Been loving my new dive back into Tinderbox after a few years. So much new stuff!
I have a challenge that I don’t really know how to approach related to agents and actions.
What I’m looking to do is to use Tinderbox to help me write an interactive narrative (Choicescript ‘Interactive Fiction’), that actually relates to how I want to use Tinderbox to help me when I write fiction in general. (I started a thread here about using Tinderbox to CODE choicescript, which was really helpful: “Using Tinderbox to write a Choicescript interactive narrative” --> but I realized that using tinderbox to plan and tune the project seems like a much better use of if, as I can “bake” text to choicescript code as I go if I work out the right references and drafting in tinderbox, leaning on native tinderbox techniques instead of fussing over output.)
What I’m looking for is some means of using Tinderbox to “step through” a sequence – with decisions along the way – where I can use agents to collect and process a few variable states so that I can evaluate, when I reach note “X” in a sequence, what the reader/player knows/understands about their experience so far.
Navigating through the steps would involve moving from note-to-note along a choice path (following decisions at each node), and each decision might instead of leading to new “pages” of text, instead have other stats consequences that might have effects upon nearby or far future notes as you continue. For example, inserting a paragraph that might not appear, flip a set of nouns from one value to another, etc…
For choices-style interactive fiction – at least the Choicescript variety – part of the expressiveness comes from having a number of stats changing along a sequence of decisions separately, where each new text you read might have a number of substitutions/transformations based on these stats states, and might change the choices available at that node, based on a playthrough. SO unlike Choose Your Own Adventure gamebooks where you are basically flipping from fixed text to fixed text, each “pagefull” might be tremendously transformed even when you are working through relatively similar choice paths.
Basically, you have a number of systems running with a slight amount of independence, so that the “cocktail” of how they effect each new experience in the story can vary tremendously.
Look, this community includes some insanely impressive hypertext folks, so it may sound like I’m trying to introduce a pretty constrained approach to hypertext as a “new thing,” but my point is this: that choicescript is pretty straightforward as a system, but really hard to troubleshoot because there are so many ranges consequences to decisions that you can’t actually trace a simple branching diagram. So you evaluate it by running trace programs that “play” the system thousands of times to work out a distribution of what percentage of computer driven readers would get to what bit of text. Which is really cool, but I feel like I would benefit from better understanding the system during composition itself.
It seems like Tinderbox would be a great tool for something like this. But I have only ever used it as a single system where when I add a new note, the agents and actions can respond to that note or where I move it, and execute changes. Because despite having had version of TBX since 2005, I never really learned to use Tinderbox as an engine where I can evaluate the consequence of changing one variable at one stage of a path, and get a readout of the effects of that step. My “steps” were me as an operator doing something, with no sense that i would ever want to consider a huge constellation of potential operations and their consequences on the system.
If there are any example projects or case studies out there that I might learn from, that would really help me!