There’s really no other way I can start this blog out than by talking about my 21-year love affair with Storybook Weaver Deluxe.
(Video is my own because I really do still use this program.)
My parents purchased Storybook Weaver Deluxe, a MECC product, for me when I was five years old in 1994. My kid brother was too young to use it at the time (he’s four and a half years younger than me), but as he got older he soon joined me in bizarre Storybook Weaver escapades. The Windows 95 program had truly weird clip art paired with horrendously bad MIDI files, so naturally we used it to write really messed up things. Oh, and it had a text to speech option, which was truly a gift.
In fact, because of that text to speech option, my brother and I – as well as our parents – continued using Storybook Weaver as we got older to write really inappropriate things just to have it read them out at us in a monotone. These really inappropriate things would, of course, be illustrated with the strange clip art to produce truly Dadaist results. For example, the object below is labeled by the game as “Figurine.”
My brother and I generally just referred to this as “the thing” as kids because we had no idea how to describe it. Strangely enough, the game considers this to be a sort of statue. All I know is that as an adult I still call it “the thing” and want to 3D print it and leave it all over the place.
If that wasn’t enough, the program provides the user with “story starters,” little prompts with a title page and the first page of a story that leave the ending open-ended for the user to write their own conclusions. (The video above is my favorite one.) My brother and I discovered at some point that some of these could be permanently edited, at least in the 1994 version, so naturally we messed them up horribly and were very proud of ourselves. (The 2004 re-release of the program doesn’t appear to let you edit the starters. I’ve tried. And yes, I have both the 1994 version and the 2004 re-release. I know, I know.) Some of the story starters are in Spanish, but the text to speech has no idea how to pronounce Spanish (both the European and Latin American dialects) so they sound worse than the whitest person you know trying to order food at a Mexican restaurant.
And I love every minute I spend with all of it.
I’ve been using Storybook Weaver Deluxe since I was five years old. As I write this, I’m now twenty-six. I have literally been using this program for twenty-one years of my life. It’s been installed on every computer I’ve ever personally owned. I took the re-released version with me to college and introduced it to friends there. I’ve sent the game in a zip file to online friends so they could share in the horrible writing carnage. To this day, my brother and I have inside jokes about how the game pronounces certain words – and our parents know exactly what we’re talking about whenever we bring them up. I converted all the MIDI files to .mp3s and put them on my iPod recently. Somehow, as .mp3s a lot of them manage to sound even worse and it delights me to no end.
I really didn’t expect this program to become such a big part of my life, but it has. It’s a childhood memory that mutated into a depraved adult stress reliever (I laugh literally every time I do something with the program even now). Very few people today even still use it, at least to my knowledge. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s the best thing MECC ever did. (Yes, I like this even more than Oregon Trail and Word/Number Munchers.) It’s an absolute gem if you like really, really weird things.