One of the goals of the IFTF Twine committee for 2017 is to help preserve Twine works on the web. Part of this entails working with community sites that host Twine works to ensure that the content that has been posted there — Philomela, as just one example, hosts more than 10,000 Twine works — doesn’t disappear one day. We should have some news to announce on that front later in 2017.
But there’s another aspect to this goal that is just as important, and unfortunately slippier to achieve. Things were a lot simpler in the past. The Internet IF hobbyist community in the 1990s revolved around three places:
The Usenet group
rec.games.int-fiction, discussing IF from a player’s point of view. (If you don’t know what a Usenet group is, ask your parents.)
rec.arts.int-fiction, the same, but for authors.
Most centrally, the IF Archive, originally housed at Gesellschaft fuer Mathematik und Datenverarbeitung mbH Bonn, a German research institution, now at ifarchive.org.
(You could certainly make an argument for a fourth place, ifMUD, but it didn’t arrive until 1997, which in this context is relatively late.)
The IF Archive was, and remains, the best resource for interactive fiction software. It was where Inform, TADS, and countless other authoring software was available for download; it was also the definitive place for games created by the IF community. And so making sure that that portion of interactive fiction history isn’t lost isn’t that difficult; all that’s needed is a reliable backup.
The situation nowadays is more complex. The community has blossomed and decentralized. It’s quite possible to be immersed in the IF world without ever touching the IF Archive at all. There are many folks happily creating IF with Web-based tools like Twine, Texture, and Undum and posting them to places that aren’t backed up the same way the IF Archive is— places like Dropbox or Google Drive. Works hosted in cloud storage are at a high risk for disappearing; all it takes is for the author’s account to be deleted, a change of terms of service, or even the service itself shuttering for the work to be lost.
The IFTF Twine committee is considering ways to get the message out to authors, but in the meantime, here’s a simple plea for help. If you run into a web-based IF work that you love, encourage the author to submit it to the IF Archive. By doing so, you’ll help ensure it’ll be around to enjoy for years to come.