2016 Extend-A-Story Development Update

General discussion about Extend-A-Story.

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Sir Toby
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2016 Extend-A-Story Development Update

Post by Sir Toby » Tue Jan 05, 2016 5:33 pm

With the recent migration of Sir-Toby.Com to a new hosting provider, I have been inspired to continue development on Extend-A-Story. As part of this work, I am moving Extend-A-Story development to GitHub: Extend-A-Story on GitHub

I have recently been working on a web-based installation process for Extend-A-Story. While this may not be terribly exciting for anyone but administrators, I am experimenting with a new look and feel for the installation pages that I plan to apply to all of Extend-A-Story. I plan to maintain the simple look and feel of Extend-A-Story while improving its usability. I am upgrading to modern HTML standards and using CSS to set the look and feel of Extend-A-Story. This will open up a wide range of customization options for administrators and allow more elaborate color scheme options for episodes.

Once I have made enough progress with the web-based installation process, I will deploy a test version that will allow you to experiment with this new look and feel. I will be looking for feedback regarding the new and feel, particularly as it might apply to Extend-A-Story overall, and not just the installation process.

This is part of my ongoing work on Extend-A-Story 3.0, which I first mentioned in the Extend-A-Story Updates thread. Extend-A-Story 3.0 is going to be a major upgrade. While I plan to post the occasional thread to get feedback in a particular area, your input is welcome at any time. If you have thoughts about Extend-A-Story development, please post a thread here or open an issue on GitHub.

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Post by JH » Tue Jan 05, 2016 7:13 pm

Thanks. That all sounds quite exciting. :)
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Post by flying tiger comics » Sun Jul 24, 2016 3:24 am

One thing I keep trying to push the envelope with in Extend-A-Story is loading background media - music, video, etc.

I use animated GIF buttons sometimes but in the fullness of time some multimedia would be excellent. If it isn't just an insult to even ask for such a thing when the "point" is collaborative writing. :)

Another good thing for comic book guys would be a strip function - picture(s) above and text below to make illustrated story books.

I've experimented using PHP from other text games like Green Dragon and you can do it but my frankenstein attempt was... imperfect at best.

Green Dragon lets you easily load multimedia and you can have static pages with video or picture at the top and text below. What I tried to do was incorporate the extend a story function inset below the multimedia function on the same page. It sort of worked but I was crudely stitching it together. used the 0.997b version of Green Dragon.

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Post by Noise Tank » Wed Jul 27, 2016 8:25 pm

Just curious, will this update give us the ability to have accounts when creating episodes? You've mentioned the possibility of that in the past. I would love the ability to be able to go back and edit some of my old episodes, even if it's just a minor spelling error. I understand there might be limitations (such as it is disabled if the episode is continued) but I'd love something like that.
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Post by flying tiger comics » Wed Jul 27, 2016 11:31 pm

I could actually fork Extend-A-Story pretty easily to do that account thing using the open source version of Legend of the Green Dragon.

It might even be overkill given that it would include a LOT of user functions we don't use for Extend-A-Story.

But the basic functions exist - add in user info to a database, email and the rest.

It could then further go on to include the "village square" posting which is sort of like a long string of little texts that scroll down and eventually get deleted. "Town Cryer" style so you could do announcements to all and sundry.

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Post by Noise Tank » Thu Jul 28, 2016 3:56 am

I just go back and see episodes I wrote when I was younger and see really obvious spelling and grammar errors. I know I could ask JH to change them but it would be nice to be able to do it without bothering him.
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Post by flying tiger comics » Thu Jul 28, 2016 6:32 am

I am doing the fork. No idea how long it will take.
Once I have tested it on my site I will put it up on GitHub and also on the existing GitHub for EAS.

Basically it will get the AuthorName value and associated variable, search the db and get your story episodes. They will be listed down the page with a scroll if needed incrementally.

Then clicking on the story name or a button - haven't decided which, probably button - will bring up that episode for editing. That will override any existing edit limitations BUT ONLY FOR YOUR OWN WORK.

Anyone not creating an account won't get the menu when adding pages to the story.

Main thing is to match the look and feel of EAS as far as possible and make sure when it writes back it does so EXACTLY like existing EAS otherwise for example an edit could add otherwise "illegal" text.

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Post by JH » Thu Jul 28, 2016 9:35 am

That sounds excellent.
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Post by flying tiger comics » Thu Jul 28, 2016 10:25 am

JH wrote:That sounds excellent.
I can code the grabbing out the data stuff pretty easily - it's PHP and SQL stuff so it's good and easy. The challenge is to get the database orderly once say you go back and edit something 4 years old, put it back, and also parse or invoke something to stop malicious posting. LOGD has a lot of filter functions so I am thinking add them directly.

It automatically bans and alters swear words for example and you can add any kind of word to a no-no list.

There is also a silly "Swedish Chef" function which turns all the text into bork-bork language for a day, but the basic way it works would also let you do a global word replace / text check and edit - basically proof read the whole database.

Basically there's a lot of stuff in LOGD that is grossly underused - media file handling, chat, parsing - which would plug fairly easily into EAS.

...

