Not Best of Us

Alright, enough time has passed so I can finally address the very small elephant in the room that is my new gamebook. While the reviews have been (overall) mixed, with many of the written criticisms pointing out the short length and abrupt ending, I can call the gamebook a critical failure.

This isn't me beating myself over the head with it, it is addressing the truth of it - a truth that I knew already by the point I turned it in to Hosted Games, although I hoped that the public would accept it as it was. Of course, they didn't and shouldn't be expected to.

To me, Best of Us was always an experiment in storytelling and literary conventions. It was both an experiment on finding where my limits run as to the kind of prose I am able to write, and an experiment on going against the tropes and conventions of the superhero genre. Needless to say, I found the going difficult and there is a reason behind that - I was neither having fun writing a majority of the story, nor was I comfortable in the story. In addition, I was from the very beginning thinking about the story from the absolute worst angle, as when I was trying to keep away from the tropes I was also dismissing the very heart of the genre. I failed to capture the story idea I had and contain it in a way that would prove both interesting and enjoyable.

While the story itself was definitely not something I was very good at fleshing out, another issue of testing the way I wrote it is also apparent in the reviews. In the way that Best of Us is laid out, it is the widest gamebook I have so far worked on. Lords of Aswick was fairly linear, with a few major branching points that trickle down all the way to the very end of the story. Best of Us is much more open in the way it branches, with only one major branch while the others are branches of a few pages in length. In addition to this, I also attempted a dungeoncrawl style for a fairly significant segment near the middle of the story, which nearly drove me insane. This branching, unfortunately, ends up contributing to the feeling that the story is short.

Overall I have mixed feelings about Best of Us. I feel it was a story I wanted to tell and it was good to get it out there, but it has many flaws in the way I told the story and in the way I constructed the mechanics around it. I will fully admit that towards the end I was rushing to just get it done, even as the final scenes remain something I am proud of from a core plot significance. Best of Us is a major step forwards in the way I write and think of the stories I write, as well as the sheer step up in grammar and code. I will be taking the lessons learned into everything I write currently and in the future. Every failure is an opportunity.