We're launching a modern interactive fiction platform!


#1

UPDATE:

We’re open sourcing the IF-authoring language behind Storealis.

You can try it out now at https://narrators.club (no accounts, all online & cloud-backed).

Find the authoring guide here https://biarity.gitlab.io/page/narratorsclub.

It’s very clean, easy to use, and very flexible - mainly for making advanced choice-based games. It has an online IDE and interpreter/reader so it works everywhere! Of course it’s free, and soon open source too.


(Dan Fabulich) #2

Congratulations on developing your IF platform! I wish you the best of luck. Here’s my quick feedback.

Most people choose an IF platform by playing a great game and saying, “I really like this game, and I would like to make another game just like it. How did the author(s) make it?”

So, when IF platforms successfully take off, they require an admirable story (not just a technology demo) to attract new authors. Historically, the first “admirable” story for each now-successful IF platform was typically either written by the platform authors themselves, or directly funded by them. (Twine’s first admirable story by Anna Anthropy is the only exception I’m aware of.)

You mention at the end of your demo game that “we’re not writers,” but I think you’ll either need to write something great or hire a great writer (preferably paid in advance) to launch Storealis effectively.

Writing the first good game yourself is also important because there are already competitive choice-based IF platforms out there, including Twine, Ink, Raconteur, and our platform, ChoiceScript.

Storealis is also in competition with authors who just want to write their own platform, like you did. Developing a work of choice-based IF is often a novice programmer’s second program, literally right after “hello world.” It’s one of the recommended projects in JavaScript for Kids for Dummies. (Chapter 16: Choose Your Own Adventure)

All in all, your website looks great, and I believe you can build the community you want to build if you’re willing to put in the work/money required to write a great game.


(Dan Fabulich) #3

P.S. Your website took a very long time to load on my Macbook over WiFi. Chrome Dev Tools reports 12 seconds before the first meaningful paint; 30 seconds before the load event. It’s 990KB of JS, with no content rendered server-side, so most of that JS has to download and run before the user can see anything.

It takes even longer to load on iPhones and even longer than that on Androids. (Try it.)


#4

@dfabulich First off, thanks for your feedback!

We’re in contact with a couple of writers, and we should have a number of stories complete by launch (which will be at least 3 months from now).

Please note that although Stoura (our own language) will be what we primarily promote, we’re aiming to be tooling-agnostic, and are already working at integrating some of these into our platform.

Again, we’re not just trying to build IF tooling. Our main aim is to create an environment where someone who’s not familiar with IF would feel comfortable. We’re aware of tooling like Twine, Quest, Squiffy, Inklewriter, etc. - where no programming is required, but we’re aiming to complement these in the near future. Take for instance traditional novel writing, anyone could do it (they don’t even need to be a novice programmer!), but we particularly liked what Wattpad has done with this: bringing the idea of ‘writing & reading’ closer to mainstream entertainment; we’re trying to do the same with IF.

Yeah, our entire landing page is rendered in JS (you’d see a white screen if you had JS disabled) - lots of JS, which is Not Good. This is because we’re embedding a demo story as well as a stripped-down version of our online IDE (for those that weren’t able to join the closed beta to try). This means you’re essentially downloading our entire site (a SPA) on the first load (subsequent loads should be quicker). Our actual launch landing page is much smaller and would work without JS at all.

Thanks again for your time & feedback!


#5

I would have liked to try one but you have to be signed up to play anything. No thank you.


#6

Sorry! That’s because we’re only in closed/private beta. There really isn’t much to read on there (besides some really short demos) since we’ve just started. This should change once we launch in a couple of months though!

[size=90]PS. you won’t need to signup if you have an invite, PM me if interested.[/size]


#7

Hello! I’ve got an account in the beta, and I know you’re preparing for the launch now, but is there any chance of accessing, say, works in progress that we had before you closed for the pre-launch prep?


