Posts Tagged ‘iphone’

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.

So we’ve got a mostly working version of the engine for what we’re calling our K Apps. We still have some performance issues to work through, but we feel confident that those can be resolved.

Now the UI work begins. We had planned to work with James Terry, but the timing wasn’t quite right and we’re looking at another mobile developer. More later.

Nearly all startups go through a period of change. Many go through several periods of change. Most don’t survive these changes. The startups that do manage to stick around tend to adapt to everything thrown at them. They don’t always do it well or immediately, but the ones that survive find some knack for finding the solution to a thousand room maze that few others manage.

Textfyre is on the verge of exiting the startup maze and moving on to being a funded company with strong partnerships and amazing employees. Some of the details remain behind closed doors. Agreements need to be signed, product needs to be prepared, and people need to be notified of the coming changes.

But we’re finally approaching the real launch of Textfyre as a national brand in the Edutainment publishing industry.

These are very exciting and challenging times for me as the founder. I’d like to say that all of the ducks are lined up, but we still need to locate and place a few more of those proverbial ducks. I’m working on a number of fronts, bringing things together, and with a little more work, big announcements will be made in December and January.

These are exciting times for Interactive Fiction.

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 you all know, the Kickstarter campaign fell short by half. It’s not a bad showing, but not a great one either. I probably should have researched successful campaigns before starting it. There are tricks to prize amounts as well as having a PR plan to get people’s attention. I learned a lot doing it.

But does this mean there won’t be a mobile IF platform? No. It means we just have to continue working with volunteer programmers or programmers willing to sign a revenue based contract. It means I can’t pay someone today to have it done X days, which is a much more efficient development model than sending the occasional e-mail that says, “Hey, how’s that code coming?” and getting the reply, “Sorry, got waylaid by real life. I’ll get back to it soon.”

These are all honest answers. I get waylaid by real life myself and have an enormous list of the tasks that I need to tackle myself. As long as everyone that works for Textfyre has to keep a day job, it’s a long slow process to get to where we need to be, which is generating revenue.

We’re making progress with a mobile Java engine, but the Apple Cocoa code is lying dormant on sourceforge. We will be publishing a Windows Phone 7 application that will be available for the U.S. launch in November. Hopefully we’ll have news on other platforms.

Thanks to everyone that pledged to the Kickstarter campaign. It was much appreciated. I got a lot of great positive feedback from the process.

 

Textfyre is making an effort to publish games on all platforms now. The list of targeted platforms includes:

  • Windows desktops, laptops, netbooks, and tablets
  • Mac OS X
  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • Droid
  • Windows Phone 7
  • Palm Pre
  • Blackberry
  • Web via Silverlight
  • Web via Zifmia
  • Web via HTML5
  • Amazon Kindle
  • B&N Nook
  • XBox 360
  • Nintendo DS/DSi
  • Sony PS3

This is going to be a sizable effort and will take time to implement. In the end, we will be able to accept content that meets a set of criteria and publish that content to all of the implemented platforms.

We’re also going to try to make it so that saved games can be stored online or offline along with progress and status information. Some of this information will have the option of being shared with social networking platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

We are developing tools to integrate games with social networking sites, allowing authors to use profile information within their games.

The criteria for publishing your content will include the following:

  • Game file must be Glulx with FyreVM support. We have an Inform 7 extension for FyreVM and are working on an Inform 6 extension (for glulx output only though). I don’t think we can support the Z-Machine, but upgrading your source code to Glulx Inform 6 may get you past this requirement.
  • At this time, we don’t have any way to support TADS 3, but it’s on our radar.
  • No blorb support.
  • No glk support.
  • Channel emissions must be tested thoroughly.
  • Games must be tested thoroughly.
  • We will allow for spot and page art implemented through channel or markup data. Details will be included in the FyreVM Developer’s Guide, which will be available soon.

We really have no interest in becoming a censor, but Textfyre has to set some guidelines about content. I’ll have to talk to people about how to implement the content standards, but I believe the primary consideration would be that the game be of high quality. After that it will likely be an editorial decision.

The website is undergoing a complete redesign and won’t be available for some time, but I’m going to start posting information there, even in raw form, so that people can keep up with our progress.

If you have any questions, please contact me directly.

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.