Introducing Texture

A quick announcement post: I and Jim Munroe just released a new authoring system called Texture. The stories it creates are mobile-optimized and based on interacting with the story text so that it changes according to the player’s actions, resulting in a kind of interactive e-book.

There’s more info in this blog post, and you can try out the alpha version of the system at

Interesting work, I’m curious if the UI is partly a solution for problems with hover and touch controls?

It’s not meant to solve any specific touch control problems (at least on my part), but it’s designed from ground up for touch screens so it’ll inevitably avoid some of the problems that UI designed for desktop computers would have.

This is fascinating, and a very unique interface I’d love to play around with.

The first problem I run into is that added text in a paragraph does not seem to be interactable.

If I have “Once upon a time there were three bears.” and I drag “examine” to “three bears”, I can change “three bears” to “a mama bear, a papa bear, and a baby bear”. It would be nice to then subsequently drag examine to each of the bears. Was there a way to do this that I missed?

I don’t know how extremely difficult it would be, but this would even be more fascinating if you could drag words in the text to other words instead of just verbs.

“A curling iron with a short cord lies on the sink near an electrical outlet.”

The player could drag “curling iron” to “electrical outlet” and change the sentence to

“A curling iron is on the sink, plugged into a nearby electrical outlet.”

I like this! There’s a clear elegance to it.

Have you given any thought to a monetization component for authors?

Also, where did the name come from?

(By the way, my Firefox did not seem to interact with this at all well, and I had to use Chrome. The result I got was so weird - it behaved like my CTRL key was stuck down, and stopped honoring Shift and Capslock, even after I tabbed away - that it seems like it may be computer-based rather than Texture-related. But it happened twice.)

I can’t get it to do anything at all in Chrome. I type in the box, “Hidden speakers fill the lounge with music.” I define a verb, “listen to.” I drag it to “music” but nothing happens.

EDIT: I see, I have to drag words twice, just as you said. That seems like a pretty bad bug. :frowning:

Is there a demo story?

No, you can’t do that right now. It’s a bit tricky interface-wise, as the goal is to avoid custom markup if at all possible so you’d need to somehow expand the choice in the editor to be able to attach actions deeper down.

That’s an interesting idea!


Nothing concrete at the moment – one option is to have one Versu-style library app where you could buy stories as in-app purchases. More on that later.

It was Jim’s idea. I don’t think there’s any deeper meaning to it.

Yeah, there’s some kind of conflict between libraries I haven’t been able to resolve. I’ll probably have to switch to another drag/drop library.

Not at the moment unfortunately. We’ll make one when flags are implemented and you can do more serious developing with it.

Re: the name – it was meant to be touch friendly, and text-based, so Texture seemed to make sense.

I completely missed that “text” appears in “texture”. That makes perfect sense.

(I was thinking “texture” like what you apply to a 3D model, which is why I was curious.)

No, it’s all good feedback at this point! Maybe something we can try to make evident when we design a logo.

I had a play with Texture last night (it’s looking really interesting, although it’s obviously early days) and was thinking about this. I think it would be really helpful if you could quickly switch between Edit and Play modes, so you can quickly test your work without having to download the file. That could maybe help with this particular problem as well - you could switch into Play mode, perform a few actions, and then switch back into Edit mode to work with the newly revealed text.

Very cool announcement! Not even owning a mobile device, I very much see the appeal of having specific-platform-centric, accessible systems like this.

This… is… AWESOME!! What a neat idea! :smiley:

I’ve been experimenting with Texture a little more seriously and I have feedback:

First of all LOVE THIS. I’m having fun with how much I can twist the text on the screen and create wonky verbs and use them to combine with nouns in unexpected ways.

I wish for an import/export function - or a save to dropbox. It’s a tad frustrating I can only work on a story in one browser.
(If I were to want to move it, is there a chrome directory I could hunt the file down in?)

