Web-based CYOA games


I have recently found an interesting thread at rec.arts.int-fiction which has caught my serious attention lately.

Source: groups.google.com/group/rec.arts … de729f8d5#

It’s good to see that more people in the community start to design CYOA games and present them in various new forms. Everything happens as I have forseen in 2007 in terms of CYOA being re-invented and presented in new ways. Web-based CYOA is definately one way to do so.


Haven’t really explored this stuff. Does anyone know, are the web-based CYOAs being done nowadays more sophisticated than the book-based ones (meaning, algorithmically so — not just more locations/numbered sections)? Or are they basically the same thing as a CYOA book only transposed to easy clickable form, at this point?


Choice of Games and Choose Your Story definitely both retain information from state to state. In ChoiceScript, you can use the save information to determine text substitutions, or to determine whether a certain option will be available, as well as to determine where you go if you choose an option.

I’ve played around with Undum and really enjoyed it: actually writing JS is a bit of a pain, but the API produces very nice results and the system has a few interesting twists to it.

Thanks Matt. That sounds like something approaching a rudimentary programming language. I’d like to see way more development along this road, I’ll try those out and see what’s what.


P.S. Will also look up ‘Undum’.

Well, I would urge every IF author/programmer to learn HTML and Javascript ASAP. Because web-based adventure games and browser-based interpreters are going to dominate the IF community in the near future. Writing platform-dependent IF games in Windows, Linux or MacOSX is out. Everyone is going WWW right now. Even I have recognized the signs of time and transforming my entire Node-X project into the web-based area, as I already should have done in 2008. I am not interested in coding text adventure games in C++ or Freepascal/Delphi for Windows, Linux and whatever system anymore. The modern IF community has changed their focus to web-based gaming. And so have I as a programmer.

You may be overstating it but I think you’re onto something. It doubt it will play out so oppositionally, though. The whole point of the web is that it doesn’t replace things so much as glue them together. I see no reason why the current suite of standalone IF languages won’t become embeddable webtech and a natural part of the design milieu. It’s already started with JS Parchment and others (and of course Java applet-based IF goes way back), and I’m sure there are much more and smoother/more interoperable solutions to come.

When I need a hammer, I want to use a hammer. I don’t want to try to bash the nail with the entire toolbox. Although I don’t mind at all placing that hammer in a beautiful modern kit beside the electric drill and the digital level where all this stuff is easier for people to pull out and use. 8)


While I fully recognize that my opinion doesn’t mean squat, I specifically chose to learn Inform because of Parchment. It’s hard enough to get people to play Interactive Fiction these days, let alone install half a dozen interpreters to play a variety of games in multiple formats. Especially from a multimedia perspective, I think a lot of the other languages (TADS, Hugo, etc) can do a lot more than Inform, but at the end of the day, I want to be able to post the URL to my new game and not have to worry about what kind of computer my potential audience owns.

I would love a system similar to Inform that allows you to encode HTML in regards to displaying pictures and formatting text. Even something with a simple frame that allowed me to display HTML text in one frame and pictures in the other, that would be awesome.

Quixe will eventually support that. I’m not sure how it comes in Zarf’s list of priorities though.

I was looking at CoffeeScript recently and thought it’d make a great base for an IF system. In addition to what we have now with the established systems and their transition to browser-based play, it would be cool to see a good ‘native’ JS IF system. There are a few now but nothing I’d call ready to rumble.

Absolutely right. That’s the entire point behind web-based gaming (or online-gaming, whatever you want to call it) and why I say that it’s going to dominate the IF community. It may sound like an overstatement, but I’ve just came to this conclusion through mere observation of current events. Parchment is a very good example. One just needs to take a look at IFComp 2010. Most entries, whether they were written in TADS, Z-Code, Glulx, Javascript or in other language, can be played online! No need to install any standalone interpreters. No need to be forced to use Windows, Linux, Mac OSX or another operation system, emulator, whatsoever. All which the audience needs, is an internet browser in the particular system they tend to use. They can also play the IFComp entries on their iPhones and iPads, providing that devices have a working internet connection. So in conclusion, one could say that web-based gaming has already dominated the IF community, because of Parchment, simply because of that reason, as you mentioned. It’s more a fact than an overstatement.

Web-accessibility is lovely and all, but speaking as someone who has occasionally found themselves without intarweb access for extended periods of time, the ability to download and run a program locally will always be a key consideration for me as a player.

