2014
04.01

megaBOOTH

We’re back in the amazing indie MEGABOOTH as part of PAX East 2014! Neil and Clinton will be heading over to Boston this year joined by some Tin Minions, so if you’re coming along then pop along to the Tin Man Games booth. We’re going to be giving out hundreds of Fighting Fantasy and Gamebook Adventures buttons, handing out free gamebooks and letting visitors have a sneak play of Appointment with F.E.A.R., the first TMG digital gamebook using our new engine. It’s very different to anything we’ve developed before. If that wasn’t enough you can also pose as a superhero or superheroine yourself and have your photo taken saying whatever it is you want to say in a handy speech bubble – how could you not resist that!?? :D

Here’s a link to the indie MEGABOOTH site and if you’re PAX’in it, you’ll find us somewhere under the large MEGABOOTH banner on the show floor. See YOU in Boston!

And just because we felt inspired, here’s MEGABLAST by Bomb Da Bass (major gaming cred goes to those who guess the famous game this tune was used on). Crank up the volume!

 

2014
03.25

It’s been a wonderful last ten years or so for independent creatives in the gaming and writing space. The internet along with the proliferation of digital platforms has brought with it unprecedented opportunities for people to create worlds of their own making and given them a shop-front to make a living from it. I’m happy to admit that Tin Man Games wouldn’t be the same being if it wasn’t for this new wave, if it even had had a chance to exist at all. With this brave new era, the floodgates have also opened and there is a surge of new books, games or music appearing everyday across the various digital stores around the world. Suddenly, as pioneers across this new land, we need to think smart and think quickly.

As we graze our cattle on the fertile plains, we watch as the land gets swallowed up by large ranches, run by ranchers that have been here before – in some cases many times. Their expertise and their cash reserves enable them to quickly work out how best to make use of the new land and before you know it, the best grass has been eaten, the competition to the watering holes is too intense, and their cattle breed exponentially so that there is so much livestock that the price of meat crashes. As lonesome pioneers it looks like all we have left is to fight amongst the dust and cowshit.

Apologies for the bad Sim Ranch analogy.

Back on topic. Marketing and PR, once the mainstay of publishers and large corporations is a skill that has been forced upon us indies and in the end, those that can market well generally succeed, while those that can’t, don’t, or just get incredibly lucky. Here at Tin Man Games we’ve had to learn all of this on the fly and have probably had more marketing successes than we’ve had failures (although we’ve certainly had a few failures), which is why I guess we’re still here after 5 years. As an indie it’s super important to build a brand, whether that be your company, the things you’re creating, or a bit of both. That is at least a good start, but just the beginning.

During our adventures we’ve met a lot of other indies that have come in all shapes and sizes, all of them persuing their own dreams of earning enough money from their creations in order that they can make a living from it. A lot of these are obviously creating at complete tangents to each other, but every now and then venn diagrams cross and this divergence is something that I think all of us independent types need to make the most of. There will be those that know how to plant grass seed effectively in poor soil, those that know good irrigation, those that can cunningly siphon water from watering holes, and even those that have chosen to stop worrying about selling meat. Milk! The future is in milk!

Sorry, drifted back on to the ranch again.

Anyway, the thing is we all have different strengths and we need to make use of those by joining together. That may be as simple as sharing an artist or a musician, or it may be as complex as collaborating on a single game. Either way, we need to allow each other to hop up on to each others shoulders – preferably simultaneously, which is no mean feat! As independents we need strength in shoulders to simply be able to poke our heads above the noise and maybe, just maybe, we’ll do so well that we crash the price of milk or get high enough that we see across the waters to a new far-off distant land.

Now we just need to find someone that can build a big boat….

- Neil

And…in the spirit of this blog post you really, really, really need to check out Matt Youngmark’s Kickstarter, Chooseomatic Books for Free RPG Day! Not only is this for a really great Chooseomatic book (we recently created the app for the first one, Zombocalypse Now), but it helps you give a little back too. The project will fund an 80-page Chooseomatic book called Time Travel Dinosaur that will be given away in game shops as part of Free RPG Day on June 21st, an annual event designed to promote gaming and get new players into their local game shops. A perfect example of strength in shoulders!

UPDATE: With just 9 days to go as of writing, Matt still needs to reach his goal. So close. Help him!

