CrumblyHeadGames Gamebook Authoring Tool


#1

Hello!

I’m Daniel. I am a fan of Choice of Games, a writer and a software developer.

I’m looking to create a computer program that will help people develop their stories and ideas. For this, I need your help, writers of gamebooks.

Can you tell me the process you use to create and develop your ideas and stories? How do you design your choices, and how do you validate all of your choices are accessible and fair? What limitations did you find in this process? If you are using software, what is missing and what would you really like it to do?
I am creating gamebook authoring software because I write multiple-branching stories, and I was frustrated with the tools out there.
I would like to create something useful and something great, and I can only do that with your help. Please feel free to suggest any ideas, no matter how small or insignificant you think it might be! Happy writing!

Daniel

EDIT: http://www.crumblyheadgames.co.uk/the-gamebook-authoring-tool/


How do you make your outlines?
#2

How will your gamebook branching software differ from the programmes that are already out there? What was it about them that frustrated you?

I take it you’re using your own codebase instead of choicescript? Are you planning to also offer a method of publishing the finished work? Are you aiming for it to be free or something that will cost money?

Okay I went to your site and got some of that answered. £40 is ridiculously expensive, especially considering that most of the gamebook software out there is free. I wouldn’t pay that much for even the best software in the world.


#3

Hello FairyGodfeather,

Well, what gamebook branching software is out there already? What do you use?
I began with just using a word processor, as many of you did, I suspect. When I came to a choice, I would pick one and flesh out the section for that choice and continue the process. Which was great, for a while. Later, as my story became more complex, I found I was losing track of certain branches. When I went back, I was starting to forget where I was. I’d lose track of the characters and items this particular branch had hit.
It’s a hard problem. Sure, you can plan it meticulously, but you shouldn’t need to. Computers are good a keeping track of all this stuff. But I haven’t found that program yet.

This program will be different because I will be here and I want to know your problems and what you want. I don’t just want to build something to fix my problems.

I am using my own codebase but there is no reason I can’t export to choicescript. The software I have allows you to build a visual representation of your book and you can export to text file, but the way everything is held internally doesn’t really prevent how we can present the end product.

Publishing is probably an area I will stay away from for now, choice of games are doing a really good job of this. I’m looking to fill more of the creative and design part of the process.

There will be both free and paid for versions of the software. I know not everyone likes to pay for software but I think there is a need for this software and it can be a big time and effort saver. The free version will be a generous but the paid version will offer a bit more and, as I am not independently wealthy, will allow me to spend more time and effort on the software overall.
Daniel


#4

Well you said that you’d already used some of the software out there.

Off the top of my head there’s Twine, InkleWriter, Quest, Versu, Storymaker. If I googled I’d likely find even more. Even thinking about it I remember various tools I downloaded for making Fighting Fantasy Style books.

I used Twine for my first project in order to story-map because it’s free and then I just coded in Notepad++.

For my current project I’ve not even looked at Twine. I just use a combination of Notepad and Notepad++ which works well for writing games in choicescript. I chose Choicescript for a number of reasons, mostly because I like the community and I like the company’s ethics, and that there’s a very easy path to market which involves minimal effort from me.

How difficult would it be to get your programme to export to Choicescript? I may actually be interested in it if it could do so easily, and had an awful lot of utility.

The price point is still extremely high though. £40 is an awful lot of money to me. I think even if the programme had a whole lot of bells and whistles and it could write the game for me, keep track of all of my stats, find every single point where I raise/lower a stat, track down every single NPC mention, and the like and display them all when I ask it to. Even if it let me colour in all those bubbles different colours, £40 is just so far out of my budget.


#5

I’ve used Twine but it didn’t feel quite right. I’ve used InkleWriter and I do love what they are doing, but I feel that is more for creating than designing. I think it also locks you into their format. Quest is nice, but more geared towards text adventures. I haven’t heard of Versu, but I’m checking them out now, thanks!

Choicescript is a fine format and has a strong community behind it and I have no intention of disrupting this, but I see choicescript as the end product. My program would be a means to get to that.

I am currently supporting exporting to raw text and rtf. Choicescript is just another format with slightly different rules. I had pdf and html exporting planned also, but if it turns out most people would like choicescript first then I am happy to do that. This is partly why I am asking :slight_smile:

Utility-wise, there’s not yet any statistics support and so no tracking of these either. But these are all very doable and desirable.

I understand your concerns on the price, so I will give you my honesty. I did struggle with this. I do want to put out a very usable free version. This means a lot of people won’t have to buy it. On the other hand, we are in a bit of a niche area, so unfortunately the full version price at the moment is quite high.

But again, none of this is set in stone and can change. I am here to get feedback and opinions, instead of going off and coding something that nobody wants to use :slight_smile:


#6

Totally agree with @FairyGodfeather im not a pro writter i never would produce a paid game a totally amateur why i would spent 40 £ or euros if i never would produce its waste my money there are good free programs i choose choicescript because i love community and games here and i haven’t got pc choicescript is versatile enough to be code in all platforms i try android tablet even older ios so your system could be used crossplatforms too?


