Is there anything more nostalgic than a text adventure? Whether it's a Steve Livingston gamebook or the old Zork games from the early '80s, many of us whiled away happy hours collecting treasure, battling monsters, and being eaten by grues -- all using just the power of words.
Software developer Jerry Belich loves text adventures, too, and has found a way to give them a new and exciting life. He has created the Choosatron, a little text adventure machine that lets users dictate the path of the story and prints out a receipt-like scroll for you to take home and keep.
The system consists of a box housing a thermal printer and paper reel, an Arduino Uno R3 board, an SD car breakout module and SD card, and a 12V 2A power supply and barrel jack. On the outside is a coin acceptor that takes quarters, plus a 12-button keypad, printer output, and on-off switch. Stories are written using open-source software Twine.
How it works is simple. You insert your coin and the paper rolls up with the beginning of your adventure. You press the buttons to choose your action, and the story continues. When your adventure is done, you can tear off the print-out to take home.
"As technology has advanced, so has the way we tell stories," Belich said on his Web site. "The interactive fiction genre evolved so quickly from text adventures to modern gaming that creatively, it has hardly been tapped. The Choosatron is my first step in trying to rediscover the intimate link between author and reader, or, more appropriately, game designer and player. How will modern writers deal with this lifting of limitations, and the responsibility that comes with it? I hope to find out."
It's such a charming idea, and the best part is that the device will soon be coming to Kickstarter so that anyone can own one. You can sign up here to be notified when the Kickstarter campaign goes live, read some sample stories online here and learn how to write your own stories here.