Interactive novels?

I’m looking for longer works with branching and interactivity, and people that might specifically be interested in those.

Cave of Time style branching or branch and bottleneck, or at least something closer to what you’d find at Choice of Games or Choose Your Story.

Does a server or sub exist, or would it be worthwhile to make one? I’m starting to think Twine isn’t the greatest fit for me just based on the fact that no one seems interested in making or playing the kind of IF I like. But ChoiceScript and the CYS editor are both so limiting for different reasons.

Maybe you’re looking for “Choice based IF?”
It’s a sub under Authoring.

Ink is the other major development tool in that area.

Larger interactive works are often (not always) commercial, and tend to have some kind of graphical presentation. I’m thinking of games like Over the Alps (which is Ink-based). Graphics aside, is that the kind of structure you’re looking for?

You could always give my engine a shot. It combines Twine style markdown with Ink style choice trees.

But as for dropping twine because you don’t see a lot of large branching narratives, that doesn’t make a lot of sense. Twine can definitely do tons of branches and long complex stories. Just because authors tend to not do that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. It’s just that large branching stories require a lot of work, and unlike CoG games, the authors aren’t getting paid for it. So they tend to keep the size limited to what they can actually finish, which does tend to be a lot more linear.

I think CYS has a lot of long narratives because it requires almost no coding at all, and in fact basically doesn’t let you code even if you wanted to. This really appeals to writers that just want to jump in there and get it done, so I think most users of CYS are primarily writers like that.

Coders go to Twine, but most coders aren’t strong writers (I’m in this category) and so they bang out the code but struggle at the story. And without the story they either don’t finish the game or push out a very linear game. Such is the situation of twine.

But as for dropping twine because you don’t see a lot of large branching narratives, that doesn’t make a lot of sense. Twine can definitely do tons of branches and long complex stories.

I know it does, that’s what originally attracted me to it. I’m not much of a coder at all but it was simple to use for what I wanted to do and I liked the portability.

I’m frustrated more at what seems the lack of other Twine authors to discuss the writing itself and the whole process with, and it’s difficult to continue when I stop and wonder who will even read this thing if I do finish.

COG and CYS seem like the only communities where what I’m doing would be able to receive any interest, and they’re both centered around their own engines.

CYS I guess seems preferable because I’d want visual customization to be possible, but then anything I wrote would be locked into an outdated website, and being able to just have a portable file is important to me.

I’ll take a look at Ink though, and yours as well. Honestly I thought Ink was for more heavily graphical games so I never really considered that one.

Twine games are lumped in with parser games (or at least Inform, TADS, and Dialog) in how they are released to the community and deal with the same release pitfalls. The options are to either dump it to ifdb and hope people see it, or wait for a competition so people will see it even if they don’t place well. I’m not really sure why Twine never developed into an author community like CoG or CYS. I see a bunch of tech support questions but I don’t see a lot of game announcements. They just magically appear during competitions.

The Ink editor (Inky) lets you output your story to an HTML file. However, Ink is primarily designed for dialogue placed within a larger graphical game, as you suspected. It can work as a standalone story (in fact an ink game or two was submitted to the recent competition), but it’s clunky in parts because it’s not designed for that. Some examples of the clunkiness are not having a save feature out of the box, and not having a graceful way to include HTML links in the text output (only the ones it generates from choices). Both problems can be rectified by coding your own, but that’s less than ideal.

I wrote my own engine to overcome the annoyances I found with both Twine and Ink. Not to say mine is better, but it suits me better. Maybe others will agree and maybe they won’t. *shrug*

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I just ran into this today: Calico by Elliot Herriman

Calico is an interactive fiction engine for the web, built for stories written in Inkle’s ink.

No idea how it holds up, but it seems to be aimed at covering those holes.

We have a good community of Twine users on this forum, but the exchanges tend to be technical support more than writing craft. Writing discussion is more than welcome here, so please feel free to start discussion if you’d like, and you might be surprised who might pitch in.

I’ve written several long-ish choice narratives in AXMA which is close enough to Twine to discuss story structure. I may be totally wrong about this, but bare Twine seems to attract authors writing shorter narratives with lots of cool text manipulation. If it’s a longer piece, I suspect many people use Twine but then dress it up via styling so it doesn’t scream “Twine”.

The other thing involved - for me personally, I don’t like to talk about story and plot that I’m working on publicly. Not that I’m afraid of people taking ideas, it’s just that due to the nature of what I write, I like to spring the piece out unspoiled to the general public. I do talk ideas and brainstorming with certain trusted individuals privately - I am lucky to know some really good alpha-testers.


That seems promising. It doesn’t seem to let you save to slots manually (only auto save), and from what I can tell you can’t restart your game without manually deleting localstorage, but it looks good otherwise. It seems to have just been uploaded too, so the timing is pretty funny.