#7

I took a look at… oh can’t even remember which one it was, maybe Storymaker, and it was just too complicated for me. I like the simplicity of me and my raw text file. There’s no complicated buttons. I do need to get around to working out an easy way to make it automatically insert variables instead of words. I get frustrated having to type ${variable} over and over again, when I’d rather just type variable and for it to switch it to the brackets. Mind you there may already be a way to do that in notepad++ which I’m missing.

Choicescript is lacking any form of WYSIWYG editor and that’s actually a barrier to some people creating Choice games. There’s been more than a few people who’ve come here full of bright ideas about creating games, but the difficulty level of writing in choicescript has been too high for them, and they would benefit greatly from something that makes that easier.

However, the price point of the games is just a few dollars (a step up from free but only a small one) and people actually complain that the games are too expensive and they’d rather they were all free.

I know that even if I wanted to buy your programme I just couldn’t. I don’t buy games that cost more than £5 and even that’s a very rare treat. £40 is just extremely high for me. Maybe if I was making commercial games and it helped streamline and simplify the process, once I’d actually managed to earn £40 I’d consider it an investment. I know you do plan to have a usable version. Have you considered commercial license vs hobby-user? Although I suppose there’s little way to tell other than going on a trust-based system.


#8

Hi @MaraJade!
Thanks for your comments! I understand your concerns. I do always plan to have a generous free version of the software. The current one on the website is identical to the pro version except it is capped at 100 sections, which should be enough to get you started.
If you do become wildly successful, and make 1000’s of sales, then £40 won’t seem so bad if it helps get you there :slight_smile:
Your point about cross platform support is a very good one. Right now I’m only looking at windows because I am most familiar with it, but if there is a need and like for this I can move onto other things (for example a cross-platform online tool).


#9

@FairyGodfeather
Notepad++ is probably my favourite text editor too. I think what you are looking for is called a macro. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Type in your variable name (without the ${ } stuff)
  2. Click macro->start recording. Now, whatever press on the keyboard is important, so make it count!
  3. Press ctrl + left arrow to go to the start of the word
  4. Type ${
  5. Press ctrl + right arrow to go to the end of the word
  6. Type }
  7. Click macro->stop recording

Now you have what you want. Whenever you need a variable just type in the word then press Macro->Playback (or ctrl+shift+p).

I’ve really enjoyed your comments. I think I’ll definitely put in a choicescript exporter. It won’t do everything just yet but it would give you a framework to build on. And this can grow over time.

And I’ll take onboard your comments about pricing. I am certainly not against trust-based systems.
Thanks again! Happy writing!


#10

Thankyou! I’ve never used a macro before. That helps a lot. I’ll try it once I load up my game files again, if I can get it to work it’s going to make things so much easier.

I hope I didn’t come across as being too critical. I think we really could use a useful tool around here. I think the £40 price point is too high for most hobby users though, especially with the variety of free tools out there. Something that worked for all platforms though (I know quite a few people use phones to write their games), or which makes things a lot easier for the extremely novice user may help.

I suppose price point is something that market research is useful for though. Have you considered a survey, or just asking people how much they’d be willing to pay? How did you come up with that £40 price tag? For me, £20 is about the highest I’d be willing to spend on a programme for hobby purposes. If I managed to make a game with it that I could sell, and it had really helped streamline the process and make things easier then I’d be willing to bump that up to £40. But £40 from the offset is just really high. I know you’re saying you do have a really good free version too. I do generally like supporting indie developers though, it’s just with £40 or 0 I’d likely pay nothing. With £20 being asked for, I’m more likely to consider that. But that’s all just me, not anyone else, and I’m likely wrong so it’s something worthwhile investigating and researching I think. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t sell your programme, just make sure you have it priced at the right point that you’ll actually be able to sell it to those who can most use it.


#11

Can I suggest a “new” software? :slight_smile:

I’m developing Libro Game Creator from several years and the new version is pure Java, so it runs on Windows, Mac and Linux.

The software lets you write a game book, link the chapters, export it in SQLite, HTML (single or multiple file), ebook (epub2), RTF and the book graph (with an external library).

The english site is newly born but I’m working to improve it asap.


#12

Hey Shaman! Really nice software, you have lots of features :smile:

My software isn’t that old…it’s still being developed and open to feature requests. Would people like an export to choicescript option?


#13

@CrumblyHeadGames

You are on the choice of games forums so I’d think that yes, an export to choicescript option would be useful.

Would you like me to change the thread title to reference your gamebook authoring tool now, as well as adding a link to the first post? (I’m not sure if you can do that yourself.)


#14

@FairyGodfeather

Yes please, that would be nice!

I’ll work on the exporting.


#15

Are you fiddling with the website? It seems down at the moment. I did have a quick glance earlier and it looked interesting.