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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How to plan an interactive story

I love a story chart. Let's admit that first. It was, in fact, the topic of my first ever blog post. Currently I'm developing a new interactive story so its time to start a new one! By interactive story I mean a prose project for android / ipad / iphone etc. Lots of people are using these devices to read stories now, but few stories actually use the new opportunities they present.

I won't go into the technical details here of how it will all work - that's for a future post. In a way that part of the project seems to be the (comparatively) simple element. The much harder part is planning out the story and characters AND adding the interactive elements to that story.

Work has started, as you can see in the photo, in trying to map it out. The hard part is in bringing the emotional together with the intellectual. What I mean by that is that you have two forces battling for control of the plot.
1 - the interactive decisions. There needs to be points where different things can happen, they need to make sense and they need to balance. Plus, certain exposition points need communicating.
2 - the emotional heart. You have to care about the characters and what actually happens and all that usual good stuff.

Either of these on their own is a challenge. Together, much harder. I'm working with a local student, Yogesh, on this. We decided that the heart should come first. If you don't care about the characters then all the fancy interactive gubbins can't save it.

As a project, its shaping up well so far. Its called "Uncertain" and help is on its way from some great colleagues. Games producer and writer Rudolf Kremers, interactive story doctor (and I mean he actually has a PhD in it, take note other story 'doctors') Jim Pope and hopefully astrophysics expert and writer Andy James Carter.

Its the writers equivalent of the Avengers!

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