Hungry Like The Wolf: Seventh Sense

By Kieron Gillen on August 27th, 2010 at 12:00 pm.

I may have a bit of a twatish hat, but I'm going to off you and take your gold.

If you’re of a certain age, you’ll probably be aware of the Lone Wolf books. Basically, the best of the wave of D&D-derived choose-your-own-adventure books which emerged in the wake of Jackson/Livingstone’s Fighting Fantasy. In fact, for my money, the best of the genre. Dever and his collaborators gave Project Aon a licence for the books to be downloaded, so have been able to be played online for a while, in a manual text form. A Project-Aon-er has gone one better. Seventh Sense is a dedicated client (PC/Mac/Linux) for playing the Lone Wolf books, and is up to the first book of the Magnakai series. I may have lost you with the word “Magnakai”, so let’s press on. Why would you want to play them anyway? Allow me to hand over to a vintage piece of Gillen criticism to describe their merits…

Or Die, indeed.

(That was recently recieved from the delightful comrade in arms Becky, who scanned a load of pages from a school mag we did when we were 11. Mentioning this online caused Matt Turner to bring up Seventh Sense, which lead to this post.)

Note the formal experimentation in merging pictures with the text and the disregard for the conventions of the ellipsis. I’m slightly disturbed to know that my rendering abilities have only decayed in the passing decades.

Okay – the key thing about the Lone Wolf books were that they formed a campaign. Rather than single books, you played the same person – Lone Wolf – throughout them all. More than that, you also got to keep your equipment between stories, and develop your characters abilities. So while they could be played as individual stories, in practice you played through them, slowly gaining in power. The first book opens with the massacre of the Kai, a Jedi-like order of psychic-warrior monks. You’re the last survivor, an initiate with the good fortune to be out chopping wood – an axe is your only weapon to begin with – and are charged with… well, escape to begin with. Then, across the course of the 28 books, re-establishing of the order and cheery defeat of the Darklords. Bring it, Darklords! Bring it! I’m going to twat you with the Sommersword, when I get hold of the bloody thing.

(Book 2, +8 CS fans)

The client is an enormously slick piece of work. If you’ve any affection for Lone Wolf or interest in choose your own adventure books, I’d recommend them strongly. Basically, it looks like this…

DON'T TAKE THE SOUTH PATH!!!! Actually, maybe you do.

So, your abilities and records on the left and the actual book on the right. It’s the details which impress me most in it, which show what a work of love it is. Take the choice of handwritten font for filling in the details on the left. Where they’ve chosen to automate the game for best effect (for example, combat damage, keeping track of inventory spaces, etc) and where they keep the important physicality (For example, you click hyperlinks in the text to actually pick up items). Lots of pop-ups to explain information on individual elements and so on. Oh – and just plain slickness (like it seamlessly going to get the version of the book from online when you select to play it), an eye for curatorship (you can download all the covers for the game) and personalisation (Whatever name you enter appears at the front of the book) and precision of nostalgia (you get to choose which of those covers you wish to use for your play through).

Why play ‘em now? Well, nostalgia is the obvious reason. Chalk’s art in the book remains evocative. They always married narrative drive with a degree of flexibility, and the idea for an interesting concept being enough to drive a plot which I wish more modern games would learn from. For example, the first book’s mission is basically to get to the King and bring the news of the Kai’s slaughter. All those “do you go to page 365 or 223″ decisions are weighed up through that simple filter – does this take me closer or further away from the King? There’s also clearly lots of different paths, some which lead to real changes further into the series – like if you meet a certain wizard early on. The combat system also remains novel, based around working out the difference between the two combat scores, then selecting a number from a page of numbers and looking them up on a table, leading to damage for both the player and the monster. Also, if the difference is high enough, the chance of just instantly killing the opposition, which always sped up any deeply unfair fights where you outmatch your opponent.

But you could get all that from the net editions. What Seventh Sense adds is a whole load of other, format-specific stuff. You’ve got pages of options to select at the start, depending on how close to the main book rules you want to play, or engage house-rules that can either help or hinder you. There’s even some meaningful expansions, where many of the other weapons in the game you find gain Combat-skill bonuses against new foes, which adds further decisions to make. And if you want to cheat to give yourself maximum stats, you can. If you want to simulate the multiple-fingers-in-the-book-stretching-backwards, you can save your game. However, if you don’t, and you complete a series of books, you can claim a place in the online hall of fame. If you actually select the hardcore mode, which limits you in several ways, not least not being able to gain any additional Kai-disciplines by completing books, you can go on your own I IZ WELL HARD hall of fame.

