Official Release


The Queen has told you to return with her heart in a box. Snow White has made you promise to make other arrangements. Now that you’re alone in the forest, it’s hard to know which of the two women to trust. The Queen is certainly a witch — but her stepdaughter may be something even more horrible…

There are some eighteen possible endings to this fairy tale.

Some of them are even almost happy.

A fractured fairy tale by John Cater, Rob Dubbin, Eric Eve, Elizabeth Heller, Jayzee, Kazuki Mishima, Sarah Morayati, Mark Musante, Emily Short, Adam Thornton, & Ziv Wities.

Illustrated by Daniel Allington-Krzysztofiak.

Available now from

(Changed because the old site went over its traffic allowance.)

Please note — as the site also points out — that you’ll want the latest available Glulx interpreter to play (Git 1.2.4 for Windows, Zoom 1.1.4 for Mac). Alabaster is processing-intensive and makes use of the latest Inform optimizations.

Another warning: some of the comments here get spoilery.

47 thoughts on “Official Release”

  1. ooh, this looks cool. illustrated, multiple endings, multiple authors. interesting. i’ll have to play this soon.

  2. Dear Emily:

    This snip of text: “but her stepdaughter may be something even more horrible…”, doesn’t seem too much spoilery for an intro text?

    Whatever, thanks for such a piece of IF!

  3. “Please note — as the site also points out — that you’ll want the latest available Glulx interpreter to play (Git 1.2.4 for Windows, Zoom 1.1.4 for Mac).”

    Any chance Spatterlight would work? Or was the last update too long ago?

    1. It will work, in the sense that the game will load and play, but you will experience significant delays on some turns. It’s up to you whether you find that tolerable.

  4. Wow! I’m so curious about this ‘multi-authorial’ work. Many Italian IF authors would like to know how you all managed to collaborate and create such an impressive work.
    I will play it as soon as I can :)

  5. Great IF! I enjoyed playing it all this afternoon and getting a lot of endings.

    I do want to mention that there is a game-crashing (repeatable) bug. I hope it’s not too much of a spoiler to mention this, but (spoil warning) the box remains in my inventory after I burn it, and, if I attempt to burn it a second time that causes the crash.

    1. Yeah, I’m kicking myself about this one, as it’s an easy fix and I really, really should have caught that the box wasn’t getting destroyed at the right time. It’ll be fixed in the next release.

  6. You’ve probably heard by now, but in case not…the link above is no longer active because it has exceeded its traffic allotment, and no more downloads will be allowed until next month. Any chance you could make it available elsewhere?

    1. In fact the files themselves are still available because they were always hosted elsewhere. (I’m rather startled that just the impressions of the index page were enough to overrun my traffic allowance, but I haven’t had any luck reaching Earthlink support on this point… and what’s more they’re supposed to email when I’m at 80% of the cut-off threshold, which they didn’t do. So grr.)

      Anyway, the files are at



      Zip only:

      When I get some time (probably tonight) I’ll try to get the index page and auxiliary materials set up again someplace more stable.

  7. Interesting but ultimately disappoint.

    First, it’s somewhat sad if ironic that after your post about the importance of beta testing, such a hugely glitched game would be released. Even setting aside things like the burned box still being in the inventory, or being able to cut the hart’s heart out twice, there is simply a path-ending glitch with respect to the b-s (abbreviated for spoiler protection) line: after you cut yourself, there is no way to interact with the injury. Examining it yields a glitch, getting blood is impossible, putting the blood in the box is impossible, bleeding into the box is impossible, etc., etc. I’m not sure if there was some flag that the game demanded I hit before I go this route, but I had ample clues to make this a viable pathway, but one I couldn’t follow.

    Second, the larger problem is the one that Andrew Plotkin flagged about dialogue trees in The Longest Journey: they feel, ultimately, like an extended cutscene with rote interaction forced on the player. It wasn’t particularly hard to figure out what quips to ask (although being fed quips by the game helped in a few spots), but the whole thing felt like an exercise in chasing down every strand. Unlike mouse-driven games, though, here it was a huge physical pain to type out guess-the-word quips again and again to pump the various characters for information.

