Going About Quality Based Narratives

#1

Hello,

I am coming here as a user of the Storynexus platform, working on a world there for over three years, learning all the way. I love the way the system is set up and it does exactly what I need it to do. I had finally found the perfect medium for expressing the story I wanted to express… that was until about a week ago when I received an email that the ability to create on Storynexus was being shutdown starting in 2019. I need to find a way to move on.

I have spent much time researching various other narrative mediums but I have not found another QBN system that is as customizable and open. It is looking more and more like my only option is trying to build my own Storynexus from scratch. Here is my question for the more attuned IF users and authors out there- am I missing a program that does the same thing as Storynexus? If not, does anyone have any experience creating their own system from scratch? Especially advanced systems like Storynexus? It would be great to hear if anyone has any tips, ideas, or resources that could help me transition my game somewhere else… wherever that somewhere else may end up being.

Thank you for your time. I hope I can reach a solution.

-Alex

(Hanon Ondricek) #2

I am a former Storynexus user also so I saw the email. As far as I know the only thing they’re shutting down at the moment is the ability to start new worlds. Since yours has been in existence for three years, I don’t think it’s in any current danger.

That said, I know that doesn’t bode well for the system as this sounds like a first step toward shutting down. They said there would be “news” in January, which might lay out steps to an eventual shutdown, but don’t despair yet.

The closest thing to Storynexus was its less flashy cousin Varytale, which also shut down, but the pieces of it are on a github called Dendry. I am not sure what the license is like for it. github.com/dendry
Here’s BEE: dendry.github.io/bee/

I similarly would love a “card game” style IF system similar to what Storynexus did. I suppose with some JS magic you could gimmick up passages in Twine that behave and can be manipulated like cards. Let me know if you find anything.

#3

Undum had an “Implicit Choice” system, and all of its descendant engines support this feature too; Hanon already mentioned Dendry. There was Alcyone, they’re doing a similar thing in Twine.

QBN is relatively easy to code, even from scratch. But you’ll need to cook up some kind of export script first.

#4

I realize that Storynexus is not necessarily shutting down, but I most definitely need to move off of the broken and buggy system eventually. The way I am thinking about going I will get a lot more freedom. Thank you for the links, I will spend some time looking into them to see what I can scavenge. The card system is not exactly required for what I am doing, but as long as it is similar where I can randomize optional events and have the set events on the bottom, no matter what layout it ends up having.

#5

I will look into those to see if any of those work. If I were to go about trying to code something along the lines of Storynexus, what language and engine would you suggest I use? Right now I think trying to create my own thing is the direction I will be going in but I don’t know what would work best to get those features in.

(Hanon Ondricek) #6

You’ll probably have Twine suggested; possibly check out AXMA Storymaker’s upcoming fully JS version. AXMA is like Twine but is focused to multimedia and includes sprite handling.

sm.axmasoft.com/index.php
JS Beta Online: ifiction.net/editorJS/

#7

Twine is extremely linear and has very few relations to Storynexus, as much I have tried to make it work. I will look the AXMA thing though. Thanks.

(Andrew Plotkin) #8

Building on Twine might be a reasonable approach. That’s what the macro system is for – adding new features written in Javascript, while keeping Twine’s underlying text display model.

I’ve done a small QBN-ish Twine project this way. (Extremely small, and not yet released.) I went rather overboard with it, in the sense that there’s basically one Twine macro which is “render the entire page” and all the real code is buried in it. But you can work that way.

#9

I will keep looking into it but the lack of use of images or customizable menus as a whole is my biggest issue. I understand it can be changed but finding ways to do so is going to be my biggest problem. Would you be willing to share your example or another example of using twine in a way that is similar to storynexus? Thanks for the answer. I am going to continue researching Twine to see if I can find anything myself.

(Andrew Plotkin) #10

What I did was idiosyncratic and not really related to how storynexus worked. (I don’t know how storynexus worked.) I’m just saying you can use Twine that way.

#11

Well it is a start I guess. I will keep looking.

(matt w) #12

Ursula Vernon had a game called Cryptic Stitching which she started on StoryNexus and then began porting to Twine after Failbetter announced that it would stop supporting StoryNexus… around 2014, I guess? You can see posts about it here (in no particular order). This has a bit of detail about some of the things she was doing.

I sort of doubt that she’s still developing it, but her thoughts might be of interest.

