Elm Story Interactive Narrative Engine
Recently, I stumbled upon a hidden gem within the Interactive Narrative creation scene: Elm Story. I was looking for a new solution to port my current library of Interactive Gamebooks I have written throughout the past years. Originally written in Twine, I felt that it was lacking in certain aspects. As the writing process matured, I noticed I spent more time fighting the platform itself, rather than the “Infected” in my original story, “The Awakening.”
Enter Elm Story. Although still in early development, I immediately felt at home, with the familiar canvas of branching narrative design. After using the platform for a few days, I decided to begin the porting process, moving the entire Awakening project to Elm Story.
Additionally, I decided to join the Elm Story Discord, and reach out to the creators themselves, to see what makes Elm Story tick.
What is Elm Story?
Elm Story is a free, cross-platform design tool that helps students, authors, and designers visually build and distribute immersive interactive fiction and storyworlds. It has been in development since October 2020.
What inspired you to create an interactive fiction engine?
When a designer approaches writing interactive narratives, there are plenty of tools to do so, but all of them require learning a DSL and/or having a clunky UX. Knowing these were creative blockers to start, the need was felt to create a tool that focuses on solving these problems.
What separates Elm Story apart from, say, Twine or other IF Engines?
In addition to what we said before, these are the main features that separate Elm Story from other tools
- Work offline, without fear of a profit-driven, hosted solution collecting data, changing corporate goals, or shutting down
- Naturally, organize and respond to complex world models
- Display real-time WYSIWYG changes during the design
- Support beautiful self-publication, free of royalties and automated upgrades
- Incorporate the fundamentals of narratology to teach these notions and to standardize the language used in IF design
What does the future of Elm Story Look like?
Our ultimate goal is to make next-generation storytelling accessible to everyone. Elm Story will enable designers quickly build procedural narrative texture — automated contextual components that complement and enrich your storyworlds without the drudgery of uninspiring content assembly lines — on the creation side. Elm Story’s virtual storyteller will connect worlds — combing new temporal, weighted abstractions, structured narratives, and audience interactions — to unfold dramatically expansive and uniquely emergent storyworld experiences.
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. Version 0.8 will be dedicated to content customization and future updates will be about the designer experience: distraction-free writing, automatic layout, more keyboard shortcuts, cut/copy/paste and undo/redo in more places, etc.
How can people support Elm Story?
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 Patreon. And don’t forget to spread the word!