2016
06.14

It’s cold in Melbourne. Seriously. The good thing is we’ve been keeping warm in Tin Man Towers working our socks off on The Warlock of Firetop Mountain amongst other things. So where are we at? What’s the news? Let’s do this thing…

The Warlock of Firetop Mountain

Let’s start off with our epic re-imagining of Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson’s very first Fighting Fantasy gamebook shall we?

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If you’ve been following this project over the last year via our Kickstarter updates, you will know that we’re running a few months behind schedule but the game (or digital gamebook – depending on where you draw that line) is looking and playing great – so well worth it! We’ve now created over 100 3D figurines of heroes and monsters, which has only been possible with the extra hit of cash from our Kickstarter campaign. Some of these have been via 3D scanning in figs from Otherworld Miniatures and painting them up, but many have also been brand new 3D builds, as we felt we wanted some of the more identifiable characters from Firetop Mountain to actually look like their Russ Nicholson illustrated versions.

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TMG’s chief combat designer is working hard at the moment implementing GridBluff, our new simultaneous turn-based combat system throughout Firetop Mountain. This is one of the big departures for our new digital gamebook system and places your hero figurine a center of the action. It uses a variety of attack patterns individually suited to each character, having you anticipate the moves of your opponents as you hack and slash your way around a scalable battlefield. We’re going to post a big update about our combat system on the Kickstarter page in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for that! And for those who are worried about dice not being there, we have implemented them too, in slightly different way.

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Apart from fixing the hundreds of bugs that crop up in game development, we’re also currently adding in lots of new content for each of the adventurers that are selectable at the beginning of the game. This means as well as expanding the original adventure beyond its original 400 sections, we are also tailoring each read-through so that with each character’s wanderings they experience elements of Firetop Mountain differently, especially in relation to their own personal quests. Our chief environment artist has almost built every section of the mountain too and designed the system such that all the pieces slot together as you move around. We’re also adding in a funky lighting system with depth of field to make the sets look like miniatures, while maintaining an eerie feel to rooms and passageways. The pieces don’t just build out horizontally across a virtual table, but they are also built vertically, as is the case when you enter the Domain of the Dead!

We’re hoping for a release of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain around August time on Steam. We’ll then start looking at getting a version working for smartphones and tablets.

No More Legacy of Dorn (SADFACE)

We’ve had a few Tin Man Games fans asking about the two sequels that we promised to last year’s Legacy of Dorn: Herald of Oblivion. Sadly we’ve had to put these on hiatus because sales numbers of the first digital gamebook were not as high as we had hoped. Obviously we’re quite disappointed with this outcome as we absolutely loved working within the Warhammer 40,000 universe and Jonathan Green was keen to write the sequels.

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Sometimes in this business the projects that you pour your heart into and derive a lot of professional pleasure from are not always the ones that work out from a business point of view. Games Workshop were absolutely fantastic to work, being very supportive at all times and hopefully we’ll get to work with them again in the future!

Thankfully the first gamebook does play on its own as a stand-alone title, so if you’ve not played it yet then wander over to our Gamebook Adventures page and check it out!

New Pricing Structures for Mobile Gamebook Adventures and Fighting Fantasy

With the impending arrival of our new digital gamebook system (starting with The Warlock of Firetop Mountain) we’ve revised our prices for our apps across the iOS App Store, Google Play and Amazon Appstore.

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You can now buy a Gamebook Adventures app for around $1.99 USD and a Fighting Fantasy app for around $2.99 USD. We’ve also adjusted the prices of many of our other apps too so have a check out our Gamebook Adventures site for a full breakdown.

Zombocalypse Now removed from sale

zn_208xSadly our deal with Matt Youngmark of Chooseomatic Books has come to an end that means we have had to remove the app from sale across all marketplaces. Matt has new plans for the series in a digital format and we wish him all the best for the future! If you own the app, we would very much recommend that you make a back-up or you might not be able to re-download it at a later date.

iPhone/iPad apps missing music on devices using iOS9

A few months ago we received reports of some of our titles not working as intended on iPhones and iPads with iOS9 installed. The main complaint has been the loss of music and the intro not starting correctly. This is due to a number of factors that are legacy from our older GA engine, being built using older versions of Unity. The team spent a few weeks fixing some of the apps, most notably most of the FF apps, but were not able to attend to all of these before we hit a busy period of work on Warlock. Therefore a handful of our apps may have sound errors and we humbly apologise. With a small team and so many apps, an operating system update is always a tricky time to negotiate as things invariably break. We will look to address these immediately once Warlock development is completed.

