Two things popped up in my news feed today that tickled my fancy and I thought I’d share. First, this detailed mathematical analysis of choose your own adventure books. Second, this account of a Finnish radio show that shared BASIC programs over the radio.
I sometimes wonder if my memories of the days of BASIC aren’t somewhat romanticised, exaggerated by the age of my life they occurred in. Then I read something remarkable like this and I realize that those days aren’t romanticised. These were were super cool days and there is nothing going to compare with that today. Sure a website like this one could have a greater reach, but it will never have a greater reward than working within the limitations of radio transmission.
The devolution of choose your own adventure books from sprawling branching narratives where every page was a new choice to mostly linear stories with a few twists is an interesting one. There is a parallel, tho it took much longer to evolve, happening in video games. One can ponder why this is happening and never get very far but this analysis gives some clues. Maybe it’s lazyness on the side of the develpers/writers. After all, some of those early CYOA books had a hard time keeping the various threads consistent. Some gave up trying and made every branching path just meander their own story path. Maybe it was what the consumer wanted, tho I find that hard to believe. I was thrilled by the more twisty and turny adventures and loved keeping track of my choices and backtracking to explore every possible avenue. But then again I never was a typical consumer.
It’s funny but in my collection of BASIC books there are some with a narrative slant and, if anything, those got better over time. The programs got more complex, aided as they figured out a set of libraries that would assist in their cross platform compatibility. It’s a topic I hope to make a series of videos on one day. But that’s on my long list. I’ve got a few projects before that one first.