Kickstarting Interactive Story Building on the iPad

Toronto and San Francisco based digital entertainment startup All Play, No Work is looking to kick start interactive story building for kids on the iPad with Weirdwood Manor.

“I grew up playing on and coding programs on my Commadore 64 as a kid. I loved Kidwriter, a program by Spinaker. It allowed you to create simple visual stories,” says Paul Pattison, technical director. “I started looking around for a similar iPad app for my nieces, and when I couldn’t find one, I decided to make one.”

This inspired the founding of All Play, No Work (a name that in some ways couldn’t be farther from reality) and the beginnings of Weirdwood Manor.

In the past 18 months, the team of six has created a functioning prototype complete with 3D models, a rich interactive story, a story builder, and a suite of supporting games. They aren’t quite ready to launch yet, and that’s why they are in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign to help finance the remaining development costs.

What makes this app unique is it’s part book, part game and a part animated film.

“Making these three elements work together so that neither felt ‘tacked on’ was difficult,” said Pattison. “The games had to feel like they were part of the story and the animations had to look good, but not overpower the ‘story boxes’ meant for reading.” In the end, the team developed a style for their app, which they call a “living novel.”

The story is follows heroes Oliver, Celia, and Eugene as they uncover a dark and deadly secret that has haunted the hallways of Weirdwood Manor for decades. Readers need to complete games along the way to keep the story moving along.

 

 

To date, there hasn’t been anything quite like this on Kickstarter. Other successful Kickstarter projects have included straight-up interactive books or hard-copy published works with no story-building element.

Being able to animate objects, choose scenes, create a plot line and select characters makes the life of the app indefinite. Kids will have the ability to create their own interactive piece of media to share. While this is based on the story of Weirdwood and certain options will be limited, it’s still a shift from the often mindless, output dominated content common with interactive story apps.

As a former member of the Media Education Project, I think an app like this one assists with a child’s media literacy by enabling them to become creators. When a child understands how media is created, it provides them with a better understanding of what they consume. It’s for this reason, and the fact that I loved creating stories on WordStar for MS-DOS when I was a kid, that I backed this project.

If all goes well with the Kickstarter campaign, the company big big plans for Weirdwood with hopes of a series of printed books, additional interactive books and a TV show.