As a side-note to this we have removed Trial of the Clone from sale on the App Store until this is fixed, as Wil Wheaton’s voiceover no longer works.

Miss Fisher and the Deathly Maze Update!

It’s not just that pesky Warlock that is consuming our time at the moment as we’re also working hard on our new visual novel adventure game based on TV’s Miss Fisher. We’ve had an incredible response to our online announcements to this game can’t wait to unleash it on to the world. It’s a bold new direction for us, not only artistically but in the way we are presenting the adventure story and incorporating the choice-based narrative. We’re breaking up the game into Episodes and hope to release Episode 1 on to the App Store soon! Find out more on the our Miss Fisher Gamebook Adventures page!

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Remember you can follow our antics via on Facebook via our TMG page, on Twitter via @TinManNeil and @TinManGamebooks, and on our Warlock Kickstarter page!

2016
05.13

Sales Galore!

Hello! Lots of our digital gamebooks are on SALE right now across a few platforms. Go check ’em out!

GAMES WORKSHOP – DIGITAL ASSAULT SALE (iOS only)

 

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Lots and lot so Games Workshop iOS titles are currently around 50% OFF, including our very own Legacy of Dorn: Herald of Oblivion!

Games Workshop Digital Assault App Store page link

Legacy of Dorn: Herald of Oblivion App Store page link

HUMBLE STORE SPRING SALE (PC/Mac/Linux/Android DRM Free)

 

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It’s currently the Humble Store’s Spring Sale which means a bunch of our titles have been put on SALE up to 80% off their original price! Pay one price and get DRM Free versions of the games that play on PC, Mac, Linux or Android. Highlights include our Gamebook Adventures series at 80% OFF and our Fighting Fantasy titles at 66% OFF. Ryan North’s To Be or Not To Be also at a 66% reduction!

Humble Store Spring Sale Tin Man Games page

2016
02.18

Gosh, we’re motoring through 2016 at an incredible speed! It’s been sometime since our last blog post and hopefully you’ll forgive us for not posting as things have been incredibly busy on multiple fronts. We also unashamedly use our Facebook page, Twitter and Warlock Kickstarter page as a bit of a launching pad for most our news these days as, well, it’s easier to do this amidst the carnage of ongoing game development. Having said that we felt it was about time we gave the blog a bit of love and give you a rundown of all the exciting developments that have been happening in Tin Man Towers as well as some news about what’s around the corner!

THE WARLOCK OF FIRETOP MOUNTAIN!

Team_photo2The Kickstarter for The Warlock of Firetop Mountain ended on November 30th last year and we successfully raised $54,676 (Australian Dollars) with over 1,257 of you backing the campaign via the KS page. In truth we made a little more than that as there were also some Paypal donations that dropped in. So thank you so much if you pledged!

balrumWe’ve already sent out many of the backer rewards and are working on delivering the last few over the next couple of months. Briefs are currently being sent out to backers who pledged to design characters, rooms and new death endings – we’ve already had some brilliant ideas filtering through. Russ Nicholson is also busy working on some new illustrations for the gamebook and is designing a brand new inhabitant of Firetop Mountain – The Soulkeeper! We recently ran a poll via our facebook page that asked voters to pick their favourite name from five options. We can now announce the final chosen name is ORIANA!

Soon you’ll find out more about Oriana’s impact in Firetop Mountain and generally how the development of Warlock is going by wandering over to our Kickstarter updates.We’ve already posted info about our awesome new 3D mapping system and the new digital miniatures that some of the Kickstarter money is being used to fund. We’ll continue adding regular updates as we go along and currently our plan is to release on Steam around mid-May.

There is a lot of work between now and then however so excuse us as we knuckle-down to make The Warlock of Firetop Mountain the best it can be!

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CHOICES: AND THE SUN WENT OUT!

