GBAT 1.17 Release

Beloved Gamebook Authors,

Thank you for rolling high stamina scores for this one. Gamebook Authoring Tool 1.17 is finally out – and it’s a biggie.

Hidden Choices

You know those gamebooks where you can play the Magical Ukulele of the Boogeyman by adding +20 to the current section and seeing if the new paragraph makes sense? Well, now you can do that.

Hidden choice option

Tick the hidden box and the choice will no longer show up in your preview or your exported book.

Dotted choices

It does show up in your flow chart though, with a dotted line.

Top tip: You can combine this feature with turning auto shuffle off for both the section where you use the item and the section it takes you too!

It also shows up in your exported json/xml files if you’re a developer and you’re using those.

Section Per Page

Relive those Choose Your Own Adventures by making each section appear on a new page. This will work best when your sections are full of text. For shorter, snappier sections (Fighting Fantasy) you are probably better off sticking to the default continuous sections.

One section to a page option

This option will affect your book preview and your exporting – although only rtf export makes sense for now.

Sections now split by a page break

Tweaks and bug fixes

My god, so many bugs. Thank you if you reported these.

  • Fixed crash when deleting after a shuffle
  • Fixed crash when opening a non-existent file
  • Fixed ALL installation problems (hopefully)
  • Improved export flowchart when zoomed
  • Improved the shuffle score calculation to penalise similar sections more (so shuffles should look more shuffled)

Download

Download The GameBook Authoring Tool 1.17 for free today!  Please share the word on your blog and social media.  Thanks for all of your support!

Where do we go from here?  Let us know!  Send ideas to ideas@crumblyheadgames.co.uk and if they get past the troll we’ll get them implemented!

GBAT 1.16 Update

Hey Gamebooksters!

We’ve updated the installer for GBAT. One of our dependencies was installing its temporary files into the root directory and then not tidying up. It’s fixed.

See more details here: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/950683

Or just write some gamebooks!

Love,
Crumbly Head Games

GBAT 1.16 Release

Hi Gamebookers

Just in time for your vampire themed gamebooks, we’re releasing GBAT 1.16! We’ve implemented a much requested feature: Shuffle Smarts.

Shuffle Smarts

Our shuffle algorithm has traditionally been very primitive. It loops through all of the section numbers in your book, unhooks all the sections that aren’t marked as fixed position, shuffles all those numbers and then assigns them to the empty slots. This is surprisingly effective, but you can get into some situations where the shuffling has put your sections and choice destinations next to each other.

Here’s an excerpt from Jeff the Country Singer Vampire Slayer:

3
You accidentally awaken the vampire, and he now has his horrible hands around your neck!

- Sing the vampire one of your greatest hits - 4
- Hit the vampire with your guitar - 15

4
You try to sing the popular "I wanna whip your cow" but the vampire's grip has crushed your delicate vocal chords. You are unable to serenade the vampire with the beauty of your voice!

Your adventure ends here.

The shuffling has placed your section and one of its choices next to each other. This isn’t want we want! We want surprises and the choices to mean something.

The new shuffle algorithm now shuffles your book multiple times, each time calculating the shuffle score, which is how much a book is shuffled. The shuffle which has the greatest shuffle score will then be applied, and this should mean your book should feel more mixed up.

Calculating the shuffle score can be surprisingly complex! First we find the section number and all the choice destination numbers. With this set of numbers, we find the average difference between each of them. This gives us an indication of how distributed a section and its choices are. If we loop through all the sections performing this calculation we have an indication of how mixed the book is.

It seems to work fairly well, please send us your feedback! It will be more effective as your gamebook gets bigger.

Export Graph Bug
This has been fixed, thanks for reporting this!
There is still a known issue where if you change the zoom level the canvas size doesn’t export with the zoomed size, but that will be fixed next version.

Download GBAT 1.16 today!

GBAT 1.15 Installer Update

Hi Gamebook Gang!

Some of our lovely users have reported issues with our latest installer. There was a problem with the dependencies not all being installed. These are hopefully now fixed.

If you’ve been having problems installing, please try our updated version:

GameBook 1.15

Really sorry if this has affected you, but many thanks to those of you who reported it. Your bug reports have been super useful in tracking this down.

As always, please let us know about bugs you find and features you want so we can get around to them.

GBAT 1.15 is Released!

Hi Gamebook Gang!

Here’s a nice new version of the Gamebook Authoring Tool today. We have implemented a much-requested feature: choice templating!