2014
02.11

Okay, no bears, but February certainly feels like we’ve woken from hibernation, with new releases and news coming out of our ears!

sultans_coverA Return to Rema!

Our tenth fantasy Gamebook Adventures title and our second visit to the vast continent of Rema is now available to buy on Google Play, iTunes and the Amazon App Store! We last visited Rema in our third gamebook, Slaves of Rema, which was released back in 2010, written by Gaetano Abbondanza. Our Reman writing artisan returns for the sequel and is joined once again by Brewin’ on editing duties and this time with Josh Wright creating some of his best artwork yet for Tin Man Games.

Your return to Rema takes you further to the east, to the City-State of Callae, renowned throughout the world as a city of great learning. Your final destination is the Emirates of Akbir, ruled by a sick Emir who has remained neutral to Orlandes’ political leanings over the years. His successor threatens to send that relationship into turmoil. You must secretly enter a harsh desert world of political power struggles and strange magics to ensure a stable future for both Rema and Orlandes!

We’ve already received some cracking reviews for the book with Pocket Gamer giving the book a Silver Award and 8 out of 10 stars! They also had this to say: “Sultans of Rema is a solid, entertaining romp, with the odd dice roll and deadly choice thrown in for good measure. If you like your fantasy of the swash-buckling variety, and your games of the pen-and-paper ilk, then you’re probably going to get along very well with Tin Man’s latest.” Jennifer Allen over at 148 Apps also reviewed the gamebook highly saying: “Gamebook Adventures 9: Sultans of Rema proves to be a simple recommendation to make to those who enjoy well-written interactive fiction.”

ZN_BunnyStuffed Bunnies with Chainsaws!

Just this week also saw the release on Google Play of Matt Youngmark’s Zombocalypse Now. We’re really chuffed to be working with Matt on the appification of  his Chooseomatic series and this is the first release of what we hope will be many more! We’ve added a funky soundtrack with sound effects and Matt has created some brand new artwork exclusively for the app version. We’ll have more info about this comedic apocalyptic adventure on the blog in the next week or so, once it hits iTunes and Amazon.

They don’t want your body, THEY WANT YOUR BRAINS. You’re a stuffed bunny and it’s the end of the world!!

awf_fireFighting Fantasy update

Work is progressing at pace on Steve Jackson’s Appointment with F.E.A.R. and Starship Traveller. Regular blog readers will know that we’re doing things a little differently with both of these classic 80s gamebooks, bringing them up to date a bit with brand new artwork and presentation. This has meant that we’re taking a little longer in development, but the wait will certainly be worth it as both are looking really great. Our new look engine is getting its first outing with F.E.A.R. and that means lots of re-writing as we break up the narrative so that the delivery is more in keeping with a comic-book format. It’s going to be an exciting new way of reading interactive fiction and so far we think it’s pretty special!

While we’re in a Fighting Fantasy mood too, the results are in from our recent survey! We’re not going to announce these, or the winner, until the end of the month, but one thing we can say is that it has helped us choose four new potential FF titles that we will be adding to our development schedule for 2014/15. Talks are underway with Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson to finalise exactly which four they are and we’ll announce those in due course!

Other developments!

Hot on the heels of our new FF titles, we’re also hard at work on Sagas of Fire*Wolf (renamed from the original Sagas of the Demonspawn) from gamebook legend, Herbie Brennan. As we’ve previously announced, we’re releasing all four gamebooks that make up this classic mini-series in one app. This means you’ll be able to adventure through the complete saga from start to finish with no break in the action, taking your stats from one book to the next. The first drafts of new artwork from Simon Lissaman also arrived last week and they look stunning. As with our FF apps, you’ll be able to access the older artwork by classic fantasy illustrators, Geoff Taylor and John Blanche, as part of a retro mode.

Development is also well under way on the app version of Ryan North’s smash-hit kickstarter funded gamebook, To Be or Not To Be! We’ve just received an incredible set of narrative audio files that we’ll be using in the app to aurally bring it life. This will be our second digital gamebook to feature audio (the first being Trial of the Clone) – or audiogamebook as we like to call it. :)

Finally we’re also finishing up on our first two Gamebook Adventures Collected 1 and 2 apps. These apps collect together GA1-3 and GA4-6, costing slightly less than if you bought the three gamebooks individually. These will be available on Android, iOS and Desktop.

