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Product Review for Story Maker Version 1.1

Functional Review

Educational value, creativity, and fun: star.gif (856 bytes)star.gif (856 bytes)star.gif (856 bytes)star.gif (856 bytes)star.gif (856 bytes)

A great combination of education, creativity, and fun.  Kids get to make their own animated stories, and add chapter after chapter as inspiration hits.  Story Starters provide the clueless with ideas to build stories on...inspiration on demand.  Reading and writing become a fun activity as opposed to a boring task. 

The software has a tremendous amount of features; it comes with lots of sounds, images, animation, and backgrounds.  You can drag the images around to place them where you want or to make them do what your story wants them to do.  Then you can place a speech bubble and type in what the character is supposed to say.  You can create a story and continue to expand on it, create branching stories, or merge stories into each other.  This software is created by a kid at heart.

Ease of use: star.gif (856 bytes)star.gif (856 bytes)star.gif (856 bytes)star.gif (856 bytes)star.gif (856 bytes)

Most kids with some computer exposure will find the program easy to use.  Children less than 8 years old are probably going to need their parents help but will have just as much fun as their older siblings.

Age suitability: star.gif (856 bytes)star.gif (856 bytes)star.gif (856 bytes)star.gif (856 bytes)star.gif (856 bytes)

We believe the software is lots of fun for all ages...including grown-ups!  Children under 8 years of age will probably need their parents assistance but children above the age of 8 can use it by themselves.  We had as much fun playing with the software as our kids did!  The software is "age scalable" where younger kids can comfortably use the simple settings while older and more creative kids can tap into the many advanced features to create some incredibly artistic literature.

Compatibility: star.gif (856 bytes)star.gif (856 bytes)star.gif (856 bytes)star.gif (856 bytes)

You can paste in your text from other programs, or add your own images or WAV sound files; this allows you to take a story, or half a story that has already been started and expand on it using the vast capabilities of the software.  The software package comes with a free story reader on a 3.5" disk that can be freely copied and distributed.  Stories made by a kid on the Story Maker can be sent to his grandparents with a copy of the reader (or they can download the reader software free from the manufacturer's site), and grandparents can see their grandchild's work in all its glory.  You cannot export the stories made to other file formats, but you can send them as attachments in e-mail.

 

Technical Review

Ease of installation: star.gif (856 bytes)star.gif (856 bytes)star.gif (856 bytes)star.gif (856 bytes)star.gif (856 bytes)

We installed Story Maker on a Pentium II machine running Windows '98 with 32MB RAM and 20X CD-ROM.  It took us less than 5 minutes to read the directions and install the software, with no errors or crashes. 

Amount of hard disk space used: star.gif (856 bytes)star.gif (856 bytes)star.gif (856 bytes)star.gif (856 bytes)star.gif (856 bytes)

The installed component is approximately 2MB making it an extremely efficient software in terms of space utilization.  Like most children's software, you must have the CD in the CD-ROM drive to run Story Maker.

System Requirements:  star.gif (856 bytes)star.gif (856 bytes)star.gif (856 bytes)star.gif (856 bytes)star.gif (856 bytes)

According to the software manufacturer, the minimum system requirement is Windows 3.1, 95, 98, or later.  486 chip or better, and a sound card for speech and sound.  All these requirements are standard on all Windows based computers sold today. 

 

Notes

  1. The software "reads" the typed words in a synthesized voice using a British accent.  The alternative is to record your own voice and specify that file for the software to use when reading the story.   The software provides an option for direct recording, or for importing pre-existing sound files. Using your own recorded WAV files will increase the storage size of the stories.

  2. Spell checker uses British English.

  3. Stories made by the Story Maker can be mailed to Goodnight Stories on a 3.5" disk or CD-ROM and all stories found suitable by our reviewers will be posted on our site for downloads by people who wish to view them using the free player.  Click here to get our mailing address.

  4. You can purchase the Story Maker from our partner Gift Box by clicking here.

  5. You can download the free player from Story Maker's manufacturer by clicking here, and you can download a sample story too.  Try "A Branching Adventure Story" or "The unhappy Farm Worker and The 3 Pigs".  Make sure you remember which directory you chose to download the files to, since you will need to go to the downloaded file and double click on it to install it.  The  computer is defaulted to download on the desktop, this way you can double click on the icon that shows up on your desktop once the download is complete.  After you double click and install the download, you can delete the downloaded file if you want to remove useless clutter from your hard drive. This will not affect the installed program.

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