About this project
The Kickstarter is over, but you can still...
Meet the small box that prints big adventures.
WHAT IS IT?
The Choosatron is a fun kit that easily assembles into a small interactive fiction game box, great for social reading and playing. As you play, you make decisions that affect the outcome of the story, and your journey is printed on a keepsake paper scroll. You'll be able to write your own stories as well, using open and free software. Download new stories over Wi-Fi, and share your own stories with other over the internet. Save your unique stories right on the provided SD card. Inspiring for kids, exciting for adults!
I’ve recruited brilliant writers (listed below) to ensure you and your friends will have dozens of stories to play the moment you get your Choosatron. Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy (both of RiffTrax and MST3K fame) are just two of the amazing writers creating stories just for the Choosatron!
Using the Spark Core Wi-Fi development kit, a thermal printer, and some serious brain wrinkling, I’ve created a platform accessible for everyone to make, play, write, and learn with! It’s Arduino-compatible and totally hackable so as you learn more, the possibilities grow with your imagination.
For more details about each stretch goal, click the images, OR scroll to the very bottom of the page above Risks and Challenges.
...plus a bonus FREE download of The Siege of the Necromancer (PC/Mac), the very gamebook Tin Man games is writing a Choosatron prequel story for!
- A COMPLETE redesign of all writing and Choosatron software! Cross-platform, web based, manage your Choosatron stories, easy to write them, and even easier to share!
- A CUSTOM game developed to run on the Choosatron hardware, with 9th Level Games!
- TWO professionally designed Choosatron housings to be done by Tim Bachman! Have them made yourself, or order your own!. These will look GOOD.
- Another free gamebook adventure download from Tin Man Games for all reward levels!
- An official Choosatron T-Shirt design will be made! Sneak a peak a the design in the details.
WHAT MAKES THE CHOOSATRON SO AWESOME?
READING and PLAYING
Playing choice-based stories with friends! Competing for the best ending, worst death, or strangest turn of events!
- The Choosatron facilitates "interactive reading", which helps to keep kids (and adults) engaged.
- Discover a new way to read. The quick-play stories in the Choosatron invite social reading.
- Its portability makes the Choosatron a perfect ice-breaker for social gatherings, caffeinated coffee shops, or alcohol-fueled bar trips!
- For the young (at heart): Have you ever read a story twice and had it change? It’s crazy fun!
- Get to a gruesome ending? Use the finger-in-page “Continue” feature to jump back through your choices.
- It’s tactile; don’t you miss technology with physicality? Like a Polaroid camera with its satisfying click and whir before spitting out a frozen moment of your life! Keep snapshots of your adventures to share as the Choosatron prints each story told on an inkless thermal printer.
WRITING and DESIGNING
- Write and share your own Choosatron stories with your friends!
- The Choosatron encourages writing arcade-like experiences.
- Explore topics from meaningful, to frightful! A hilarious story exploring divorce, or sad story involving jetpacks! Wait...
- Features beyond what a paper book can provide, such as a dynamic point system, variables, ending quality, continues, and more!
- Currently using Twine, we will creating a new web based writing platform that uses Wi-Fi for easily sending stories to your Choosatron, and sharing with others in the cloud!
EDUCATION and LEARNING
- Great for STEM (and STEAM) learning! I’d love to help develop curriculum, get in touch!
- Our imaginations are more powerful than the best looking video game or computer-generated blockbuster with giant robots. (Ask a kid to make up a story about giant robots and see what I mean.)
- Teach through interactive historical adventures, such as exploring the city of Pompeii before its catastrophic end!
- Create interactive multiple choice quizzes that provide instant positive or negative feedback!
- Improve literacy or foreign language comprehension using professionally designed Choosatron stories.
- Inspire students to create interactive worlds, alone and with their peers.
MAKING and INVENTING
- Powered by a Spark Core (STM32 32-bit ARM Cortex M3 microcontroller paired with a Texas Instruments CC3000 Wi-Fi module)
- Inkless thermal printer for output, on-board memory for holding stories, and a keypad for input.
- Program over wireless or use the microUSB port.
- OPEN SOURCE: everyone will have access to the software and hardware design files, building upon the platform I created and taking the Choosatron to new heights!
- Assemble a fully functional Choosatron with a screwdriver in less than 10 minutes.
- An RGB LED and piezo speaker included for expanding user feedback, or just adding style to your Choosatron.
- A Spark Core you can pull out and prototype your own creations with!