And Finally…

We can confirm that we will be exhibiting at PAX East in Boston and PAX Australia in Melbourne this year! :D

2014
01.07

FF_logo_yellow_smallRecently we ran an unofficial poll via our Twitter account asking which Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, outside those that we have announced, fans would like to see coming to digital platforms in the future. It ended up being very popular but not terribly organised. Therefore here is our official, unofficial questionnaire into what YOU think! We have our favourites, but they maybe not the same as yours. :)

All you need to do is scout through the list below and select 10 FF titles that are your favourite, or you think may convert awesomely to a digtal format. As a little incentive we’re offering YOU the chance to win a year’s supply of free digital gamebooks for your chosen system (iOS or Android). So after you’ve voted, pop in your email address and you’ll be thrown into a cauldron along with everyone else and we’ll magically pick out one random person to win. Your email address will also be automatically subscribed to our lovely newsletter too, which can be unsubscribed if you don’t want to hear from us ever.

The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, The Citadel of Chaos, Starship Traveller, Appointment with F.E.A.R., Deathtrap Dungeon, City of Thieves and Creature of Havoc have not been included as we already have those lined up for the future. Also note that, due to possible licensing restrictions, we can’t promise to release any of the listed gamebooks as apps.

If you need a reminder of any of the titles then we would highly recommend seeking out Fighting Fantazine issue 5, in which they also ran a poll as to reader’s favourite FF books. There are a few interesting results! I wonder if they will be mirrored in our survey?

Get voting NOW and GOOD LUCK! We’ll announce the results (and the winner) at the end of February. :D

NOTE: Voting is now closed! check back soon for the results!

2013
12.31

2013. Wowsers, what a year of change for Tin Man Games! In a year which saw us release a record number of digital gamebooks and further establish our presence on new platforms, most notably Android. We also found time to exhibit around the world, secure some valuable funding from Screen Australia, hire amazing new Tin Minions and move to a secure new funky office space. Phew…

But, we couldn’t have done it without all of you supporting us and continuing to buy our interactive adventure gamebooks. So a big, BIG THANKYOU! Here’s to 2014 and more adventures. :D

TMG_team

Happy New Year from Ben, Kamina, Clinton, Emma, Ben and Neil!

2013
12.24

And so we reach the last day of The Twelve Days of Gamebooks! We hope you’re looking forward to all of our announcements. The team here at Tin Man Towers will be working really hard to release as many great gamebooks as we can throughout 2014. However, we are also committed to advancing the art of gamebooks as well. Ultimately that is why we started this crazy venture!

ga_engine

And so: quietly in the background, we have been developing some new and exciting gamebook technology that will begin to see the light of day in the coming months.

One of the big choices that we made in the early days of Gamebook Adventures was to try to capture the feel of the original paperback gamebooks of the 80s and 90s. Our mantra was to take out what was bad about paper books, but keep all the things that we loved. This has worked very well for us and we love how our gamebooks play and feel – it’s almost like having an old book in your hand. Over the years we have slowly added more and more features that are only possible on the digital formats. Often we have some really great ideas for new features that would really enhance the experience, but have had to shelve them for the future because they were just too expensive to implement.

Astute readers will remember that earlier this year Tin Man Games secured some funding from Screen Australia. This funding allowed us to expand the team, ultimately allowing us to bring more gamebooks to market quicker and at a higher quality. This fund has also allowed us to make some big leaps in technology that would have been impossible previously. We have been deep in research and development trying new ways of laying out and presenting content to keep as much of the nostalgic feel while still opening up the genre for some exciting new advancements.

potpurri
This is some early concept art from Appointment with F.E.A.R. that shows new gamebook engine

This new presentation engine allows us to keep the strong narrative that we love, while allowing us to add heaps more customisations and far more dynamic content. This means that the stories will feel more personal, your choices more impactful, and provide for richer overall experiences and much better replay-ability. It also means we can deliver the text in a way better suited to the genre, as the comic book style approach above shows.

The first book that uses this new tech will be Appointment with F.E.A.R. that hopefully be ready to show off at PAX East in a few months time. We will be shouting it from the rooftops then, so stay tuned!

Alongside this new content engine we are also working on some more visual, non-narrative tools to help us make the gamebooks that much more awesome.

