The AdventureWeb Interactive Fiction System

EDIT 11/1/11: For now, I have decided to not make AdventureWeb a general authoring system but simply to use it for my own games and without the “AdventureWeb” name.

I have removed all the links leading to AdventureWeb material, and even removed the content from the web altogether. When the current game project is completed I’ll post it to a new thread.

Meanwhile, I have created the following website explaining how to play the IF games I’ll be creating:


Hi all! I just completed and uploaded an explanation of my new AdventureWeb online interactive fiction system. It’s a system for using text and basic HTML alone, combined with some manual record keeping, to create and play interactive fiction without needing to know any programming whatsoever. Nothing but basic HTML and its links and pages are used! Best yet, the AW system is capable of doing almost anything programmed interactive fiction can do!

I’m currently working on an example game. Unfortunately games are harder to make for me than systems, so it’ll be a little bit before the example is ready.

Take a look at AdventureWeb and tell me what you think:

EDIT: Removed Link

The canonical example game everybody wants to see on new platforms is “Cloak of Darkness”:

Interesting. I did not know that, but now I do. I will have to look into it. Thanks! :slight_smile:

EDIT: It’s good to see this because through making this example I realized there were actually few things I didn’t address in AW. But that’s all fixed up now. AW can and will run Cloak of Darkness, I’ll have it up very soon!

I’d still like to see Cloak of Darkness 2; something a bit more meaty and covering more aspects of interactive fiction systems. Unfortunately someone would need to come up with the story, and I’m not very good at that.

Yeah, you and me both. Stories are a lot harder than designs for me!

But yeah, some kind of sequel would make sense. Something that really tests the limits of an authoring system (other than for game size). If I had done Cloak of Darkness straight-up without the few additions I made to it then it would have barely tested AdventureWeb. Nevertheless, I must confess that it pretty much covered most of what AW can do! All it lacked were conversations, state parts, dice and dying.

…but really, I’m not sure what an interactive fiction game would truly need beyond what AW can do. Everything else–perhaps beyond timed and arcade sequences and maybe some advanced puzzles–seems like only icing. Then again, maybe I’m wrong! Time will tell as I (and maybe others?) produce AW games.

OK, I ran “Cloak” now. Here’s my answer to the above question. It would need a way to type in commands.

x me
go south

Without that, it’s not really Interactive Fiction, you know.

To be honest, I can’t say I really see the point in a system that requires me to keep a note of my inventory items instead of simply displaying them when I type “inventory”. Requiring me to make a note that H4 is the cloak seems strange. The bit about states “001” and “002” was also quite odd, and in a proper game would ruin any kind of depth you’re going for. What does this system have to offer that any of the existing ones don’t?

It’s not interactive without a parser interface? I totally disagree. Any activity that is active as opposed to passive is interactive. Just because you’re clicking on links rather than typing in commands doesn’t make it any less interactive. It just requires a different way of thinking because it’s not what we’re used to.

Yes, the system is odd. That’s because it’s HTML-based rather than programming-based. There’s no programming involved in the creation of an AW game. All you need to know is a few little HTML tags and you’re good to go! And it’s in that where the strength of AW lies. Yes, it’s very odd compared to other authoring systems, I confess that. But as I said above it just requires a different way of thinking because it’s not what we’re used to. Is immersion impossible? I don’t think so. Again, it’s just not what we’re used to experiencing.

I’m working on a full-fledged AW game at the moment. Let’s see how that turns out. :slight_smile:

Without trying to put words in his mouth, what I suspect RealNC is saying is that this isn’t “interactive fiction,” not that it’s not interactive. This particular community has a pretty tight definition of IF that varies from person to person, but generally involves a textual interface and a modeled world.

Since AW does no state tracking of its own, it seems like it would be suited for automating the production of old style printed-out adventures. Is that something AW supports or will support?

Please try this: … rses.z5.js

to see what “Interactive Fiction” is. Don’t confuse the literal meaning of the term (fiction that is interactive) with the game genre of the same name. Just because a system allows for writing fiction that is somehow interactive doesn’t mean it’s Interactive Fiction. Someone could write an opera where every actor is holding a soap. This wouldn’t mean it’s a soap opera. “Soap opera” is a term that refers to something specific and it not about operas that contain soap.

With all due respect (and I’m serious about that), it may be that the general definition has become too narrow. If AW can produce a text adventure that at least in the most fundamental fashion mirrors that of traditional programmed, state-tracking, parser-interface interactive fiction, then why does it not deserve to be called interactive fiction?

