tracycembor

Writer. Adventurer. Currently working on The Dreamless City, a series of steampunk novels and short stories.

Random House Is Getting Interactive

Traditional book publisher Random House is launching a free-to-play browser-based narrative project dubbed Black Crown using Failbetter Games’ StoryNexus platform. Checking out the Black Crown website, which features a gas mask icon and touts the project as “an infectious new kind of narrative experience.” I also looked into the Latin phrase on the page header, which roughly translates to “now comes truth, God, truth comes now.” (If anyone with a few years of high school Latin wants to correct me on that, be my guest.)

Black Crown is scheduled to go live in May, and Random House plans to run it for a full year, optimistically hoping to generate “thousands rather than hundreds” of registered users before launch. The author behind the project has not been disclosed, and there is the likelihood of a physical book and e-book in the future according to Digital Publisher Dan Franklin.

Failbetter Games has created other narrative games, such as Fallen London, and its StoryNexus platform is available in public beta for anyone who wants to create browser-based, interactive stories.  (I’m not familiar with this company or their products, so I’d be curious to hear from anyone who has used it.)

So What Do You Think?

I figured it was time to get back into the writerly side of this blog, so let’s start Monday off with some discussion. ;)

Is this the direction that books heading towards?  There are significant customization and gamification opportunities here, and I do like to see technology being leveraged to create new avenues for entertainment.

Would you be interested in projects like this?  On one hand, it is enjoyable to be able to shape a story and have some impact on the outcomes (assuming this project is what I think it is).  On the other hand, isn’t the point of a story to experience the writer’s vision and understand the underlying message he may be trying to convey?

Do you think this is a good idea, a bad idea, or is it just too soon to tell?

23 comments on “Random House Is Getting Interactive

  1. katemsparkes
    April 15, 2013

    I don’t think I’d enjoy it as a reader or as a writer, but it’s an interesting idea for people who like that sort of thing. I’ll have to take a look. :)

    • tracycembor
      April 19, 2013

      While I enjoy the concept of it, my first thought was, “I don’t have time for this.” As a writer, I might be okay with some stories being presented this way, but there are some that I would want to maintain their “narrative purity.”

  2. Kira Lyn Blue
    April 15, 2013

    I’m going with too soon to tell. It’s definitely an interesting idea and a unique way to engage readers. I’m very curious to see how it will work out.

    • tracycembor
      April 19, 2013

      I’m curious to see how it turns out too. I hope it turns out to be more than a new mousetrap to rope in writers, especially the squirrely independent ones. ;)

  3. beautycalyptique
    April 15, 2013

    hmm. “too soon to tell” is my opinion too. additionally: as an avid gamer AND reader I daresay it doesn’t really get me hooked. I mean, I love interactive, and I love those silent, text-driven games but… hm. no. maybe not yet?

    the gas mask though appeals to me a lot *apocalyptically glares* :D

    • tracycembor
      April 19, 2013

      Whew, glad I’m not the only one who felt that way. I love books and games and the gamification of things, but I wasn’t excited about this either. Bemused, maybe that’s what I felt.

      The gas mask does add some mystery to it, doesn’t it? :D

      • beautycalyptique
        April 24, 2013

        hehe, it does, yeah. so they got a smart designer :D

  4. Emmy
    April 15, 2013

    I like pushing bounderies but not sure if this is up my street. Will give it more time before final judgement. Thanks for pointing out!

    • tracycembor
      April 19, 2013

      Yeah, no one has sounded excited about this yet. Tepidly optimistic seems to be the prevailing sentiment. Glad to share. :)

  5. mandyevebarnett
    April 15, 2013

    I’m trying to think which demographic they are targeting with this. Not sure it would appeal to gamers or ‘traditional’ readers on the whole. Will have to wait and see I suppose

    • tracycembor
      April 19, 2013

      Ooo, I didn’t even think about who the target demographic would be for this. Maybe the 12-22 group with the most free time?

      • mandyevebarnett
        April 19, 2013

        Yes its interesting to consider the demographic…your speculation may be right.

  6. krisdw76
    April 15, 2013

    I will check it out. Maybe it’ll be a wonderful website. But I think it is too soon to tell.

    • tracycembor
      April 19, 2013

      Yeah, I think everyone has decided to wait and see… No one is very excited about it. I wonder if it is because it is so unexpected, or if it is because there isn’t any demand for this product.

      • Kristy J. W.
        April 19, 2013

        I tried it and it didn’t hold my interest. Maybe I will try again in a few months. I give it thumbs down for now.

  7. gabrielablandy
    April 16, 2013

    Hmmm, this is an interesting one! I have to say – and probably even more so because I’ve been travelling for the last month (hence I’ve not been by your blog in a while) and reading a lot – that part of me feels that there are so many wonderful books out there, and I’m not that keen on reading stuff where the way in which the work is presented takes over from the actual work. But on the other hand, it might provide some amusement – something to pass the time, rather than a book, which requires more concentration and commitment.

    • tracycembor
      April 19, 2013

      Welcome back, and glad you had a safe trip! :) Yes, there are a lot of books I would not want to see messed with in this way. I had the same reaction you had — this is something to pass the time, like a casual game, and not something I am going to make time for, like a good book.

  8. Jess
    April 16, 2013

    Is it weird to think this is weird? I will check out the site.

    • tracycembor
      April 19, 2013

      No, it is not weird that you think this is weird. I think we all aren’t sure exactly what to make of this. I’m going to get a long stick and poke at it to see if it moves.

  9. Przemek Kucia
    April 19, 2013

    Of course it is a curious project, and indeed gamification and engagement opportunities are immense. On the other side to engage in gamified story we simply have games ;) It’s pretty innovative… Sooo, I don’t reallly have an opinion xD (so why am I commenting? xD)

    • tracycembor
      April 19, 2013

      I’m frankly stunned that you don’t have an opinion. :P

      While I enjoy games and the gamification of things (as well as enjoying choose your own stories), I’m not sure how I feel about gamifying my books. Once you gamify a narritive, it is a game, isn’t it?

      • Przemek Kucia
        April 19, 2013

        This is exactly why I don’t have an opinion, cause I don’t really have hypothesis there to defend ;P It’s always with things “in between” two concepts – it could be either bullseye or bland bullshit xD

        Well with gamification there is this problem when once you replace internal motivation with external one you “can’t really” (cause hypothetically you can but it’s more of a legend than fact xD) go back to internal, That’s why gamifying is so cool with chores but not so cool when applied to passion ;)

      • tracycembor
        April 19, 2013

        Ooo, that’s a good point about internal vs. external as it applies to a narrative. I suppose the writer is the internal motivation since they are scripting the plot. Maybe the reason I’m so squeamish about this project is that I have certain viewpoints for my stories, and I’m not sure I want external sources mucking them up. (Hmm, maybe I have some writerly control issues. :P )

Comments are closed.

Posting Schedule for 2014-15

Monday through Friday I will be posting about writing as business and craft, the science of creativity, all things steampunk, and progress on The Dreamless City.

Weekends are reserved for my Music Playlist.

Writers of the Future Honorable Mention

About the Author

Tracy Cembor attempts to juggle a preschooler and a baby, a full-time job, random geekery, and the writing life. Currently working on The Dreamless City, a steampunk urban fantasy novel. Come join the adventure.
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