In an ideal world, IF could be written in a way such that it is accessible by a variety of means, able to take advantage of the richer media (e.g. local thick client, HTML) while degrading gracefully for the more “bare bones” interfaces.

As a non-IF example, I am semi-active on a Citadel forum system. To call it a forum is a little limiting, since it also functions as a mail server, instant messaging system, RSS aggregator, chat system, and calendar/planner. The same database is accessible via IMAP (e.g. Outlook or other thick e-mail client), a web client, or even via telnet or SSH. You’re obviously not going to see embedded graphics over the command line interface, but you are able to read and respond to the same messages. Users interact with the system in the manner that best serves their needs. I like the text client because I’d rather type than click/type/click/type.

Web-accessibility is important and may even become the most common method, but I don’t think it is necessarily the sole medium of the future. I like to interact with my computer (and certainly my entertainment) outside of the browser; I suspect I’m not the only one.


Outside of the browser? Did I miss something or are you talking about a completely different issue than the others and I do? Just for clarification on my part: I am talking about HTML/JS native games written in HTML/Javascript format only. You can’t display a HTML/Javascript page outside the browser. That makes no sense anyway, because the web browser already IS the interpreter or system, so to speak, which runs and displays HTML pages, whether this is online or offline. So why would you need an additional program to run and display HTML/Javascript pages when the web browser already does the job for you? I really don’t understand your point. I can only assume that you meant something different than what I talked about in this topic… :question:

This was specifically the remark that I was addressing. Web-based IF may become the most common method, but I don’t think it will (or even should) completely displace other methods of delivery. 24-hour everywhere online access is becoming more common, but it’s not (yet?) the norm.

My point (perhaps poorly expressed) is that some people may prefer the experience in an interpreter or find it impractical to play in a web browser. I can’t be the only one.


You certainly aren’t.

Incidently, besides Parchment on the web, there’s also ZaxMidlet, ZeeME and Z2ME for playing ZMachine games on mobile devices. Maybe because it’s the most lightweight format, it’s the one with more portability. This is an interesting discussion, I just don’t want anyone to overlook the “portable IF” point in favour of the “internet, one-size-fits-all IF”.

I guess what I’m imagining is a perfect world where these games could be played either online or off. Perhaps once a standard is developed, separate online and offline 'terps could then be coded, or maybe the online interpreter could be downloaded and then run locally on your machine. I’m not anti-offline gaming (although with WiFi being added to planes and trains it’s getting harder to imagine a scenario where I absolutely couldn’t get online), I just want users both online and off to be able to have the same gaming experience. If I’m forced to choose between writing a game that’s playable online to anyone with an internet connection and writing a game that’s limited to a specific platform, I’m going with the former.

Well, from an author’s perspective web-based IF is a method to reach a larger audience. This isn’t only my conviction. Many people view it the same way. Especially for unknown authors or non-established game developers it is a good method to present their work to a bigger cloud of people. Other methods of delivery (as you call it) may exist to accomplish the same goal. But I can’t think of any.

I could imagine that with the release of internet-enabled portable devices, such as iPhone and iPad, there are people in this world who have permanent 24-hour online access, for business, job-related or other reasons. But I agree, it hasn’t become the norm yet.

It’s a legitimate point of yours. But I think you should also point out why some people find it impractical to play in a web browser. What are the barriers for those people?

I fully agree.

As I have already mentioned in my previous post above, it’s all about reaching a larger audience. A game that’s playable online produces a higher hitrate. It’s like a viral video on Youtube. You can upload a cool video to Youtube or post it on your website for download. If you upload it to Youtube your changes that people gonna watch it will increase.

If they’re comfortably playable on a smartphone/netbook or above and don’t overdo it with the bandwidth or CPU load, it’s hard to see web point-n-click adventures at much of a disadvantage. While they are burdened a bit in efficiency compared to text adventures, they are still better on that score, than pretty much all other forms of web gaming. Right now I don’t have a lot of spare headspace for checking stuff out, and the IF comp games are getting most of it, but what I’m working on is something of a hybrid, and as I get closer to the finished episode I’m going to want to take a break to hoover up as big a sample of what other people are doing web-adventure-wise as I can. 8)


[edited to add]
But they need a full-screen mode!

Well browsers have support for offline applications now. We just need to add support to Parchment etc.