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The King of Shreds and Patches, Kindle Edition

06 Sep

The Madness Spreads...

The King of Shreds and Patches is now available for purchase from the Amazon Kindle Store. But what is The King of Shreds and Patches, you ask? Well…

When you receive a note from your old acquaintance John Croft, you expect nothing but an evening of good food and drink and tall tales. Instead, you quickly find yourself plunged into a conspiracy of black magic that involves not only Croft but some of the most powerful and important men in London – and possibly even someone else, someone much closer to your own heart.

The King of Shreds and Patches is truly an interactive novel. Set in a meticulously recreated Elizabethan London, its story and writing can stand proudly beside conventional mysteries and historical thrillers in both length and quality, with one crucial difference: YOU play the protagonist.

A brand new approach to interactive fiction on the Kindle, this experience is deeper and richer than anything you have seen before. Rather than choosing from a few limited options, you will use a natural-language parser to choose from a universe of possibility every step of the way. Simply tell the story what you want to do using simple English, and it will respond with rich prose of its own.

In the process of playing, you will write your very own novel; no two players will have the same experience. And after you have finished your adventure, a process that will likely absorb many hours, your story will remain on your Kindle, to reread and share and compare with others.

Lovers of historical fiction, mysteries, or horror can now experience a story from the inside, while fans of puzzles and adventure games will also find much to enjoy here. Will you be able to thwart the darkness that threatens London?

So, that’s the pitch. King represents the first modern, parser-based work of interactive fiction to be released for the Kindle — and the Kindle in turn represents perhaps the most natural platform for IF since, well, ever. I could really use your help to make it a success.

If you haven’t played the desktop version of King, or even maybe if you have, I’d of course love for you to buy a copy to play on your Kindle. It’s basically the same experience on the Kindle that it was on the desktop, only with the bugs and typos that slipped into previous releases fixed and with a Kindle-ized interface that, in the opinion of myself and Amazon, looks and plays pretty great.

And whether you buy it or not, I could use your help getting the word out. If you play it, a review for Amazon would be very helpful in attracting more eyeballs. If you know someone who is not currently an IF nerd but that has a Kindle and just might enjoy it, please tell them about it. And of course blurbs on blogs, Twitter, etc., are always valuable.

If King does well enough to justify it, I hope to turn my fledgling Antiquarian Productions into a sustained venture for getting IF onto the Kindle. With a reusable engine now working at last (and don’t get me started on what a challenge that was), we have the potential to bring out the best of the IF community’s work on the Kindle, to reach new people who have never heard of IF but would love it if they did, and to give some long-suffering authors a chance to earn a little money from their work. It’s early days yet, and much is uncertain, but the potential seems pretty awesome from where I’m sitting. Won’t you help to make it happen?

UPDATE: Quite a few have been asking me about availability on European Kindles. Unfortunately, I don’t have any good news for you at this time. Not only King but the entire Kindle app store is currently limited to U.S.-purchased Kindles. My rep at Amazon can’t give me any timeline as to when this is likely to change. I’m really sorry about this situation, but there’s just not anything I can do about it, other than to pester Amazon from time to time.

Speaking of which: you can of course also write to Amazon and tell them that you’re dying to give money for lots of cool Kindle apps, if only they would let you. Maybe it helps.

As soon as I have more news on this topic, I’ll post it in the blog.

 

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43 Responses to The King of Shreds and Patches, Kindle Edition

  1. george

    September 7, 2011 at 1:43 am

    I’ve been looking forward to this announcement for quite some time. Congratulations and good luck!

     
  2. Sig

    September 7, 2011 at 5:29 am

    Huzzah! Very interested to see how this plays out. I have toyed with getting a Kindle; this is definitely something I would do with it if I had one. I currently play some IF on my Android phone, but the screen is pretty darned small for that.

     
  3. David Cornelson

    September 7, 2011 at 6:10 am

    Great job Jimmy. No one knows better than I do how hard this was to bring to life.

     
  4. Christian Moura

    September 7, 2011 at 8:32 am

    I love my kindle, and I love IF. I’m uncertain as to how this will work out, given the slow refresh rate on the device, but wish you the best of commercial success with this, Jimmy. Have advertised it to all my friends, will be buying a copy soon.

     
  5. gnome

    September 7, 2011 at 11:28 am

    This does sound lovely, but I’m afraid it’s not available on euro-Kindles. Damn and blast!

