Now that I have some new followers, today I will tell you all about StoryTime, the first online game by Happy Spirit Games. To begin at the beginning, it all goes back to my childhood, when I ordered a book from Scholastic Book Clubs, the Cave of Time. This was the original choose-your-own-adventure story, where you read a scene and decide what “you,” the main character, would do next. Each choice takes you to a different scene, and eventually you either succeed or meet with an untimely demise. Then, since it’s a book, you can start over and try again.
Edward Packard is the inventor of the concept and the author of many of the books in the series. Lately, I discovered his latest non-fiction work, All It Takes, The 3 Keys to Making Wise Decisions and Not Making Stupid Ones. While the book is a decent exploration of the psychology of decision making, what I find more inspiring is that Edward came up with the choose-your-own-adventure idea while commuting on the train. He was a lawyer at the time, but he created a different line of work that was more fulfilling, and he went for it, enriching the lives of thousands, maybe millions, of children in the process. Great stuff.
A few years ago, I needed a way to sharpen my programming skills that were getting rusty due to an excess of time spent in management. Telling other people what to do is a great way to lose touch with how to do things. So I spent a significant portion of my spare time working on StoryTime, a gaming system for playing and creating choose-your-destiny† style games. (†I should mention that Chooseco LLC owns the rights to the phrase “Choose Your Own Adventure,” credit where it is due.) The game is simple enough to play, yet the system is complex enough to give me exposure to a wide range of technologies.
Philosophy aside, what matters is that now I have lots of time and a single focus, to get this game online and under the tapping fingers of lots of players, as well as a handful of budding authors. Playing StoryTime is simple. You select a story from the StoryTime Library and read the first scene. At the end of the scene, you are presented with a number of choices. Simply tap or click on where you want to go next, and the StoryTime Reader takes you there. When you get to an ending, you do a little dance or take your lumps. Either way, you can easily start over, or you can go back to the library and choose another story. With enough stories, an avid reader can be amused for hours at a time.
For authors, things get more interesting. An author will need to register, which involves providing contact information, agreeing to terms and conditions (such as agreeing not to plagiarize other works), and selecting a pen name. When logged in, an author gets access to the StoryTime Writing Desk, a place to create stories, edit scenes and hook scenes together. When the author is ready, she or he can publish, which places the story in the Library Instant notoriety.
As software goes, the dream is a bit ahead of reality. My intention is to publish my first story and release the Reader by the end of the year. 12 days to go, although I hope to have it running well before the ball drops at Times Square. When it is ready, my subscribers will be the first to know.
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