15. November 2011–
Remember those ‘Choose your own adventure’ books? Well, if you weren't a kid of the 80’s, it’s a series of books which let readers determine the main character’s actions and story’s direction. Much like a ‘Sliding Doors’ scenario after every chapter: ‘To pry open the closing train doors; turn to page 4, or if you’d like to wait for the next train; turn to page 6’. You get the idea.
The concept is now making a modern revival on a bigger, more elaborate and interactive scale. Since September 2010, Magdeburg/Berlin based firm: Audiogent, used three existing German sci-fi books and designed and developed them for use on iPhones, iPods, and iPads. The young and established medium, which took three years to develop, has arguably made Audiogent the world’s first producer and publisher of interactive audiobooks for sale. The company’s managing director Marcus Tonndorf, told Venture Village; "We are very excited about this product. There are going to be huge developments for this new medium in the near future."
Become an app story director: How to work the technology
Audiogent’s interactive books work on the idea that you; the user, are the director of the story. The apps are a combination of re-worked audiobooks, audio materials, professional voice-overs, story artworks, subtitles and multiple audio-streams. Simply put; it’s a mishmash of audio-book settings and gaming features. The tech-sophisticated experience lets you assume the role of the main character. With up to a millions of combinations, choices range from dictating the character’s decisions throughout the plot, to switching character perspectives and steering the story via another protagonist.
For drivers, or for those who prefer to have an auto-pilot mode, stories can be listened to differently 10 times, with each experience containing dissimilar; deviations, plot developments, and outcomes. It takes a movie length of around an hour and half to let a story run from beginning to end.
Audiogent’s expanding sci-fi range
Audiogent currently has three interactive books on the market in German with plans of entering the international market with an English language app early next year. In Germany, the company relies on well-established and popular German sci-fi books. First released story; Raumzeit (or ‘Space time’ in English) launched in October 2010, and received more than 60,000 downloads within the first 10 days, as well as achieving 'App of the Week' in Germany. Together with Sony, ‘Die Drei Fragezeichen’ or ‘The Three Investigators’ is the app-maker’s recent release which ranked in Germany’s top ten gross selling apps. Their upcoming launch of ‘Perry Rhodan Tamer’ is a modern revival of Germany’s successful 1960’s space opera book, which had sold more than a billion copies until now. 'Perry Rhodan Tamer' is expected to be released in Germany's app stores before Christmas.
Going global: The interactive story app market
The market is crammed with ‘Choose your own adventure’ apps. Yet very few boast the sophisticated interactive model that Audiogent has. Launched in the UK last year, Edward Packard’s original ‘Choose your own adventure’ book collection was re-worked into what is known as U-Ventures app. The Packard story; ‘Return to the Cave of Time’, works with text and sound effects and more on a ‘roll the dice’ game idea for plot directions. The app is a hit with native English audiences, particularly for those with childhood ties to Packard’s original page-turners.
With an already established international base, U-Ventures apps have a lot of potential, yet don’t come with the voice-over feature that makes Audiogent stand out. “It takes a month of production to get professional voice overs needed for one app. In Germany, we use common voice artists who dub Hollywood movies. They’re voices that users would recognise,” said Tonndorf.
Audiogent’s upcoming entrance into the English speaking market
There are two more German apps in the pipeline and Audiogent is looking at expanding past its sci-fi range into other genres. With big ideas for its potential global market, the company lacks the funds needed pursue its project on an international scale. So far, it’s looking at Crowdfunding for investment backing to help launch the English version of Raumzeit, or ‘Space time’ by March next year. "We think 2012 will be a big one for us, and we're really excited about the opportunities available in the English-speaking market," said Tonndorf.
Image credit: Flickr user Nathan Penlington.