2014
09.23

September is upon us! Originally the seventh month in the Roman calendar and derived from the word Septem, the latin word for seven, September is always one of those months which heralds a feeling of change. Change has certainly been on the cards for us here at Tin Man Games as we’ve started taking quite bold steps into new territories. With Appointment with F.E.A.R. we’ve left the comfort zone of our gamebooky interface and also jumped into Steam for the first time, we’ve released our first ever $10 four-gamebook collection in the form of The Complete Sagas of Fire*Wolf, and we’ve jumped into iOS 8 with both feet by releasing our gamebook apps into value bundles.

Nothing to fear but F.E.A.R. itself

vlad_utoshAnd so with excitement and trepidation, we released Appointment with F.E.A.R. last month, and what a ride it turned out to be! Our first release using our new gamebook engine that Tin Man Ben (Britten) has been beavering away on for so many months and a major technical stepping-stone for future releases. A few commentators suggested it was our reply to Inkle’s recent Sorcery! apps, but in reality it was more about us testing our toes in the water of our new tech, whilst also being able to give a gamebook the treatment it truly deserved. AWF cried out for a more visual treatment that suited the comic book genre and was one of the reasons we sat on it for such a long time, waiting until the time and the tech was right. If people really want to pit us against the guys at Inkle (and to be honest both them and us find it amusing to be the Oasis and Blur* of the digital gamebook world) then The Warlock of Firetop Mountain will give be that ‘thing’. Maybe. Definitely Maybe.

hero_titanThe reception for AWF has been pretty phenomenal and we’ve had some awesome reviews across the board from places like Touch Arcade, Pocket Gamer, 148 Apps, Mature Gamer, Starburst, and many more. We also had a bit more marketing spend for this release than usual and placed adverts and re-skinned a couple of app sites to spread the message that Titan City was under threat. Possibly the most suprising thing for us has been how our new Steam audience has responded to us. For the first couple of weeks of release the Steam community group was packed with players taking screenshots, posting reviews, and very importantly, bugs. We were able to clean those up very quickly and the community were super supportive and very patient. Steam also brought us to the attention of Youtubers and lots of awesome playthroughs of the game have popped up, which have been a lot of fun to watch! Thank you to everyone, journalists, bloggers, youtubers and gamers for your support – it means a lot to our small, hard-working team!

rad_dogIf there has been a negative it is that we let down our iOS fans slightly for which we apologise. While we’ve released our apps in the past concurrently across iOS, Android and desktop, it has been with the old engine, which was tried and tested and above all a lot more stable. Releasing a new engine across so many formats was, in hindsight, not a great idea and sadly because the Apple approval process takes a lot longer than other app portals, it meant many of our iOS fans with certain iPhones and iPads were unable to save Titan City. It was harsh lesson learned for us (especially as we were featured on the App Store in the Best New Releases) and we’re sorry to anyone affected by that.

Is it possible to sell a digital gamebook app for $9.99?

fwolf_logoIt’s an intriguing question and one we’ll be answering over the coming months. We always wanted our adaptation of Sagas of the Demonspawn to include all four of Herbie Brennan’s gamebooks in one app. We could have sold each one separately as we’re doing with the Spellcaster Trilogy, but unlike that series, these titles are already fully designed and written having being originally published in 1984/85. Obviously that meant more work on our end (mainly for Clinton and Kamina!) developing four gamebooks in one go, which in turn increases dev costs and ultimately price. It will be interesting to see how things go and eagle-eyed TMG followers will already know that we’ve had The Complete Sagas of Fire*Wolf (our new name for the series) available to buy on Google Play for a couple of weeks already. So far, even though we’ve done no promotion, a fair number of copies have been sold. Good news for the barbarian!

The Complete Sagas of Fire*Wolf will be available on the App Store for iOS and Amazon Appstore for Android too in the next week or two. Also our user-interface designer, Elroy, has just posted some of his artwork for the app on his Tumblr – so check it out!

Little and big bundles of  joy!

When we first heard that Apple were introducing app bundles to iOS 8, we thought it was the greatest thing for digital gamebooks since the original announcement of the iPad. Like the coming of tablets, bundles are perfect for book app developers, especially those apps with strong gaming elements that are also part of large libraries.We tick all those boxes so we were really keen to get on board with this and contacted Apple immediately to learn more about it. To our joy Apple have chosen to feature some of our bundles in the various international App Stores during this first week. Great exposure for us and will hopefully encourage more people to check out our titles. GamebookAdventuresMEGABundleHere are a few of them:

Gamebook Adventures MEGAbundle – $24.99/£17.49 (Purchased separately: $53.91/£35.91)

Fighting Fantasy Steve Jackson Bundle – $9.99/£6.99 (Purchased separately: $14.97/£9.97)

Fighting Fantasy Ian Livingstone Bundle – $9.99/£6.99 (Purchased separately: $17.97£11.97)

Tin Man Games Heroes Bundle – $12.99/£8.99 (Purchased separately: $24.95/£16.45)

Also available Gamebook Adventures Bundle 1, 2, 3, and the Strange Loves Bundle.

