As a fan of writing and reading scary stories, I always find it a bit of a challenge when searching for new reading material online. Horror itself is so all-over-the-place. I find it frustrating not knowing what I was going to get into when I began a story. I wanted to make it effortless for readers and listeners to find and interact with scary stories suitable for all ages—just like the ones told over campfires in summer.
What it does
It’s simple! Judi (the resident story-master/) begins to tale and sometimes asks you questions in between. Your answers to these questions shape how she tells the rest of the story. Once you’re all done, you can either listen to the story again, wait a little while until the next story debuts, or purchase a bonus chapter that puts a twist on the typical interactive campfire story.
How I built it
Built with lots of soda, bubblegum, and headaches. In truth, it’s pretty rudimentary—by the numbers. Most of the work has been tweaking the voice using SSML to sound like a creepy performance rather than a mono-toned description.
Challenges I ran into
_ "Writing horror? For all ages? Are you insane?" - some guy _
Spooky, creepy, and crawly aren't exactly adjectives you find sitting next to a G rating. Creating a story that is both safe and spooky is always a challenge I face with ever installment published. However, it's possible, and through hard work and a lot of rough drafts, I make it happen. I want to give parents the luxury of allowing their kids to listen to our skills, knowing that it’s not harmful or inappropriate.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
Judi, the girl that reads the stories, is the biggest accomplishment of mine. It has nothing to do with programming or number-crunching, because at the end of the day, Judi and her performance is at the front end. It had to sound natural. It had to be a voice that could easily be identified by listeners. But beyond that—the tone, the sense of humor, the performance— It is the most important thing to set up. From the positive responses I have gotten, Judi is on her way to becoming an icon in the world of Alexa skills.
What I learned
I’ve learned that in a sea of content, the quality will rise to the top. Before the scale can be popular, before it can be liked, the skill has to be good. The stories are the heart and soul of the skill. I hope that the stories on the skill will continue to turn heads, drawing listeners worldwide.
What's next for Campfire Stories
A lot, a lot. After establishing a strong audience with lots of interaction, I plan on toying with the interactive-story formula some more. Follow the steps, then innovate, and make some phenomenal scary stories for everyone to enjoy.
At the long end of this tunnel, I like to see physical books being out on shelves. High-quality books to read and share. Or hey, maybe a game company will swoop me up and make "Campfire Stories" into something grand! _ Looking at you Supermassive Games _