Prototype v1 -2013

In 2012 I was curious to figure out how to be truly immersed by a story and interact with it when there is no visual aid or other references than speech. When we read or hear stories that touch, move, intrigue, grab or relate to us, our own experiences and imagination simply step in and render all the necessary images, flavors, sounds, memories for us. If we can be deeply immersed in a story, would it not be exciting to listen to an audio-book with the addition that we can speak back and make decisions in real-time that impact its narrative?

By early 2013 I had created a simple app that leveraged speech to text for user input and text to speech for game output. By using the classic text adventure Zork(tm) to represent the story for the first interactive audio book ("IAB") prototype. For two weeks, I used this 'primitive dev-kit' in my car and played every morning and evening to and from work. While rather clunky and simplistic I admit I could not wait to get back to my car to continue deeper into the world of Zork(tm).

Click on the below image to view a video from 2013 when using prototype V1 during his commute for two weeks.


It was through hours of playing the Wanderword prototype v1 (previously called IAB "Interactive Audio Book") in many varied user scenarios and situations that the 2x5 Disciplines were established. One set of disciplines that cater for the user, the other what the creator needs to successfully create great Wanderword narratives. Since 2013 these disciplines have not changed and still act as my north star as I learn what it means to not only play Wanderword stories, but more importantly, what requirements the team has as platform creators to empower creators and writers to produce Wanderword stories of highest quality in the most friction-less manner possible.

principle 1.png

the user experience

In order to cater for multiple and varied user situations and preferences, Wanderword lets the user chose how much depth, detail and interaction he/she wishes to be exposed to during a play session. User scenarios that require plenty of concentration like driving a car reduces the amount of user interaction and engagement. Scenarios where the user can comfortably focus solely on playing, the wish for detailed and deeper interaction is likely greater. In return, the app adapts the narrative by reducing or increasing level of detail of the story.

principle 2.png

the development pillars

Dynamic User Engagement Density (part of granted patent) enables the Wanderword story creator to generate his or her narrative in different levels of depth and detail, from non-interactive experiences identical to linear audio-books, to intricate and detailed narratives with multiple story branches and alternative outcomes. The Wanderword story editor supports several layers of dynamic user engagement density. The remaining development pillars are equally critical but likely also more self-explanatory.  

November 2013

Just around the beginning of Siri and around a year before Google Home, Alexa Echo or Dot I recorded a video of then three year old Lala when she played a short story of Wanderword. The core concept was to measure her reactions when listening to an audio story but also speaking back to it and figure out she could impact the narrative or be part of it. The experiment worked pretty well, considering her young age and the lack of any sophisticated speech tech and no sound effects.

Prototype v2 - 2017

Work on Wanderword prototype v2 started in early 2017 with a set of goals to further prove the core concept and its potential as both a platform, story editor and interactive audio book experience. We have successfully achieved these goals and are now busy speaking to potential investors and strategic partners to secure funding. The prototype encompasses;

- Fully featured Wanderword client running on Android device.

- One playable 45-60 minutes interactive Wanderword experience "63rd & Wallace", split into 5 chapters, showcasing branching narrative, dynamic user engagement density, ambient & event triggered sound effects and save/load functionality

- Fully featured, (non-consumer facing) story editor containing all necessary tools and functionality to create, edit and launch a rich Wanderword experience.

Without the critical expertise of House of How we would not have achieved these goals in such a short time or to such quality. Click the photo to the right to view a brief video of Wanderword prototype v2 where I'm testing ambient background and event triggered sound effects.