteen blow jobs. Deal?

Re: Choose Your Own Adventure / "Programmed Fiction"
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2019, 04:04:47 AM »

1) Did most people actually "play" these books properly, then, trying to win?
If YES, go to 2
If NO, go to 5

2) See, I don't get this, surely you only get to read about half the book along the way. "Is there a difficulty in writing this sort of stuff- most people are more motivated to see ALL the stuff in the book/game that they've paid for than to get to some boring victory sequence?", says a low muffled voice on the radio.  You notice the frequency- 666FM and turn the radio off. You walk into the abandoned Wicca chapel.
Do you go
INTO THE CHAPEL, go to 3
INTO THE GRAVEYARD, go to 4.

3) Inside the Wicca chapel,  the eyeless re-animated corpse of Shakespeare approaches you, and he says "All of my tragedies would have been utterly tedious if my characters had made different choices. There would have been no story at all. Macbeth would have just had an ordinary, pleasant enough, settled life". He waves a magic wand covered in occult signs and you are condemned to live a pleasant enough life in a medieval Scottish castle UNTIL YOU DIE! (Aged 80)

4) A hooded figure sits slumped on the ground next to a grave. "Hey buddy, he says, any favourite moments from this sort of book or game" "HA! You say, well, I never could get past the very first screen of "The Hobbit" game, literally used to die right at the first command I typed in. Or I typed in a command it didn't understand.  As for the CYOA and FF books, , my favourite bits would be.... probably be...uh"
"Yes?", he says
"Well, you say, "realising that the butler, rather than the Lord of the Manor was the demon in "House of Hell". And...uh.. the bit in "Creature of Havoc" where a hooded guy sitting on the ground beckons you over to talk to him, you go and take off the hood and he's just a corpse and 'his voice' was in fact the voice of a poisonous spider ventriloquist which descends from above and ARRRRRRRARRARRARGH!" You are dead!

5) Yeah, me too, I used to basically cheat by turning back and forth through all the options, mostly because if you picked the likely right choice and avoided the really stupid ones you would miss out on all the eerie death scenes. Well done! You made the right choice! Here is your certificate.

icehaven

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Re: Choose Your Own Adventure / "Programmed Fiction"
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2019, 12:27:17 PM »
I used to have a few CYOA books when I was a kid, but none of them were as good as Granny's Garden.


Zetetic

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Re: Choose Your Own Adventure / "Programmed Fiction"
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2019, 11:02:34 PM »
Quote
All this has further evolved in to the interactive cinematic world of modern games like GTA and all that.
No, I don't think that's right. GTA doesn't have much of any choice, illusionary or otherwise. What it does have is systems and mechanics - which modern interactive fiction doesn't tend to embrace so much (a counterexample might be The Council but arguably the apparent systematisation isn't real but just adopting the presentation of role-playing games with such systems).

But there's plenty of CYOA-type computer games these days. Text-driven "interactive fiction" is possibly the strongest single non-commercial artform in computer games (IFComp link), visual novels are a genre in themselves, and there are various adventure games of different presentations with a emphasis on choice-taking like Life is Strange.



State of Emergency and the concept of "programmed fiction" made me think very much of Hidden Agenda (1988) and the wider Games for Change movement (and 'serious games' in general). Hidden Agenda (1988) has you play the recent elected president of a South American country in the aftermath of a Nicaragua-type civil war.

It straddles the line between a CYOA-setup and something a bit more systematised - but a large part of its design is that you have very little information directly available to you (about the operation of the game, or the world in the game outside of your office). "Programmed fiction" would seem to suit it very well as a description.

Shaky

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Re: Choose Your Own Adventure / "Programmed Fiction"
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2019, 02:52:33 AM »
Incidentally if anyone has a copy of Magehunter I can have, I'll full-on suck your cock.

I have a copy back in Ireland (I live in Australia at the mo). You're welcome to find my parents house and break into it, if you like. I've narrowed the location down for you.

I'm fine for blowjobs, though.

Re: Choose Your Own Adventure / "Programmed Fiction"
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2019, 09:58:50 AM »
I think IF is, like poetry, generally more fun to write than it is to read. I enjoy pratting about in Twine sometimes but I've never created anything in it that's fit for human consumption.