From the dabblers to the dedicated, there’s a whole lot to chew over in here. Hell, there’s even an option to simulate peeking at the number grid in combat to try and get better numbers.

I’m especially fond of the log, which lists all your choices and the page number. My first play through started with the agreeably prosaic “Vowed revenge on Darklords for Kai Massacre. Set out to find and warn king” and ended with a curt “Strangled by Vordak”. RPS is going to have to start making similar notes: “Woke up in the morning. Vowed to make cup of tea, do some work” to “Did nothing. Went to bed”.

The only real problem I have with it is that it doesn’t work on my Windows 7 PC normally, though works fine in Windows XP compatible mode. You’ll probably want to speed up the combat animations.

Oh – One tip if you’re going to play it “correctly”: for God’s sake, take healing. No, really.

I have only one thing to say: download Seventh Sense………………. OR DIE!!!!

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108 Comments »

  1. Hides-His-Eyes says:

    Can I download in advance to play offline? Looks like a great train journey waiting to happen.

  2. Auspex says:

    I love stuff like this, they’re still some Lone Wolf books on my shelves somewhere.

    People who like this should also check out http://flapp.sourceforge.net/ which a similar thing is done with the Fabled Lands books. FL benefits similarly from this kind of thing as there is a continuous story.

    Incidentally I think preferred Fabled Lands though sadly the combat system was rubbish and far too easy.

  3. Auspex says:

    Anyone else disappointed that 11 year old KG didn’t open with “I had a girlfriend…”

    Also I’m not sure if I’ll be able to handle the “unbearable” excitement – that doesn’t sound pleasant at all.

  4. sebmojo says:

    Check out this extraordinary Let’s Play, that runs through the first 21 books.

  5. Kieron Gillen says:

    I’m pleased I paid attention to the importance of Terrain even in this very early review. That’s a PC Gamer, right there.

    KG

    • M says:

      You were still fresh back then, still cool, and now look at you. Running some website, you don’t even draw your own screenshots any more. Tsch.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Worth noting I wasn’t giving marks out even back then.

      EDIT: Also I like how I’ve drawn a picture of a book so everyone knows I’m talking about a book, even the people who can’t read and may have just seen one around somewhere.

      KG

    • devlocke says:

      I thought the book was the first part of a sort of pictographic sentence that meant “Read/get the book OR DIE!”

    • Corporate Dog says:

      Anyone else remember Grey Star the Wizard…?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey_Star_the_Wizard

      Completely unrelated to my first thought, the Seventh Sense client has me thinking that it would be cool to COMPLETELY bastardize the combat portions of the gamebooks, by turning them into turn-based, isometric minigames, that the player must work through.

  6. Novotny says:

    Oh my, this brings me back. Wow.

  7. Brulleks says:

    Never saw these as a kid, but the translation certainly looks interesting.

    I’d kill for a PC version of the Grail Quest books though…

    • kenoxite says:

      Count me in. I’ll bring a tinfoil replica of JR for all this bloody business.

      Grail Quest pwns Lone Wolf any time of the day. Even blindfolded.
      Dices, gentlemen, dices!

    • Archonsod says:

      Yeah. Lone Wolf was good, but Grailquest had some laugh out loud funny moments. Or at least they did when I was thirteen.

  8. Tunips says:

    I played one of the books – a late one – just at the before I discovered D&D, and stopped reading game books. Which is a shame, as I do recall it being considerably better than the average Fighting Fantasy. Except for the bit with a four-term simultaneous equation.
    I will enjoy playing the series from the beginning. For a while, anyway.

    Also, it works under Win7 if you set it to winXP compatibility mode.

  9. Edgar the Peaceful says:

    Thanks for this Keiron. I suspect I am almost the same age as you judging by the pangs of nostalgia on reading this.

    I agree, the LoneWolf series were the best of the FF books. Followed, for me, by the GrailQuest books of JH Brennan (anyone? – for the humour and asides) and then the FF books themselves.

