Interactive Fiction Development #1: Project Motivation

In the past few years, I’ve written many tutorials about creating interactive fiction games and one of the most common questions I get is, “where is your work?”

The answer often confounds people. The truth is, there isn’t any. Well, except for the demos that I’ve produced for articles.

There secret as to why I’ve avoided writing interactive fiction with Twine. It’s a prison of my own making. You see, Harlowe is the default story format, so it’s been the story format I’ve decided to use as my primary story format. But …

Harlowe kind of sucks.

Harlowe Headaches

Before I continue – let me just say I think Harlowe is quite an accomplishment and I take my hat off to the creator and contributors of it.

Unfortunately, Harlowe is an ugly language. It’s a great language to get started but once you get out of the beginner space, it becomes overly verbose and almost needlessly complex. ChapelR, the lead moderator of the Twine subreddit, wrote an excellent post about some of the issues with Harlowe.

Harlowe code, even the examples in the documentation, is just an ugly mess that is difficult to read at a glance.

Combined with a web-based editor at that requires you to be vigilant lest you lose your work as well as zero source control, I’ve lost my appetite for writing interactive fiction.

There is hope!

That is, until recently, when I discovered Twee 3 Language Tools. This is an extension for Visual Studio Code. Visual Studio Code is a free excellent coding environment. The Twee 3 Language extension gives me everything I need to write stories, so my goal this year is to create one.

My motivation for this project is to:

  • Write a complete story using SugarCube
  • Publish the story on a variety of platforms (web, iOS, and Android)
  • Host the source on a public GitHub repository
  • Document the process

The story is called The Perfect Murder and in the next few posts, I’ll be documenting the overall plot, the story structure, and how I intend to break down the process.

The hardest part is going to be figuring out the look and feel of the story. It’s going to take a little work. That said, I look forward to the journey.

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