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WordFire Quad-Screen Word-Game Console and Clock

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  • JRetSapDoogJRetSapDoog Posts: 554
    edited June 30 Vote Up0Vote Down
    The green cutting mat seems to help my phone show the keyboard color better or more accurately.
    1032 x 581 - 213K
  • JRetSapDoogJRetSapDoog Posts: 554
    edited July 2 Vote Up0Vote Down
    As I just mentioned to someone who inquired by PM, I ordered LCD screens and audio chips today. The screens cost me somewhat more than what I was hoping to pay. I hope to receive shipment towards the end of this week. I still need cables and power adapters. Then, I'll need some time to get the parts installed and consoles tested. But I'm making progress, slow but sure, as they say.

    Dealing with small parts vendors online can be frustrating at times. I contacted four LCD screen providers only to learn that the prices that they were advertising were for non-new screens, for lack of a better term (and differentiated from "used"). But, of course, they couldn't honestly state that up front in their ads (I know: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is). Perhaps the screens were unused but pulled from devices that didn't sell or something like that. If that were the case, it might be fine (as long as I let any buyers know), but the vendors didn't specify the exact circumstances. So, I opted to go with new screens for about 25% more in cost than the non-new ones.

    I told the last person that PM'ed me that I'd give him first dibs on claiming a unit from this small, initial batch that I'm building as a reward for expressing early interest. I'll do that for anyone else that either has already expressed interest via a PM (or a post in one case) or PM's me subsequently prior to announcing availability. Note: In line with the general forum rule that prohibits direct sales by members, please express any interest in purchasing either via a PM or by going to my website, not by posting interest in buying in this thread, as was laid out in a guideline about the rule a few months back.

    While I'm not ready to announce a final price, I will say that my new target price for the forum is $250 USD + $50 shipping (to Australia and the US/Canada; not sure about other locals yet). That target price would bring the total with shipping to three bills even ($300), which I believe to be a rather attractive and reasonable price point for something like this that is not mass produced (remember that the system includes four screens and four keyboards). Please don't balk at the shipping cost, as the console + keyboards and box w/packing materials approaches 4.5 kg in a somewhat largish box, and I expect to lose money on that $50 shipping price based on the shipping quotes I received last week.

    Now, any received PM's won't be considered to be solid commitments to buy; however, please only "claim" a console if you're sincerely interested. But feel free to PM me with questions, comments or suggestions even if you don't wish me to put your name on a console at this time (or just post general comments and questions on this thread). For those that do want to put their name on a console (even if just temporarily), once the console is available (or nearly so), I'll give you at least a couple of days to decide whether you really want to pull the trigger (buy). I'll just work my way down the list of names first come, first serve. It'll probably be a small list, but I think this is a good way to handle things at this early stage. At this time, I can't say if or when there will be a second batch. I'm just building out an initial batch of ten, including my prototype and a couple of units that I'll reserve for people on my end. But if the batch sells out and more forum members do express interest, I'll look into building a second batch. And obviously, for now, I'm just approaching people on the forum, you know, fellow Propeller-heads. Well, that's the latest. --Jim
  • Nice to hear you're making progress on building units for sale. I'd love to try writing some multi-player text adventure games for this. The last time I wrote one was for a PDP-10 timesharing computer back in the 70's.
  • JRetSapDoogJRetSapDoog Posts: 554
    edited July 2 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Sounds intriguing, David. As I mentioned by email, I also received a PM yesterday from someone with a similar interest. Such adventure games constitute a game type that I haven't worked on at all for the console (I've had my hands pretty full), so it's exciting to consider. I presume such games typically have a language parser to handle the various responses that one might provide. Deciding how robust to make such parsers sounds pretty important, as you can't cover everything. But just off the top of my head, I can see how that might consume a lot of memory to handle the various strings, though I haven't calculated anything. So I imagine that one would have to pull a lot of the text to test against (possibly in tree form?) off of an SD card. Anyway, I know next to nothing about text adventure games or parsers like that, so I'll limit my speculation.

