Player Comments on Woban Island
This is a long and well written game! It is good, despite taking awhile to get into (in my opinion). Not having played the board game did not affect the enjoyment of the story, and it was a great exploration game! That being said, it was not without flaws. I always include spoilers, so enjoy the game before you read the comments.
Grammar did not have much to talk about. The game was well polished with few mistakes. I never felt it was hard to read the game because of grammar or mechanics. I will list a few MINOR things I did notice, though.
-general- The use of em-dashes was a bit strange to me, but this could be because I am not used to them. The first page had a lot, as if the author was excited to finally use them in a story, but they were all correct. My understanding is that em-dashes replace commas while adding emphasis. Overusing them made them lose their effect on the first page. Likewise, in places where the sentence was "text--text,text" I was confused. Is this being emphasized or half-emphasized? Not that this is a big issue...
-pg 18- The sentence about Walter's life philosophy has a sentence that goes "independent clause: independent clause: independent clause." This is correct but repetitive. On the same page, when first talking about Woban island, there is a sentence that reads "it's next to Auri island, isn't?" This needs an "it" at the end.
-pg 3- 1st para- ", however;" should be "; however," (I think)
That is it for grammar stuff that I found, nothing there really matters... I will move on to the actual story and plot next.
- The beginning was slow with very few choices. This made it hard to get into the story, despite being well written. I did not think a lot of the info was important, like in Marooned on Giri Minor when the author had to create a fantasy world, so it was hard to tackle the text walls. So much time was spent on getting to Fenway Park, describing it, and making sure you knew the protagonist didn't like baseball, that I expected the Woban's to have a baseball team. They did not. That being said, all the descriptions were amazing and you felt like you were there. On a similar note I have never seen "Cheers" so the intro to that branch didn't appeal to me. I did think the "Cheers" branch got off to a quicker start.
-Port and Starboard are nautical terms and would not be used on an airplane, again, this does not really matter.
-A note about "death pages too soon"- I get that the author doesn't like to put death pages too soon into the story, but I did not feel the one early death scene took anything away from the start. If anything it added to it, and I might have wanted more options early on to break up the text walls... even if they were quick deaths. This is a major preference/opinion thing though. I got bored when I made one choice in the first 5-6 pages on my first play through (Walter branch).
Once you got on the island:
- There was some great imagery, metaphors, and similes. These descriptions were so good I felt like I was really at the island, and the story picked up considerably here.
- Everything on the island was exciting, even the quick death branches. The only exception was the Woban dialogue. I feel like a lot of effort went into making that, with pages of conversations between Wobans. If the author did this so someone could figure out the Woban language I am impressed and in awe of the creativity; however, I simply skimmed these pages for English and got no value out of it.
- I really liked the Meredith and "Meredith's secret" twist, but I feel like it was fumbled. After learning Meredith's secret (which you can do on several branches) you always die within two pages. You never get the info and get to make an intelligent choice with it. It added to the story, and I get that there is a limit to branching in terms of the size of the story, but I wish I could have used the info. One branch where Meredith tells me her secret, I live, and we stop climbing the mountain to look for the real stone would be appreciated. What is the point of "Meredith's Secret" if you never use it? To make things worse you find both the real and fake stone by sheer luck choices, without knowing what Meredith knows on those branches.
- I did not like that there was no way to get the real stone on the Walter branch, although I really loved the writing and thought all of the paths that do exist are well done. This might just be a preference thing.
-The author never just says you die; rather, he makes a fun little branch with one or two choices and several different, elaborate deaths that are just as entertaining as a victory branch.
- The choice between two words I didn't know was a little frustrating. It was easily fixed by picked both choices, pressing back, reading the dead end first, and continuing, but still it was the classic "left or right with no foreshadowing" choice. Again, if there was a way to decipher the language I am very impressed and take this back, but I didn't sit there and think "I wonder if I can crack this language and understand it!" There was even a linguist you met that implied he figured it out, but never told YOU how to translate. You also die a page or two after talking to him regardless of choice... I will say that I can not think of a better way to write this scene, and it was very fun and well written regardless. I liked the story, but it did have these frustrating parts.
