Woot! The new guidelines for the 2012 Windhammer prize are out. Apart from the slight change that the length limit is now 23000 words rather than 40 pages (probably because some idiot was pushing the boundaries with small font because he wrote a really long introduction about a dystopian future in his entry) it’s all the same great stuff. Submit a 100 paragraph gamebook with the chance of Glory and Renown along with a cash prize. The entries submissions start on 1st August and the deadline is on the 7th September.
Oh yes, and the writers who win and get merit awards will be published by the awesome Tin Man Games.
This is even more reason to get typing. If you’ve ever thought about writing a gamebook or if you have had one shelved away for ages, this is a great opportunity to enter the competition. Windhammer was one of the things (Andrew Wright being another) that inspired me to write my own gamebooks and publish this blog. As well as the potential prizes, the community of readers have always offered great constructive feedback on my work and it is just so affirming to know that people out there have taken the time to read my work, comment on it and enjoy it.
So really, get typing.
You’re still here? What’s wrong? Is it time? Do you think that it may take a lot of time to write the book? It won’t. You don’t have to go up to 100 paragraphs. Garden of Bones by Alec Worley is a merit award winner with 50 paragraphs. 00:04:23 by Colin Blackwood is a great gamebook full of tension with only 30 paragraphs. So far all the winners have 100 paragraphs in their book, but you might change that.
However, if you are worried about all that paragraph randomisation and organisation, there are solutions to that problem too! There is a comprehensive list of gamebook creation programs here (scroll down a bit) and some are discussed here. I use ADVELH.
So time is not an issue. All you need is an idea.
You need ideas I hear you say? You can get your ideas from anywhere. Sorcery! was inspired by a trek through Asia, Starship Traveller has Star Trek influences. Freeway Fighter has some Mad Max leanings whereas it’s easy to see where the inspiration for Appointment with F.E.A.R comes from. You can get ideas from anything. All you have to do is imagine some choices that you could make and what will happen next. Believe me – 100 paragraphs will fly by in no time.
Still here? It’s the game system you need ideas for? That’s OK. You can keep it simple. The minimum you need is an inventory list and Kieran Coghlan won a merit award with such a simple system with Waiting For the Light. You don’t even need to create your own system. It seems that the Virtual Reality system (inventory limit, skills to choose from and health points) is a simple yet very effective system to use and two books have utilised it to great effect: The Bone Dogs by Per Jorner won the 2009 award and Above the Waves by Zachary Carango won a merit award in 2011.
For inspiration on the wide range of gamebooks that have been entered to the Windhammer competition, you can get the complete list here.
OK, if you think you need more help, read my How to write a gamebook posts. They may help.
Also, have a look at the great blogs on gamebooks and what makes them good by successful Windhammer entrants. Andrew Wright, who won in 2011 has written two posts on what he learnt from the Windhammer Prize and Ashton Saylor who has won two merit awards (here and here) has some very deep posts on gamebook theory.
Still here? You shouldn’t be. Get writing!