m. c. de marco: To invent new life and new civilizations...

Entwee/Enscree 1.1.1

I’ve bumped Entwee and Enscree, my Twee and Multimarkdown exporters for Twine (respectively), with a bug fix for buggy brackets (reported by AnotherRPGEnthusiast in the Discord). Unfortunately, bigger Twine bugs exist in proofing formats than the one I fixed, which make my changes rather academic at this point.

On the bright side, there’s a beta/preview of DotGraph as a Service that got rolled along with the above changes. The corresponding version of DotGraph isn’t out yet, but enterprising graphers can build it themselves off the dgaas branch in BitBucket, if they can’t wait.

A Cosmic Flowchart: Part III

In Part I, I covered the fictional, meta-choicemaps shown in Bandersnatch. In Part II, I covered some of the earlier and more popular actual maps of the show as played (and frequently mapped) by the viewers. Here in Part III, I will survey the later and less noted maps of the show, in roughly chronological order.

In the December 28th thread about u/alpine-’s more popular graph, u/turcois on Reddit posted his simpler, boxy, top-to-bottom graph with color-coding for ends, repeating of passages, and randomized choices. Also Jason Cooper, a.k.a. deamwork at GitHub, apparently translated alpine-’s map into draw.io format and Chinese, with the intention of collaborative improvement (which doesn’t seem to have panned out):

educational portion of Bandersnatch choicemap by turcois educational portion of Bandersnatch choicemap by deamwork

Also on December 28th, Leon Hurley tweeted his meandering map, both shrunk down to spoiler-free size, and also in full resolution:

educational portion of despoiled Bandersnatch choicemap by Leon Hurley educational portion of Bandersnatch choicemap by Leon Hurley

Some maps desperately need legends for their unexplained color coding. On December 28th, u/Madra_ruax on Reddit posted posted a flowchart with pervasive, but equally unexplained, color coding. On December 29th, u/EngineeringMySadness on Reddit posted a wordy, black-and-white looking flowchart that actually has some subtle line coloring:

educational portion of Bandersnatch choicemap by Madra_ruax educational portion of Bandersnatch choicemap by EngineeringMySadness

On December 29th, Reza Lesmana posted a three-piece incomplete flowchart to his blog, and Wogan May blogged an excerpt of his unpublished flowchart:

educational portion of Bandersnatch choicemap by Reza Lesmana educational portion of Bandersnatch choicemap by Wogan May

On December 29th, Tobie, @kubriickscube on Twitter tweeted an incomplete map in a thematic White Bear/video game crossover style. (The color coding appears to be structural rather than reflecting the similar colors of the show.) On January 1st, u/AppiusClaudius on Reddit joined in the dark theme with a black, bubbly, partial map, with some boldface for end nodes and a single, unexplained octagon shaped node:

educational portion of Bandersnatch choicemap by KubriicksCube educational portion of Bandersnatch choicemap by AppiusClaudius

On December 30th, u/pablo_alab on Reddit posted an annotated, colorful map with ten numbered endings. (The discussion on the post goes into up to 17 possible endings, the difficulties of mapping the PAC/PAX/JFD/TOY point, and the general feasibility of mapping Bandersnatch.) In a curvy tangle with end-coloring, bananatops on Tumblr came across 12 permanent (purple) ends and many more ends with the option to go back (orange):

educational portion of Bandersnatch choicemap by pablo_alab educational portion of Bandersnatch choicemap by bananatops

Chartgeek reposted a January 5th tree-style map by Adam Smith, who’d used a bit of color coding and some interesting time-banding:

educational portion of Bandersnatch choicemap by Adam Smith

Other maps I’ve spotted out there include a simple black-and-white, single path map by annabel (@QUERTYFINGER) on Twitter (December 28th), and a boxy blue map by myanklesaresprained on imgur (also December 28th).

A Cosmic Flowchart: Part II

In Part I, I covered the fictional, meta-choicemaps shown in Bandersnatch. Here in Part II, I’ll cover some of the more significant actual maps of the show as played (and frequently mapped) by the viewers. I’m also planning a Part III for the less significant, but still interesting, maps out there.

One of the earliest choice maps of Bandersnatch the TV show was posted to reddit by u/scrixie on the same day (December 28th, 2018) that Netflix broadcast the show. It gave a good, quick summary in the White Bear style of the meta-maps seen in the show, and became one of the go-to maps in reporting about the show. A far less popular summary map was posted to reddit in early January by u/truthcrab. Structurally, it uses meandering paths illustrated with screencaps, but in content it is quite similar to the more famous map:

educational portion of Bandersnatch flowchart by scrixie educational portion of Bandersnatch flowchart by truthcrab

One novelty brought on by the process of summarizing the multiple paths through these nodes is the annotations—the orange circles in the first map and the faded choice in the second—intended to indicate that the choices are not always available, or other qualities that change depending on previous choices.

