I’m Leo, a developer/designer that loves to read. Lately, I’ve been really absorbed with interactive stories. I love apps like Lifeline/ADarkRoom. I’ve always been passionate about solving problems and turning ideas into apps/websites.
One day while I was riding the subway in NYC, I noticed someone writing on their iPad, and an idea came to me: I think everyone has the ability to be the writer of a great story, so why isn’t there any easy way for people to create intricate stories and make them interactive, like Lifeline. I couldn’t let go of the idea, and that’s how TaleMonster was born.
My business partner and I started working on the app a couple of months ago. My vision for TaleMonster is to become the platform where any writer can create engaging choose-your-own stories on mobile. Don’t know how to code? Not a designer? No problem, as long as you want to create text-based RPGs and choose-your-own-adventure stories - like Goosebumps, now you can. We also encourage the readers to communicate with the writers so writers can get feedback and create better stories.
What we did
We built a simple prototype and started talking to writers to validate the idea. However we found the biggest problem with many of our beta writers is that they found TestFlight confusing, or were having trouble using it. To give them easy access, we decided to build and release our MVP to the iTunes store, solving the tech hurdle.
What we can use some help
We launched the app last week. We didn’t do any marketing so the uptake is very low. We are still not sure how to reach people who might be interested in reading and creating interactive stories through our platform. We’d love to hear feedback from you if this is something you’d be interested in using, or could point us in the right direction for the right group.
We don’t support variables time delays yet, however they are definitely on the table, especially with time delay. We are busy working on a desktop version so that the viewer will be able to read a story without needing to download the app.
Just out of curiosity what other “interactive fiction via chat” app have you come across?
Massively looks cool and I’d love to write in it, it actually does text matching of player input to decide what message to offer next instead of offering specific choices, and (I’m pretty sure) real-time delay functionality, multiple characters with variable typing speeds, and IM avatars or pictures. They seem to encourage “communicate with your favorite fictional character” type fan fiction.
They were courting authors from IFComp, they advertised they wanted to follow the format of Lifeline, but may have turned people off by inadvertently implying they were from the team that made Lifeline (attributable to an ESL goof). I tested their iOS app. I believe some authors got advances, but I don’t know the status of this. They had a couple very specific story ideas they were wanting people to flesh out.
Another one like Massively but simpler that I cannot remember the name of or find online for the life of me. The tools were very pushbutton and it seemed to be aimed at younger authors.
There was another one recruiting authors from IFComp that I never followed up on because I couldn’t wrap my head around how to tell a story via IM only at the time, but I believe some members here may have written for them. I thought they were from Massively since the idea sounded really similar, but the developer confirmed to me via email they were not associated.
Two similarly-named systems still in development are not exactly IM-based, but are attempting to also carve out the best ways to author IF that can be played on a phone.
Your app is quite good, so don’t take this as discouragement. IM interaction as a story seemed to become very hot idea after Lifeline hit big, but it might be hard to replicate the appeal of that story and format as a genre without some sort of new innovation. It’s possible some of these low-lying projects I know about are preparing to bust out and I’m just not aware.