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One of the pleasanter surprises of C2E2 was meeting Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, the creator of one of my favorite webcomics, All Knowledge Is Strange. Goodbrey is a past winner of the Isotope Mini-Comic Award, and he was at C2E2 to promote First Comics’ print edition of his Necessary Monsters (co-created with Sean Azzopardi). But he had something else to show me: A Duck Has an Adventure, his Android game, which uses comics elements in a choose-your-own-adventure type of format.
The game unfolds as a series of panels, and occasionally the reader is given a choice–go to college? date the girl? It’s a bit like the Game of Life reduced to its iconic form (and with a significant infusion of wit–Goodbrey is a very funny guy, in that dry, British sort of way).
“I tried to simplify the language of comics so you consume each panel really quickly,” Goodbrey said, and indeed, he does strip the images down to their basic components. The story gets more complex as you go, though, and eventually [SPOILER!] the duck meets an alternate version of itself and the two have to decide whether to work together or fight. “The more you play, the more it becomes like a puzzle experience—you figure out how to get more parts of the story to unlock,” Goodbrey said.
Although Goodbrey allows the reader to collect achievements and hats, there isn’t a lot of shooting or other skill involved; A Duck Has an Adventure reminded me of a digital version of Jason Shiga’s Meanwhile. It’s a good example of one of the many new directions digital comics can go in, with a single story having multiple branches. While the duck will set you back 99 cents, Goodbrey has another comic with a similar structure, Jack’s Abstraction, that is available for free.