#13

I recommend Undums. I tested this a couple of years ago in Salet: link. Took about an hour (and it shows). Undum itself (and Dendry, for that matter) are too old to be comfortable in big projects; Raconteur is still good and there’s also a new Jumbo Grove contender.

(Nathanaël Marion) #14

You haven’t said whether you need the multiplayer aspect of StoryNexus (the social acts). If not so, then I think it can be quite simple to create a quality-based game from scratch if you are alright concerning programming. I would then suggest JavaScript (with HTML/CSS of course), especially if you want it to be played online.

To add to what the other suggested, it should also be possible to use Inform with Vorple to achieve something like StoryNexus, which can be a good idea because you can take advantage of the world model (if needed). You could use kinds of object to model the qualities and the storylets, with properties for the descriptions, the pictures… Each storylet would have a table to determine its requirements.

If the multiplayer aspect is needed, it becomes more difficult because you need many more features like authentification, a database… I really wanted to write a StoryNexus game but I didn’t since it’s not maintained, has bugs and lacks features I wanted. I still have the plan to create an engine all by myself. (If it matters, using Django for the server side and probably Vue for the front end.) I don’t think I’ll have the time to complete it in the next years (I have so many projects!), so don’t wait for me.

#15

The multiplayer aspect is in the storynexus game but it is not necessary to function. I will look into the Inform/Vorple thing, but considering I’ve had no luck with anything else, I will most likely have to teach myself JavaScript somehow enough to get somewhere. Thank you for the response. I hope I can come back and say I have a solution.

#16

Developer of Alcyone here. :wink:

I originally looked at doing it in StoryNexus off the bat given that my earliest inspiration for the game was primarily Fallen London.

I quickly saw that 1) it wasn’t going to give me what I wanted and 2) looked more or less abandoned, so I rolled my own thing with a combination of Twine, SugarCube 2, and a lot of custom JavaScript. The earliest iteration looked and worked like straight up sci-fi Fallen London, to the point that I asked Failbetter & Alexis Kennedy whether or not I’d be infringing anything if I went forward with it. Blessedly, they told me to have at it, and these days the game is (I think) a lot further from its inspiration anyway.

I’m not sure what your needs are, OP, but I’d take Twine a slight bit more seriously than it looks. It’s massively extensible with just a little bit of CSS and JavaScript, and the number of other game devs who’ve asked me how I did mine in Unity always makes me internally giggle.

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#17

I’ve got to say, I am a huge fan of your game, and after the reminder of what you did, I’m pretty sure I ended up somewhere in your message box. I’ve been searching and scanning for a way to do this, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not going to happen for me, at least yet. While I am good with problem solving, my programming knowledge drops off (unfortunately) with what I see. I can run syntax just fine but when I can’t see my options it’s hard for me to figure out how to get anywhere. The more I think about it, the more I realize that StoryNexus was exactly what I was looking for, so that’s sad. Still no news. I’m only 15 though, I’ve got time to grow and learn the technical skills I need, I suppose. Just need to have a bit more patience. Thanks everyone.

#18

I wasn’t going to mention this, but since you haven’t found anything else…a couple weeks ago I made a little tool-kit for doing QBN in Twine. I could help you get started with that, and (if you’re not in too much of a hurry) maybe find time to do some of the more technical bits (layout, styling, macros/helper functions) for you…

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#19

That tool-kit looks amazing! I will have to check it out a bit more when I have some time next week. Thanks a lot! I am in no hurry at all considering I was expecting to be able to do anything for quite a few years down the line, so I’d love any help as long as you are willing and able to provide it. I don’t want to be a burden on anyone else’s time or resources.

#20

Cool! I love helping people out with tech stuff; I’ve just learned to be cautious since a lot of people don’t actually want guidance, they want someone to do the work for them. :slight_smile: And it would be great to be able to write some “TinyQBN for StoryNexus users” material, but I don’t know StoryNexus, so it could be helpful for me as well.

I think the main thing TinyQBN would need to imitate StoryNexus would be an easy way to display the requirements for a story. And I’m not sure how StoryNexus decides that a story is visible even though you can’t actually do it because you don’t have what you need yet. You could do that now in TinyQBN with a separate card that shows what you’re missing and links to the actual story if you meet its requirements, but maybe there’s a better way to do it.

And you’ll eventually need some HTML/CSS for layout beyond the default Twine stuff, of course. But I know how to do that.

Anyway. Feel free to message me or open issues on GitHub if you have questions. Or we could maybe set up an online chat or video chat depending on what time zone you’re in (eastern US here)…