Development continues

I have not updated this development blog for a while, but that does not mean that this project is dormant. On the contrary, I continue to work on new, exciting features, which make this engine more flexible and powerful than ever:

  • Update the engine for Elm 0.19 - this has already been released.
  • Remove all internal state from the engine, allowing it to work as a “plugin” rather than a “framework”. Coupled with the previous removal of the view and content layers, this continues the theme of allowing greater flexibility.
  • Replace the hard-coded item/location/character categories with a totally flexible “salience-based” system. This allows you to “tag” entities however you see fit. You could add tags for “items”, “locations” and “characters”, but you could also work with “memories” or “families” or any kind of categorization you can come up with. You can also create “links” to other entities for dynamic relationships. (See Emily Short’s blog post Beyond Branching: Quality-Based, Salience-Based, and Waypoint Narrative Structures for more about this, and the point below.)
  • Added a “quality-based” (or “stats”) system to give you more control over building your rules, and to enable powerful structural patterns like “delayed branching”. (See more about this in Choice of Games’s article).
  • Working on a visual editor and new “query syntax” (something similar to CSS) to simplify authoring your manifest and rule sets, with the ability to see an immediate visualization of potential pathways through your rules, as well as preview the story with a debug mode.

At the moment, most of these features are in an internal testing phase, but I will report more as they get released, and if you are interested in experimenting with the latest features, feel free to reach out.


Visualizing interactive stories

Visualization and analysis are important for any tool. Existing interactive fiction tools have many interesting visualization techniques.

They help by easily convey the shape and structure of your story’s architecture. They reveal how many different paths and endings your story has. They can also help identify “bugs” in the story rules.

My goal was to find an accurate way of visually representing stories made with the Elm Narrative Engine.

sample graph


V3 release bringing ultimate flexibility, customization and extension

Announcing the release of version 3 of the Elm Narrative Engine!

Until now, games on the Elm Narrative Engine have all basically looked the same. That is about to change.

Game screenshots

The release of version 3 has been completely redesigned to allow for ultimate flexibility, customization, and extension. The engine can now power many different types of narrative based games.

If you can imagine it, you can add a story to it.


Why The Elm Narrative Engine?

I recently contacted Emily Short, the “Queen” of interactive fiction, to ask for some feedback on my new engine. The engine was early in development, and she had some very good points that have led to important features. But the most important question she asked me was, “Why are you making this engine? What does it do that others don’t? Why is it special?”

Good question. Let me share.


Response to IFcomp 2016

This year’s IFcomp just ended. I played some of the entries to see the different tools out there and how people are using them. The most striking realization I had was how much the visual layout and styling impacted the appeal of the game for me.