Posts Tagged ‘shadow in the cathedral’

So the software I’m developing for the classroom is a hybrid of FyreVM and Zifmia technologies. There is a great deal of usability testing we need to do with students and teachers, but there is also a level of beating that I won’t be able to achieve through that process.

So I branched the code, ripped out all of the classroom features, and implemented a revised version of The Shadow in the Cathedral. If I can figure it out, I plan to do Secret Letter too, but that code is a mess.

You can play, for free, the online version of The Shadow in the Cathedral right now.

It’s a bit sluggish at times, although not terribly bad. It’s certainly usable. I’m considering a few tweaks to speed things up, but the performance is in large part a factor of the game’s size. It was not designed for a client-server platform…it was designed for a PC interpreter.

I have to thank Jimmy Maher for the Kindle port for a great deal of the bottlenecks being removed. Jimmy has a knack for finding bad Inform 7 code and rewriting it so that things perform well. This version of Shadow is a descendant of those changes.

The caveats I offer in playing it online includes the following:

  1. this does not change the price or availability of the Kindle, Android, or Hobbyist versions.
  2. if you have suggestions, please use the Feedback button on the lower right. This leads to a User Voice feedback dialogue where you can offer your feedback.
  3. at any time, I may make changes to the game file, which will reset all sessions to the beginning of the game. One feature I’m contemplating is the ability to have the system upload the new game, then fire off a script to rerun all historical turns in the new engine. I can think of a number of ways to enable this, but I’m undecided.
  4. if anyone has any art or music they’d like to share in the online version, feel free. I view this version as a sort of artistic endeavor combined with usability research. This goes for CSS changes as well. I can easily provide alternate CSS implementations.
  5. the underlying client-side code is copyrighted. look, but don’t copy.

I can’t say that this will remain online forever, but that’s my intention.



Hey everyone, in addition to PC and Mac and game file downloads from, The Shadow in the Cathedral is now available on Android as well as Kindle.


After many months of work…

The Shadow in the Cathedral is now available on the Kindle Keyboard and Kindle Touch. The price is $9.99 (the Amazon store does not allow for $9.95, so it’s $.04 more than the PC/Glulx purchase).

I need to thank Jimmy Maher for his programming capability and relentless pursuit of Kindle KDK development.

Shadow will soon be available on Nook, Android, iPad, and Web.

Microsoft announced their new mobile platform in February and I’ve been actively working on prototypes using the new development tools, Expression Blend 4, Visual Studio 2010, and the Silverlight Windows Phone 7 SDK.

One of the great things about targeting Windows Phone 7 is that all of our existing code base compiles without change. The FyreVM class library ported without easily and now it’s just a matter of working through the new WP7 API’s to make it work seamlessly.

Of course the real work will be coming up with a user experience that works well. It may be that our work with the book “paging” model used in Jack Toresal and The Secret Letter Deluxe Edition will help us with something similar on WP7.

The way that paging works on WP7, by flicking the screen right or left or up or down is a key to making something interesting and intuitive. The user should be able to play our games with just a thumb.

The other aspect of targeting this platform is that we can also implement them using XNA for the XBox 360 platform and players could go back and forth between them playing the same game. It will be interesting to see this in action.

We’re already registered as an official developer and targeting to be one of the first products available at the launch later this year.

Stay tuned!

The Shadow in the Cathedral is one of the finalists in the 2009 XYZZY Awards.

Congratulations to Ian Finley and Jon Ingold for putting together such a great game.

This week, I got news that a friend of Textfyre (who shall remain anonymous for now), who knows iPhone development pretty well, is going to help us build FyreVM for the iPhone.  This will allow us to publish our games to the iPhone App Store. The timeframe is fluid, but it looks like we’ll be sending our first three games to the App Store this spring.

In other news, Empath’s Gift is chugging along on the coding side, sales of Shadow in the Cathedral are slow, but steady, and we’ve added a fourth development team to the mix. The new team is still working out their story idea and as soon as that’s solidified, there will be a formal announcement.

There is also a fifth development team in the works and I’m waiting on one more e-mail to solidify their involvement.

As always, stay tuned!

Textfyre is still in the process of business development. This means that the business plan is fluid. We have to adapt to new ideas, new market pressures, and of course, we need to generate revenue, even if it’s small.

Secret Letter’s sales have been slow and that’s probably because we need to get it into the target market’s hands. Getting a text game in the hands of a middle-school student is very difficult, but we’re inching closer to seeing that happen. In the meantime, we need to diversify our plans and try to market to the indy/casual/hobbyist gaming communities. So we’ve made some dramatic changes…

All future releases of Textfyre games will have a Hobbyist Edition, which will come with the same End User License Agreement, an Introduction, Hints, and the raw Glulx file that can be played on any existing Glulx interpreter. The raw Glulx file will also be included in all other editions, except for the Classroom Edition, which is a different delivery model anyway.

We still expect to get the games into classrooms on a per-student seat licensing basis, but we need to build the business however it comes to us. We’re going to try to market to casual gamers interested in IF and see where that leads. It looks like The Shadow in the Cathedral is going to do well in this area where Secret Letter has not. I believe the next game, The Empath’s Gift, will also do well in this manner.

I’ve also realized that aiming a little higher with game content is probably a wise move. Secret Letter may be a little too simple in its story-telling. Blame me. I have four daughters and was really basing my instincts on their interests. My two eldest daughters are now reading tween books that are well beyond Secret Letter’s story-telling.

The pricing has come down and we’re okay with that. The gaming market is competitive and online prices aren’t the same as brick and mortar prices. If we ever box up the games and get a chance to sell them in Borders or BN, the price will most likely increase.

The price of the Deluxe version of Secret Letter is likely to come down too. I’m weighing what price point makes sense.

There will be a Deluxe version of Shadow, but probably not until next year.

Version 2 of Secret Letter is due out any day.

I’m glad to see the reviews by Emily Short at IFDB and PlayThisThing. It’s gratifying to see we’re doing good works.