Tag: Storytelling »
iBooks and the Kindle app do a great job of ensuring that there’s always something new to read while you’re on the move. They work well in complementing the traditional physical book. There’s still room for more interactive and animated fare though, such as in the case of Black Jack - an app that declares itself the "World’s First Moving Novel." Released in episodic chunks of new chapters every Monday and Friday, it’s an interesting new direction to take for the medium. We took the time to chat to its Emmy-winning author, A.R. Witham, to learn more.
148Apps: Why not release the book at once rather than chapter by chapter?
A.R. Witham (ARW): It’s an old-school method of building suspense; Charles Dickens released A Christmas Carol in installments, and I thought that was an interesting way to tell a story that isn’t done much in the 21st century. Black Jack has a very vintage feel to the texture of the pages and animations... a vintage release schedule felt perfect for the story.
148Apps: What’s the reaction to the episodic content been like? Has it been as warmly received as hoped?
ARW: The response has been amazing. People love Jack, but for me, their enthusiastic reaction to the side-characters has been the most unexpected surprise. People love Django and Fuji and Valerian and the villains far more than I expected. I’ve gotten drawings of characters from fans, and that kind of reaction is something I really never anticipated.
148Apps: What challenges have there been in converting the novel to a more interactive format? Has it affected how the novel has been written at all?
ARW: There were 3 Big Rules to building the Black Jack app: 1) The story had to be good enough to pack a whollop without the animations and effects. 2) None of the animations could interfere with the text; if they didn’t help the readers immerse themselves in the storytelling, they were cut. 3) The book had to feel completely unlike any reading experience anyone has ever had. Once I established those guidelines, it became a great puzzle to solve.
148Apps: Do you think this is the future for novels? Or is there still a place for the traditional format?
ARW: I pray traditional novels never die. We all have loved them too much to let them go away. If paper-and-binding is on the decline in favor of screen-reading, I’m okay with that, but a pure tale constructed only with words is the foundation of storytelling; it will always exist, even if it’s just an old man sitting at a campfire telling ghost stories. Digital formats such as the iPad offer a playground for artists to explore the edges of the map and that’s what we are doing with Black Jack. Once you read the first two chapters, you begin to realize there are incredible moments waiting for you. Nobody’s done a book like this before – that’s the fun part.
148Apps: Do you think it’s a method that would work for all genres or does it particularly lend itself to fantasy/sci-fi?
ARW: Oh, I could see Divergent, Hunger Games, Neil Gaiman, or Harry Potter working very well with the Moving Novel format, but I think also think Raymond Chandler’s detective thrillers, Cormac McCarthy’s Southern Gothic style or Stephen King’s horror stories could all be a fun ride with a little emotional push at the right moments.
148apps: What’s next after Black Jack?
ARW: By day, I’m a Creative Director, and currently working on launching the brand-new CBS affiliate in Indianapolis in 2015, so that may take a bit of time. For Black Jack, I’m working with the next story in the series, tentatively titled "Red Rover." And at night, I’m just reading new stories. It’s always fun to find something new.
Thanks to A.R. Witham for taking the time to answer our questions.
Black Jack: A Moving Novel is available now on the App Store for the iPad. It’s currently priced at $5.99 for the full novel, with the first two chapters available for free.
Steller, by Mombo Labs, is a story sharing app that turns your photos into a cohesive tale of your life and adventures - and the app has recently received a big update.
Now users can search for stories using keywords and hashtags, as well as make comments and @mention their friends. The interface has been updated to allow you to Pinch and zoom, and now includes a new Explore section and Most Viewed stories category. For extra privacy, you can also block users from viewing your profile and stories.
You can download Steller for free on the App Store.
Simogo's latest project, The Sailor’s Dream, was just announced earlier today.
The game tells a non-linear story without the machinations of puzzles to get in the way. Players will explore the story at their own pace accompanied by a soundtrack created by Jonathan Eng, whose other work includes Simogo's own Year Walk and DEVICE 6. Simogo isn't sharing many details as they want elements of the game to be surprising for their players, but we do know that Jonas Tarestad, the writer for both previous titles, is also working on the story.
You can look forward to The Sailor’s Dream releasing in late 2014.
The wildly popular The Walking Dead: Season Two's new chapter, Amid the Ruins, sees a return to Clementine's story about a young girl orphaned in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. Who will she save? How will she evolve as a character? It is all up to you as every choice you make changes Clementine's fate.
This is the fourth chapter that Telltale Games has released for Season 2. Users will be able to buy the chapter alone as an in-app purchase, or Save 25% by purchasing the Multi-Pack [Episodes 2-5 bundle] via in-app in the 'Episodes' menu.
Did You Know About Haunting Melissa’s Dynamic Storytelling Tech, and That There's Probably Going to be a Sequel?
Haunting Melissa is one of the App Store’s spookiest offerings, and yet there’s also a surprising amount of interesting technology behind it. For the unfamiliar it’s essentially an episodic ghost story about a young girl who has disappeared shortly after claiming some sort of apparition had appeared in her home. But it’s also more than that: updates don’t appear on a regular schedule, episode length can vary greatly, and many episodes will actually change slightly (different camera angles, new background details, etc) when viewed multiple times. Neal Edelstein (Haunting Melissa's director) and the rest of the team wanted to create a new way to tell stories right from the beginning. While it’s a passive and linear experience overall, those dynamic story elements I’ve mentioned - along with the “mystery schedule” and a clever use of push notifications - really set it apart from other traditional stories. And it’s not finished evolving, either. Edelstein has been keeping an eye on the ever-changing state of iOS and adjusting the app accordingly by jumping on iOS 7 features such as automatic background downloads. He’s been considering other ways to help spread the story around as well; Facebook and other forms of social media are currently being considered.
User feedback has also been instrumental in helping him decide what to do with a sequel. Yes, that’s right, there’s going to be a sequel that should be coming out sometime this fall. We don't have any more details than that at the moment, unfortunately, but it's definitely something to keep an eye out for. What’s more, the technology behind Haunting Melissa has attracted the attention of other filmmakers and talent (including some big names in the industry that aren’t being divulged just yet). Edelstein and co. are already working on other stories that are separate from Haunting Melissa but use the same software and structure, and there’s little doubt that even more projects will be popping up in the future. Not just horror-themed work, either. Comedies, thrillers, sports - pretty much anything is fair game.
These are exciting prospects, and it’s easy to see why other filmmakers would want to jump on board. I mean this is essentially a system that would let them have complete and total control over their work. No studio involvement whatsoever. Of course only time will tell how this all pans out, but the possibilities and the technology behind it are incredibly exciting! In the mean time you can check out Haunting Melissa now and see it all for yourself.