Apocalypse Fuel, and early thoughts on Vorple

altcoverApocalypse Fuel, my Apocalypse World gang generator, is up to version 9 now. I’ve steadily been adding content to the thing for a while, but the additions between 8 and 9 are relatively modest.  The big difference is that it now uses Vorple, which makes it a lot more web-friendly. Which is a non-trivial deal for a thing that people might, for instance, be referring to on phones in the middle of a tabletop game.

Juhana Leinonen’s brainchild Vorple has been around for a while, but until recently it only worked for Undum (an attractive but notoriously awkward system that was briefly very exciting before Twine became a thing), and the relatively small games that Inform 7 can fit into the z-code format. But it’s now compatible with the much less limited Glulx, which – OK, it’s difficult to really express what a big fucking deal this is, especially if you want to avoid constructions like ‘holy grail of.’ But the short of it is that it enables a relatively casual coder (like yours truly) to genuinely combine the power and sophistication of Inform 7 with the standard web-dev tools of HTML, CSS and Javascript.

Apocalypse Fuel was an obvious choice to try Vorple out on, because it doesn’t gain anything from parser input; I just made it in I7 because I know I7 and it’s really good at text manipulation. Its control scheme is just a limited set of buttons to push; they still get translated into commands and passed through the Inform action sequence, but that’s all hidden from the user.

Vorple isn’t perfect. It has to be run from a server – when you’re testing you have to set up a local host, which isn’t all that onerous but is an extra step. This has a couple of effects: one, it breaks up the I7 IDE a bit, so you’re always switching back and forth between your Inform code, a browser, and maybe a text editor for your stylesheets. Two, it makes it awkward for players to download your game and play offline, which I maintain is pretty damn important (however many developers would prefer that it wasn’t). In theory you can code a game so that it works both with and without Vorple, but in practice this was a step I only used to make my testing easier. (If you’re keeping the parser, this would be a much smaller concern).

The other thing, of course, is that Vorple’s ability to make things pretty is limited by your own ability to use CSS (I am learning). My hope is that in the coming months and years we’ll see some plug-and-play templates for different presentations and kinds of game.  (If I get capable enough I’ll try to make some.) Twine suggests that, yeah, it’s nice to have a lot of control over presentation, but most people are still going to want to use something off the peg.

That said, from my brief time with it, I’m extremely happy with Vorple; I expect to use it for basically every new IF project for the forseeable future, and I’m thinking about converting a number of old ones.

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This entry was posted in cyoa, interactive fiction, parser-based, rpg, storygames and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Apocalypse Fuel, and early thoughts on Vorple

  1. Oh, this is awesome news! I was playing around with Twine recently and I like 2.0 well enough, but I have always had a soft spot for Vorple (and Undum). Going to set it up again right now!

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