Posts Tagged ‘apple’

I’m still working on the web client for Zifmia and it’s going slow, mostly because I keep changing the AJAX interface to get everything so it’s compact and very simple. There’s a regression test working now at http://zifmia.textfyre.com/regressiontest.html. The tests include registering a user, logging in, listing games, starting a game session, sending a command to that session, getting a session, getting a previous turn in a session, and then listing all sessions for a logged-in user.

The clientside javascript is wrapped up in the following files:

http://zifmia.textfyre.com/scripts/strings.js – has an extension method on String that allows traditional formatting with arguments.
http://zifmia.textfyre.com/scripts/zifmia.js – the main AJAX calls to the Zifmia service
http://zifmia.textfyre.com/scripts/zifmia-controller-regression.js – the regression test implementation of the controller.
http://zifmia.textfyre.com/scripts/zifmia-controller.js – the sample imlpementation of the controller.
http://zifmia.textfyre.com/scripts/zifmia-htmlformatting.js – has an extension method for converting text to html, currently only looks a newlines and turns them into BR tags.

There’s a jquery-min.js file in there as well…I think I have 1.3, but should upgrade to 1.4.

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I took the plunge this past week and purchased an iPad 2 and a Mac-Mini. Paid extra for the iPad and got a deal on the mini, both off of craigslist, so it more or less evened out.

I installed xcode 4 and with a lot of help from the gang on ifMUD, started getting an iPad client for Zifmia going. I have a lot of hoops to jump through, not to mention learning Objective C, but it doesn’t seem that hard right now. Just different crazy syntax issues.

My idea for the iPad client is similar to the web client, but it won’t be called “Zifmia”, it will be the Textfyre app. I plan to make the client free, but zifmia will allow games to be installed as pay per use games. The nice thing is that this will allow games to be installed in Zifmia that require payment or be free. I haven not figured out how this will work and am aware of the more draconian principals around Apple’s pay for content model, but this seems like a reasonable direction.

Anyone that builds their own client is still free to do so. I may have to split the server into two installations, one for Zifmia and one for Textfyre, but for now I’ll leave it in a merged “beta” state.

As for the iPad client itself, I envision being able to type in commands as usual, but being able to swipe backwards for previous output (one turn per page), have expandable live mapping, note taking, comments at a given location for a given game-state (I’ll have to figure out how to manage this so we don’t show spoilers), common commands used by other users, and local play with a built-in FyreVM engine that resyncs to the server when it can.

I’m less interested in smartphones now. The tablet is the way to go and I’ll have to look at doing the same work on the Galaxy Tab or other Android tablets.

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So we’re going full speed in developing Windows Phone 7 games. A friend of Textfyre has committed to getting the UX ready by the beginning of September and off to Microsoft for approval. The UX is very cool and I think it will have a sizable impact on mobile IF implementations. To summarize, imagine being able to play an entire IF game with your thumb.

This leads to some disappointing news. Andrew has taken the iPhone, iPad, and OS X code as far as he can and has checked in everything to the sourceforge repository. If anyone wants to pitch in and work on the Objective C code, it would be appreciated by Textfyre as well as anyone else that would like to publish their game to the iPhone and iPad.

I’ll post pictures of the WP7 user experience as we get closer to completion. I really think it’s going to be great.

So I’m looking at being a part of the launch of the new Windows Phone 7 and have a dilemma. Andrew is nearing completion of the iPhone/iPad/iPod, and Mac OSX framework for FyreVM games. I’m working on the Silverlight code for Windows Phone 7 games. I think it’s going to be a tie as to when we get the code done.

So then I have to decide how I want to market the new platforms and whether I simply fire off versions for every platform. Do I market just the mobile apps? Do I do just iPad? Do I do just Microsoft or just Apple?

These are the questions I’m pondering every day now.

So while I’m porting Shadow to Windows Phone 7, I started realizing where Microsoft is going with all of their platforms. They want to make it so that if you play a game, you can stop and restart on another device.

So the scenario is…start a game on your new Windows Phone 7 device on the train. At some point you decide to save and quit. When you get home, you fire up the Xbox and load up the same game and continue playing. But wait, your friend Joe calls and wants you to come over. So you head over to Joe’s and pull up the same game on his PC, right where you left off.

Since we’ve been talking about user interfaces lately, this brings up a completely different problem. What will the three different devices/platforms looks like and how will they work? It’s obvious that the WP7 device will have a minimalistic user interface and touch controls. The Xbox might have a keyboard, but it would also have to support users without one and just the standard controllers. The PC user would be running something closer to what we would consider a traditional user interface.

All of this can be done in Silverlight using the various SDK’s and common data file formats, which we already have with FyreVM and Quetzal save files.

I’ve always thought one of the flaws of the iPhone (and now iPad) model was that you couldn’t buy an app and play it on your computer. Why not? What’s preventing Apple from creating an SDK that shares the same code base, but allows the developer to choose different devices to target? Seems like a no-brainer to me. Unless you don’t care about your desktop business anymore and you’re solely focused on mobile devices. That would seem to be the direction Apple is headed.

It will be interesting to see how this dynamic impacts the market when WP7 is launched and the marketing of Microsoft platform neutral gaming comes into play.

In any case, Textfyre is likely to pursue this model. I think telling people they can play our games on their new Windows Phone 7 device, a PC, or an Xbox, is going to be a nice draw.

I’ve talked often about hurdles in the development of Textfyre as a business. We’ve had to work through procedural issues, development issues, content issues, game engine issues, artwork issues, investor issues, and user interface issues. We still have marketing, sales, partnership, and other issues on the horizon.

In late 2007 I was finally able to hire Jesse McGrew for the game engine, but I still couldn’t find anyone to fit into the development of the user interface. This is obviously one of the most critical components of Textfyre since the vision is to present something that is easy, attractive, and yet retains the simple beauty of interactive fiction.

After trying to get a local Flash developer involved, then trying to hire a consulting firm, I finally contacted Peter Mattsson, the creator of Flaxo, a Flash-based z-machine interpreter. Peter is going to help finish the Windows version of the user interface. Peter also has offered to help build a Flash version of uor games for Linux and Mac environments, but we’re still trying to figure out the technical details.

On the investor front, we’re getting ready for a presentation on February 20th with a Chicago-based angel investor. This Saturday, Mike Gentry and I are having dinner with Janny Wurts, a noted fantasy author who I’m trying to entice into helping with content or to become an advisor. I’d also ask that if anyone knows of a potential angel investor to talk to them about Textfyre and get us together.

On the marketing front, I’ve been developing the advertisement plan for our launch and this going very well.

The development of Textfyre has been exciting and every time we fine ourselves facing a challenge, we have always managed to define it, plan a course of action, and meet that challenge head on.