The Choosatron on Kickstarter

It pains me that I still subscribe to slashdot’s daily news, but I do so because amidst their ceaseless torrent of misleading and sensationalist tech headlines is stuff that interests me. Here’s something I saw you might be interested in. It’s another of those Kickstarter projects that was funded in about 2 seconds and will now sit around for a month absorbing more money like a sweet cash blancmange:

The Choosatron: Interactive Fiction Arcade Machine … de-machine

I don’t think I need or really want one, but I’m sure I’d enjoy it if I had one, and I expect it’s got qualities I’d discover in person which I wouldn’t have anticipated.

  • Wade

Ok, I want the hell out of that thing. Interesting writers they’ve got for the included stories, and printing your own games? That’s just awesome. Thanks for sharing.

That’s a pretty cool idea! There should be a kickstarter for an Automatypewriter kit!

Am I right in thinking the first text adventures were played through printouts rather than monitors? If so, it’s cutely amusing we’re doing it again with wifi.

I really don’t want to sound like a party pooper, but the only thing I can think about is the cost of paper and ink…

Ah, you’d think I’d remember this, as I follow Jimmy Maher’s Digital Antiquarian ( which has already covered the relevant history, but I don’t remember off the top of my head in the case of Adventure.

Definitely a lot of the ‘inbetween’ games which followed were originally played through printouts. Much of my Apple II youth was spent typing listings from David Ahl’s book ‘BASIC computer games’ (the first million selling computer book) into our Apple II+. The book includes a version of Wumpus, and the interfaces of the listed games were designed primarily around the expectation that the player would be printing out their moves - and not every turn. IE: None of the games works with the expectation that the player has a monitor available to them which can erase and redraw its display, and none make use of such code. So the interface method for these games was already completely superseded, technologically, within 4 years of the book’s original publication date.

You haven’t pooped my party :wink: I’m not crazy about the idea of reprinting material I printed before. But I am charitably assuming that the guys making this thing are trying to play to its strengths, rather than obvious weaknesses like this one.

  • Wade

It’s probably a more efficient use of thermal paper than grocery store receipts, as would be most thermal printer hobby projects. The stories being demo’d in the video imply that each exchange is pretty short as well, though it sounds like the bundled stories are still being written. I assume you’re referring to overall ecological cost, but thermal paper is also cheap to buy. The Kickstarter is selling additional rolls for $30 for 9 rolls x 85 ft/roll. A quick check of office supply stores indicates this is a decent rate, though I bet you could do better in bulk.

The tactility is meant to be a feature, of course, so the question is, how much value does this feature add. Thermal printer toys that print a custom mini newspaper each morning (headlines, Twitter, weather report, crossword puzzle) are replicating paperless services onto paper. I don’t have one, but I can easily imagine a printout shifting context, adding interest, and limiting scope in useful and fun ways. I’d never print my Twitter stream to 8-1/2" x 11" copy paper, but 12 inches of receipt paper a day seems like an economical way to go if it indeed has these advantages. (Found this old article while looking for the name of one of these toys: )

Choosatron has other tactile advantages, too. It’s a box! With buttons! That tells stories! I wonder how a text-to-speech audio version would be different…

– Dan

P.S. Backed it, can’t wait.

It does feel like the ultimate Infocom feelie. :slight_smile:

That’s totally steampunk! :open_mouth: