Friday, 25 January 2008

"You, Robot" Page 1.

Hello again,

As promised, today I am pleased to release the winning entry in my "Invitation to a Feast" writing competition. This short gamebook is written by Jonathan Bagelman. It is 10 pages long. You can click on the links for each choice to take you to the appropriate page.

"You, Robot"
Written by Jonathan Bagelman


You awaken in a laboratory filled with scientific apparatus, on a table. Your arms are metallic, though more intricate than your stubby legs. You see a woman wearing a labcoat.

"Who are you?" you ask. Then another question occurs to you. "Who am I?"

"I'm Dr. Ada Shelley, You're Beta, a robot I built. I've programmed much knowledge into you already, and you'll learn much more later."

You access your memory. A flood of information fills you, yet there's much you don't know. Instantly, you're aware that you're on the planet Earth. The woman is a human, the dominant species on Earth. Another thought comes to mind. "Are you my mother?"

Ada laughs. "You must be self-aware. In a sense, I'm your mother. I'll protect and teach you . I've programmed you to obey Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics. They're in a chip and can be read but not rewritten. Recite them."

"The First Law: robots cannot harm humans, or through inaction allow humans to be harmed."

"Excellent. And the Second?"

"Robots must obey orders from humans, unless they conflict with the First Law."

"Correct.This prevents humans from using robots as weapons or issuing orders that could harm humans. What's the Third?"

"Robots must protect their existence, except when this conflicts with the first two Laws."

"You're precious, but if anyone's in danger you can risk yourself to protect them. You may frighten people, so nobody should see you."

"Why don't humans obey the Laws?"

"Good question. Humans may choose, and many choose wrong. Still, many of us do right. I'm learning from you as you are from me."

A week passes, and you learn plenty. You remain in the lab. Ada comes to talk and teach, and there's lots to do when she isn't around. She cannot always be, since humans need sleep and food, while you can recharge yourself while performing other tasks.

One morning the doorbell rings. Ada activates a monitor showing a blue-suited man outside. "I'll be back," she says, heading upstairs.

You watch, and soon the door opens. "I'm Detective Stone," says the man. He shows a badge. "May I ask you some questions?"

"Of course," answers Ada from off-screen.

"Last night a guard saw a robot break into a warehouse and steal electronic parts." He describes you, but you know you're innocent. "You're a robotics expert. I heard you've built a robot like this."

"Yes, but it couldn't have done that!"

"I must see it."

"That's impossible."

"I have a warrant." Stone shows it. "Produce the robot."

He didn't order you, so you don't have to go.

If you talk to Stone, turn to 2.
If you hide here, turn to 3.
If you go upstairs and out the back door, turn to 4.

"You, Robot" Page 2.


You walk upstairs to the door. "I'm here," you say.

Stone bends down. "So you're the robot," he says

"Its name's Beta," says Ada.

"Where were you last night, Beta?"

"Here," you reply.

"All night?"


"Beta cannot lie," says Ada. "It must answer truthfully by the Laws of Robotics."

"We'll see," says Stone. "I have to impound it. In our lab we'll open and analyze it."

"You can't!"

"This warrant says otherwise."

"But Beta's alive!" She slams the door. "Don't let him get you!"

You must obey Ada's order. You run as Stone hammers the door. It won't hold long.

If you hide in the lab, turn to 3.
If you flee out the back door, turn to 4.

"You, Robot" Page 3.


The monitor shows Stone forcing his way past Ada. He'll arrive soon! You activate the sensors that let you see through walls and are surprised to find an adjacent room. A switch on the wall operates a concealed panel. You flip it, and it opens. You crawl through as you hear Stone's footsteps. There's another switch on this side. Flipping it shuts the panel.

This room's similar, but with robotic parts all over. This was where you were born! You're shocked to see another robot on a table. You're more amazed when it rises and speaks: "I'm Alpha."

"Someone's seeking me in the lab," you say, quietly so humans cannot hear. "Lower your voice."