Turn to choice now available
Turn to choice now available

You can find this new option under Gamebook Properties. You are no longer stuck with the hideous dashes in your choice output. You can use one of the new predefined templates:

dashes

If you preferred the old way – 7

parenthesis

You decide to choose your own adventure (17)

turn to

If Fighting Fantasy was more your thing, turn to 37

squares

You decide to beat the wizard to death with your square bracket [400]

Don’t like any of these? Add your own! Choose the custom option and write your own template. Use the special tags {{text}} and {{destination}} as placeholders for your choice string.
Like this:
{{text}}, wiggle to {{destination}}

If you eat a bit more of the apple, wiggle to 75

Hope this makes sense! Enjoy!

Download The GameBook Authoring Tool 1.15!

GBAT 1.14 is Released!

Hola Gamebookers!

Update: For some of you, the gamebook authoring tool isn’t even starting! Oh no! So here is a brand new installer which should install all the prerequisites. If you had problems stating the software, please try this and let us know how you get on. Thanks!

Here’s hoping your adventures have been prosperous thus far, and much XPs have been gained! Now, here’s a new Gamebook Authoring Tool release for you.

File association

Double clicking one of your saved GBAT files will now open the file up in The Gamebook Authoring Tool.

Fonts

Fonts have been a much requested feature for some time now, and our output files have never looked the best. So now we have book-wide controls for section text, header and footer fonts, and your books can be as disgusting or as beautiful as you wish!
The font change affects the preview window and all of your output files, and each font change is saved in your GBAT file.

Zombie gamebook written in a scary font
Zombie in a scary font

Output Changes

To support all of this fontage, the exporters have been reviewed. They now have a great deal more flexibility built into them, which we can take advatantage of in future releases.

During this process, some things have changed which may affect your output files.

HTML & RTF

The much hated bullet points for choices have been removed!
If you miss them, you can tweak the HTML css to turn them back on again. Please let us know if this was your favourite feature and we will reconsider! However, most people seemed to hate the bullets.

XML (for devs)

We no longer use CDATA tags to store section text, instead relying on standard encoding for special characters. This should make your XML output more compatible with XML readers, but if you have written your own this is something to be aware of.

JSON (for devs)

Line endings have been changed from \r\n to just \n. This is more in line with the JSON philosophy of platform neutrality, and should help with JSON reader compatibility.

Bug Fixes

A whole fluff of vile and mutant bugs were vandalised:
– Shortcut keys for menus work again
– Fix rare crash opening file when some dialogs were open
– Choice Of Script missing endings tag fixed
– Docking panes no longer go super tiny

Download The GameBook Authoring Tool 1.14!

Windhammer 2015 – Conclusion

The votes are all in and counted – well done to Felicity Banks and After The Flag Fell!

There’s some surprises! I expected Instrument of the Gods to do a lot better, and I’d like to have seen Frogmen and Sea of Sands to at least register in the top 6.
There’s also an interesting conflict of interests issue. After The Flag Fell seems like a Choice of Games entry, and top prize is turning the gamebook into an app from Tin Man Games. These are different companies, so it will be interesting to see how that gets resolved.

We’ve had lots of entries this year, with some good ideas and some good writing. Congratulations to everyone who managed to get an entry out! Don’t worry about where you finished in the competition, prize money, good or bad reviews. You have a finished gamebook, which is more than most people will ever have. I look forward to reading you next year.

Full results can be found here: http://arborell.com/windhammer_prize.html

Windhammer 2015 review – A Saint Beckons

A Saint Beckons by Robert Douglas

Download A Saint Beckons

Warning! Review may contain spoilers!

Robert Douglas is back this year with A Saint Beckons, a middleages gamebook in which you play an injured soldier favoured by a saint.

I’m a light infantryman named Barnabus Dinglebee, and I’m dead good with a mace and shield. Combat is a modification on the Lone Wolf system, a system I quite liked. It uses a small d6 table as opposed to d20, and with a low roll there’s a chance of instant death. Dexterity is going to be really key here, so I might ditch the shield and go for a mace/dagger combo on the battlefield like some crazy lunatic.

Despite it being a secluded place, tidings of the latest ‘Milburge Miracle’ somehow spread beyond the abbey walls and gathered apace as wildfire. Most townsfolk found some excuse to visit on ‘official’ business yet in truth only to regard you with awe.
Then, on the seventh day, the soldiers came.

The storyline is good and it is really well-written. You are nursed back to health by monks at a priory. The beckoning saint in the title refers to the withered hand of Saint Milburge. These events are not unconnected – there’s an unfortunate event and a series of adventures across the Midlands. But it is tough. Poor old Barnabus met a tragic end holed up in a church in the middle of nowhere; his meagre canine and avian companions watching apathetically at the slaughter before their eyes.

I did find this gamebook really enjoyable. Perhaps I read the rules wrong, but with a dexterity of 11 I didn’t have too much trouble winning any battles. I liked this though, and tried to get myself into much trouble because I felt a little overpowered. This is a carefully crafted gamebook however, although with lots of instant death paragraphs if you stray from the true path, you need to make a series of near-perfect chocies if you are going to see it through to the end. There are a few clues in the text that maybe I could have picked up on more, but it doesn’t seem like you will win it on one playthrough. Despite this, I found a good, well written and enjoyable gamebook. Should finish amongst the top half this year.

