So here I am, with the automagical Clockwork Book machine posting its pages while I’ve got my back turned – through June, anyway: I’d be in trouble if I didn’t get back to it on schedule – and at last I’m back at work on Part Two of The Toaster With TWO BRAINS. It’s a nice feeling, even though I still obsess about promotional tasks for The Lair of the Clockwork Book.
I was paying pretty close attention to Part One as it shaped up (well, naturally!) and I’ve continued to think about it since. There are such differences between what can work well in the web version and what can work well in print… more so than you might expect. That means that some things that made perfect sense to me about the script for Part One didn’t turn out to be as perfectly sensible as I’d like.
It’s not the story itself. It’s more about its fundamental structure. In a lot of ways Part One emulates a graphical adventure game. I think that shows up most clearly in the conversation trees that eat up a lot of pages. They seemed perfectly okay because they were essentially free pages in the web version; but the pages are the opposite of free in the print version, so adding a lot of nearly identical story nodes was a bad idea. The reader gets to page through a conversation in any order at all – but so what? Very little is really added for the reader, and the additional pages cut down on how many unique things can take place in the story because of the cost of the printed pages.
I made a virtue of that by often doing alternate illustrations for similar story nodes. But that still didn’t make it a good idea.
So this time I’m approaching things a little differently. One thing I really enjoy about Epicsplosion is that its story branches take off in completely different directions. There aren’t all that many options on most pages, but when you do select one, the two story branches are very, very different. I’m not doing the same thing, really: my story’s a multi-part one, and my branches each have to leave you in a very similar place at the end of the volume. So the story can’t transmogrify into something completely different. What I can do, though, is to take a very different route to get to that same eventual spot.
One of the things that I think worked very well in Part One was the way you can follow more than one character in the story. I’m doing even more with that in Part Two (in fact that’s pretty fundamental, as are some tricks that make you wonder what happened in the other branch, once they come back together).
So in Part Two I’m concentrating on the several point of view characters. An individual page may not have as many options, but I’m trying to do more with the options you get. More of these options "expire" if you haven’t used them (you don’t often get the same choice on two consecutive pages). So the result should be a story whose branches are thinner, but longer: a tree rather than a bush.
I think it’s going to make for a better experience. Maybe even for me – I just realized that there are fewer flow charts in my future :).
So far, let me see… the first draft is about 25% along. My next stop is a chess tournament that’s celebrated pretty much like a basketball game, or maybe like a NASCAR event. I’ve got three different characters headed there and only one of them knows what’s really going on. Good times!
“…you can follow more than one character in the story. I’m doing even more with that in Part Two (in fact that’s pretty fundamental, as are some tricks that make you wonder what happened in the other branch, once they come back together).”
hmmm…. makes me glad I mastered the “follow both points of view at that same time” technique… mwahhhaaahhhaa….
AND… on a different topic… any chance of putting a link to the Thrilling Tales (http://thrilling-tales.webomator.com/) in a little more prominent place on your homepage? I’m not sure how much longer I and the other hordes of readers are going to want to scroll down to your Feb 7th entry to get to the links you have included there.
(ummm…. is it ANYWHERE on your homepage? I couldn’t find it. Feel free to point out the incredibly obvious place where it resides, if I missed it.)
(Captcha: “Horndasch, Culli”. Uh, I would if I could…, and my name’s not Culli.)
I’m thinking that by “my homepage” you mean here, on the blog?
So far it shows up as one of the rotating ads at the upper left. I guess I could sort of bolt on something more universal. But if you mean direct links to the latest page for the Clockwork Book, hmmm, I dunno. I guess I could, but I sort of think long-term on what links show up all the time; on the other hand it will run for over a year, so maybe that IS long term.
I’d usually rather link to the front page at Thrilling Tales, though, since there’s more than one thing to do there.
Something decided your comment was spam, so it got held till I noticed it. But don’t feel bad: I had to manually approve my own reply, too.
Something deep in the guts of WordPress is starting to get a little too judgmental, I think.
That’s pretty bad when you have to tell your gatekeeper that your own comment is not spam…
Well, since your blog is what comes up when you push the “Home” button, I had just assumed it might be your home page…
What I didn’t realize was that ‘Home’ takes you to different places, depending on where you start… (That sounds like it should be a deep philosophical insight… I’ll have to think about that.) But anyway, I understand now why ‘home page’ might not be very descriptive in this case.
I was just surprised that unless you’re specifically blogging about the Thrilling Tales, it is rather difficult to get there from here. It’s not even included in your Notable Blogs list or as a link on your Links Page (i.e., the page you get when you push the Links button… oh, never mind… the ‘Link’ buttons all go different places as well, depending on which page you start on).
…I’ll just add Thrilling Tales to my bookmarks… 😉
Well, your new comment went through, so I guess it likes you now.
I guess I did figure that people would bookmark the Thrilling Tales web site. It’s a whole separate site from this one, so “Home” is relative. I’ll think about a prominent, permanent link instead of the revolving banner. And that’s a good point about the links page here. I should update that.
In the meantime, what looks like a problematic motherboard on my main computer has finally gone to the big ol’ chassis in the sky, which has left me isolated from my email and other things because the passwords on this back-up machine aren’t current. Quite frustrating. I should have a replacement next week, and fortunately the Thrilling Tales site will update itself without me.
It’ll be days, though. I may be able to move the data drive over to this machine, so at least I can keep working, but a gazillion other things that depend on logins and whatnot are going to have to mind themselves.
I sure hope it really is the motherboard that was at fault. I’ve been trying to diagnose it for weeks and that seems like the likeliest culprit.
(fingers crossed that things are back to some semblance of normal for you soon)
I’ve gotten a surprising amount of work done anyhow, once I moved my data drive over to the other computer – the first draft of the new TWO BRAINS script is about three quarters done now. But it looks like that new motherboard is going to get here today and that may keep me busy for awhile (Along with shoveling snow. I dug out everything but the driveway yesterday and I need to dig that out today!)
(Just out of curiosity, coming from California, how did you ever get used to the biting cold and snow?)
One of the worst snowstorms I’ve ever seen was in Northern California, so you just never know.
But I’d rather be cold than hot. When its hot I get slow and stupid. And it can stay hot for a heck of a long time in most parts of California. I can remember having a party one night in late October, and the temperature outside was ninety degrees. In the night time. In October.
When it’s cold you can always throw on more clothes; when it’s hot you can strip down, but you sort of have to stop when you get to your skin. If you’re naked and you’re still hot, well, you’re just going to be hot. And people may look at you funny.