    If what I was asking made a difference in the interaction, as opposed to merely giving me information, that was never clear. And the various emotes offered (smile, frown, cry, etc.) seemed to do nothing.

    It’s all unfortunate because the writing is good and the scenario is pretty interesting. (The line about the souls you put into mirrors is especially good.) I’d enjoy reading a text dump much more than playing the game.

  8. Even setting aside things like the burned box still being in the inventory, or being able to cut the hart’s heart out twice, there is simply a path-ending glitch with respect to the b-s (abbreviated for spoiler protection) line: after you cut yourself, there is no way to interact with the injury. Examining it yields a glitch, getting blood is impossible, putting the blood in the box is impossible, bleeding into the box is impossible, etc., etc. I’m not sure if there was some flag that the game demanded I hit before I go this route, but I had ample clues to make this a viable pathway, but one I couldn’t follow.

    The burned box I get; the other two issues, of being able to cut the heart out twice and being unable to interact with the wound, I am unable to reproduce (and they are tested by testing routines in the game, at that). Do you have a transcript, or can you email me with more information about how you got into those situations?

    (You also don’t have to type out the full wording of every quip — quips parse just like objects, so you can pick the shortest unique phrase.)

  9. Don’t have a transcript and deleted backup files. Here’s what I recall producing them:

    The heart came about because I thought in my frantic efforts to get my blood in the box, I had somehow put the heart into it. (Possibly with something like a “put it in box” command.) I’m pretty sure the heart was in the box. I had first removed the heart with the “cut out heart” syntax. When I went to get the heart out of the box, I used “remove heart.” It gave me a response that described cutting out the heart, then said I wasn’t wearing the heart.

    With the wound, I used the “cut self” command. It gave me a warning about the danger of doing that around a vampire, but I entered the command again and it said I sliced my forearm. But no blood came out. I then tried “put blood in box” (no success), “bleed in box” (verb not recognized), “open wound” (an error message saying I was going crazy), “put wound in box” (a message saying my wrist wouldn’t fit), and various other shenanigans. I also got a bizarre answer when I tried to examine the wound — something to the effect that when I was looking at it in the mirror later, I wouldn’t notice it, or something, which made no sense but which I wrote off as the game now treating the “wound” as “self” or something along those lines.

    I then triggered the whole hart encounter purely by accident, I can’t remember how — it was some effort to interact with the heart or my wound. I think I was trying to give my own blood to Snow White.

    Like I said, the game seems well-written, but profoundly ill-suited to the interface. It feels much more like it should be a point-and-click game, especially given how little there is to do in terms of complex manipulations.

  10. Let me clarify — when I say “no blood came out” I don’t mean that I got some special cue that I wasn’t bleeding; I just mean, there was never a message saying, “You’re bleeding.”

    1. Well– it says that you’re cut deeply enough to bleed. I (still) can’t reproduce the problems you were having interacting with the blood — PUT BLOOD IN BOX, POUR BLOOD IN BOX, POUR WOUND IN BOX, and FILL BOX WITH BLOOD were all implemented and test out as working. I’ve added BLEED IN/INTO BOX as an option per your suggestion, and improved the feedback from EXAMINE ME and EXAMINE WOUND.

      The result of REMOVE HEART I did manage to track down, and I’ve rewired that in a couple of ways — first to remove the possibility of the cutting description turning up when it shouldn’t; and second to have Inform assume you mean taking an object rather than removing it as an item of clothing if it’s not something that’s being worn at the time.

  11. You’re right, the initial response was that I cut deeply enough to bleed, but not down to the muscle. But presumably that should lead to a RECURRENT message to the effect that I am bleeding, etc., etc., which this never did. The blood never became a separate object. I had saves right around there, but unfortunately I was in a pique over not being able to do what I wanted and deleted the whole game.