Windhammer 2015 review – Gunsmoke Along the Fey Frontier

Gunsmoke Along the Fey Frontier by Richard Penwarden

Download Gunsmoke Along the Fey Frontier

Warning! Review may contain spoilers!

This is a fantasy western gamebook adventure in which you play a bounty hunter, genres that are very common standalone but the mashup is quite rare. Gunsmoke Along the Fey Frontier is one of the better gamebook names we have this year, but let’s see how it is as a gamebook.

There are some clever thematic rules regarding skill checks. The skill system has a very strong resemblance to Stuart Lloyd’s Isaac Newton gamebook, but this one seems to use elements of the scenario better. You have aces, posse of pips and a bounty. There’s also alternative methods of record keeping: use a bit of paper (boring) or use a combination of dice, cards and coins. We’re going for the boring way, but we can pretend to have all these things setup and sprawled across the table. There’s a simple but important choice of character. I activate advanced mode and choose to be an angry dwarf desperado known only as Stumpy Bon Jovi.

Gator didn’t get his name from his looks, even though his teeth are unusually crooked. No, apparently when Gator makes a kill he cries afterwards. Do alligators cry crocodile tears? Well so far he hasn’t cried and you aren’t about to have him crying over you.

There’s a ton of content here for such a short gamebook. There’s all of the standard Western themes you can think of – railroads, saloons, rodeos, horse stealing, cowboying, lynch mobs, even a murder mystery. No gay encounters in a tent at the foot of a mountain though, as far as I could tell. The skill system is interesting but a little awkward. You have to roll over a certain value a number of times, but as soon as you succeed it starts to get easier as the target value decreases. I was either very lucky with the rolling or made some superb choices, as nothing was too challenging. Even if you fail a critical roll you can pull an ace out of the hat to save yourself.

Overall, the writing is fine and the theme is great. The pacing is done really well, with some change of direction every time a storyline becomes a little stale. It’s a touch too easy but it was nice to have an easier gamebook after a string of incredibly difficult ones! I liked this one – a fun Western romp.

Windhammer 2015 review – Droidchangers: Fight or Die

Droidchangers: Fight or Die by Andy Moonowl

Download Droidchangers: Fight or Die

Warning! Review may contain spoilers!

Droidchangers was known as Mechanoids for a short time in the competition

Droidchangers! Robots that aren’t obvious robots! Bah bah bah bah bah! This gamebook is a bit like that. It’s a robot adventure set on a distant planet. You are to rescue your little robot friend, find the key he has and use it to reactivate Omicron Delta. Most importantly, you get to be a robot that can turn into a vehicle of your choosing.

I choose a truck, for obvious reasons. I’m also trying hard not to use the word “transform”, as no doubt does the author. I believe this is to avoid any sort of copyright infringement. The gamebook was breifly known as a much more catchy title of Mechanoids before being changed later, perhaps because of similar issues. It is a bit of a shame – it seems noone owns the generic fantasy creature menagerie so we can all write generic fantasy adventures, yet robots that can turn into cars are pretty tied up in franchising.

“Remember how your friend Wheedle’s disappeared?”
How could you forget? The little green microbot – half your size but twice your adrenal fluid – was always getting into messes too big for his two-wheeled frame.

Andy Moonowl is a Windhammer regular, and is a big fan of exotic dice. This one is no exception with my truck being a d20 and you get to roll lots of stats when creating your character. Some of the stats seem quite interesting so I’m eager to get started. There’s also a time stat so I shouldn’t mess about either. However there are quite a few rule to get through before the adventure starts. I haven’t seen them before and they are fairly complex, so this one is going to take a bit of investment.

You play a Factroid, a vehicle-robot hybrid that experiences quite human emotions, like anxiety, morale and humour. The world is well realised, with each location you visit having a rich history and information about its inhabitants and geography. This is also done well – an opening paragraph surrounded by [] indicates you accessing your memorybanks – the Factroid equivalent of Wikipedia.

There are some nice touches in this gamebook. Maps are made with circuit diagrams. Your robot body takes damages to various areas, causing you to lose stats or turn to walking mode. As a truck I feel suitably powerful and more like a steamroller. Unfortunately the scenario didn’t really inspire me, and I think the dice rolling is its biggest downfall. Combat is not as exciting as it should be as it is is too dice heavy and there is too much looking back at the rules and checking the body part that is damaged; then having to find the consequences of this. At one point I had to roll for each of my 20 body parts. It was too much – the mechanics would be better automated and maybe this would work better as an app.