Writing Computer Games with Inklewriter

If brass lanterns or slathering-fanged grues mean anything to you, you might want to look into Inklewriter.

I teach a text-adventure (“interactive fiction“) unit in my “New Media Projects” course. My mainstay for that unit is Inform 7, a robust tool with loads of examples and a user community that I know well (through my own participation in the interactive fiction aficionado community).

Students are usually pretty excited about getting a word-based virtual world up and running with Inform after just a few minutes, but they generally hit the wall hard at some point. Of course, my goal in this class is to show non-coders how to learn a creative cognitive process — writing code — that exercises their brain in a way very different from writing traditional prose. And hitting the wall — in any subject — is an important, necessary part of developing new neural connections.

While about half of the students who take this course choose an Inform 7 term project over an HTML/CSS project, and nobody has yet chosen Scratch, I am thinking that giving students a few more options may help address the anxiety levels.

All in all, I am less interested in getting the students to produce polished work, than I am in getting my English majors to understand how to design, implement, and user-test a complex digital artifact. I’m not sure at this point whether giving the students yet another platform to explore will  help or hurt.

At any rate, looking at this is on my to-do list.

For some context, see the Gamasutra article:

The age of accessible platforms coupled with a hunger for deeper stories have set the stage for interactive fiction games to flourish, but longtime IF writer and game industry veteran Jon Ingold believes the tools to create storytelling games have to be accessible, too.

That’s why he and his colleagues at Cambridge, UK’s Inkle Studios — a software company founded by game devs — have created Inklewriter, a new tool for making interactive stories: It’s free, and designed for anyone to use.

“I spent a long time in the full on parser-based hobbyist niche, and a lot of that was spent doing experiments trying to make things more ‘accessible,'” Ingold tells Gamasutra. “You know, less puzzle-y and more story-y, and then trying to do things to make the parser clever.”

via Gamasutra – News – New, free tools allow any novice to make an accessible text adventure.