I’ve scoured over the lists of authoring tools, but I can’t seem to find the best solution for my needs.
I am planning a book-length IF story in the vein of the classic CYA. What is the best authoring software that is good for that style, that can also output to ePub, Kindle, HTML, etc?
Personally I would just use markdown and anchor (#) links to internal chapter headings.
Word documents support this type of linking too, as internal links, but I find that its options are too much to work with.
Either way, you can use Calibre to convert between most formats that support hyperlinks, including HTML and DOC to ePub and Kindle.
Unfortunately this wouldn’t give you any easy way to test for broken links.
Welcome to the forums @theSantiagoDog ! I hope you enjoy your time here with us.
I don’t know of any software bespoke for this purpose. But there is an interesting article here how to use Twine to achieve that.
And now for the Longer answer …
There are already many excellent epub creation software out there, albeit for the traditional book format. I suggest you use that to your advantage, instead of trying to find tools that are very niche.
The original CYOA creators, Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, who created the Fighting Fantasy gamebook series, used a rather simple methodology. The manuscript was written sequentially with each paragraph on it’s own page. Once written, it was tested and balanced, and only once completed, were the pages jumbled up. Even with this structured approach they still had to keep meticulous records of items, monsters and traps.
You could recreate that method using a normal word processor. I think the process of writing it to completion sequentially prevents headaches later, when a section requires two pages, or for adding accompanying images after the fact.
Either way, it sounds like a fun yet challenging project
There are several programs that does conversion. Calibre was mentioned. I use Pandoc. But most people would just use Microsoft Word as the gold standard. Libre Office / Open Office is a good alternative, albeit harder to use due to lack of instructions.
Also check out Scrivener. I don’t personally use it since it doesn’t run on Linux, but many writers like that program a lot.
@pelle wrote a bit of software that might be the kind of thing you’re looking for.
See this thread: Pangamebook
Thank you all very much, this is very helpful advice!
Based on the feedback here, I’ve decided to use Obsidian for the moment, since it’s free, well-supported, and outputs plain MD files with links. Planning to build out of proof-of-concept to convert those files into the necessary publishing formats (HTML, ePub, Kindle). If anyone is interested, I will update my progress on the forum.
I’m far from experienced with choice-based tools, but I believe Twine is still seen as the gold standard for structuring CYOA-style “passages with links between them” projects. Since the output is HTML, it should be straightforward enough to convert to any other (static) format you like.
(Twine does a lot of other things too, but the impression I’ve gotten is that laying out passages and connections between them is its biggest selling point, with most of the other stuff filled in by the templates like Sugarcube and Harlowe.)
Thanks for the fascinating insight into their process. Do you know of any resources to find out more about that?
Have you seen the GameBook Authoring Tool (GBAT)?
It can export to plain text (txt), rich text (rtf) and HTML.
I don’t, unfortunately. I bought the mobile adaptation of Fighting Fantasy (by Tin man games), which contained a chapter about the history of the game books.
There is whole book about it’s history including notes, maps and such (You Are The Hero - A History of Fighting Fantasy), but I haven’t read it so cannot vouch its content.
lack of instruction on OpenOffice ? aside the yelp pages, there’s good forums and a sizable online documentation…
Personally, the tool I sorely need is a text extractor, for at least the major parser-based IF, whose should ease the all-important for a non-english coder proofreading (ßtest of my major TADS3 WIP revealed that the tester unearthed roughly 50% of the text, and this when many of the fine details was unimplemented…)
Best regards from Italy,
I meant lack of instruction specific to OpenOffice. All the instructions are for Microsoft Office, and I had to manually convert those instructions to OpenOffice equivalents.
I have a tool specifically for converting Twine games to CYOA-style adventure books, which I have used to produce both electronic and paper books. It outputs as PDF, however, rather than ePub. It is called Gordian Book and you can find it here:
If you definitely want EPub, then there is a Story Format specifically for the purpose, WritingFantasy, which you can find here:
Gordian and WritingFantasy are largely interoperable, so the same Twine file ought to be able to be outputted as ePub-suitable HTML by WF and as a PDF by gordian with only some slight configuration supplied.
AFAIK about two dozen games have been produced using gordian in this manner, so it might well suit your needs.
As I understand it, Amazon finally moved on from their proprietary format to Epub format, so yes, definitely want it!
The only exception is if somebody wants a Rich Text Format on it, but who does only that nowadays?
well, if one think that twenty years ago only the combined prowess of Zarf and Lord Inform turned a .pdf into a CYOA…
Best regards from Italy,