The Historica Williamsburg Living Narrative is an Interactive Fiction computer game about the city's history and American independence.
5/17/12 - FUNDING GOAL HAS BEEN REACHED
With 17 days left to go, our funding goal of $1500 has been reached. Thanks go out to all of our generous backers! Now we'll set a stretch goal of $2000. That's an additional amount of $500 in funding by the deadline. Let's see if we can make it!
Interactive Fiction Meets History: Interactive Fact is Born
What is the Project?
The Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative allows you meet the people and experience the circumstances that lead to the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The setting is Williamsburg, Virginia, in colonial times, and game is pure Interactive Fiction: engaging prose will take your imagination back nearly 250 years into the history of the United States of America--before it was a country.
What is Interactive Fiction?
In the early days of computer games, Interactive Fiction (IF) was by far the most mentally challenging type of game to be on the market. Using nothing but text descriptions, IF placed the player directly into the story through the use of well-crafted prose and well-developed story lines. Games were written in a wide variety of fiction genres including Fantasy, Adventure, Historical, Crime, Science Fiction, and many others. Rather than placing the focus on game graphics while sacrificing game play, IF allowed the designers to construct massively sprawling and detailed worlds that the players visualized in their imaginations. (Before being called Interactive Fiction, games in this genre were classified as text adventure games.)
We have chosen Interactive Fiction as our project platform for several reasons:
- We wanted to replace the static nature of all the existing textbooks on Williamsburg and provide a truly engaging experience for the reader.
- We had been seeking a relatively easy way to develop an in-depth experience quickly and inexpensively.
- We are hoping our work will be used by schools and by History instructors in order to provide students with a highly detailed account of Williamsburg’s role as well as the events leading up to the Declaration of Independence.
- Interactive Fiction is addictive, and what could be more fun that living some pages out of history, talking to George Washington or Thomas Jefferson or Patrick Henry?
While we don’t want to fill this description with a lot of academic information, we do want to point out there is research demonstrating that Interactive Fiction will engage even reluctant readers. If we can reach even a few “non-readers” with one of the key stories of the founding of the United States of America, then the project will have been a tremendous success.
What is the Development Timeline?
The contribution window for this project is set at 45 days, and the goal is to raise $1500. During the fundraising period, we will be gathering documents (to the extent possible) such as maps, primary writings, and environmental descriptions related to Williamsburg in the 18th century. Doing so will position us to move forward quickly when the funding period comes to a close. Additionally development of the navigational foundation of the project will take place based on the map documentation we are able to obtain.
After the end of the funding period, we anticipate that it will take 180 days to complete the Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative. This will include
- Implementation of the navigation structure (first 60 days)
- Addition of the robust and detailed location descriptions (next 30 days),
- Development of the character conversation parser (next 60 days)
- Beta testing and cleanup (last 30 days)
While each of these segments is a project in its own right, all will come together to form a compelling interactive game-play experience.
What Will the Funding Cover?
The initial $1500 will fund the following items:
- Research labor and historical documents
- Site photography and measurements (for physical accuracy of environment)
- Interactive Fiction program development
- Website maintenance (historicalwilliamsburg.com)
- Basic marketing efforts through website and social media (for example, Facebook presence)
- Rewards and Kickstarter percentage
If funding exceeds $1500, any "surplus" will be applied to:
- More research labor and historical documents for a richer game play experience
- Additional Interactive Fiction program development (possibly through the efforts of additional programmers)
- Extended marketing to advertise to broader audiences, distribution of hard copies to historians and educators, and the development of an e-commerce site for this and future Historical projects
What are the Rewards?
The rewards are listed on the Rewards page; some of the items you could receive include custom books, photographs, maps, and even program code--not to mention an advance copy of the game. See the Rewards page for more details
What Happens Next?
The Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative will be able to stand on its own for many years, but we don't want to sit still. If this is a success, you'll see many more titles in this series of Interactive Fiction and Historical America, including Historical Monticello, Historical St. Augustine, Historical Mount Vernon, Historical Boston, Historical Gettysburg, and a whole lot more!
The Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative project will be developed using the Inform 7 Interactive Fiction engine. This will allow for rapid development and a very high level of interactivity for the player.
Why do you call it the "Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative" and not the "Colonial Williamsburg Living Narrative"?
Using the word "Colonial" was actually our first choice for the project, but upon doing a little research, we found that the phrase "Colonial Williamsburg" is trademarked by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. This project has no connection, so we needed to come up with a different title. And that's how we settled upon "Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative."