News from the Tin Mines


These last few weeks I’ve been working with Ben Britten of  Tin Man Games here in Melbourne, helping out with some tech for their awesome Gamebook Adventures series of games. If you haven’t heard of Gamebook Adventures, imagine a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novel mashed together with Dungeons & Dragons played on your iPhone or iPad. If you ever read any of the Fighting-Fantasy books when you were kid/adult then you’ll know exactly what to expect. If not then the title of the series pretty much sums up the experience: Game + Book = Adventure.

Tin Man Games have released seven Gamebook Adventure games to date and already has some very cool new releases slated for next year, including porting all their existing games over to Android, PC and Mac. Of course all these releases are going to need A LOT of testing and that’s where Ben brought me in to develop an automated testing program dubbed GAP (Gamebook Auto-Player) that can find problems and map the structure of each Gamebook Adventure. This would reduce the time needed to test a Gamebook by quickly finding any dead-ends or infinite-loops that might leave a player stuck as well as letting developers know how many unique pathways a player can take through each Gamebook.

Well, we now have the first version of GAP up and running, and you can read this excellent blog post by Ben over at the Tin Blog describing the whole adventure and how we managed to generate a 26 GB text file of data which only maps a small portion of the possible pathways through the first Gamebook Adventure: Assassin in Orlandes.

Our next task is to speed up the process. We had to leave the program running continuously for 60 hours to find 2.25 million pathways out of possible 500 million – according to our roughest estimates (which gives you some idea of how we ended up with 26 GB of data and why it took so long). But when its done it should make it much easier for Tin Man Games to test their games and hopefully generate a whole heap of cool data that will help them balance and improve future Gamebook releases.

It’s been a blast working with the guys at Tin Man Games, particularly on such a cool little project as this. If you haven’t checked out their selection of Gamebook Adventure title I recommend you do!