Twitchy IF: Glyffe

For the last couple of years, I’ve been working on a game where the gameplay revolves around creating and playing IF.

To give you an idea of the kind of IF you can make with it, I’ll try to contrast it to both parser-based and choice-based IF.

Similar to parser-based IF, you can type whatever you want, and observe how the game world reacts to it. Contrary to parser-based IF, you move through the world using directional controls: arrow keys, WASD, left-click, tap on mobile (this is the “twitchy” part in case you were wondering).

Similar to choice-based IF, a reaction is triggered by interacting with a description. Contrary to choice-based IF, you move your avatar into descriptions to interact with them.

In addition to these similarities and differences, authors can mix and match single-player and multiplayer sub worlds under the same Top Level World (which is itself a sub world of Main World). Multiplayer worlds are persistent by default, meaning that the next player finds the world exactly as the previous player left it. The degree of persistence can be tweaked on an object-by-object level by the creator of the World.

Assuming I haven’t lost you by now, I invite you to create an account at, and explore a couple of demo worlds to get a better idea of what I’m talking about.

So as to avoid any misunderstandings, let me state clearly that I intend this to be a commercial project. However, while the current open alpha lasts, every new account gets 3 Months allocated to it. You can use those Months to create one, two or three Top Level Worlds and keep them online. You can also support development by buying Months.

You should be able to find most of Glyffe’s features under the right-click menu (tap-hold on mobile). I haven’t gotten around to writing documentation yet, but there should be tooltips when you hover over input boxes and the like. You can drag menu windows around by grabbing their green or yellow colored header bars.

The roadmap ahead will in part depend on your feedback. Please note that moving forward into beta may involve a database wipe, destroying all Worlds, and possibly even deleting your user account.

I leave you with some numbers to mull over. Currently, you can create a maximum of 100 sub worlds under any given Top Level World you own. Every sub world is able to hold up to 100 Devices (descriptions). Maximum 50 of those can be Solids (descriptions players can interact with). The remainder will have to be Holos (descriptions players can’t interact with). Any Device, whether a Solid or a Holo, can consist of up to 1000 characters.

Oh, and one more number to keep in mind: 11 — the last Internet Explorer version. Please don’t use it (or any other IE version really).

Happy glyffing!

I feel like the opening experience here has a fair amount of friction (sign up, verify email, get into your account, give yourself a character name…) and then undirectedness (move around this big empty canvas trying to find something to do) before it really communicates what the experience is supposed to be – it wasn’t until I got to Field of Flowers that I felt I was getting the intent of this project.

But once I was there, that was cool! I played as both a bee and a breeze, and enjoyed the different ways I was able to interact with the environment. I got as far as being trapped in the pitcher plant and getting out again.

It’s possible I missed some deeper content, because I’m not sure I could see how to completely explore this. So far it seems to be primarily atmospheric/experiential, with less room for extended storytelling — but perhaps I just haven’t seen where you’re going with that?

The mirror was also a cute touch.

Firstly, i keep thinking of either gliffy or giphy and secondly, as Zippy the Pinhead says, “show me the FUN!”

For the latter, i think it’s got to be multi-user, like a MOO (but not with text), where users can create worlds for others.

@emshort Thank you for your feedback. I’ll look into anonymous authentication for players who’d just like to explore and don’t want to create. That should remove some of the friction for them.

Re undirectedness, I do apologize — I messed up the starter world while doing some final tweaking, leaving you with just one description, the mirror and the big empty canvas you described. It should give you a bit more now, here’s a direct link:

If you don’t see the light switch or your avatar is all over it, exit (Esc, or right-click/tap-hold and Escape), and go back inside (“The Great Adventure” located to the south east of Square One). In rare cases, reloading the page may also help.

Re extended storytelling, what did you have in mind?

@jkj yuio That’s exactly what it’s supposed to be! To create a world, right-click/tap-hold on an empty spot in Main World and select New. Fill out the form, Save, and there’s your world. Now go inside by moving into it. Once inside: right-click/tap-hold where you want to place a device and select New again. When you’re happy with your world you can share its URL with others (like it did for @emshort above).

