By – Thomas Faust

Fear of Twine

You know, we here at True PC Gaming really like words.  Twine, the game making tool for creating hypertext games, is a powerful little piece of software for crafting interesting things out of words.  Its ease of use makes it the ideal program to start getting into this whole game making business and quickly getting your point across, if you feel like you have something important to say.  On the other hand, the low learning curve has led to a veritable flood of Twine creations, and it has become increasingly hard to filter out the good stuff from the noise.

Twine allows for an enormous range of styles and themes, from the intensely personal to the epic, from humorous to political to downright weird.  It’s a breeding ground for experimental stuff, for trying to gauge the extent of what a game actually is and then venturing beyond that nebulous frontier to play around some more, just because you can.  Of course, nobody is stopping you from diving in headfirst and just trying out Twines until you find something you like, but the amount of stuff out there is truly overwhelming.  Then there’s TwineHub, which has a list of recommendations to get you started. Alternatively, how about putting on your finest garb and visiting an exhibition of Twine works… now doesn’t that sound like fun?

Fear of Twine 1

Fear of Twine is an online exhibition of sixteen very different, “hypertext games, stories, and other works” meant to show some of the range of what Twine can do.  Curated by Richard Goodness, and including works from established game developers and first-time authors, Fear of Twine should offer something for everyone.  And it’s a proper exhibition to boot: there’s obviously a lot of thought that went into the texts’ arrangements into four “rooms.” According to Goodness, “much of the order of things is to keep the flow of works–I wanted the sense of diversity in these works to come through.”  That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to visit them in any fixed order. After all, “it wouldn’t be much of a Twine expo if it were linear.”  As with any real exhibition, you’re free to walk around, linger over the pieces that speak to you, ignore stuff that maybe looks a bit icky from afar, just… take it all in and leave happily.

Here’s Richard Goodness on the first room’s structure:

“Four works which I think could kind of be a litmus test for if you like Twine. Tony Perriello’s Debt is probably the most un-Twine like Twine I’ve ever seen and so it had to be first–like it has a Terminator action scene in it. Coleoptera-Kinbote’s Duck Ted Bundy is a straight up comedy and I love how there’s a ton of jokes and weird gags hidden in the structure of a game. Morgan Rille’s The Conversation I Can’t Have is probably the most “traditional” twine in there–it’s a personal story about sexuality from a first-time author.

 

I wanted this exhibition to be clear that Twine is still about that, there’s still a very prominent place for these kinds of voices in the community, and I think this is one of the best examples of that particular form I’ve read. And then there’s Jonas Kyratzes’s Matter of the Great Red Dragon, which to me feels like a massive bit of continuity to other arms of the indie scene and to some of Kyratzes’s other Twine work–and it’s a Lands of Dream game, so it’s one of his weird philosophical poignant fairy tales and I think it ends the room nicely and encapsulates the experience I think we’re all tryin to do with Twine–hanging out with a storyteller.”

Fear of Twine runs until April 18. Be sure to visit, and bring your friends.

The full list of authors and games is as follows:

  • Pippin Barr, Gordon Calleja, Sidsel Marie Hermansen, “Drosophilia”
  • Eric Brasure, “Saturday Night”
  • Coleoptera-Kinbote, “Duck Ted Bundy”
  • Konstantinos “Gnome” Dimopoulos, “Workers in Progress”
  • Joseph Domenici, “Coyotaje”
  • Richard Goodness and PaperBlurt, “TWEEZER”
  • Joel Goodwin, “Truth is Ghost”
  • Jonas Kyratzes, “The Matter of the Great Red Dragon”
  • Verena Kyratzes, “Zombies and Elephants”
  • Amanda Lange, “The Girl in the Haunted House”
  • David T. Marchand, “When Acting As A Particle” (aka “When Acting As A Wave”)
  • Tony Perriello, “Debt”
  • Morgan Rille, “The Conversation I Can’t Have”
  • Evil Roda, “The Scientific Method”
  • Cayora Rue, “The Work”
  • Ivaylo “Evil Ivo” Shmilev, “Abstract State-warp Machines (ASwM)”
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