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LimboInteractive Novels

January 17, 2012

LimboInteractive Novels

This is sort of a supplemental postscript to the main history, as I sum up what I’ve been trying to figure out over the last few years. What I’ve determined is, I’m never going to get to work on a AAA video game title. Even if I achieve a level of success as a writer, no one is going to let me run an independent company with enough money and manpower to actually get a top shelf video game made, and there really isn’t much likelihood of me getting hired by FunCom or Microïds to make any of my stories into the games I’ve dreamed of them being.

However, that does still leave room for me to write and occasionally draw what I refer to as interactive novels and interactive graphic novels. Well, at least that’s what I would call them that if I could get them done. I can write and I can draw, but the writing has been a bit slowish of late, and I’ve always been a very slow artist. However, my history with collaboration has been pretty spotty, so I’m left to figure out a way to do the work myself and hope for the best.

What I’m thinking I might do is make a fully hyperlinked stick figure mockup of Stage!, the abandonware game I was developing with my friend Deirdra Kiai, just to see if I can get the basic functionality going, and then fill in the art once I know the thing works. Once I’ve got that sorted, I’ll need to see if I can make an eBook out of the results, and then get it to run properly in my eReader, if at all possible. There are features of the Kobo that I haven’t been able to fully grasp because the navigation is so broad and the hypertext functionality is so fussy.

I HAVE discovered that I can make very basic EPUB files using InDesign, a piece of software I have some experience with, so that’s nice. Now I just need to figure out how to make it interactive and I can start moving on to the next part of my plan. There does seem to be an Interactive function in InDesign, which includes hyperlinks and bookmarks, which should suffice fir what I want to do. Then I have to test it in my Kobo Touch to see if it’s feasible.

At any rate, as of this writing, I’m still learning, but I’m getting closer to a real solution, I think. After I’ve sorted out Stage!, I’ll probably move on to the major works of The Arcolopolis, The Sunday Afternoon Matinée OGN series, and The Art of Words, the project I started last summer that I couldn’t decide how to implement. With EPUB, perhaps I’ve found my solution.

The main thing, aside from my graphic novels, is that I’ve also come up with ways I can make interactive novels, and I’ll test that premise out with Stage! as well, since the script is already written, and will only need a little setting description and action writing to beef it up and replace the missing images. If I can make that work, then it should be possible for me to plan the rest of ASHES and The Shadow Sygne as interactive novels instead of merely linear ones. Aside from all of the plot development needed, I’ll also have to be thinking about context and sorting out how to convey changes without rewriting a section twenty times to reflect each change, but at least int he digital age, that isn’t as arduous as it must have been back in the days of CYOA books.

The other thing I’m keen to figure out is whether it’s possible to write a truly honest-to-goodness interactive novel where key words can change the entire makeup of the story for every reader. There is a sort of grail-like quality to the challenge of rendering a story so interactive that it literally retells itself differently every time you read it, simply because it’s digital and interconnected. I don’t know if I would ever want to write more than one, but the idea of conjuring up a meta-narrative novel and releasing it into the wild just sounds to me like a great deal of fun.

I won’t be starting that adventure any time soon, because really, the greatest challenge will be in finding a way to build a framework for a story that grows within itself simply by allowing folks to go their own way through the story. I might even make it a social novel, by allowing folks to conjure up parts for themselves and share them like add-ons that link from the words themselves. Not sure what sort of limits I’ll have to place on that, considering the state of copyright these days. Perhaps a paying member’s social club with a contract stipulating all additions are non-copyrightable, to avoid legal hassles. Make it an open source novel. Not sure how I’d ever recoup on such a thing, but it would be great just to get something like that rolling.

So there you have it: the current state of LimboInteractive, with the future slowly unrolling before it, tools and implements of destruction being manufactured for the purpose as we speak.

I’m still working on the Redefining Interactivity series. I’ve just hit a snag because I’ve been so busy, and will remain so for a little while yet. The articles are coming. Soon…


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