Many moons ago, I ran a workshop at Screenshake called Tying Stories Together With Twine. The plan for the workshop was to explore various ways that narrative could be structured within a game/hypertext fiction/Twine, and how that interacts with the writing and form of a story. I think we succeeded in that goal! I didn't mention this to the participants, but this was my first time running a workshop, so it was as much a learning experience for me as it was for them. I am going to move "running a workshop" from "things I'm probably able to do" to "things I consider myself able to do".
There were some technical hitches at the start - the standard stuff about getting a legible projection and getting Wifi working in a conference venue - which delayed getting things going properly, and meant. I was surprised (possibly pleased?) at how many people hadn't come across Twine before the workshop. I gave a quick overview at the start of what Twine is, and basic concept of a nodemap and then people dived off and played through some of the example Twines I'd put up before. These were *waves copy-paste wand*
- Queers In Love At The End Of The World by Anna Anthropy
- A Kiss by Dan Waber
- Skulljhabit by Porpentine
- MASTABA SNOOPY by goddesses17
- Magical Makeover by S Woodson
- Small Child in Woods: You Will Select a Decision, No. 1 by Brendan Patrick Hennessy
Then we got the Twine editor set up on people's machines (sidenote : lots of people downloaded the offline Twine 2 editor, then were confused by it not being a executable file, but rather a web page. Then I went and told them to download the old 1.4.2 version, and that was fine) and I gave a super quick 5 minute rundown of editing Twine files by basically reading Anna Anthropy's tutorial out loud (and then linking them to it, obviously). I gave them a few possible writing prompts from a randomized list I'd prepared in the form of a Twine file earlier. And then they sat down and made Twine games! I circled round every so often, and answered some questions (largely "yeah, Twine is a bit unclear with feedback here, you're not fucking up" and teaching people who were interested how to use the <<replace>>...<<becomes>>something<<endreplace>> macro and syntax). I also made my own game! Then finally, we played through all the results on the projector.
People made some great stuff! There was stuff that was moving, funny, suspenseful, dreamy - people had a bit over an hour to make something with no previous experience (in a foreign language, too!), and there was obviously a lack of polish and some dead ends - but there was also the germs of some really interesting stuff. And really there were really diverse results, too.
But you don't just have to take my word for it - here are the resulting games!
- Daily struggles in the life of a city pigeon by Luch
- DARE OR DEMAND by Doron
- Irritating Sound by Klara
- Pigeon by me
- Untitled by Sari Ancaer
- Silent game designer by Nemi Kurtis
- socks by Ester
- Some Like it Black by pixelb
- You're stuck in a tower by Elies Indigne
(Participants : if you want me to take any of these down or change/add proper attribution or credit, then let me know at email@example.com).
Some retrospective thoughts on the workshop:
- Ahead of time, I fretted over whether to teach Twine 1.4 or Twine 2. But it turns out this wasn't worth worrying about, because pretty much anything we did could have worked fine with either. In fact, one participant made a game with Twine 2 because she only had a tablet with her, and not a proper computer. Other than the pain of typing on a touchscreen, it worked fine.
- I wish I'd made a point of making people fill out their StoryAuthor fields, so I could give them proper credit straight off the bat
- Everyone was really quiet! It was really difficult to know if people were enjoying themselves or following along. This is apparently a pretty common experience, though.
- Apparently, the workshop has inspired Twine to be taught at a university by a non-games lecturer. That feels good.
09 February 2015