    The second LoneWolf book ‘Fire on the Water’ was an absolute masterpiece of plotting and pacing: A real harrowing journey (by foot, horse and memorably stage coach) which left me tired and satisfied at the end. I still have my grubby copy in the loft.

    So, indeed, very nostalgic stuff. But where does it end? I’ll be re-watching [Clannad's] Robin of Sherwood next. The warm waters of 1984 here I come.

    • Chris D says:

      The best? Now there’s a question. Probably one that’s too nostalgia tinged to be answered with any degree of accuracy. Lonewolf was certainly excellent, as was Grailquest. My personal nomination would go to Blood Sword for reasons I’ve mentioned below. Also worthy of consideration is Way of the tiger for one of the best combat systems and also being the source of all my knowledge about Ninjas for many years.

      Special mention goes to the Sorcery series for the magic system and ongoing campaign. Although it loses marks because if you wanted to complete the whole campaign missing a chance encounter in book 3 meant that you could not complete book 4 without cheating.

  10. Hentzau says:

    Now somebody needs to do this for all 59 Fighting Fantasy books plus the Sorcery! miniseries.

  11. Lars Westergren says:

    My favourite of all the CYOA books was book 3 (?) in the series where you played a ninja in a fantasy world. In the previous 2 books you had defeated the big bad and ascended to the throne, and this book was much lighter on action and very heavy on intrigue.

    The first task you had was selecting your advisors. From a pool of maybe 10, you had 5 slots. These advisors affected more events in the book than your skills and stats. If you didn’t include any of the obviously “evil” advisors (leader of assassins guild, priestess of death god, etc) you would get assassinated half way through the book, no matter how good your fighting skills were. But on the other hand you had to do some nasty stuff to please your evil advisor(s) and get their vote of confidence.

    I can think of very few modern games with such great atmosphere and moral ambiguity. The Thief series and The Witcher may come close…

  12. Chris D says:

    This is possibly the most awesome thing I have seen all year. And I’m now going to use it as an excuse to muse on a number of tangentially related subjects.

    It’s slightly odd looking back on gamebooks these days. At the time I always felt that if you died you should go back to the beginning but of course I never did so the experience was always tinged with a strange kind of guilt. Some kind of checkpointing would really have helped. Such as:

    296 – if you die it’s okay to start from here.

    There were some bugs, even in those days. I remember being reduced to tears of frustration after wondering in an endless loop in Warlock of Firetop Mountain. There was another later on the series where you had to make a series of luck rolls to progress, but your luck decreases each time you use it so unless you had rolled a six for your luck stat you weren’t going to get any further without cheating. Bad design.

    Then there was the inevitable if you turn left you live, if you turn right you die or you live but you miss the vital item which will keep you alive later on but we won’t tell you this and you have no way of knowing which way to go beforehand.

    For the most part, though I happily poured hours into these things.

    The Lone Wolf series was great but my favourite was the Blood Sword series. Could be played alone or with friends and four distinct character classes no less with branching dialogue options for each. Ground breaking stuff.

    And /Nostalgia mode off

    ok, there was this one time….

    • Arathain says:

      Oh lord, the actual design of those game/books was just awful. Arbitrary decisions, instant deaths without warning, completely luck based combat meaning that, even if you made all the right choices you probably wouldn’t finish anyway. Did anyone ever finish one honestly? I imagine the odds must be spectacularly low.

      Of course, I loved them, and owned loads.

    • Chris D says:

      For the Fighting Fantasy series the odds would be spectacularly better if you rolled high on your skill stat, right at the start. If it was a one you were pretty much doomed. Fortunately I almost always seemed to roll a six, of course there may have been a few rolls previously that had to be discounted for prefectly legitimate reasons.

      Trying to create a Tunnels and Trolls character, six stats at 3d6 each. That could take all afternoon before you got one you wanted. In hindsight I should have just accepted I was cheating and written down whichever stats I wanted, but no, I had to sit there and re-roll them. And this, boys and girls, is why we now generate stats with a points based system…

  13. Sidorovich says:

    There’s a DS homebrew app in which you can play the first two books – it’s gone a Random Number Generator and everything, it’s brill

    Whilst I applaud the efforts of Project Aon in keeping Lone Wolf alive, I was a tad disappointed that this wasn’t an announcement for a proper Lone Wolf CRPG…..

