The first of two teams awarded The Writing Platform bursary fill us in on their progress: Actor and writer Ben Gwalchmai and poet and developer James Wheale used the bursary to build on their existing work on story and movement and build a prototype of a mobile app called Fabler. Fabler enables users to experience story through movement: stories will play when the user is moving and stop when the user is still, with bonus content being revealed as the user progresses through the story.
Understanding the benefits and limitations of what we’ve created has taken up most of our time.
We’ve written test stories – a tapas of tales – and plotted our future schedule. We’ve stayed up late into the night writing and recording, tinkering and testing. We know, for sure, that it won’t play in your pocket when you’re on a train. We also know that disco dance powered stories are a-go-go. We now understand our platform better which has honed our palette for creating content.
The visceral engagement with stories that we were after is already evident in our beta versions 0.1 and 0.2. Although it feels somewhat of a Pandora’s Box, we expected limitations.
We’ve recorded two test stories: one has a soundtrack, the other doesn’t. We’ve got technical specifications to figure out yet and continue to test. We’ve sent the beta out to some testers and we’re looking forward to the feedback. One of them is currently in Spain and testing how transposed the story makes you feel, even when surrounded by another language. One of them is fellow bursary winner Caden Lovelace and he has been instructed to find ways to kill it as efficiently as is possible and return it to us in several million pieces so we may figure out: one, how he was able to do so; and two, how we can ensure no one can do it again.
We’re meeting with sonic ethnographers, User Experience designers, and User Interface designers before we make 0.3.
James is cracking on with how best to integrate soundscapes, sound effects, and drafting music to match the form. Ben’s been recording his dulcet tones and honing story extracts to test out.
We’ve found the more you walk with someone whispering, bellowing, or laughing a story at you – a story that’s directly in your ear and responds to your movement – the nature of the stories we can use is affected. This is far more than an audiobook: your attention is piqued by these stories written specifically for this moving form.
You don’t want to stop moving. You want to finish the story.
So far, we’ve had two internal versions of Fabler; now we’re getting the settings and the stories right before we make more.
Coming soon: @Fabler_