Zifmia Wireframe

Posted: February 18, 2011 in Blogroll, interactive fiction, Textfyre
Tags: , , , , , ,

Since getting the service layer running for Zifmia, I’m now focused on the client side look and feel and getting a first iteration completed by PAX for the IF Demo Fair. To that end, I’ve come up with a first draft of the wireframe layout.

As you can see, this is very different from previous Interactive Fiction UI designs. There are tabs on the right for different types of content. Popup menus that can auto-enter commands relative to a word in the text, a history of commands and recommended commands, a movement panel with all of the common directional verbs for auto-entering, a list of users (the lamp represents who is in charge of entering commands, everyone else is a watcher), an achievement panel, and a description panel (which will show the results of examine, search, and similar commands without using a turn – everything in-scope is known for every turn).

I’ve tried to keep the focus on words and reading as opposed to images, but this the first foray into developing a Zifmia web client and I wanted to try to stay somewhat generic. Future, game-specific user interfaces could have clickable maps, and other features. Eventually, Zifmia will allow a UI package to be uploaded that contains javascript, css, html, and images and tie the package to a game. Then when someone starts that game, the game UI package is used to display the game.

There is still one piece missing and I’m still pondering the implementation. The user can review previous turns. This data is stored on the server. So if the user has played 100 turns, how do we show this and how can we make it easy to select a previous turn or allow paging? This is a purely UI question. Technically, retrieving any turn is a simple AJAX call.

Since we’re using jQuery to design pages, we should be able to offer jQuery themes too.

I will also be adding oAuth to protect the service and offer pay games, web chat, and more.

I’m hoping to have the bulk of this design ready for PAX.

  1. Horace Torys says:

    My initial reaction is “cluttered.” I think most all of these things could be put to good use in the right game, but not all at once. Who is the target audience?

    UI packages sound VERY cool, as do many of the backend tools (if I understand them correctly).

  2. I think we’re going to go through iterations on what works and what doesn’t. My intent with FyreVM was to open up the ability of a programmer to experiment with different user interfaces. Obviously, it didn’t really catch on. Using the web as an experimental environment is much simpler and more open to novice programmers, so that’s where Zifmia comes in. So I agree…setting up the Zifmia portal to allow new UI packages is the way to go. I’m hoping that over time we discover new UI elements and behaviors that many people appreciate. But I also really like the idea of people building game specific interfaces, as well as integrating non-IF functionality into their packages. Remember, with Zifmia, you can write client-side code to interact with Internet “stuff” (images, links, shopping carts, and more).

  3. Rob says:

    I really like it and think it could help to make Interactive Fiction more popular.

    In a time where more people than ever use their computers to read and write (ie facebook etc.) a UI that is easier on the eye will be whats needed to bring in new players.

    Stick a new player in front of frotz, and they’re likely to click ‘close’ very quickly (no offence to frotz, I love frotz but things need to move with the times).

  4. ZUrlocker says:

    I think its great to take a new set of eyes to IF user interface. But I also encourage you to KISS — keep it simple. I have no doubt that there are many Kindle or iPad users who would buy *existing* Glulx / Z-code IF apps if they were available on their respective app stores. Choice of Games is doing great on Kindle for example. iFrotz on the iPad does a good job, but I’m sure there other things that could be presented well. But I am not sure I want to give up half my screen real estate.

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