If the topic doesn't interest you, feel free to skip to below the asterisks near the bottom of the post, where I'm seeking input on a completely different matter. As far as I can remember, there's only ever been one comment on the title of a post, so they may be of negligible significance to most readers. Then again, stats have indicated that one of my playthroughs got a lot of additional traffic as a consequence of people googling the proverb I'd quoted in the title, so they do have some effect. And whether or not anyone else cares, they matter enough to me that I take time choosing them (possibly more time than it takes to play and write up some of the more lethal adventures), and some of the things I intend to say here have been cluttering my head for so long, it'll be a relief to finally get them out.
As you may well be aware, the titles are quotations. Mostly. There's the odd paraphrase (some intentional, others on account of the vagaries of memory), and very early on I did once slip into the mindset I had when posting Proteus reviews to a Yahoo! group, coming up with a vaguely pithy phrase of my own devising. Oh well, consistency is for sauces.
Quotations from what? Songs, popular idiom, TV shows, essays, poems, novels, proverbs, plays, computer games, films, historical figures, comics, short stories... Even a gamebook, on one occasion. Every so often I'd arbitrarily come up with a rule restricting the possible sources. Every time I've played a superhero-themed gamebook, the title has come from a comic. Not only do all my attempts at J.H. Brennan's Horror Classics take their titles from the book which inspired the gamebook, but they're quotations from the character I am playing in that specific playthrough. And as I quote Doctor Who so frequently, I made a point of not quoting it when writing up attempts at gamebooks based on the series.
While it might not be obvious in some instances, the title always has something to do with the content of the post. Sometimes the connection is blatant, sometimes there's a bit of lateral thinking involved, and on a good day I find something that works on more than one level. Here, for instance, the title obviously relates to my failure to avenge my fellow slaves, but the name of the song from which I took it (Johnny Cash's Hurt) is also relevant, as my character's death was caused by a Gauntlet of Pain. (And yes, I am aware that the song was a cover version, so NIN fans needn't feel obligated to correct me).
When I pick a title varies. Sometimes I have it in mind from the outset (which doesn't always work out: I didn't get anywhere near far enough through Creature of Havoc for my planned title to be relevant, so I found an alternative, and am saving the original idea for a more successful attempt). On other occasions I've wound up with a completed write-up that lacks a title, and had to delay posting it until I could find something apposite. Once I even forgot I had no title, and had to edit one in after posting. If you are able to correctly identify the post in question, you should probably find a more productive use of your time.
There has, to my memory, only been one title directly influenced by current events in the real world, and even that wasn't planned as such. After the death of David Bowie, I decided to listen to one of his albums as a tribute, and one of the lyrics I heard while doing so struck me as being as appropriate to the playthrough in progress as the title I had selected, so I changed to that one.
Incidentally, while most of the song lines used as titles can be found on albums that I own, there are a few that just lodged in my head on account of having been near-ubiquitous on radio at some point, and one or two others that I dug up online because some other factor had led me to believe that the singer might have come out with something vaguely fitting at some point. Any artist who's been quoted in more than one title is definitely represented in my music collection, but there are still a few groups who have a significant presence on my shelves, yet have not so far had their output mined for this blog. Their time will come. Probably.
I'm not sure that anything much has come of these reflections. Still, now I've raised the issue, if anybody wants to know the source of some particularly obscure quotation, or precisely how one of the more cryptic ones relates to the post to which it is attached, you're welcome to ask. And this post has been easy enough to write that it shouldn't hold up the next proper attempt at a gamebook.
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Talking of which, the subject of my next playthrough will be the mini-adventure from issue 1 of Fighting Fantazine. Now, some readers may be aware that I am the author of one of the Fantazine mini-adventures, so there is a question regarding what I should do with my own handiwork. Several options suggest themselves:
- Just play it like any other gamebook. I've played gamebooks I know very well before, and the fact that my familiarity with this one comes in part from having created it shouldn't matter.
- Play it like any other gamebook, but add an 'author's commentary' explaining inspirations and other points of possible interest.
- Get a guest writer to play it.
- Use a guest writer for the playthrough and add my own author's commentary as in option 2.
If you have any opinion on the matter, or alternative options to add, or favour option 3 or 4 and wish to volunteer to be a guest writer, please comment here to let me know.