That headline doesn’t really work, but let’s go with it, eh?
Anyway, Failbetter Games is a developer of fascinating mostly-text-based adventures, including the award winning gothic thriller Fallen London. But it wasn’t happy just doing its own games, so it has made its engine, StoryNexus, available to all. The adventure creation package requires no coding but allows you to craft elaborate interactive tales, and then test them while you’re still scribbling possibilities. The system revolves around ‘story lets’ little action scenes like pages in a choose your own adventure book – you write a paragraph or two, then decide on the choices your character faces, and the consequences they lead to, slowly creating a branching labyrinth of narrative possibilities.
“Essentially, we’re giving writers access to the tools we build our own games with,” says Failbetter’s Paul Arendt. “It’s a beta release, so we’re still tweaking and adding features, but it’s already perfectly possible to make your own worlds, and soon it will be possible to earn money from them as well”. There is already a community of writers using the software, and Failbetter says it will select and feature the best examples every three months.
Yes, there are other narrative engineering things on the web, but this is a really approachable package, which strips the process down into digestible chunks and allows you to slowly craft an interactive story as you learn the fundaments. It is a far cry from Commodore 64 classic The Graphic Adventure Creator which utterly bamboozled me back in the eighties because I was 12 when I bought it and didn’t even know what adverbs were let alone parsers. My 12-year-old self would have loved StoryNexus. Indeed, I am going to use this thing to craft an interactive narrative he would have been proud of; which will mean writing an adventure entitled Dukes of Hazzard vs Fall Guy. I think I can pull that off.