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Games Showcase / Re: List of Free Playable Online Stories & Gamebooks
« Last post by Frankie on June 11, 2014, 12:09:02 PM »
Hi Chris, thanks for your stunning gamebooks list! Here are two small, but effective additions. Regards Herbert
(go to the library)
Contests / Re: Twine Challenge: Flash (Interactive) Fiction
« Last post by Sharpe on March 11, 2014, 10:09:07 AM »
The Twine Flash (Interactive) Fiction Challenge Submissions:

Inheritance by Rosencrantz

A Conversation About Tricking The Twine Word Counter by Mykael

The Minotaur's Maze by Richard Sharpe

Tiny Weird Future Farm by Mostly Useless

Hero Contest and Mortal Queue both by Inurashii

Train Station by Loopernow

Reunion by Matt Weiner

Check the challenge thread for links to all games
Contests / Re: Twine Challenge: Flash (Interactive) Fiction
« Last post by Sharpe on March 09, 2014, 08:45:14 PM »
Tomorrow's the day! Still plenty of time. It only took me about an hour to write 95% of my 1,000-word story. Once you start, you're pretty well finished!
Contests / Twine Challenge: Flash (Interactive) Fiction
« Last post by Sharpe on March 04, 2014, 06:28:41 PM »

I'd like to invite Adventure Cow members to participate in a Twine "challenge."

For this challenge, "game" and "story" are synonymous.

Like flash fiction but interactive, the challenge is to write a nonlinear story of extreme brevity.

Here are the rules of the challenge:

1. Use Twine to create a new game beginning now. The game can't have been published, began, or even thought about before this very moment. Thought police will scan each file and arrest cheaters. ;)

2. The challenge is to write an interactive, nonlinear story of extreme brevity. The story must be 1,000 words or less according to the Story Statistics under the Story menu in Twine.

3. The maximum number of passages allowed for this challenge is only 15. ALL passages count without a single exception.

The challenge ends Monday, March 10 at 11:59 PM in your time zone, whatever that is. We're not going to be real strict about it. :)

Post links to your games here in this thread or in the challenge thread. Bonus points if the link to your game is on IFDB! You may submit as many games as you like.

All submitted games are considered licensed under Creative Commons 4.0.

Entries from both forums will be compiled and listed in this post.

The amount of text in passages is limited to 1,000 words or less. Twine has a word count feature ("Story Statistics") under the Story menu at the top of the Twine window. It is pretty accurate, but it's not perfect for the challenge's purposes. It does count code and variables, and it counts a few other things as well. No matter what, we're going with Twine's word count.

For more details, see the challenge's thread on,1531.msg2914.html

Everyone, no matter how busy they are, should be able to make the time to take this challenge if they so desire. It should take about an hour to write a story, maybe another hour or so to tweak and playtest it. The tight restrictions also help prevent participants from getting bogged down after starting. As soon as you start, you're pretty well finished. :)

If you would like, feel free to join us on the Twine forums to ask questions, post your games, or just chit-chat:

Thanks for reading! Hope to see some fun and interesting games from Adventure Cow!
But let's put this elephant in the room into the corner, at least for the moment. Can systems do a better job of storytelling than crafted content? Historically, no, and while we certainly shouldn't use that as evidence that there's no point trying, it's hard to see how any technology short of a magic futuristic AI will be able to beat the problems they demonstrate. The first of those is that any story, any setting, any characters, and any mechanic gets old fast, as indeed seen by Levine's own BioShock. The first presented us with one of gaming's most imaginative, best realised locations, only to have fans yawn at the idea of returning to it for BioShock 2.

