2012/07/27: Looking for gamebook/CYOA stuff
So I've kind of been looking for a good Choose-Your-Own-Adventure/gamebook engine. I've got a couple of different ideas for things I could do with this concept. All of them go well and beyond what you could have done in any print books; I want to have programmed variability, I want to have inventory items, I want to be able to change what text and choices you have on a given page! Once again, though, I have a lot of options, but none of them fully work for me.
The Adventure Book extension for Inform 71 is lovely: you get variables which determine what choices appear on a given page, an inventory system you can use for "hidden" choices by typing in an inventory item's name, and you also get more or less the full features of Inform 7's programmable awesomeness ... except that when you load a saved game in Inform, it replies "OK." and leaves it at that. (This is a problem with Inform itself, not the Adventure Book.) No opportunity to display the current situation and list of choices, no "after loading the game, Look", it doesn't even clear the screen. Which is a terrible idea, although to be fair to Inform, it's pretty much the only terrible thing about it that I can see.
At the other end of the scale, Twine/Twee and the Gamebook mode in Quest provide no options for variables or anything like that; "choices" are just links to other "pages", and they're ultimately no different from the sort of thing you can put in print books. The Gamebook Engine, meanwhile, has the fatal flaw that you don't get to decide what choices appear on a given page, nor is it very good at keeping track of variations on events in the story,2 and was also last updated in 2009.
Basically, I guess I want something which is more or less identical to "Adventure Book for Inform 7," except without the incredibly shitty way Inform handles restoring from a saved game. I also wouldn't mind other features like adding your own presentation/appearance/what-have-you like the browser-based ones do, and arcane magic like "scrolling up." I mean, I'm perfectly capable of programming my own system, in either C# or Java (possibly with help from Lua),3 it's just that I don't know if I'll be reinventing the wheel or not.
Wow, this turned into a wall of text. (This was originally just going to be a short post on Tumblr, but then I started qualifying the situation and saying what I'd found and discarded already.) I dunno, should I try to make my own CYOA engine if I was serious about this, or is there already something out there which would already work for my purposes? I'm probably going to end up doing the former regardless, but ...
2I played one of the adventures that came bundled with it, and I quit when I came across a choice which was literally "If you've read the note on the windowsill, press 1; if you haven't, press 2 ..."
3It has actually occurred to me that, with not too much effort, I could implement this in the Villainmad base-engine. But for something consisting mostly of text, it feels like that would be taking it in the wrong direction.
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