Creator of StoryShift App Marco Arsenault Speaks (Interview)

Creator of StoryShift App Marco Arsenault Speaks (Interview)

I am with the inventor of a very cool and useful FREE app called StoryShift, and also with the famous author, James Renner, who has made use of the app and has loved the results. The StoryShift app is a fun way for readers to interact with their favorite authors, and to have them take part in shaping a novel and taking it into more intense, exciting directions.

Douglas Cobb: Thanks, Marco and James, for agreeing to do this interview with me! I am very intrigued about the StoryShift app, especially as I am an author, myself, with six novels available as e-books and in print from Amazon.

Marco, you work for a gaming company called Evil-Dog Productions, right? We can discuss some of the games there also during this interview, if you’d like — but, what gave you the idea to invent the StoryShift app, and how long did it take to make it into a reality?

Marco Arsenault: Yeah, Evil-Dog Productions is my company. I’d worked at Ubisoft Montreal for 5 years and decided to start my own small “game studio”, thanks to the internet, that’s my living room and I work with people all over the world.

StoryShift is an idea I had a little over a year ago when I was looking at an old storyboard for an animated series I was working on with a friend. The simplistic, quickly drawn yet awesome looking style of the images made me think that it would be cool to make a game with that kind of graphics where content would be added constantly by the artist.

This idea quickly evolved into the current idea of StoryShift as I imagined many comic artists working on different stories and thinking about “Choose Your Own Adventure” books and how fun those were. Also being a fan of books, it seemed like a great concept to work with comic artists and writers on a regular basis, involving the community in the process, making it a very busy place to hang around with all the updates and voting going on.

Fast forward to now, the app is out but between then and now, there were delays caused by other projects. So in total, it took a little over a year from my brain to the app stores but I wasn’t working full time on it, which is always a mistake when you’re doing projects, you should always go 100% and finish one project before starting other things. Creator of StoryShift App marco Arsenault and Author James Renner Speak (Interview)

Douglas Cobb: The StoryShift app is one which is sure to be a popular one, as it appeals to both readers and authors. I’d like to ask both of you parts of this question — first, Marco, what sorts of literature can readers check out there, and how is it that you can make any money from an app that is totally free to use?

And, James — in what way do you make use of the feedback you get from your readers, and do you find that using the StoryShift app has helped you write better novels?

Marco Arsenault: As I don’t actually tell writers what they can and can’t write about, except the obvious hate speech, you’ll find all kinds of genre, comedy, horror, sci-fi, adventure, crime, etc. As far as revenues go, I’m really hoping StoryShift does get insanely popular as the revenues are generated from the advertisement in the app. I use the usual ad banner and the occasional fullscreen ad.

I know this can be annoying to some but it’s a nice way to ensure free content without going bankrupt. There’s also an in-app purchase to remove all the ads, that’s also a source of revenues from those who wanna support us in exchange for a cleaner StoryShift experience. The neat thing about StoryShift is that revenues also go to the authors, so everyone wins as StoryShift gets more and more popular.

James Renner: I love the feedback from readers. StoryShift lets me interact directly with them. It’s a fun relationship. They choose a decision and that creates a direction for my narrative. It’s a challenge: how do I continue my story based on their choice? It gives the reader a level of control they can’t experience in any other medium, except, perhaps, certain video games.

Whether I agree with them or not, they could choose when a major character dies. They could choose HOW they die. And then I have to pick up the pieces and figure out where the story goes from there. It’s madness. Fun, glorious madness.

And yes, it definitely improves my writing simply because it gives me better insight into how readers are interpreting my stories and themes.

Creator of StoryShift App Marco Arsenault and Author James Renner Speak (Interview)

Douglas Cobb: Marco, how many people would you say have already downloaded the StoryShift app, and do you find that the growth of the amount of users is exponential?

Marco Arsenault: StoryShift is on the web as a flash game and also on mobiles, on the web, the launch gave us a really huge spike in usage and subscriptions, that gave us a really nice user base to build on.

Unfortunately, on the mobile market, which is highly saturated, it’s really hard to gain visibility and since StoryShift is pretty niche, the downloads have not been great, a few thousand at most. That’s why we’re happy to do outreach such as this interview to make the app more known and widespread. Since readers, and authors alike, have a lot of fun to gain in joining StoryShift, I believe we’ll slowly, if not exponentially, build a nice audience to cater to.

