Extend-A-Story - What Was New In 1999 - 2000


I've upgraded the story software to correct a flaw in how the Story Tree handles back links. I've also managed to vastly reduce the amount of time it takes to generate the Story Tree. The story software version is 1-9-1. Version 2 is still on its way... Just taking care of some smaller issues first...

In the previous version, back links were not detected properly. The Story Tree generator would detect a backlink, only if the backlinked episode was listed in the current, or earlier, level. Thus if a backlink was created in an early level that pointed to an episode at a higher level, that episode would then incorrectly appear on the lower level.

Now backlinks are detected by using the "parent" data stored in the episodes. Each episode has only one "true" link to it. Any additional links become backlinks. The Story Tree now checks if a link is a backlink by verifying the parent of the episode being linked to.


I've upgraded the story software to version 1-9-0. This version adds a new feature that allows you to trace the back links to linkable episodes. On linkable episodes there will be a link taking you to a page that will list every episode that can lead to that episode.

I've upgraged the message board software to version 1-2-0. This version modifies the index page. It now displays only the last 20 messages, instead of every message in the database. The database still contains every message, and they can be indexed using the link pointing to the index of the previous twenty messages.


I've upgraded the story software to version 1-8-0. This version brings along some changes to the database structure, so I had to take the story down for about half an hour. Things should be working now. Here are the things I've changed:

There is a new option when creating episodes for selecting the color scheme. You can use that to select a combination of text color and background color. For now it has only a limited selection of choices, but I intend to increase that as time goes on.

I've changed how the software determines if a link points to a created episode or not. When I initially modified the code to distinguish non-created episodes from created episodes, I ended up slowing down the code that displays episodes a great deal. The new code is must faster. I've also adjusted how created and non-created links are displayed, using colored graphical balls instead of text. Green is a created episode. Red is an episode that hasn't been created yet.

Finally, I've added the <HR> tag to the list of acceptable tags. This will allow people to have a horizontal rule in their episode without having to make one themselves.


Today I've posted the official announcement of The Black Void. Before the game officially starts, there is a chance for authors to write the first few episodes for the game. Once the first few episodes are complete, the game will be opened to the public. Full details have been posted in the message board.


Everything has been copied over to the new server. I've tested everything and I'm fairly certain that everything is running smoothly. Once the changes to the Internic database go through, the move will be complete. I've enabled new episode creation on the new server, so as the DNS changes go through, you will be able to add new episodes as soon as you get to the new server.


I've got the final approval from Pop Art LLC to begin transferring my web site over to their server. In order to facillitate the move, I have to ensure that the database won't change in any way during the move. That means that new episode creation is currently disabled. Posting messages in the message board is also disabled. These will be re-enabled as soon as the move is complete.

After lots of patience and a little bit of prodding I've gotten Sir Toby's Extend-A-Story into the Interactive Story Web Ring. This may bring in some new visitors. The links that pertain to that ring should now work as expected.


Due to changes in Oregon State University's Acceptable Usage Policies, I am forced to move sir-toby.com from my computer to a third party web hosting provider. I am making arrangements with Pop Art LLC, a web hosting company I interned with last summer. During the move, I will be forced to turn off new episode creation. As soon as the move is complete, and I am convinced everything is working, I will re-enable new episode creation. I've upgraded the story software to 1-7-0. This version adds in the functions needed to turn off new episode creation.

On a lighter note, I am working on a second story for Sir Toby's Extend-A-Story. It's name is The Black Void. Myself and another author are working out the details of the first few levels of episodes. I will be posting details to the message board when the site is at its new location. At that time, authors who wish to do so may express their own ideas for the beginning episodes.


I've upgraded the story software to 1-6-0. This version adds a link check when viewing episodes. If a episode is not created yet it will say so immediately under the link to it. This seems to slow down the displaying of the links on episodes with lots of links. I may disable this feature if the delay becomes too long.


I've upgraded the story software to 1-5-0. Changes include enhanced search features. I've modified the search page to be less cluttered. I've added the ability to search for new episodes created in the last few days.


Adjusted the story tree page some more. Now prints out total number of episodes at each level. The episodes at each level are now displayed in numeric order. I modified the code to allow it to handle more episodes and to speed it up. Still goes way too slow to run real time. It appears the database calls are slowing it down, and there is no amount of coding I can do to speed it up.


Added a message board to the site. My search for some form of listserver software proved fruitless, so I just re-used some of the story code to make a message board. It's not great, but it should serve as a good place for authors to share ideas about the story and the site.


Upgraded the software to 1-4-0 today. This version adds a story tree feature. It displays every episode that can be reached with a certain number of choices. Since it takes so long to produce the output, the story tree is actually a static HTML page. I will generate it manually every so often to include new additions to the story.


I'm upgrading the software to 1-3-0 this afternoon. This version adds two new features to the software. First off, there is now a statistics page. You can view how many episodes there are total (including blanks) and how many episodes have been created. Additionally, there is a very simple search engine that permits you to search the episodes. Access to these features are available from a new front page for The Never Ending Quest.


I'm upgrading the software to 1-2-0 this morning. This version permits the author to be notified by email when their storyline is extended. Added the ability to include the <I> and <B> tags in the options.

Succesfully upgraded the software. Broke the story for a few minutes while I did so...

Added some images to The Never Ending Quest, courtesy of Brian Griffith.


Started labeling the software versions. What we've been using up to now is 1-0-0. I've gotten some people to look at the site and have recieved lots of positive feedback. I'm working on implementing several of the suggestions I've recieved.

I'm upgrading the story software to 1-1-0 tonight. This will permit you to edit the last several episodes you have created. Additionally, if you get locked out of an episode you were working on, you should now have an option to clear the lock when you try to create it again.


The create and extend ASP pages now trim leading and trailing blanks off of user input. This prevents someone from entering a title with all blanks, as well as links with all blanks.

Added support for the </P> tag, since someone pointed out to me it is an optional tag that is permitted by the HTML standard. My mistake.


Some authors were lazy and continuously entered in 0 for the number of options. This created a large number of extendable episodes. Since I intend that to be an advanced option, used only when the situation calls for it, I've made a seperate checkbox for it. When creating an episode you must now create at least one option, even if it is extendable.

My friends decided to abuse the fact that HTML tags could be included in any text field. In the spirit of fixing things only after they are abused, I have now reduced the HTML tags available in the text fields. The only field that accepts HTML tags now is the episode body. The current supported HTML tags are: <P>, <BR>, <B>, </B>, <I>, </I>.

I reset the story since I filled it up with a bunch of garbage testing the new features. In the future, I will set up a test story where I can test changes to the software.


Extend-A-Story is at a point where I feel safe to release it to the general masses. I've started the first story, "The Never Ending Quest". After a brief shakedown of the software by some of my friends, I will advertise the site. I've fleshed out the main page, added documentation, added a "about" page, and added a "whats new" page.

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