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Super Sudden Surprise Challenge: Flash (Interactive) Ficton


Time for another Super Sudden Surprise Challenge! Why is it that time again? Because five seconds ago, I thought we should have another Super Sudden Surprise Challenge. So here it is!

For this challenge, "Twine" and "Twee" as well as "game" and "story" are synonymous.

Here's the challenge:

[quote]1. Use Twine to create a new game beginning now. The game can't have been published, began, or even thought about before this very moment. Thought police will scan each file and arrest cheaters.

2. The challenge is to write an interactive, nonlinear story of extreme brevity. The story must be 1,000 words or less according to the Story Statistics under the Story menu in Twine.

3. The maximum number of passages allowed for this challenge is only 15. No more, no less. ALL passages count without a single exception.

The challenge ends Monday, March 10 at 11:59 PM in your time zone, whatever that is.

Post your games here in this thread either as an attachment or as a link. Bonus points if the link to your game is on IFDB! You may submit as many games as you like.

All submitted games are considered licensed under Creative Commons 4.0.

Entries will be compiled and listed in the next post of this thread.

This time, we go to a much greater extreme than the last challenge when it comes to limiting the amount of passages available. The max number of passages for this challenge is only 15. Why 15? Well, that's how many fit in my Twine window by default at 100% without resizing it. Three rows of five. All passages count.

However, the size restriction doesn't stop there! Nosir. Like flash fiction but interactive, the challenge is to write a nonlinear story of extreme brevity.

With that in mind, let's restrict the amount of text in passages to 1,000 words or less. Notice I didn't say "legible" text; the limit includes code such as if conditional branches and variables.

Twine has a word count feature ("Story Statistics") under the Story menu at the top of the Twine window. It seems pretty accurate, but it's not perfect for the challenge's purposes. It does count code and variables, but it counts a few other things as well. For example, it considers this five words:

<<set $foo = "yes">>
I guess the '=' operator counts as a word, which is understandable since it is preceded and followed by a space.

No matter what, we're going with Twine's word count.

So, a picture might be worth 1,000 words, but it doesn't count against the text limit and neither does stylesheets, since Twine doesn't count words in those passages. It's not my rule, it's Twine's.

Anyone, no matter how busy, should be able to make the time to take this challenge if they so desire. The tight restrictions also help prevent participants from getting bogged down after starting. As soon as you start, you're pretty well finished. :)

You can submit as many different stories as you like. I'll probably submit one as quick as I can, then try to work on a deeper, more thoughtful one after that.

All clear?

Everyone ready? Great!

On your mark, get set, go!


  • The Twine Flash (Interactive) Fiction Challenge Submissions:

    Inheritance by Rosencrantz

    A Conversation About Tricking The Twine Word Counter by Mykael

    The Minotaur's Maze by Richard Sharpe

    Tiny Weird Future Farm by Mostly Useless

    Hero Contest and Mortal Queue both by Inurashii

    Train Station by Loopernow

    Reunion by Matt Weiner
  • Shoot. I just noticed that when I copy and pasted the rules from the Twine 23 challenge, I left "no more, no less" in the passage restriction. Now, that can be read as the restriction is "no more, no less" than 15, so it's not technically wrong. I think it's quite clear that 15 is the maximum passages one can have, not the minimum. Besides, one can just add blank passages to follow the letter of the rules anyway.

    I have 15 passages and that's counting StoryTitle and a stylesheet, but as I quickly found out, chances are you're going to hit the 1,000 word limit before the passage restriction!

    I finished one game in about an hour. It was super simple. I was constantly worrying about hitting the 1,000-word limit. Right now, I'm at about 950. It's done, but I want to tweak and play test it a bit before I post it.

    My game is a maze, basically. I'm calling it "The Minotaur's Maze" right now. There are monsters and items and such. Like, you have to get the widget before you can get the thingamajig. That sort of thing. What I'd like to do it trim out some words and add a system where the minotaur follows the player around, but that's going to eat a lot of words. Well, now that I think about it, it wouldn't be too hard . . .

