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I have a keen interest in video game development and particularly like to keep up to date with events in the DIY and independent space. In addition to the increased availability of game development tools and methods for digital distribution encouraging a whole raft of people to get involved with a great medium of self-expression, arguably more exciting is the potential for an even more diverse range of individuals to create and offer viewpoints not typically represented in the gaming industry at large.

To quote Anna Anthoropy’s fantastic ‘Rise of the Videogame Zinesters`:
“Every game that you and I make right now-every five-minute story, every weird experiment … - makes the boundaries of our art form (and it is ours) larger. Every new game is a voice in the darkness.”

Both the depth and breadth of games coming from this community of very talented developers is inspiring, but a message that is repeatedly conveyed is that anyone could (and should) be involved in this creative process.

However, whilst the barrier of entry is significantly lower than it’s ever been, there is still a more obvious one present when compared to picking up a pen and drawing or taking a photo on your camera. In addition, the downside of having such a huge available toolset at your disposal is that it’s very easy to get yourself tangled up deciding on what platforms, tools, libraries, frameworks etc. to learn and use. Time spent on these technology-driven considerations can be pretty exhausting and unfortunately means plenty of people might not make their ideas a playable reality.

With that in mind, what I find really interesting is the subset of available tools that allow people with minor (or no) programming experiences to create games. One such application is Twine which (along with the command-line based ‘Twee’) is a tool for generating pieces of interactive fiction; text-based stories where progress in the narrative is driven by user-choice and the standard reading experience can be augmented in a number of ways.

Twine has a very friendly graphical interface that allows passages of texts to be created and linked to others, meaning these base units of text can be combined to create a sprawling web of a story. The photo attached to this blog entry shows a quick snapshot of something I was able to create in a few minutes and without touching any of the more advanced out-of-the-box features I could see the huge potential for cool experiences. Another important aspect is that the output of your work is a single HTML file that can be shared with others on a site or via email and can be tweaked with CSS, Javascript or any other web technologies you might be familiar with.

To summarise, Twine is a great starting point for anyone who wants to get involved in the hobby and hopefully in future posts I can cover a number of other tools and resources available.

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