    Joe Dever was working with Ksatria Gameworks as late as Nov 2008 on another LW game, (looked a bit like Dark Messiah, only worse) but it’s disappeared into the Daziarn…..

    • YogSo says:

      I agree with you: that Dark-Messiah-look-alike Lone Wolf game didn’t look very promising. I think the first two LW books make the perfect template for a great cRPG in the style of Gothic 1/2 or The Witcher, though: third-person real time melee combat with a limited upgrade system, some AI-controlled allies that temporally join the hero here and then, branching dialogues and a semi-open world with an overarching chapter structure:

      Prologue: Fehmarn day, Kai Monastery, sudden attack, massacre, fade to black. (Tutorial mode on) The player regains consciousness, searches for survivors, finds his agonizing old master, is ordered to go to the capital city to warn the King, and is bestowed his new Lone Wolf name (Tutorial mode off).

      Chapter 1: Based on the adventures depicted on Flight From The Dark. An area of play similar in size to the first Gothic. The player is low level, with limited fighting abilities; has to run away from anything more dangerous than a pair of Giaks, search for supplies, hide from the roaming flying Kraans. He can complete some quests (helping the refugees heading south that he meets along the way, defending the mage Banedon, meeting Prince Pelathar and defeating the Gourgaz, etc). The chapter ends when the player reaches Holmgard.

      Chapter 2: After a cinematic scene with the King, Captain D’Val guides the player to the Armoury for a bit of equipment upgrade. This chapters covers everything from the beginning of Fire On The Water until the Green Scepter sunking.

      Chapter 3: The misadventures of LW in the Wildlands and Ragadorn town.

      Chapter 4: Port Bax, Lord-lieutenant Rhygar, the Helghasts and the Tarnalin tunnel. LW reaches Hammerdal at last.

      Chapter 5: Sommerswerd time. The journey back. Final showdown against Darklord Zagarna.

      The end? Not yet. Enters the add-on expansion “The Caverns Of Kalte”: new map, new enemies, new abilities, new magical objects. And the conclussion of the story with LW bringing back evil Vonotar the Traitor to stand trial for his crimes.

      It’s a pity it will never happen…

  14. Ginger Yellow says:

    “Note the formal experimentation in merging pictures with the text and the disregard for the conventions of the ellipsis. I’m slightly disturbed to know that my rendering abilities have only decayed in the passing decades.”

    Yes, yes, but what score did you give it?

  15. JackShandy says:

    Oh my gosh there goes my weekend.

  16. Ian says:

    This could be my lunch hour sorted.

  17. R.Hippy says:

    60. Bloodbones did eventually get published in the recent versions. I think there was also another “new” one about a Werewolf, so might count as 61. Fuck I’m sad.

    • R.Hippy says:

      As in 60 FF books…. when Bloodbones finally came out a couple of years back, I did have to exercise a lot of self control to not buy it just to complete the set. In the end, the fact that it wasn’t green and thus would have looked weird on the shelf with the rest of them allowed me to resist.

  18. Comstar says:

    This is amazing. I’ve got all the books and the gameplay is far better than a lot of modern computer games. Much better story too.

  19. cdm says:

    I thought you were talking about Ogami Ittō and Daigorō

  20. Bioptic says:

    Of course Way of the Tiger, despite being the ‘forgotten’ gamebook series, was probably as perfectly an encapsulated interactive story as you could hope for. 6 books, ranging from revenge pursuit to commanding vast armies.

    Also notable for combat taking into account which martial arts move you would be using, and adjusting accordingly.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Way_of_the_Tiger

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      I always remember the Martial arts pages saying “Don’t do these”.

      We totally did these.

      KG

    • leeder_krenon says:

      i would practice those moves off the bunkbed. TEETH OF THE TIGER (both feet wrapped around your opponents head, i believe). way of the tiger was definitely my favourite gamebook series. i also vaguely recollect one where you were in some kind of post apocalyptic mad-max style world, or something. that was pretty cool.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      That I didn’t break my own or someone else’s neck doing the teeth of the tiger is a testament to the resilience of children.

      KG

    • Sobric says:

      Way of the Tiger! Yes! It’s about the only adventure book I’ve read/played (I didn’t even know there was a series), and I loved it! Get the super-kick of the some guy in a cave to defeat the Evil Lord – woo!

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Ahh, thanks, that was the name of the series I was thinking about when I wrote my reply above. Thanks!

