1 (edited by Aprone 2011-05-17 21:47:57)

I present the DarkGrue accessible game book creator.
This tool can be used to create game books similar to those found on arborell.com.  The program aids you in creating a basic skeleton web of story sections and choices linking them.  Each section can then be expanded upon by tapping in to all of your creative story writing skills.  In the end, a simple key press assembles the entire project into a series of html files with the proper links in place for easy distribution and sharing.  Please take a moment to give it a try, I appreciate any feedback people are able to provide.

(1.23 MB v1.0, last updated 8/31/2011 at 5:45 PM EST)
Runs with SAPI output by default, but this can be disabled with Tab to let your native screen reader take control.
Works with NVDA
Works with Hal
Works with braille displays
Works with Windows-Eyes
Works with Jaws (just not Jaws 8)

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Hi Jeremy,
Holy cow! Are you a machine?

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I've had a look at the program. There is something that does not make sense here. Let's say I name my choice "1". So, I write my description for 1 in the text file, then I create another choice labeled "2". Well, when I compile the gambook, I get a page with the description in 1, then I get the link labeled 1. When I press enter on that, I get the result of my second choice, followed by a link labeled 2, which if clicked brings me to a blank page.

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When you created your choice "1" did you then arrow into it before making choice "2"?  It sounds like that's what happened so you ended up with a string of sections rather than 1 section with 2 choices leading away from it.  Also, whenever you create a new choice, it automatically leads to a blank page so that part does make sense.

My advice is to press the "1" key to make sure you are still in the correct section before making your choice "2".  Hopefully that helps.

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Also note your choices should be called whatever they are in the text, not just 1 and 2, but something like open righ door and open left door, drink the evil bottle, fight the goblin etc.

I'll give this a try and see what I can come up with.

eddit, Okay, I've given it a try and am writing a rather silly test adventure.

Everything seems to work, including the copy and paste, accept I don't seem to be able to open each text file from each section, I have to check the numeric code with 4 then go into the darkgrue program folder and find the correct file, which is a bit weerd. Am I missing a key shortcut to do this?

I've tried pressing graave, ie, the key nex to number one on the keyboard to get a list of program shortcut keys, but this didn't seem to work, ---- assumng I was pressing the right key, the one to the left of number one on my keyboard.

Sinse there might come a time when you've got hundreds of sections, this could be very useful indeed.

Also, just out of interest, does the program have textual output of the various options in addition to th sapi speech?

The reason I ask is perhaps this would be useful to other people who create gamebooks as well as Vi authors, and I could announce the release in places like the arborell mailng list and the project.an forums, but probably only if it had text as well as sapi sine I'm not sure most sited gamebook authors would be able to work just with the sapi output.

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Hmmm...that does not sound correct; why would I want the last page in my gamebook to be a blank page? Also, yes I was arrowing into the section.

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I think you got a bit carried away with the submit button there haiden, there were two copies of your last post. I deleted one, but maybe next time you could wait a bit after hitting submit instead of hitting it again.

Anyway, I'm a litle unsure of what you mean about the last page being blank, sinse obviously you'll write some text in the  txt file describing it, even if it's your characters' death.

So, the hole process works like this:

1: open the first text file and write in what you want in the first section, eg "Infront of you are two passages, a right and leftt"

this text that you write in the text file is what will appear in the book at the end.

2: If you want, for reference you can hit backspace stick a short descriptive note into that section, like a title, which will help you remember what is there.

Users won't see this, it's just for your bennifit, and actually you don't have to if you don't want to, though it might be helpful, so in the above example you might write "two passage junction"

3: press pluss and write in the first of the choices you want, eg, take left passage. This will appear in the text as a link to a new section. Do the same for any other choices.

Now, your passage junction section will have two choices in it, a "take rightpassage"  and "take left passage" both will lead to new sections which will be blank.

Pressing up and down arrows will cycle you through the choices, while pressing right arrow on say the "take left passage" option will lead you to a new blank section where you can start writing up stuff for that section.

Even if  say the left passage leads to a trap that instantly kills your character, you'll stil need to go into the left passage choice and write up the contents of the text file, ---- and maybe a descriptive note too.

hope this makes sense.

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8 (edited by Aprone 2011-03-24 17:28:24)

Dark, I completely forgot to make the program open the text file for you.  It creates it, but I was jumping around adding things and I didn't remember to go back to have it open haha.  I'll add that in now.  While at work yesterday I was thinking the same thing about a graphical output.  I'm going to start working on that part in a few minutes.

Haydan, why would you want your game book to end with a choice?  If you've created a choice for the reader to follow, it assumes you aren't at the end of your story so it creates a new blank branch.  If I'm wrong please let me know so I can adjust things, but it seemed to me that a story's end would be written into the story of a section.  Actually, even if you wanted to end it with a choice, you'd still need some form of page to take them to, otherwise the story ends when they make a selection and they are greeted with a "page not found" error lol.  Just keep in mind that choices are like bridges between islands of story and I think it will make more sense.  Your ending would be in a section of story, so you'll never need a bridge that ends hanging over the water.

