Graphic Use of Interface

A number of changes and renovations have taken place to the Tome of the Seashore. Some of them have been drastic, others iterative, but I would argue that all of them were necessary. And none were more so than the changes that have been made to the actual story.

RE: Story

The story begins at page 1, like all books do, but unlike regular analog books, this story can go in any direction from there. In fact, the reader could finish the story without turning another page! The reader won't know this at first, of course, because that's the point of reading a book -- to discover its secrets. The reader is given the opportunity to discover that for themselves and if not, there's plenty else going on with this project.

Before getting into the story, however, it's important to know the biggest change that has taken place to the whole project: user interaction has been pared almost completely back. Instead of unlocking parts of the story with physical tokens, the live projections cycle between daytime and night every few minutes. That's why the story could be completed on the first page: if the reader waits for the scene to turn to night, opens the window, and then closes the book, they will have effectively experienced a complete character arc. That's not an accident - this book is designed to allow everything from the briefest encounter to a deep and thorough exploration.

Page 1 - Bedroom

You awake in your bedroom, but you can't seem to remember how you got there. Who are you and how did you get here? 
(after opening the window during the day) Not a soul in sight. 
(monsters appear inside the window during the night. upon letting the monsters in, they vanish) And suddenly you remember. You knew their eyes and you knew that look. They were the king and queen of the seashore -- your parents. And now you have a choice: do you choose to remember, or do you choose to forget?

Page 2 - Sandcastle

It's a beautiful day. You admire your castle. You admire your kingdom. 
(at night) Where is everyone? You remember people, you remember friends. What made you forget?

Page 3 - Illuminated Forest

You follow the path you know you shouldn't. Strange creatures hide here. Strange trees and stranger secrets. 
(at night, faces appear on the trees, each representing different stages of grief) Old faces, familiar friends. 

Page 4 - Snowy Mountains

A fearsome beast guards this place jealousy -- you see the victims of its wrath. But you sense things will soon begin to make sense. 
(upon seeing the catfish) He seems to recognize you, but why? What is he guarding and why does he stay? 
(at night) alone again.

Page 5 - M. C. Escher Cave

(upon entering) Something about this place fills you with sadness. But why? 
(upon transitioning to night while on this page, a music box plays) What did they find on a shipwreck long ago? 
What did they hide underground? 
Where is the captain? Where is the crew?
And why only one burial ground?

RE: Paper

Mostly just some reiterative stuff. All pop-ups in order of appearance.

Page 1 - The Bedroom, which will have only one window.

Page 1 - The Bedroom, which will have only one window.

Page 2 - The Sandcastle, which is pretty much final.

Page 2 - The Sandcastle, which is pretty much final.

Page 3 - The Forest, which will have about five more trees.

Page 3 - The Forest, which will have about five more trees.

Page 4 - Snowy Mountains, probably finalized.

Page 4 - Snowy Mountains, probably finalized.

Page 5 - Escheresque Cave, which is probably due for another version.

Page 5 - Escheresque Cave, which is probably due for another version.

Some stairs which will be attached to the sides of the pop-up on page 5.

Some stairs which will be attached to the sides of the pop-up on page 5.

Adding Animation to the Mix

Animation is going to be what adds life to the book, the key element that makes this special. Now that a good portion of the graphics are either finalized or in progress, it can begin in full swing. Here is the first iteration of page 2 -- with rolling ocean waves and a rotating sun+moon.

RE: Electronic Fun

Two major problems exist with the Book-Arduino-TouchDesigner interface. Okay, three problems exist, but we'll get to the third later.

The first problem is that the page turns are too stiff. In order for the copper tape in the page registry circuit to maintain consistent contact with itself, the whole system has to be extremely tight. This makes turning the page unpleasant and difficult.

The second problem is that, with only one guide track, the signatures end up being extremely loose. That's not very robust and it introduces the possibility of significant wear and tear with very little use.

The circuit stenciled above fixes both of those problems. By turning the page register into another guide track with six different layers, and by and having a single line of copper running along the registry to ground, you can minimize both torque and tension. Placing small 1/4in x 1/4in pieces of felt under the contact points further helps to decrease the necessary tension and make for a more robust system.

SoftwareSerial Horcruxes

The Serial data from Arduino, which is how the book communicates with TouchDesigner, has an infuriating habit of dropping whitespace characters every few seconds. For tabs, this is is easily fixable with error correction on the TouchDesigner end, but since it is also dropping carriage returns, this MUST be fixed before the showcase.

This turns out to be a ludicrously difficult problem. Without inserting a 500ms delay between each loop() call, dropped whitespace seems unavoidable. I've tried increasing the baud rate (which I'm told on Arduino is pointless since the hardware defaults to 9600 anyway), I've tried using a char* buffer to prevent Serial.print() from tripping over itself, and I've tried compressing the number of bytes down to the bare minimum. Considering that the starting point was a 40 char string (including whitespace characters), I'm not surprised that didn't work, either.