For the last couple of months we've lagged on Writelike lessons and features because we're working hard on Frankenstories.
So what's new?
NEW IMAGE THEMES
Art History I (13+)
Contains lots of croquet, conquest, court-life, and commerce:
Art History II (16+)
The same as Art History I, but with less clothing and more problems. (And a reminder: Frankenstories is 13+ by default; 16+ themes are excluded from the general random prompt pool.)
We've been playing games against the art history images for weeks and so far they have been lots of fun. Here are some examples:
13+ vs 16+, or, Handling "Hoo-boy!" history 😳
Curating the Art History theme is harder than you'd think. There's a lot of sexism, racism, colonialism, etc, either explicitly represented in the art, or implicit in the context or point of view.
Luckily, we had some students in the summer program who instantiated themselves as interns/CEOs, and helped us review images and cull ones that seemed likely to derail Frankenstories games.
That said, we're never entirely sure how images will work in context, so if you see anything that really doesn't fit, let us know.
We also have a new high fantasy theme put together by one of the above-mentioned intern-despots, which is suspiciously weighted towards Hot Elves Who Use Lots of Conditioner, hence the theme name.
Here are some fun stories from this theme:
If you want to make your own prompt
We've made it even easier: you can create custom prompts using a Frankenstories-only account, so no need to go to Writelike.
However, if you want to clone games and divide your class into teams, you'll need to use the Writelike groups feature.
Artist relations and formalising the image pool
Frankenstories is still a prototype, but now that we are confident the game has legs, we're reaching out to artists to seek formal permissions and establish working relationships.
So far everyone has been supportive of the project as a whole, but not everyone wants their art used in this specific way, so you can expect to see images change as we formalise the pool.
(And if you happen to know any artists or art communities that would be keen to participate, let us know!)
MORE STABLE AND STREAMLINED
We've made the game more stable, ironing out dozens of issues to do with games freezing, replies disappearing, players getting out of sync, and so on.
If you've found Frankenstories flaky in the past, you should find it almost bulletproof now!
Plus you'll find the teacher view has been streamlined since the last newsletter: very elegant. 💅
WHAT COULD WE DO NEXT?
We have a few things in mind, but we can't do everything at once, so we welcome your suggestions and feedback!
Optional prompt extensions
We want to add optional prompt extensions to create writing constraints, for example, "Write like they have just met, in the style of fashion ad, using a simile in every round."
Great for forcing players out of a stylistic rut.
Player achievements and stats
We want to celebrate all the facets of player success: consistently winning opening rounds, or final rounds, or title rounds, or writing long or short replies, and so on.
That would involve building a fairly elaborate achievement system.
Frankenstories involves a lot of component skills including introducing, extending, tilting, and reincorporating story elements, as well as the same sentence-level fluency skills that Writelike teaches.
So we want to make some pre-set tutorial games that target specific skills.
Or many other ideas!
There's way more than we can do with available resources, so if you really want something in the game, let us know!
(Or better yet, join our Discord and you can get live tech support and a direct pipeline into our thought processes as we work.)