     
    • Jimmy Maher

      September 7, 2011 at 11:53 am

      Yes, I’m sorry about that. Afraid it’s out of my control. I’ll let you know as soon as I have some word on when Amazon will make it available to the rest of the world.

       
      • gnome

        September 8, 2011 at 6:03 am

        That would be lovely; so very lovely actually :)

         
  6. ZUrlocker

    September 7, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Great work getting this onto the Kindle. Would be cool to have a post about some of the details on all that. Will other IF games be available on Kindle? Would be amazing to have some of the popular IFDB games on Kindle.
    –Zack

     
    • Jimmy Maher

      September 8, 2011 at 5:06 am

      Yes, the engine will support other IF games.

       
      • wmarsh

        November 30, 2011 at 1:12 am

        Can you elaborate how? Specifically, I have all the data files (*.dat or *.z5) from the Lost Treasures of Infocom. Can I load these with your engine, or do I need to jailbreak and use ZIF?

         
        • Jimmy Maher

          November 30, 2011 at 8:17 am

          No, it’s not that simple I’m afraid. There are a lot of custom hooks that need to be incorporated into the story file to “Kindleize” the experience.

           
  7. Robb Sherwin

    September 8, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    This is a TRIUMPH. I really thought the Kindle keys would be annoying to use as much as we’d have to for a text game, but that hasn’t been the case at all. This is really, really amazing work, Jimmy. I love the idea of having this thin little tablet that always saves state and I can pick it up and play a text game at any point.

     
    • Jimmy Maher

      September 8, 2011 at 7:39 pm

      Thanks, Robb. I’m really glad to see that this is being so well received.

      One thing you could do that would really help out is to post a little review on Amazon with your praise. :) Actually, this applies to everyone who tries out the app and likes it. My rep at Amazon tells me that positive reviews are by far the biggest driver of sales in the app store, and for this to be successful it obviously has to break out of the relatively tiny IF hardcore.

       
  8. Beardy

    September 8, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    The first thing I thought when e-readers started to appear was ‘can they do CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE stories? Maybe even ADVENTURES?’. I still don’t really know — if the answer is YES, please tell me HOW TO and what I’ll need; then I’ll go get something!

    So; forgive my (European!!!) ignorance; is this stuff KINDLE ONLY or can it be run on other e-readers?

     
    • Jimmy Maher

      September 8, 2011 at 7:45 pm

      I’m afraid it’s Kindle only, and U.S. Kindle only at that for the immediate future. I know, it sucks. (I’m in Europe myself.)

      There’s just one way I can think of to get access to it in Europe:

      If you know anyone in the U.S. who can forward a package on to you, you could order a Kindle from the U.S. site and have it shipped on to you in Europe. The Kindle does not have to BE in the U.S., it just has to have been purchased through the U.S. site and registered there. You’ll then be able to buy apps and books through the U.S. site in Europe. I have U.S.-purchased Kindles but live in Norway, and have no problems with this. Alternately, if you’re going to be traveling through the U.S. anytime soon or know anyone who will be, Kindles are sold at kiosks in most major airports there.

      I didn’t say it was particularly easy or convenient, but it is one way… ;)

       
      • Beardy

        September 9, 2011 at 12:11 pm

        Too much dang effort and cost in order to be able to write something with a potential audience of 2 (you and me Jimmy ).

        I’ll continue to read dead tree bits with ink then!

         
  9. Kevin Jackson-Mead

    September 8, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    Well done, Jimmy! I’m really enjoying the game so far, and the interface is fantastic.

    One small thing, which I didn’t even notice for a while: when the game starts after having been off, there are very faint traces of whatever was there before (the screen saver, the text on the home screen, etc.). It’s like it didn’t get erased completely. I tried it out with a book, and the same thing doesn’t happen. This is my first active content for the Kindle, so I don’t know if this is something that happens with all active content or not. Like I said, it’s a small thing, and it really doesn’t detract from the play at all.

    And I just left a review, so hopefully it will come up soon. Thanks for releasing this, and I really hope we can see more IF on the Kindle, since I have that but not any other mobile device.

     
    • Jimmy Maher

      September 8, 2011 at 11:21 pm

      Thanks so much for that, Kevin.

      E-ink screens are very different than normal screens. It sometimes becomes a question of balancing the annoying flash of a full screen erase and refresh versus potential ghosting. I’ve made a note to see if I can’t address this complaint in Kindle IF #2.

