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.

Twine 2.1.0 beta 3

This was originally posted to my Patreon.

Not quite there yet, but pretty close to a release. You can download it from the usual place.

The major update on this beta is that we’ve added multiple versions of Harlowe and SugarCube, two popular story formats — the things that run a published story in a browser.

In particular, Twine 2 has lagged pretty hard behind SugarCube releases, so this beta adds the ability for you to pick which version of SugarCube, 2.11.0 or 1.0.35, you’d like to use. Before, you had to install SugarCube 2 by hand, which was a bit of a hassle. Similarly, this lets you start using the Harlowe 2.0 release series (which I think is still in the finishing-touches phase), which brings many improvements over 1.0.

(The dialogs related to story formats have been overhauled, too, to make them a bit simpler to digest.)

If you have a free moment and the inclination to test this beta out, it would be especially helpful. The reason why is that this version tries its best to gracefully transition you to an appropriate story format version, even if you had previously installed SugarCube 2 by hand before. And I want to get that as tested as possible, since if it goes wrong it could mess up people’s workflows significantly.

Thoughts? I’ve posted a topic to the forum.

There ought to be a word for…

  • Thinking you are ahead of the popularity curve on a song, but subsequently hearing it played at a Chipotle
  • Pressing on a display in the belief that it’s a touchscreen, but it isn’t
  • The drop in room temperature that occurs when a public speaker says something uncomfortable but undisputably true

A Mind Forever Voyaging cover

Today, my mind turned to this game. I never understood its political background until I read Jimmy Maher’s coverage of it (here, here, and here). I was too young to witness Reagan’s rise; the first election I can remember is George H. W. Bush winning 1988. So the fear of what Reagan might be capable of was alien to me.

I’d like to think that the past can help us understand the present, but I am filled with uncertainty, every path my mind takes.

Twine 2.1.0 beta 1

This post originally appeared on my Patreon.

After a long gestation, I’ve put out a beta of Twine 2.1.0! This revamps the user interface quite a bit and speeds up a lot of tasks, particularly with larger stories. If you were used to waiting a few seconds for Twine to start up or load your story, this should make you happy.

There is a lot changed under the hood. I can’t really understate that. This is why I’m going to do several betas before a formal release. And right out of the gate, a couple big bugs have been identified.

So ultimately, consider this a preview of things to come, and if you use it, please keep careful backups of your work. I’ve spent a lot of time ensuring that the new data layer (which is why it’s a lot faster) is solid, but there are still doubts in my mind that won’t go away until it’s been rigorously tested. Which is hopefully where you come in!

I’ve put details for how to download it on the Twine forum.

grunt-entwine-quickstart

This post originally appeared on my Patreon.

I have something new for you to play with! I realize it’s been a while. It’s called grunt-entwine-quickstart, which probably sounds like nonsense if you don’t live in the JavaScript world. In short, it’s a set of utilities that will help people who are a bit more technically savvy, or who are building larger stories.

With it, you can:

  • Create a single story from several story files, like StoryIncludes in Twine 1
  • Write CSS and JavaScript outside Twine
  • Add Twee code to a Twine story, or build stories entirely from Twee code
  • Use Git or other source control systems in conjunction with Twine
  • Build desktop app versions of Twine stories

To get started, visit the project page and follow the instructions there. Although you’ll need to use a command prompt with this, I tried really hard to make it understandable for people who haven’t used it before. Please let me know if there are parts that are confusing about the instructions!

If you do live in the JavaScript universe, you may want to use the Grunt plugin as-is. Or you may want to use a plain old command line script, or play with it in JavaScript directly. You can totally do this! Install twine-utils instead and you’ll get a entwine command and associated Node module.

Keep in mind that this is the first public release, so there may be bugs lurking here. If you do run into problems, please add a bug report to the project page. There’s also room to grow here, too. I can see adding a Twine 1 -> Twine 2 converter to this project, and also adding a mobile app builder with PhoneGap/Cordova in the future.

