Introducing the Gutenberg Interactive Fiction Engine

I’ve been prototyping an interactive fiction engine that would allow users to create “choose your own adventure” styles of content in WordPress. Here’s a demo, which you can find live at the following link if you’d like to play along:

In addition, here’s a walkthrough of how this works inside of the Gutenberg editor:

This is just in early stages, but I’m excited by the possibilities of using Gutenberg to create interactive content. It’s very simple but potentially powerful; having choice blocks that are fully compatible with the rest of Gutenberg means you could create all kinds of interactive multimedia content, such as:

  • “Choose your own adventure” YouTube stories
  • Interactive comics
  • Audio stories with branching paths
  • Marketing and educational content
  • Multimedia posts incorporating elements from all the above

Ideas for Improvements

This is currently in MVP state; ideas for further development include:

  • Dropdown menu and/or drag-and-drop functionality to allow for easy configuration of choices
  • Support for multiple parent conditions
  • Support for custom CSS transitions
  • Node or graph view for better authoring experience
  • Support for hyperlink choices within paragraph text
  • Accessibility

More broadly, one could create blocks to support additional styles of interactive fiction, as well as enhance overall capabilities. Some ideas:

  • Chat fiction block
  • Image mapping (making each part of the image map to a different choice)
  • Custom clickables (making elements configurable to execute arbitrary story logic)
  • Dynamic audio
  • Support for game logic (if/else, custom actions, state)
  • Community integration (see how many other people have made different choices)

Gutenberg vs Other Tools

The creation of interactive fiction (IF) goes hand-in-hand with the development of video games and computing in general, with early examples like Adventure and Zork taking off in the 1970s.

Since then, it has continued to evolve, and today a variety of tools exist that are tailored towards creating different kinds of IF, including TwineInformInklewriter / InkRenpy, and Hooked.

Each of these tools has its strengths and weaknesses, many requiring some amount of technical knowledge — and Gutenberg, with its WYSIWYG, wide deployment, web compatibility, community support, and ease of use, could fill a unique role among them.

In fact, it could become one of the more powerful means of creating IF, and giving everyday users the ability to make this kind of content easily accessible on any WordPress website could be, if nothing else, another element in our toolbox.

Get the Plugin and Code

This is currently available on Github, where you can find a plugin to upload into WordPress, as well as the source code; please feel free to download and share.


As mentioned, this is just an early experiment and I would love to hear any ideas, feedback, or suggestions.

Additional Interactive Fiction Resources

I plan on presenting this plugin at Wordhack on Thursday, October 20th. This is an evening of performances and talks around the intersection of language and technology, where technologists often present innovative ideas related to digital publishing. The event is in NYC and will also be livestreamed if anyone is interested in tuning in!

Other IF links:

Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation

Interactive Fiction Database

Electronic Literature Organization

3 responses to “Introducing the Gutenberg Interactive Fiction Engine”

  1. […] You can find info on how to download and use the engine, as well as access the code, here. […]

  2. […] Morales calls himself an ‘Electronic Literature Creator’ and introduced the WordPress PlanetInteractive Fiction Engine, an early […]

  3. […] Presentamos el motor de ficción interactiva de Gutenberg. Artemio Morales (@artemiosans) ha creado un plugin de ficción interactiva con el que se pueden crear recursos interactivos. Para probarlo, creó esta página en la que puedes viajar al pasado o al futuro 😉 Al usar mi demostración, la historia comienza con una imagen con un robot y un automóvil. A continuación, encontrará dos opciones para continuar la historia, cada una de las cuales le ofrece una siguiente historia diferente. Y así sucesivamente. El complemento, descargable en GitHub, está en una fase temprana de desarrollo pero las posibilidades son infinitas. […]

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