What I Want To Do
I want to write a sequel to Tiny Text Adventure 1 (TTA1), an Android game, with a bigger and better story, more puzzles, more locations, more characters. I would like to expand the range of free actions available to the player, make the user interface more professional and add all those little loving touches that make a good game into a great game.
I'm a software developer by day and ... a software developer by night - I can't deny it I love programming. I also love my Android phone and wanted a straight forward challenge to introduce me to writing Android applications so I wrote TTA1.
It is a free text adventure game - Interactive Fiction (IF) is how the genre is popularly known these days - like the games some us played in our youth, for me this was the 1980s. IF is a cross between a puzzle and a story, some had a few graphics but the focus was always the text, the story, and a good text adventure could make the player's imagination come alive.
The only thing I didn't like about them was the 'guess the verb' challenge where if you didn't get just the right combination of verb and noun you could not make any progress. For some games this meant a complete dead end and I'd pop them back on the shelf never to return to again. Applying this to a mobile platform like Android meant I didn't relish the challenge of entering text at all, thus I took the simplest option to get to a playable game - buttons. In TTA1 instead of guessing the verb you are presented a selection of buttons depending on your context, a bit like a 'Choose Your Own Adventure' style game but retaining the freedom of movement and action that IF is known for.
This is by no means a new idea but I did not see much in the Android market place that catered for the casual IF'er, those people like me who didn't want to wrestle with the latest incarnation of a 'usable' virtual keyboard but who just wanted to play a game, to read a story.
Writing TTA1 was a whole lot of fun and was very well received, in fact I was astounded by how many people actually wanted to play my little game. I hoped for tens of downloads, I got thousands! And good reviews! I can't put into words how grateful I am that I have been able to entertain so many people for the fairly short amount of time it takes to play through the game. All the amazing words of encouragement I've received through reviews and personal emails alike have pushed me on to committing to produce a sequel.
I want this to be much larger, something around 4 times the play time. I also want to spend more time developing the story. The first app was mostly a pet project for me, so I rushed it here and there and didn't take as much care in some places as I should have done in retrospect. I intend to charge a small amount for the app on the Google Play store, probably under £1.
For those coders viewing this project you can check out the source code over here on github which includes the app framework and story content for TTA1 and TTA2 (about 30% done), so if you don't want any spoliers be careful where you look! Any comments, suggestions, design critiques, positive criticism and so on is always warmly welcomed.
What The Money Pays For
- Primarily my time. If there was a kickstarter for time I'd be on it, this is the next best thing. Work has already started on TTA2 (shortly after the first one was finished) but I'm struggling to fit all of life's responsibilities into a mere 24 hour day :) You can see the current progress in source code for TTA2 here on github.
- Graphic designer, artist. Someone who can draw and help me out with icons, start up screens, button graphics, inline images, a map, UI design. Basically all the stuff I'm terrible at, like colours. Here's an example of a map currently in the works.
- Translations. If the game shows to be popular in non-English speaking countries then some of the money raised here could go towards paying for translations of the most popular languages. As it currently stands TTA1 most popular non-English language is German, shortly followed by Canadian (:)), Italian and Russian. I might skip the Canadian.
Here are a couple of images to give you an idea of the new look and feel and the extent of the work to be done.
Here's a list of the extra's I'd consider if this project exceeds the minimum pledge, in priority order:
- An interactive map, to show you where you are, where you have been already and maybe what you have done. Possibly add user notes, e.g. 'invisible goggles here'
- Add a hint system (A fancified version of this is part of the new £500 stretch goal).
- Add accessibility features like text to speech, content description for audible prompts to aid navigation of on screen elements, colour blindness friendly themes.
- Some sub-quests, just for fun, won't progress the main story arc.
- Full game log - all the text you've triggered in chronological order so you can review what you've done and where you've been in the utmost detail.
Here are some more extras i'd like to do if this project is a runaway success!
- Sound - atmospheric or mood appropriate sound to enhance immersion, the ticking of a clock, a howl in the distance, the soft lick of fog drifting languidly over gravestones :). Configurable of course.
- Open the framework up and make it more usable for other people to write stories with it. Document how to write content. Perhaps introduce a 'load your own adventure' feature. Possibly write a web-based editor so you don't have to map out all the locations in nasty text.
Ok, I'm amazed i've had to pull these out the bag but since we've reached the £300 target for the project here are a couple of better defined stretch goals targets.
£500 STRETCH GOAL
Hints and Tips - a fully fledged hints system that adapts to where you are in the story, giving tips appropriate. A full walkthrough solution also included with the game for those that just can't help themselves from taking a sneaky peek.
£1000 STRETCH GOAL
Epilogue - an extra chapter at the end of the game where you can revisit all accessible locations and characters in the aftermath of the events of TTA2. Some locations might not be available depending on their role in the game. Most, if not all characters will be available to talk to so they can recant their experiences and opinions on what has occurred. The epilogue will be available as a permanent menu option once unlocked so that the player can revisit it at anytime after the first completion of the story.
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge I have is getting time to sit down and write the story. I will be able to bring in people to help me with the technical aspects if necessary and as I've mentioned I'll be able to employ graphic artists to enhance the whole app experience.
I'll outline the risks and challenges below and how I plan to address them:
- Risk of not delivering on time
-- The project is already started - you can see progress in the github repository (https://github.com/julianchurchill/text-adventure). I estimate it is currently 30% complete.
-- I will keep all pledgers informed as to the project progress with regular updates.
- Challenge to provide a more entertaining and immersive experience than TTA1
-- The story will be larger, many players of TTA1 have requested a sequel of greater length than the original.
-- The larger story allows greater room for characters and location development.
-- The reviews and personal emails from people who have played TTA1 since it's release last summer have revealed the weakest points of the app. I can use this information to address the issues in TTA2.
-- The user interface will include some graphics and general improvements to the app experience. I already have a graphic artist producing artwork and have a small team of dedicated fans and colleagues who helped me with TTA1 who are available to beta test TTA2. In short I have plenty of help available to aid me in polishing up the rather rough and ready TTA1.
- Challenge to support multiple platforms - iOS, Windows phone, the web
-- This project has also been started, you can see the progress in the github repository (https://github.com/julianchurchill/text-adventure-js). I estimate it is currently 5% complete.
- (30 days)