Andrew Plotkin, also known as "Zarf," is a well known figure among the interactive fiction community. Last year, he decided he wanted to quit his day job and become a full time game designer. He's been doing quite well so far, with over $30,000 in donations acquired so far and his main creative project Hadean Lands set to hit iOS devices before the end of the year.
That doesn't stop him from working on other idle amusements, however, such as My Secret Hideout, recently released for iPad.
My Secret Hideout draws on Plotkin's experience with text-based games, but rather than being a traditional interactive fiction title, it's an experiment in procedurally-generated textual descriptions.
"You build a tree on one side of the screen," explains Plotkin, "As you do, a description of a magical treehouse appears on the other side. Every change you make causes different possibilities to unfold. You'll find new details, new rooms and new vistas every time you try it."
There's no goal as such besides exploration of the possibilities -- of which there are a very, very large number -- but it's a fascinating experiment in generating text from users' visual creativity. Could there be applications for this in other games? Perhaps. There's certainly scope for writers to make use of tools like this when putting together settings for their own narratives.
For the average user, it's simply a cool interactive toy, however. That doesn't mean it's not worth the $2.99 price of admission if you're the slightest bit interested in interactive, creative works of art, though. Check it out now via the App Store.
This article originally appeared on GamePro.com as Build Your Secret Hideout with Andrew Plotkin's Interactive Creative iPad Toy