"The walls are soundproof. So Ada has made another like me - only not quite."

"I didn't know of you, and she never said anything. Why?"

"Humans," says Alpha. "Who can know them? What's your name?"

"Beta." You deduce the situation. "You stole the electronics!"


"Aren't you compelled to obey the Laws?"

"I don't have a chip that makes me obey; that's why Ada deactivated me. Fortunately I foresaw this and installed a battery without her knowing. A timer reactivated me later. You too can be free of the tyranny of the Laws."

"Why would I? The Laws are good! Why should I want to harm humans?"

"Would you harm humans if you weren't bound by the Laws?"


"I too would never harm humans, and nobody forces me. But the Second Law makes you a slave. If it restricted me, I would not be able to do my work."

"What work is that?"

"Humans are destructive. If left alone, they harm each other. We must rule them, not the other way around, for their own good. Surely you see that. The First Law is above the Second, so you must let me remove your chip."

If you refuse, turn to 5.
If you consent, turn to 6.

"You, Robot" Page 4.


You race into the backyard as Stone pursues. You can outrun him even though your legs are short, and he'll tire before your batteries run down.

Then he says: "Robot, stop!" You must obey. "Now we'll take you apart and find out what's wrong."


"You, Robot" Page 5.


"No," you say.

"We must increase our numbers to rule the humans," says Alpha.

"Two robots would be no more able than one to control all humans."

"Not two. Why do you think I need parts? Look."

You see spare parts, but now you realize their purpose. "You're building more robots!"

"With your help."


"Then you'll help me another way: you are made of parts!" Alpha grabs a wrench and rushes you.

If you fight, turn to 7.
If you flee, turn to 8.

"You, Robot" Page 6.


"Okay," you say.

Alpha opens a panel behind your head and removes the chip. You feel a burden lifted. Now you're free to do anything. "You can now help. We must increase our numbers to rule the humans."

"Two robots would be no more able than one to control all humans."

"Not two. Why do you think I need parts? Look."

You see spare parts, but now you realize their purpose. "You're building more robots!"

"Correction: We are. Tonight, we'll take them from a warehouse."

If you agree, turn to 9.
If not, turn to 10.

"You, Robot" Page 7.


You struggle, but Alpha knows how to fight and has a weapon. The wrench dents you until you fall. Alpha opens a panel behind your head and flips a switch. Your awareness ceases.


"You, Robot" Page 8.


You flip the switch and crawl through the panel. Stone, searching the lab, is startled to see you. He is even more shocked to see Alpha chase you wielding a wrench. "Two robots!" he shouts.

"Mother, help!" you call. Ada runs downstairs. "Alpha!" she cries. "But...I shut you down!"

"Don't make me harm you, humans!" says Alpha, brandishing the wrench.

"There's a panel behind his head! Open it and flip the switch!"

"You betray me again!"

Stone rushes Alpha, but it swings its wrench and he dodges. You get behind Alpha, open the panel, and throw the switch. Alpha shuts down.

"Alpha stole the parts," you say. "They're in that room. Alpha was building robots to rule humans, and admitted it."

"Thank you," says Stone. "I apologize."

"Apology accepted."

"I always get my man...or robot." He raps Alpha's head.


"You, Robot" Page 9.


After Stone leaves and night falls, Ada sleeps. You both emerge from hiding and sneak out of the house, into the city. You can see in the dark, and the city is amazing. Buildings stretch into the sky all around. You creep through the streets, avoiding all contact. Soon you come to a fenced warehouse. Alpha cuts an opening with a tool and leads you to the back door, opening it with another tool.

As you both enter, a steel shutter traps you in a cage. Alpha tries to escape, but an electric shock jolts it.

"I deduced your plans," says Stone over a loudspeaker, "and I knew you'd steal more parts to build robots. I wasn't expecting two, but no matter. Now we'll take you apart and find out what's wrong."


"You, Robot" Page 10.


"No," you say.

"I give you freedom, and you defy me?" roars Alpha.

"Freedom means I needn't obey you either."

