Archive for August, 2010

Textfyre is making an effort to publish games on all platforms now. The list of targeted platforms includes:

  • Windows desktops, laptops, netbooks, and tablets
  • Mac OS X
  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • Droid
  • Windows Phone 7
  • Palm Pre
  • Blackberry
  • Web via Silverlight
  • Web via Zifmia
  • Web via HTML5
  • Amazon Kindle
  • B&N Nook
  • XBox 360
  • Nintendo DS/DSi
  • Sony PS3

This is going to be a sizable effort and will take time to implement. In the end, we will be able to accept content that meets a set of criteria and publish that content to all of the implemented platforms.

We’re also going to try to make it so that saved games can be stored online or offline along with progress and status information. Some of this information will have the option of being shared with social networking platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

We are developing tools to integrate games with social networking sites, allowing authors to use profile information within their games.

The criteria for publishing your content will include the following:

  • Game file must be Glulx with FyreVM support. We have an Inform 7 extension for FyreVM and are working on an Inform 6 extension (for glulx output only though). I don’t think we can support the Z-Machine, but upgrading your source code to Glulx Inform 6 may get you past this requirement.
  • At this time, we don’t have any way to support TADS 3, but it’s on our radar.
  • No blorb support.
  • No glk support.
  • Channel emissions must be tested thoroughly.
  • Games must be tested thoroughly.
  • We will allow for spot and page art implemented through channel or markup data. Details will be included in the FyreVM Developer’s Guide, which will be available soon.

We really have no interest in becoming a censor, but Textfyre has to set some guidelines about content. I’ll have to talk to people about how to implement the content standards, but I believe the primary consideration would be that the game be of high quality. After that it will likely be an editorial decision.

The website is undergoing a complete redesign and won’t be available for some time, but I’m going to start posting information there, even in raw form, so that people can keep up with our progress.

If you have any questions, please contact me directly.

Textfyre has been in pivot mode for awhile now. As has been blogged before, we’re going to move away from the strict educational model we were hoping to build. We’ve already moved away from asking authors and designers to focus on the middle-school demographic.

It’s clear that mobile platforms and are going to be one of the places to be with new media and casual gaming content. That said, desktops aren’t going anywhere. What’s become clear is that we need to have a viable product on all platforms. This means standard web, social web, desktop, mobile phone, mobile slate, and eReaders. Once we’ve built the product delivery system on all of these platforms, we will be able to draw content from external sources and offer what is essentially a new pipeline for content.

Content creators can then use our delivery system for original content or for older content. Content creators can use our delivery process as a way to offer a necessary bump to their marketing cycle.

We’re close to having all of the platform delivery systems addressed and expect to be platform complete by the end of 2010.

The website is going to change dramatically in the coming weeks. Instead of focusing on specific content, were going to focus on Interactive Fiction as a new medium for new and existing content and provide information to content creators on how they can utilize our delivery mechanisms.

I’m excited about these changes. They bring the focus of Textfyre back to Interative Fiction as a medium instead of a source of supplemental education materials.

I interviewed with Jason Scott for the Interactive Fiction documentary Get Lamp a few years ago. I was just getting Textfyre going and was excited about the potential of modern IF. I’m even more excited about modern IF than I was back then, and that has nothing to do with Textfyre. There seems to be a new push to widen the interest of IF. New websites like PR-IF.org, server tools, javascript based interpreters, new books, and more.

So Get Lamp kind of lands in the middle of this period of time and from my perspective sinks like a lead weight. From a nostalgic perspective, and certainly if you’re an Infocom fan, Get Lamp is fantastic. But if you’ve been working at IF for the last 15 or 20 years as a hobbyist and the passion for Infocom or Level 9 has faded, Get Lamp is like a mint without the dinner.

Get Lamp completely ignores the modern IF movement. There is nothing in the documentary about modern IF platforms like TADS 3 or Inform 7. I’m not sure Graham Nelson or Emily Short are even mentioned (how is it possible to discuss IF without their efforts?). There aren’t any discussions about Curveship, a new platform being developed by Nick Montfort. There isn’t any talk about any games that have come out in the last ten years. There’s no talk of how we’ve evolved and grown. How we’ve adapted to changes in technology, content, and communal expectations. Jason literally only touched the tip of the iceburg. Get Lamp should have a subtitle: The History of Interactive Fiction.

In general, there is absolutely nothing in the documentary about what the IF community is doing right now and I think this is a huge gap in the film. I think Jason Scott made Get Lamp for his own Infocom fanboy moment. Those are harsh words, but it seems pretty clear to me that Jason has zero connection to the modern IF world. Now that the movie is completed, and after he sells a few hundred or few thousand copies, he will be off to make some other documentary and leave IF behind. I’ve reflected on my own Infocom fanboy moments and realized that I love Interactive Fiction. Not just Infocom. If anything, Get Lamp’s lack of interest in modern IF has ignited my passion for promoting modern IF, either through Textfyre or through open source tools or general community outreach. I realized this while having a drink with Lebling, Meretzky, Dornbrook, and Moriarty at PAX East. They loved Infocom. But they believe if there were ever a new IF age, it would have to be new and different. Like me, they actually love Interactive Fiction more than Infocom and IF’s history.

Anyway. I propose we all pitch in and do interviews of each other and post them on a website somewhere. These interviews will talk about what we’re all doing now and how IF has evolved into something well beyond the days of Infocom. We have an opportunity at PAX Prime to do a few interviews. I would like to encourage someone else to grab a camera and sit a few people down for 15 minutes or 30 minutes and get them on film talking about modern IF. We can do more at PAX East next year.

In the next six months we could produce enough material to be a sort of addendum to Get Lamp that fills in the gaping hole left by Jason. I can work with the Chicago IF group to interview Chicago people. I would spend time talking to Peter Nepstad, Jeremy Freese, and a few others. It would be good to create an outline of things we’d like to see discussed on film. Maybe I’ll setup an IFWiki page and everyone can add their “wish” list. I really believe we need to capture the modern IF community on camera. Its participants, but also its evolution and branches.

So we’re going full speed in developing Windows Phone 7 games. A friend of Textfyre has committed to getting the UX ready by the beginning of September and off to Microsoft for approval. The UX is very cool and I think it will have a sizable impact on mobile IF implementations. To summarize, imagine being able to play an entire IF game with your thumb.

This leads to some disappointing news. Andrew has taken the iPhone, iPad, and OS X code as far as he can and has checked in everything to the sourceforge repository. If anyone wants to pitch in and work on the Objective C code, it would be appreciated by Textfyre as well as anyone else that would like to publish their game to the iPhone and iPad.

I’ll post pictures of the WP7 user experience as we get closer to completion. I really think it’s going to be great.