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Old 10-20-2006, 08:01 AM   #1
nekokami
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Question Interactive Fiction on eBook readers?

Hi folks,

Many people like to emphasize the difference between eBooks and other purposes to which computer-like gadgets can be put, and I'm generally in agreement. But what about "interactive fiction"? (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interactive_fiction if you don't know what I'm talking about.) There are literary contests, non-proprietary formats, and a range of different genres.

Cory Doctorow (and others, I'm sure) have pointed out that some of the strengths of eBooks are orthogonal to those of pBooks. Might this be one? Granted, a text input device is required, which could rule out some platforms, e.g. the Sony Reader. (I think.) Yet, the tradition of "choose your own adventure" pBooks is certainly there to draw on, and I rather like the idea of fiction that can adapt somewhat to the interests of the reader.

(Now, if you really want to head into the gray area, let's talk about MU* connections... still text-based, often with careful story design... is it still a book if more than one reader is interacting with it at once?)
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Old 10-20-2006, 11:20 AM   #2
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I'd think that the Choose Your Own Adventure would work fine on the Sony -- it could be implemented with just straight links, which the Reader supports.

True interactive fiction would be cool, believe it or not, I kinda miss those games. It might be doable if the app which ran it could have some sort of input mechanism, but it would be pretty rough going though.
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Old 10-20-2006, 12:17 PM   #3
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As I understand it, the iLiad now has handwriting recognition in form cells on the screen. It should not be difficult to port a z-reader to iLiad, at least once the SDK comes out. (There are z-readers available for practically every platform on Earth, and iLiad is Linux, after all.) This would make it possible to read a section of text, write in your response in an input area at the bottom of the screen, and get the next batch of text.

I actually have several IFs on my Palm, and I've never tried to read any kind of regular book on it -- the screen is too small for me to read lengthy text comfortably. But sometimes I find I need to "look" extra times because I can't easily go back and re-read earlier text. A good z-reader on an eBook device would be a perfect environment for these.

If you want a more "serious" application of this type, smart manuals that help you troubleshoot in the field would be an easy extension of this idea.
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Old 10-20-2006, 01:54 PM   #4
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And it certainly should be possible to do a more simple interactive fiction that uses the joystick to choose a few options here and there for user-decided story branches. Didn't I read recently that someone wrote one on some platform (probably for PC) which had a male/female branch option, and tailored that portion of the story to the reader's gender?
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Old 10-20-2006, 02:10 PM   #5
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Now, if all you're looking for is very simple branching (and very silly humor), try this:
DOWN TO THE SCUM QUARTER
A Choose Your Own but Get Someone Else's Adventure by Garth Nix

http://members.ozemail.com.au/~garthnix/Warning.html

This is the HTML format, with links. A printed version with page numbers is available in Nix's book "Across the Wall: Tales of the Old Kingdom and Elsewhere," highly recommended.
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Old 10-20-2006, 03:21 PM   #6
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Personal thoughts about interactive books.

Unless multiple researched and well thought storylines are pre established, I would be bored to death. Having read tons of stuff, I often find repeated stories and patterns in what I now read. Well written scifi is normally devoid of "clichés"(french for snapshots, the accent on the e is inportant because otherwise it would mean diarrhea, but I guess it would be relevant to some stories ). This is the most important factor in my choosing scifi as entertainment.

An other factor that would steer me away is the fact that making a choice in the outcome would make my concentration in the story wander. Reading is like cinema inside my head. Once I get the feel of the author's wording and style, I get grabbed in the story and only emerge at the end or the next interruption. Having to stop to troubleshoot a story, for me, is more akin to work than entertainment.
But I would not be against trying it once...

Last edited by yvanleterrible; 10-20-2006 at 03:27 PM.
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Old 10-20-2006, 03:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yvanleterrible
..."clichés"(french for snapshots, the accent on the e is inportant because otherwise it would mean diarrhea....
So ... a "double entendre," then?
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Old 10-20-2006, 03:32 PM   #8
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You're getting good buddy!
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Old 10-20-2006, 03:43 PM   #9
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I've always been pun-imaginative.
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