Remember those books from the '80s and '90s where you could create your own story by the choices you were making? These were the famous Choose Your Own Adventure®* books, and many were written by the creator of the concept and author of the first book in the series, Edward Packard. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Packard_(writer)
Ever since that first time I picked up a book by Edward Packard, I was fascinated by the idea of choosing my own adventures, and the concept stayed with me all my life. So when I began developing voice apps on the Amazon Alexa I had one idea in my mind, creating an interactive audio adventure similar to the book I once read.I couldn't remember the title, but I discovered the book in the attic at my parents' home. It was called Your code name is Jonah (Je code naam is Jonas in Dutch), and was written by Edward Packard. I soon found out the book was part of the famous Choose Your Own Adventure®* series. More motivated then ever, I went online and eventually stumbled upon the website of Edward Packard. I immediately sent him an email about my idea: creating an interactive audio adventure on Amazon Alexa. To my surprise, I got an e-mail back, and before I knew it we were on our way to creating the first interactive audio adaptation of a book written by Edward Packard!
*Note: Choose Your Own Adventure is now a registered trademark of Chooseco LLC, which is not associated in any manner with the skill _ italics Journey 3000 italics _, Edward Packard, or SpeechCloud. The book where the skill is based on is a Bantam classic Choose Your Own Adventure book written by Edward Packard in 1987 for which I have an official audio licence. You can find the original book on Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/Journey-Year-3000-Choose-Adventure/dp/0553261576
What it does
I soon found out Edward had not only written the book I'd bought so many years ago. He was the creator of the concept and wrote more than 50 other books in the series. So I set out to find the best of them all. After reading all the books that were available, I concluded that there was one that stood out from the rest. It seemed that Edward did something special with this story, something different that made it especially exciting. It was _ italics Journey to the Year 3000 italics _ , named a "Super Adventure" for a good reason!
January 14, 3000. You've been hibernating in a space capsule for a thousand years. Now you're awake and ready to return to the Earth of the future--but your computer has horrifying news to report. An evil tyrant named Styx Mori has proclaimed himself Supreme Emperor of Earth. He has agents everywhere--even on other planets. And no matter where you land, you face capture--and even death! What should you do?
How I built it
When we finally chose the book for creating our voice adventure the story had to be adapted to meet the time constraints for interactive audio platforms. Edward offered to adapt the story. He even invented a few breakthrough techniques to make the process of adapting a book for interactive audio possible and the adventure more involving and fun than ever before.
After adaptation, I hired the grandson of Edward Packard, David Corenswet to narrate the story. In the past year David became ab highly accomplished actor as he was featured in Netflix series 'Hollywood' and 'The Politician'. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Corenswet
Challenges I ran into
Two words: A lot! As the story consists of 32 different endings, 83 different choices it became was a real challenge to develop. The skill is completely custom build for the book, and now visual builder or any other framework is used. This meant it was a real endeavor for me, but I enjoyed it a lot, next to my day job at a fintech startup where I'm a marketing manager. During building, I and Edward have tested it a lot! And we were very proud to finally release it in the wild after so many months of hard work. So when I saw the hackathon to update the skill to use APL I needed to join! I've been working for 3 weeks updating the skill, learning APL, and getting to know the constraints but also the possibilities.
I came up with the following screens: Launchscreen --> start the story ,help ChoiceScreen --> pick the choice you want to go in the story. The End screen --> With percentage completed of the story. Previous Choice screen --> Go back to a previous choice
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
This was my first really big software project on Alexa. Though it was very hard and took a lot of time, I'm very proud a book of Edward Packard is now available as an interactive audio adventure skill on Alexa. To be enjoyed by a whole new generation. The skill is available for free as that's my goal! Let people enjoy it :)
What I learned
I learned a lot. It took a lot of perseverance as well, but I'm glad I tried it. I hope you like it too! Now with APL screen it feels like a cool game.
What's next for Journey 3000: an interactive audio adventure
I'll be updating the skill with a few more APL elements if I have more time and I would want to add sound effects to the skill as well. If I win I want to do another book by Edward Packard. Maybe do a complete series called Space Hawks which has 6 books.
Check it out in the skillstore: https://www.amazon.com/Journey-3000-interactive-audio-adventure/dp/B08KJ6DGNT