Most of the choice maps out there are more exhaustive but (or therefore) structurally less interesting. The most famous is another early map by u/alpine- on Reddit (sometimes falsy attributed to The Verge, although they credited it properly themselves), which lies firmly in the flowchart style. A boxier but more washed-out flowchart from IGN also garnered a bit of attention for its completeness:

educational portion of Bandersnatch flowchart by alpine- educational portion of Bandersnatch flowchart from IGN

Along with the standards, Petrana Radulovic at Polygon dug up (and Popsugar later regurgitated) some rarer early choice maps, including an allegedly low-spoilage, unusually curvy flowchart from Reddit user u/madarasi012, and a White-Bear style map from Reddit user u/kicos018 which takes the exhaustive route, but adds an interesting application of background color to a main divergence point:

educational portion of Bandersnatch choicemap by madarasi012 educational portion of Bandersnatch choicemap by kicos018

But by far the most interesting (and hard to find) choicemaps out there are the ones made and used by the producers themselves. They first started with a White Bear-style flowchart, then tried using Twine:

educational portion of official Bandersnatch choicemap, White Bear style educational portion of official Bandersnatch choicemap in Twine

Later they wrote their own software, Branch Manager:

educational portion of official Bandersnatch choicemap in Branch Manager educational portion of official Bandersnatch choicemap in Branch Manager with menus educational portion of official Bandersnatch choicemap in Branch Manager, big screen

There are a few more glimpses of the software in a couple of making of videos on YouTube.

A Cosmic Flowchart

The panel about Bandersnatch at Narrascope this weekend was recorded and may eventually make its way online, but for now, there is only my memory to go on. The panelists—at times grudgingly—admired the skillful translation of interactive fiction to the small screen: the practice choices, (grudgingly) the practice do-over, and the speedy recaps for most (but not all) of the do-overs. What they did not much admire was the particular, questionable piece of interactive fiction that was so well, and thus so wastefully, translated to the little stream. The metaness of the plot was trite, the false choices frustrating at best, irresponsible at worst, and the sophisticated methods of the genre missing.

I enjoyed both the panel and the show, even though I felt the panelists' pain—not so much as an interactive fiction writer myself but as a genre fiction writer who’s experienced the same phenomenon of non-genre writers stumbling into the genre and writing nonsense that would make even the hoary old nonsense writers of the Golden Age blush if they’d ever been such clueless newbies as to write it.

But it’s a category error to criticize such interlopers by the standards of the genre they’ve invaded, because in reality they’re still writing for fans of the genre they left. In the case of television producers attaching a trite Twilight Zone ending (or five of them) to their interactive TV show, one must seriously consider the likelihood that they intentionally attach trite Twilight Zone endings to all their shows. Their visit to your genre is neither a conversion nor a teaching moment; it’s just a violent raid. Expect literary casualties on both sides.

It also struck me that I need to update the History of Choice Mapping for Bandersnatch, which has brought a whole host of new choice-mappers, if not new choice maps, to the genre. Most notable is the meta-mapping of Bandersnatch, the fictional “Choose Your Own Adventure” book on which the eponymous fictional video game is based, done by Stefan to help him turn the book into a videogame. The blocky style in which these flowcharts are drawn becomes a symbol in and of itself in the show, occasionally drawn in blood; it’s a symbol that goes back to another Black Mirror episode, “White Bear”:

public domain White Bear symbol from Wikipedia educational portion of screenshot from Heavy educational portion of trailer screenshot via Reddit

In hopes of revealing more of the plot of the fictional video game, Simon Butler has collected some good screenshots of Stefan’s hand-written choice maps, and cleaned them up into (virtual) print flowcharts:

educational portion of Bandersnatch screenshot (Stefan) educational portion of Bandersnatch screenshot reproduction (Stefan)

He gives Pearl’s flowchart fragments the same treatment:

educational portion of Bandersnatch screenshot (Pearl) educational portion of Bandersnatch screenshot reproduction (Pearl)

Tomorrow, the actual maps of Bandersnatch qua interactive fiction show…

Update

In the meta style of Simon Butler, Santiago Zapata (Slashie) and Camilo Ramírez (jucarave) have reconstructed the fictional game in the show as a mod of “Stygian Abyss”, including source code and a geographical choice map:

educational portion of Bandersnatch game map by Slashie educational portion of Bandersnatch game map by Slashie

A Hashtag For Hodor

Technically, the title is a spoiler for today’s work of hyperfiction, End Game of Thrones, but since the story is just a comic take from 2014 on the future of the HBO series, it’s pretty well spoiled by now anyway. “End Game of Thrones” is the last installment in a short-lived (2012–2014) Pick Your Path CYOA series by Mike Kayatta, posted to The Escapist, “the authoritative journalistic source for the mature enthusiast of escapist entertainment.”

The story begins with a feint, and then returns, bottleneck- and show-style, inevitably to the fates of three main characters, which you may decide independently of each other. When all are dead, on the Iron Throne, and/or otherwise disposed of, there is a final, financial denouement.

The bottlenecks are too tight to reward much rereading, unless you’re particularly taken by the humor or irony of the piece. I didn’t get very far into the other four Pick Your Path stories for want of the appropriate video gaming background to appreciate them, but structurally they seemed quite similar to “End Game of Thrones”, and much too linear for a time-cave fan like me.

I’ll be at Narrascope this weekend; review(s) to follow…