Interview with Unmapped Path

Today, we meet with Chris Klimas and Joel Haddock from Unmapped path. Their work on Disbound is transforming Nocked from a bunch of haphazard text to the game that will soon be in your hands. We sat down with them last week for a short conversation.

Joel and Chris, you two make up Unmapped Path. Could you introduce yourselves to our readers and explain your roles in the company?

[Chris] The first text-based game I released was back in 1997. That sounds ancient, doesn’t it? I’ve always been interested in narrative-centered games in some shape or form, though. In 2009, I was playing around with hypertext and ended up creating a tool called Twine. It eventually become quite popular, as you probably know! So while I continue to lead the Twine project, I’m also building games with Joel as part of Unmapped Path.

[Joel] I’ve been dabbling in game design since I was kid sketching out Super Mario Bros levels on the back of my spiral notebook covers, but it wasn’t until Chris and I started working together in 2010 that I started to turn those ideas in concrete projects. As part of Unmapped Path, I do both writing and art, and also try to bring in some very mundane project management skills. No one ever wants to talk about that part for some reason.

[Chris] Although it’s incredibly important!

Nocked is powered by Disbound. Could you tell us a little bit about it? How does it differ from some of the mobile-optimized story formats that already exist for Twine?

[Chris] Disbound is an engine we’ve created that allows us to build mobile games with Twine. Its name comes from a publishing term for a book that has had its binding ripped out -- and that’s the concept at the core of the engine. Disbound lets us take a Twine game as-is and build a compelling app around it, instead of having to rewrite its code from scratch.

With Disbound, we can convert existing Twine stories into mobile apps pretty rapidly. It also makes it much easier for us to build things from scratch, too -- right from the get-go, we have something that behaves like a full-fledged app. We can focus more of our time on story and gameplay instead of nuts and bolts.

The other thing that we think makes Disbound stand out from Twine story formats is that it allows us to take full advantage of the capabilities of the devices we’re building for -- things like a phone’s camera and GPS. It’s possible to do that with a Twine game running in a mobile browser, but it’s not particularly easy.

It's been mentioned that Disbound transforms Twine stories for the mobile experience. Is this a product you hope to release to the general Twine community?

[Chris] Not in the foreseeable future. Our goal with Unmapped Path is to build games, not try to jumpstart another platform. And our goals with Disbound itself are fairly humble -- we want it to disappear in the user experience. We don’t want people to play a game and immediately think, “ah, another Disbound game.”

Where do you hope to take Disbound in the future?

[Chris] Right now, we’re very focused on building for iOS devices. But of course, Android’s an important market, and we’re also interested in adapting Disbound for desktop computers, too. In general, development on Disbound has been very much a process of pave-the-cow-paths. As we hit unique needs for individual games, we’re always thinking about how to generalize the solutions we come up with.

What’s next for Unmapped Path?

[Joel] At the moment, we’re working on a project internally we’re referring to as MaisonWe really like code names for things.

Ten years ago, the player’s father vanished into the depths of a most unusual house, never to be seen again. Now, after a decade of trying to find a way in, the player has an opportunity to at last delve into the mysteries of the place to seek out their father’s ultimate fate. Did I mention it’s owned by their arch-nemesis, the Mayor? Maison hearkens back to the haunted house adventures of yore, but with way more fringe science and electoral fraud. And who doesn’t love electoral fraud?

Is there anything else you'd like to tell our readers?

[Joel] If you want to keep up on developments with Maison, what we’re up to in general, or really just like getting more email, you can sign up for our monthly newsletter!

Thanks, Chris and Joel, for the great interview. Unmapped Path has it's own exciting website with more information. Check it out!

Last week, we asked the question: do you want more play by post? The answer, overwhelmingly, was yes! So, without further ado, we begin our new adventures! 

Part 1 - Robin Hood is Dead

Or he never existed in the first place. A fiction to justify the rapacious banditry of one Robert Fitzhugh, whose body now hangs from the Nottingham gallows. Freedom, then, for the banditry-by-law as practiced by the Sheriff. There was ever little difference between them.

I am Marian, noble-born, ward of the absent King Richard, rightful ruler of Nottingham, and heretofore betrothed against my will to that odious Sheriff by the dictates of Prince John. Tomorrow is the wedding, but tonight the men are drunk on the death of Robin. Tonight, I make my escape.

I don't have much time. I must choose what's most important to me, and leave the rest.

  1. I infiltrate the armory and retrieve my father's sword and bow.
  2. I rescue my faithful handmaid, Rosalind, from the servant's quarters.
  3. I break into the library for my book of spells, gifted to my by my great aunt Morgana.

Marian's decision at this juncture has been made. To continue her adventures, check out the latest dev blog and vote on her current actions.

Cave and Waterfall, work in progress, from Amanda Spaid

This is the Nocked! True Tales of Robin Hood development blog. Every week I’ll discuss some aspect of the game’s development, show off some art, and give you the opportunity to create an entirely new Robin Hood story. And be sure to check out the butler's take on the Sheriff of Nottingham, occasionally updated @ManOfNottingham.