Twine Workshop results

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*

which I had chosen to give a wide range of different ways of structuring a story, and a reasonable variety in writing styles and worlds (and also expose some people to some Twines I enjoy, of course). People played through a few of these - I warned them in advance that there wouldn't be time to play them through completely, so they should feel free to ruin the experience somewhat by skipping through. We then went through them in turn and discussed what they did and how they were structured. Here's the questions I wrote for myself ahead of time to prompt discussion: "What do you think? Did you like it? What's the structure of this game? How does that structure interact with the text? Did you feel like you had agency? Was the game about you or the character you were playing? How many times did you replay each game? How clear was the node structure? Was there a sense of place?". Everyone had really thoughtful answers, with a good number of insights that hadn't occured to me. Which is always the best.

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!

(Participants : if you want me to take any of these down or change/add proper attribution or credit, then let me know at

Some retrospective thoughts on the workshop:

09 February 2015