    • YogSo says:

      @ leeder_krenon:

      The post apocalyptic Mad-Max-like series is Freeway Warrior. It’s another Project Aon ongoing…. er, project. Only the first one (of four) has been released, though.

    • Chris D says:

      I remember taking one of the books along to my Karate class and we’d all look at the pictures and wonder why we weren’t learning anything this cool, just boring stuff like how to block. I can still see my Sensei muttering and shaking his head in disappointment.

    • Nick says:

      I tried to do teeth of the tiger throw on one of the L shaped sofa bed pillows once. Thankfully I had a soft landing.

    • leeder_krenon says:

      Thanks YogSo! That’s the fella.

  21. Daniel Calcei says:

    Thanks for this, Kieron.

    I still have all my gamebooks on my bookshelf. Were a huge part of my early high school years and you can still get them in secondhand bookstores around Australia.

    As Auspex said, Fabled Lands was fucking fantastic. It’s such as shame that they didn’t finish the series.

  22. Broslovski says:

    There’s the ffproject (ffproject.com?), which is MUCH less polished than this, but still worth a look :)

  23. R. says:

    Ooooh, ace. Though I respectfully disagree as to the series being the best of the genre – I’m torn between the Way of the Tiger and Blood Sword series. The former had ninjas and a glorious ending, the latter could have 4 players (or a team of 4 characters) and had the best solution to a final boss battle ever.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Annoyingly, I only played the first book in both those series. They were both lovely, however.

      KG

    • Pseudonym says:

      Oh, I loved the Way of the Tiger series. But (WotT spoilers coming)

      didn’t they end of an unresolved cliffhanger?

    • R. says:

      They did but while it’s the worst thing in the world when you’re 10 years old and attached to the characters, looking back now it was actually a pretty awesome way to leave things. Besides, I’d given my Avenger escapology skills so I’m sure everything would have turned out fine.

      *is still in denial after all these years*

  24. Lambchops says:

    I have found memoreis of Fighting Fantasy books but this series passed me by.

    might give it a look but it’s dependant on being able to cheat to get the outcome I want by flicking back through several pages. It wouldn’t be properly nostalgic for me if I didn’t do that!

    As far as I can remember my favourite of the Chose Your Own Adventure books was this lad http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fighting-Fantasy-Appointment-F-E-R/dp/1840465271, mostly because the superhero detective thing was something that little bit different.

  25. Klaus says:

    I believe I was playing this on the DS, but it’s only up to Book 4. :/

  26. Kieron Gillen says:

    Abandoning the Elvis/Beatles metaphors I was playing with, it’s not as if they’re the one who created the boom. FF was a phenomenon which lead to the wave of books. The Tunnel & Trolls book were not a phenomenon.

    KG

  27. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    I never actually read one of those type of books.. not sure why, I don’t think they were (and are) easy to find where I live. Anyway, I’m so going to get this. Thanks, Kieron!

  28. Tom Camfield says:

    Yes! Yes! Yeeeees!

    Wait, Mac version “coming soon”? Noooooo. Any one know where to find a Mac version?

    Favourite: the one with the big boat journey. I really liked that one.

  29. Novotny says:

    I loved the Tunnel & Trolls gaming system, though; it was simpler than D&D, and I felt it encouraged the GM to shoot from the hip and just make decisions on probability on the fly.

  30. Kits says:

    I loved these. Will definately be spending a few hours playing through. Though a shame there’s only the first 6 books available in it at the moment.

  31. internisus says:

    The most very special thing about these extra special books is the ways in which they design to limit you. Obviously, there are the exclusively branching paths that you take through the narrative, but more important are your tactical decisions. Your inventory and equipment loadout are extremely limited, to the point where it’s actually quite useful to go and read Dever’s old responses to reader-mailed questions about system nuances such as whether this or that story item counts as taking up a certain type of item slot.

    Not only are there obvious combat implications, but what you’ve chosen to carry frequently affects your ability to interact with the environment or events. For example, you may have decided not to carry with you some key or glowing relic rock that you’ve owned but not found need for during the last several books; then you’ll come across some door or altar that you could have unlocked, gaining a new story artifact. Since you elected to carry your extremely useful bow and leave the runed staff at home on this particular journey, you’ll miss out on the shiny shiny. The really, really cool part: That’s okay! You can live without it! There are lots of things you can miss that you’ll never have the chance to go back for, and they are unique and special things, at that.

