IF News from Textfyre

Posted: February 4, 2015 in Blogroll, interactive fiction, Textfyre
Tags: , , , ,

After moving the two 2009 published stories (Jack Toresal and The Secret Letter, The Shadow in the Cathedral) to itch.io, there have been 200+ views, many press downloads, and a handful of sales. Sales are really not the point of course. I’m just trying to see if Textfyre can re-establish itself as an IF publisher, even a modest one. I’ve been working on updates to those two stories and to the existing tooling.

Empath’s Gift is in early beta-testing now is well on its way to being published this year, possibly even as early as spring.

A colleague has forked Quixe, Andrew Plotkin’s Glulx in JavaScript interpreter, and is nearing completion. This will allow FyreVM games to run in a browser and provide interesting tooling capabilities. I’ve talked about this a lot over the years and it’s been my belief that glk (even the proposed glk 2.0 for web) approach is at-best a stop gap measure.

Real web capabilities should allow an author to rely on the entire web programming paradigm and not just a subset of those capabilities. FyreVM allows for this (but doesn’t provide it) since authoring a game would only requires you to define context, not the look and feel. The look and feel, or user experience, is something that can be done by non-authors who are experts with HTML5. Tools can be developed (like Vorple) to give authors highly flexible control over the look and feel of their published stories.

My goal is take the resulting FyreVM compatible Quixe implementation and create a widget-based web interpreter. The author would load their game file and the system would automatically determine what widgets were required. The author would then drag-drop these widgets on a blank slate and save the results. Players would see the resulting “interpreter” as a custom user experience. The author could allow the player to move the widgets around for their own purposes or they could “lock” the widgets to maintain a distinct experience.

The plan is to have the first implementation of this vision by summer.

I’m personally working on a new story called Reflections, which will either be released sometime summer/fall and possibly in the 2015 IF Competition.

I’ve also discussed the Shadow sequel with Jon and Ian. Sadly, they are far too busy to work on it and so I had planned to open it up to someone else. I can’t offer the highly speculative contract that I once offered early Textfyre authors, so it would be a project of passion for the most part. I would pay a nominal (up front) fee to an experienced Inform 7 author for the work.

I have tried to contact Mike Gentry, but he seems to have left the IF world completely and does not respond to inquiries. This makes me very sad since Mike is still one of the best writers the IF world has ever known. It still irks me that Secret Letter has almost no reviews from prominent IF writers and players. I think it really bothered Mike too. I think the consensus was that it was cliche’d fantasy and this prompted many people to disregard it. Even so, probably the most disappointing aspect of having started and tried to make Textfyre work.

That’s my update. Stay tuned.

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