What Style of IF do you Prefer?

I was just wondering how everyone likes to make their stories. Do you let the player make decisions Oregon Trail style, having them type actions in? Or do you make the player choose between links to click? Do you like using Harlowe, Sugarcube, etc. What is your favorite type of IF? Sci-Fi, Medieval, Horror?

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I almost exclusively play parser, because it feels more interactive. But I love it that much parser IF has adapted to have more implicit actions. It drives me nuts when I have to EXAMINE something and also READ it. I like to be able to just GET LETTER, with OPEN ENVELOPE being implicit.
There’s not much CYOA I have genuinely loved, because figuring out what actions to take is a big part of the joy of IF for me, and CYOA lays every option out for you. There are definitely stories where CYOA makes more sense, but it always just feels lighter on the interactive side of IF for me.


Parser games tent to be more puzzle intensive. Figuring out the correct commands or their correct order is itself a puzzle. Personally I don’t like it. I’m on the ride for the story. To me, getting stuck trying to figure out commands are more frustrating then enjoyable.

I wholeheartedly disagree that choice based games are less interactive. Quite the opposite. They have to rely heavily on the story, making each choice count, or at least giving that illusion. Just because you see all options up front doesn’t mean it’s less interactive.

But again, that greatly depends on what you’re looking for in the game. Every person get their kicks differently.

By the way, I’m not saying parse games don’t have stories or that choice games can’t have puzzles. But, by nature they are very different.

(Although, if we’re talking about Twine games, they tend to be very linear with mostly flavour text. Some can still be engaging in the story department, but I agree they are much less interactive. Though it’s not Twine’s fault and more a community culture.)

I grew up with Infocom, so I’m a huge fan of parser, but I find recently I don’t have the patience to sit down and play them. I love that the room and inventory and object and containment structure provides a physics engine of a sort inside which amazing and impossible things can be created that a player can verbally experiment with.

I have migrated into choice-based narrative because it’s much easier to debug, test, and troubleshoot. Parser is practically open-world and really needs multiple testers; choice allows the author to define the interactions the player may take. Choice narrative can be dull if authors limit themselves to the format of the print Choose Your Own Adventure line and write time caves. Sometimes the linearity of choice narratives is a feature - especially if the author knows how to widen out that line and make the choices affect how the story goes instead of what happens. It allows better control of pacing and forward momentum of a story. A good parser game is like a museum you can spend unlimited time in. Time limits and ticking clocks can be the killer of fun in parser. A choice narrative is like a dark ride that keeps moving past scenes, often shorter than a museum but re-doable if the scenery is worth it. 80 Days is probably a prime example of a narrative with a wide-linear plot. Every game you play will end in 80 days, but you may never see the same sequence twice.

As @AmandaB explains above, parser allows ridiculous freedom, but there are canonically defined actions like LOOK, EXAMINE, OPEN that players expect and have patience for. An author needing to define nine different ways to say “shoot the arrow into the target” is no fun. Many players don’t like to type. Other players may enjoy IF on a mobile device because that’s when they have spare moments to read something. But parser is the only way for a story like Emily Short’s Counterfeit Monkey to work.

Choice narratives don’t need to be dull time-caves. They require an author to consider how to create and layer a game structure. I went from parser to Storynexus and really enjoyed breaking down my parser epic into cardgame/boardgame conventions which expanded how I considered that games and stories could be made with words, often at the same time.


This is the number one reason people give me for why they don’t like parser, and I get it. It’s incredibly frustrating when you run into something you just cannot type correctly (I typed SEARCH CAGE 5 times today before I spelled it right).

I’ve wondered often if some of the great parser IF could be adapted to touchscreen-- with touchable verbs and text. Counterfeit Monkey actually seems like a great fit for that, since devices like the letter remover could be adapted so easily. Yes, exploring that world through the freedom of parser makes great sense for that story, but I wonder if removing the typing would be possible while still keeping the parser flavor.

I like playing parser games most of all-- I guess a lot of people were introduced to them first, like me. Infocom basically sums up what I really like about them for me with their slogan, Get inside a story. Get one from Infocom! When parser games are really done right, it feels to me as if I’m in an immersive, unfolding story, even creating it myself. I generally prefer games with a good balance between story and puzzles, though there are many exceptions-- Plotkin’s The Dreamhold, for one, is essentially a classic puzzlefest but just as, if not more, immersive than a more story-heavy game.


As I have wrote before I prefer parser offline based games. Those games are a bit to difficult and as you have to write commands games are “opener”, has more options. In addition parser games could have more puzzles and different ones.


I like the openess, the exploration and the mapping of parser-based games. I like the concise, yet rich descriptions of a well-written parser-based game. I like being able to examine things to dig deeper and gradually reveal more detail like a forensic investigator. I like the puzzles and the challenge and using my brain on a parser-based game. And I like the adventure. Anything from fantasy, sci fi, horror, archeology, crime, mystery, humour and so on. But not soppy real-world struggles with relationships, dreams and surreal stuff.

And when it’s finished, I like to go back and find the optimum solution in the minimum number of moves.


You have readed my mind. We are twins in this theme.

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I feel the same. I like parser-based games but don’t really have much patience to play them anymore. I tend to reach for a walkthough pretty quickly.

I do, on average, prefer parser-based IF to choice-based IF because… I don’t know, it has a consistent interface. What I personally don’t like about most twine games is that it’s blobs of text with hyperlinks in them. It doesn’t feel like a game with game logic to me. No inventory, no pre-defined actions, no exploration element. Not that any of those is necessary for a good game.

I like this idea. Something in between point&click adventures and parser IF.
(I do like text-based games and also am trying to avoid having to draw sprites and tiles :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: )