You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox here. > open mailbox Opening the mailbox reveals a leaflet. > read leaflet
This afternoon I got to do something very, very cool as part of my job: I helped two teenage girls create their first videogames, using Twine.
Twine is a really great tool designed to create interactive fiction “text adventure” games, like the erstwhile ZORK quoted up there. Of course, things have come along a bit since the days of ZORK. Twine is being used to write interesting, important games about society and privilege, and gender and sexuality; it’s not all groping around in the dark trying to avoid being eaten by a grue any more. Of course, there are still games about bring eaten by a grue; solving puzzles and slaying monsters is deeply ingrained in the videogame milieu now. But tools like Twine are putting authorship of games within the reach of so many more people; we have more options.
If you can think up a story, you can turn it into a game with Twine. Stories are broken up into “passages”, which players click links to navigate between. You create links by surrounding some text in [[double square brackets]]. That’s it. The Twine software automatically creates new passages for you as you create links, and so your game grows. There’s a simple markup language for formatting text, and once you’re ready for more advanced features, a scripting language that allows you to create puzzles and inventory and items — almost anything you can think of.
The two teenagers I got started with Twine this afternoon made very different games. The first was a branching game of exploration, starting in a house in the woods and leading to a castle. It seemed like every other fork in the road led to an instant (and sometimes grisly) death, but there was a safe path to be found. The second game cast the player as a kind of newly-created God-figure, who had to create a new world using magical artifacts and odd books. And let’s be clear — these were their first attempts, made over the course of 90 minutes, using a tool they’d never seen before.
- This my thirteenth daily post for the 2015 Blaugust Initiative.