Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

I know no one gets excited about vaporware, but the new Textfyre website will address some of the issues Jim talks about here.

Based on my work on Zifmia, which is a client-server engine based on FyreVM, which is a .NET implementation of the Glulx specification, I have been able to build a new Textfyre website. This new website is intended to be a portal for client-server Interactive Fiction games.

Here is the scenario I envision for the portal:

An author uploads a gblorb file that contains their game and images. In setting up their game, they select a template, which is used to display the game in any supported browser, including mobile and tablet browsers. The template is made up of JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. The author may offer their own template and a way to test templates locally will be enabled. The ability to use the portal in an IFRAME will also be available, allowing the author to show the game on their own website or blog. Facebook integration is an important part of the future of Textfyre’s strategy as well.

Games are played in a standard fashion, but mostly based on whatever template is devised. The template I’m working on is a hybrid of things we’ve seen over time and a slightly out of date version can be seen at http://beta.textfyre.com.

One of the major differences with the portal is that every turn of every game is saved on the Textfyre servers, in the cloud. If you play the game on any connected device, you will never lose your places. Save, Restore, and Undo become irrelevant. The user interface will have a mechanism to jump to any turn the user has played. If they type a new command at a previous turn, the history branches. These branches are displayed to the user and can be panned and zoomed and reviewed.

Obviously, this is a connected service. Future implementations may include client-side storage, but it’s not on the radar today.

I have Cloak of Darkness working as an example. I’m still (slowly) working on the standard template and Shadow will be implemented as a pay-to-play game when the site is released publicly. Secret Letter will follow and we’re working on getting Empath’s Gift completed, at which time it will also become a part of the portal.

I would love for an author to step up and offer to work with me on the standard template or a new template for their own game. If anyone is interested, let me know. This is mostly going to be undoing any Glk specific code in your game file and replacing it with FyreVM stuff and then working on the client-side code.

The life of an entrepreneur is hard. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. For all of the Mark Zuckerberg’s in the world, there are thousands of guys like me. We have a vision, a passion, a singular belief that we can create something special. We will scrounge up dollars to keep our servers running, scramble to networking events that just might lead us to an important contact, and endure ridicule and debasement for our “fantasy”. Our families don’t get it at all. Our friends are supportive, to a point. Our advisors are helpful, but excruciatingly and irritatingly calm and collected. We ourselves either lose weight or gain weight, eat badly, sleep horribly (if at all), and do poorly at our regular jobs because we’re simply not inspired by the grey cube walls of doom.

And yet we persevere. We find inspiration in little things. We continue to poke and prod our network. To find new ways to develop our business plan. To bring new advisors into the mix. To improve our product plans. To find new customers. We think about our business and work on some aspect of it every single day. Some days for hours and hours. Some days for only a few minutes.

We believe with every fiber of our being that our plan is solid and it can succeed. We believe that we’re doing something worthwhile and good. Something that will create jobs that people will love. Something that will create products that people will love. Something that will make the world a better place.

I’ve been working on Textfyre for over four years. We have two published products. A third product incredibly close to being published. A new business plan. New markets (Kindle, iPad). New authors. New Advisors. We still have people investing their time in Textfyre and believing that it can succeed. We have great tools and great plans for new games.

We’re not Facebook and we’re not an overnight sensation. But we’re still working at making a great company, even if it takes years and not hours to get there. We’re still working.

As we rework our business model we’re going to take advantage of a couple of existing and new technologies. As mentioned in the Kickstarter project, we’re going to provide a centralized, cloud-oriented SAVE feature. We’re also going to connect our stories to social media like Facebook and Twitter.

In order to do this, we’ll update Channel IO so that it has a standard interface for Facebook and Twitter. This will allow any author publishing through our portal to fire their own social media events. Our game engine will simply read the Facebook or Twitter channels and send the appropriate message and image.

Textfyre’s stories will go back to an idea we had in the beginning, which was to offer “progress cards” for each completed task within the story. These will be noted on connected social networking sites and may provide other benefits to our customers.

If anyone has any other cloud or social media suggestions, please let us know. The more in-story interfaces we can offer, the better our portal and publishing service will be.

Textfyre has been in pivot mode for awhile now. As has been blogged before, we’re going to move away from the strict educational model we were hoping to build. We’ve already moved away from asking authors and designers to focus on the middle-school demographic.

It’s clear that mobile platforms and are going to be one of the places to be with new media and casual gaming content. That said, desktops aren’t going anywhere. What’s become clear is that we need to have a viable product on all platforms. This means standard web, social web, desktop, mobile phone, mobile slate, and eReaders. Once we’ve built the product delivery system on all of these platforms, we will be able to draw content from external sources and offer what is essentially a new pipeline for content.

Content creators can then use our delivery system for original content or for older content. Content creators can use our delivery process as a way to offer a necessary bump to their marketing cycle.

We’re close to having all of the platform delivery systems addressed and expect to be platform complete by the end of 2010.

The website is going to change dramatically in the coming weeks. Instead of focusing on specific content, were going to focus on Interactive Fiction as a new medium for new and existing content and provide information to content creators on how they can utilize our delivery mechanisms.

I’m excited about these changes. They bring the focus of Textfyre back to Interative Fiction as a medium instead of a source of supplemental education materials.

We are in the midst of developing a new series that flows from the popularity of mythical creatures and young adult romance. The most obvious creatures are vampires and werewolves, but looking at a fresh take on this type of story.

This particular series is going to be published differently. We’re going to work with it into Facebook and do some interesting things by linking the story to the user and the browser. The series will likely unfold as chapters instead of whole books with regular weekly updates.

Stay tuned for the next Textfyre adventure!