Dan Applegate

Lead Engineer at Skillshare



Stat Counter for Trial of the Clone

Last year, Zach Weiner, the creator of my favorite online comic, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, launched a Kickstarter campaign for a new project called Trial of the Clone. Recalling the venerable "choose your own adventure" novels of our youth, Zach proposed to bend his prodigious authorial skills towards creating a zany book of a similar vein, filled with sci-fi goodness and humor. What's more, Zach promised this book to feature a playable character, with the reader keeping track of a set of stats and items, allowing him to play a game while progressing through the story.

I got ridiculously excited and immediately became a backer. Apparently, many other fans had similar reactions, because the campaign absolutely shattered its fundraising goal of $15,000, eventually netting Zach over $130,000 in donations and locking him into an earlier promise to produce a sequel. For those who were not quick enough to jumpstart the campaign, the book is now available on Amazon and Breadpig for a mere $10.

I received my award of a paper copy of the book a short time later, as well as a link to an electronic version of the same. I love it! The writing is dark and silly, and a great distraction on the subway as I ride into work.

The only thing I don't like about it is that I have to bring a pencil with me, and constantly flip back to the beginning of the book, erasing some of my hit points after a fight with a pack of frenzied parents proud of their pill-popping child students, or adding my latest ray-gun acquisition to my arsenal. Plus, I have to keep track of where my stats stand at any critical juncture of the story, so I can reset back to this "save point" in the (quite likely) event that my character will die a horrible and agonizing death in chapter 46.

This brings me to what I would like to create for this class. Rather than have to use a pencil and paper to record my character's status, I want to create an app for my Android phone that will allow me or any other TOTC reader to:

  • Keep track of your maximum health and your current health
  • Keep track of the three main statistics which denote your character's skill: Charisma, Fighting, and Wits
  • Maintain a list of effects which your character is currently experiencing, and have the stat augmentations of these effects indicated on your stats page.
  • Catalog an inventory of items which your character possesses, their bonuses and drawbacks, their count, and whether or not they are currently equipped on your character
  • Create "save points," snapshots of all of these stats and lists, tied to a certain point in the book, which can be loaded up in case the player wishes to rethink earlier decisions
  • Wrap a list of these save points into discrete character files, which will allow the player to maintain multiple progressions through the story, without overriding their progress in different storylines they have created
  • Display a "dashboard" in the notification area of the Android device, to provide easy access to the stat counter interface while the player is navigating through their copy of the ebook
  • Eventually, depending on how difficult these things prove, I think it would be awesome to more fully integrate the interface into the story by allowing the player to "load" their copy of the ebook into the stat counter. Then, based on the content that the user is viewing at any given time, the app can provide rich interactions with the stats while the player is navigating from page to page. For example, after arriving on a page and scrolling to the end, a button would appear that would automatically modify the character's stats to reflect the events that the reader has just experienced.

With luck, I can create an app that will allow me to enjoy Mr. Weiner's work even more than I am now!

(The amazing cover image and book illustration shown above were created by talented illustrator Chris Jones)


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