So, the basis of my story is an interactive adventure that I created using inklewriter. The story itself quickly became incredibly complex. Just how complex, I will demonstrate in a moment when I discuss the creation of each section. For additional media types, I used some elements of design, some animated gifs, some visual aids, and of course the whole thing contains an decent amount of writing: ~4000 words. Composing the story alone took well over 20 hours, although a good portion of that was just keeping the story line straight.
So, the basics of the choices I included are as follows. There are some choices that will give you entirely different outcomes no matter what, there are some choices that will give you direct options for different outcomes, there are some choices that will give you more information to make informed choices later, and there are some choices that accumulate or intersect to give you access to, or sometimes guarantee different outcomes.
In the first section of the story, I just set a bit of background. I included a couple randomized elements just for a bit of variance for people who read the story more than once, which most of the endings encourage readers to do.
This is a blurry image of the total map of the first section. In all the sections but the last, all choices meet back up on the main story before transitioning. Some of them just carry different flags that make a difference later in the story. For the most part, section one is rather straightforward, but it does contain some of the most important choices in the story. One of them is a guarantee of death, and after great deal of consideration, I decided not to tell the people who met that death why. It is, from the outcome, at least moderately straight forward.
This is the map of the second sections.
In this section, most of what occurs is that some of the choices from the first section play out. This contains many of the “give additional information that helps readers make more informed choices later in the story” type of choices.
Section 3 gets rather more complicated.
Much of it is a two cycle loop. Readers must choose, in this section, how to spend their time wisely. There are 5 other main characters, one readers encounter in the first section. In this portion, the 4 other poker players are available for conversation, but readers only have time to speak with 2. The entire purpose of this section is to allow readers access to information they need to make the right choices in section 4. But this point, some of their fates are already sealed from section 1.
Section 4 contains the actual poker game and the various possible outcomes.
When all is said and done, there are a total of 5 different outcomes, and more paths to get to each of them than I could readily count if I wanted. In addition to the several outcomes, there are different inline logical dialogues build in that reflect choices that have been made up until that point. Some examples are, the love interest is more flirty if readers have flirt with her, Merrell never refers to someone by name that he has not met, and small pieces of information are revealed to people who would have observed some necessary event earlier in the story.
In addition to the main story, I created some pieces of media to go along with it all.
I did have some trouble incorporating the media types I wanted. Inklewriter only displays thumbnails of images, so animated gifs were out for the internal parts of the story. I isolated their use until the ending(s). The next section of this post includes all of the media that I created or used for parts of the story.
This images is an animated gif (you will have to click the image for it to animate) that I made for the “ideal” ending of the story. I just used a grass brush package to create the grass and a western brush package, from Obsidian Dawn, for the cactus. For the sunrise and shifting background, I just drew some circles and the heart, put ovals behind them as overlays, feathered the edged by varying degrees, and used the bucket fill tool for the sun, and used the gradient tool tool to move the background as the sun rose.
This is another animated .gif I made for an ending. For this one, using the revolver and muzzle flash images, I created the animation. The first few frames are of the bullet and the flash growing larger. Then, I remove the bullet, to indicated that it has hit the target, and there is a frame that is mostly just muzzle flash. The next several frames are of the gun, bullet no longer in the chamber, getting narrower in a way it might if the person’s eyes were closing, or at least, that is the effect I was aiming for.
The next image, which is actually the first image in the story, is of a saloon. It was mostly just an incredibly lucky find. The old hotel has the images of a few cards on the outside, it is typical for the period of the story, and it did not have the name on the outside which left me free to name it myself. I did make the image black and white, because it looked more natural on the inklewriter website, which is designed to look like a book.
The image after that, I made black and white as well, with a bit of an exception.
I used the idea from a a ds106 assignment to leave a single, important, element of the photo in color. The white background blends with inklewriter, so it just looks like the image is printed on the page; there is no visible box. But the color of the liquor is there to signify the importance.
Another image that I designed for the story is this tombstone.
For this, I used gimp and a series of filters, noise, blurs, renderings, and overlays until I had something that looked like the stone I liked. Then, I added the text with one the western fonts I downloaded for the semester. I put the text in, then duplicated it. I beveled the first copy, and I used a technique with drop shadows to sort of burn in the other copy, and combined them all. Then, I found a non copyrighted image of some branches, put it over the top, positioned it as best I could, desaturated it, put the later in overlay mode, then used a Gaussian blur to create the image of shadows. I could have used a much simpler tombstone of some kind, but this one really had the somber, dreary feeling I was looking for.