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Make your own Text Based Games with Elm Story

Elm Story makes games writing easy and accessible to everyone, so get those creative juices flowing!

Updated: Feb 19, 2022 6:37 pm
Elm Story

Narrative Games have come a long way. A couple decades ago the most story we would get in a game would be with words on a black screen in text-based adventure games. Now we have gaming experiences akin to a cinematic masterpiece. Yet, we wouldn’t be here if not for those words on a screen, in fact many aspiring games writers still use text-based games to showcase their writing and expand their portfolios.

Twine and Arcweave are two popular tools writers use to create their own text based adventures. Both are fantastic programs, but they do sadly have their own downsides. To use Twine, users need to be a bit coding or they may get overwhelmed and confused by the options. Arcweave is another fantastic tool but it does need constant internet access and to really make the most of it, you’ll need to pay for a Pro membership. Meaning, working on the fly isn’t really a valid option for Arcweave users.

And yet… stepping onto the stage is a new program. Free to use, offline and with no need to know coding. Elm Story is a new program and a must-have for aspiring games writers and could even be the next generation tool for storytelling!

We were lucky enough to get a chance to talk to the creators of Elm Story and get their insight on their project. Leonardo and Fred take us through Elm Story.

Tell us, what is Elm Story!

In development since October 2020, Elm Story is our free, cross-platform design tool that helps students, authors and designers visually compose and publish immersive interactive fiction and storyworlds.

Now in early access, Elm Story features a drama management engine — a virtual storyteller — capable of dynamically generating narrative from a declarative world model, shaped through audience interaction.

The storyteller reacts and remembers world experience as events unfold. For example, the number of times the audience visits a location or the evolving affection a character feels towards another may dramatically impact narrative mood and direction.

Why did you create Elm Story?

After a few months of research, we couldn’t find an intuitive, no-code design tool that would:

  • …work offline, without fear of a profit-driven, hosted solution collecting data, changing corporate goals or shutting down
  • …naturally organise and respond to complex world models
  • …display real-time WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) changes during design
  • …support royalty-free, self-publication with beautiful defaults and easy upgrades

So, we set out to build Elm Story!

What is your first goal for Elm Story?

Driven by designer feedback, we’ll continue to thoughtfully iterate on the intuitive foundation of Elm Story as we march forward to version 1.0 later this year.

And what about the final goal for it? Where do you hope it’ll go?

Our ultimate goal is to bring the art of next generation storytelling to everyone.

On the creation side, Elm Story will help designers rapidly generate procedural narrative texture — automated contextual elements that complement and enrich your storyworlds without the slog of uninspired content assembly lines.

Elm Story’s virtual storyteller will connect worlds — combining new temporal, weighted abstractions, structured narratives and audience interactions — to unfold dramatically expansive and uniquely emergent storyworld experiences.

What are some features you plan on adding?

Coming soon, Elm Story 0.7 focuses on multimedia support and text styling (great for visual novels) and will ship with over 100 new features, enhancements and fixes.

0.8 is all about the designer experience. Distraction-free writing, automatic layout, more keyboard shortcuts, cut/copy/paste and undo/redo in more places, etc.

Our roadmap is constantly evolving. For updates, follow Elm Story on Twitter!

Who are the team members part of this project?

Hi! I’m Leonardo, a multidisciplinary designer and researcher with an eye towards Interactive Storytelling, Narratology and games with coherent and meaningful stories. A graduate in Communication Design from Politecnico di Milano, I want to create a future where games can be considered equal to artistic works.

And I’m Fred (he/they), an experience architect and former educator located in the United States.

Anything else you might want to add?

If you like our project and wish to support and impact our efforts, consider joining our community Discord server, donating via Itch and joining our Patron!

Thank you!

There you have it, directly from the brilliant minds of Leonardo and Fred, the folks behind Elm Story. If you’re an aspiring games writer or storyteller, then check out Elm Story! It’s available for Windows, MacOS and Linux.

I’ve spent time using it and cannot praise it enough, after struggling with Twine and growing frustrated, Elm Story helped reignite my passion and drive to write!

I can’t wait to see how it develops, and I have no doubt it’ll take off and become a must-have for writers everywhere! Help support Leonardo and Fred via:

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