The flood gates have opened and it seems everyone is getting in on the action of creating tools for online interactive media. Popcorn, Klynt and 3WDoc and Zeega now have another competitor, StoryPlanet.
Yet to fully launch, StoryPlanet nonetheless has some tantalising tidbits on its website, in particular a demonstration of how it works that also helpfully outlines what interactive storytelling actually is. It gives five different styles of narrative interactivity, from branched narrative to the storytelling maze - all frames that help in nutting out how a story is going to look online. Incorporating segments from a TEDx talk by the StoryPlanet founder, Bjarke Myrthu, the piece allows you to skip back and forth between video elements, also enabling drilling down further to find text descriptions of interactive narrative. Each new page can take a few moments to load but that’s a minor quibble; perhaps it’s the linear progress bar that makes it more noticeable. See for example the loading graphics on The Block, the seconds seem to pass so much quicker!
StoryPlanet has a couple of points of difference from its competitors - showing its roots in journalism, it’s pitching itself as a way of making reports and online magazines as well as video stories. Also, where Klynt for instance uses a storyboard interface for planning navigation, StoryPlanet frames it as a grid - a slightly different visual approach, and probably dependent on personal preference as to which suits you better. I for one find the grid approach quite attractive, and look forward to playing around with it.
The second example available on the website is Egypt: A Revolution in 18 Days, created by Al Jazeera. Much simpler in aim and approach than the similar Popcorn-based 18 Days in Egypt, it is essentially a chronological sequence of short videos and doesn’t use any branching elements as far as I could tell, but that may be all this project needed.
Myrthu is joined by a bunch of big hitters, with Joichi Ito of MIT Media Lab on StoryPlanet’s board as well as Mohamed Nanabhay, Head of Online at Al Jazeera English. There’s no pricing info on the site so I contacted Myrthu to find out how much StoryPlanet will cost. He says there will be some charge but they’re not yet fully decided on the details - most likely there will be a free version and a paid one. The free version will include 1GB of storage space and five standard design templates. The paid version, at around US$29 a month, will provide more space and the option for custom designs.
It’s a welcome development to see so many players emerging in this field. If you want to start playing around with StoryPlanet, you can sign up on the site to be invited for beta testing.
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