So I put together a list of engines/development systems

(Matt Chelen) #1

Almost four years later (Wow, has it really been almost four years? I still haven’t written any IF! Working on fixing that right now, though, actually.), I have put the list up on IFWiki. At this point, I’m fairly certain that it’s complete enough that I won’t feel bad about not being able to update it from time to time and I want to ensure that it’s a bit more eternal than some random document in my Google Drive. And so, several format conversions and some hand editing later, here’s the list:

Original post for posterity:

So you all don’t know me. I’m a game developer but I’ve never written interactive fiction before. I recently was looking into it and found that there’s not really a good list of interactive fiction engines out there despite being legions of them. So I made one. Not sure if there’s a need for it anymore but last I could find was mentions of making one without there actually being one so I just went ahead and did it.

In advance, sorry I didn’t add this all to the IFWiki. I wasn’t up to making full entries for each one.

Currently, there are 70 entries. I tried to keep it to engines that can potentially run on modern systems. If there’s anything I got wrong (I only took cursory glances at most of them, though I’ve attempted to use several of them in the past), if there’s a descriptor I used that you don’t like, if I missed anything, if you want editing access, let me know, either by leaving a comment on the sheet (which you can highlight the issue with) or here. Otherwise, I hope it’s of some use.

Spreadsheet version: … edit#gid=0

(matt w) #2

Awesome! Another one you might want to think about is


Thanks for making this. Even if you don’t want to make full entries to IFWiki you could add a link to it so that people can find it later.


This is fantastic, thank you!


Super! I’ve been thinking for a while that it would be great to have a comparison resource like this. I’m delighted that someone else did it. :slight_smile:

You might throw in Ren’Py – it has some modes that are mostly text, and it’s got a pretty big community, even if it’s not mostly focused here. Ren’Py games have occasionally shown up in IF competitions, including one in the Spring Thing that just ended.


I would like to see this hosted on IFWIki. If you use the right page names for the platforms, the links will be right. Even if you don’t implement wiki-links, DavidW is quite good at supporting updates like this.

David C.


I’ll take a look at it and add it later tonight.

Ah, right. Hadn’t thought of that. Yeah, I’ll get it added.

I would be happy to sit down and turn it into a Wiki table when I get another day off if that works.

(Hanon Ondricek) #8

Looks like you missed AXMA:


Very cool! I kind of sauntered toward maybe doing this a while back, so I’m very glad to see it.

One tiny thing: you should “freeze” row 4 (the header row) so it stays visible when you scroll down. That way, it’s always possible to see what each column means.


Raconteur is a framework for using Undum, so I don’t know if it counts, but it might be helpful to list. There’s also Twee, the underlying engine that Twine is built on, which can be written for directly using a special DSL.


NScripter / ONScripter is another system similar to Ren’Py.


Added everything except Raconteur because that’s more of a library/plugin.


Nice work.

You might want to look AdvSys, ADL, and JACL too. They seem to meet your criteria.


Added, along with StoryStylus details. Sorry for the delay!



Just some notes about ngPAWS:

Language is not visual, nor exactly javascript, I would name the language PAWSlike or “PAWS style”, as it ressembles language first used for the Proffesional Adventure Writing System (aka PAWS), but it also can be extended with javascript plugins, so I definitively would list it as “PAWSlike/optional extensions&plugins via javascript” or “PAWS style/optional…”.

Also, ngPAWS was updated last sunday :slight_smile:

Finally you are missing Superglús:

Engine Name:Superglús
Last Updated: mar-15
User Interface: Parser
Scripting Language: PAWSlike/optional extensions&plugins via glulx assembler (yes basically the same than ngPAWS but with Glulx layer below instead of Javascript)
IDE: Download
Game File Format : Glulx
Complexity : Low
Can Self-Publish Titles: Ehmm… dependes of what you mean with “Can self-publish”, Supergús generates a blorb file as result, so I guess the answer is yes, but i’m not 100% sure.


Ran into another one today, Diorama Club ( ). It’s very very slight in terms of features, and as far as I can tell does only CYOA without variables, but it’s out there. (I was most amused by the NASCAR simulator, of the ones I tried.)


The Pugs need your Help! is bizarrely charming.

(Jesse McGrew) #18

ZILF is missing…

Engine name: ZILF
Last Updated: 7/2/2015
User Interface: Parser
Scripting Language: ZIL and MDL (Lisp-like)
Game File Format: Z-machine
Complexity: Medium to High
Can Self-Publish Titles: Yes


It’s been a while, but I went ahead and updated this. Changes include:

  • Added the Icicle Engine, XVAN, Yarnspin, and ZILF.
  • Updated all “Last Updated” dates.
  • Replaced all dead links with links, Github links, the new link to the authoring system’s website, or a “Defunct” notice. For all downloadable authoring systems that I had to link to through, I ensured that saved the download before replacing the link.
  • Updated my contact email at the top of the list, as the previous email was deactivated long ago.

Once again, here’s the link: … sp=sharing

Just as a heads up, I might move this to a webpage in the near future.


There is also TAVERN and OASYS. Also, maybe you should distinguish TADS2 from TADS3, and Inform6 from Inform7.

OASYS has its own VM. I have not tried getting it to work on modern systems, although the C code is available in case someone will wish to try; note that compiled story files are dependent on the int size and endianness of the target system (although I made a reimplementation of OASYS VM which detects int size and endianness so works even on a different computer). You can run it on DOSBOX though. I have also written an alternative compiler (taking different input) that works on modern systems, that compiles to the same OASYS VM. It is parser only (although with some tricks you could implement multiple-choice too).

TAVERN is programmed in a Forth-like programming language, and is parser-based (although it is easy to implement multiple-choice too). I intend later can add optional features (which an implementation of the VM can safely omit if wanted) for graphical, menu, hyperlinks, etc, too.

And, I do think moving it to a plain webpage with just the HTML table (no scripts or other fancy stuff needed) would be better. Or, just put in IFWiki may be even more better.

Engine name: OASYS
Website: Unknown
Last Updated: 1992-11-10
User Interface: Parser
Scripting Language: OASYS
Game File Format: OASYS VM (should be easy to convert to others if needed)
Complexity: Medium or Low
Can Self-Publish Titles: Yes, but note that story files are system-dependent

Engine name: TAVERN
Last Updated: 2017-08-07
User Interface: Parser
Scripting Language: Forth-like
Game File Format: TAVERN (Hamster archive based)
Complexity: High
Can Self-Publish Titles: Yes