NOTE: This is part of a series that explains how to create your own simple gamebooks. More articles here.
Welcome back to the Gamebook Academy! I hope you’ve been trying out the gamebook writing tips in our earlier lessons. In this post, we’ll look at some ways you can create an amazing imaginary world for your gamebook. These ideas can make your gamebook so memorable, your readers will be dying to read your next work, so that they can visit and enjoy your gameworld all over again. Ready? Here we go.
LESSON 4: How to create an amazing gameworld for your adventure
The best way to start when designing your gameworld is to decide on the main mood of the place.
Will it be dark and creepy? Or sunny and cheerful?
Shadowy and mysterious? Or glittery and enchanting?
This mood will become the main emotional flavour of your gamebook. It will determine all the other elements, as we’ll see below. For each of the following points, make a list of three or more ideas you’d want to include in your gamebook. And check that they all fit your main mood.
Once you’ve decided on your main mood for this gamebook, you can make a list of locations for your readers to explore. These locations should reflect the main mood, with small variations to make things more interesting.
Eg, if you want your gameworld to feel dangerous, you could have castles filled with scary paintings, lakes filled with black bubbling water, deserted villages with a nasty smell, and so on. Your readers will definitely feel a shiver run down their spines as they go about their adventures.
These are the residents of your gameworld. In a movie, these would be the background characters that live in the gameworld. You’d want to create an interesting crowd for your character to interact with, and they should also reflect the mood of your gameworld.
Think about the locations you’ve picked for your gameworld. What sort of people would you find in these places? Eg, if you have a bazaar, then you can fill it with merchants, traders from other lands, perhaps thieves trying to sell their stolen goods, and even pickpockets looking for unsuspecting victims.
The more people you include in your scenes, the more lively and immersive your gamebook will feel to your readers.
A curio is an object that’s unusual or fascinating. Curios make us curious about their origins and their makers. They often seem like items from another world. Some might even look magical. And sometimes they are worth a lot of money.
One way to get readers excited about your gameworld is to have them encounter such curios during their adventures. Examples: swords, precious stones, lovely old books, lockets, tools, weird toys, small animal bones, and so on.
So make a list of unique curios for your gameworld, and even sketch them out in a notebook, so you know how to describe them. And remember to choose curios that strongly reflect the mood of your gameworld.
Every adventure will contain dangers that could prevent your character from completing the mission successfully. Your character would need to avoid these elements.
If there’s a castle in your gameworld, you could add giant man-eating rats in the dungeons below. That would make it a really dangerous place indeed. Ugh! Shudders.
Or if there’s an academy for spies in your gameworld, you could have a fierce Spy Master who goes around and assigns detention to the spy cadets who aren’t paying attention. If this means the absolute end of the adventure for your character, then the Discipline Master would be dangerous indeed.
Other ideas: trap doors, bullies, fierce vultures, zombies, vampires, haunted buildings, and so on.
Every gameworld needs a bunch of delightful treats to make your readers smile and feel happy.
If there’s a dungeon, a real delight would be to encounter swarms of lovely flickering flies that give off a pretty glow.
If there’s a toy factory in your gameworld, perhaps the workers there are busy making small edible toys that taste like ice cream, or chocolate balls, or fizzy cola. How absolutely delightful, eh? Thumbs up.
Other ideas: clowns, unicorns, cute little ponies, birthday parties, cool books, giant dancing robots, magical playgrounds, etc.
So have fun coming up with ideas for these categories: Mood, Locations, People, Curios, Dangers and Delights. And once you have these points figured out, just add some of the information in each section of your gamebook. This will bring the scene to life and make it feel like it’s buzzing with real activity.
You now know how to make a fascinating gameworld for your readers to enjoy exploring. Have fun and create a new gamebook this week, if you can, even if it's short and simple. It'll be good practice. See you soon.
NEXT LESSON: How to shuffle the sections in your gamebook
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DON BOSCO’S GAMEBOOK ACADEMY