    Anyone else planning on taking the challenge? If so, what are your plans? :)
  • I posted a link on the forums. :)
  • OK, I'll bite. I'm gonna make a sci-fi survival horror farming simulator with zombies. In less than 1,000 words. :o
  • Might try and election/popularity/simulation sort of thing...

    Hmmm. Thinking about this, how sneaky are we allowed to be when it comes to the 1000 word limit? Anything we can get past the twine word counter?  Gonna turn into the most unmaintable twine contest... ;-)
  • I will give this a go too.  I'm not very good on brevity but will attempt to make a game featuring the player is an under cover agent on board a moving train where he must stop something sinister from happening.
  • Neat! I'm going to try to knock something out this weekend, time permitting.
  • Just a question regarding the rules, i was confused by this bit..."With that in mind, let's restrict the amount of text in passages to 1,000 words or less."

    Isn't the limit 1000 words for the whole game (including code lines etc) and all 15 passages have to be used? Surely its not you can write up to 1000 words per passage?

  • The story must be 1,000 words or less according to the Story Statistics under the Story menu in Twine.
  • How is everyone coming along?

    I'm going to try to sit down at the computer and finish up the 5% or so I have left.
  • Just to be cute, I made it exactly 1,000 words in exactly 15 passages.

    Let me know if you find anything weird in here, or get stuck in a loop. I played with a randomized passage link at one point, and there are a few different endings. It's an exploration of a concept from another project, but it should be able to stand alone here. :D

  • Cool! I think it stands alone well. I liked it! Kinda trippy and creepy. :)

    Good job, man!
  • Sharpe wrote:

    How is everyone coming along?

    I'm going to try to sit down at the computer and finish up the 5% or so I have left.

    It's harder then I first thought. Has required me to downsize my game but that is a good thing as it can be easy to be over ambitious and never finish a project. Also a word limit forces one to get to the core of the game quickly.  I'm about 60% done I think on mine, I got the foundation in place. Now working out the game play bits to measure up to the original concept I had in mind. It might be an epic fail, but I'm learning new things and having fun.
  • As a 'newbie' it sounds great to think of a small story and really cut it down to the minimum. But I'm very pushed for time this weekend - maybe next time... it's a great idea!

    But did you ever mention exactly which formats are allowed? I assume any of the vanilla formats Jonah, Sugarcane and Responsive are allowed. Also Sugarcube?

    Just being a bit cheeky to bend the rules, because a 'home brewed' story format header could easily contain additional macro/engine custom code ::) that you'd never see within the Twine statistics....  :o
  • Thanks, Sharpe! It was a fun challenge.

    @veryalien -- the rules say that Story Statistics are our alpha and omega in this flash challenge! For example, I was delighted to confirm that CSS and script passages didn't count toward the wordcount.
  • Also, if someone wants to go to the trouble of writing a whole new custom header to make the word count for this challenge, more power to them!

    A bit less than 48 hours to go now. Anyone who wants to join, like I say, it only took me about an hour to finish 95% of my game and I did that during midterm week.  ;D  Plenty of time left to make a game or two.
  • Ended up writing something else - A discussion on cheating the word counter ;-) Although it was a good testbed for a conversation system...

  • ;D

    Here's mykael:


    Pretty cool, man!
  • Arrrg! Too many words! Gotta start cutting!

    My three lever puzzle added almost 100!

    Still . . . Need . . . 50 . . . Words . . .  >:(
  • Okay, I think I'm finished. It took about an hour to do 95% of this, and about three hours to do the last 5% with all the cutting and editing I had to do to make 1,000 words.  ;D

    Hope you like it. Let me know if you find any problems or think anything should be different.

    EDIT: Removed attachments. See post #35.
  • Well, it's done! The deeply strategic futuristic farming simulation with zombies, Tiny Weird Future Farm, can be played here. You can also grab the .tws here.