Oh, I just noticed Dark's post basically said the same thing I just did.  I probably should have kept reading before starting on my response.  big_smile

Dark, I'm inspired by your walk through and I might sit down and record an audio tutorial when I get a few minutes of quiet in my house.  I don't think I did a very good job of describing the process in my read me, and I can see how it would easily confuse people who haven't figured out the program yet.

Ok, I've added in the feature that opens the text files for you.  When in a section, press Shift Enter and the correct text file will open up in a new notepad window.  Adding graphical and textual elements is going to take me a bit longer, but while I work on that hopefully more people will wander by, give this a try, and leave beneficial feedback.  big_smile

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Hi Aprone.

Actually there is an instance when you want a choice at the end of your story, one which comes up a lot.


the usual way in html gamebooks, is include a link back to the start page when you die, so you can restart your book.

I've been creating a rather comedy dungeon adventure to test the engine and have fun with, and I've got a few death sections that do this, ---- in fact sinse death happens in gamebooks relatively often, you might considder adding a command to automatically  paste a link back to the first section of the book, sinse I've spent quite a bit of time in my litle test project going back and fourth up to the start section and repasting that link.

Say, ctrl s to paste a link back to the start page (you might even have the program auto name it restart, or back to start).

Hopefully when my test book is done I will be able to stick it somewhere as an example of what can be done with this creation program in a relatively short time.

thus far, it's 28 sections long, and roughly half finished, though I'm having a break from writing at the moment especially sinse I'm intending it to be quite funny, ---- well what would you expect with something called "the horrible dungeons of dreadful doom!"

Having auto opening of text files will also speed things up as well.

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Or a victory page; you'd still want a link going back to the start, or aatleast make the last page without links. EIther way, the fact that you have the first choice on a page and a link afterwards that was labeled your first choice on the same page doesn't really make sense. Dark, as for the post, what actually happened is that I went back a couple of apges and it wasn't there; incidentally, I could've sowrn I deleted it.

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Hi Dark,
Ah...I see what I was doing now; I wass starting my gamebook with a by creating a choice. That makes all the difference.

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Nice suggestion Dark, I've added a Control + S feature that leads back to the beginning.  If you download again you'll have the latest version.  I don't know if this is worth mentioning, but if you've used Control + C to memorize a page, you can then use Control + V as many times as you like.  The only time you need to do the Copy step is when you intend to change the memorized section.

Hayden, if you want your game to end on a page without any links, just don't add links to the last page.  A victory page or a page that leads back to start are all just matters of a link back to introduction or not adding links to the last page.  I'm wondering if you're misunderstanding the roles of the sections and the choices, if you're thinking of them backwards it would explain why you're having trouble.  I'm planning to make an audio tutorial a little later, I'll try to explain things in a less confusing way.

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Hi Haiden.

glad you got it.

As aprone said, it's a case of each section being an island with an associated text file, with choices that link it to others.

As for labelling choices, well sinse it's the choices that wind up in the actual book, you don't write them into the text file, but into the gamebook creator.

for instance, you describe your character ending up at a junction of two passages, and end the description with the words:

"which way do you choose?"

then have choices laled "take the north passages" and "take the south passage"

Hope this makes sense.

Btw aprone, I have noticed something a litle odd, the program won't allow me to put an exclamation mark ie ! in the names of choices, when i hit shift 1 it just comes out as 1.

Not that it matters, but this did seem a litle odd, and you might considder looking at it for future reference especially when having choices which reflect saying different things in a conversation eg:

The guard looks at you angrily, you'd better say something quick.


"look, it was a mistake"

"I just don't like your face, you git!"

If however the program can only  create links with upper or lower case letters and numbers, ---- this doesn't really matter.

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14 (edited by Aprone 2011-03-24 18:07:08)

Nice catch Dark!  I actually feel a little silly for having forgotten the exclamation mark!  I coded that in as well as a few others I noticed were left out, the pound sign, dollar sign, and left and right brackets.  If you ever notice a character isn't working just let me know, it's all a matter of me remembering to include things and I have a horrible memory hahaha.  I've reposted the file.

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Well I confess I only noticed sinse one of the sections of my rather silly test gamebook was to have the choice "run like the clappers!"

Hopefully it will be finished soon, though now I'm actually trying to vaguely make a sort of slightly logical puzle it might take a litle longer to finish.

Did you get the business about the "restart" link being added? This could be handy to have in sinse I do seem to keep coming up with death sections, ---- though hopefully I give at least a litle warning before each sinse imho gamebooks that just kill you off instantly aren't too helpful.