Choices_01November 2015 also saw another big moment for TMG as we released only our second free-to-download app on the App Store (the first being Infinite Universe about 4 years ago that was turned into a premium app a few months later). It is also the first time we have offered a subscription-based model so that readers can continuously be involved in the adventure with a weekly update.

Choices: And The Sun Went Out is about as far removed, in terms of choice-based narrative delivery, from Warlock as you can get. We decided to keep the structure a lot lighter within the interactive narrative by making the story purely driven by choices, so not including any form of “gamebook” structure like combat or a complex inventory system. watchThis is so we could craft a vast story that was purely dictated by the choices that reader makes. We also decided to make the app compatible with the Apple Watch and were keen to break the fourth wall by allowing Moti, your AI companion in the adventure, to converse with you via the watch in much the same way as it does in-game. The watch isn’t required to play the adventure but if you have a watch it certainly adds to the immersion!

We have lots of plans for Choices in the coming months and so far the subscription model is working well. We think it’s pretty cheap too to get involved with the story – $1 per month, $2 per quarter or $3 for a 6 month subscription. We have a great writing team consisting of our very own KG Tan and new Tin Minions, Alyce Potter and Felicity Banks (winner of the 2015 Windhammer Prize for Short Gamebook Fiction), who will be taking the story to it’s conclusion at the back end of this year. For anyone concerned about how the end affects our subscription model, then you’ll be pleased to know that we have a whole new story kicking off within the app around May/June.

If you haven’t experienced Choices on your iOS device yet then download the first free Arc right here! An Android version is coming soon.

SOME HUMBLING AWARDS!

At the back-end of 2015 we received a few lovely awards that made us all smile A LOT!

CSZeWcLUcAAdL-Q.jpg largeFirstly, Ryan North’s To Be or Not To Be won the Accessibility Award at the Australian Game Awards, held here in Melbourne during International Games Week. We were all suited and booted to receive the award and a good night was had all round (as I’m sure you can imagine!). This was the second year that we have won the award and we are really keen to keep looking to make our games more accessible in the future. Up until now, implementing VoiceOver support has been tricky and cost-prohibitive for us because of the way we develop our apps. While this is still the case, their have been advancements and for the first time this year we will be looking to add this feature to new titles we release, which is so important for visually-impaired gamers.

Keeping with To Be or Not To Be, our second award that blew us away was that the game was chosen as one of TIME Magazine’s Top 10 Games of 2015. Yes, THAT TIME Magazine! This came completely out of the blue and we’re still a bit in shock. To Be was included on a few “Best Of…” lists over the web, but this is the one the broke us out of our usual gaming niche and into a wider mainstream audience. 😀

Thirdly, we were over the moon upon release of Choices: And The Sun Went Out to receive a banner feature on the Australian App Store. This really helped kick-start our initial user base of the free app. What was even more exciting was that the US App Store then chose Choices: ATSWO as one of their Best of 2015 in the Apple Watch category!

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Finally the icing on the cake for 2015 wasn’t an award for one of our games, but actually for Tin Man Games. Pocket Tactics awarded us “Creator of the Year” based on the titles we released during 2015 and the upcoming titles in production. Thank you Pocket Tactics! Looking back on the 2015 it’s safe to say we have broken out of our comfort zone in terms of game design and gone beyond the humble paperback gamebook in so many ways. We will strive to continue in this fashion, which brings us nicely on to…

APART FROM WARLOCK, WHAT’S NEXT??

We’ve announced lots of projects over the years, some of which have come to fruition and some that have sadly fallen by the wayside. One of those “will they, won’t they” projects has been Herbie Brennan’s GrailQuest series. We’ve started this project more times than we care to remember and then had to lay it to one side for a variety of business reasons. Well, we can safely say we’re back on the Arthurian Grail Rail and have recently commissioned some new artwork for the apps that we will reveal very soon! We won’t be presenting the book in the same way as we’ve done with our digital gamebooks in the past, so expect a much more art-heavy approach to the narrative storytelling. Let’s just say that the whole project is a lot of fun and Merlin is looking great – “Sit still. And don’t fidget!”