-The Cheers employer and branch is better, in my opinion, but I did think it was very strange that the only "winning" ending was on a branch that starts with you trusting a... Hitman? Goon? Not sure what to call him, but you have to randomly trust a shady figure on a plane to get to the only winning branch. It is really good, but seems counter intuitive.
Ultimately, this story is exciting and fun once you get to the island. Even the deaths are amazing stories worth playing! The downsides are that you didn't feel in control with your choices, often choosing between dying in 3 pages or dying in 4 on an elaborate no way to win branch. I still highly recommend it, but prepare to be mildly frustrated as you think "there is literally no way to accomplish this mission!"
P.S. If you started this wen 13 I am very impressed. Your original game book looks really cool, and your 13 year old self may have been a better author than I am now.
on 12/9/2019 1:46:50 PM with a score of 0
At last. The long-awaited next publishing of Bill Ingersoll is finally here. We had to wait at least a couple of months for him to churn out this 80K word story. Much too long IMHO. If you haven’t read Bill’s other works, I highly suggest you read them after Woban Island. One element in Bill’s stories is the consistency. You’ll notice the format, images, font, title page, and story page all have a similar design. It adds an air of familiarity. It’s professional, clean, and reminiscent of the old CYOA books. As this is the third storygame published by Bill, and the first outside of The Orion Chronicles, I think it’s safe to say Bill’s style is unique to this site. One more note on the aesthetics: the novel-like first letter capitalization is a nice touch. I don’t remember that in either publishings of The Orion Chronicles.
The story wastes no time in developing. In fact, you’re thrust into the main character’s perspective after events have already started. Instead of starting out as a normal dude and receiving a one-in-a-lifetime-opportunity from Mr. Bellinger, you’ve already accepted his proposal. It may seem like a no-brainer, but I’ve seen more than a few stories on this site start the opposite way. Not only do they make the main character less interesting, they give false choices (or no choices) in the beginning. WI does not make that mistake. From the beginning, I’m engaged into the story with a relatable setting (airport and all the exhausting elements), shady character who is mysteriously following me, and furthering of the plotline. I think the only non-positive thing I encountered was the small part about Bitcoin. It just felt more Bill-y, rather than main character-y. On a less serious note, one does not simply “exit a plane hastily,” especially from row 30.
SPOILER ALERT: The first END GAME link I encountered felt a bit off. I think it felt that way mostly due to the randomness of the encounter. For example, the dead branch stemmed from choosing to stay in the same airplane seat and ignoring the sketchy man next to you – something that *should* have no relation to getting hit by a car. Now the only other factor is choosing to stay next to Mr. Plaid Suit, so I suppose that could be interpreted as entertaining the idea to turn on Mr. Bellinger. Though to be fair, Mr. B did buy your plane ticket and technically chose the seat you’re in. Edit: ok, this is addressed later on in the game: Diane will “remove you from the board” if you refuse her offer. Still, the note from Mr. B makes it seem like he arranged the hit like a calling card of sorts.
The story progresses to a bar in Boston. If you watched Cheers, you’ll be presently surprised by the scene. I’ve never seen the show, but I’m a beer fan so any scene involving a bar, especially with a conversation about IPAs, is an A in my book. Just to add on, the shadiness of Jimmy and mystery of the job is fitting to the bar scene as well. Damn, I want a beer now.
Some random notes about the boat ride to Woban Island:
- The fact that the main character travels light is hit upon again. It’s a nice way to introduce the MC’s expertise in the field.
- I love the small, immersive details that are given about the Zodiac. My experience with boats are limited, but pointing to the fact the Zodiac isn’t tethered and motor starts right away turned a normal scene into a visual masterpiece. Not only did I feel the need to quickly swing to the boat before it floats away, I was brought back to what a huge pain starting an engine can be as I’ve tried to start obstinate lawn mowers and dirt bikes. I could almost smell the gasoline in my mind and was actually relieved when it started right away. Small details go a long way.
