My Secret Hideout

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!

Screenshot with tree and text
This is what the iOS version looked like.

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 on Itch.IO. Free to play with!


What To Do

Diagram of dragging leaves

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.

How It Works

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.


I originally released My Secret Hideout in 2011 as an iOS app. It was my first iOS app, in fact! People found it amusing, but not very many people — it’s sold something like 700 copies over five years.

In January of 2017, Apple sent me a notice that I should update the app, please, or they would drop it from the App Store. Updating it would have been a lot of work. The last time I looked at the code, iOS 5 was brand-new and iPhones came in exactly one size! So I decided to rewrite Hideout in Javascript and make it available for free on Itch.IO.

About the Author

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 Hadean Lands) and new forms (like My Secret Hideout).

For More Information

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My Secret Hideout is a Zarfhome Production.