Twine – An Open Source Tool for Telling Interactive, Nonlinear Stories
What is Twine:
- Created by Chris Klimas in 2009
- Twin is an open-source tool for telling interactive, non-linear stories
- Twine publishes directly to HTML (HyperText Marking Language = a standardized system for tagging text files to achieve font, color, graphic, and hyperlink effects on World Wide Web pages) so you can post your work nearly anywhere. Anything you create with Twine is free to use any way you like, including commercial purposes.
- Twine is now maintained by several people at several different repositories
- Twine is mostly just story-writing with a touch of programming
- Essentially you’re writing the story for an online game
What you Do:
- Most people seem to make games on Twine
- A tool used for creating stories that you can also add game elements too
- It seems to be the base for creating the storyline – then users go back in and add graphic/etc that make the game
- Games are just websites
- I tried a game called Darkness Fails – ended up being crushed by a grand piano after my little brother stole a bottle of wine from an old lady’s house – prompted to try again
- I tried a second game called “Color of Hope” and it has two chapters. This one is much more story line and you just pick options. Much more content than the first one but felt like A lot of reading and got bored, I didn’t finish the game.
- Third game I tried is called “Exploring the Cave” this is the most aesthetically pleasing and “game like” one I explored. At the end, I won a broken bike and a jar of fireflies. This is all about making choices in the caves, left, right, center, etc.
- Twine is user friendly, often the game websites are a bit more confusing:
- More a creative outlet
- Seems to be for beginners
- A lot are located on a site called the “Interactive Fiction Database”
- To use Twine, first I would suggest reading the cookbook. This is part of Twines website, and offers help and examples about how to storyline
- So then you just start building your storyline
- You’ll start with the rocketship (start of the story)
- The passage will prompt you with directions on how to edit that specific passage
- Then you add “passages” about where the story will take you next
- Use the + Passage button to add
- Follow the directions within the passages to understand how to link the blurbs
- You can then move the passages around on the board and make them different sizes
- You can come up with multiple endings and ideas
Notes while using:
- Created my own story called “Going to class”
- The most difficult part of using twine is figuring out how to link the passages
- You have to link them to the “title name”
- What I liked about twine is that it shows how you can start with a basic idea and really grow it using just stories you come up with
- A very “beginner” kind of program but gets you thinking creatively
- Still not 100% sure what happens after Twine
- How do you include graphics?
- Make it look like a “game?”
- Different fonts, colors, etc?
- You publish by clicking the little wheel on the homepage and saying “Publish to file”
What I liked about Twine:
- What is accomplishes: creative thinking, a way to become a beginner gamer, interaction with others, learn a new skill.
- For our class specifically, you could create a full game for your digital history project – Could start with an idea that has to do with your topic and turn it into a series of challenges/choices and what the final “end” of the game would be.
- This could help you think through ideas about your thesis and the possible types of conclusions you could draw.
- The “storyboard” section of this game may help people understand how idea/projects/history can be non-linear.
- Once you start manipulating your story, it’s easier to understand how it can be nonlinear.
- Writing a story is fun! You can make all kinds of different endings, surprises, and characters.
- Unique features:
- Producing a product (your game) at the end
- The storyboard
- In comparison with Encyclopedia of Philadelphia:
- This is not a website for learning about history
- Twine is more of a TOOL for creating historical fiction
- Produced on the Interactive Fiction Database so I don’t know how reliable it would be as a source, unlike Encyclopedia of Philadelphia
- There aren’t really instructions on how to find games
- What Twine provides for research, teaching, and public engagement:
- Research: In terms of research, Twine does not provide a ton of sources. Unlike the Encyclopedia of Philadelphia, I don’t know if you could consider it a trusted source for historical information. I personally would not use this source for any type of research.
- Teaching: An awesome teaching tool! This could have been really helpful for first year graduate students to visualize how their thesis could have different endings and the types of theses they could write using a non-linear outlet. For teachers in high school, this would be a really fun way to connect history with the digital world. You could have students pick a historical event and then write a story about the possible outcomes (Ex: Union soldier picked up by Confederate troops, what happens?) Since it publishes into a game, it may be more engaging for younger audiences.
- Public Engagement: I can see using Twine to create storylines that could be used by museums, libraries, and schools. For example, I’ll use the Charlotte Museum of History and the Hezekiah Alexander House. If the museum educators created a game where you were a young Hezekiah and you were choosing how to build your house, they could say “would you pick this stone or that stone?” and incorporate the building of the Alexander house into an online game.