How to Write Interactive Fiction and Interactive Audio Stories – 016 – Continued Play and Playing Again

Continued Play

There are many reasons why a player would interrupt their playing of your interactive story. Most of them (internet failure, a sudden call) are outside of your realm of influence. More important is that your player does not abandon your story out of boredom or disappointment because the plot is too tedious, the descriptions are too lengthy, or the player choices have become irrelevant. So be always mindful of the dramaturgy of your story.

We already encouraged you to use shorter text passages and a simple and direct language while also splitting longer stories into smaller episodes. This will automatically force you to approach the narrative pace and dynamic of your story more consciously. But also try to grip the player with the content of your story. The following narrative elements may help you in achieving this:

Foreshadowing

At the end of your story, will the player character fight an epic battle against a dragon? Great! In this case make sure to spread little clues throughout the story making your player anticipate what you have in store for them. Let them find old texts talking about mighty, all-powerful dragons and their sinister king; let them discover burn marks on a dead body they encounter; let them overhear two peasants in a tavern speaking of a huge, dark shadow they have seen on the horizon. The uncertainty and the desire of your player to confirm their suspicions can be a strong drive to keep playing.

Player Choices

The more choices a player makes in your story, the more they want to know how it will end. After all, they are affecting what is happening with their decisions. So not only have them make choices that have an influence on the current situation and the current actions of the player character, but now and again also let them make decisions about the bigger picture. This can be the fate of certain characters whom the player is helping or fighting against, but also larger story events that you will revisit in the finale. For example, the player could be asked if they wish to win the support of the elves or of the dwarves for the battle against the dragon, knowing full well that this pact could lead to their demise.

You do not have to always reference everything that is currently happening in the world. The consequences of far-reaching decisions in particular are perfectly suited to being summarized later on in just a few words. The actual events surrounding them will still take place in the player’s mind.

Failure

We would all love to be the strong, fearless hero saving the world, cracking the case, or conquering the heart of our big love. And interactive stories give us exactly this opportunity. But there is a reason why the hero’s journey is a central element of storytelling. At the beginning, the hero is weak, inferior, and helpless. Make sure to drive this point home to your players by having them encounter superior opponents that always seem to be one or two steps ahead of them. Mock them, humble them, show them the futility of their efforts. Then what will happen? Your players will be dying to show the world what they are really made of! A clearly lasting motivation that keeps them playing your story.

The Cliffhanger

During or at the end of one episode, your player decided to not take the pass through the mountains but travel by ship instead? Great! Now let the old grumpy captain tell them that they should prepare for an encounter with pirates, the immensely dangerous rapids, or a terrible storm brewing. For your player this is a good moment to pause the story and anxiously look forward to these upcoming plot events.

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