Not to spoil the story even further – I know I always skim the comments before a story – but the arrival to Woban (or a nearby island) is filled with dangerous encounters, treacherous environments, and one doctor with two things going for her. An option for a sequel was set up with the statues; something that I’d be all for. Knowing Bill’s hiking and nature experience, it was interesting to read comments on the island itself including navigating through the jungle and mountaineering.
I do think reaching the stone felt short compared to the build-up, although the many dead branches made it a fun experience to search my way through. Besides the afore mentioned dead branch, I was a big fan of the ones after reaching the island. Usually, dead branches are short, less thoughtful, and easily noticeable – not in this case. I can tell the amount of detail given to a premature ending were as much as the main path.
Out of the two other great storygames published by Bill, Woban Island is my favorite. The story draws you in from the beginning and never lulls. Because of the setting, it’d be really easy to fall into Indiana Jones stereotypes, but Woban Island feels unique in its characters and modern approach to seeking an ancient artifact. I tried my best to layer this comment with constructive feedback, but damn Bill, you made it harder than Dr. Bolt to find anything negative. 8/8.
on 11/25/2019 12:25:32 PM with a score of 0
Alright, my first comment was posted before running through all the major paths. Consider this an add-on.
Somehow I knew one of the Boston landmarks would be Fenway due to hints in the path I played before. Tons of baseball lore is introduced by the Uber driver and the meeting with Mr. Bellinger. Makes sense for the city you're in. As somewhat of a ball fan myself, the timing did feel a bit off with the discussion about the world series. The characters seemed to discuss the Red Sox’s win as recent, while the Nats just won. It doesn't take away from the story though, just an observation that a sports fan would notice. It’s fitting that baseball appears a lot in Woban Island because I can’t hear “Bellinger” without thinking of Cody Bellinger from the Dodgers. Even better, Los Angeles is briefly mentioned in the story.
Speaking of which, I’m not sure how many people would catch the name of the boat, The Big Papi. I did, and it was a nice Easter egg to discover. As I did not meet Mr. Bellinger in the first path I played, it was interesting to meet him face to face and learn about his outlook on life. “It’s all a game and he’s in control.” Also, I have a feeling the detailed list of gear purchased at REI is Bill's wishlist. Better forward a copy to Santa.
Mr. B himself seems like the typical rich employer with countless (priceless) artifacts and a reassuring whiskey glass in hand, despite the time of the day. All he’s missing is a black swivel chair and a small lapdog. The journey to the island on this path is vastly different than the one I played earlier. The one before, you’re on a rust-gathering HIV needle-infested boat, and this one is like a Caribbean cruise, with a skimpy reporter no doubt. And true to their nature, she skips out during the night. Immersive AND realistic. Nice touch.
The journey through the island is consistent with the first path I played. It's dangerous and the death links are well-written. I think I preferred the island navigation in this branch rather than the Cheers branch due to the Woban interactions and other cast of characters. This second comment is less a review and more focused on fun things I noticed. I gave Woban Island an 8 on my first play-through and gladly did again to reach the comment posting section.
on 12/9/2019 11:54:59 PM with a score of 0
I thoroughly enjoyed this game full of adventure, intrigue, brutal endings, and bushwhacking. I learned an important word to say if I ever get captured by savages, and I learned that the important thing is not the jewel, but the journey.
No, actually, it's the jewel.
The "dead end" paths are long, fleshed-out, and lavished with as much detail, adventure, and pulpy derring-do as the non-"you're dead" paths. In most cases, I didn't have a good sense that I had been killed for a reason I could have avoided (should I know whether to go upstream or seek higher ground?--I'm not much of an outsdoorsman) so the end games often struck me as out of nowhere--but since the end games were often two, three, four pages long, they felt like a reward rather than hitting a brick wall.
All in all, I highly recommend this extremely well-written game full of high adventure. It's long, it will take work to hack through, but there's a jewel in it. See what I did there?
on 12/7/2019 6:57:11 PM with a score of 0