Douglas Cobb: James, I really loved reading your novel The Man from Primrose Lane. It has a relatively complex plot, but would you please tell our readers a bit about it? Also, what’s the name of a project that you have used the StoryShift app with?

James Renner: The Man from Primrose Lane is a murder mystery that takes a 90-degree turn into hard sci-fi, 230 pages in. It’s a twisting of genres. I love messing with the expectation of my readers. Perhaps that’s why I love StoryShift.

I had this idea for a zombie story, set 20 years after the outbreak. It’s basically a retelling of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Except, here, the characters are traveling over a wasteland to find surviving communities. It works perfectly for StoryShift because the adventure really can go anywhere.

Douglas Cobb: James, you have compared the excitement you felt when you first discovered the StoryShift app to that of going to the library when you were a boy. Would you explain to the readers of The Guardian Liberty Voice what caused this excitement, and how you think that authors, in general, can benefit by using this free app?

James Renner: It’s just the excitement of something NEW. That’s a very rare thing. As a kid, the library was exciting because it introduced me to all these new ideas and concepts. Now, StoryShift, is introducing an entirely new MEDIUM in storytelling. New stories. New way to tell stories. That’s very exciting.

Creator of StoryShift App marco Arsenault and Author James Renner Speak (Interview)

Douglas Cobb: What are some future titles in the works, Marco, that would interest readers who would like to check out the StoryShift app?

Marco Arsenault: If your readers wanna play some web games from us, I highly recommend our award winning Road of the Dead series, it’s been highly successful and it’s a lot of fun if I may say so ūüôā

You’ll be driving a car and ramming through zombies on the road and shooting guns, what more do you need? Haha! On mobiles, they can try our latest game Ninja Yubi, a ninja slashing game akin to Fruit Ninja but with more action.

They can also try our pretty successful Range of the Dead, a long-range zombie shooting game where you have to take the distance and wind into account to hit your target, using various weapons. They can find them and many more at http://www.evil-dog.com/apps–games.html

Douglas Cobb: What are some future titles in the works, Marco, that would interest readers who would like to check out the StoryShift app?

Marco Arsenault: We usually make games so StoryShift is kinda special for us, but similar to StoryShift in uniqueness, I have in mind an app where voice actors (or anyone really) can voice act random roles from random scenes as they see fit for hilarious results between random people, maybe find some way to involve the community once more.

After¬†StoryShift¬†we’re back to¬†Dark Siege, a strategy game where you match unique units to make the best combinations with their abilities to defeat the enemies and protect your castle, it’ll be on all platforms like¬†StoryShift. We have a ton of games planned, more zombie games, racing games, multiplayer turn based games, etc. If every day had 48 hours, it still wouldn’t be enough time to get through all our ideas ūüôā

Douglas Cobb: James, are there any projects you’re working on now, either using the StoryShift app or not, which would interest ¬†our readers?

James Renner: My next novel, The Great Forgetting, will come out in May, 2015. ¬†I’m putting that to bed right now.

Douglas Cobb: Finally, this question is for you, Marco — what are your hopes for the future of the StoryShift app, and are you currently working on creating another app and/or game?

Marco Arsenault:¬†I’m hoping it gets really huge with a lot of addicted readers and many ¬†more fascinating stories and comics and writers to work with. On my end, I’ll be updating StoryShift with more filtering and sorting options, a comment system ¬†for readers, a better account system with the username, level, title, badge, avatar, etc and much more. We’ll see how it goes.

Currently I’m devilishly working on an April Fool’s Day game due April 1st (obviously) where you play as a blind swordsman and well….you’re blind. (i.e. black screen lol).

Thank you for the interview and giving¬†StoryShift¬†more exposure, it’s much appreciated and I hope a lot of ¬†people read this and join¬†StoryShift¬†with us, it’s a lot of fun!

Douglas Cobb: Thanks, Marco and James, for taking the time out of your busy schedules to answer these questions! I wish you both a lot of success in the coming years!

Also, to anyone who is a person who loves to read, and/or enjoys writing, you should check out the StoryShift app — it’s free, so ¬†why not go for it, and check it out?

Written by: Douglas Cobb

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