Twine and maps

I attended a really interesting Art & Tech workshop on Interactive fiction last night given by Dan Hett, hosted by BOM.
I’m really pleased to see that Interactive fiction is having a bit of a renaissance at the moment, not that it ever went away, but when everyone got seriously into VR the humble hypertext driven interactive narrative got a bit pushed to one side.

I really like the simplicity of interactive, hypertext fiction. It’s an invitation to the writer to get creative with storytelling, without too much tech getting in the way. I think one of the failings of VR is that the ‘magic’ of it, the glamour of such clever tech, can sometimes cover up poor game play with all VR’s bells and whistles.

Twine ticks a lot of happy boxes for me, it’s pretty simple to use, (I can use it!) but is flexible enough that if your coding skill-set is pretty good, you can do some fun things with it. It’s Open Source, which I love and it is free, which is also a huge plus point. Also you can use it right in your browser and files are saved as HTML so it’s really easy for anyone to download and play your creation.

I used twine to create Gurus of the Apocalypse last year, my first attempt at interactive fiction. In the end I couldn’t figure out how to get the Blogger site I was using to accept the HTML code for the story, so I ended up doing hard links to each page which was a pain (Blogger is not the platform it once was, sadly, but that’s another story).

One thing that Dan pointed out yesterday was that Twine is created for ‘mapping.’ He meant that in terms of mapping the story mainly, as Twine has a graphic interface that makes it very easy to see how items link to each other. He also mentioned this mapping capability for things like organising Role Play events, and mapping tasks for projects. But my brain immediately went to the main definition of mapping = mapping!

I’m exploring my relationship to paths here and I’m thinking about that all the time. I now have a vague idea swirling around in my head which links Twine to a map of a path…is this a way I can write a story? Is this a way I can develop this project? I’m fumbling here but there is definitely a connection happening inside my cerebral cortex. Twine and maps. Interesting…..

Curious nostalgia

It’s strange to be a visitor in a city you used to call home.
There are places; shops, cafes, buildings, whole streets that I once felt affection for, my university, my favourite cafe, the library and bookshop where I worked, all places that made this city feel like home for a while.
Walking through here today has been very odd. It’s not home any more and the old affections seem to have morphed into something closer to… curiosity? It’s hard to identify the emotion, but I feel an unexpected emotional distance from places that once evoked strong feelings.

The paths however are a different story. This city is a very busy tourist destination, and as a local I walked through it on the hunt, seeking out the quietest streets, dodging through the crowds, avoiding the tourist traps.
I, a being who is almost pathological in my desire to avoid humans, mentally mapped a whole network of quiet paths, roads, streets, snickleways and alleys to get myself through the city by the least busy, least crowded routes. I rarely took the shortest way to my destination, if a longer route was human free, or relatively so.
I can’t recall those routes just by thinking of them, I have a terrible mental memory, but coming here and re-walking them, some 13 years later, I discover that my body memory is superb. My body knows where to go, which turn to take. Even as my mind struggles to recall what is down that alley, around that corner. My body knows.

Weirdly, I feel as if the paths know me too. Buildings, attractions, shops, those things are mere curiosities now, and they care nothing for me, but the routes, the paths I walk again here, they feel welcoming, embracing.
‘Walk there, cross this road here, come down this alley, yes take that corner,’ I feel welcomed back to the old paths, welcomed into this place, this landscape…