When Neil was out in Melbourne for GCAP this year, one of the things we did as a team was sit down and brainstorm ideas for how we can update the visual side of the gamebooks without losing the core experience. Not just changing it for the sake of change, but trying to move forward and make the experience more engaging. The thing that we kept coming back to was having some excellent mapping tools. We have had maps in the gamebooks for a while now, starting with The Forest of Doom that shows you where you are in the story. We then went on to add the mapping tech to Gary Chalk’s Gun Dogs, and most recently Island of the Lizard King. This has been a hugely popular addition to the games and the players really like how it makes the story that much more engaging. Having a map really helps link the encounters with a sense of place and helps things fit together better.

proofofconceptWith all of this in mind, we have been testing out some ways of adding interactive mapping systems into our gamebook titles. We’re proud to announce that The Warlock of Firetop Mountain will be our first title that will make proper use of this technology. The new ‘mapping engine’ will allow for multiple map scales (see town map below as an example!) and other visual treats. The map won’t just be there to show you where you are, but it will also be one of the core ways that you interact with the game. We can’t give too much away just yet because it is still early days, but we are planning for the maps to be more than just flat images on the screen. They will be explorable and interactive. We really want to try and replicate the experience of being in a tabletop game with your close friends and having your maps and miniatures right at hand while the interactive narrative unfolds.

village3The gamebook will still be king however and we’re going to be giving Firetop Mountain a bit of an overhaul by fleshing out Ian and Steve’s original narrative. To help us achieve this we’re really pleased to announce that Fighting Fantasy alumnus, Jonathan Green, will be acting as a writing consultant! Overall, we’re pretty confident that the combination of our new gamebook engine and mapping engine will take a digital Warlock to a new level of immersion!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, all this new tech will be making its way to other FF titles such as Deathtrap Dungeon and Creature of Havoc. If you were also curious as to what had happened to our plans with Grailquest, then we’re pretty sure you have a good idea of why we held off a release too. Of course, other future titles (some of which we’ve announced in the last month), will also benefit from our updates.

In the next few months we will start to release more information about our new engine. We are all really excited about this new stuff, and we hope that you will be too!

So that concludes The Twelve Days of Gamebooks for another year. We hope you’ve enjoyed the ride! Happy holidays (if you’re celebrating) and we look forward to seeing you in 2014. :D

One more thing: Before we get emails from FF fans saying that the landscape around the mountain in the image above doesn’t match Allansia, don’t worry! This was produced purely as a ‘proof of concept’ and the artist wanted to test as many environment types as possible, to perfect the look.

2013
12.22

…Holdfast!

We originally announced our collaboration with Black Chicken Studios back in May, while the kickstarter was still ongoing. We’re delighted to say it was a success and the team raised over $30k! Many of the backers will already have the physical books in their hands and next year it’s our turn to bring this dwarven adventure to iOS and Android. John Daly, senior editor at BCS has more background on the gamebook and the future of the brand:

Holdfast is set below the surface of a world where humanity is young, where wars between gods gouged scars into the earth, and where the dwarves – after centuries of misread prophecies and bloody civil wars – have a great deal to prove.

The main character of the game is a young dwarf whose entire clan died in the defense of an ancient fortress with dark secrets.  Twenty-some years later, the hold at the Crossroads is no safer than it was – but our hero’s life of killing rats for copper coins and getting wrecked in seedy taverns has become fairly unsustainable.  This, then, is the story of how he rises to the occasion, assembles an army, and overcomes the monstrous horde that killed his parents… or, alternatively, how he suffers more and more injuries and finally gets knifed to death by magically distorted elves that want to steal his face.

It really depends on the choices you make.

We had a very successful Kickstarter; six hundred and eleven people took a chance on us and gave us more than 150% of what we’d originally hoped to receive, and that gave us the breathing room to expand the scope of the project (and the world design) into something more than a little bit wonderful.  We’ve written several supplemental books for our Kickstarter supporters so far, and there’s still more we plan to do.

That’s near term.  Beyond that… well, we have two games planned for 2014, but we’ve already outlined a Holdfast sequel– and hopefully we may complete that next year as well.