There are certainly systemic games that can keep people's interest in the long run, but at most they sprinkle bits of lore and a premise into their worlds and focus on being a stage for stories rather than actually trying to tell one. When they try, we get MadLibs, with the resulting stories passing muster because either everyone is meant to be impressed by too the technological achievement to spot the lack of fun - Skyrim's Radiant AI for instance, or the older AI-driven adventure Sentient - or the effect is entirely reliant on the atmosphere. Spy games Sid Meier's Covert Action and Floor 13 spring to mind as short-lived successes. Once the 'I am a ruthless secret agent' vibe fades though, everything is quickly laid bare. As humans or human-like infiltrators from the planet Zorgoth as the case may be, we're fantastically good at spotting patterns and figuring ways to use and abuse them, even at the cost of our own fun.
Sorry about the bait-y title. No, I'm not sorry. Well, I'm slightly apologetic.

Recently I read an article about one of the founders of GDC ("30 Years Later, One Man Is Still Trying To Fix Video Games"). It's mostly done as a bio/profile, but one section got me thinking about social mechanics in games:

The problem, according to Crawford, is that video games are, from the most expensive blockbuster shooting game to the humblest text adventure, fundamentally about spatial reasoning, not social reasoning.

It does seem striking that most games are based on spatial reasoning. Without space, StarCraft is basically rock-paper-scissors. Without space, Civilization and other games turn into giant spreadsheets. Without space, Chess and Go, some of the oldest games that are still popular, are gone.

This dependence on space makes games with a social story seem almost infeasible (imagining how to make a gamebook interesting without space is something I struggle with).

Alongside that, there's the difficulty of social mechanics. I spent some time thinking about this and I realized that it's almost impossible, given our current technology, to make a single player game with meaningful social mechanics. That's a far-reaching claim; here's how I came to it.

In most games, we combine a numerical element (this weapon does X damage, this farmer produces X crops) with a spatial element (I can build a fence here, I can move troops here). Space naturally makes some of the gameplay interesting (I can hide behind this wall and not take damage, I can put these two farms together to make them more efficient but I need to make room to expand later), and the numbers generally add on top of each other to make things interesting as well.

The cool part about space and numbers is that they create opportunities for emergent behavior - stuff that grows out of the original mechanics. In Civilization II, your troops were safer if they were stationed on a mountain (their strength numbers were higher). Combine that with a narrow inlet with just a mountain, and suddenly the spatial mechanics and numerical mechanics create a higher-level concept - a choke point (you could arguably call this a dynamic if we're talking MDA).

This emergent behavior makes a game's possibilities multiply. There are only 64 spaces on a chess board, and only 6 types of pieces, but combining the spatial rules and the numerical rules (logical in this case - how pieces capture each other and get promoted), you have a game with billions of possibilities. If you imagine the game as a tree of possibilities, a game with space and number combined grows very quickly - that enables emergent behavior.

Even tic-tac-toe has a lot of possibilities.

Here's the problem. In Choose Your Own Adventure style gamebooks, you have to write every branch of this tree yourself. No matter how many branches you can make, you'll never be able to keep up with a system with the slightest bit of emergence.

Someone had to write a page for every one of those branches, and that still would be smaller than 4x4 tic-tac-toe.

Social mechanics are not at the generative, emergent stage; they're mostly at the branch stage. When I interact with characters in a game, usually it involves a branch that someone had to write, script, and record by hand (think any of the Bioware RPGs, any RPG character dialog tree, or any Twine conversation, visual novel, etc.) Games that have genuine social models are rare and often super simplified (think of the Sims, or the idea of foreign civilizations "liking" or "disliking" you in any Civ game).

Emergent behavior is what makes games interesting. Instead of flowing down a tree that's only interesting once, you're putting elements together in new ways. You're generating freeze-shatter combos in an RPG, or holding choke points in a strategy game, or building a pit to fill with lava.

In a game with a tree, the question you ask is "What paths did the designers make the best/most interesting?"; you're guessing what they had in mind.
In a game with emergence, the question you ask is "How can I combine these elements in a cool way?" You're inventing.

