bringing all our gamebook back catalogue back into print, so page sizes and printing costs have been occupying our attention.
And mostly I think that if an interactive story is going to work in digital form, it needs to be written for that medium. In my digital version of Frankenstein (available for Android now as well as iOS), the interactivity is designed in the form of a conversation with the narrator. The relationship would not be nearly so convincing in a print version, where you'd get to see his Trust and Empathy variables.
So it's interesting to see some revolutionary new changes being hinted at for Tin Man Games's forthcoming Fighting Fantasy titles. Rather than just convert the old text to digital form, Tin Man are giving the books a thorough overhaul (with the authors' blessing) to make them suitable for digital format. Among other things, this means getting rid of nostalgia features like the dice (hooray!) and making the books a lot more visual.
There's some speculation that this revamping is in response to Inkle's recent app-daptation of Steve Jackson's Sorcery, but I suspect the seeds of what Tin Man is doing now were planted earlier, in their visually rich Judge Dredd gamebook app.
My own gripe about dice is not in the clattery cubes themselves - bonkers as those are on the screen of a digital device. It's that when I'm reading an interactive story on iPad, I don't want to be bothered with the mental arithmetic of adding dice scores to combat skills and subtracting defence levels and then dividing by... Sure, the device can do all that for you, but it was never a great part of gamebooks, it was just a necessary evil. At any rate, it fitted with the pace of reading a print book, but feels like steam radio in the era of e-readers.
Putting more graphics into the apps also makes sense. After all, how many text adventure games are released these days? Unless framed within the structure of a novel, interactivity is always going to be more convincing in the context of immediacy that images and audio provide.
I'm also hoping Tin Man will do away with all the "turn to 273" legacy stuff. I should just tap on the option and be taken to the next section. Well, we'll see. It's a bold move, as I see they've already got a comment on the blog saying, "You changed something! How dare you!" (I'm still bracing myself for the snit-storm that'll come when diehards see that the new edition of The Lord of Shadow Keep now has artwork by Harry Clarke.)
The first of the new-style Gamebook Adventures is Appointment with F.E.A.R. and it's due to be released in October.