    That’s just not how videogames are made, you know? Most RPGs are too afraid to turn away completionists, although it does appear that The Witcher 2 is excitingly going to take this approach.

    The other thing is that the skills that you choose for yourself provide interesting possibilities, such as being able to forage for food in appropriate locations or commune with animals. It’s the open availability but context restricted quality of these capabilities that I like here; your knowledge of hunting will not help you to feed yourself as you wander a creepy old castle. And naturally there are also many events such as those you see in dungeon crawlers where a specific opportunity to use a skill which you may or may not possess presents itself as a story branch.

    These two factors taken together foster a sense that your journey is uniquely your own, and in this respect I feel that the Lone Wolf books accomplish something that you rarely find with digital games even today.

  32. Maxheadroom says:

    Young whipper-snappers today with their XStations and ITelephones will never taste the bitter sweet victory of finishing a Lone Wolf book by keeping-your-thumb-in-the-previous-page tactics.

    On a related note, anyone else read the House of Hell fighting fantasy book?:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Hell
    good god it looks like someones actually mapped that one! wish I had that 25 years ago, I might have been able to finish it

  33. Sunjumper says:

    I always thought of the ‘fingers in pages’ technique as a legitimate form of saving, following the thought that if I restarted the game from the first page I would chose pretty much the same path and would get there anyway. It also added limited check-points by the virtue of only having so many fingers.

    Browsing the book for the ‘right’ next step was chating though.
    (Which I also resortet to every once in a while when a book was simply unfair.)

  34. internisus says:

    Since everyone’s talking about Fighting Fantasy, I thought I’d link this very cool read: http://plover.net/~bonds/creatureofhavoc.html

    • Richard Beer says:

      That is definitely worth a couple of minutes of anyone’s time. Very thought provoking.

    • Arathain says:

      Ahhh, Creature of Havoc, that was a clever one. Taking away control from the player from the start of the game was bold, to say the least, even if it did rather exacerbate the arbitrary decision problem. Perhaps that was the idea.

  35. tomwaitsfornoman says:

    This is turning out to be a really good day. Thanks, Kieron!

  36. Zero says:

    I let the guys at Project Aon know on their forums, if you haven’t already contacted them. I’ve been doing some work with a couple other guys for a sit-down tabletop version of Freeway Warrior, another one of Dever’s works; it’s in playtest right now, and looking pretty decent. Being but a fledgling member of Aon, I can’t speak for everyone, but it’s heartwarming to see their (our?) work being honored in this way, particularly Dave, the guy behind Seventh Sense, who looks like he’s busting his ass on that.

    Thank you guys.

  37. Chris Delay says:

    Wow. This is a serious nostalgia trip.

    I had the Black Baron and White Warlord books, which are even today an amazing achievement. They aren’t like the other choose-your-own-adventure books – they are actually Multiplayer combat games set in an underground maze, with a single picture on every page. It was pretty weird and complex the way it worked, but you had a book each, you made decisions on where to move based on the picture on that page, and you called out your new page number to your opponent. They did the same. You then used the lookup tables at the bottom of the page to go to the correct new page, which shows you your new view based on what just happened. I still have no idea how they built this game and made the rules work – stretching these kinds of books to the limit.

    It’s a pitty about the quality of the scans though – they’ve scanned each page graphic in B&W without any greyscaling, so much of the detail has been lost. The original artwork was extremely well done, which hasn’t been reproduced here.

    http://www.projectaon.org/en/Main/BlackBaron

  38. Sunjammer says:

    At first i thought this was the coolest thing ever, spending about an hour messing about with it, retrying retrying and accepting failure because, hey, it actually has a combat system, and it felt like choices really changed the outcomes.

    Then the fucking thing dropped me on a page that outright killed me with no warning. Great. Thanks for the reminder of how shit this genre can be.

    It blows my mind how much effort has been put into the client though. Those guys deserve a standing ovation for effort alone.

  39. Richard Beer says:

    Thanks Kieron. I had all the Fighting Fantasy books up to about 30, when I think I just got too old, but this Lone Wolf of which you speak totally passed me by! I am over there in another tab already checking it out.

    The most important question, though (which I can’t believe no-one’s asked yet): did you persuade your fellow school pupils to get Lonewolf? If not, how many of them have since died?

