My Secret Hideout is not a game. It is an interactive toy... or rather poem... or artwork... It’s an interactive textual art generator set in a treehouse. Play around with it!
Drag leaves down and attach them to the tree. Every time you add a leaf, the description of the treehouse grows and changes. The changes are random... aren’t they?
My Secret Hideout has no goal, no score, no trophies. Explore it, or play with it, until you find a result you like. Will your treehouse be simple or complex? Can you guide it? What will you discover inside?
My Secret Hideout is available now for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
Drag a leaf from the top, and drop it down next to the root of the tree. (Not right on top of it!) It will stick. There — your tree has grown a new branch.
Now look at the text on the left. It doesn’t say what it said before. Try adding another leaf, or moving one of the leaves around. Every change you make causes new possibilities to unfold. As your tree grows larger, new rooms may appear in the treehouse.
Every treehouse you create is yours, but you may find a few that you particularly enjoy. To save a treehouse (and its tree), tap the “Library” button in the top corner. You’ll see the current treehouse saved as a card, along with every treehouse you’ve saved previously. Tap a card to pop it out into the main work area.
Tap the “Export” button to email your creation to a friend, or post it as a photo to your Facebook wall (if you’re a Facebook sort of person).
You can also save the tree image to your iOS photo album (camera roll). Finally, you can copy either the text or the image to the iOS pasteboard; they can then be pasted into any other application that supports text or image editing.
My Secret Hideout fully supports VoiceOver. When VoiceOver is on, the bottom toolbar contains a “Read” button. You can use this at any time to read out the current text.
To build your tree, select one of the Leaf Source targets at the top. Double tap and hold, and then drag the leaf down towards the bottom of the screen. When it gets near the tree, you will hear a sound effect. Release the leaf, and then use the “Read” button to hear the changed text.
My Secret Hideout is an example of procedural text generation. The tree you build — the shape and position of every leaf — forms the seed to a pseudo-random number generator. Then a text-generator grammar consumes the random numbers to build a text. It’s all completely deterministic; if two people created exactly the same tree structure, they’d get exactly the same text out. (But you’d have to be very precise about the leaf positions.)
How many possible texts can it generate? At a rough estimate, a googol different combinations. That’s 10100, give or take a few dozen orders of magnitude.
Andrew Plotkin is the author of many well-known works of interactive fiction. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where he is hard at work researching both classic forms of digital interactivity (like text adventures) and new forms (like My Secret Hideout).
My Secret Hideout is a Zarfhome Production.