So here’s a story (Neil here by the way). Around six months ago I was due to be traveling to London for a couple of meetings. If you’re suddenly confused as to why I am in the UK when Tin Man Games is based in Australia then that’s a whole other story – with lots of path choices! Another time maybe.
Back to the story. A couple of weeks before my trip, I bumped into a chap on Twitter called Jerry Belich, if you can call a twitter coming together of like-minded people a “bump”! What attracted me to this mystery tweeter was the fact that Jerry had built a device that printed out interactive choose a path adventure stories and enabled you to make choices by tapping buttons to make your choices. Curious, I pressed Jerry for more information and in a serendipitous twist found out that while Jerry was from Minneapolis in the USA, he was actually in London at the very time I was also going to be there. I’m a big believer in fate and it seemed like one of those moments that needed to be grabbed, nurtured and lubricated with beer.
So two weeks later I met Jerry in a London pub in the West End and after being recommended the best real ale on tap by a regular propping up the bar, proceeded to lose the next three hours chatting with a very charismatic American about the wonders of interactive fiction! Mid-way through the chat Jerry produced his Choosatron prototype and let me play – YES! In one of our gamebook apps, you essentially choose your path through the story by tapping on small buttons on a touch screen. The resulting outcomes of those choices result in the screen updating with the next part of the story. Essentially the Choosatron works much the same way, but instead of a digital input and output, the whole experience is analogue. Actually pressing the buttons and hearing the printer print the next part of the adventure on a roll of paper is such a fun experience – it’s one of those “why hasn’t anyone thought of this before” moments. It’s a very personal experience, but also one that that can be shared with the people around you. The icing on the cake is that you get to tear off the paper and keep the adventure, your choices and outcomes – a great keepsake, especially for friends.
It would have been a travesty if we had left the discussion there in the pub that day and I agreed with Jerry that we should collaborate on something. Months later Jerry contacted me saying that he was readying a Kickstarter to create Choosatron kits and would I be interested in contributing something. It took no time at all to say yes and across a few emails I agreed that TMG would help out with some of the stretch goals. To that end, backers to the Choosatron Kickstarter will not only receive free copies of a two of our desktop (PC or Mac) Gamebook Adventures but I also agreed to write a brand new GA for the Choosatron – exclusive to the Choosatron! After writing The Siege of the Necromancer some years ago I always wanted to write a prequel, which we were going to feature as a freebie app to entice new readers to GA. As the series took off and we became incredibly busy, it never really happened and was consigned to the gamebook drawer of non-starters. Well the drawer has been opened and the original draft for The Siege of the Necromacer: A Guard’s Tale is seeing some light again. I’m really excited to be potentially* revisiting that story and there are many plot holes in the original that will be filled with this prequel. If you’re familiar with Necromancer then you know that you meet one of the guards at the end who joins you in fighting Erid Buul. Not suprisingly A Guard’s Tale follows his story up until the point that he meets his rescuer, who was also you, but another you!
So if you love interactive fiction and want to support something that pushes our niche in a brand new direction please support Jerry’s Kickstarter and get your hands on a very special little box of tricks. There are only 6 days left though so get in there now if you want to be part of it! To find out more about the project visit the Kickstarter page and also check out the Jerry’s hilarious video below. Oh, one last thing, Jerry will hopefully be joining us at PAX East next year so if you’re Boston-bound make sure to come say hello and play some Choosatron!
Neil (aka @TinManGames) over and out.
* If the Kickstarter reaches $60k!