    Are there certain flags necessary to be able to put your own blood into the box? If so, it’s possible that I hadn’t hit them — in other words, that my own intuition was ahead of the character’s in terms of my identity. Certainly, poking around the source stuff on your site I did not have the ending with Snow (and her companion, let’s call her) that would be triggered by having resolved the b-s issue definitively. But I had several clues down that path, and was pretty confident I was who I was.

    1. But presumably that should lead to a RECURRENT message to the effect that I am bleeding, etc., etc., which this never did.

      …er, I meant it to be seen as a moderate welling of blood, not the kind of severe, continuously bleeding wound that might eventually make the protagonist pass out. (The game responds to some attempts to stop the wound, but only by saying that there’s not much you can do.) What a recurrent message would suggest to me as a player is that there’s something I’m supposed to do to stop the wound again, or maybe a timed puzzle.

      Anyway, no, there are no flags. If you cut yourself, PUT BLOOD IN BOX and all those other variants I quoted do work immediately afterward.

      If somehow you got the game into a state where that doesn’t work, I’d be curious to see a transcript of how that happened — but there’s not meant to be a trick. There’s a test script built in to confirm that the wound is behaving properly, and no one else has reported a problem with this; so I’m pretty certain that under most circumstances it indeed is doing what it should.

      1. Who knows how I got it into the state, but I’m quite confident that I was not able to put the blood in the box. (For what it’s worth, one of my desperation moves “open wound” got some answer to the effect that I was going crazy or something; it probably deserves a legitimate answer.)

        I confess I was not reading as closely as perhaps I should’ve, but I had gotten the sense that we were dealing with a decent-sized box (big enough to hold a couple pound heart), and I thought Snow White told me that I needed to fill it halfway with blood. I think we’re talking about a real amount of blood, there, not “a moderate welling of blood,” but perhaps I just misread something along the way.

        It doesn’t really matter, though, because I wouldn’t have needed any more cues on the blood if it had actually worked.

        [EDIT: I just retried, and it sort of worked — although it says that there was a heart in the box burning, which there wasn’t. The cue is the fill it “part way,” not half way, but I still don’t think a trickle of blood really works for that. I would rework the language myself.]

      2. Since you mentioned that earlier, I already also added a special catch for OPEN WOUND — what you saw there was the generic response for trying to open a body part.

  12. It turns out I have my saves. Here are some of the weird messages I get:

    “> X WOUND
    When you have a mirror in front of you – which is not now – you find wound merely tolerable.”

    “> GET BLOOD
    The wound still seems to be in place.”

    The idea is mad.”

    You need to be holding your wrists before you can put them on top of something.”

    The wound still seems to be in place.”

    You can’t see any such thing.”

    I think it is actually possible that I never tried “PUT BLOOD IN BOX” or “FILL BOX WITH BLOOD” — both commands actually work. I seemed to be operating on the theory that I would need to get the blood first in some way (crazy IF parser logic, I suppose) or that I needed to bleed in the box.

    1. I’ve fixed all these for v. 2 except “PUT MY ARM ON BOX”, which would require a kind of space model I don’t really want to attempt.

      (The response to X WOUND is, again, a standard response for all the player’s body parts, and works reasonably well when instead of “wound” it says, say, “your nose”. I’ve fixed it so it gives the wound’s correct description, though.)

  13. There are some further glitches I uncovered in the Happy dialogue. It seems that it always ends with the prompt that a YES/NO question has been asked, but I’ve never actually had one asked. When I said “no,” he responded as if I’d declined to hear about the afterlife. When I answered “yes” or “maybe,” it said I hadn’t been asked a question.

    Also, is the consort question a play on the infamous Dragon Warrior ending? It asks me “yes/no” but I can’t say “no” — it says I’ve come too far to turn back now. Really? It still lets me “turn back” by executing her or by exorcising her. I’m somewhat confused here because the story chart indicates I should be able to decline here.