  40. tekDragon says:

    Ah… much nostalgia, though I actually read all those books in French (gasp!)

    I was partial to the Grail Quest series and Sorcery! (That was a tricky one full of wacky secrets). Eventually a couple of friends and I started playing The Dark Eye which while not quite fighting fantasy, was published by the same people in French.

  41. Freud says:

    I had some choose-your-own-adventure Cthulu books when I was younger. Drove me insane.

  42. Ian says:

    The client is fantastic. It’s a bit frustrating when you get to some bits and a choice you made ages back kills you without you even having a slim chance of escaping it.

    I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be able to screw yourself over but it’d be nice if it was going to be several choices down the line that the repercussions came that you had a longshot at saving your skin.

    Fun aside from that but where I am currently I’m choosing between traipsing right back to the start of the second book or starting afresh altogether.

  43. psycho7005 says:

    I downloaded it but when i go to run it nothing happens. Help!

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Right click on the start icon, select properties, go to the compatibility tab, select an XP option.

      I had no idea Windows 7 had compatibility options until earlier today.

      KG

    • psycho7005 says:

      Uh, strangely enough it seems i don’t. Zero Zip and Zilch Compatibility tab. :S

    • tekDragon says:

      if you have win7 home you dont get all the nifty compatibility modes, you need Pro or Ultimate.

    • psycho7005 says:

      Scratch that last comment, sorted it. Thanks for the help Kieron.

  44. Pseudonym says:

    While we’re on the subject of CYOA books, anyone remember a series called Falcon? It was about a time police cop, and I think it was done by the people who did the Way of the Tiger.

    I remember really loving it back in the day, and being totally freaked out by a section that I, years later, realised was an homage to John Carpenter’s Thing in the third book.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Oh yes, I played that series, loved it. I remember the covers were pink and had horribly tacky cover images. My ears burned with shame as I bought them.

      And I had the same experience as you, that horror section terrified me so much I could barely continue. Finding the book 10 years later, I realised that the whole chapter was a scene-by-scene copy of “The Thing”.

      Speaking of this, two of my favourites were books that I think were French in origin. One was about the Paris-Dakkar rally, no supernatural stuff at all. You selected one of three race cars in the beginning, and much of the book was about selecting routes. It was punishingly difficult, death on ever page. I think the best ending had you in third place, towed into goal by another team who you had saved the life of earlier. The second had you as a boy investigating a haunted house, which turned out to have aliens (of the more benevolent kind) in it. The best ending had you gaining supernatural powers that recharged by picturing a bright spinning disc in your mind.
      I tried that many times myself as a kid, but it never worked…

  45. TCM says:

    Oh man, I’ve wanted to try these for a loooong time, but never really felt to desire to muck around with pen and paper. This is awesome.

  46. Ben says:

    HEY! Someone over at Project Aon also crafted an upgraded version of their webclient to allow you to play in a webbrowser with saves and automated playing. I really highly recommend it! It’s crafted in Silverlight, but don’t worry: it runs well.

    http://projectaon.org/staff/antoine/mc/index.html

    Oh, and Kieron. Dammit, this article is the best thing you’ve ever written, even without including the space-horse!

  47. Moth Bones says:

    I think the reason Fighting Fantasy started a phenomenon was smart marketing. They had the nous to get ‘Warlock Of Firetop Mountain’ as the featured title in the very popular Puffin leaflets that were distributed every month in our school (and doubtless many others). Mix that with 11-year old boys… and stand well back.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      As someone who doesn’t exactly know about the early history of that, I dare say you’re at least partially right. The other half was distribution. The other part was presentation. Honestly – compare the pre-Fighting Fantasy books to the Warlock of Firetop Mountain.

      KG

  48. Dingo says:

    Man, this is more fun than the last three PC RPGs I played! ^_^
    Thanks for the tip, Kieron! And hail to Project Aon!

    Only thing I hate are the random deaths, though all the gaming books I tried decades ago (ouch, it hurts typing that) had them… Save often!

  49. Alex says:

    The most annoying thing about Lone Wolf was they started everything over with the Magnakai series. I was never sure if I was supposed to carry over my old abilities or not.

  50. pakoito says:

    There was a portable homebrew version for NDS or Gp2X or something IIRC.