This has just been a huge amount of fun.  We’re kinda giddy at the idea of doing it again.

motley banditsWe’re hoping to release Holdfast by the middle of 2014. All the black and white illustrations in the book will be full colour (like the never before released image above) and we will be adding interactive maps and many other features that you have come to expect from our gamebook apps!

We would highly recommend heading over to the Kickstarter page to read more about the original campaign – there are also lots of beautiful maps and other goodies! To find out more about Black Chicken Studios and their other titles (notably the magical RPG, Academagia!) then check out their site.

Join us tomorrow to open the very last door of The Twelve Days of Gamebooks 2013! We have some important incoming news that will change our gamebooks forever…

2013
12.21

…Jack Striker and the Palace Under the Sea!

JackStriker_01We started with fantasy gamebooks, have scared you with some horror gamebooks, blasted into space with some sci-fi, and cosied up with some flirty vampires. Now we welcome another genre – Pulp Fiction!

Gamebooks are all about playing a fearless, handy, athletic and clever hero. Well, we will now be adding a touch of charm and dash of humour too – shaken, not stirred, of course. We introduce you to a new hero: Jack Striker!

Jack is a well known gem specialist, but where others see an indecent amount of cash in precious stones, our man sees the beauty of nature and the need for preservation. This old-style hero spends most of his time travelling the globe, recovering valuable rocks and ruining the plans of criminal masterminds.

In The Palace Under the Sea, Jack receives a visit from the daughter of a long-time friend from Germany. She claims that she has been abducted by strange forces but no-one, not even the FBI, will help her. A perfect job for Striker! It is up to you to uncover what really lies behind the abduction of the old professor, which may just take you on pulp-inspired adventure, uncovering an unspeakable project by a secret organisation. JackStriker_02But beware, nobody is really who or what they pretend to be. The threat is ever-present and it just might have a pretty face!

Brought to you by an acclaimed author, Benoit Attinost, and well known artist, Bertrand Bès, Jack Striker and the Palace Under the Sea is our third gamebook collaboration with Studio 09, following Les Fils d’Uruzimé and La Bataille de Ia Drang earlier this year. It will be released in French around the middle of 2014, with an English version later in the year.

We’re hoping that this gamebook will be the start of a new life for Jack Striker in Gamebook Adventures. There may be plenty of other adventures that await him!

Join us for more gamebook goodness tomorrow when we open the eleventh door of The Twelve Days of Gamebooks.

2013
12.20

…old Gamebook Adventures made new again!

We’ve come a long way since our very first digital gamebook was downloadable for iPhones at the end of January 2010. Can you believe the iPad wasn’t even announced then – oh, how the fast the technological world changes! It’s important for us as a company to find new ways to make our older GA titles relevant to people that haven’t read them before or don’t want to join in with the digital book reading revolution…just yet! Here are 4 things we’re going to be doing in 2014 to make our older titles new again:

1) Gamebook Adventures Compendiums

GA1_208x   GA2_208x   GA3_208x

We’ve decided to start creating collections of some of our older titles. The print publishing industry does it all the time to re-release older material for new audiences, so we thought we’d give it a try! The first release will see our first 3 GA apps, An Assassin in Orlandes, The Siege of the Necromancer and Slaves of Rema grouped together in one app. It will be a little cheaper to buy than if you bought all apps separately but may have a few less bells and whistles, like sharing one main menu, for example. The important bit though is that the stories won’t change and you’ll still be able to collect all the achievements and illustrations.

The tech behind putting three GAs together, and it’s actually more complicated to do than it sounds, will be used to help develop the Golden Dragon collections that we announced on the fourth day of Gamebooks. It will also be used on our upcoming Sagas of Fire*Wolf, announced last year. Should this method of delivery prove successful, then we may start putting more collections together in this way!

2) Gamebook Adventures Paperbacks

GA_printsWe’ve already talked about this on the blog when Neil received a very special surprise on his recent trip to Melbourne! We can reveal that not only do we have The Siege of the Necromancer nearly ready to publish, but we’ll also be self-publishing An Assassin in Orlandes very soon too.

Assuming they prove popular then we’ll likely look at getting the rest of the series underway. Again, laying out a print gamebook from a digital gamebook is a lot more complicated to do than you’d think, so it may take some time.

We’re also going to get both our Strange Loves titles, Vampire Boyfriends and Hex Boyfriends, into print too during 2014!

