Twine 2.1.0 is released

This was originally posted at my Patreon.

At long last! I’m pretty excited about letting people at it. We spent a lot of time in beta, but I’m hoping that investment will pay off.

You can download it from the home page. If you’re upgrading, please read the release notes carefully. A lot has changed. I think you will like what’s new and I’ve tested the upgrade path as best as I could — but I still worry that there will be bumps in the road.

Two things you might enjoy: what Birdland, one of my favorite Twine works, looks like in the new version , and (if you are a webdev nerd) how technology choices have changed between 2.0 and 2.1.

Life comes at you pretty fast in the frontend world

Putting the finishing touches on the Twine release tonight, I realized we have basically changed everything in our quote-unquote stack:

Twine 2.0.0 (2014) Twine 2.1.0 (2017)
ES5 ES6 + Babel
Grunt npm scripts
Backbone + Marionette Vue + vue-router + Vuex
Browserify Webpack
Selenium Karma + Sinon + Chai

Still Alive But On Borrowed Time: Font Awesome, jQuery, SVG.js
Still Alive, Not Going Anywhere: CodeMirror, Jed, JSZip, Underscore

The prospect of linking all of these things is overwhelming, so, uh, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, try npm? And honestly, each row could be a post in itself, but I already have a blog backlog– so…

Near miss

In a recent IFTF blog post, I mentioned I hoped to get Twine 2.1.0 out by the end of the calendar year. Well… that hasn’t happened, obviously. The main cause was me coming down with two minor illnesses nearly back-to-back over the winter break — one head- and throat-based, one stomach-based. So most of my free time ended up being allocated to lying in bed with a fever instead of, you know, actual fun stuff.

We’re still in pretty good shape. There are a few bugs that need addressing before the release, but not too too many. I’m thinking mid- to late-January right now as a revised date.

In sort of related news, I think I’m now in good enough shape that I’ll still be able to do my presentation on gamebook history at MAGFest this year (it’ll be Thursday 1/5 at 4:30 PM). This is a reprise of the presentation I did last year with some added information here and there, so if you missed it last year or this will be your first year at MAGFest, consider stopping by. It’s not a super Twine-focused presentation, but I do think people into Twine would find it interesting, and I’m always happy to talk to folks afterwards.

Murder at Colfax Manor

I found this gamebook because not only is it one of the few modern-day gamebooks that has its own page on TVTropes, but said page is linked directly from the TVTropes page on the entire genre. Clearly someone’s a fan.

You can download this as a PDF for free, but I shelled out the $4 for a paper copy because the angel on one shoulder whispered: support the author and the genre and the devil on the other whispered: it’s really annoying to flip through the pages in a software reader. It’s one of those gamebooks, like the Fighting Fantasy or the Lone Wolf series, where each passage is only about a paragraph long, so you’re constantly changing pages. Even reading on an iPad, where you can flip through pages rapidly, felt awkward.

S. C. Cunningham, the author of Colefax Manor, does something a little bit odd with their book. Perhaps 80% of it, where you-the-protagonist explores a manor in the English countryside in the wake of a murder, is nearly static. There are characters — suspects, I suppose — who can be questioned but never move from their initial location or take any meaningful action at all. The butler is always polishing a bust in the library; the maid is always seated on a bed in the service hall; the gamekeeper is always napping in the stables. There are boxes you tick in your detective’s notebook that keep track of various clues you’ve found, similar to the approach the Sherlock Holmes gamebooks take, but they serve almost exclusively to unlock dialogue.

It’s impossible, so far as I know, to make anyone confess. Instead, like the Sherlock Holmes board game, I think you’re meant to put together the means/motive/opportunity in your mind and then call back to headquarters with your solution, and you find out whether your case is strongly-supported.

It feels a little like a thinly-implemented parser game, which in my opinion plays against the strengths of the gamebook genre. A gamebook will never be able to match the simulation possible in a parser game, so why not lean hard into plot and character?

There is also a finale — perhaps one could regard it as the Best Ending — where you can take a more active role in resolving the murder mystery. It drops the investigative mood for more of a straight adventure feel, but it still feels parserlike — the main decisions to make are avoiding instant-kill situations (which are adequately clued) and how long of a fuse to use on a bomb (the answer to which you can guess right now).

Despite the shortcomings I found in it, I would recommend Colefax Manor to someone designing choice-based interactive fiction, particularly if they’re working in the gamebook genre. To me, it represents a particular school of thought of design; one I don’t agree with, but one that helped bring my own beliefs into sharper relief.

Comments on

After the election, I began taking a break from Twitter on my personal account.It was just — a bit much, is the simplest way to put it. I still read and post on @twinethreads because apart from poor souls trying to get tech support in 140 characters and a few random ranters, it’s been a nice experience. Seeing photos like this makes my heart grow two sizes.

In the meantime, I’m trying to blog more. Blogs still make sense to me too. Obviously, this site has not exactly turned into a wellspring of posts, but I’m going to keep trying.

I initially left comments off when I started this blog because, as everyone knows, comments are evil. But since I have cut out the possibility of a social media conversation for now, I’m going to try them out.

Twine 2.1.0 beta 4

This was originally posted to my Patreon.

Well, I tempted fate by thinking that we were close to a relase. Beta 3 had a nasty bug that invisibly ate up hard drive space on the story list. If you used beta 3, follow these directions  to clean up the mess.

This fixes a few other bugs that were identified in beta 3, too.

You can get it from Bitbucket, and I’ve created a new forum thread  for discussion.

PS. This release is gratis — my policy is to only charge patrons once a month at most.