       
  10. Jack Ventura

    September 13, 2011 at 5:15 am

    Hi Jim, what do you mean with “the engine will support other IF games”? Is there any way someone else could use that for development? It seemed to me to spot Inform behind the game, is that possibile? Please let us know something more, the IF community (players AND authors) is really looking forward to play adventures on the Kindle, now that you finally (and cleverly) broke the ice :)
    Thanks and all the best for your first Kindle adventure! :)

    Jack

     
    • Jimmy Maher

      September 13, 2011 at 6:32 am

      Thanks, Jack. I do intend to make it possible for other authors to get their work onto the Kindle using this engine. Just be patient with me for a little bit; I’ll get some more information out there soon.

       
  11. Harry Kaplan

    September 13, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Jimmy,

    Do you think it appropriate for those of us who read your IF on the desktop to leave a review on Amazon, with full disclosure that it was not played on a KIndle? It would still be possible to talk about the story and the IF experience. Or do you think tis would best be left to those playing it on the Kindle?

     
    • Jimmy Maher

      September 13, 2011 at 4:03 pm

      I really appreciate the thought, but it’s probably best to only review it in its Kindle form.

       
  12. Sig

    September 16, 2011 at 3:59 am

    I’m not going to say this made me buy a Kindle (because I’m way too cheap for that), but I will say that, having purchased a Kindle today, this was the first thing I bought for it.

     
  13. Ruber Eaglenest

    September 22, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    The issue about American Kindles vs Eur Kindles worries me. Hope someone could explain me.

    Right now, the Kindle could be only bought in American Amazon. Indeed, we Spanish people, have a Amazon.es, but when we click on the icon of “buy Kindle” it jumps to the american site. I’ve hear that every Kindle in the shop is “processed” from America. So I don’t understand how later that American Kindle could change to “European” one.

    There’s not a feasibility to configure the Kindle to buy only from the American shop?

     
    • Jimmy Maher

      September 24, 2011 at 12:42 pm

      If you are indeed being redirected to the US site, you should be okay.

      Amazon has begun opening separate Kindle stores in other countries. I know this has happened in the UK and Germany, which, being the two most populous and prosperous countries in Europe, makes sense. I assume that France is probably next on the list if it doesn’t have its own store already, with Spain and Italy probably to follow. Once the Kindle is localized in this way, customers who by the device in these regions do not have access to content in the US store — and apps are currently only available in the US store. I can understand why Amazon would want to produce localized versions of the Kindle and its store to create marketplaces for non-English content, but it does kind of suck for someone who just wants to sell some IF to the world and for the world that wants to buy it.

       
  14. Jay Dugger

    September 24, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Will this work for the Kindle app on Android, or only on the Kindle hardware?

     
    • Jimmy Maher

      September 24, 2011 at 1:37 pm

      Only Kindle hardware, I’m afraid.

       
  15. Chris Grainger

    September 26, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Not only is it not available in Europe, not available north of 49 either. (mumble, grumble)

     
  16. Chris Grainger

    September 26, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    Here’s an excerpt from a live chat with Amazon Customer Service..

    You are now connected to Sai from Amazon.com.
    Me:I live in Canada. When will I be able to purchase Kindle apps?

    Sai:Hello Chris, My name is Sai. I will be happy to help you today.
    Which application do you want to access Chris ?

    Me:The King of Shreds and Patches

    Sai:I’m sorry Chris, I have confirmed that this title isn’t available in Canada. Publishers grant eBook rights on a country by country basis; we are actively working with publishers to increase our selection.

    Me:Any idea when this might happen?

    Sai:No Chris, Unfortunately we cannot determine the exact time as it totally depends on the wish of the publisher

    Me:k. thanks. have a good one! please pass on to the publisher and to amazon that I’m one customer who’d like to be able to purchase this particular title.

    Sai:Sure Chris. You’re welcome. Is there anything else I can assist you with today ?

    Me:Not at this moment, no. G’nite.

    Sai:Thanks for contacting Amazon.com Chris.
    We hope to see you again soon! Please click the “end chat” link to close this window.

    So I’m appealing to the publisher to allow those rights … (cough)

    Cheers/1

     
  17. Ruber Eaglenest

    September 30, 2011 at 10:17 am

    This is software, maybe we could fill the shipment address with a fictitious one, in USA. Or with the address of an american friend :P Could this be possible?

     
    • Jimmy Maher

      September 30, 2011 at 3:06 pm

      No, afraid that’s just not how the Kindle store works. Each Kindle must be registered with some branch of Amazon. If that’s not the US branch, no apps for you.

