Gamebook store

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Fabled Lands launching on Kindle

We've been planning for some time to get the Fabled Lands books out in digital form, so it was great when the Amazon Kindle team reached out to us late last year to make that a reality. Turns out there are some big gamebook fans over there at their offices in the Evergreen State. They've been thinking for some time that the FL books would be perfect for the Kindle and offered to do the work with us to convert them.

Fast forward a couple of months and here we are about to release The War-Torn Kingdom as an interactive ebook. If this one is as well received as we and Amazon are hoping, you can expect to see the rest of the series rolling out over the next few months. And of course you don't actually need to own a Kindle to play these books - they'll run on the Kindle App for any device.

The text has been revised for this edition. There are no major new quests or anything, but the prose is tighter as befits a 21st century reincarnation of the books. If you want to check it out for yourself, the book goes on sale tomorrow but you should pre-order right now as it may not stay at that special introductory price forever.

18 comments:

  1. I just pre-ordered the ebook, even though I don't know (because the Amazon website doesn't say so) whether its content is interactive. By that I mean: can I click on 'Turn to 101' and be guided to that section? For $2.16, though, I'm willing to take that risk ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes indeed, Kilian, it's all hyperlinked. You can click on a number to go there - and you can refer to the maps or your adventure sheet at any time and then use the Kindle's Back button to return to the section you're at. And with the Kindle's Notes function you can leave items at townhouses and so on. Pretty good for $2.16, huh? :-)

      Delete
  2. I'm not a huge Fabled Lands fan (much more of a Blood Sword fan), but I was curious about the tech so I gave this a try. There are some things that are cleverly done, and some that I can't wrap my head around. (I tried things out using a kindle Paperwhite and the iOS app; the desktop app might behave differently.)

    1) The idea of highlighting the sword icons to count how many times you've visited a section is clever and works fine.

    2) The chest icons that you're supposed to "click" on confused me for a long time. I finally figured out that I was supposed to tap, hold and create a note. That's clever, but the instructions felt poorly worded.

    3) I have no idea how I'm supposed to use to adventure sheet. The whole thing is just one big image. I guess I could attach a note to it, but that would mean typing everything (instead of just filling in the necessary info), which seems bothersome. Same thing for the keywords; the book tells you to highlight them, but they're all part of one big image, not discreet entities.

    4) What's with the low-res art? The world map is a disgusting, pixellated jpeg that's entirely unreadable. Same for the illustrations (e.g. §10), that appear as tiny, pixellated monstrosities. I know images are problematic when using the kindle file formats, especially the older ones, because the kindle file formats suck, but surely there's got to be a better way.

    I may sound critical, but I genuinely think that there are some really nice ideas here. I really don't want to bother with physical books and pencils and rubbers and dice and whatnot anymore, so anything that can help bring gamebooks to digital platforms is a good thing as far as I'm concerned.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I appreciate the feedback, Kurufinwe. I'm forwarding your comments to the Kindle team in the hope that they'll be able to fix the issues you've identified.

      Delete
    2. Just to update you on this, I passed your comments on to the Kindle development team at Amazon and they replied:

      "This is fantastic feedback and the kind I think will help us build the best experience for readers and gamers."

      They are changing the Adventure Sheet and Ship's Manifest to be text that you can add notes to, and I rewrote the text concerning treasure chest icons to make that clearer. As for images:

      "This is where it gets tricky. Our system scales down the images to reduce file size to lower the delivery costs."

      So what I decided to do there is reduce the number of images but increase the size of the ones we're keeping, the maps being particularly important.

      You should see a new build in a week or two, and thanks again for taking the time to give us detailed feedback. It helps.

      Delete
    3. Any chance of the other books coming to Kindle?

      Delete
    4. The feedback we've got is that Kindle isn't a very good device for these books. But we're now looking into app versions of all our old gamebooks including Blood Sword and Duel Master.

      Delete
    5. That's awesome Dave! I loved the Fabled Lands series when I was younger (even though I never had all the books). I'm glad that you are still working on these amazing adventures.

      Delete
  3. I enjoy the physicality of dice-rolling and filling in adventure sheets, even in the Destiny Quest series. I might be in the minority here, but stat-tracking has always been ingrained in my mind and I doubt I will kick the habit.

    As for the Fabled Lands Kindle app: I ought to check it out! Keep on going Dave and the crew!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You'll still have the dice-rolling in the FL ebooks, Mike. Turns out that actually keeping track of stats and ability rolls was beyond the Kindle - though we are also working on a Sorcery-style iOS app for the entire FL world - that's books 1-7 and beyond. Slowly but surely.

      Delete
    2. Wonderful news! I love the Kindle versions of the critical IF books - they are very easy to read and keep track of the stats. This is not my experience with The War-Torn Kingdom though - Kindle is not great for keeping so much information for the player's story. I guess I have been spoiled by a certain Java app, which just does all of that better. I feel that an app in the style of Sorcery! is the best option for bringing such an epic adventure to the attention of new readers. I just hope you will consider an Android version of the app as well. In any case, thank you and keep up the good work!

      Delete
    3. Dimitar, you'll be pleased to hear that we are working on a Sorcery-style FL app. After all, FL is much more suited to that kind of map-driven app than the original Sorcery books were! It's a spare-time project for some of Jamie's old colleagues at Black Cactus, so it may take a while but I'll keep you posted. And I hope that app, if and when it appears, will be on Android as well as iOS.

      Delete
  4. Is there somewhere we can go to keep track of book 7s release? I can't find any info on it anywhere.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aren't Megara posting any updates on the project's Kickstarter page? OK, Seth, I'll ask Paul Gresty, who is writing it, and get back to you.

      Delete
    2. Hi Seth... Book 7 is coming. A little more slowly than we'd envisaged. But it's coming.

      The slow progress is really due to the fact that Russ and Kev in particular are in high demand, and are having to multitask a bit (you saw that Star Wars film Kev has been working on, right?). This, sadly, is the price of working with some of the best artists around.

      I'll confess I'm guilty of a little multitasking as well. But as far as the text of the book is concerned, that'll be finished in the second quarter of this year.

      Is it possible to give a release date for the book? With a little luck, I'll guess at July or August - but that is a guess; mostly, it comes down to the schedules of everybody involved.

      The good news: the book is definitely, definitely on its way. And it won't be too long now.

      Delete
  5. Hello,

    I've long had an interest in the Fabled Lands series, as the idea of freedom to have my character wander more or less at will is deeply compelling. I'm also totally blind, and have been since birth, and therefore the printed books are less than accessible to me.

    I was somewhat disappointed to find that the Kindle books suffer from their own problems. I attempted to read them on my iPhone this evening, and was annoyed to discover that none of the hyperlinks to the various sections are accessible. This may very well be a Kindle for iOS-specific issue, or perhaps complicated by the fact I use Apple's screen reading software to use the Kindle app.

    At any rate, I wondered if there was anything that could be done about this. I'd love to experience this series more properly, but at the moment the Kindle format is most inconvenient. Any help with an alternate format, or something of the sort, would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks much :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Zack - I'm sorry to hear that. I'll try the book on my iPad. If it doesn't work then the only recourse is for me to hit up the guys at Amazon who implemented this version for us and hope they can help out.

      However, I can tell you that we are working n app versions of all our books, and your comments have made me aware that we need to think about how to make those accessible to all readers. That's still a little way off, but I'll be talking to the developers about it.

      Btw did you try the screen-reading software with my Frankenstein gamebook app? That was coded for iOS (by Inkle) so ought to work, in which case the issue may be incompatibility between that and the Kindle for iOS app.

      Delete