Archive for July, 2008

I’m sure anyone reading the blog and interested in the progress of Textfyre is wondering when we’re going to publish our first game. As I have said from the beginning, “We’ll get there when we get there.” and that statement still holds true today. We make progress in spots and we’re learning a lot about the business and artistic needs of the company as we go. Here are some of the things that have happened recently…

I did indeed hire an assistant, Sara Lieberum, to help with the internal business processes. Sara is an expert at helping start-up companies get organized and she’s a welcome addition to our team.

In the search for an assistant, I also found Justin Greene. He didn’t fit the assistant position, but he has a a great¬†understanding of school systems and so we’ve hired him as our educational consultant. Justin is busy learning about Interactive Fiction, our products, and will be developing the lecture and lesson plans for middle school language arts classes. This coincides with our plans to develop an institutional version of each game.

In the process of looking for a UI developer, two people approached me that may well solve many problems going forward. The first, Will Capellaro, is a brand design developer. He’s taking on the role as part-time Art Director for Textfyre and has already proven to be an excellent partner in helping me understand the business side of managing artwork development.

The second was Thomas Lynge from Tenteo in Denmark. Thomas is a big fan of Interactive Fiction and has already started to help with the UI programming. They’re experts with WPF and Silverlight and have suggested that they would be very interested in developing a Silverlight version of the UI. Since having an online playable version of our games is important, this is a fantastic development.

On the game side of things, Secret Letter is nearing completion with its testing, Klockwerk is in the final writing stages and I7 programming is in-progress, and Giant Leaps has just begun its writing phase.

I’m hoping to have teaser online playable version of Secret Letter ready the next time I post. Stay tuned.

East Commerce Street

The east end of Commerce Street winds through an upper-class residential neighborhood before winding up at Lord’s Market. Behind spiked, iron fences stand the “city cottages” of Toresal’s wealthy merchants and nobility, built tall and narrow to make the best use of limited real estate.

Three stately houses are built close together on the north side of the road: Black Gate Estate to the northwest; Red Gate Estate to the north; and the Jacobs family mansion to the northeast. The street itself continues east and west, and the City Park lies to the south.

There seems to be some sort of spectacle going on in Lord’s Market; pedestrians are crowding the streets, pressing east.

>east

Lord’s Market

Lord’s Market is packed with people from every part of the city, all of them pressing in, blocking the streets. You’ve never seen it this crowded before.

There is some sort of wooden structure erected in the center of the square.

>examine structure

It’s a raised platform, with some sort of scaffolding built over it, and a rope dangling from…

Suddenly your mouth goes dry. It’s a gallows.

>wait

Time passes.

A man steps up onto the wooden platform. By squeezing between two spectators and craning your neck, you can just make out that it is Baron Fossville addressing the crowd.

“Citizens of Toresal,” he shouts, “as Lord of this City, it is my duty to administer justice within its gates, and punish those who transgress against the Queen’s Law. More often than not, this duty is a heavy burden. Though I may wish to be lenient, consideration for the sanctity of the law and the safety of the Queen’s subjects must always outweigh my softer instincts. Today, this burden weighs particularly upon me, for today I must administer the most stringent punishment allowed by the law.”

Soldiers prod a second man up onto the platform. The black bag covers his face, but you recognize him by the clothes he’s wearing – it’s Bobby!

>wait

Time passes.

“This man before you stands accused of plotting high treason against the city of Toresal,” shouts the Baron. “The evidence against him has been weighed, and he has been found guilty by the Honorable Magistrate Hester Rudup.”

Fossville gestures to a third man standing on his other side, a gaunt man wearing crimson robes – the man who captured you last night at the fountain.

>wait

Time passes.

“Despite the grief it causes me, the penalty for this most heinous crime is clear.” Fossville pauses; the crowd is hanging on his every word. “By the power vested in me and in accordance with the Queen’s Law… I hereby sentence this man to hang by the neck until dead.”

The Baron turns to one of his soldiers at the platform’s base and nods his head.

Later, you cannot remember whether you really heard the clunk of the trapdoor falling open, the rope snapping taut, or whether you only imagined it. You remember screaming, clawing at the spectators in front of you, and being pushed back by rough, angry hands. You stumbled and fell onto the cobblestones; you never saw his body drop.

Everything goes black.

 

A few changes are happening within Textfyre. First, we’ve transitioned Graeme off of Secret Letter and Mike Gentry is taking the I7 programming reigns. This is simply because we’re almost entirely focused on grammar and bug fixes and not functionality. Mike can take Jacqueline’s test scripts and just knock them out on his own.

The next big announcement is that the first game design of the Giant Leaps series, A Path to Empathy, is completed and is now being reviewed for the writing portion. It’s a big game too, with 80 rooms. Paul just disappeared after giving me the rough outline and then poof, a full design. It’s magic!

I put out a few job ads for a Flash developer and even met with one, all to no avail. It seems there are plenty of Flash developers, but none of them understand how to talk to the FyreVM .NET Assembly. And after looking at the technical aspects, I can see that Flash really wasn’t meant to do this sort of thing. So it’s all up in the air right now. I don’t care if we finish the UI in WPF, Flash, Flex, or C++. I just need to find someone willing to do the work on a start-up friendly contract.

I don’t have any real news on the investor front, but I do have a couple of great leads.

That’s about it for now. I’m not pulling the launch from September yet, but we’re running pretty thin at this point. If I don’t have the UI done by August, well, then it will be obvious. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Oh yeah..I’m hiring a part-time assistant. I’ve been working through dozens of resumes and have interviewed several people. This should help smooth a lot of the business side communications out.