Opinions on method of code

Opinions please.

Which of the authoring methods is better/easier? Inform? Sugarcube? Twine?

Please give me your opinions and you reasoning.

(I apologize for this giant wall of text.)

This is a strange comparison because each one produces a very different style of game. It’s like asking if it’s easier to program an RPG or a fighting game. The question I’d ask in response is: do you really just want to make whatever is easiest, or do you really have your heart set on a fighter? Because you can’t make a fighting game in RPG Maker without a lot of coding to make the system do something it’s not designed for.

Now as for the engines, Inform creates parser games, as I’m sure you’re aware. It comes in two flavors: Inform 6 and Inform 7. Both are very different from one another even though they produce the same game.

I6 is a bit difficult and overwhelming to those that aren’t familiar with coding. I7 is a much easier for people to pick up since it’s written in a natural language format, but the language can be deceiving because it is still code and things that seem like they should work according to spoken English don’t “just work” all the time and have to be phrased in a specific way, which leads to some confusion on why you’re getting an error.

I personally prefer Inform 6 because I like writing in actual code, but that’s entirely a matter of preference. I7 definitely provides a lot of shortcuts to things that are pretty difficult or cumbersome to pull off in I6.

Twine at its base is just HTML with markup for internal links, not unlike a wiki page. All scripting and layout is provided through four official story formats: Harlowe, Sugarcube, Snowman, and Chapbook. Each one is like a language of its own. If you write a game in Harlowe, it’d require a full rewrite to convert it to Sugarcube.

Harlowe is the default story format for twine. While it’s fairly easy to use, it doesn’t take very long to hit the ceiling on what you’re able to do with it. It actively prevents you from using javascript easily and you can’t write your own macros and such. If you want to do anything more than a CYOA game with stats, you’re better off not using Harlowe. Most beginners use Harlowe because they don’t know what a story format is or that you can change it.

Snowman is basically barebones Twine. Pretty much nothing is provided for you and you have to write everything yourself, like your save functions and such. Obviously the difficulty level with this one is high and it’s only designed for those with advanced coding abilities.

Chapbook is a newer story format and is even more restricted than Harlowe. It’s incredibly easy to pick up and it looks really nice, but it’s kind of a “one size fits all” model. I would recommend it if you just want to write a CYOA with very little scripting.

Sugarcube is where Twine shines the most, IMO. At its most basic level, it’s every bit as easy as Harlowe and Chapbook, but it also opens itself up to let you create really complex games on it. Not only does it provide a ton of useful functions and abilities right out of the box, but it also easily lets you interact with javascript and create your own macros. On the visual side, the default scheme is quite pleasant, but it also allows you to override everything to make it look completely unlike other Twine games.

So… I guess it depends on what you want to create. Everyone has different preferences so I can’t tell you exactly which is best. I prefer Twine with Sugarcube because it suits the style of game I like to write (I enjoy parser games but I don’t want to write one).

As for basing it solely off difficulty, I would suggest Twine with Sugarcube also because if you ignore all of the powerful functions, it’s basically an HTML page with wiki links and you won’t run into the difficulty trying to expand into complex game territory if you choose to, unlike with the other story formats.


I agree with 100% of the above post, but these parts especially:

Harlowe was easy to pick up and learn, and I quickly adopted Sugarcube so that I could add additional features. But now I’m finding that it’s difficult to learn how to do anything new with Sugarcube.

Others may have different experiences, but when I check the Sugarcube documentation, it’s either “this works exactly the same way as it does with HTML,” sending me off to learn HTML, or “Here is how this feature is different from the Harlowe implementation,” which is a dead end because I never took the time to learn the Harlowe implementation.

The easiest authoring method is going to depend on the author’s background, and improvement from there is going to depend on which skills an author is interested in developing.

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Asking whether Inform or Twice is “better” is like asking whether novels or movies are “better” - they’re too different for it to be a meaningful question.

Tayruh has given you an excellent explanation of how the various Twine story formats compare if you do decide to go with Twine.

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On the authoring end, any choice system is definitely easier to troubleshoot. In parser, an author seriously needs objective beta testers to try things the author didn’t even think of - essentially you need someone to “bull-in-a-china-shop” your game to try and break it. Choice offers a lot more control and usually if something goes wrong there’s a relatively straightforward reason. Parser is like - “oh wow, I never even considered anyone would try taking their shoes off underwater and use them to clog the drain…”