    However, what follows is perhaps an alternative form for text adventure games that wouldn't require a sentence parser, only straightforward word matching. Essentially, you present an adventure as a series of paragraphs wherein some words are blanked out. Players then populate the blanks of a single paragraph at a time, filling in the blanks in any order. Players could do so independently or collaboratively. Letters could fill in progressively over time if players were stuck. Players could be held in lockstep from paragraph to paragraph or not, depending on the game design. Anyway, I haven't spent any time trying to flesh this out other than composing this post response (though I did allude to this possibility when you first mentioned the subject). However, I just took three minutes or so to write the following example of what I *think* I have in mind:

    You're in a d____ lit room. How you ___ _____ you don't ____. To your _____ is a narrow c_______. To your ____ is a wall cabinet with various t___s inside. You open the _______ and remove a h_____t, thinking that it might ____ in h____ if you need to _x_r_c___ yourself or f____ something o___. You're just t___k___ _h___, trying to devise a c_________ plan for the _n_x____d. With your ____ better adjusted to the d_______, you n_____ a ____ directly __ _____ __ you. "Should I ____ it?" you ___ yourself. Decisions, _________! What __ __, ____ __ do?

    I'll give you folks an opportunity to fill in the blanks. Perhaps you'll say that it is too easy. But with multiple players playing, things could move along quickly and it could be fun. Being fast would likely be a factor in the scoring. I like the concept because it's very language centric and perfectly tuned for the console. Perhaps it retains a bit of the text adventure spirit. But I guess it doesn't make one go through quite the same mental gymnastics. But that could be a plus as much as a minus.

    Perhaps there are a lot of embellishments that could be made. The blanks above were human-chosen (by me), but perhaps the program could pick them to add variety if repeating a story (possibly by following simple rules). However, perhaps such wouldn't be strictly necessary if hundreds of adventures were created to provide sufficient variety. Or perhaps adventures themselves could be created automatically from sentences stored on an SD card, though that sounds highly tricky/complex...but might be worth considering.

    Anyway, I'm just trying to get the creative juices flowing by thinking outside the box of the traditional text adventure format, which may be difficult to implement. However, for all I know, some adventure games may already use a format like the above example paragraph with blanks. I mean, over the last five decades surely not all adventure games use language parsers. Or maybe they do and what I've exemplified above goes by a different name. I suppose that's more likely.

    Whatever the case, such a game engine sounds like a great candidate for a game for the console, with "adventures" or stories being stored on an SD card one by one, and with the program randomly choosing amongst the stored stories at play time. Perhaps the average story could take approximately 15 minutes to complete, allowing players to complete, say, four to six stories in one 60-90 minute session. Longer stories could be done, of course, but it would be much easier to get people to write content for shorter stories I'm pretty sure, allowing a collection of stories to be built up more rapidly. I think creating content of this nature would be fun. Heck, maybe a game like this could be created in which the players themselves create the content at play time, taking turns to create each sentence and allowing all other players to play concurrently to fill in the blanks. That's just a thought, though. But the keyboards make something like that possible, that is, not just filling in blanks but writing whole sentences.
  • While that might be an interesting game it isn't what I would think of as a text adventure. The idea of text adventures is to model a world and allow the player to explore it. At least that's the part I'm interested in. The parser is essential. In any case, this should be possible using your console. The original Infocom adventure games could be run on very minimal machines. They paged text and code code in from a floppy drive so an SD card should be a very adequate substitute.
  • @David:It's good to read that the console should be able to run such games. The more variety, the better.
  • Ordered some PH2.0 cables (from China to Taiwan). Received them 20 hours later for ~$5.00 in shipping. Service! Guess everything went just right (i.e., vendor shipped immediately, plane had a tail wind, etc.).
  • Are the US tariffs that go into effect tomorrow going to have an impact on the price of your console when shipped to the US?
  • That's taxing to think about. Guess the little guy doesn't stand a chance. In related news, the LCD screens came. I need to go out of town soon for a couple of days, but hope to get the screens installed and consoles tested next week. Hopefully, they'll be "shipshape" (i.e., in boxes) soon. The screens are new; I'll probably leave the protective screen film on them when I tape the driver boards to the backs and connect the cables. Users can then peel them off on their own by temporarily removing the bezel cap. All for now.
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