 3) More translated Gamebook Adventures

Recently An Assassin in Orlandes was translated into Spanish by the wonderful team over at Mundos Epicos under their Dark Game gamebook label (they also recently translated Steve Jackson’s House of Hell and Ian Livingstone’s Blood of the Zombies too). spanish_assassinWith Un Asesino en Orlandes and our French version, L’Assassin d’Orlandes, as a second language option in the app, this obviously this increases the potential readership of the gamebook. We’d like to increase this further in 2014, not only by having more gamebooks in both Spanish and French, but also looking at other European languages such as German or Italian. We’ve even started looking at both Korean and Chinese markets too!

Our gamebook pipeline has been heavily developed with translations in mind, and after a few teething problems in the early days, we can now get translation teams to use our tools and give us the translated assets directly, which vastly speeds up the development process. Fighting Fantasy fans can also expect to see us apply this pipeline more in the future too. Both The Forest of Doom and House of Hell are already available as a French option (with Gallimard as our partner) but we hope to have more translated releases for you further down the pipe!

french_logo_slavesofrema

Slaves of Rema or Les Esclaves de Rema as it is known in French speaking parts of the world, will be released in early 2014. Studio 09 have done a fantastic job and we’ll be inviting them to write a guest blog post next year about their experiences working on Gamebook Adventures and Fighting Fantasy.

4) Other Gamebook Adventures Media

Calendar Have you checked out our Gamebook Adventures calendar yet? Lots of lovely artwork by Pirkka Harvala, Simon Lissaman, Dan Maxwell and Josh Wright. You should really check it out. PLUG!

Plugs aside, this is a great example of how we’re going to try and extend our brand in 2014 to other forms. There has been a lot of discussion in the office of what to do, but we can reveal that we may be involved with something special for PAX Australia next year, there may also be an official soundtrack album (OST) release and the word “Kickstarter” has been used more than a few times in relation to a few ideas – most notably a potential Art of Gamebook Adventures book.

We’ll keep you posted! :D

Join us for more gamebook reveals when we open the tenth door of The Twelve Days of Gamebooks very soon (within a few hours in fact!)

2013
12.18

…The Way of the Tiger!

When people discuss 80s gamebooks, there are a number of usual suspects that turn up consistently as favourites. The Way of the Tiger series by Mark Smith and Jamie Thomson is part of that group and we’re absolutely delighted to say that we’ll be bringing this 6-book series to digital platforms over 2014 and 2015!

WOTT_books

You are Avenger, a Ninja warrior, worshipper of Kwon, Supreme Master of Unarmed Combat. Trained in the Way of the Tiger, you are now an outstanding master of the martial arts, ready to use your deadly skills to overtun evil and to avenge the death of your foster-father, Naijishi.

If you’re not aware of the series, The Way of the Tiger uses a complex dice and skill-based gamebook system. Your character can choose from a range of abilities to help them progress through the story as well as harnessing the power of Inner Force, a chi-like energy to inflict greater damage on enemies and objects. You also get the ability to throw shuriken, spit poison needles and even garotte your opponents! The big advancement for this series relative to other 80s gamebooks was the combat, which is played out like an interactive narrative version of Street Fighter. When fighting enemies, you get to choose from a range of kicks, punches and throws, with names like Cobra Strike and Leaping Tiger! Using these different moves in combination adapts the fight narrative itself, offering up different styles of fighting.

The ink is barely dry on the contract and we have lots of decisions to make regarding how we will be presenting the series. One thing is for certain is that we’ll be using our new gamebook engine* as we feel what we have planned with that will better suit the WOTT style of gamebook, especially the combats. If you are impatient for some ninja action then please do check out the recent kickstarter to revive the series in paper form. A prequel to Avenger! and a sequel to Inferno! have also been written!

This is a VERY exciting project for us and we really want to knock the ball out of the park (or hurl the shuriken out of the temple – sorry). We’ll reveal more information as we have it over the year, but we can say that we plan to release Avenger! and Assassin! concurrently, with the rest of the series not far behind.

Join us for more gamebook reveals when we open the ninth door of The Twelve Days of Gamebooks very soon!

* Wait. What? New gamebook engine? Yes, a new gamebook engine! Keep your eyes peeled for more info in a matter of days.