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Twine / Re: Input from player
« Last post by Chris on June 27, 2014, 11:09:08 AM »
Games Showcase / Re: List of Free Playable Online Stories & Gamebooks
« Last post by Chris on June 26, 2014, 07:54:33 PM »
Thanks Frankie!
Twine / Input from player
« Last post by migueldeluis on June 16, 2014, 05:06:49 AM »
Just starting with twine, loving it, but it seems that some documentation is missing. In particular, how do I get input from the player?

I have tried <<textinput $playerName>> but it doesn't seem to work
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:
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