    1. No, as I haven’t any experience with Dragon Warrior.

      I appreciate the input, but if you’ve got much to add, it would be much easier to sort through if you could email me transcripts, if you have them — there are lots of potential yes/no questions in the Happy dialogue, for instance, and it sounds also as though you’re describing the behavior with tutorial mode on, and these layers are complex enough that it’s pretty hard to guess what you’re referring to without more details.

      My email address is

      1. Dragon Warrior ends with the princess asking the hero: “Wilt thou marry me?” or something even more outrageously Olde Englishe-y (when you died in the game the king would tell you, “Thou art truly dead, [PlayerName]!”) and you got the box: “Yes / No.”

        If you chose no, she replied, “Surely thou jests. Wilt thou marry me?” The loop went on forever.

        When the companion asks me to become her consort, it gives me a yes/no. But if I say “no,” the game says, in modern lingo, “Surely thou jests!” and then kicks me back. Seems kind of lame.

      2. It’s possible to refuse her up to a certain point; it depends on what you’ve told her, whether you’ve half-committed, and whether you’ve given her certain information.

      3. What doesn’t compute for me is that I can’t refuse her directly, but still can end the game by killing or releasing her, right? It strikes me that you need some better explanation of the PC’s psychological state, then, to give him, “Thou must be jesting!” response to a clear yes/no opportunity, while still letting him say no through other means.

  14. Err, one last question, then I promise I’ll stop — why can’t I put the ashes in the box at the end? Even if I take a “grubby handful,” it says they’re too big to fit in the box.

  15. Lies — one more — why does the game keep urging me to cry, hit the interlocutor, kiss the interlocutor, etc., when none of those commands is ever implemented or useful?

  16. i’m curious: are there more than 18 endings? i was looking through the walkthroughs posted (after playing to 3 or 4 endings on my own) and noticed one that doesn’t seem to be on there, which definitely struck me as a “major” ending (specifically the one involving bleeding in the box).

    1. ignore me! i just overlooked it. :) incidentally, i really like this game. the only real issue i’ve had with it is that the first time i woke the hart i did so completely by accident by typing “move hart” i mean, i guess that would wake him, but it still took me totally by surprise since. don’t know if that’s a bad thing or not…

  17. I’m still in the middle of the game (got 3 endings so far), but think it’s worth pointing out that your link of the git interpreter is to the source code. I think you really want to link to the Windows binary ( in the same directory), although I didn’t test that (I use Linux).

  18. What the hell? The linked interpreter came with a lot of text I’m supposed to compile, which is to say, make into actual files. I myself will probably able to do it, I guess, following the Readme instructions and all, but I suspect there’s a lot of people that won’t. (I mean, we’re always trying to ‘reach beyond the ghetto’, right?) Is there any possibility of a more user-friendly link?

    1. Erm, the linked interpreter was for a bit pointing to the wrong thing, but it’s since been fixed. More to the point, the Windows installer on the Alabaster webpage should work as-is, providing both the interpreter and the game file. (This is what I’ve been trying to point novices to all along.) The Windows installer has also now been updated with Release 3 of the game.

      It’ll give you Windows Git rather than Windows Glulxe. Git is substantially faster.

  19. Hello, just picked and played through 6 or 7 endings of Alabaster. What a wonderful project! While it offers a lot of similar exploration in dialog for each ending, the point of action which informs the final result is satisfying and wonderful each time. The melancholy tone of the piece is apparently unavoidable, but many of the endings are quite sad. All that being said, I haven’t played another text-based game with such rich conversation. The illustrations add a nice touch and emphasize the mood of the relationship as it new information is discovered. Anyway, take this as praise for the effort of creating such a game. I enjoy it very much.

  20. Very cool! I’m a huge fan of your blog and your columns, particularly the ones about your creative process. Looking forward to trying this new one out, uploading to Frotz as I type!

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