Elm Narrative Engine 2.0.0 released - looking for feedback

#1

Hello,

For the past few months I have been working on a new IF engine that focuses on a simple interface, story over puzzles and clunky mechanics, and a dynamic world that is simple to author through declarative story rules. Version 2.0.0 has just been released, and I am looking for IF authors and players to try it out!

I have big plans for the next version which will include a visual editor and much more. You can read more about it on the dev blog. For now, I am looking for feedback from other authors and players. Let me know what you think of the sample story. Or how easy or not it is to write your own story. Or what you would like to see next.

Thank you so much.

Jeff

(Hanon Ondricek) #2

This looks promising. I wasn’t able to find the blue marble in the sample game, but it ended. I don’t know if I missed something.

(Leugengroot) #3

Hi Jeff,

looks very interessting. I got two short questions.

  • any chance to expand the framework by 3rd party contributed extensions
  • only playable via browser/web or are there plans for an local running interpreter?

Jens

#4

Thank you.

@HanonO - there are 2 marbles to find, and 2 endings depending on if you find both or only one. Keep looking :wink:

@Jens - I have plans to make the engine embeddable, which would mean you could write your own code (in Elm) around the engine and interact with it. For example, it would be possible to add code that would trigger some change in the engine based on what time of day it is, or the date, or even geolocation. What did you have in mind? Also, because it is web based, it could be wrapped in something like PhoneGap or Electron for mobile/desktop builds. I don’t plan on adding a service to do that for you currently, but I might further down the road if I have enough users and interest.

#5

Looks promising but I can’t understand how to play by UI alone. So I need either a UI rewrite or some kind of a tutorial.

#6

Hi Oreolek - Thanks for the feedback. Sorry the UI was confusing. Do you have any suggestions of what you would expect to see, or what would make it more clear?

The basic idea is that you can click on people, places, and items that show up in the sidebar and header to advance the story, which shows a bit of story text, and may change the people/places/items available.

Did other people also find it confusing?

Thanks!

#7

I gave it a go too and like HanonO,

I could only find the Red marble before Harry told me to go home. From then on, all I could do was drink tea.

It was a bit confusing at first until I got the hang of looking in 2 places for clickable items. Perhaps it needs a note at the start to instruct the player as to what to expect & do.
Otherwise the program looks good although I only used a desktop PC with a 24" screen. How does it look on a mobile phone? Cramped or do you need to scroll a lot?

#8

Pfff, finally I found both marbles…

(Hanon Ondricek) #9

I replayed and got the same exact result:

I talked to Harry, got his note, went to the marsh. He asked me to help him find marbles. I went from marsh to garden and back, had to use the umbrella and then saw something shiny, which was the red marble. Showed it to Harry, was told it would be safe in the house, returned to the house. The marble moved from inventory to object in the house. Then the umbrella and the marble just kept responding I liked tea. I tried to go back to the garden and was told Harry wasn’t coming. I clicked the marsh and was told the adventure was over. Maybe I should have gotten a “You sit down for your tea. Your adventure is over but you wish you could have found the blue marble!” .

If this is supposed to be a puzzle, it isn’t really a fair one. Advancing the game to the end-state without informing the player why is confusing and makes me unsure if the game did something unexpected.

It would be more impressive as an example if you could find the marbles in either order, and Harry either knew that both marbles weren’t found, or didn’t show up again till you had both.

#10

Good feedback everyone, thank you.

To respond to a few of the points:

First off, it seems my prose could be more informative to improve game play and avoid end game confusion. I was mostly focused on demonstrating the various features of the engine with a silly example story, so I didn’t put enough thought into the prose. I can go back and try to make some parts more clear.

Second, on the ending(s), my intent was

to have 2 possible endings - finding only one marble (either one) gets you the tea-drinking ending, but finding both (before showing them to Harry!) gets you the bonus ending.

Did you realize that there is a “roll back” feature? If you hover over any previous story prose, you will see a little “rewind” icon on the right. Click that and it will reset the game to that point in time :slight_smile:. So if you are stuck trying to get the other marble, you can roll back and try again.

Hint

More specifically, you need both marbles before talking to Harry. If you’ve already showed Harry one marble, you’ll need to roll back to before you showed it to him and go exploring more for the second one, and only then go talk to him.

As for mobile, I haven’t make a mobile friendly view yet, but I am working on that now. In fact I am currently making it so that the author can design any visual presentation they want (with some simple view coding in Elm), which is very powerful. More on that in the next release, but as part of that I will provide a fully mobile friendly view.

I have one question for you - when you get to the end, what should happen? Should it stop letting you click anything and just say the end? Or do you like being able to click around, even if you can’t go do much any more? Ultimately the author can specify this, but I’ve never been sure what works best.

Thanks again for all the feedback! As I finish the next release I’ll have a more serious and thought out piece to show.

Cheers

(Hanon Ondricek) #11

Yes, there should definitely be a formal way for the engine to end the story and prevent any other input, similar to Inform’s “end the story” message. If an author wants to leave the world open for more exploration, they don’t have to use it. This would be a good place to say “You can restart or use the arrow thing to rewind to any point.”

#12

Thanks for the hint

about not talking to Harry after either marble was found - I was able to find both marbles and get to the pub.

However, as for

I didn’t get any roll back to appear. Tried hovering over my inputs as well as the output prose. I am only using a desktop PC.

#13

You should add command-line version too.