My Secret Hideout

“My secret hideout is a row of intricately ornamented domes hung through a willow copse. A row of beams, engraved with the figures of dancing birds, opens to an uneven core room which is filled with the scent of growing things.

Below that is the place where I write; it is decorated here and there with tiny relief carvings, and yellow light radiates from hidden skylights. My desk is in back.

An observatory is to the right. It’s a compact platform, open to the stars, and furnished with a reclining seat and an array of refractors. I’ve left stacks of hand-written notes and charts here and there. A gear-ridden orrery rests on a stand, in memory of simpler models of the universe.

Behind that is a room filled with tall carved bookshelves. Rows of textbooks on sociology and faded maps lean against terse Norse novels. The scent of ink and paper permeates the place.”

My Secret Hideout is the first iPad game by my longtime friend and acquaintance Andrew Plotkin, a.k.a. Zarf. I can’t even pretend to be objective about this - in this case, my loyalty to my friend outweighs any objectivity I might have. So I won’t try. Buy it. For $2.99, you get a neat little amusement that will generate endless descriptions of a mysterious fantasy hideout.

One of the mysteries, for me, is trying to figure out how the various inputs I can make will influence the story. Why are there six kinda of leaves? What do they do? How does combining them change the hideout? I haven’t figured any of this out yet, but I am enjoying the attempt.

It’s not a game. There are no “victory conditions” - you don’t win or lose this, you just mutate the tree and enjoy reading the results. I am glad that there’s a place in the world for things like this.

My Secret Hideout is available for iPad at the iTunes store.