SIDE NOTE: Effective Branching Narratives

I’d like to perform a deep dive on branching narratives. Making a branching narrative is not difficult – but making one where the player’s choices carry weight is not so easy. I’d like to figure out what makes these narratives engaging and what makes this customized story the player’s own. By understanding how to keep track of and create unique branches, I hope to create immersive narratives that players enjoy.

Annotated Bibliography below the cut.

Annotated Bibliography (MLA Format)

Fabulich, Dan “By the Numbers: How to Write a Long Interactive Novel That Doesn’t Suck” Choice of Games, 27 Jul. 2011, https://www.choiceofgames.com/2011/07/by-the-numbers-how-to-write-a-long-interactive-novel-that-doesnt-suck/. Accessed 12 Oct. 2016

This article discusses a numeric approach to handling branching narratives. It discusses the allocation of statistics within the design of choose your own adventure games. It covers potential formulas used and what makes these formulas stale to the player. This can be used to understand how to implement skill points within branching narratives as well as what to avoid doing when doing so.

Freed. Alexander M. “Branching Conversation Systems and the Working Writer, Part 3: Building a Conversation Tree” Gamasutra, 16, Sep. 2014, https://hive.am/zMwBB. Accessed 12 Oct. 2016.

This article discusses how to create a branching narrative, covering potential tools and methods to do so. It discusses the terminology used as well as basic structure of conversation trees. This can be used to understand how to technically assemble a conversation tree.

Freed, Alexander M. “Developing Meaningful Player Character Arcs in Branching Narrative” Gamasutra, 21 Mar. 2013, https://hive.am/zllw9. Accessed 12 Oct. 2016.

This article discusses how to use branching narratives to develop characters in depth through character arcs. A three part process that Freed goes through: introduction, development, and details. This can be used to understand what to and not to do when creating a branching narrative in order to make it engaging.

Gibbons, Jenny, “WRITING BRANCHING NARRATIVES (AKA TIME TRAVEL VS. PARALLEL UNIVERSES)” Woody Studio, 19 Mar. 2015, https://hive.am/vb68c. Accessed 12 Oct. 2016.

This development log discusses the benefits of branching narratives from the perspective of an independent games developer who has created multiple games that use branching narratives. Gibbons talks about her challenges and methods when creating branching narratives as well as her reasonings. This can be used to understand what to avoid when creating a branching narrative.

Nelson, Paul. “Designing Branching Narrative” The Story Element, 11 Feb. 2015, https://hive.am/c2KzF. Accessed 12 Oct. 2016.

This article discusses how to design and keep track of branching narratives, especially when there are many branches. It covers organization methods as well as formulas that can be used to avoid the narrative becoming too monotonous for the reader. This can be used to understand how to create expansive branching narratives that are still engaging.

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SIDE NOTE: Effective Branching Narratives

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