Presenting: Text Fiction - a terp with a non-traditional UI

Non traditional UI? What kind of crazy talk is that!?

As they say, one picture says more than a thousand words:

Text Fiction presents the story like an instant messenger and comes with several text assists to cut down on typing on Android’s on screen keyboard. The app is free and open source. You can get the terp from Google Play or sideload it from my text adventure project page.

Image seems broken, although going to imgurl works just fine.

It looks neat, and is presumably intended for mobile play.


Yes, it is entirely aiming at the mobile community. There is no Desktop version of it.

I love this a lot. Instant messaging with a game makes a whole lot of sense, and feels like it removes a lot of the typing awkwardness. Being able to touch any word on the screen to add it to your response is very intuitive.

I tried playing ANCHORHEAD and found that I didn’t enjoy that a long description printed out and scrolled to the bottom, so I was always needing to scroll back up to read the description when something happened. Is it possible to have an option to print a long text but stick at the top of it? I like that your typing row and your touch list of commands sticks right below the text and remains constant. The touch command buttons…I wish they were bigger. Since text boxes and menus slide out from the left, could there be a list of commands that pulled out from the right with bigger buttons and the written commands?

Otherwise this is really intelligent, and I think it would be amazing on a tablet-sized screen where I wasn’t needing to back so much. I love that you can call up a whole keyboard but you don’t need to if you can just pick out words from the game text. This sort of fulfills what I want out of a hyperlink interface - not so much that i have a list of set actions to touch and carry out, but that I can touch any word and create my own sentences out of them to respond and play the game…

Glad to hear :slight_smile:.

I’m afraid not. You can only tell android to scroll the list to bubble number X, but you don’t have any fine control on where exactly you are dropped of.

Making them bigger is not the problem, screen size is. Taller buttons would mean less room for the story board and as you mentioned, some bubbles already don’'t fit in entirely.

Interesting idea. Technically, it could be done, but that would overthrow the whole UI concept. I am pretty set on Text Fiction looking (and feeling) like an IM/SMS app since most people are familiar with that, which does a lot for acceptance.

What screensize are you playing on? Would a smaller fontsize help (would make the word touching more difficult, though)?

I would actually love to drive the keyboard further into the background. The problem I’m having with it is that typing on it in portrait mode is unergonomic and in landscape mode there is way too little space left for the storyboard. Any ideas about this would be welcome.


If I understand the problem correctly, couldn’t a solution be to scroll to the input bubble before the long one? Auto-scrolling past the start of the new text would be annoying. (Or I may be misunderstanding what you’re talking about. I don’t have an Android device, so I can’t try it myself.)

Something about the text looks odd to me (both font and magins), but that may just be that I’m used to iOS. Is this how texting on Android looks? (When Apple updated to iOS 7, I thought the new OS was quite ugly, but after getting used to it, I like it. This may be the same thing going on.)

Won’t work, I am afraid. I tried it already.

That is how “medium” text looks like by default. I will probably have to make it configurable.

I was playing on a regular size phone - not one of the huge galaxy ones - in portrait mode. I can see six of the bottom row of icons. Making the text smaller would render it unreadable. I had no problem reading as it was at regular IM size…the only problem will be in games with verbose descriptions. A small cellphone may not be your target device, but it does work even with that slight annoyance.

I don’t know if there’s a way to do this in Android - what if there was an option say if the next bit of text to display has >128 characters that it puts the entire description in a text box overlaying the screen which hopefully could start at the top and be scrolled, then swiped to dismiss? I’m probably imagining what the capabilities are incorrectly.

That would be possible, but it sounds like the cure being worse than the desease.

Brilliant. We need more inventions like this.

David C.

Just to give note: released v1.1

Version bump: v2.1 is out.

The big new thing is that borders/corners are touchable and allow for moving around in the given direction. It works reasonably well on my Nexus 7, but it may be a bit fiddly on smaller screens. Could use some feedback on that feature.

I tried the directional feature out on my Samsung ACE(small screen). It definitely works but it feels a little weird.

Speaking for myself I think actual buttons(no matter how small/thin) on each edge/corner would go a long way for usability.

If you want to get really fancy, allowing the user to drag the entire screen that direction(like you would a home screen but into all 8 directions instead of just 2). Or when you drag on the screen a compass pops up with arrow buttons you can release on. There are a whole bunch of ways of doing the drag thing that could work for this.

The dragging thing could get in the way of another suggestion I had for an issue I found. Once again this is just my opinion and I’m starting to feel like I am looking a gift horse in the mouth here but… I love how you can hold onto a word to put it into the input box. But on a small screen (where I believe this is most useful because the keyboard sucks) its hard to tell which word I am clicking and I often click the wrong word over and over. Highlighting the word when I am holding down and allowing me to drag around until the correct word is highlighted would be a HUGE improvement in my eyes.

Tried that, looked shitty. On the upside: it’s a theme issue, so it can easily be changed. On the downside of the upside: I suck at theming XD.

Won’t work as up/down is already hogged by the storyboard, so you can’t have north/south. Maybe there is a nice way of toggling between movement and scrollmode, but I can’t think of anything fancy right now.

Don’t worry about the horse. I like brainstorming :wink:. Highlighting won’t work:

  • Your finger already obscures the word -> it will also obscure the highlight
  • There actually is already a highlight function (though it is meant to be used as a textmarker for improtant words) -> long touch a word to toggle.
  • The only way to make it less fiddly is increasing the textsize (sure, large font takes up a lot of space, but thats where TTS is really handy).
  • You can double tap empty space within a bubble. That will erase the last word copied.

What about having the word appear on the input line, but have it replaced when ones finger moves on top of another word? Only the word one is on when releasing remains.

Not practical:

  • There is no discovery mechanismn that chatbubbles could use to learn whats on the commandline. And the way the code is structured, it would be a nightmare to add.
  • The whole idea only works for commands with at most one object. Take Adam Cadre’s 9:05 for example. The game will inform you that “you have to get out of the bed first”. Curently you can touch the command as “get out of bed”. Your proposal would prevent that.

Why would that be? Assuming all those words are available in the text, put your finger near “get” and move it till “get” shows up on the input line, then release the finger. Repeat for “out”, “of”, and “bed”.

Regarding the bookkeeping, it seems the program would have to keep track explicitly of what is on the command line, and maybe each time replace the whole line with the array of words collected so far. But then I am not the coder…

Just give Text Fiction a small face lifting:

  • Better icons for the KEYBOARD and GO ON button
  • More font choices (Comic Sans anyone?)

Anyone wanna suggest more TTF fonts (midn the licenses) to include?