Linden Lab releases Versu, an interactive fiction system for iPad
Linden Lab is best known for putting together the old social MMO Second Life, but more recently the company has been getting involved in tablet development, releasing its first iPad app last year. Today, Linden has released another app, and like Creatorverse and Second Life, this app is more of an engine than a game -- it's an interactive fiction platform essentially, designed to upgrade the idea of traditional text adventure games into something more replayable and dynamic. Versu is what it's called, and you can download it for free on the App Store right now.
There are only a few stories available right away, with most of them based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. As you can see in the app, the action plays out like a text adventure: you get a description of the surroundings and the setting, and then can interact with various characters at different moments, either engaging them in dialogue, or performing certain simple actions. The big innovation here is that Versu allows you to play through the same scene or story from multiple perspectives, so you can play once through as one character, and then play through the same scene again as another character, playing out different reactions every time.
Unfortunately, what's available right now with Versu isn't very much -- the platform's potential is impressive, but the current content is more of a demo than anything else. But the app's FAQ says this will turn into a content creation system very soon, and that seems like the fun part: users will be able to create their own characters, actions and even stories, and fit them into the Versu system.
There have been some really intriguing interactive fiction games showing up lately, and Versu could do a lot to really expand upon and improve that genre -- if it can get those content creation tools out and running. In the meantime, you can check the app out for free, and you should, if you want a look at what Linden Lab has been working on. Hopefully, they'll open the platform for creation very soon, and then we should see some really intriguing uses for this new app.
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