This is the great difficulty with social games - we don't have good ways of modeling social behavior - and honestly, I don't know if there's a good answer to it, at least in the single player realm. Thoughts?
General Discussion / Re: IF Lit Mag Musings
« Last post by dacharya64 on January 05, 2014, 11:42:50 PM »

We are now accepting guest blog post entries for Inky Path's blog. If you want to write about the state of writing, fiction, or interactive fiction today, or post any reviews for IF pieces, this is the place you can do it! We will also accept re-posts of entries you might have already posted to your own blog.

We are also still accepting submissions for Volume 1. Remember that your piece can be published elsewhere, and we accept most types of interactive fiction.

For guidelines on submitting your interactive fiction piece, or your blog entry, check out the submission guidelines here:

Hope to be hearing from you soon!


Inky Path:
General Discussion / Re: IF Lit Mag Musings
« Last post by dacharya64 on December 16, 2013, 10:58:21 PM »
Okay, so time to make this thing a reality:

Hello, you wanderer of the internet! I've started an interactive fiction literary magazine, Inky Path.

What is Inky Path?

Inky Path is the first literary magazine that showcases interactive fiction and provides readers with the tools to create their own game. It is about fostering a community of thought and discussion around IF works, seeing pieces for more than their entertainment value, and providing greater exposure of IF to the literary world.

What are you looking for?

We are looking for talented IF writers like yourselves to submit your interactive fiction to the site. There can't be a literary magazine without submissions, so we welcome everyone to bring forth their best work!

It's fine if your work is published elsewhere. You can also submit excerpts or the beginnings of pieces if you want. We welcome pieces of all lengths, types, and flavors. Bring us your best hypertext historical fiction, or parser-based paranormal romance. Or get even more experimental and send in some multimedia medley that defies all convention or classification. Have fun with it.

Check out the submission guidelines for more info on submitting. We are accepting year-round.

NOTE: We are also currently looking for more readers and graphic designers to help staff the magazine. Click here if you would like to know more about becoming part of the staff.

How can I help?

Since this is a relatively new publication, please, spread the word! Even if you are not personally interested in submitting, pass on the info to someone you know would love to. Since this really is the first of its kind, I'm hoping that it will succeed--I think it's something that the IF community has needed for a long time.

If you want to help fund the project, we also accept donations .


Thanks! Please submit your work and share with friends! For questions, comments, etc. you can reply here or email the mag at inkypath[AT]

Inky Path:
General Discussion / Re: IF Lit Mag Musings
« Last post by dacharya64 on December 03, 2013, 10:26:39 AM »
Haven't seen Brainy Gamer before, but it looks neat!

It would be suboptimal for a film critic to review all the cutscenes in video games - it would be cool, but also missing out on an essential dimension - that which makes the game a game, rather than a movie with some buttons in it.

True, very true. I hadn't really thought of it that way before. I agree that the most desirable thing would be to have a community of writers and thinkers that could discuss interactive fiction and its role in the world. This is a bit tricky, though, seeing as IF walks a very thin line between "game" and "narrative" and oftentimes there are definitely distinctions as to how these two mediums are treated today. I'm not sure if there's anything inherently wrong with viewing IF as one or the other, but I'm also finding it difficult to fathom treating it as something completely independent of either games or literature. Of course with more reviews/analysis/promotion of IF a new style and treatment of the medium will probably happen naturally.

Update on literary journal news: after some more in-depth research, I've found that there actually were some literary journals or something of the sort dedicated to interactive fiction, but most are closed down now or no longer updating. It'd be neat to see who else might be interested in getting something together.

The nice thing is that the medium lends itself to online display; it'd even be possible to tailor the stories the reader views to the reader's own choices or desires. Although it's just speculation right now, I wonder what a print version of this "journal" would look like.
General Discussion / Yay! Spam! (Read if you're having trouble registering)
« Last post by Chris on November 27, 2013, 08:40:56 PM »
I recently had to clean out over 300 autoregistered accounts. Spam is one of those unfortunate parts of life (someone should make a game about it...) but I'll just make a note here:

If you have trouble registering, you can email me at anything at

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