Posts Tagged ‘WPF’

I’m sure anyone reading the blog and interested in the progress of Textfyre is wondering when we’re going to publish our first game. As I have said from the beginning, “We’ll get there when we get there.” and that statement still holds true today. We make progress in spots and we’re learning a lot about the business and artistic needs of the company as we go. Here are some of the things that have happened recently…

I did indeed hire an assistant, Sara Lieberum, to help with the internal business processes. Sara is an expert at helping start-up companies get organized and she’s a welcome addition to our team.

In the search for an assistant, I also found Justin Greene. He didn’t fit the assistant position, but he has a a great understanding of school systems and so we’ve hired him as our educational consultant. Justin is busy learning about Interactive Fiction, our products, and will be developing the lecture and lesson plans for middle school language arts classes. This coincides with our plans to develop an institutional version of each game.

In the process of looking for a UI developer, two people approached me that may well solve many problems going forward. The first, Will Capellaro, is a brand design developer. He’s taking on the role as part-time Art Director for Textfyre and has already proven to be an excellent partner in helping me understand the business side of managing artwork development.

The second was Thomas Lynge from Tenteo in Denmark. Thomas is a big fan of Interactive Fiction and has already started to help with the UI programming. They’re experts with WPF and Silverlight and have suggested that they would be very interested in developing a Silverlight version of the UI. Since having an online playable version of our games is important, this is a fantastic development.

On the game side of things, Secret Letter is nearing completion with its testing, Klockwerk is in the final writing stages and I7 programming is in-progress, and Giant Leaps has just begun its writing phase.

I’m hoping to have teaser online playable version of Secret Letter ready the next time I post. Stay tuned.

A few changes are happening within Textfyre. First, we’ve transitioned Graeme off of Secret Letter and Mike Gentry is taking the I7 programming reigns. This is simply because we’re almost entirely focused on grammar and bug fixes and not functionality. Mike can take Jacqueline’s test scripts and just knock them out on his own.

The next big announcement is that the first game design of the Giant Leaps series, A Path to Empathy, is completed and is now being reviewed for the writing portion. It’s a big game too, with 80 rooms. Paul just disappeared after giving me the rough outline and then poof, a full design. It’s magic!

I put out a few job ads for a Flash developer and even met with one, all to no avail. It seems there are plenty of Flash developers, but none of them understand how to talk to the FyreVM .NET Assembly. And after looking at the technical aspects, I can see that Flash really wasn’t meant to do this sort of thing. So it’s all up in the air right now. I don’t care if we finish the UI in WPF, Flash, Flex, or C++. I just need to find someone willing to do the work on a start-up friendly contract.

I don’t have any real news on the investor front, but I do have a couple of great leads.

That’s about it for now. I’m not pulling the launch from September yet, but we’re running pretty thin at this point. If I don’t have the UI done by August, well, then it will be obvious. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Oh yeah..I’m hiring a part-time assistant. I’ve been working through dozens of resumes and have interviewed several people. This should help smooth a lot of the business side communications out.

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.

Since Jesse McGrew has successfully created our virtual machine, the next hurdle in Texfyre’s path to market is completing the visual and interactive aspects of the user interface (also known as an intepreter or “terp” to IFers).

As mentioned before, we’re using Microsoft’s WPF and XAML to do this work and it’s been very difficult finding anyone with experience with the design tools for these technologies. I’ve tried craig’s list, elance, various online forums and have come up empty until this week. I went to a Visual Studio. .NET 2008 Load Fest at Microsoft here in Chicago and asked one of the evangelists if he knew anyone with the skills I’m looking for and sure enough, he did and even better, he was at the meeting too.

I asked Anthony Handley from Magenic Consulting to stop by my laptop for a review of what we’re trying to do and give him the 10,000 foot view. He was excited and confident that he could do the work and that we just needed to talk to his boss about availability, cost, and functional requirements. After seeing Anthony’s demo of WPF, I’m extremely confident that he can manage the work and even though this will entail consulting-level fees, I feel strongly that it’s critical to put the extra effort and cash into this portion of the business.

So another hurdle seems to be overcome and the final two hurdles include partnerships and investors as well as marketing and sales. Basically we’re getting close to launch and those are the final steps in the plan.

In game news, we’re making great progress on the second Miradania game and Klockwerk’s first game is more than half complete (design and writing). Our third and fourth series’ are going slower, but I expect those to pick up steam in Q1.

In other news, I’m talking with one of my favorite authors, Janny Wurts, about helping Textfyre with content and/or editorial advise. I’ve got my fingers crossed that she might find Textfyre interesting and completely compatible with her novel writing. I plan to contact other authors once we’re in production about using existing books or new works in Textfyre games.

2007 has been a fantastic building year for Textfyre. 2008 is going to be the big launch. Happy Holidays everyone and have a great new year!