The font is nice and huge and readable! I’m sure it needs to be for touch interface, but it’s very easy to fill the screen up.
This causes two problems:
*The text scrolls behind the row of draggable verbs. It’s hard to scroll the bottom two lines to read them.
*Possible fixes: A hard window at the bottom for the verbs to live in. Or have the verbs auto-hide like the MacOS dock when the screen is not being touched or the mouse is not moving.
*The Turn Page link often gets lost in the midst of text due to it being just a thin-fonted text link.
*Suggested Fixes: A substantial button (preferably that the text can be customized on “Next” that appears on the solid verb bar or is a big opaque unmissable right-arrow button on the bottom right of the screen, overlapping text opaquely.

I wish we could replace phrases - it seems like we sort of can through a bug. To trigger the dialog for a drag, we have to drag an existing noun to one word. Sometimes I’d like to expand the word to a phrase. I think I did this once on accident by erasing one letter of a noun that was set up and then typing more - it seemed to stretch the highlight to a phrase, but it acted strangely.

A very simple variable system would be awesome, even if the only thing it did was allow branching on a page turn.

Formatting would be awesome. Italics, Bold, Underline, and a header size change. A dropcap would be capital.
A choice of serif or non serif or fixed width font, even if limited would be nice.

I feel like I’m asking for too much, but the simplicity of this really makes my mind work on how to create surprise and interaction by page branching.


Thanks for the feedback and for trying it out, Hanon, and sorry for not replying earlier. I wanted to wait before I have something concrete to say, and we’re now at the point that we’re testing the next version that’ll most likely be out in a couple of months.

Some new stuff that’ll address the things mentioned above:

  • You can now create nouns (drop targets) that consist of more than one word
  • “Play now” buttons in the writer so you don’t have to download the project to test it
  • Importing story files back to the writer so you can backup and transfer projects between computers
  • and, of course the big one: a flag system that lets you make “real” games with state tracking and responses that depend on previous actions.

Text formatting and embedded images are planned, if not in the next version then soon later.

Handling text that doesn’t fit the screen still needs some thought work, although in theory the basic design principle is that one page should contain only as much text that fits on one screenful. The system is designed for tablets (1024x768 pixels landscape) but we’ll try to make the font size adapt to whatever device is used to view the story so that the “one screenful” measure will be roughly constant across devices.

Thanks for the response, I’m so glad this isn’t a dead project!

With the text overflow - most of that is just me getting overzealous with expanding words into descriptions because you make it so easy.

This is a pretty cool project. I’ll have to see if this works on my android tablet.

On my PC I tried it out on Chrome and Firefox and ran into a bug when playing my test game. While the option to ‘add a paragraph at the end of this page’ works just fine, the option to ‘add a paragraph after this paragraph’ repeats the paragraph text several times.

I think it would be great if we could target words in these new paragraphs with verbs, but, given the mobile aspect, I would understand if the design direction would encourage the use of a new page instead.

Did some more testing and made a sample file showing the problem. Not sure where else to report this bug so I’ll put it up here for now: (143 KB)

Using the regular order (first, second, third), only the first one printed (three times) and the other two failed.

Single sentence with three verb targets: First, second Choice one using after this paragraph. , and Choice one using after this paragraph. third Choice one using after this paragraph. .Clicking the verb targets with the verb in the reverse order produced the following:

Single sentence with three verb targets: First, second Choice one using after this paragraph. , and Choice two using after this paragraph. Choice one using after this paragraph. third Choice two using after this paragraph. Choice one using after this paragraph. . The first target printed three times, and the second twice, but still nothing from the third. It’s possible my text for the third didn’t get saved because interestingly going back and adding paragraph breaks and re-downloading the file produced slightly different output. After-Paragraph-Bug (2).zip (143 KB) Regular order:

[code]Single sentence with three verb targets: First, second
Choice one using after this paragraph.
, and
Choice one using after this paragraph.
Choice one using after this paragraph.

Choice three using after this[/code]Now the second target fails but the third displays a ‘br’.
Reverse order:

[code]Single sentence with three verb targets: First, second
Choice one using after this paragraph.
, and
Choice two using after this paragraph.
Choice one using after this paragraph.
Choice two using after this paragraph.
Choice one using after this paragraph.

Choice three using after this[/code]All targets print, the first three times, the second twice, and the third once.