Choice/Click-based lore?

Parser games go back a long way. In such a long-lived tradition, a lot of shared memory grows. Even showing up rather late, during the late stages of the new-modern age (I first played IF games like Babel and Worlds Apart around 2005), and early, in comparison to a Iot of new people here, I was quickly exposed to a huge backstory with accompanying in-jokes, references, traditions,…
I’m talking about things like “GET LAMP” and “XYZZY”, or “FLOYD” and “GRUE”.
I find myself often using these references here, expecting everyone versed in IF to get them.

But I’ve been a parser player from the beginning, only recently beginning to branch out to choice/click games.

Is there a similar historical culture growing in the click community? Like Twine authors and enthusiasts quoting a line from one of Porpentine’s works to make a point or land an inside joke?


I think the Twine/Choice-based community is much more fragmented than the parser ones, so Easter Eggs/Lore will be highly dependent on the game itself/where the author is in the community. In the Tumblr/ChoiceOfGames scene, I don’t think you’d find any links to other author/games (unless they are traditional media - there quite a few retelling of older stories). I wonder if this is because the scene is more focused on longer WIPs (1M+ words) rather than small completed games (2h or so gameplay). Or because hyperlink games might be more personal/emotional?
It might be more likely to find references to that author’s other games, if they have some (like other characters mentioned in some fashion - I’ve done that in TTTT).
Sidenote: I referenced in DOL-OS a French parser lore (taste the sun).


But does anyone say “the Bogeyman will get you” as an inside joke in casual conversation, or anything like that? Because Bogeyman (or any other game) has entered group consciousness?

I would casually say “Watch out for the Grue” if someone on this forum says they’re in the dark about a certain question, even if it doesn’t connect directly to a specific game.

Bogeyman - Details (


Since I haven’t played this game before, I would have assumed it came from an old European tale before linking it to a game.
but now I have something else to play :stuck_out_tongue:


One of the first Twines I played. Spooked the hell out of me the first time. I had to put it aside for a few weeks. I’ve replayed it a few times, but I still don’t feel up to reviewing it.


I think one of the big differences is that Infocom specifically set a bunch of their games in the same universe (and made a few connections to Adventure) and so in America the initial fandom had a whole series to get used to ideas like Grues and stuff.

Whereas Magnetic Scrolls in Britain and Scott Adams and others released a bunch of good but unrelated games, even though a couple were sequels.

So I think it’s similar with Twine. The only big popular Twine series I’ve seen is Brendan Hennessy’s Bell Park games, but those all vary from each other quite a bit. I have seen individual references from other games (like Horse Master references when joking about what horses are like), but I haven’t seen any major references to Twine games that people can use as a passcode or token to the secret Twine society.

Edit: Compare itch’s top rated twine games: Top rated games made with Twine -

with IFDB’s top rated twine games: Search for Games

There’s very little overlap


I remember that the IFComp 2019 entry, Rip Retold, was written in Twine, and it had a secret* “xyzzy” link that people could find.

So there are Twine projects that reference parser lore, but I can’t think of anything exclusive to Twine itself.

(*it wasn’t particularly hard to find.)


Just to be clear, I’m not talking about in-game ot intertextual references. I want to know if there are certain words or concepts or quotes that can be dropped in a conversation among twine/click/choice-knowledgeable people and they will understand in any context.

-I’m reading this book about the difference between Voltaire and d’Alembert’s ideas but I don’t understand the details.


That’s true. I’d wager the word “grue” is in many of Infocom’s games. Zork is a seminal work for parser fans, and I’m not sure there’s one specific similar game since Twine and choice-based systems never had the same publishing model to an entire encompassing fan base.

I’d say there are tropes from print choice-narratives like “Choose Your Own Adventure” or CYOA being used as a generic term (sort of how “band-aid” can mean any bandage, not just that brand), and the terminology for a “time cave” choice-structure being taken from the book that used it.


TVTropes documents a lot of fun stuff:

You can link particular tropes to see what works they’ve identified them in.


The problem with developing a “choice click culture” is that it is pretty heavily siloed. Often the silos follow the development tool, but the larger ones are themselves fragmented into a number of communities - and quite a lot of developers are linked into groups that cross tools, without necessarily knowing if a community exists for their tool (let alone participate in it).


The parser genre is more established due to the roots of gaming in general, but also because of what @Alianora_La_Canta mentioned in that choice-based games are way more fragmented in styles and implementation.

