Thoughts on progressively harder linked game stories?

Hello! I’ve been playing IF since the Zork days, and I also write novels for kids and teens. Nice to meet you all!

I’ve just started learning to write IF in Inform 7, and I thought it would be interesting/challenging/fun to write three very short progressively harder games set in the same setting. It seemed like a fun way to give kids I know a taste of IF and to help them learn a few progressively more complex IF game concepts if they’re interested (not to mention helping me skill build as I write!) I’d like to keep them in the same setting so the cumulative effect would be like linked short stories, as well as making the world building easier on me while I learn.

The two ways I can think of to do this are:

  1. Write three separate games, make it clear they’re connected by setting, label them with their skill level, and instruct the player to start with the beginner game if they’re a beginner, play the intermediate one next, and so on.

  2. Put them all into one game file and use scenes or something similar so that the progressively harder games unlock as the previous ones are completed.

What other ways might there be to do something like this? Any game examples?

Pros and cons you can think of per approach, in terms of game play and game design and writing?

Any thoughts on what would you do, and why?

I’ve played (and loved) beginner-friendly games like Bronze and The Dreamhold, kid-friendly games like Lost Pig, and games with set phases like Blue Lacuna. I’m not trying to do anything that complex, of course, but I’d love to hear what else you think I should take a look at as I work on this project!

I think I’m getting close to done with the “beginner” level game; it’s about 3300 words in Inform 7, with six rooms and only a few portable items. An experienced player could complete it in about five minutes, I bet.


Great idea! For the internal setup, you could look at games like Degeneracy (which uses menus to access 3 sub games and unlock a fourth) or When Help Collides, which has 3 mini games that you can access from the start with passwords that you unlock mid-game.

As for progressively harder games, I haven’t seen that before, and I really like it.

I know a couple of game compilations. PM’d you.

You could also build the similar scenario three times within one game and re-use or duplicate your locations and props. Depending on the scenario that could have advantages and disadvantages.

Like “Heroes”?

Thanks for the thoughts & suggestions so far – I really appreciate them! I haven’t played any of the games suggested so far, so I’ll look into them.(Nothing like fun homework!)

FYI, I think the three stories I’m thinking of will have more of a linear structure overall than a clustered or alternate viewpoints one: one day something will happen, a different day something more complex but somewhat related will happen to the viewpoint character in the same area, and then a different day something much more complex will happen.

I’d like to keep reusing the same basic rooms and fixed things, but change some of the portable things and NPCs. If I put all three games in one file, I imagine I could use the same rooms and just do a “set change” with scenes or something similar to change what’s in each room, right?

I’ve often considered writing a compilation of short games (all-in-one or separate), taking place in the same world. The countdown series by Ben Croshaw and the games by John Olsen are a few examples of the separated short games approach, and Heroes is one example of the all-in-one approach. As a player, I prefer the all-in-one approach, but as an author I prefer the separate games approach.