The other thing I am experimenting with is adding stats to the player account so for example every unique writer has an account and in that account has sets of stats for stories - check a box to provide stats for a story character like:

FTG 12 HLH 12 IQ 10 Magic 5

or whatever, which would be automatically displayed top of episode and could be altered by a player checking boxes on the create page -

write a description give options like normal, person goes through to an option and (if they don't just write it themselves) you can check a box to add or subtract points from the stats.

In other words - Fighting Fantasy etc. type stats that are dynamic.

There is an easy dice roll function, I am treeing out a way to let a writer create RANDOM options. IE

<create table>
<check if table has at least two choices>
<randomize 0 to number of table elements minus 1>
<go to entry matched to number generated>

So for example an option "Look for trouble" could link to a Random Episode Generator which has elements added by the writer.

I think the way to stop abuse of that is allowing for the expanded create module having more options, one of them will be "create random opponent" and another will be similar to allow linking only allow inclusion in random tables.

That is like masterclass episode writing though so I am making all of this optional not front and center.

And I am DEFINITELY doing a separate editor so non-admin can still edit their own files as well as generate episodelets - basically deliberate orphan episodes that the same writer can then later link. If they make a sausage link of gibberish that's on them. But it would allow good writers to make a HUGE contribution and also really spruce things up.

But one step at a time :)

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Post by flying tiger comics » Sat Jul 30, 2016 8:48 am

OK so I have a test EAS I am using, once it's ready for rudimentary logins by users I will announce it here and get you guys to try it as well as get some total noobs to see if it makes sense to them.

There is potentially going to be mobile phone functionality in terms of text message exchanges and/or writing episodes on a phone but that is a long way off. It can dump messages ie episodes to the phone but that's all so far.

And it isn't what I am focusing on, what I want to do first and then test thoroughly is user creates account -> account brings up all the db stuff for that account when that user logs in.

If the existing user DOESN'T log in then they can still use the existing EAS type system. So you don't HAVE TO log in. But if you don't then there won't be the other functions like edit any of your own episodes no matter how old etc. nor would there be the "character sheet" options for altering statistics or indeed setting statistics up.

I am going to have a fixed set of statistics for those who want them, but eventually add the option of user defined stats. So for example if all you care about is sanity in a Cthulhu story then that's all you'd create - 1 new statistic. But for FF style gamebook stories - standard stats or you can make more of your own.

The stats are basically a text entry and a numerical value. there are a legion of other effects that can be added.

But for now - user accounts, separate account database probably.

In terms of installing, it won't be much different. Run two scripts instead of one and then the game admin.php etc. will still handle it all. for the users there will be a superuser.php which will be for the people who take the trouble to make an account.

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Post by JH » Sat Jul 30, 2016 10:12 am

ITSM that one thing your site could do with is a forum similar to this one, where both technical aspects and story-lines could be discussed.
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Post by flying tiger comics » Sat Jul 30, 2016 9:50 pm

JH wrote:ITSM that one thing your site could do with is a forum similar to this one, where both technical aspects and story-lines could be discussed.
I have gone back and forth on having a forum or adding wordpress or something, I guess it does no harm to have one. My plan is to add in the LOGD text functions so at that point it will have internal commenting.

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Post by flying tiger comics » Thu Aug 04, 2016 10:57 am

Internal commenting works now, still experimenting. The chat / comment will ONLY work for logged in writers, ie no anonymous, must have author privileges via creating a login.

At the moment you can also have multiple logins. I can change that to allow one per IP or whatever but I don't really see the need. This isn't a facebook game etc. is it, it's not like people are going to make money off hosting an EAS.


Another thing I was wondering whether or not to add is

"Most recent episode: XXXXX"

as something that it lists via admin ie when you set all the preferences, where you enter your EAS home and your website home it could also have the option of "announce most recent story addition" - so where on each page it has the "two homes" it would also update with a text line that is internal chat and announcements and below that a "Episode added! Most recent Episode: <title> <number> by <name>/<an anonymous writer>"

Thoughts?

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Post by JH » Thu Aug 04, 2016 6:14 pm

I'm not sure whethera "most recent" episode feature is really necessary. Whenever I visit, I normally do a search for all episodes created within the last day anyway (or last 2 days or whatever if it's longer since I last visited). If the resulting list includes some episodes that I've already seen, I can tell that at a glance as my browser will show their links in a different colour to those for the as yet unvisited episodes.

I'm also not sure how much the option of setting character statistics will add. I view the addventure much more as a story than as an RPG. And what if two contributors to a story-line have different ideas about what a character's stats should be?

But the ability to edit one's own episodes will be really useful. People will have to be careful if some of an episode's options have already been followed up, though, so as not to introduce a continuity error for later episodes. Of course stuff like just correcting spelling or punctuation won't be a problem.

I also like the idea of being able to add comments to an episode.

I think it would be good if you and Sir Toby could liaise closely, to make sure that the pair of you aren't simultaneously working on enhancements that would cut across each other.
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Post by flying tiger comics » Fri Aug 05, 2016 3:21 am

I personally agree with you very much about the statistics issue, but I also don't want to shut out the Fighting Fantasy aka "Writing Fantasy" type people who like to have some sort of even vague counter or score or something.

I have forked the project so once I upload the project documents and files I will formally let Sir Toby know and so on.

In terms of duplications, it isn't really an issue since it's using wildly - really wildly - different coding. :)

I've also created a Wikia. I will post that in the ZE thread too. :)

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