Fate happily ever after Storytron release?

Well, this was wasn’t what I was expecting.

Industry legend Chris Crawford gave up on traditional game development 1992 after giving his Dragon Speech, and then went down a different route to develop something completely new; a system for interactive storytelling.

Imagine that system. I certainly have. I share a dream with Chris Crawford.

“I dreamed of the day when computer games would be a viable medium of artistic expression — an art form. I dreamed of computer games expressing the full breadth of human experience and emotion. I dreamed of computer games that were tragedies, games about duty and honor, self-sacrifice and patriotism. I dreamed of satirical games and political games; games about the passionate love between a boy and girl, and the serene and mature love of a husband and wife of decades; games about a boy becoming a man, and a man realizing that he is no longer young. I dreamed of games about a man facing truth on a dusty main street at high noon, and a boy and his dog, and a prostitute with a heart of gold.
– Chris Crawford, Chris Crawford on Game Design

After 16 years, Storytron is now ready for the limelight and Chris has released the first public interactive story built with it; Balance of Power: 21st Century. I tried it. My first game, or story, lasted about a minute, and this was the end result.

Fate happily ever after USA super-tiny? Yeah, not entirely what I was expecting after all those years. My second game lasted longer; it never seemed to lead anywhere. To be fair, I will give it both a third and a fourth shot. Chris might be crazy but he’s not stupid, and I still believe that, despite the horrible presentation and the surreal english, there might be something to it.

UPDATED: Response from Chris Crawford in the comments.


  1. fröken lila

    i guess it’s a smart idea behind it. the thing is – 16 years and nothing more than this? and i have to admit, the instructions were not so easily comprehensible either…

  2. Chris Crawford

    Please observe that the home page says “Alpha”. Everything about Storytron is still in alpha. We feel pretty good about some parts: Swat and Storyteller are both working quite well, and the website is almost complete (although the tutorials need rewriting). But BoP2K is still far from complete. I’m not sure when you played it; we have been improving it daily for the last month. Right now progress has stopped while I am on a business trip. We did not even begin testing it until about two weeks ago, and the early playtesting gave us lots of useful feedback that I am now responding to with some major changes.

    We have opened the doors to people so that they can get a preliminary idea of what we are up to. Perhaps it would have been wiser for us to keep it all a complete secret until the day we release it; reading postings like this leads me to think that we should just shut the public out until everything is perfect. In any event, the earliest possible date by which we will be ready is July 15th, and it may well be later than that. When it’s ready, we’ll announce it as such.

  3. Andreas Öjerfors

    Thanks for commenting, Chris. According to your rollout plan (http://www.storytron.com/blog/2008/05/10/rollout-plan/), I was playing the final version. I played BoP2K yesterday, so I’d assume it was a fairly recent version.

    I do believe that your system has potential, but I also think the consumer experience still need quite a lot of work.

    Storytron is an exciting concept, and I will continue to follow its development.

  4. Chris Crawford

    I alerted the other members of our team to your post here, and after reading it we all agreed that we have to make the “Alpha” notation more prominent. We’ll be adding it to the BoP2K page itself. We seriously considered removing BoP2K, but decided against it.

  5. Storybuilders' Guild

    Andreas, we had to push back our release date to accommodate a major new feature. So no, the storyworld hasn’t been released yet. But I can see how our original rollout plan caused that confusion.

    We do want to leave BoP2k up, even though it hasn’t been officially released, because we continue to desire feedback. Your own input conforms with other input that we have gotten, that BoP2k still needs some work on providing the player with more knowledge about the import of what is happening. Rest assured that we will take your comments into consideration as we work on improvements. (In fact, if you are interested, I can add you to the software testers list. Email me at laura m at storytron dot com (remove all spaces) if you are interested.

  6. Storybuilders' Guild

    (PS – “storybuilder’s guild” up there is me, Laura Mixon, Chris’s Storytron partner-in-crime…)

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