In light of certain parties’ efforts to develop and eventually sell IF games as stand-alone iOS apps, I would like to wonder out loud if there’d be value in experimenting with a similar approach using the Mac OS App Store.
Background: the most recent version of Mac OS includes a shiny button on the desktop that summons the Mac App Store, a new thing the mold of the one that the iPhone made famous. It provides a fall-down easy way for users to browse, purchase, and update “apps”, which seems to generally mean stand-alone applications of a modest-or-smaller size. It also lends an interesting and potentially highly visible new channel for developers to distribute their software to Mac users (so long as they can navigate through the limbo of Apple’s also-famous approval process, but let’s call that a separate topic for now).
I’ve been buying games from it – cool little indie titles, for the most part. Inevitably, I started to think about the fact that, gee, y’know, I’ve written a game that runs on Macs, too, sort of…
What would an App Store-friendly IF game look like? Aiming modestly, I figure the bare minimum would include resources like the PR-IF postcard or the Inform first-time-player’s guide under the native Help menu, and the first time it’s launched it could make their presence extra-obvious (or permanently dismissible). But otherwise, the meat of the app would be, not to put too fine a point on it, Zoom. (Or a fork of it, anyway, permanently grafted to a single story file.) No reaching for any ingenious new UX idioms, at least not in the first rev.
Ideally, this app-wrapper would be reusable by other authors, and applicable to any game that Zoom is capable of running. So, it’d end up as something like the iOS framework that Zarf is building, but for Mac OS and – in my current imagining – not nearly as ambitious in introducing any new platform-specific IF play idioms. And, at least in my case, I don’t see myself aiming to make a living off of this! It just strikes me as an unexplored channel for distributing IF to a new audience, and one worth discussion.
Again, I’m just thinking out loud for now, and I’d love to hear others’ thoughts.