Symphony infographics

How the Toronto Symphony Orchestra uses graphic design to guide its audiences though its music

I love the clarity of the infographics, and think they’re a great way to map a piece of music. However, I wonder if they would change my listening experience as much as I think they would. When I go to the BSO, I usually browse the program before the concert starts, or at intermission — never during the actual concert, because riffling through pages feels rude to me. These notes feel more like a sports announcer or tour guide — informative, but meant to be experienced simultaneously with a performance instead of something to reflect on before or afterwards.

Writing Interactive Fiction With Twine is available in print!

Writing Interactive Fiction with Twine on the shelfI ventured out to a local Barnes & Noble yesterday, and was pleasantly surprised that it was not only there, but also given some prominence on the shelf by the staff.

I think the book production folks at Que did a great job with the print edition. After spending so much time looking at drafts in Word, it was nice to see it, y’know, actually given form with typography and layout.

I had also forgotten — honest! — about the foreword I had written for the book. So I can say that not only did I help with the editing, but my writing does appear in it, even though it’s but one page of 432.

I think by law I am required to link to where you can purchase it, in case you do not know how to exchange money for books, so go to it.

(I didn’t notice Mazes for Programmers next to it until after I had gotten home, but what a book title!)

I’ve cofounded Unmapped Path

I have been making games with Joel Haddock for six years now. I have to remind myself how long it’s been, because it’s just a fact to me. I have a lot of difficulty imagining otherwise.

We had always talked about building games, but it wasn’t until I found Flixel, which abstracted away all of the housekeeping and ceremony you’d normally need to get a game up and running, that we actually built them and released them to the world. There’s a symmetry there with my work on Twine, I think.

We invented a studio name for ourselves, Twofold Secret, after much hand-wringing. We built a web site for ourselves and probably argued over the page design more than any actual work we did on the games. We released five games, all of which I’m very proud of– even the early ones, with their warts. Alight landed a sponsorship on Newgrounds homepage. When Flash’s popularity began to wane, we moved into downloadable games with Sought and Camp Keepalive. We put on a gallery show that made the cover of the Baltimore Sun‘s companion tabloid b.

And then there was a space in our work. We tinkered with game concepts but never fell in love with one enough to fully follow through on it. We never gave up on the idea of building games — just, we weren’t sure what to build next. We had both changed.

It took some time to figure things out, but I think we have our bearings once again.

We’ve decided to change our focus to be more squarely on interactive narrative, and our name to Unmapped Path. Joel and I both have always thought of ourselves as writers, but our Twofold games belong to genres like strategy game and platformer. You can see our interests poke out of the dark clouds of Alight and the terminals of Sanctuary 17, but someone giving them a quick glance would surely think retro before they thought literary.

It’s time to let our writing play a larger role. We want to build games that engage more fully with storytelling, and we’re going to leverage our experience with Twine to do it. We’ve developed an in-house engine called Disbound (which, of course, has an etymology) that makes building polished experiences for mobile and desktop with Twine extremely easy.

The other reason why we’ve changed names is that we’re actively pursuing client work, and Twofold was more a garage band for us than a professional enterprise. Our first client project, Undo Othello, debuted in March. We built this for the Shakespeare Theater Company in nearby Washington DC, and it was a real pleasure working on it. I’ve always liked working in the nonprofit space, and especially the education space. I’m hopeful Undo Othello is just the beginning of our work there.

We’re also working with Andrew Schneider to bring his game Nocked! True Tales of Robin Hood to iOS using Disbound. You can get a taste of the storyline by playing the version Andrew entered into the Back Garden of this year’s Spring Thing interactive fiction festival. I can promise, though — the Spring Thing version is just a preview of what’s to come.

And there is a third project Joel and I are working on ourselves that I can’t tell you about yet. There have to be some secrets for us to keep, right? If you’d like to know when we do announce it, follow us on Twitter or sign up for our monthly newsletter. And — of course, if you have a project you’d like our help with, please drop us a line.