Posts Tagged ‘commercial interactive fiction’

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.

Rough images of Secret Letter user interface...

The images to the left (click to see larger image) are rough implementations of the user interface for Jack Toresal and The Secret Letter.

The first image shows the closed book with a cover. After clicking the book, the title page is shown including credits. Clicking on the right page will take you to the table of contents, which is a menu of sorts to play the game, save it, review maps, see hints, and get help. After clicking Start New Game, the prologue shown and clicking on the right page again will take you to the game page itself. The game plays on the left while the right side will display pictures, conversation topics, hint topics, help, and more.

In the last two images you see the game being played and a list of topics when a character is engaged in conversation. These topics can be clicked or the number can be entered into the interface.

Note that these are rough images of a design in progress. We’re still debating other features like where to display the map and hints (potentially as the inside front and back covers). The artwork is not what would appear in the final product either. We’re still working through the list of required artwork and that will be a sizable effort to complete.

Which brings me to the subject of cash flow. Up until now I have refrained from discussing monetary matters outside of the hints about looking for funding. We’re at a point where my personal funds won’t meet the needs of the company. We’re actively seeking investors or partnerships that will allow us to move the company from start-up mode to being a full-time job for myself and others. This is necessary to drive the products to completion and actively work on future products. Needless to say, looking for loans or credit of any type in today’s financial world is laughable at best.  I’m not sure if anyone out there can help us find investors or partners, but if you can and believe in what we’re trying to accomplish, now is the time to step forward.