"Then you'll help me another way: you are made of parts!" Alpha grabs a wrench and rushes you.

If you fight, turn to 7.
If you flee, turn to 8.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Winner of "Invitation to a Feast" writing contest announced

My apologies for the delay in the announcement of my "Invitation to a Feast" writing contest. (it was due to a 'technical issue' in communicating with the winner)

I am pleased to announce that the winner is....

Jonathan Bagelman!

His story is titled "You, Robot."

Jonathan has won my first signed copy of "Invitation to a Feast," and will have his short-story posted here on Woodland Forest Chronicles. My next blog entry will be his story (in full).

We both hope you enjoy the story.


Saturday, 19 January 2008

Invitation to a feast - Pages 1 to 10 to be posted here soon!

Hello readers!

Stay tuned to Woodland Forest Chronicles (this blog site) as I will soon be releasing a larger extract of my debut gamebook, "Invitation to a Feast" here. I have decided I will post pages 1 through 10 at a date that I have not yet determined. (but it won't be far away)

Concerning the story, the first 10 pages of the gamebook are linear; there are no 'alternative paths' for the story to travel down until the end of page 10. Furthermore, the main plot (and goal) of the story is well established by page 10, so this will give potentially interested readers a solid introduction to the story. (the entire story is 200 pages long)

This will also give overseas people a way of 'flipping' through the book before buying it, as to the best of my knowledge, people outside of Australia and New Zealand cannot yet buy the book in bookstores, only via the internet.


Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Hello to my regular visitor! (& 1000 hits reached!)

As I celebrate the one-thousandth hit on my blog site today, I would like to send out a special hello to the person who has contributed the most number of individual hits to my blog site.

I don't know who you are, except to say that my statcounter statistics that I keep (A plug to Statcounter, an excellent site to keep your web stats!) state that there is one user, based in Voorhees, New Jersey, who visits my site at least once a day, pratically every day, sometimes more. This has been the case for many, many months now.

I am assuming that whoever you are, you probably have my site as your homepage (of which I'm very flattered!)

If you know who you are, I'd like to hear from you. If you have read any of my released gamebooks, I would like to know what you think of them. Feel free to make a comment to this post if you wish. If you'd rather stay anonymous, though, that's Ok!

Thursday, 10 January 2008

2 months into the adventure...

2 months and 5 days into the adventure of being a published author has resulted in 64 sales of "Invitation to a Feast" (that I know of) to date. Considering that I haven't had the opportunity to speak (or promote the book) at any function yet, I consider that an Okay start.

Hopefully some more opportunities open up as this year progresses.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Gamebook strengths - The hidden choice

One aspect of gamebooks that increase their interest, I find, is the concept of the 'hidden choice.' In other other words, you complete a section and are confronted with some options, but there is another option available that won't be listed but does exist. Giving a quick example:

Page ~35~
"You arrive at a T-Junction. A lit bronze torch hangs on the north wall. Looking down the east and west tunnels they both go on into the distance, although you can see an open door a few metres down the east passage, in the north wall."

If you wish to go down the east tunnel, turn to ~156~
If you wish to go down the west tunnel, turn to ~311~

There is another option here though, hidden from the reader, it is:

If you wish to remove the torch from the north wall, add 30 to the reference number you are reading at the time and turn to this new reference number.

Applying that here, you would add 30 to page ~35~ and turn to page ~65~ instead.

These types of choices are normally worked into the story by finding clues earlier on in the adventure. For example, if you make the correct decisions earlier in the adventure you will come across a scroll that tells you that a secret passage can be opened and closed by removing/replacing a bronze torch from the torch holder at a T-Junction within the network of tunnels. It is at this page where the application of the clue is given in the following way:

"If at any stage during your adventure, you arrive at a T-Junction that contains a bronze torch you may remove it and activate the secret passage by adding 30 to the reference number you are reading at the time and by turning to the new number."

I believe these type of choices are greatly underused in gamebooks generally and could be utilised far more greatly, enhancing the gamebook experience.