Inkle’s open source interactive narrative tool Ink reaches version 1.0

Need to a tool to help you write an interactive narrative, be that a text driven adventure, or the dialogue for an epic triple-A RPG? Then look no further than Ink. It’s creator say it was designed to be “Word for interactive fiction.” 

The scripting language was developed by Inkle, the games developer responsible for 80 Days, Heaven’s Vault and Pendragon among others. Initially for internal use, the studio released the tool for open source use, and since then it’s been taken up by many other writers and studios, plus it received an Epic Megagrant. 

“Open it up, and start writing. Branch when you need to, rejoin the flow seamlessly, track state and vary what’s written based on what came before – without any need to plan, layout, or structure in advance. Organise your content when you know what shape it wants to take, not before.”

To date Ink has been used in creating games such as Haven, NeoCab, Over the Alps, Falcon Age, Signs of the Sojourner, plus Failbetter’s upcoming Mask of the Rose and others. And that’s just those the team know about, with many bigger studios having also taken on the tool without fanfare. 

Ink is entirely script based, with no flow charts, allowing writers to create heavily branching flows. All code is added as mark-up, making it easy to proof-read and edit. And every line the player sees is remembered by the engine, allowing for easy implementation of cause and effect without the need for code. 

The engine is now supported by a broad community of developers, making numerous contributions from bug fixes up to a full javascript port. Work progresses on a C port that will ultimately allow Unreal integration. 

Version 1.0 brings with it “the concept of parallel, shared-state story-flows – allowing the game to, say, switch between different simultaneous NPC conversations, while still allowing one conversation to affect the other.” 

To find out more head over to Inkle’s Ink page.

About Seth Barton

Seth Barton is the editor of MCV – which covers every aspect of the industry: development, publishing, marketing and much more. Before that Seth toiled in games retail at Electronics Boutique, studied film at university, published console and PC games for the BBC, and spent many years working in tech journalism. Living in South East London, he divides his little free time between board games, video games, beer and family. You can find him tweeting @sethbarton1.

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