This is a request for a catch-all tag for nonlinear, branching narratives, Choose Your Own Adventure® gamebooks, choice fiction (Twine), interactive fiction (text adventures), and the stochastic/procedural storytelling used for visual novels and video game cutscenes.
Writing.SE questions include:
- How much can I trust my players to remember previous states of the story and not get confused?
- Any software for video game non-linear story design?
- Are there tools that can aid an author in writing a branching storyline?
- Where can I find online resources about writing a visual novel?
- Where can I find resources about writing "Choose your own adventure"-style books?
An existing tag is videogame, but notice none of the above questions made the connection, and I also didn't realize this tag existed until I searched the Tags page for "gamebook" (which doesn't exist). I think videogame conjures something professionally specific, ie: the videogame industry (a look at that tag seems to confirm this). It doesn't suggest the exquisite corpse assemblage aspect which would be more along the lines of "branching" or "nonlinear".
NEEDED WRITING COMMUNITY
I haven't been able to find many branching narrative resources for writers. Communities are scattered around specific software or niche genre (Otome Japanese romance visual novels), discussion is usually gamer criticism ("FallOut 3's story ruined the game"). A few blogs generalize about branching structure, but never seem to get past an introduction.
Crossover topic with Game Developer, however a Writers-approach is probably more important, and game developers sometimes view narrative as a limitation to player agency, or an unnecessary add-on, so the topic is not always welcome.
I SUGGEST "BRANCHING NARRATIVE"
- "Branching Narrative" seems to be the best-known term for a story with dynamically assembled elements, especially that lead to multiple endings.
- it's a Search Engine term. Google re-routes to Nonlinear Gameplay: Branching Storylines
- "Nonlinear" is technically correct, but could be misinterpreted as "timeline", "flashback", etc. "Branching Narrative" is less correct but hard to mistake.
- "Branching Narrative" conjures a choice interface, but might actually be text parsing, random or value-based, puzzle-solving, character interaction, map location, inventory item, social, etc. The underlying game mechanics are separate from the writing.
- suggests a story-length structure of pre-written paths, but the storyengine might use other processes such as generators and storyloops to construct potentially endless variations, like the novel generators in NaNoGenMo.
- omits granular text like Tracery, Chatbots, and Pirate Translator libraries.
Branching Narrative could be used with other tags to narrow the topic: "characters", "structure", "tense", "planning", "tools", etc.
ALTERNATIVES Alternatives might be: branching, nonlinear, interactive, game