What framework/engine should I use for an interactive novel?

I say “interactive novel” without really having a better term. While the game I’m planning will have narrative and story progression, it isn’t going to be linear, and will have simulator aspects to it as well.

I’ve been playing around with Quest 5, and quite like the desktop editor, but I’m worried that it might be too out of date for me to invest a lot of time into. I had a look at Quest 6 as well, but there seems to be very little community support for it, and it’s been in development for 8 years now and still isn’t finished?

What would you guys suggest? Is Quest 5 still viable, or are there better alternatives out there?

Just for reference as well, I’m quite comfortable with programming and use PHP and Javascript every day in my job, so any alternatives don’t necessarily have to be full on editor.

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I believe Quest might be a little limited for what you are aiming for. But, it depends on what you want to implement and how much work you feel like putting in. I use version 5.8 and there is always an active support team on their website. I like it quite a bit, but mostly nostalgically.

The average Quest developer produces a point-and-click text adventure game. Its default UI gives the player the feeling of moving room-to-room interacting with overt objects which you may or may not want in an interactive novel. I am only familiar with its standard version, but I know it also has a gamebook mode. I believe someone with the passion to can use it to make a good game, but its strength is that it is easy for people with little coding knowledge to use (and even learn) code.

Twine and Renpy can produce a broader range of games. At their core, they are simple, but with your background in programming they have the tools to give you a customizable UI and can grant a broad range of experiences. I believe both allow for Javascript injection.

If you feel like you want to create a full-on text adventure with a limited UI and you are good at writing / spelling, I know of a few that are good for that. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried making one of these, but it’s a lot of work and typically you need the support of solid, well thought-out built-in libraries. I have heard good things about Inform if you can get past the code that tries to emulate real speech. There has been a game here using TADS (and I have a fondness for this tool even though it is no longer being updated).

I don’t know anything about ADRIFT or Inklewriter but as you continue to research the market for text adventure tools, if you discover they offer unique creators’ tools or player experiences, I’d love to hear about it!

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use it


As echoed above Renpy my be one of your best bets. Its mainly built with VNs in mind but is built on top of the pygame engine which can be accessed directly if needed. A good example of a game made with Renpy that is outside of the standard VN spectrum would be long live the queen and may be close to what you are thinking simulator wise.


If it’s mostly text, Twine.
If it’s mostly images, Ren’Py.

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Adding my vote for Ren’py. If I can write a game with it, anyone can!

Thanks for all the advice guys! I’ll definitely checkout Ren’py and Twine.