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Yep, I added the control + S feature about 30 seconds after you posted the suggestion.  If you've downloaded again since your last post then you should be able to use it to quickly link back to the introduction.  I've been looking into adding a graphical side to the program so that sighted users from arborell could benefit from it.  I must admit it is rather tricky!  Because the program was written specifically to be accessible, it isn't lending itself well to having visual output.  I can make it work, but I'm sure all of the sighted users will agree that it is one of the ugliest looking programs they've ever used Rofl!  big_smile

You have no idea how much I wish the entire audiogames community was sitting together in a single building with me.  In person, imagine how fast a group could flesh out ideas for new projects and tools!  The development of this DarkGrue program has moved pretty fast with the suggestions you've made, but imagine how much of that time was wasted as we waited for each other to notice new posts.  If we had been in the same room the entire evolution of this project would have gotten to this point in maybe an hour at most.  Plus if we had a whole group of people testing the software, imagine how many more incredible ideas would have surfaced!  big_smile  I imagine ideas would start being tossed into the air and it would inspire debate and even more ideas.  In no time the group would be churning out pure gold and I could be sitting near by frantically coding them into reality.

I need to build myself a cloning machine or something.  I'm so distracted with ideas right now and it drives me crazy knowing I probably only have until the end of Friday to get as much done as I can!  I'm still working on the Daytona multiplayer add-on and I hope to get that working soon.  The Daytona wizard dueling game has been chopped up and I am completely re-doing how the combat works.  Rather than releasing it separately, I intend to merge it with the multiplayer add-on although I may not have it included when it first releases.  I have 2 small game ideas I can't get out of my head.  One of them was started back when I was on vacation (when Daytona was created), and the other would be an accessible remake of a classic NES game many of us loved when we were younger.  Daytona 2 has been set aside for now because I am looking to finish the multiplayer add on first.  Finally, I've been mulling over an idea for an accessible 3d model viewer/creation tool but I can't remember how to code something I need and I don't want to waste precious time figuring it out before Friday.  ARG!  If any of you have a magic science fiction cloning machine, please mail it to me.  big_smile

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Hi Jeremy,
The reason it was ending on a blank page was because I was adding an extra choice where I did not need one; I think I have fixed that issue.

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Excellent, I'm glad you figured it out Hayden.  big_smile  Have you thought up anything else I need to add to the program?

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if you want a cloning machine, you can go to James brutus's labratory, and go through the mine fields, to the very bottom left corner of the house, and take the cloning machine with you. hahahahahahaahahah

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Well I'm not sure about tossing out too many crazy ideas, I do have a tendency to do that myself.

a bit scary you talking about cloning machines as I'm currently listening to the I Davros series of audios which tell the story of Davros, the insane Scientist in doctor who who created the Daleks through lots of scary genetic manipulation.
Getting back to the program though, it's actually interesting that an access designed piece of software makes adding a graphical or textual interface more difficult, though I do understand the logic of this.

There is no reason though, the two things have to exist together.

While I'm usually a big fan of visual elements in access stuff, sinse here we're primarily talking about text rather than game graphics, anyone who can read enough text for the text to be of use to them probably will be okay without sapi, and visa verser.

So there's no reason not to have two copies of the program, one with a graphical/textual interface, and one usng sapi.

Also note there are several places where you could advertize this.

The forums on www.projectaon.org where people discuss the lone wolf gamebook series which are all available on projectaon.

The guestbook on the www.ffproject.com  site, and of course the arborell mailing list (though I'm not sure how many members are on that list sinse it's a comparatively recent creation put up by the gm after the old arborell forum got sunk by too many spambots).

So, there are various places people would probably find this sort of thing of interest.

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I've uploaded version 0.3 beta which has added graphical/textual elements to make it easier on the sighted users.  As you've stated Dark, even the sighted should be fine with the Sapi commands but displayed text will "feel" more natural for them.  If you're a member on any of those game book sites, would you be willing to post an ad for me?

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Also, you say that the little summaries of where you are, created with backspace, aren't put in to the HTML file, but since the pages have no titles, I think an option to put the summaries in as titles would be pretty cool. You'd have to kinda redesign your html maker thing but it's worth thinking about. I was thinking that's what those titles were for until I read the readme. I also want a way to interrupt speech, because sometimes I don't need to hear long strings of text.

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KeyIsFull, because of the method I'm using, I can't interrupt the speaking mid-sentence.  I've added in the ability to speed up or slow down the voice by using the [ and ] keys.  You can't change the voice speed once it has already begun speaking though.

I should probably make it an optional thing later, but for now I've made the change you suggested regarding the web page titles.  Now, when you output into HTML files, the section summaries show up as each page's title.

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hi, firstly let me say what an amazing thing you've created here.
I was messing around with the programe, just seing how it worked basicly, i figured it out fine, but, the shift delete comand doesn't work, so i can't delete all the silly examples i did just to see if it would work!

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Thanks Robla big_smile
I believe you're thinking of the shift + escape command to clear the entire project.  I wanted to make it something people would be even less likely to hit my mistake.

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