Resources for Interactive Fiction
These are some of the tools I use to help with my general writing process, or just fun writing things I’ve stumbled upon on the internet.
Scrivener – My FAVORITE bit of writing software. The big selling point for me is the way the files are structured. You create one scrivener file, which then contains many smaller chapter or scene files. When writing non-linear narratives like interactive fiction, I find the ability to separate sections out to be extremely useful. This is one of the few paid items on the list, but I’ve found it well worth the price.
Written? Kitten! – Some days writing is harder than others, and when I just need an extra push, in comes Written? Kitten! It’s pretty simple, for every 100 words, you get a picture of a kitten. Simple, bit effective at times when I just need a little extra cute. You can also customize it to feature other pictures.
Hemingway Editor – I have a tendency of getting a little rambly in my sentences. Sometimes it’s a stylistic choice, sometime it… isn’t. This isn’t the most refined tool, but I’ve found it helpful to run tricky passages through it’s grammar and sentence complexity filters to help me pinpoint an issue when something feels off.
Describing Words – An amazing tool. Enter a noun and it spits out common terms used to describe it. It really fired off the creative spark for me to see this list of adjectives and how I should best use them to convey the feeling I want.
Seventh Sanctum – This last one is just a bit of fun. Seventh Sanctum is the home of a ton of writing prompts and random idea generators. You get a lot of nonsense, but it only takes a spark to really start on a great idea.
Here are some tools for tweaking the CSS of web pages. I use it mostly to edit the appearance of my games, but it’s very applicable in almost any website.
Codecademy – Let’s start at the beginning. If you don’t know anything at all about CSS, or very little, then I recommend taking the free Codecademy HTML and CSS course. You won’t come out a CSS expert, but you’ll become more familiar with what’s possible and the terms you need to make it happen, which leads neatly too…
Hack Design – An email a week design course that I just loved. I think it was originally designed for developer/programmers, but I found it to be very accessible, and offers a lot of great tools and advice as to how to design anything, including websites.
Google Fonts – Essential. When designing text games I feel that readability is super important, and having a good font at a good size can help so much in the presentation of a game. Take special look at the font pairings offered, as you can often pick a flashy, themey font for your title card, and then a more readable one to be paired with it.
Encycolorpedia – My favorite hex color site. I’m really fond of the ability to go one shade lighter or darker in hex values, as well as the easy access to
Coolors.co – A fun little color palette site. It generates random color palettes and you can “lock” in some colors, and then generator more palettes around that. More a fun little tool than a for all end all, but I enjoy it.
CSSmatic Gradient Generator – I use this site a lot to create gradients for backgrounds. It lets you add multiple colors and change the position and then you just copy paste the code. SUPER useful! The page also includes some other tools, like a box shadow generator.
Border Image Generator – Helps generate border image patterns. Very useful in positioning the apttern correctly, but caution it REALLY doesn’t play nice with Safari. Place it at the very end of your CSS code to prevent any disasters, trust me.
Contrast Checker – A super important tool to check if the contrast between your text and background is legible. I know I’m liable to get carried away with faded text and spooky backgrounds, but a text game isn’t much if you can’t read it.
General Interactive Fiction Tools
Here are tools specific to writing interactive fiction, more often than not, in Twine. I specialize in Twine 1.4, but I will include some general and Twine 2 tools as well. (Also, if you aren’t familiar with Twine, please go check it out. It’s an amazing tool to create games and interactive fiction and it takes very little programming knowledge to get started.)
Standard Patterns in Choice-Based Games – An absolutely amazing article that talks about the standard shapes for choice based games. It really helps you wrap your head around the different ways things could go. It’s not a comprehensive list, I’m not sure that’s even possible, but it is a great list.
Writing IF – Emily Short has also curated a fantastic list of tools for writing interactive fiction. Her article focuses more on coming in to the space, and the different tools and ways you can write IF, so I definitely recommend taking a look.
Forget Protagonists: Writing NPCs with Agency for 80 Days and Beyond – A really interesting article about NPCs and agency in choice based games. If you’re thinking about including NPCs in any of your game, I recommend taking a gander.
Twine Specific Tools
Sublime Twee– I write a lot of code in Sublime, and this is a way to make Sublime Text Editor highlight Twee (as in the [] and <<>>) for easy parsing. SUPER Helpful.
Glorious Trainwrecks 1 and 2 -Two of my favorite links from the Glorious Trainwrecks page, a.k.a. what let me get started with Twine. They include tons of code, and resources and macros and stylesheets. It’s great. The first link is a way to add the replace macro to twine, so when you click a word it replaces the text rather than take you to a new page. The second is a list of some basic Sugarcane style sheets to play around with.
Twine Wiki – The main Twine Wiki, of course.
Twine 2 CSS Tutorial – This is furkle’s absolutely great guide to CSS styling in Twine 2. If you decide to work in Twine 2 and Harlowe, this is an amazing place to start.
Lost and Taken – A cool repository of Hi-Res textures. I don’t recall if I used one of these for the backgrounds of Arcane Intern (Unpaid), but I KNOW I use them to get textures for my cover art
Freesound– A nice place for sound effects (like the weather in my Night Vale game, and the sounds in That Sinister Self)
Facebook Open Graph Debugger – Useful not just for Facebook. Adding Metadata to your web files makes sure that it looks good when linked on twitter and messages and, yes, facebook. This is a pretty handy tool and resource to make sure that’s working.