I’m back from vacation, and put one of my more recent problems back online and into public beta: CASSANDRA aims to realize many of the ideas that I worked out in the underground game manifesto while focusing on the narrative part of gaming.

A while ago I had the idea to do some simple 2d- or even text adventure. As the idea evolved, I decided that what I had in mind was quite close to the existing concept of hyperlink literature. I began to think about how you could democratize the experience of playing through such a medium (because „playing“ is indeed a part of the experience of consuming such a thing!) and decided that the best option would be to allow the players or readers to edit or answer upon the story. This would allow people to get together and to develop stories were nobody – not even their original creator – could tell were they could end up; since things might be changed and the path you took the last time might not be there or extended by your next „play“, reading it would always keep a experience of adventure, of entering the unknown.

One thought I had was that – for this to work – the concept of the original creator must be reduced: Knowing who created what would make pathways that lead out of a story to mere additions made by other people. So I decided that the „game“ I had in mind should enforce a certain anonymity for the authors that participate to make it opaque to the reader who wrote what; to protect stories from vandalism and prevent the experience from becoming frustrating for those who put work into it, it should – however – be possible to decide what parts of a story can be edited by others – however, others can always link your texts and stories that root from these texts from their own stories and texts – creating a built in option for a factual intertextuality.

I developed a small framework to realize this ideas, and it is online for beta testing here. The features are:

  • Creating pages that have a non-guessable idea
  • Detailed user/permission management for pages
  • Options to link pages either from within the text with BB-tags or via a option to attach links to the text
  • Support for uploading images and using them as title-images for pages.
  • Creation of „Stories“; these allow to link to pages along with a short description; all stories are linked in random order when the index page is loaded.
  • Simple text-formation with BB-codes
  • Registering/Login
  • Some content that was already created by me and various users who participated in the closed beta

A side effect of the way I realized the basic idea is that you need to „find“ pages over a existing story before you are able to link onto it; until you find a page over a link to it set by its creator, you can’t get the pages ID – stories within the framework are like (easy or complex) mazes that hide their content; once you know a ID you can jump directly to it, or link to it from your own stories – but there is always the option that it have changed when you visit it again.

The software will surely receive some updates in the future, but I’ll try to keep the database compatible – and I’m more or less sure that this will work out – so anything that you write there will remain (unless you delete it). I’m both tuned for entries, edits and stories but also about any feedback (this includes the accessibility for people with a disability – I tried to generate compability with screen readers but don’t know how good this worked out – if you experience problems here, please let me know!). Even though its probably needless to say: The whole thing is moderated.

The project is open source and licensed with the GPL5. Get it here.

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