Beemer (dr_tectonic) wrote,

Choose Your Own Directed Graph

I got a whanging great headache Tuesday afternoon, so after I got home (and after pills + food had kicked in), instead of attempting to work on anything requiring actual effort, I decided to diagram some Choose Your Own Adventure books.

As one does.

(Actually, only one of them is a CYOA. The others two are D&D Endless Quest books by Rose Estes. I also have an Escape from Tenopia, which is apparently a later effort from Edward Packard, but I haven't done it yet.)

I really have no idea why my addled brain classes this as a low-thinking activity, so don't ask me to explain. But it was soothing. There's a really lovely exploration of CYOA dynamics on the web already, but I'm more interested in the graph structure of the books, which that page doesn't really get into.

So anyway, I'm sitting on the couch drawing little circles around page numbers and connecting them with arrows, trying to figure out the best way to untangle the dungeon-approach cluster in Pillars of Pentegarn, when the thought strikes me: surely this would be a MUCH more satisfying activity on the computer.

A bit of googling later, I have discovered yEd -- which is free -- and TGF, the Trivial Graph Format, and now we are off to the races.

CYOA: Hyperspace

Endless Quest: Pillars of Pentegarn

Endless Quest: Return to Brookmere

That Brookmere graph is a bit of a mess because there's a kind of generic ending on page 12 that gets reused from several disparate points in the book, pulling distant sections of the graph together. I tried splitting that node apart, and got this as a result:

Endless Quest: Return to Brookmere (take 2)

The main thing I notice from these graphs is that the DnD books have a LOT more looping in them than the CYOA book does. In fact, if you took out the loopy subcluster that starts at 10 and ends at 112 (which I believe is a goofy little book-within-a-book conceit), there would only be a single edge in Hyperspace that loops back; all the rest of it is a tree structure. Whereas the other two are just crazy with reconnecting storylines.

The graphs are also nice for being able to satisfy the itch to be certain that you have explored every branch of the story. In fact, I found an error in Return to Brookmere --
nothing refers you to p.106. It's just a secondary root hangin' out there on its own.

Anyway, I love these things. So much fun! I'll see if I can do another on the bus tomorrow.
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