      With the big announcements about new Kindles this week, it does appear that some changes in the way Amazon handles apps are afoot. I in fact have a call scheduled with my rep there today; perhaps I’ll have more news for you guys soon.

       
  18. ZUrlocker

    October 3, 2011 at 5:20 am

    Please let me know how the game fares on the newly announced Kindle Touch, Kindle Fire etc.
    Thanks much!

     
  19. Ruber Eaglenest

    October 12, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    One last question, Jimmy:

    Being from Spain, I have two options to buy the Kindle Keyboard. I have my cousin in England in a journey, so I could get the Kindle without shipment and without fees, for, 101 euros. Or buy it from Amazon USA for 144 euros total, including fees and shipment. But you said that you have to buy from the USA shop to have your own app with you. So, if I buy the USA Kindle I could buy apps from there, although I’m European. Yes you answered before to this, but this phrase ” to have been purchased through the U.S. site and registered there” The register there thing bother me. Could you explain what the process of “register there” means? That is, you made the register in Norway? Or a friend of yours in USA must register it before send it to you to Norway?

    Or there is a third option, to wait for news from you when things change a little ;)

     
    • Jimmy Maher

      October 13, 2011 at 1:33 pm

      I want to be careful here, as this is a significant amount of money and I don’t want to steer you wrong. It looks to me from visiting amazon.es that Amazon has not yet set up a localized Kindle store in Spain; when you click on the little Kindle advertisement in the corner, you get redirected to the US site. If you buy a Kindle from there, it should be automatically registered through the US site. (When you purchase a Kindle through Amazon, it is shipped to you already registered with the Amazon account you used to purchase it — i.e., on the US site in this case.)

      I have two Kindles. One I bought at an airport kiosk on a trip to the US. The other I bought from the US site and had shipped here (well, to Denmark, where I was living at the time). Both are registered through the US site. Unless this has changed, you should be able to do the same.

      I think the people who will have problems are those in the UK, Germany, and France. These countries now have their own localized Kindle stores without access to (U.S.-based) active content. Checking off a list of the largest European markets, I’d say Spain and Italy are probably next — so you might want to do this soon if it’s worth the money to you. Sometimes living in a country like Norway with just 5 million people can be an advantage. :)

       
      • Ruber Eaglenest

        October 17, 2011 at 9:21 pm

        That was useful. Thanks.

         
        • Steve

          March 2, 2012 at 12:55 pm

          At Jimmy and Ruber, it is possible to use a fictitious address.
          Go to your Amazon-Kindle account – Manage Your Kindle Account – Your Kindle Account – Country Settings and add a US address. You would have to use a real US address, but just use a friend’s or find one on the Internet. Since the delivery is electronic it doesn’t really matter (you could always change back to your UK address later).
          I have both amazon.com and amazon.co.uk addresses, and they are somehow interlinked. As you change addresses Amazon works out which site to send you to.
          I’ve done this to buy a Chess game and an interactive-fiction title called “Inheritance”.. The only issue seems to be the foolish Amazon rules, the programs run fine on my UK machine.

           
  20. ZUrlocker

    November 24, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    For those who have Kindles I’ve posted a blog with some Infocom Kindle screensavers and instructions on how to install: http://www.z-machine-matter.com/2011/11/kindle-if-screensaver.html

    Enjoy!
    –Zack

     
  21. Nathan Segerlind

    February 17, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    I am interested, but I am concerned about the interface. I do not enjoy “typing” things on a kindle.

    Could you demonstrate/discuss the interface in a future post?

     
    • Jimmy Maher

      February 18, 2012 at 8:18 pm

      The older desktop version of the game is available for free from this site; see the link on the right sidebar. You’re welcome to use that as a demo to see what you’re getting into, or of course to just play the game entirely in that version.

      The Kindle version does sport some new convenience features, but it’s still in the end a parser-driven adventure game, which inevitably means typing. I’ve gotten feedback from users that, while not an ergonomic dream by any means, the Kindle’s keyboard is not too awful for this sort of application, especially once one uses it for a bit and gets used to it. And of course there are plenty of abbreviations available, and you don’t have to mess with the niceties of capitalization and punctuation, all of which helps. Still, I’m sure some — a group that possibly includes you — will find typing on the Kindle is just not for them. And that’s fair enough.

      Note that a Kindle Touch version is also available, and a version for Android tablets including the Fire is well on its way toward release…

       

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