StoryNexus is Open

Trailed for some time as a new creative tool from the team at Failbetter responsible for Fallen London (aka Echo Bazaar), Cabinet Noir and the Night Circus, StoryNexus is now open for public use.

StoryNexus supports authors in building what Failbetter calls “quality-based narratives” — stories where the available nodes and choices depend on the player’s stats at that point in the narrative. The result is somewhat more fluid than the typical choose-your-own-adventure model, in that it doesn’t impose a strict order to the branch points, but allows the player to explore whichever of the available storylets happen to be open to him.

The only other tool I know of that currently supports this particular blend of world model and choice-based storytelling is Varytale — not entirely coincidentally, since Failbetter had considerable input about Varytale at the design stage. But where Varytale tends towards the more literary possibilities of the format, with long prose passages and a book-like presentation, StoryNexus aims more at RPG-like explorable worlds reminiscent of the original Echo Bazaar. The tool allows authors to select from artwork and theme options, and in the future will also allow authors to upload their own imagery to accompany their creations.

StoryNexus authors may offer their work for free, or may charge for it, as they like, using StoryNexus’s built in system for putting purchase gates on content. (This functionality is I think closed at the moment, but scheduled to open very soon, offering a 60/40 split with authors on any revenue a story may earn.)

Edited to add: there’s also some coverage at the Escapist.

10 thoughts on “StoryNexus is Open

  1. Trying this out now – it’s interesting how pervasively they push the idea of world-building. You create a “World: new World”, not a new story. It pushes a certain paradigm on you that seems to drive you away from stories like Bee, where you aren’t really trying to convey a sense of exploring a space but rather exploring a lifestyle.

    • Funny you should say that, since I think Em’s on record as saying Bee was written to explore the textural possibilities of this pattern: http://wiki.failbettergames.com/wiki:carousel – but I know what you mean. :-)

      We went around and around on terminology. We picked World in the end partly because ‘story’ suggested one storyline and QBN’s good for multiple parallel storylines; but also because it’s easier to iterate on a live work in progress than it is with CYOA or offline platforms, and because QBN is more exploratory than CYOA (though no more so than trad IF). So we ran with that rhetoric. We do have some slice-of-life pieces on there (eg http://thehour.storynexus.com) but I suspect they’ll be the exception.

      • Yeah, and don’t get me wrong, promoting world-building through text is also inspiring some interesting thoughts.
        In fact just as I’m deciding what to do here, my mind started wandering from general themes, stats that would reflect the character building I had in mind, over towards what kind of world would make those themes interesting.

      • I actually really like the fact that there are two different QBN platforms, one going in the world-building, game-ish direction and the other in the direction of more literary experiences; I think it may mean charting out more of the possible territory faster than if there were just one tool.

        There’s a whole possible tangent here, which is that I think the technical capabilities of a tool are only a small part of what influences the output it’s used for; prior art and the community of users and support-givers is also immensely important, which I think is why we’re seeing such very different things made with ChoiceScript and Twine and inklewriter even though their core features aren’t wildly different.

      • “I actually really like the fact that there are two different QBN platforms… I think it may mean charting out more of the possible territory faster than if there were just one tool.”

        Amen to that. Some pieces just aren’t a good fit for VT or for SN, and both platforms are stronger for not trying to cater to every case.

  2. So it’s “Open” does that mean this is a release version or is it still in the beta stage? Is there a browser preference for the tool? I’ve been trying to explore StoryNexus using the Quick Start guide and having a hellish time. I’m doing everything in Chrome, but I’m seeing lots of graphical anomalies both on my tablet and on my desktop. Also, I don’t know if their servers are overwhelmed, but I’ve been waiting a while for my account confirmation e-mail.

    I realize this isn’t your product, Emily, I’m just wondering if I’m the only one getting anomalous behavior or if its everyone.

    Still sounds like an interesting tool, though, I hope I can get past these issues.

    • I can only speculate about any of those things, I’m afraid — I wouldn’t be surprised if their servers are a bit slammed. But I think this is an open beta; they’ve been talking about features still to come.

    • My wife and I both signed up to play Fallen London yesterday afternoon; our confirmation e-mails didn’t show up until this morning. (Worked around the problem by registering via Twitter instead.)

  3. Pingback: Samsara (Meg Jayanth) | Emily Short's Interactive Storytelling

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