Name for CYOA games with world-model?

I am looking for a name - hopefully a standard name - for games that are half way between parser games and CYOA games. I am thinking here about parser games with no parser - all intereactions are done via the mouse - but there is more to it than the standard CYOA game.

Like a parser game it has a world model. The player can navigate the world, going back and forth between locations. The player has an inventory, and can interact with items in the inventory at any time, picking up new items, using or discarding old.

4x4 Archipelago in the current IFComp would be an example, but Detectiveland is probably a better one.

I appreciate there is a spectrum here from Detectiveland to your typical Twine game, but it feels to me that there is a significance difference, and there really should be a word for this type of game that makes it distinct from CYOA.

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“Choice-based with world model” is the easy way out, but it’s clunky, of course.

I sometimes say “hybrid” but that’s imprecise in a couple of ways. Does that also apply to early Legend games, like the Spellcasting series, where the player could switch between parser input and menu input? You’re talking about games where the interface is unambiguously choice-based, but the game model is deeper than a branching event tree.

So the short answer is that there is no common term – perhaps there will be.


Do you think that my IFcomp entry is another example of this kind of games? You can try it online here: HyperFable story
I had problems in classifying the game for the competition, in fact the options were “parser”, “choice based” and “other”. I’ve chosen “choice based”, but I suggest to add “choice based with world model” to the choices available to the next IFcomp :wink:

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I think getting a parser-based feel without the typing is a fantastic idea. I don’t play CYOA games generally, but I actively seek out touchscreen-friendly, no-typing IF. Not sure if these are what you seek, but I can think of a few games I played on my iPad that seem like good fits:
1.) A Dark Room
2.) Device 6
3.) unmemory

And a few that are pretty close but lack one of your criteria:
4.) Blackbar– This author also did another somewhat different game playing with touchscreen IF:
6.) Able Black
7.) Open Sorcery

I call games like this “crossover IF”, as they have a parser sensibility, but are about clicking instead of typing.

Edit: Oops! I misread the OP as looking for games like this, when he was looking for a genre name. Sorry. Still, these games are well worth playing. Pardon my misreading.


Also, @nilsf 's game in this year’s Comp: The Libonotus Cup, switches back and forth from parser to choice in really fun ways. And, it’s just a whole lot of silly fun generally.

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This group, in particular, I’ve been calling “story devices”. (Which is vague but at least refers back to Device 6, one of the earliest examples.) The core characteristic is using the text itself as the interface and the playground. They’re very focused on typography.

A Dark Room is usually grouped with idle/clicker games, I think? I haven’t played it.

Open Sorcery is closest to what the original question is asking about. It is written in Twine, I believe. (Not positive about that.)

It starts off that way, but then unexpectedly branches out into a whole world map with dozens of locations and a rogue like gameplay. Many people quit before they get there, but it is really worth hanging in for.

[quote=“Leobos67, post:3, topic:53041”]
Do you think that my IFcomp entry is another example of this kind of games? You can try it online here: HyperFable story [/quote]
Yes, that is exactly it. Sorry, I had not come across it before (I only knew 4x4 because I helped beta-test it).

My game this year is definitely “parser”, but I have plans next year for a hybrid-crossover-thing game, and this is partly why I am asking.

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I always say Point and Click lies between Choice and Parser. PnC is usually associated with graphics, but maybe it’s time to define a text-based PnC?

Maybe this one?

Just catching up with this thread…

Yes yes yes! hybrid parser-choice or whatever is definitely a thing, and it does need a proper classification.

I have been working in this domain now for some time and there is definitely a case for a choice game with a world model, or even a parser game with choice assistance!

For example, I am looking at essentially parser games, where certain parser commands are elevated to choices and also games that look like a choice game although they have also parser input.

Interestingly, those well accustomed to IF, such as people on here are so polarised with IF history that they cannot handle it properly.

For example my, somewhat lame, murder mystery had parser input as well as choice. The choices were so convenient that i think no one even noticed there was a command line!! True - you didn’t need to type, but that was the idea.

So it does create a problem. Should such games be winnable from click-only where parser input just adds background or should they be forced to type something.

Currently i don’t know the answer to that. But it’s definitely interesting.

“Simulationist”? This would apply to some world model games which do to some extent try to simulate the world and the actions a player character can take in it.

Every button needs a label. With the right architecture, typing that label text into a parser could achieve the same thing.

So both these styles of command are compatible. It only requires the right Presentation.

I personally would hesitate to characterise an entire game on this detail of its interface.
Here is an example of something which used GUI buttons but architecturally might equally have been a parser game.

You design for the interface, though, or the game gets all mushy.


I agree it is just presentation. the way I do it in Quest JS is just as you say; click something sends a text command to the parser. But I would still not call it a parser game if the player cannot type commands.

Also, as Andrew Plotkin notes there, there are some big design implications when you throw out the command line. Every possible action of every object becomes visible to the player. No objects or exits hidden in the room description, for example.


Unless it’s one of those PnC graphical games where you do pixel hunting.

A textual equivalent maybe clicking a non-highlighted word in the description, instead of those on obvious buttons/menu items.

I would consider that a different type of game again.

There are workarounds for that approach, although I’m struggling to think of examples that use them effectively. One possibility would be to have a limited number of choices visible (plus an algorithm to decide which ones are seen) plus a parser for typing other commands (which, if matching a hidden option, would do something that simply selecting a visible choice would not).

This got me thinking, how would the opposite work, presenting a huge load of “choices”?

In the description text every noun is clickable, and reveals additional descriptions, in which nouns would also be clickable to reveal more, detailed descriptions.

The actual choices are below the description text. Now, when you digged deep enough a certain “description tree” (means that either a) the player has an idea here and investigates, or b) is lost and clicks everything) a new choice gets activated and appears.

How to present that, I’m not sure – to prevent a huge wall of not really connected text, maybe the detail descriptions should go in another area of the screen.

That’s what I’m doing. I call it “focus and flow”.

Objects that are “activated” become part of the focus whence their choices appear. These choices are not necessarily all you can do with the object, depending on how authored.

The engine “knows” what parser commands are available (and do something) at any point in the game (like a chess game knows possible moves). This is an internal “virtual choice list”. Some of these can be elevated to a choice prompt on the UI (subject to focus).

So selecting a choice and typing a command wind up the same for the story logic. Indeed most of the time, the choice prompted is an actual command that may be typed.

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