I can’t say things have gone completely smooth while building The Day I Became A Pirate; but it has been exciting and I will have to admit it is hard to concentrate on much else in my spare hours.
It has been a year in the making, and a few major issues have held me up for a better part of the time. The biggest being: how to handle the text.
In a book app format, my goal has been to add as many interactions as I possibly can on each page. I also want to really showcase the wonderful illustrations that Zach Clough is creating for the book. With animations and lots of color, there is little room for a big block of text.
Compounding my problem is the fact that The Day I Became A Pirate is a fairly long children’s story. At 24 pages and with as many as 6 lines of copy on many of the pages, I just couldn’t fit it all in. This led to many months of brooding about the problem. In fact, it was such an issue that I literally left the book on the back burner for months at a time, not touching it over the frustration of having to wedge so much into such a tiny space.
Finally, a breakthrough; I decided to add an additional 22 pages to the book, each new page holding only the text, and alternating with the animated illustration pages. This worked for a while but seemed clumsy and forced a separation of the experience between the written story and the engaging interactions.
It was like having two books meshed together. I didn’t like it, but at least it got me going forward again.
A few days ago I was talking with Jason Izatt, who is a good friend and proprietor of TaleSpring Publishing, the publisher of The Day I Became A Pirate. In walking through a few questions with him he made a suggestion that I could animate the text onto each page and include them as part of the interaction. Brilliant!
It took some figuring out, but I finally came up with a series of animations that do the trick. Nicely. So, happily, the book is back down to 24 pages (or so) and now has a very unique and integrated reading solution.
Each page opens with a pirate scroll, where upon is written the story for each page. With a click, the page shrinks down into a button at the bottom of the screen. The text scroll can be called up at any time, and you can even hear me read the story while the scroll is open, or when it is tucked away. This solution really makes the book feel like a fully interactive tale and solves the problem like I have never seen before.
I can’t wait to show you!