Archive for October, 2010

We’re in need of a new Inform 7 programmer. You have to be a very strong Inform 7 programmer at this point and you’d also have to be somewhat known to me in the community. If you have some spare time and are interested in pitching in with changes to Secret Letter and finishing Empath’s Gift, please contact me.

David at TF (full name) dot com.

I originally watched Get Lamp, Jason Scott’s documentary about IF, in Boston at PAX East in March. It was raw, but I had trouble with the lack of attention on the existing community and nature of IF.

Then I got my free copy from Jason and watched that…and although it was no longer raw, it still lacked a great deal where the current IF scene is concerned.

Last night Jason did a screening at google Chicago with the Chicago IF Group and something strange happened. It was great. I could swear that I’d never seen any of the film that dealt with the community, the tools, the competition. Did I somehow miss this on the DVD? Did I lose a chapter? Did Jason show a different version last night?

I have no answers.

But the movie, as I saw it last night, appeases all of the concerns I had in earlier viewings. Well, I wish the Berlyn comment was balanced somehow, but it’s such a powerful moment that I can’t see leaving it out. It is what it is.

But the movie, as I saw it last night, was great.

As you all know, the Kickstarter campaign fell short by half. It’s not a bad showing, but not a great one either. I probably should have researched successful campaigns before starting it. There are tricks to prize amounts as well as having a PR plan to get people’s attention. I learned a lot doing it.

But does this mean there won’t be a mobile IF platform? No. It means we just have to continue working with volunteer programmers or programmers willing to sign a revenue based contract. It means I can’t pay someone today to have it done X days, which is a much more efficient development model than sending the occasional e-mail that says, “Hey, how’s that code coming?” and getting the reply, “Sorry, got waylaid by real life. I’ll get back to it soon.”

These are all honest answers. I get waylaid by real life myself and have an enormous list of the tasks that I need to tackle myself. As long as everyone that works for Textfyre has to keep a day job, it’s a long slow process to get to where we need to be, which is generating revenue.

We’re making progress with a mobile Java engine, but the Apple Cocoa code is lying dormant on sourceforge. We will be publishing a Windows Phone 7 application that will be available for the U.S. launch in November. Hopefully we’ll have news on other platforms.

Thanks to everyone that pledged to the Kickstarter campaign. It was much appreciated. I got a lot of great positive feedback from the process.

 

I’m developing user interfaces for each platform (desktop, various mobile, iPad). In the process, I’ve noted the requirement that the user may be new to Interactive Fiction. This has been discussed in the hobbyist community a lot in the past year and we’ve made strides in agreement on the subject. I think there are basic components to any IF user interface that are required for all levels of play.

They include:

  • An introduction – The Welcome to Interactive Fiction document on the Inform 7 website is fabulous and I used this as a templte in developing the introductions for Shadow and Secret Letter. This should contain information about the game itself, possibly a map, pictures of the characters, and setting.
  • A complete set of hints – Some authors have added hints to their games through menus while others have offered a walkthrough. Textfyre has offered hints that follow a sort of computerized version of Invisclues by offering a topic and a list of hints in encrypted words. Click on the hint and it decrypts for you. I think this should be a standard in ever game and the hints should be complete, meaning a player should be able to complete the game by touching every hint. It’s the players choice to use or not use the hints.
  • A complete set of tips. Tips are different than hints. They are more focused on the beginning of the game and their intent is to educate the player on how to use a standard Interactive Fiction interface. Each device will implement hints in its own way. This could be done with popup balloons, with speech, with a semi-transparent pop up window, popup toast, a highlighted portion of text, or something else. These tips could be relative to a point in the game or tied to command input, but the idea is to help new users through rough spots. It could also be used to point out game-specific oddities for all players.
  • A standard set of instructions or help – This is different than the introduction in that the help is generic and not game specific.
  • Save and Restore should retain scrollback or command+response history. When the player returns to the user interface and starts it up or restores a saved game

I think if all of these items are implemented, the user will have a significantly easier time in playing Interactive Fiction on any platform. They will know to look for certain aspects of the interface and have that “ah ha” moment each time.

Textfyre is extremely close to completing its delivery platform, proving its concept, and building a customer base.

In order to enable growth we are now looking for a Marketing Director to become a founding member of our company. The ideal candidate would be someone with publishing experience, education experience, and building trust with soccer moms or parents looking for supplemental education products.

This is an immediate and critical need. Please contact me directly if you’re interested.

David Cornelson, President
voice: +1 01 630 803 4302
email: david plaque textfyre dust com (where plaque is @ and dust is .)

On the way to our mobile platform I discovered that some of the games people want to publish are Inform 6 games. I’d like to maintain a consistent platform using FyreVM and so we’re left with a somewhat non-trivial task. That is, the conversion of the Inform 7 extension “FyreVM Support” to a Glulx Inform 6 library include file.

I may take a crack at this over the coming days, but if anyone else feels up to the challenge, there might be a reward of some sort in exchange for your valiant and much appreciated efforts.

There are a couple of versions of FyreVM Support, one for 5Z71 and one for 6E__. If you’re interested, check out the project source at SourceForge.