The Choosatron began as an homage to the beloved Choose Your Own Adventure® stories of my childhood and my love of arcades. What resulted is a social reading game. When I showed it to friends, their eyes would light up. I was amazed how much it brought out the inner child of whoever played it. To my surprise and delight, after its first public appearance, I was asked to teach a class, featuring The Choosatron, at the Loft.
Created for kids of all ages, the Choosatron has already inspired some amazing social connections, and hilarious stories! I want the Choosatron to get a wider audience, so everyone can enjoy the hands on experience and the joy of writing and sharing their own tale.
EASY TO ASSEMBLE, EASIER TO PLAY!
We are simplifying our case design from the above so it will snap together, with just a few screws to keep it secure.
No wiring or soldering needed! Adults AND kids will be able to assemble it in less than 10 minutes. The keypad and printer cables plug neatly in, and the Spark Core will press right into the board.
STORIES TO PLAY
Choosatron stories? You bet! Check out this list of authors:
Alden Bell, Alex Barrett, Andy Rocco Kraft, Andy Sturdevant, Anna Anthropy, Aric McKeown, Bill Corbett, Blake Hoena, Brandi Wells, Brian Oliu, Choose Your Own Adventure®, Eben Burgoon, Forest Lewis, Jack Bowman, James Mitchell, Katie Sisneros, Kevin Murphy, Lloyd Dalton, Maggie Ryan Sandford, Mark Stenberg, Matt Youngmark, Megan Dowd, Pat Harrigan, Patrick Nathan, Reinhardt Suarez, Rob Callahan, Robert Valentine, Russell Rathbun, Scott Mitchell, Seth Heiserman, Shannon Jones, Sharon Stiteler, Tim Uren, Tin Man Games, Tom Reed, V.S. Chin, WayForward Game Studio, Wendy Despain, Wes Burdine...and MORE!
The Wi-Fi connection means it will be possible to share and download additional stories without purchase of additional hardware.
All stories will be compiled into a single super Choosatron book, available as a reward. The print book may not be available for sale after the Kickstarter so don’t miss out on your chance to be a part of something wonderful!
POWERED BY SPARK
In May 2013, the team at Spark Devices launched the Spark Core, an Arduino-compatible Wi-Fi development kit, on Kickstarter. I met the Spark team at their homecoming party here in Minneapolis, and there was major enthusiasm from both sides about the Choosatron and Spark Core. It was a perfect fit! After working with their team, I’m proud to announce that the Choosatron will now be built on the Spark platform, including a Spark Core as part of the kit - a $39 value!
By adding Wi-Fi and Spark we've expanded the possibilities:
- group vote choices via mobile devices at an event
- capture and visualize how people play your stories
- swap out the stories for different occasions - you don't need wireless to play!
- over-the-shoulder mode to say live play on your mobile
- manage multiple Choosatrons, and so much more!
WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO?
The Choosatron isn’t just an idea. It is here. After three prototypes over the last year, the first kit has been developed to be affordable, easy to assemble, and friendly to modifying both hardware and software.
Money will go toward:
- Getting the Choosatron into everyone’s hands!
- Recouping the development costs from prior to this Kickstarter. I've been funding the Choosatron development myself because I believe in the impact the project can have.
- Paying authors for their talent and time.
- Design 2 of the Choosatron board: smaller, smarter, and more cost effective!
- Design 2 of the Choosatron enclosure: more fun, approachable, functional, and more attention to design!
- Build the new Choosatron software platform on the Spark Cloud so writing and sharing stories is as simple as possible.
- Preparing hardware and software files for open sourcing, including documentation to make it as accessible as possible.
- New features and enhancements to the Choosatron firmware, so authors have more options for how they design their stories.
Any additions to the rewards will be outlined here since rewards can’t be edited. I’ll also give more details about some of the rewards to make sure they are clear.
Paper Refills: Refills are 5 rolls for $20, and 9 for $30 and are BPA free. You can order as many paper refills, appropriate to your reward level, as you like. Just keep multiplying the cost of the refill, and add that to your funding total. Rolls are 2 1/4" wide and 85 feet long.
International Paper Refills: Any paper roll order starts with a base of $4. For each roll, add another $5. These are also 85 feet and BPA free. If you are planning on ordering a larger quantity, message me and I may be able to price better. Just add this amount to your pledge and we'll figure it out in the survey after the Kickstarter.
(quantity x $5) + $4 = total
Order 1 roll: (1 x $5) + $4 = $9 (not a great deal)
Order 5 rolls: (5 x $5) + $4 = $29 (that isn't too bad!)
