My favorite tool for teaching game-making, interactive storytelling, and hypertext is Twine. I’ve talked here at ProfHacker about both Twine 1.x and Twine 2, and it’s my go-to recommendation for most classroom needs when someone is trying to introduce technology. However, the existence of competing versions and story formats can make it difficult for students unfamiliar with the platform to find resources online. The Twine Cookbook, a new project hosted by the Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation and currently led by Dan Cox and Twine creator Chris Klimas, is an open-source answer to that problem.
Currently, the Twine Cookbook includes examples of some classic Twine tricks such as incorporating Google fonts, adding movement through a “dungeon,” and creating randomness with the roll of a die. One of the most valuable aspects of the Twine Cookbook for me so far has been seeing how certain techniques work across story formats and versions: for instance, you can check out timed passages in Harlowe, Snowman, and SugarCube. A student who has already committed to one version can thus more easily make use of a range of dynamic elements in whatever platform they’ve started with, which can reduce the frustration and learning curve. It’s also helpful for explaining the differences to someone trying to choose a format for their own work: you can use the examples to get a sense of which is most familiar based on your current knowledge. The annotated code and live examples also make it easy to grab a snippet and incorporate it into a project.
The Twine Cookbook uses the Gitbook format, which runs from a Github repository to make an easy-to-navigate open source publication rather like a refined (and curated) wiki. Thanks to this underlying format, it is easy to contribute if you are already familiar with Github. This has potential for student projects, particularly as an extra credit option for advanced students, and hopefully will lead to increased variety and utility of examples as the Cookbook catches on. The philosophy of open source and an understanding of the practices and tools of open source communities can be a great value add for the semester, particularly given how many of us in academia benefit from the communities behind these types of projects. If you have a favorite Twine trick, consider submitting it and helping out other developers and instructors.
Do you use Twine, either in the classroom or otherwise? Have you had a chance to explore the Twine Cookbook? Please share your thoughts in the comments.