Archive for August, 2011

When I was at TechWeek, a start-up/entrepreneurial conference here in Chicago, I met a couple of representatives from Encyclopedia Britannica. We chatted about my company and what we could do if we worked together. This led to a meeting in their office in the city this morning.

I gave them a demonstration of various Interactive Fiction examples and we talked about how we could develop classroom oriented applications using their content and the IF medium. They were very excited about the prospect and we’re moving forward with a plan to develop a prototype. They’re offering access to all of their content and when the prototype is ready, they will do the leg work of putting in front of administrators, teachers, and students and gathering feedback. If the prototype looks marketable, they will take over the entire marketing and sales process.

Textfyre has moved away from a strictly education-oriented model, but this is likely to branch some of my efforts, which is a good thing.

I still need to get in touch with my contact at the Chicago Public Schools, so stay tuned for more education-oriented news.

Overheard on ifMUD last week was an observation-only comment about Zifmia being vaporware. I was amused by the comment, since I have made great progress on the entire project in the last few months. I just haven’t been talking about it all that much. Since there has been no demonstration of Zifmia and no public discussion, the vaporware comment was accurate.

However, that is all about to change. I have a working system and although I’m slightly side-tracked with a potential investor meeting on the 16th, a beta of Zifmia is coming this month. The beta will be a replacement of the entire Textfyre.com website into a game portal for Interactive Fiction developed with Inform 7, FyreVM and Zifmia extensions, images, js, css, and html.

A version of Cloak of Darkness will be present in the beta along with a demo version of Shadow in the Cathedral. A full version of Shadow will be added when the payment system is ready. Other features will be added over time, including the ability to upload your own games and web provisioning. I intend the beta of the new Textfyre website to be an extended period of time, to let the kinks iron out.

One of the first tasks will be to adapt extensions for the “standard” Zifmia design, which will be very simple. You can see a functional sample of the latest standard design at http://textfyre.com/design/zifmia-design-2.html. The opening page is a templated “prologue” and following a press of any key, the main template is displayed. Currently there is a column of main text, some spot art, fly out text windows on the left and right, a command line text box, along with map and hint buttons.

Templates are based on straight HTML5/CSS3 using jQuery and various jQuery plugins. I’ve tested this design with IE9, FF 5, and Chrome. It does not work on mobile devices as I see that as a separate template entirely. I plan to investigate jQuery Mobile to help with that work.

I plan to move forward with this design and implement an Inform 7 extension to implement the various pieces. It shouldn’t be too hard to create simple Inform 7 markup that translates to html with known classes.

Feel free to test it out and leave comments.