Tried it – pretty fun! I think I might prefer having the pop-up menus be in a fixed location, rather than leashed to each device. For example, if I want to have one device deactivate some others (but the pop-up menu is covering those others), I have to move the menu before I do so – so arduous, I know! But it’s the little things. Personally, I would prefer a menu locked to the far right, the same way that the user’s shortcut menu can be locked to the top of the screen.

Would also be nice to have a ‘preview’ section in the device menu, imo, so that I can see what the font & size & colour & etc. combination looks like before I slap the device down. Also an ability to zoom in/out of the ‘world’, so that it’s easier to set very large devices (like the mountain in the demo) – or maybe I can do that manually with my browser’s zoom in/out? Didn’t actually try. Still, another small ease-of-use implementation that I think would be a nice touch.

@litrouke Thanks for your feedback. Good point about the menu covering devices you want to select for activation/deactivation. I struggled with that one myself when making the demo worlds. I’ll give it some more thought.

Re previewing devices, did you notice you can edit a device after you’ve created it (right-click/tap hold on the device and Edit)?

Re zooming, browser zooming seems to work, but the menu zooms along, so not ideal. I’ll keep it in mind.

I also made a note of the collaborative world editing feature that came up when we bumped into each other.

No problem! You could also make the device menu optionally lockable in the same way that the user menu currently is.

Yeah, I noticed the edit option. I still think it would be nice to have some kind of preview – many graphics programs generate a preview version of your text as you’re creating it, so that you don’t have to go through as many post hoc revisions.

Definitely, collab would be fun! Either an option to create a collab/non-collab world, or to grant individual users collab privileges when you send out an invitation link (in the style of GoogleDocs).

One further question: is there an instructional manual / external reference list of what the different device categories do, as well as an explanation of their checklist of options? For example, I was confused about the ‘Toggle back’ option near the bottom of the device list, because there was also a ‘toggle the bg colour back to the original colour’ in a submenu… How did these two options differ? A wiki/reference page would be helpful for those things.

One problem that isn’t solved by making the menu lockable is when it stretches out to accommodate many (conditional) effects: sometimes it becomes so long that the devices it references simply scroll out of sight.

Point taken about having to go through many post hoc revisions.

Bumping up collab on the to-do list (which, by the way, is also starting to scroll out of sight).

Afraid there aren’t any docs yet. As for the Toggle back option in the Device menu, that basically turns the Device into a toggle. When a Hero first bumps into it, all its creator-defined effects are triggered, like with any other device. When, after that, the same Hero or — in a multiplayer world — another Hero bumps into it, the following effects are rolled back:

Transform this Device
Activate Device(s)
Deactivate Device(s)
Change background color

So if you configured a blue device in a black world to turn red in a white world and, on top of that, activate a dolphin and deactivate an elephant, that’s exactly what would happen if you ran into the blue device the first time. The second time around, however, the blue-device-turned-red would turn blue and the white background turn black again, the dolphin would disappear and the elephant reappear.

The Reset color option in the This World menu, on the other hand, configures the multiplayer world to roll back its background color to whatever it was before Heroes — through their interactions with creator-defined devices — started changing it. This rollback takes place approximately 10 seconds after the last Hero has exited the multiplayer world, thereby leaving it empty of players.

There should be tooltips when you hover over input elements, but I realize they don’t tell the whole story.

Anonymous authentication has now been implemented. It works like this:

  • When you visit Glyffe for the first time, you’re logged in anonymously and your character name is set to “You”.
  • You can do everything you could do before with a registered account, except create and edit Worlds.
  • You can upgrade to a registered account from the My Account menu (right-click/tap hold and select).
  • The upgrade should transfer over your progress (character name, explorer level, bookmarks).
  • The default location for most menus is now top left. However, they’ll lock to the location you drag them to (as long as you don’t clear your browser’s cache).
  • To drag them around, you can grab any part of them that isn’t an input field, solving the scrolling-out-of-sight issue. Before, you could only grab them by their green header bars.
  • Notifications always display centered. You can drag them around, but they won’t lock.
  • The login/register window always displays centered and can’t be dragged around.

There’s also a new World, called The Answer. It’s an entry in the Digital Fiction Writing Competition.

If you already have a registered account, and you want to try anonymous login, I recommend you clear your browser history. There are conflicting reports about issues in Safari 11 on macOS 10.13 (High Sierra). If you have any trouble, just go with Firefox or Chrome. You should be fine with either of those on any platform.