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Ben X

Interactive Fiction/Text Adventures (and their engines)

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Any IF/TA engine recommendations? I'm pretty sure someone happened to list 3 or 4 a while back but I can't find that post for the life of me.

 

My intent to expand on the mini Choose Your Own Adventure I wrote for the 2nd (I think, the one that never happened) Thumbs Journal stumbled a bit when I started getting distracted by doing it as a website and getting collaborators in. So I'm hoping to pick the easiest way of writing it and just doing it for fun whether it works out or not.

 

I haven't decided whether to go for a more IF feel or a proper text adventure yet. I'm leaning towards the former as all I really want to do is write silly bullshit. If I want to start mucking about with inventories and stuff I may as well make an AGS game...

 

EDIT: another, Twine-specific, thread here

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Twine is free, easy to code and easy to distribute. I think you can do things like have random number generators in it, but anything besides branching choices, images and conditional content for past decisions will take a little digging. From what i understand, all you have to do to distribute is share the resulting html file on dropbox or whatever.

Ren'py is an excellent visual novel engine. It's free, has a very active and helpful community at the official forums and you can do some fairly complex 2d animations with it. It supports music too. The problem I've had with ren'py is that the art assets Can be a significant investment, and i get bogged down by having to make the art assets. The resulting file is an executable that people have to download. It's harder to code than Twine, largely because you'll want to include background art and character art that does stuff.

Inkle is free and has a nice interface and I think you can do all the programming by clicking on stuff. I think you might have difficulty distributing anywhere but the inkle site though. But actually, i remember them saying that they can put stories on kindle for a small fee. I seem to remember some page limit though.

Choice of script is another one to look into. They'll even help you put it on the iphone app store and give you 25% of the royalties I think.

All that said, if you want characters on the screen to move their mouths and you want background music, I'd got with ren'py.

If you want text with maybe a few pictures, I'd go with twine.

I'm writing a slice of life story in Twine that borrows from my own experiences. Something interesting about it is that when I give players choices that I didn't make, I tend to write what I thought would happen (a.k.a the reason I didn't make that choice.) So I'm having a hard time not reaffirming my existing biases. I thought that was interesting. It's really fun. Water's warm, come on in.

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Okay, Twine sounds like the best option for me out of those. Thanks!

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There's also "ChoiceScript" which was used to make things like "Choice of the Dragon" -- I don't know anything about the language, but Choice of the Dragon is cool.

 

Edit: reading comprehension would reveal to me that this was already mentioned. Consider it doubly mentioned. =P

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Inform 7 seemed pretty cool to me, but I've never made a text adventure game.

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Inform is great. If you're just doing a CYOA-style game, you may not need a text parser, but if you do, I believe Inform is the only one of the things mentioned that can actually handle that. Standard IF stuff like rooms, navigation, inventory, and most of the common verbs are already built in, so it's really easy to get a basic game up and running. If you want to do weirder stuff, it gets a little trickier because you have to work around Inform 7's weird pseudo-English syntax (although if you're more comfortable with traditional programming languages you can always just use Inform 6), but it's pretty powerful and flexible once you figure out how to tell it what you want it to do.

 

I haven't been at all impressed with what I've seen of Twine or ChoiceScript, but I guess it depends on the project.

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Cool, thanks, I will check these out!

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Standard IF stuff like rooms, navigation, inventory, and most of the common verbs

 

By the way, doesn't having this stuff and/or a parser define a game more as a text adventure than IF? I need to get my terminology right before entering this subculture!

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By the way, doesn't having this stuff and/or a parser define a game more as a text adventure than IF? I need to get my terminology right before entering this subculture!

 

I guess so. I would consider text adventures a subset of IF. I personally don't think "interactive fiction" is a very useful term because it's so broad. That description applies to almost any video game (and many non-video games). In common practice they're used fairly interchangeably except that IF includes stuff with different interfaces, as well as text adventures whose authors think it makes them sound more respectable (like calling comics graphic novels).

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I guess so. I would consider text adventures a subset of IF. I personally don't think "interactive fiction" is a very useful term because it's so broad. That description applies to almost any video game (and many non-video games). In common practice they're used fairly interchangeably except that IF includes stuff with different interfaces, as well as text adventures whose authors think it makes them sound more respectable (like calling comics graphic novels).

 

The distinction, to me, is that a text adventure suggests that it will be an adventure game, with an emphasis on puzzling, whereas interactive fiction says "look, guys, this is about story first and foremost and possibly only".

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I didn't use to make a distinction between the terms, but in the past I've probably only played what you call "text adventures". From what I've recently played, Versu on iOS is probably more like IF and not "text adventure" (at least it doesn't have a parser, you always select something), but really I still don't care about the distinction much.

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I didn't use to make a distinction between the terms, but in the past I've probably only played what you call "text adventures". From what I've recently played, Versu on iOS is probably more like IF and not "text adventure" (at least it doesn't have a parser, you always select something), but really I still don't care about the distinction much.

I'm waiting for this on Android. I'm prepping by reading Pride and Prejudice.

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I've been out of the loop for a few years since my ability to purchase commercial games went up dramatically and my time to play games went down dramatically (yay full time employment), but one of the really key developments back when I followed these things was the steadily progressing realization by the IF fan community that they didn't actually have to replicate the heavy puzzle emphasis of Infocom/Magnetic Scrolls/etc text games of yore and could branch into really interesting narrative experimentalism and such. After all, with no money changing hands, nobody had to court consumer expectations.

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Twine is a bit frustrating as there's very little documentation or community if you want to do anything vaguely complicated or just know how some stuff works. I'm checking out the Google Group, but it seems a little inpenetrable for noobs.

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Well, I haven't spent too much time on it and I've managed to figure one thing out, which involved a load of ifs and elses - most of the issues seemed to be how many spaces I was putting between commands. Although for some reason it only works in Sugarcane, not Jonah.

 

I was also getting some problems with choices but I think I'll avoid those for now, especially as iirc they apparently only work in one of the styles.

 

And I thiiiink I was having trouble getting rid of the passage titles, can't remember!

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I'm working in Sugarcane, so if you get stuck there, feel free to post here and I might be able to help. Right now, I'm just making branching pages and a few passages that are conditional. But if you get stuck on something specific, maybe I can point out something you might have missed.

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Cool, thanks dude. I got it the wrong way round, though. think I like the idea of Jonah more, as you get to see your story unfold on the page, but my ands/elses solution only works in Sugarcane. How the fuck does that make sense?!

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I have no idea. 
Do you have more details? What is conditional to the "and/elses solution"? Is the appearance of a new page conditional or is it the appearance of a passage on that page?

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You might want to ping Leon with your problem. Knows a lot about the inner minutiae of Twine.

 

General Useful Twine resources:

Anna Anthropy's tutorial: http://www.auntiepixelante.com/twine/

Porpentine's Resource Page: http://aliendovecote.com/?page_id=4047

Twine Cheat Sheet: http://gamesaslit.textories.com/syllabus/twine-cheat-sheet/

Twine Documentation http://www.gimcrackd.com/etc/doc/

Leon Arnott's Macros: http://l.j-factor.com/twine/

Making Custom JavaScript Macros: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

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Thanks Noyb, I'd not found all of those.

 

clyde, yeah it has to do with displaying passages (plus a variable), and potentially looping back to the same passage. I might send it to you if I can't figure it out!

 

Thanks all!

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