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And finally, if you follow us closely on social media you will know that we have signed up the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries license, and with funding from Film Victoria, currently developing an adventure game based on the hit 3-season TV show called Miss Fisher and the Deathly Maze. We are working closely with Every Cloud Productions, who produced the show, and have hired writer, Luke Miller (known for My Ex-Boyfriend the Space Tyrant), to write a choice-based interactive narrative that we will be using within our new visual novel-styled interface. We don’t want to reveal too much just yet, but fans of the show are in for a real visual treat!

 

2015
10.30

Hi, this is Neil! I’m currently sat in a small room just off the show floor at PAX Australia tapping away on my keyboard to bring you some awesome news. It’s crazy out there! We’re showing off The Warlock of Firetop Mountain to the masses of Australian gamers that are attending the Penny Arcade Expo over the next few days. Even Snake just popped by to kick some orc ass!

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So what’s the awesome news? Well, I’m really proud to announce that our Kickstarter for The Warlock of Firetop Mountain went live this morning. The team have worked really hard to put this together (especially Kamina – big hugs!) and we’re really excited to unleash it into the wilds of Allansia. I think we’ve come up with some great backer rewards so that YOU can become part of the new look digital Fighting Fantasy universe. We would love you to check out the page and please consider sharing the news around your social interwebzy networks. #WarlockKS

Warlock_KickstarterThe Warlock of Firetop Mountain Kickstarter link!

2015
09.30

Hail fellow digital gamebook fans and well met to all wanderers that happen upon the Tin Man Games blog! It’s been an incredibly busy September, and October is quickly turning into a MASSIVE month for us down under at Tin Man Towers. Here’s what we’ve been up to and what is in store for the Winterfylleth!

Gamebook Adventures 11 and 12 released on iOS and Android!

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In February 2010 we released our very first digital gamebook app on to the App Store. As many of you may know, An Assassin in Orlandes, was the start of a epic series of gamebooks set in the land of Orlandes and along with The Siege of the Necromancer was the platform on which Tin Man Games was built. Therefore it is with immense pride that we have released Gamebook Adventures 11 and 12, Songs of the Mystics and Asuria Awakens, on to the App Store, Google Play and Amazon Appstore. We made it to 12 titles! (okay – so not quite as many as Fighting Fantasy or Lone Wolf, but still pretty good hey!?)

Written by the very talented Kieran Coghlan and Stuart Lloyd, you can find out more about both titles by clicking their respective links above or the links over on the right. If you’re an iOS user you may also be interested to know that both titles have been bundled up with Lords of Nurroth too, to create the Gamebook Adventures Collected Bundle 4, which essentially gets you 3 digital gamebooks for the price of 2.

Legacy of Dorn: Herald of Oblivion is nearing release!

combat_canoptekwraith1_768_1024On October 15th our very first Warhammer 40,000 licensed digital gamebook, Herald of Oblivion, will be hitting the iOS App Store, Google Play and Amazon Appstore.

We’ve taken Jonathan Green’s epic tale about Brother Nabor of the Imperial Fists Chapter and thrown it into a Tin Man spin, turning your digital device into cogitator complete with a holographic combat simulator. This new feature removes the dice-rolling elements of the original Black Library/Games Workshop print book and turns them into a turn-based, first-person combat scenario, where your placement in the battle arena (4-axis movement), weapon choice (ranged or melee) and the decisions of the enemies can impact the outcome of the fight. This is a completely new departure for us but one which we felt would really enhance the experience of battling the denizens of a space hulk. We’re really pleased with how it turned out and hope to expand on it for future Warhammer 40k titles!

Melbourne International Games Week!

From the 23rd October to 1st November, Australian gamers, developers and press will be descending on Melbourne for the International Games Week. We’ll be taking part this year in a variety of ways, most notably at our local developer conference, Games Connect Asia Pacific, and the massively awesome consumer show, PAX Australia, which is held just up the road from us here at Tin Man Towers. During PAX we’ll be showing off Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain for the very first time and inviting attendees to play it at our booth, using game controllers. Yes, game controllers!

