What's with the modern trend style with CYOA games? I spent half an hour on IFDB and couldn't find a single decent game.
What I noticed more than anything was what appears to be a trend for obscure 'arty' type games where you're presented with a selection of links in the description that give you absolutely no clue or indication as to what they do. A typical passage would be something like:
What are dreams? Are you dreaming now? Am I? It's so cold here. Will I ever get out. I hear a poem about loss and distant memories.
Where's the logic here? How does this encourage people to do anything but randomly click the links? Where's the direction and progression? Aren't we supposed to have at least some idea what function the links perform?
99% of interactive fiction is awful. Gamebooks tend to be particularly bad as they are easy to make. Parser based games usually require a little bit of thought to get something up and running, which I suspect scares off the worst writers - although still plenty of stinkers.
I think the current trend for expanding upon random words comes from writers trying to give the illusion of agency whilst not actually giving players much control.
The vast majority of Gamebooks funnel players down a very narrow path, with most choices being inconsequential to the overall narrative. I've come across plenty of Gamebooks where I didn't appear to be given any choice at all...
I think many writers can't or don't want to spend the time writing complex interweaving plots, so use the links you mention to give the "player" something to do whilst they are dragged kicking and screaming through the story.
I'll be honest, the only CYOA I've been impressed with of late is Detective Land. Technically the underlying engine is really parser based, but interactions all take place via links.
There are a few clunky game play decisions, but this is what I want to see more of - competent programming with a solid plot.
Yes, that really is quite something! Rather discouraging that it's only had a mere 5 votes and a single review when so much work has gone into it.
If I have anything negative to say about it, it would be meant constructively and be that its depth is almost overwhelming.