Thesis design on IDN

Hi everybody,

I’m a student at University of Amsterdam and currently, I’m researching the ways to improve authoring experience of Interactive Digital Narrative creators.

One of the things I’ve noticed is that authoring tools in general don’t have the functionality to facilitate planning beforehand, so that’s something I’ve decided to focus on.

Ideally, I’d like to interview some of you folks as active creators to understand your personal approach to creating stories and potentially see how you can be (better) supported by an information system.

Would any of you talk to me about this?

@Moderators, I also prepared a survey to ask people around, but I would like to confirm this with you first. Is that fine if I just share the survey here?

Thanks a lot for your response(s).
Kind regards,


Hi, and welcome.

I think planning is a big omission from development tools, but there’s a thing;

Game design is a lot more organic than, say, an accounting system. Well for me anyhow. You definitely need to be able to get something going quickly and then shake it down. Having said that, there are nevertheless design invariants that need to be done up front, such as the plot, the main characters and their roles in the plot. These won’t change, but details obviously will.


You’re welcome to discuss IF here of course. You can ask questions publicly or use private messages, and we do have quick tools to post polls where users can vote within messages. This become available once you gain trust via forum participation which happens automatically based on your activity here.

If you’re looking to post an off-site link to a survey, the forum may initially prevent or limit you as a brand-new user, or flag Moderators to review your post before it’s public.

You can improve your trust level by reading and responding to other messages and liking other people’s messages (click the heart icon) and receiving likes from other users on your posts.



Hi Julia. There was a recent topic discussing IF design documents…

Are IF design documents different?

Just as there are a lot of different authoring tools, there are a lot of different design/planning methods. I hope you share your findings with us when your research is complete. This sort of stuff fascinates me. :slight_smile:


Indeed, providing space for noting something like plot structure, characters, their roles/relationships, events, locations etc. is something I’m looking into


Oh, nice. Thanks for bringing the link up. I’ll take a look…
Indeed, one of the reasons to come up with this project, was because the amount of tools is getting more and more and they’re usually just suitable for one/a couple of limited use-cases.

I’m happy to share whatever I’ll have by end of June :slight_smile:


Thanks for explanations Hanon!

Then I’ll try to post the survey.


For our niche of IF specifically, there are a lot of tools that appear and disappear, or there is a specific community built around one tool that use it exclusively, and sometimes these communities don’t always associate or overlap.

Systems Hanon is Aware of and Their Communities

Our forum is probably the only active community regarding parser engines which create games with a world model similar to Infocom’s ZORK.

  • Inform 6
  • Inform 7-10
  • TADS
  • Dialog

Inform 7-10 is the most commonly used and discussed. TADS and Dialog have smaller but dedicated user bases who are also here. TADS is an older parser system, Dialog is the newest.

Twine and it’s various flavors and formats and hybrid games using Twine also get discussed here. There have been and may still be other pockets of internet discussion such as an active Discord community, but we may be the main hub as far as I’m aware.

Ink is a middleware interactive text and conversation tool used by Inkle Studios for their own games and is offered for use to the community. It can be used to drive interactive conversations for larger games with more graphical elements, but can also be used to produce standalone text-only choice narratives.

ChoiceScript is a system created by and supported by Choice of Games and they have a large and active community creating commercial and free titles. We welcome discussion here but it’s usually more productive to discuss CS and CoG on their dedicated forum.

Quest is a hybrid parser/choice system with its own dedicated community at where they host their own games and offer hosting to some other types of HTML-playable games such as Twine. They also have a smaller choice engine called Squiffy.

Adventuron is a retro-style adventure system with low-res aesthetics and a unique interface often discussed here: Adventuron - The Interactive Fiction Community Forum

Ren’Py is a system to create Visual Novels which occasionally comes up here for discussion, but there are much larger communities specializing in this type of game.


Just adding on to what Hanon has mentioned, an entire list of available systems and their resources are available here: IF Resource Links.