You can find out more about Games Week here…

And Finally…

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Over the last 12 months we have been developing a brand new Gamebook Adventures Engine. Some of the roots of the engine can be seen in Appointment with FEAR and To Be or Not To Be and it’s almost time to properly unveil our very first release using the new engine, the grand-daddy of all fantasy gamebooks, Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. But we (and Zagor) need your help! While development has been progressing really well, we have come to realise that we need more art for the gamebook. Why more art for a text-based adventure book you say? Well, that’s because we’ve taken the map for Firetop Mountain into the tabletop realm, complete with digital miniatures and a brand new miniatures based combat system. It’s still the gamebook we all know and love, but taken in a sparkly new digital direction!

We’ll have more news on the Kickstarter in the coming weeks. There will be lots of amazing opportunities to be involved with the development of this new chapter for Tin Man Games and the Fighting Fantasy series.

2015
08.27

Warhammer 40K!

HOB_twitter_bannerWe’ve been a little quiet of late on our blog and we sincerely apologise. This is for good reason though as we’ve been insanely busy these last few months, not only finalising our next two Gamebook Adventures titles, Songs of the Mystics and Asuria Awakens, working hard on our next Fighting Fantasy installment, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, but we have also been developing a brand new digital gamebook set within Games Workshop‘s Warhammer 40,000 universe!!GW_transpWe finally announced Legacy of Dorn: Herald of Oblivion yesterday and as you can imagine we’re super excited! It’s also great to be able to talk about it publicly as we have been beavering away in secret for the last six months on the project. If you’re a regular follower of TMG you’ll know that we normally announce things as we sign them or release them, but for this release we had to be secret squirrels so we could announce it as close to launch as possible (end of September 2015). Somehow we managed that!

If you want read our official press release for the announcement, you can find that here. We also have a presskit page set up here which includes screenshots. We’ll be updating this as we have more announcements closer to release time. We also have an entry with more info on our Gamebook Adventures website.

So far we’ve had some great coverage from Touch Arcade, Pocket Gamer, Gamezebo, Starburst and Droid Gamers amongst others. The reception has been fantastic and we can’t wait to unleash it on to iOS, Android and later this year, PC, Mac and Linux!

2015
03.12

Travelling Onto Steam!

Exciting news! We’re pleased to announce that Steve Jackson’s Starship Traveller is now available for PC, Mac and Linux on Steam! Get it here:

On its original release for iPhone, iPad and Android, Pocketgamer had this to say:

“The original gamebook has been beautifully revived, and now stands shoulder-to-shoulder with its sci-fi peers across all entertainment media.”

Scoring the game 9 out of 10 and earning us a Pocketgamer Gold Award! We’re very proud of Starship Traveller, and we hope that even more players get to enjoy Steve Jackson’s classic adventure.

2015
02.11

Shakespeare and Ryan North in Digital Form!

it's much harder to hold this trumpet than it looks In case you missed it, Ryan North’s To Be or Not To Be has been released! Currently available on Steam and Humble, and coming soon to iPhone, iPad and Android devices, you get the opportunity to TOTALLY REWRITE Shakespeare’s play. And fill it with ghost revenge, party boats, and stabs.

So many stabs.

We’ve had some great coverage already, including Destructoid, PC Gamer and Rock, Paper, Shotgun, which is pretty awesome! Fifty Kickstarter backers of the original print book were lucky enough to receive copies of the game, so if you backed it, you may be playing it right now!

Otherwise, what are you waiting for? Grab it!

2014
12.30

How I ended up living in Tolkien’s Farmer Giles of Ham.

FarmerGilesHi there, this is Neil, original founder of Tin Man Games. Firstly, my apologies as I’m afraid this is quite a self-indulgent blog entry, but one I’ve been wanting to write for some time now. I was wandering around the local Oxfam shop the other day and happened upon the book you see on the left. The “this is fate!” side of my nature told me that perhaps now would be the right time to put down some words and tell the story of how a boy from the shire (Buckinghamshire to be exact, although just a few miles down the road from Oxfordshire so as to hail Oxford as my center of influence) suddenly found himself living within Tolkien’s universe.

