Archive for February, 2010

Last week I went to a job fair event that tried to match start-up businesses with job seekers. They allowed 24 of the companies to do a 60 second pitch, of which Textfyre was one. There were at least several hundred people at the event which was held at John Barleycorn’s second floor in Wrigleyville in Chicago.

They called me up third and I got up on the stage and did my pitch. Needless to say I was pretty nervous, but explained who I was, what we were doing, what products we had already published and how we competed with other types of gaming and reading material. I wanted to say I was looking for market research, sales, and investor help, but it slipped my mind at the moment. I probably didn’t even use my entire 60 seconds.

So then I went back to my spot, which was actually a pretty good spot in the venue. Low traffic and the other two companies that were supposed to share my booth didn’t show.

For the next two and a half hours I had a line of people wanting to talk to me about Textfyre.

I had several people tell me that I should read Neal Stephenson’s Diamond Age because of a sort of living book a female character interacts with within the story. I told them I was currently reading Quicksilver and would get to Diamond Age eventually.

I had a few people really just looking for work and I chatted with them to either figure out if we could use them in the future, if I could direct them on a better path, or if they might be interested in working for free.

I had one guy come up and say, “You’re the only company I want to talk to.” He was a big fan of Infocom and we chatted a lot about Interactive Fiction and how it impacted our early lives.

Then I had a guy come out of the crowd and asked me if I knew anything about Follett publishing. If you know anything about the educational publishing market, you know who Follett is and why they are so important. Follett is a major pipeline into school libraries and they have a digital division that handles software. This means that when schools are looking for digital content, they do searches through the Follett computerized catalog. It also means that schools will ask Follett for recommendations on software. Needless to say, Follett has been a very important part of my business plan all along. This guy was a product manager and he referred me to another guy in Follett Software and we’re at the beginning stages of discussions on a partnership.

So if this partnership moves forward, we will have three products to list in their system, including the upcoming Empath’s Gift.

I’ve always said that I would partner with any of the hobbyist authors and this is where I can help. If I can work the deal with Follett Software, I would also ask them to include the hobbyist titles. To do this, we would probably have to publish games under the Textfyre name and produce ISBN numbers. There would be some minimal amount of overhead and depending on that and what Follett expects in compensation, I would offer to publish anyone’s games for free or at cost or if people are interested, for profit.

Exciting news in the land of Textfyre. There were other hopeful signs at the event and I’ll share those when I have more details, but the Follett meeting was really great news.

Textfyre is proud to welcome Sarah Morayati, an up and coming IF author, to our design and writing ranks.

Sarah achieved notoriety by placing second in the 2009 annual IF competition with her entry, Broken Legs.

Her Textfyre work is centered around the years 1821 to 1822, the Shelley’s, Keats, Claire Clairmont, Lord Byron, with a historical tale surrounding the lives of these famous writers.

We’re very excited about this project and can’t wait to see the first episode.

Welcome aboard Sarah!

Our secret programmer is hard at work on the new iPhone, iPad, OSX implementation for delivering our games on those platforms. Code is getting checked in and we’re seeing real progress there. Hopefully, when the iPad starts shipping, we’ll be able to be one of the first full-screen applications in the app store. Or one of the thousands.

We’re also awaiting word on access to the Kindle SDK and as soon as we get access, we’ll find another volunteer to help port our games to that platform. It may not be the perfect fit because of the way the screen works, so there may be a few rounds of testing before we get to something workable.

The Empath’s Gift is in alpha-testing (Paul and Chris are doing this work) and I’m hoping to see a second round of that soon.

I have a request. Graeme Jefferis is still working on the Inform 7 programming when he has time, but I feel the need to add a second person. If you have strong Inform 7 programming skills and want to help Textfyre succeed, please drop me an e-mail. I have to say that the pay is all back-ended. This means we can agree on a rate, but I can’t make payments until we see significant units sold (1000 or more per game) or until we find funding. This is the life of a start-up. There are no guarantees and the work you do has to really come from the excitement of seeing Textfyre do good works.

As mentioned before, I will be at PAX East in Boston in late March from Friday through Sunday (and possibly through Tuesday). If you want to meet-up, let me know.