Hi! I’m the gal that made that engine! let me know I’d been getting traffic from this website, so I thought I’d swing by.

Calico’s currently able to save data in one of three ways-- via cookies, via session storage, or via local storage. The default is session storage, which only applies to the current tab and is discarded if you close that tab, but you can specify which format you want to use. There are also methods for manually saving, loading, and deleting data, but I honestly haven’t had the time to implement an example of those yet. If you’re even semi comfortable with Javascript, thought, it wouldn’t be a hard thing to implement, and I’d be more than happy to answer any questions any of you have if you message me on Twitter.


Hi! Thanks for hopping in. :)

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I’ve added Calico to the IF Resource Link post under Ink.


Twine definitely has a developer commuinity - according to my brother (who’s in the process of writing what is intended to become a commercial Twine IF), there’s a large Twine community at its official Discord.

Ren’Py has a community of choice-based IF at its Lemmasoft forum and Discord channels, and as a general rule, other choice-based IF also have places where discussion goes on. As a general rule, though, good writing in one choice-based IF option is good writing in any choice-based IF option; as long as you are careful not to look like you are advertising a different engine, you can mix-and-match to get your writing community.

I’d pick the platform that best suits your story and how you approach IF development for actually writing your story, regardless of your source(s) of advice - and vice versa. If COG gives you the best writing advice for your Twine novel, and Twine is the best platform for you to write your IF, by all means visit COG for writing help and write the IF in Twine. (It’s polite to credit people who help you if you’re in a position to do that and they’re OK with it).

And yes, is a friendly place with people who will help you if you get stuck.


One of the things of which you should be aware if you choose to create a longform Twine project is that the Electron app lags a lot once you reach a certain size. It’s so annoying that many people choose to give up and use a command-line compiler like Tweego, although this is kind of suboptimal, because a major part of the appeal of Twine is precisely its grid display, so that you can make sense of how your story is mapped.

If you’re stubborn like me, then it’s definitely possible to trudge through the lag and make it work. It’s more annoying than it is preventative, but I work on a pretty nice laptop, so your mileage may vary: if you have a cheap laptop, you might find that it does become impossible; if you have a good desktop, then maybe you will only get a small amount of lag.

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A perhaps interesting point about the Twine editor lagging: I’m currently working on a really big project (right now at almost 1600 passages, close to 340 000 words). I used the offline editor, same as for my previous games, and it started lagging badly at around 1300 passages. But when (out of curiosity/desperation) I switched to the online editor, it worked just fine, and still does.


The online editor performs only marginally better for me, and it has several downsides, like it’s harder to backup to Google Drive, and there’s a size limit (my current file is at 33% of that limit, so there’s a lot of room, but still), so I choose to just rough it out in the client. I’m glad to hear it works for you though, and that’s definitely a great suggestion for others in such a situation.

Out of curiosity, how many links do you have in your file? I think drawing the link arrows is the primary contributor to the lag issue.

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I have 2645 links right now (and use around 70% of the space available, but luckily I’m mostly done adding content). I also prefer the offline editor, but in this case it became unusable. Actually, I wasn’t expecting the online version to work so much better, an I don’t know why it does, but I won’t complain :wink:


Regarding switching from a Twine application based project to a TWEE Notation based one, and still having access to a Passage Grid / Story Map.

A Twine community member named cyrusfirheir, with the help of a couple of other members, has written an extension named Twee 3 Language Tools for the Visual Studio Code text editor. This extension includes a (wip) story-map view (contributed by Goctionni) that opens in the VSC browser.


I had thought about mentioning Visual Novels. I just got sucked into the time-sink that is Danganronpa and it’s convincing me to want to try a VN. Commercial VNs are routinely very wordy and tend to offer fewer choices and less player agency, but often are built with multiple routes and fans routinely play multiple times to see all the content which is often novella or novel length (or possibly more via multiple plot tracks). Most VN engines have a “skip read content” mode built in to facilitate this and skipping seen text and dialogue is an expected player behavior.

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I just wanted to think everyone who posted here, this discussion has been encouraging for me. Apologies for vanishing from my own thread, I was reading an the replies as the Gmail notifications popped up, but just sort of emotionally drained from an ongoing family situation and didn’t feel up to replying.

I’ve heard of the Twine lag, but at around 80k words and a little over a hundred passages have not experienced it, and was hoping it was more based on the number of links. Seeing actual numbers from others is helpful and I hope I won’t run into this issue, but it’s something I’ll be mindful of now and try to have a plan for if I end up needing to use something else.

It does seem there’s an abundance of authoring options out there with something for everyone, so the more important thing seems to be finding the right community of readers.