Saturday, April 23, 2011

Choose Your Path version 1.0.5 is out!

We just released the third version of our Android app, Choose Your Path! Other than the usual smattering of minor bug fixes and optimizations, we've included some great new features like the ability to share stories you create with anybody else who has the app. We've also tried to make writing the stories a little easier by giving you a template file to help you create new story pages. If you've never made a story before, you should start by reading this blog post.

To share a story you've written, just hit Menu while you're in the story and you should see a button that says "Share Story". The app will instantly pack up your story and upload it to our servers, and then give you the option to share via email, Facebook, or other apps like Twitter. When your friends click on the links, the app will automatically download and unpack your story, which they'll see then in the list on the main page just like any other story.

We still have The Reddit Adventure included in the app so new users see more than just one story, but you'll find there are many unfinished branches. Since we didn't write the story, we don't feel comfortable modifying it other than making it work with our code. That means that we won't be finishing the story, since we only included it for fun and as an example of another writing style. We will be deleting it once we finish some more stories of our own.

Speaking of stories of our own, I'm getting close to finishing the next one! We will be including it in the next version of the app, which we're aiming to have out the door in about a week (around the beginning of May). It's written in a completely different style from "King's Journey", and I hope it will appeal to just as many people.

Lastly, we tried to make sure people know what options are hidden in the menu without being annoying about it. We moved the share and feedback buttons directly to the main screen, and you'll see infrequent reminders to check out the Settings page if you'd like to change the appearance or behavior of the app.  If you have any questions about writing a story, suggestions for features or options, or just want to tell us what you think, we love getting feedback, so drop us a line from the app or on our contact page here!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What's coming up in Choose Your Path

Hey there! Glad you're stopping in to check on progress with our Choose Your Own Adventure style app, Choose Your Path. We have a lot of stuff in the works for the next few updates, including more stories!

Hostile has been working hard to make sure all our users can easily discover the options they have available in the app. I've been redesigning and streamlining the images, and we're both working on writing new stories.

For those of you who want to write your own stories, we're trying to come up with ways to simplify the process. In fact, Hostile is working on an in-app story page creator/editor to go with the story creator we already have. The easiest and fastest way to write pages is probably still to do it on a computer and then transfer the files to your phone, but we understand that a lot of people don't ever connect their phones to their computers. We want to make sure we give everyone the ability to compose stories whether they have computer access or not.

Once you've written your masterpiece(s), we're also going to give you the ability to share with your friends. We are experimenting with proprietary formats to send via email and checking out the benefits of putting things in the cloud, but still have a ways to go before it is ready for the public.

For those of you interested in a paid version, we plan to release it (with additional features and no ads) as soon as we can write a couple more stories to go in it. If you are feeling impatient and want to get rid of the ads and get a back button right now, please send us some feedback and tell us you want the paid version right away!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Advanced Storywriting Techniques for Choose Your Path

You've hopefully seen by now the basic instructions to write your own story for the Choose Your Path app.  I hope you'll agree it's been pretty simple so far.  For those of you who have mastered that or are more comfortable with code and HTML, here are some more options for you to try out.

Creating a story all in one page:
If you are planning on writing a very short story and would prefer to keep the entire thing in one giant "main.txt" file, we have given you that ability as well. The tool that lets you do that is a <marker> tag.  Here's an example:
<text>Here's my brilliant masterpiece of a story. Don't be jealous of its magnificence.</text>
<choice TheMall>Go to the mall and get yourself a congratulatory Slurpee.</choice>
<choice GoSkydiving>Your life is filled with adventure!</choice>
<marker TheMall>
<text>Holy cow! I made a page within a page! This is magical!</text>
<choice GoSkydiving>Your life is filled with adventure!</choice>
<choice main.txt>Go back to the beginning.</choice>
<marker GoSkydiving>
<text>Holy cow! What will you take on next???</text>
<choice main.txt>Go back to the beginning</choice>
The app knows that if you leave a file extension (like '.txt') out of the choice tag that you intend for the next page to read from a marker instead. The page begins at the tag <marker> and ends at the next <marker> tag or the end of the page, whichever comes first.  In this example, the page the story will show for the TheMall marker will start with the text "Holy cow!" and end with two buttons that take you either to GoSkydiving or the first page of the story.

You can have as many markers in a page as you like, so you can write your entire story in main.txt (but be careful how you keep track of it!).  Alternatively, you can mix and match between creating new text files or using markers within files.  Just remember that when you're referencing a file, you need to use the whole name including the extension, otherwise the app will assume it's a marker.

If you want to link to something on the internet, you can do it with regular html code.  Use the formula <a href="the-address-of-whatever-you're-linking-to.html">the text you want as the link</a>.  When someone clicks the link in the story, it will open with their browser.  You can also embed images in pages with html style code: <img src="nameoftheimagefile.jpg">.  The app currently supports most standard types of images, such as .jpg, .gif, .png, etc. but we will need some code modifications to the app so they always display properly. For now we would recommend only using very small images that won't need to be resized, or skipping them altogether.

List of common tags:
<a href="______"></a>
<img src="_____">

We hope that you'll enjoy using these more sophisticated options to create stories just the way you like!  As always, if you are proud of your work and would like to share it with the world, send us a zipped copy of the story folder at [submissions at sudomakemeanapp dot com].  If we like it too, we'll include it bundled in the next version of the app!