How to Write Interactive Fiction and Interactive Audio Stories – 036 – Further Story Ideas

Immersive Titles

A cool way to warm up your players when they start your story is to cleverly combine the Voice commands of the Voice assistant with the title of your story. Skills for Amazon Alexa, for example, can be started with the following commands: open, start, play. By choosing your title accordingly, you can already create immersion before the story has even begun.

  • Alexa, open The Seventh Gate
  • Alexa, open Heaven’s Gate
  • Alexa, open The Forbidden File
  • Alexa, open The Secret Chamber
  • Alexa, start The Voyage Around the World

However, make sure to test your desired title beforehand. If there are already similar titles for movies, songs, or books, it can happen that Alexa will start a completely different skill instead of yours.

Achievements

Achievements are certain goals that your player can reach during the course of the story. This is a well-known feature of video games and very popular among gamers. Their enthusiasm even reaches such heights that many of them will play these games again to unlock all available achievements, and there are even trading cards and badges for these achievements that players can trade with each other.

You can make up your own achievements for your story. A player could, for example, receive the achievement “Heartbreaker” once they have mastered all the flirtatious situations in the story, or the achievement “Keeper of Knowledge” once the player has discovered all the secret information that could be uncovered. These achievements can easily be recorded as variables and then presented as text, shown on a Voice device with display, or sent as an optional email informing the player once they are finished which achievements they have unlocked and which they still has to find.

GLOSSARY

Achievement: reward for reaching certain goals in the story, including goals that might not be plot-relevant.

Rankings

Another feature that can be found in video games but also in some Voice games is rankings. In these rankings, the game success of the players is recorded and then, for instance, displayed in the game’s blurb in the Amazon Skill Store or on a separate website.

For your interactive story, decide how many points you wish to award your player for certain decisions to create such a ranking. Also, if, in your adventure, the management of a certain resource like gold, oxygen supply, or soldiers is important, you can use this resource as basis for a ranking at the end of the story. This creates an additional incentive for your players to invest even more time and effort in your story and to play it several times.

Other Players’ Choices

Everything in interactive stories revolves around interaction. Your players want to deeply engage with your story and have a unique gaming experience. At the same time, they will wonder what other players have done at certain points in the story. This is especially true for player choices that will alter the course of the story or that confront the player with a moral dilemma.

In TWIST, you can see how many users made what choice. Afterwards, you can publish this information in the blurb in the Amazon Skill Store or on your own website. When you do so, however, you should warn the player that this information will contain spoilers so as not to accidentally ruin the most exciting parts of your story.

Language as a Narrative Concept

Language is an important part of every story. If we think just of the oriental storytellers who, in flowery and copious words, told their tales of “One Thousand and One Nights”, we can immediately see the influence that language can have on the perception of a story.

You can make use of this for your own interactive story by making the specific choice of language a central narrative element of your story. Your player is taking on the role of a character in your story anyway, giving this character their own personality. So, when they meet the dragon, instead of just asking the player whether they want to “flee or attack”, you can put this Player Choice into much more vivid and thus immersive words. These words can be, depending on the character of your story, either funny, epic, or dramatic:

  • “Will you beat it, or will you plant your fist in the dragon’s face?”
  • “What’s your pick? Time to use the back exit or full speed ahead?”
  • “What are you thinking? That the prince isn’t that handsome after all, or that your sword is thirsting for some dragon blood?”
  • “What do you think? That heroic deeds are told by survivors or that they are written with a sharp blade?”
  • “Do you do the safe thing and retreat, or have you always wanted to find out what dragon steak tastes like?”
  • “Will you let your feet lead the way, or will you follow the tip of your sword?”

The more abstract your choice of words, of course, the greater the risk that your player will not exactly understand what their choices are and what the consequences might be. On the other hand, if you use this narrative concept consistently throughout your story, players will get accustomed to it. And it can be a very rewarding gaming experience. Because surely the overriding appeal of interactive stories lies in weighing up the risk versus the likelihood of a successful outcome following your decision!

Our personal experience has shown that as long as you reward your player for their choices, the story will work. And this reward can also be the language chosen and the immersion created by it.

Summary

Interesting Narrative Concepts:

  • You can create a captivating premise by building upon the things that people are familiar with and then present an idea with very few words that immediately grips your players, like, “You are suddenly as tiny as an ant.”
  • You can use an unreliable narrator who tells the story from his subjective point of view and/or comments on the story which will build a very special dynamic between player and narrator.
  • For children, a congruent player character is very interesting, meaning that they are playing themselves in the story. But refrain from using direct speech for the player character and instead use indirect speech to preserve immersion.
 

More Story Ideas:

  • A house of horrors where the player character has to protect their friends and herself from a mad killer whereby some decisions can be helpful in the moment but will have negative long-term consequences.
  • The player character is a shapeshifter and the shape they choose will influence the available Player Choices and the reactions of other characters.
  • The player character is a backpacker who is traveling around the world with very little money and has to manage his financial resources to get as far as possible.
  • The player is living through their own career as a pro sportsperson, from amateur to title champion, include all highs, lows, and accompanying life choices.
 

Further Ideas:

  • Find an immersive title that makes creative use of the Voice commands of the Voice assistant, like, “Alexa, open The Seventh Gate.”
  • Use achievements to reward your player for reaching certain goals in your story.
  • Use rankings to show players how successful they were compared to other players.
  • Tell your player what decisions other players took at important or difficult points in the story.
  • Use a specific, but consistent style of language to give your story a unique character.
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