I don’t even know what those are, so I guess not. But I will say this: I originally developed the system under the title “Adventure Stories” and it was meant to be something printed out like a very complicated Choose Your Own Adventure. The original intention was to not be on a screen at all! Problem is, it got too complicated for printing and I had to abandon that idea. Even a microscopic adventure like Cloak of Darkness took 26 pages to build! The first room of the AW adventure I’m currently building takes 17!

It was actually suggested to me that I start making the Adventure Stories’ pages out of HTML instead of trees. :slight_smile: I hadn’t even thought of it but I accepted it as what appeared to be the only possible alternative. The “AdventureWeb” was born. (Well, first it was “Adventure Web” but then I took out the space. Seemed better that way.)

I’m not out to break any ground or molds. I’m not even out to make AW a truly competing authoring system. AW was, essentially, born by accident! It wasn’t intended to be what it is, but has become the only thing it can be. Besides, if I’ve created an authoring system no one else will use that wouldn’t the first time I’ve done something like that. For example, I have a calendar hanging on my wall which has the current date of “Sixth Day, Bartholomew 13, 2011”. (It’s hanging right next to the Hebrew calendar. Clearly I’m a man of practicality. As of 6pm this evening it’s Cheshvan 1, 5772, don’t you know?)

It’s just fun. And I like AW, probably because I have never not sucked at programming but have dreamed of designing video games from the age of five when I first played the original King’s Quest. Developing for the interactive fiction genre, probably in the form of AW, is my little way of touching that old dream. :slight_smile:

Of course RealNC is only offering his personal opinion here; there are many people who see various forms of CYOA as perfectly respectable examples of interactive fiction. A web-based CYOA even won the last IntroComp. He’s right that there are plenty of things that you can do with free-form parsers that you can’t do with CYOAs, of course (and there’s a lot you can do with CYOAs that keep stats instead of purely keeping track of milestones).

It does seem to me that, as tove said, your system is basically simulating the experience of reading a CYOA book that asks you to keep track of some states yourself. I think I see why you want something stripped-down, though it’s less convenient for the players than something that takes care of things automatically. But it would be much more convenient if you could add something that automatically kept track of your milestones.

I do confess that it’s true: AW can’t do as much as a parser in a traditional IF format. I’ve never harbored any illusions about that! :slight_smile: Yet also I like to think of AW as capable of much, much more than a mere CYOA. (But I’m picturing the old books in my head. I don’t know what they’re doing these days or what “CYOA-style” games have done.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about it. But I can’t see that not involving… programming. I first starting designing this system with the intention in mind of avoiding that because I have no head for it. Plus, what happens if variables are stored in, say, cookies, but the cookies are erased as often occurs? And how do you take the save from one computer to another? I guess I just don’t see how making it all automatic would work in the context of my abilities and the original goals of AW. If there were a very easy way to do it and make the save safe and easily transferable I might consider it.

You might be interested in some of the more modern online CYOA systems; Choice of Games has a lot of long games which do quite a bit of stat-tracking, and Dierdra Kiai’s The Play from our current IF competition is in the Undum system, which allows for some atmospheric choices that don’t have any effect on the branching and which also does some stat-tracking (you have to balance the moods of several cast members, and their mood can affect what happens next).

Neither of these really fit a programming-free model, though. (Undum in particular seems to be fairly incomprehensible at the moment to people, like me, who don’t know Javascript.) I’m nowhere near familiar enough with HTML to know the answers to any of your questions about whether you could keep track of milestones, etc., without heavier programming, cookies, etc.

As someone familiar with Javascript (or reasonably so), I can only say that I wanted to like Undum, but that it simply feels too much of a hassle to piece out what a given sequence does. Whenever I try to write in Undum, the Javascript is staring me in the face.

Undum is undoubtedly slick, but it needs some work on the author side. An IDE would be a lovely thing or, failing that, some kind of prose-to-code converter (I believe Jon Ingold took a stab at such a thing) – anything that would give you the ability to concentrate on the story rather than the Javascript framework.

They look pretty interesting and I look forward to playing through a few! However, they certainly don’t emulate the traditional model. They seem to be going for something new altogether. AW wants to be a traditional text adventure but to do so without any real programming required.

Yeah, I just don’t think it’s possible. AW, for good or ill, is what it is and I suppose will remain so. (BTW, I call milestones “states” now. I realized the term “milestone” doesn’t really work since you can get them out of order, some are negative, and some you can lose.