Other Forms of Gossip

Once the Gossip tutorial is up and running it might be interesting to attempt to implement the same storyworld using some of the other interactive fiction storytelling tools out there. Tools like:

This is not a complete list by any means, just a few that immediately sprung to mind. The first three are parser-based, the next four are hyperlink/choice-based, and the last two are ones that recently caught my fancy (I’m extremely interested in Spirit AI’s Character Engine based on the people involved though I have no idea how to use it right now).

For additional information about other IF/IS engines out there check out the Other Development Systems section on the IntFiction board or this comprehensive list that someone has curated.

But the big question of course is why attempt this? I can only come up with two questions that could be answered by this attempt at replication.

  • What makes Storytron unique?
  • What can Storytron learn from other tools?

For twenty-six years Chris Crawford tried to launch an interactive storytelling revolution and failed. What he came up with several unique but complex pieces of software (SWAT, Encounter Editor, Face Editor), several unfinished storyworlds (Balance of Power 2K, Prom Night, Le Morte D’Arthur), and a ton of now out-of-date documentation.

The world didn’t stand still and wait for Chris. New tools were created and existing tools got better based on user feedback.. SWAT, the Encounter Editors, and Face Editor languished, demanding a high learning curve similar to GIMP, Blender, or Photoshop, while providing minimal “bang for the buck.” Chris himself was also noticeably intolerant of other tools and approaches and frequently took a “I know best approach” to the rest of the industry even in the face of unimpeachable evidence that his approach was failing. All of this resulted in some powerful tools that had a zero adoption rate within the IF/IS population at large.

But I still think that Storytron has some unique concepts that other tools haven’t implemented (I realized this after a conversation with Chris Conley this past weekend at NarraScope). But if other tools can implement Storytron’s unique concepts then why continue working on Storytron at all? Why not build off of those tools which have more robust infrastructures and larger user bases?

If there are parts of Storytron that are unique and it still has a place in the IF/IS world, the question becomes “What can we learn from other tools?” Is there anything that another tool has done to make an user’s life easier that we can borrow for Storytron?

I don’t think we have a monopoly on all the good ideas.

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