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Alternatives to Inklewriter to Use for Your Interactive Novel or Text-Based Game

After browsing through and experimenting with free software currently available to build your own ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’, I narrowed the list down to a small number of programs. I list them below, along with the benefits of each.

I split the list into two separate categories:

  1. Programs centred around creating text-based games (e.g. text-parsing programs or programming languages)
  2. Programs centred around creating interactive stories (e.g. coding programs that function mostly through hypertext language)

I list each in order of popularity (from most to least popular).

Note: I split the programs into the two categories based on whether they are better used for games (category 1) or better used for stories (category 2). The programs in category 1 are not limited to outputting exclusively games, and the same goes for the programs in category 2; you can use the programs in category 2 to create text-based games as well. But if you are looking to write a novel rather than a game, the programs in the second category would be your best bet.

This is in no way a full comprehensive list. There are other tools and programs out there. I am merely providing a list of the most-used programs.

Best programs for text-based games


A natural-language-based programming language for writers of interactive fiction.

What it’s good for: building text-based games

Plus feature: grants the most freedom for coding text-based games

License information: allows use in commercial projects without remuneration


A software-simulating environment that allows users to input text commands to control characters and influence their setting.

What it’s good for: building text-based games

Plus feature: most code-light text-game creator

License information: allows use in commercial projects without remuneration


A tool written in JavaScript Node.js that creates multiple choice games which run in web browsers.

What it’s good for: building text-based games

Plus feature: can save the user’s place in the game through their local web browser

Best programs for interactive novels


An open-source tool for creating interactive fiction in the form of web pages.

What it’s good for: building both text-based games and interactive novels

Plus feature: closest in functionality to Inklewriter (with a few additional features)

License information: open source; allows use in commercial projects without remuneration


A simple programming language developed by Choice of Games for writing multiple-choice games (MCGs) and text.

Plus feature: programming language is simple to learn and use

License information: available in limited or partial-functionality

What I would recommend using

Out of all the above programs, the following are what I would recommend using:

If your goal is a novel, I recommend going with Twine

Twine offers functionality closest to that of Inklewriter, and it is the easiest option for creating a story. The developer created it to be a program that is completely free to use. It is also the best option if you are thinking of publishing your story as an e-book. I talk about this in more detail in my post How to Self-Publish Your Own ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ eBook.

If your goal is a game, I recommend going with Inform

Inform gives you the greatest freedom when it comes to creating a text-based game. Similarly to Twine, it also grants you full functionality.

Have you tried any of the above-mentioned programs? How was your experience with them?

Are there any other programs I’ve missed that you use? Let me know!

CYOA teaser for my new book

[UPDATE: My CYOA book is now available in both print paperback and ebook]

Other posts on creating CYOAs

How to Self-Publish Your Own ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ eBook

Would Your Novel Work as a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Story?

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