I don’t claim to be a Tolkien expert by any means. I’ve read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings a couple of times each and have an unread The Silmarillion sat on my bookshelf behind me, but something about Peter Jackson’s recent films never quite sat right with me. Don’t get me wrong, I love them, especially the LOTR trilogy, of which I own the super-extended high-res quadruple disc versions (a slight exaggeration for comedy effect). No, it’s not that they are not great cinematic adaptations, it’s more that they don’t appear to be set in Middle Earth. Well not the Middle Earth I recognise anyway, in particular a Shire that I recognise.

oakleyI did a lot of my growing up in the village of Oakley during the 1980s. A small place in the middle of nowhere, or so it seemed to me as a kid. There were two pubs, one shop, one post office and one bus a week to Oxford. These days even most of those are gone now sadly.  I’d read The Hobbit after loaning it out of from the visiting library bus that used to appear on a Thursday after school. I naturaly fell in love with The Shire and the darkness of Mirkwood and it started me on a grand journey through Fighting Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons and beyond. A familiar tale for any UK kid who was into fantasy stuff in 80s! After receiving a Grifter (a big chunky black bike) one Christmas I used to bomb around the country roads, following the hedgerows and taking shortcuts up public footpaths that followed the edges of farmer’s fields. When I was brave enough I would head into Bernwood Forest and get myself lost on the trails, freaking myself out as the darkness of the woods closed in ominously around me. I could have sworn there were giant spiders in those trees, but I also knew a hoom, hum a hum hoom hoom from the locals would keep them at bay! bernwoodTo me this was Middle Earth, a very English setting with century old oak trees and a density of history surrounding me in the forms of iron-age burial mounds (barrow wights anyone?) and 400 year old thatched cottages with many stories to tell. Seeing as Tolkien lived and worked just down the road in Oxford, I think this was the image in his head too, at least of Bilbo’s home. I’m not sure he ever went on holiday to New Zealand.

The_Eagle_and_ChildSo I have two links to Tolkien that I am quite proud of. Firstly I’m going to leave Oakley for a moment and cast my eye across to the city of Oxford where Tolkien was a University Professor. During the mid 80s my Mum became pregnant with my younger brother and invited my cousin to come and stay to help her out. My family originally come from the north-east of England and my mother was the first to migrate south in the 70s. As my cousin settled in, her parents, my Aunty and Uncle, also decided to head south. They had been running pubs for many years and ended up taking on a very famous pub in Oxford called The Eagle and Child! Tolkien-mad me was more than a little excited as this was the famed meeting spot of The Inklings, a writers group that included Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. My older brother got a job as a chef at the pub and I found myself most Saturday afternoons hanging out in the Rabbit Room, eating steak and guinness pie with chips, under plaques that showed this was the room the Inklings used to hang out in. I even stayed in the pub a number of times, glass collecting mostly as I was too young to do much else. As an aside, if you ever visit, have a look in the rafters above the bar and you might just spot a large ceramic eagle that once belonged to me. Eagle_and_Child_(interior)My Uncle gave it to me when I was very young and asked for it back when they took the pub on so he could display it behind the bar. After they left some years later, the eagle stayed. I drunkenly once asked for it back one evening about ten years ago. Needless to say they didn’t believe me and it remains there to this day – I think!

One other fond memory that only came to me just now as I began writing this, is introducing my now Wife to two of my good friends at the time over lunch on that table in the photo above, situated on the left. One of those friends is sadly no longer with us, so that actually just caught me unawares a little. Happy days indeed. Good memories. 🙂

ham_01And so, back to my second link to Tolkien and one that involves the very book that I mentioned at the top of this blog post and in particular a certain Mr. Aegidius Ahenobarbus Julius Agricola de Hammo. I’d read The Hobbit and probably at least attempted The Fellowship of the Ring, before finding Farmer Giles of Ham on the library bus. I casually thought it to be another Hobbit-like fantasy yarn and instead found a charming medieval tale of a farmer turned reluctant hero, who found fame fighting a giant followed by the mighty dragon, Chrysophylax Dives. I remember really enjoying it, picturing the story taking place in the surrounding fields and countryside that I felt illustrated Tolkien’s imagination. And then I happened upon this paragraph:

The next day the dragon moved to the neighbouring village of Quercetum (Oakley in vulgar tongue). He ate not only sheep and cows and one or two persons of tender age, but he ate the parson too. Rather rashly the parson had sought to dissuade him from his evil ways.

