Gamebook store

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Eternal Escape

If gamebooks have a future, works like Metahuman Inc and 80 Days point to that future being in digital format. With all the advantages you can see why. It's easier to give readers a free sample. The device keeps track of any stats and variables so you can stay immersed in the story. The text can adapt to the choices you make in a way that a print gamebook, contrained by the physical limit on the number of paragraphs, cannot do.

This week we got wind of a new digital gamebook called Eternal Escape that's being funded on Indiegogo. You can read more about it here and play the demo here.

Evgeny Nesterov and his development team promise a 2000+ section adventure with a strong story hook. You wake up in a dank cell. Your memory has gone; you don't know who you are or how you got here. There's a 400-year-old statue with your face. And among the characters wh might help, hinder or eat you is a seven-foot ant called Tal. Who are you going to trust? It sounds like "Alice Cooper in Wonderland"! The campaign runs just one month, so jump over there and see for yourself.


  1. Looks like they need a copy editor if you've some time on your hands Dave.

  2. 'Alice Cooper in Wonderland'? I'd play that.

    The story hook for Eternal Escape seems interesting. A character that is essentially immortal (one explanation for the statue, at any rate) waking with amnesia. Reminiscent of the start of Roger Zelazny's Amber Chronicles, which is no bad thing. Unfortunate that the demo is for Android – I'm still an iOS kind of guy.

    I'm no great authority on writing IF apps – though thanks for the shout out to MetaHuman Inc – but I'm finding it increasingly curious to talk about apps in terms of the number of 'pages' or 'game paragraphs' they contain. A wholly original IF app is quite a different beast to a dead-tree gamebook. My first draft of the first section of The Frankenstein Wars (its first chapter, if you will), comes to around 560 'paragraphs' – but even this is misleading; some of those paragraphs contain nothing but coding, which the player will never see; some are only one sentence long, and the 'page' that the player sees is spliced together from two or three different 'paragraphs'.

    Even word count for apps is tricky to measure. MetaHuman Inc runs to around 260,000 words, but coding accounts for maybe 10% - 15% of that. Then there's the fact that the same 'paragraph' may appear half a dozen times, each instance lightly edited for continuity to reflect the different ways that the player has arrived at that point.

    But we do need some reasonably objective way to measure the length of an IF app. A publisher needs to be able to describe the quantity of work that a reader is buying. A writer needs to be able to check how much word count he's managed to chunk through at the end of each day, whether that be a cause for jubilation or despair.

    Maybe 'mean playthrough length' would be a good measurement for IF apps? Don't ask me how that might accurately be gauged, though.

    1. It's a question that exercises me too. One possibility is to list the number of choices - but how meaningful/interesting are those choices? If we include the knock-on effect of choices, eg whether to name the monster in Frankenstein, it could proliferate into thousands of miniscule differences. And it begs the question of whether the number of choices is a clear measure of anything. You could have a great CYOA book with a couple hundred choices or a dull gamebook app with thousands.

      Writing Frankenstein, in the end I just resorted to the old workhorse of word count to judge each day's work. The markup code was only about 5% of that (though proportionately took a much bigger chunk of the time) so in all I can say it's 157,000 words - although that's only a valid measure because it's an intentionally literary rather than game/choice driven book.

  3. Greetings Fabled Landers, long time, no chat! I am glad to see forward movement on the gamebook front!

    MetaHuman Inc, Maelorum, Holdfast, Spire Ablaze, Destiny Quest... and of course, The Serpent King's Domain all whet my whistle when it comes to die-rolling, page-flipping fun!

    Congratulations again on another successful Kickstarter campaign and may many a traveller get lost in the Fabled Lands of yore!

    Mike Mielke