#8

Yes! As mentioned in the email you should’ve received a couple of days back (check your junk inbox), you can email admin@storealis.com with the title “RESTORE STORIES” to get an automated email with your stories in it. Really sorry for any inconvenience this might’ve caused!


#9

Will this platform be friendly towards adult developers? Also what specifically is the limit on card text length? Are there also arbitrary limits on images/video/audio, so that readers won’t be burdened by viewing galleries of pictures, or consuming hours of video/audio?


#10

Yes, you can tag a story as “Adult”. The limit on card length is to ensure no large walls of text are part of any one card (since that’s more like a normal story than an interactive one). HTML support is also covered under the character limit, meaning an author can’t embed too many images/videos/etc. within one card. As for the length of videos embedded, there really is no way of controlling that. Any reasonable author should understand that embedding hours of video is suboptimal at best.


(Hanon Ondricek) #11

Unless your game is Her Story or The Infectious Madness of Dr. Dekker.

herstorygame.com/
doctordekker.com/


#12

Is it a character count limit? Word count limit?


#13

It’s a character limit similar to twitter’s.


(Will Dojinn) #14

So this Twitter as IF?


#15

By “similar to twitter’s” do you mean approximately 140 characters?

Are you still planning to launch this project? The website is still up, but it’s been a while.


#16

The character limit will be quite flexible depending on language, but generally around 500 per card for new authors.

I’m sorry we’ve been radio silent for quite some time now - we’re having some difficulty finding good authors for our “flagship” story. I personally don’t want to launch the website without having at least some content in there (otherwise would be too boring!). This proved to be the hardest part so far! Also we’re working on a graph editor to complement the usual scripting approach.


#17

[size=150]Storealis is now back on at https://narrators.club. No accounts required so feel free to check it out![/size]


(Hanon Ondricek) #18

I took a quick look. I like that you include an “every turn” mechanism which could be interesting.

Interesting that there are a number of “slots” that are like separate instances of the game. Is there a way to reset those (is that what the trash icon means?)

I’d be interested to see more about how images might be implemented, and possibly some more interesting styling customization of the entire story or page.


#19

Yeah the trash icon resets either one or all slots, and there’s a confirmation box so you can try clicking it.

Images are supported since both markdown and HTML support it. Basic styling should be possible via css or the style attribute too.


(Hanon Ondricek) #20

My only other observation - I like the “card” paradigm for presentation; 500 characters is twice the length of a Twitter post, but feels about right with regard to reading vs. interaction. My only suggestion might be a mode either selectable by the author or the user where the previous card passages (all of them, or a limited number) are still visible on the screen so that as the player switches back and forth between “slots” they can see the chain of events leading to a particular situation - sort of like a Twitter thread?

Since the passages are “cards” with a limited amount of text, it would also be interesting if cards relating to a particular “scene” or sequence of interactions could all be shown together as they are selected (as if being “dealt” onto the screen). It would be neat if you could format it into a grid of say up to 9 or 16 and then clear the screen for each new situation (a new “hand” so to speak.)

Once again, these are just suggestions and I know probably not necessarily in your intended spec. [rant=blue sky rambling feel free to ignore]I’m still wanting an IF system that plays like a collectible card or board game that’s kind of a cross between this and Texture - Where there are slots on the board for author-defined purposes such as “rooms” and “objects in the room”…and the player gets a hand of cards such as EXAMINE, TAKE, USE, GO, ATTACK - Play GO on a visited room and you’re there, cards show up for objects and interactables, play EXAMINE on the mysterious statue and the card turns into the description perhaps with buttons or options. Cards could have stat-modifiers and cooldowns, perhaps with a chance to spawn other cards such as monsters or random loot. For example, holding the SCARY MASK card in your hand reduces random encounter percentage chance because monsters are afraid of you.

I think perhaps Alexis Kennedy has kind of done this sort of thing already with CULTIST SIMULATOR.[/rant]