This was quite exciting thought I. A village called Oakley was included in one of Tolkien’s books – what a coincidence! Not only that but it was the neighbouring village to Ham, the home of Farmer Giles. Wouldn’t it be strange if there was somewhere called Ham close to Oakley in real life? I continued to read and then something very unusual happened, I then came across this paragraph near the end of the story:

Now those who live still in the lands of the Little Kingdom will observe in this history the true explanation of the names that some of its towns and villages bear in our time. For the learned in such matters inform us that Ham, being made the chief town of the new realm, by a natural confusion between the Lord of Ham and the Lord of Tame became known by the latter name, which it retains to this day; for Thame with an h is a folly without warrant.

ham_02So Ham was renamed to Thame, pronounced Tame as in the ‘Th’ in the River Thames – certainly a folly without warrant. As Thame is a town just a few miles down the road to the village in which I lived, this pretty much confirmed Oakley in Farmer Giles of Ham as being one and the same! As you can imagine, twelve year old me (I could have been younger) was rather blown away. Even though I was pretty sure, I needed some more proof:

Whereas in memory of the dragon, upon whom their fame and fortune were founded, the Draconarii built themselves a great house, four miles north-west of Tame, upon the spot where Giles and Chrysophylax first made acquaintance. That place became known throughout the kingdom as Aula Draconaria, or in the vulgar Worminghall, after the king’s name and his standard.

Tolkien even goes on to describe the residents of Worminghall as now calling it Wunnle, which is interesting as I remember the local acting group being called the Wornall Players and wikipedia even confirms that the locals call it Wornall or ‘Wunnle’. I will look into it in more detail the next time I am back in the shire. 🙂

mapAnd so there we have it, Tolkien chose my middle of nowhere part of the world as the center stage for his tale of Dragon taming. You may be reading this thinking it’s not that special, but for me, at the young, influential point in my life where I was and where I now find myself making fantasy stories for a living, it was really quite important. This is why New Zealand can keep it’s stunning bright green fields and epic vistas, as for me much of Middle Earth is very English and a place of deeper, earthy greens and browns surrounded by tangled bramble bushes and feeling that at any moment I might just happen upon a dirty old dragon, who wandered too far south looking for local parsons to munch on.

You can find out more about Farmer Giles of Ham here on the wikipedia page and here at Tolkien Gateway. I really recommend hunting down a copy too if you can find a copy!

(Hopefully this blog post reads well. I have been surrounded by post-Christmas excitable/tired children so it’s been quite testing as you can imagine!)

Book illustrations above credited to Pauline Baynes from the Unwin paperback, published in 1975. All photos shared under Creative Commons.
2014
12.19

A Very Humble Forest of Doom

The Forest of Doom
Here’s a nice end to the year! The Forest of Doom is available in this week’s Humble Weekly Bundle, all themed around RPGs! You can grab the Fighting Fantasy classic by simply beating the average, and blag yourself some other great RPG games as well:

The Humble Weekly Bundle RPG Edition has now ended!
Aside from The Forest of Doom, you can also pick up:

  • Skara – The Blade Remains: Compete for what’s left of Skara by engaging in fast paced, hand-to-hand combat that rewards skills, not stats.
  • Alpha Kimori – Episode One: The first in a trilogy of bright and colorful Japanese-inspired story-driven 2D Role Playing Games, which feature an intricate action-adventure epic story with a delightful mix of sci-fi and fantasy elements.
  • Avadon 2: The Corruption: Serve the keep of Avadon, working as a spy and warrior to fight the enemies of your homeland. As a servant of the Black Fortress, your word is law.
  • Consortium Taking place entirely aboard a massive futuristic aircraft, CONSORTIUM is a first person science-fiction role-playing experience unlike any other.
  • Fighting Fantasy: The Forest of Doom: Ian Livingstone’s legendary Fighting Fantasy gamebook, featuring modern and retro modes, auto-mapping, and realistic dice rolling as you play!
  • Deep Dungeons of Doom: Dungeons await, each one deeper, each one more perilous, and each one more challenging than the last.
  • Halfway: A turn-based strategy RPG taking place a few hundred years into the future. Humanity has begun to colonise new worlds and until now, they were alone…

A great collection of games, just in time for the holidays. And part of your purchase goes to charity, too. That’s pretty awesome!