My 14-year-old niece wants to write a game, and I thought Twine might be the best choice for her. There are A LOT of tutorials and references out there, and I wonder if I could get some recommendations for the best resources for her. Should we start with the Twine Reference guide on Twinery? Or is there a more kid-friendly resource somewhere?
Lately I’ve been recommending inklewriter or Texture over Twine for people who want the easiest start: both have built-in tutorials, and while they’re more limited than Twine, they give a little more workflow guidance. inklewriter in particular is very “write a bit of text and then give some choices.”
You can always move up to Twine when you want more freedom, but it might be best to start with something easier and make a very small/simple game first… and honestly you can do quite a bit with these other tools.
That said, I like Allison Parrish’s Quick Twine Tutorial, with two caveats:
- it’s for SugarCube instead of the default Harlowe story format (this is fine but it’s one more setup step).
- Twine recently changed their user interface (measurably for the worse IMO), so nothing except the official reference guide will cover the new UI…
So if this was your niece, this is what you’d start her with? I very much want to set her up for success. Her whole family is computer illiterate. I’m the best she’s got, which is really sad.
I also wasn’t a fan of the new interface (many things require more clicking than they used to), but fortunately it’s still possible to download and install older editor versions, from here: Releases · klembot/twinejs · GitHub (I think 2.3.14 is the last one before the major changes).
It isn’t possible to use the old versions of the online editor, AFAIK.
I’d probably try starting there, yeah.
As someone who has been an avid programmer since I was a young teen in the '90s, who likes helping other people try it, I’m pretty convinced that tools in a genre are more similar than they are different. Most of what she learns about writing games will transfer to other tools. So for me the choice of “first tool” is kinda arbitrary, and you just want to pick one to avoid overwhelming someone.
And a person may not click with a particular tool for any number of small reasons, so if you can give her the mindset of “if this tool doesn’t work for you, there are others!” so much the better.
Although… going back to Twine, if you don’t mind spending money, I’ve heard good things about Anna Anthropy’s Make Your Own Twine Games! (and if she’s mature enough to not mind a book that’s illustrated and typeset to be friendly to younger kids). I somehow haven’t yet bought a copy myself, but judging by the sample chapter there’s a lot of good stuff in there about designing and structuring your stories, how does it feel different if you put the links in different places in the text, etc.
And thinking about starting small, this slide deck from a past NarraScope talk uses Ink (Inklewriter’s big cousin) but has a set of 5 (?) scaffolded lessons walking through taking a fairytale or TV episode or some other story that the student likes and adding a couple choices and writing an interactive version: I haven’t tried that on someone but if you’re going to work with her, I’ve always thought it seemed like a great approach to having someone write a first playable thing (edit: and should also work with Twine or whatever branching narrative tool).
I would agree with inklewriter, or perhaps Scratch.
Seconded. I actually bought the book. I think it’s kid accessible.
I agree with Scratch if we’re suggesting other tools. It’s basically a drag and drop coding editor that can create some pretty nice visual games, and I once used it to teach 7 year olds how to code. I’m sure a 14 year old could make more advanced things out of it. If your niece doesn’t know a single lick of code, I’d start her with Scratch because it breaks down “how to code” and “how to apply coding knowledge to making a game” in a really digestible way without needing to type a single line of code or download anything.