Text adventure / Interactive Fiction creation options

So I thought, in my spare time, rather than watch more rubbish telly or chase the dog around the house to get my socks back, that I would do something meaningful such as write a text adventure. My aim is to scare the kids with something terrifying, then smirk to myself as they too find hours of sleeplessness.

There seems a world of options and I was wondering if someone could help explain them all.

There’s Quest, which I’m using at the moment. It’s really easy to get started with and the coding aspect “makes sense” to my brain so I’m able to get things moving forward fairly well. However it’s frustrating that the resulting .quest package is fairly useless. I can upload it to their website, which is nice, but I can’t use it on my own or other peoples. Their android and iDevice conversion seems fairly hit and miss with some features not supported and the javascript convertor being a bit…of a grey area development wise. License wise you can do what you like with the .Quest file, it’s just that what you can do is very limited when it comes to the real world.

There’s Ink which, at first glance, seems superb. Who doesn’t like Sorcery and 80 Days right? On the face of it it all seems fantastic, but I imagine, coming from a large stable, it’s a powerhouse of a tool designed for studios and teams rather than a fat bloke with a laptop. There’s also no sign of any kind of iDevice or Android support for the resulting game, as far as I can see, which would be a killer for me as the kids only have tablets and their web browsers are restricted to those kid-friendly browsers which don’t play nice with, well, anything much.

There’s Inform7. At first this felt like smacking my head in to a car moving down the motorway whilst having my feet taped to the moving wheels. However, once you get your brain around actually “writing” a story, rather than developing it, it does become easier. I’m not entirely sure, coming from a coding background, that my brain will ever be happy with the syntax. There are nuances to the structure which are clearly english, but perhaps not english I’ve used since school. However I’m loving the idea of the plugins, such as Vorple (is that still being actively developed?) and the ability to generate bog standard Z machine blorbs means that I can easily find a way to wrap that for Android and publish using my app store account.

There’s then a host of “other things” such as Twine and the like. Now I’m not entirely sure what these are. Are they Inform type creators of stories, or are they plug-ins aimed at certain things, such as combat, or story path dynamics?

So, I’m after an idiot-friendly text adventure (and/or interactive fiction) creation tool that will be easy to get something out without pain, but grow with me as my confidence grows. It has to be able to publish Android/iDevice friendly games as I can publish these using my app store account easily enough. Plugins would be super if possible. I’m not fussed about graphics or complex stuff (unity integration in Ink looks amazing but I’ll never use it, I’m happy with text).

Happy to hear of anything from anyone.


See also this topic:

There’s also TADS:


Which uses a C-like syntax (similar to Java/C#/C++, so if you know one of those, it’s easier to pick up.)

Idiot-friendly tool + mobile accessibility = Twine. Or AXMA, if you’re into that. The default style is mobile-ready and packing HTML into a mobile app should be more or less straightforward.

Texture - https://texturewriter.com/ is also fun to play with for experiments and short pieces, but I’m not sure it’s ideal for a long-form game. It’s great for short story or essay-length pieces, and poetry.

Twine has some pretty poor features (black background by default, long fade-in animations, exceptionally poor performance for large projects), but it is very easy to get into, and it is standard and widely used. I think this last point is very important. If you use some other engine, the developer can suddenly disappear into smoke, leaving you holding a useless file. Even if the engine is open-source, it’s unlikely anyone else will step in. so a missing developer will cripple your project. Within this context (i.e. not TADS and Inform, which are good in their own niche), Twine is the big kahuna.

For people who want to focus on writing, I think Twine is the only option with any credibility. Especially if you don’t know how to code. If you want complex mechanics and large projects, you’ll need to look elsewhere, but Twine scales well enough for most purposes.

There are a host of text adventure tools available to you, but if you’re looking to publish via the app store, that limits your options significantly. I know Inform 7, Ren’Py, and Ink (inside a Unity build) can publish to the official stores, but I’m not sure about Twine (can you just package an HTML file somehow?) and as Zarf puts it re: Inform 7 - “Would you like to package up your Inform game as an iOS app? Probably! Is it easy? Yye-- well, no, not easy. But it’s manageable.” (github.com/erkyrath/iosfizmo/wi … an-iOS-App)

ChoiceScript also publishes to iOS and Android, but you can only publish a ChoiceScript game via the Choice of Games company, which owns ChoiceScript. They publish novel-length choice-based IF only.

There may be others, and people should chime in if they know of any.

Choice of Games license does allow an author to release a ChoiceScript game non-commercially (for free), or will negotiate off-label commercial publication.


Right, but I think you need to go through Choice of Games to compile it in a form that can be published via the store.