Print Choosatron Book: Add only $29 to any reward that includes a CHOOSATRON KIT to get the print book as well. That’s $10 off the book only reward! Add $34 to get the print book SIGNED. (shipped separately, add $20 to ship outside the US)
Shipping: Don’t forget to add shipping if you are not in the US! Costs are listed at the bottom of each reward description, and in the details above.
Have an idea or opportunity you’d like to discuss?
Email me! I think the Choosatron has a lot of great opportunities, and I’d love to discuss any you might have in mind. For my sake, please send as many details as possible. Thanks!
WHO IS JERRY BELICH?
I’m a software developer of over ten years, currently the senior mobile developer at Clockwork in Minneapolis, MN. I love game design, storytelling, play a mean theremin, stay involved in local theatre as an actor, director, and comedian, and dabble in sweding movies.
I’ve had an eclectic career using technology as my creative tool:
- I was one of only three developers who created environmental software that runs/syncs 384 screens inside one of the largest/newest casinos in Las Vegas.
- I worked for Ray Bradbury as the director of digital effects for the first stage production of Fahrenheit 451 (one of the most HOLY CRAP THIS IS AWESOME times of my life)
- I integrated video and stage at the Ordway’s Rocky Horror Picture Show in St. Paul, MN
Over the last year, while developing the Choosatron, I’ve also been consulting as a professional engineer and storyteller for public spaces, such as exhibits at the Minnesota History Center. I taught a class at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis in August 2013, about interactive fiction and creative writing, where each student built their own Choosatron. Contact me to learn about education related opportunities!
I want to use what I’ve learned through years of research and experience to create a platform that takes storytelling everywhere we go. The Choosatron is my first big step towards bringing invention and storytelling hand-in-hand to a new generation.
WHEN WILL I GET MY CHOOSATRON?
Most rewards are currently promised for quarter one of next year. I am working with vetted sources for both manufacturing and distribution to ensure that kits can be produced on a large scale and in a timely manner. Now that the Choosatron is powered by Spark Core, I also have the support of their brilliant team, and can benefit from their first hand work in China. As soon as final designs are sent (within a few weeks of this ending), I will be able to update all of you on how many units will ship by what dates.In a nutshell:
- During Kickstarter: Estimates for the Spark Powered iteration of the Choosatron will be received, prototypes ordered.
- August 30th: Kickstarter ends.
- - Story editing begins.
- - Hardware enhancements (if any from stretch goals) begin.
- September 13th: Kickstarter releases the funding to me.
- - Complete designs and develop test plan.
- October 1st: Choosatron author story drafts due.
- October 15th: Final stories will be due, book prep in full swing.
- Development of kits underway by now, updates flowing forth!
Legal notice: Choose Your Own Adventure® is a registered trademark of Chooseco LLC.
Risks and challenges
The Choosatron hardware and software have been functional since last summer, and even survived a five week trip to the UK. I’ve had feedback from hundreds of people to help make this kit as fun, versatile, and affordable as possible, while still leaving room to fund further development. I’ve worked in tech professionally for over ten years, have run my own business for over eight, and have had the support of at least half a dozen Kickstarter veterans (including the wonderful people at Spark Devices, go get one!) and frankly, I’m known for completing epic and difficult projects because I LOVE IT. I’m no stranger to managing teams and intense deadlines.
Although it’s my first foray into manufacturing, the companies involved are all proven in both reputation and quality, both through fellow Kickstarters and elsewhere. I have been fastidious about reducing cost and waste, and developing a distribution relationship so you aren’t stuck waiting for me to pack and ship boxes.
The concept for the Choosatron has been proven both functionally and with many happy audiences, as well as engaging kids in an exciting way. I have gone through four functioning prototypes, one being the first iteration of the kit for this Kickstarter, with the second on its way, and its time for this little bird to fly!
The minimum funding will be enough to improve and refine the existing designs and create a better user experience, especially for the younger audience. Base funding will focus on quality, rather than adding lots of extra features and letting scope creep cripple progress. As soon as that goal is met, we can all start getting creative about what happens next!
As for the book, the risk is handling a bunch of writers that may or may not hit their deadlines! They have all been provided a lot of content and guidance to get the ball rolling, and have their deadlines for providing me drafts, and final version. It’s possible some authors disappear, but others will surely end up taking their place. I also have friends that have self-published many times, and a GREAT editor, so I feel pretty good about it!
I will keep everyone informed with regular updates, good, bad, or boring via Facebook, Twitter, my website, and Kickstarter. Maybe even AM radio!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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