Worlds Apart

Winner: 1999 XYZZY Award for Best Story

For over 20 years, I have dreamed about an alternate universe I call The Higher World. For the last three of those years, I've poured almost all of my creative energy into a novel-length story set in that universe. Worlds Apart is the result. But it is not a novel in the traditional sense of the word. It is an interactive tale in which you play the leading part, solving problems and learning about yourself along the way.

The only catch is, you'll need to use a computer to experience it.

Worlds Apart is a descendant of old-fashioned computer text adventures. It was designed using a very powerful interactive fiction language called TADS, which produces games quite similar in look and feel to the legendary Infocom adventures. As with those, you interact with Worlds Apart via a text parser, which accepts simple commands like "sit on the chair" and "ask the wizard about magic".

Yet Worlds Apart differs from traditional adventure games almost as much as it differs from a plain novel. It is first and foremost about self-discovery, not puzzle-solving, and is set in a richly detailed gameworld. This gameworld is filled with optional discoveries: while there is a central story which all players will experience, the majority of Worlds Apart is optional! The more you explore, the more you will find. This exploration includes both probing the world around you using your six senses, and speaking with the other characters.

I've collected some reviews of Worlds Apart, if you'd like to hear what others have to say.

Here's a screenshot from the Windows version.

Carolyn Mitchell has done a wonderful rendition of the protagonist of Worlds Apart. But if you want the story's premise to be a surprise, wait until you've played through the first few scenes before looking at it.

Valentine Kozin created a stunning video of the story's opening scene and landscape.

If your interest has been piqued, I invite you to click on one of the download links below. The downloads are divided into rows by OS and columns by location: if one download location doesn't work or is not highlighted, try the others.

Version: 2.2


System Filesize Download
    Local IF Archive (Mirror 1) IF Archive (Mirror 2)
Windows 1594283 worlds.exe worlds.exe worlds.exe
Macintosh 1244101 worlds-apart-21.hqx worlds-apart-21.hqx worlds-apart-21.hqx
TADS 620520 worlds.zip worlds.zip worlds.zip


The Windows file is a self-extracting installer program. This is a good option if you're a Windows user who is a relative newbie to IF and doesn't have HTML TADS already installed. Just download and run worlds.exe and you'll be on your way. The Mac version is packaged with the latest version of HyperTADS.

The final option, "TADS", is a zip archive containing the system-independent gamefile worlds.gam. This is a data file which cannot be executed directly, but rather is played using a TADS interpreter. You'll need TADS 2.5.1 or better to play--preferably HTML TADS (aka HyperTADS), if that is available for your system, although it will play fine under a console-based interpreter (you'll just miss a few bells and whistles). If you need help installing TADS on your computer, check The TADS Page for advice.

If you have any questions, comments, or bug reports on Worlds Apart, feel free to contact me.



My playtesters:
Paul O' Brian
Michael Britton
Dave Gatewood
Michael Kinyon
Vincent Lynch
Lucian P. Smith

I owe these folks the world. If you have a game that needs testing, I heartily recommend every one of them. Oh, and I owe my husband extra for designing the nifty banner at the top of this page :-)



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