    I used exactly 1,000 words and 15 passages. Hopefully its not broken, but my code's pretty messy, and I bet it could be reduced which would be nice since I wanted to do a bit more with the space madness. Let me know how you score! If, say, ten people get back to me with names and scores I might do a deluxe edition with a leaderboard, some extra art and stuff. :)
  • Man, that's awesome! ;D

    I made 5600 gold my first try, 9800 my second. What's a good score?
  • I honestly have no idea! I haven't really had a chance to play it yet. :)

    (not even joking)

    Thanks for playing! ;D
  • I made 4500, so I'd say Sharpe's scores are pretty good!
  • I tried to open the TWS and it failed. I tried importing the HTML, and a couple passages didn't show up. Strange.

    One thing, when you play "again," it doesn't reset all the variables. For example, you don't have to get your tools again. So, you get at least two more turns when you restart (I always refreshed so that wouldn't happen).

    You have [[again|Start]]. Try this: [[again|Start][state.restart()]]. That will re-set everything.

    I'm not strategy guy, but the cow doesn't seem to be worth enough to feed. Two turns messing with beans (plant, harvest) can get you $1000. One turn feeding the cow can get you $100.

    I didn't notice the fantastic pixel art for a few playthroughs. People with wide screen resolutions may not notice it. 'Twould go better in the passage, methinks.

    I think you should set a maximum distance the zombies can be shot, too. Maybe 12.

    It seems to me, the biggest determination about how much money the farmer makes is the beans' ideal size. The trouble with that is, it can be 1, 2, or 3. If it's one, you're going to rake in money. If it's 3, you're going to be about broke. That's too big of a difference (3 is three times more turns than 1, meaning you'll make three times more money).

    I'd say maybe tasty beans should give size x 1000. That way, size 3 beans give 3000, size 1 give $1000. That keeps it even.

    I played a few more times and got high scores of $9,200 and $11,600. I think that $11,600 might be pretty good because all three bean types were harvested at 1.

    So, $11,600 is the score to beat! :)
  • I'd agree; I know what I'm doing, and I got 10,000 on my first non-testing try. I was very lucky with zombie negotiation, but pretty unlucky with ideal bean sizes, and I didn't risk space madness.

    Edit: ninja'd by Sharpe, will read after dinner. :)
  • Ok, gang. Suffered a major setback, losing several hours worth of work to a crash and foolish saving practices. Soooo I only have two games instead of the 3 I was going for, though I may write the 3rd tomorrow anyway.

    "Hero Contest" is one of those resource management on a timer games that twine seems to inspire but that I hadn't really tried yet. Curious to hear how people do.
    "Mortal Queue" isn't so much a game as an attempt at mood and mechanic.

    Due to size limitations, these are just the html files; the .tws files will follow this post.

    Enjoy! :)
  • and here are the .tws files. Both clocked in at 998 words and 15 passages. :D
  • Ninja'ed by inurashii.

    Played one more time:

    [quote]You made it out!

    You head straight for the nearest space food wholesale depot to peddle your wares.

    You sell your size 1 cow for 100 gold!.

    This season, magic beans are tastiest when harvested at size 2, kidney beans are tastiest when harvested at size 1 and space beans are tastiest when harvested at size 2.

    You got:
    Size 1 kidney bean x 5
    Size 3 space bean x 4
    Size 2 magic bean x 2

    That's 11 tasty beans (worth 1000 gold each!) and 0 normal beans (worth 200 gold each).

    Total haul = 11100!!

    See, the cow just isn't worth feeding, it doesn't seem to me.

    This is why I think the sale price should be based on size:

    10 turns (plant, harvest x 5) with kidney beans = $10,000.
    16 turns (plant, nurture, nurture, harvest x 4) with space beans = $4,000.

    That's a huge disparity based on an uncontrollable random number. I like random numbers to influence the game, but not have that profound of an affect.

    If it were based on size, for the kidney and space beans, I would have earned $5,000 ($500 a turn) and $12,000 ($750 a turn). Since there's more risk with the larger beans, it makes since they should have a better price/turn; it makes more real-world since too.

    Just saying. :)
  • Sharpe wrote:
    I'm not strategy guy

    Seriously though, those are damn good suggestions, and I'm going to implement them shortly, or at least the ones that don't add words. Since you've checked out the source, Sharpe, am I doing maths things in a long winded way? I want to keep it under 1,000 words and I'm sure I'm wasting some.
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