Parser games are pretty tried and true and have not evolved beyond the verb + noun paradigm… nor do they really need to. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

One could follow a slightly different evolution of choice-based games from how parser text adventures turned into graphic adventures (still with a parser) and then to point-and-click adventures. The mouse (Xerox were geniuses) really created a radically new way to interact with a computer and we’ve never looked back.

Was there ever an early IF Twine-like experience when computer mice were a new thing?


I mean, weren’t there early html games? Websites with html hyperlinks to tell a narrative experience with choices? Flash supplanted these in the late 90s, and I don’t know how many of them survived, but wouldn’t these be the precursor to things like Twine?


There were some, but I don’t remember any as being really notable or influential. (I’m thinking back to the very earliest web sites, 1993-1995.)

They came off as exercises of the form “Hey, I bet I can do a CYOA book in HTML.” A couple more ambitious ones were “Hey, I bet I can do a little Myst-like game in HTML”. Both true statements, but they didn’t take off the way Flash games did a couple years later.


8 posts were split to a new topic: Potentially troublesome communities [split from original topic]

back on topic…I feel like the closest we get to a twine cultural understanding sorta thing is porpentine’s games (tho I’m not in the tumblr/ scene so idk how well they’re known over there atm). I can’t think of a specific quote from them tho. a lot of twine games have just, bombass titles so when I think of that I think of the titles as reference over quotes

  • with those we love alive
  • will not let me go
  • queers in love at the end of the world
  • my father’s long long legs

stuff like that


I feel like choice-based games would have more in-jokes and cross references if there was any kind of centralized community. We had rec.arts.interactive-fiction and ifMUD for decades, growing from mourners for the fall of Infocom to a tight-knit community of designers and players redefining and furthering the state of text based games. That’s weight. The references and in-jokes are community culture.

Why don’t choice-based-games have that? I don’t know. Maybe the barrier of entry is so low that the “community” is diffuse; you don’t have to be a part of any group to make, share, or play games. Maybe there’s no central place to go and ‘be’ on the internet anymore.


There are a lot of people who play choice-based games that might not realise it is IF (even VN is also separated from the more text-based IF games, even if they usually have similar gameplay) or that there is a community they can participate in. {It’s kinda become mainstream with those Choices and Episodes app, the COG/INK games and stuff}
Even people within the community have different expectations on what a community looks like (Forum based (here, CoG), or more blog based (Tumblr, Cohost, Mastodon?), or real-time discussion (Discord*) and how to participate in it (there are a lot more lurkers playing silently than people commenting/reviewing/sharing a game). Even if these places can be “centralised”, there’s a lot more space between people than we realise?
*Many larger IF authors on Tumblr have a personal discord server for people to discuss their project. Those can get quite lively, but they will usually focus on that project particularly rather than discussing other games. Even then, Discord servers tend to loose steam after a while. You can see older servers being a bit more quiet than when they started.

I feel like newer sub-communities of IF don’t have the same will/want/need(?) to create a strong bonds even inside the place they are. People tend to have a couple of friends they will hang out with/authors they follow, but not really try to look further than that?
I think there might also be a difference in how authors interact with the community at large? Like here, usually authors will try other people’s games, maybe even review them, or engage in conversations. But I feel like in other communities (Tumblr esp), authors tend to mainly interact with their readerbase (and maybe some other authors).

That or people are just too shy to post stuff.

Lots of speculation either way…


This is probably part of it. The internet of 2023 is a very different place… and to be honest, a place like RAIF isn’t really needed because IF isn’t the wasteland it was back in the early to mid 90s. I think the loose community built around parser it was very much the product of the environment that necessitated its creation. I don’t think we’ll see its like again.


The other thing to consider is development time. Yes I know, that’s weird. One of the selling points of using a choice engine such as Twine is you can develop a narrative story quite rapidly, and if it’s not doing lots of tricks, publish it with very little need for beta testing.

A short choice game can emerge from a thought you had in the morning and be a finished story by the evening. This opposed to parser which usually requires a lot more time for world building, rule making, and testing. It’s natural that games an author sits with for months and receive lots of development feedback naturally have time to develop lore and in-jokes and cross references.

Porpentine was producing a game a week for a while, and I’d imagine there’s some internal lore within those. Twine and choice-based narratives actually excel for almost stream-of-consciousness “what was the author thinking right then” narratives, or doing topical nonsense or one-joke games capitalizing on a meme or the zeitgeist like the Clickhole games with titles like “Can You Deliver a Pound of Ground Beef to the Astronauts on the International Space Station?”


I think that personalities like this combined with the shift to creator discords mentioned upthread is what leads to a number of islands or silo; players of Twine are more fannish, more likely to advocate for a specific creator than “twines” or “interactive fiction” in general.

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