Three Paths Diverge in the Woods
The second in my ongoing dev blog discussion of Nocked! (Orginally released on iOS in 2017, it’s gone through some changes). Still, the posts are still valid — and no one read them the first time around anyway! :)
Three Paths through the Forest
One leads to wealth, one to happiness, and one to certain death!
There’s a tendency in choose-your-own-adventure-games towards the arbitrary. Anyone who read and reread the old gamebooks can attest to certain and repeated character death (or being transformed into a toad, lost in space, and anything else that might bring an abrupt end to the story). This was certainly a function of the limitations of a print publication; the ultimate goal of those books was not to pick the interesting or unusual path, but to pick the right path, the one that got you to the best ending.
A friend once told me that any piece of writing can be a slog, but make it interactive fiction and it’s like wrapping chains around your ankles and encasing your feet in concrete. Regardless of the flexibility allowed by an infinite page count, multiple stories become exponentially more difficult to tell, if each must be shepherded to a satisfactory conclusion.
Nevertheless, that’s what I set out to do. That sense of the arbitrary, that moment where control is abruptly whisked away from the player in favor of narrative expediency, had no place in Nocked! Any story I began would find its way – one way or another – to the end. Over 400,000 words later, I met my goal.
There is no power gaming in Nocked!, no best path to victory, no right way to play Robin. Not all choices are created equal, and there may be setbacks (and victory is certainly not assured), but I did my best reward a consistency of character over preconceived notions of who Robin Hood should be. It’s one of the reasons you can be a woman, that you’re not limited to a traditional romance, or that you can come back to England after serving in the Crusades. In each case, the world responds to your choice and changes the game to an extent that, should you choose to play again, your story will be different.
Whoever you were, and whatever you aspire to become, Sherwood needs your help. Who’s your Robin?
Get Nocked! True Tales of Robin Hood
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