A festival of fantasy fighting in LondonTMG_FFF

One of the highlights of this month so far has to be the Fighting Fantasy Fest held in London. Meant originally as a launch event for Jonathan Green’s kickstarted You Are The Hero: A History of Fighting Fantasy (in which we feature a fair bit!), it quickly became a bigger beast once Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson got involved. And so Fighting Fantasy Fest was officially born and will likely be a yearly gathering if the success of this event is anything to go by.

neil_FFFNeil headed along and gave a talk about Tin Man Games, showed off some of the lovely new Caverns of the Snow Witch illustrations and gave the assembled audience a sneak preview of some of our new gamebook engine tech that will debut in The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. The crowd were very enthusiastic and the talk seemed to go really well, especially as it was the opening talk of the day. No pressure then. ;)

Also in attendance, as well as Mr. Livingstone, Jackson and Green, were some of the great illustrators from Fighting Fantasy’s past: John Blanche, Russ Nicholson, Leo Hartas, Chris Achilleos, Tony Hough and Malcolm Barter. Many others from FF present and past were also there including Jamie Fry (The current Warlock), Phillipa Dickinson (former editor at Puffin), Geraldine Cooke (original comisioning editor of Warlock), Arion Games (Advanced FF publishers), Inkle Studios (Sorcery! devs), and a host of others.

As well as an exhibition of FF memorabilia there were many talks put on by the special guests and an auction of lots of personal FF items owned by Ian and Steve. Two lucky attendees were also picked out of the hat to appear in a future Tin Man Games app – most likely to be Warlock!

A big pat on the back to Jonathan Green for not only a fantastic event but creating the wonderful tome that is You Are The Hero. He’s a top fella’ that Greeny.

A great Corehammer write-up of the event…

In the news…

thefeedWe’ve had some great press coverage of Appointment with F.E.A.R. this past month, but we’ve also been featured in a few other places as well. Most notably Neil was quoted on the BBC News website in an article about the ‘cult’ of Fighting Fantasy and Ben (Britten) was interviewed on camera in The Feed on SBS. Our TMG offices are based in The Arcade, a non-for profit game developers hub, and the show was not only about this awesome indie space but also about the Australian game funding and the recent cuts. Check out what Ben has to say!

Neil also appeared in issue 403 of Starburst Magazine in an article called the ‘Wizards of Aus’, as well as appearing on a few podcasts over the last month or so. If you can bear to listen to his yapping click the following links: Why I Love ComicsThe Sausage Factory (Spong.com)OMG NexusJust Press Start.

Finally, Ben (Kosmina) and Kamina, the dynamic duo, have recently been hanging out on Arvan Eleron’s Twitch channel accompanying Greg and his viewers on live play-throughs of both House of Hell and Appointment with F.E.A.R. Check out Youtube versions of these recordings here and here!

Coming soon…

CotSW_finalNext out of the Fighting Fantasy stable is Ian Livingstone’s Caverns of the Snow Witch. The original gamebook was published on October 24th 1984 and we’re hoping to have it ready for both iOS and Android around the same date 2014 – the 30th anniversary! This is has been developed using our standard gamebook engine that was employed for The Forest of Doom and Island of the Lizard King.

This is an extra special release for us as we’ve had all new illustrations commissioned by a team of seven artists, four of which are new to Tin Man Games. As well as TMG favourites Pirkka Harvala, Josh Wright and Simon Lissaman, we have the amazing talents of John Stone, Dan Angelone, Ben Ee and Leonardo Meschini. Ian has worked closely with us and the artists to make sure that the denizens of the Crystal Caves live up to your worst nightmares! If you’re an old-school FF fan then fear not, Crosby and Ward’s original black and white illustrations make an appearance in retro mode.

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Announced on our Facebook Page as part of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, Jonathan Green’s classic Fighting Fantasy, Bloodbones is also in development. This is the first FF app outside of Ian or Steve’s original line-up and we’re really proud to be tackling the original 60th FF title in the series that never nearly came to be! Original illustrator of the gamebook, Tony Hough, has been recruited to add a splash of colour to his original drawings and it’s all looking rather splendid so far!

ToBe_03We’ve also got underway on the development of Ryan North’s To Be Or Not To Be. This is using the new gamebook engine, so expect something very different to the original print book. We’re hoping to get this released in a few months time across all our usual platforms and it’s shaping up to be one of our most spectacular apps yet!

And Finally, we’re also beavering away on The Gatekeeper’s Oath, the sequel to The Forgotten Spell, the next Gamebook Adventures title, Lords of Nurroth, isn’t too far away, and we have Gamebook Adventures Collected editions coming to Android. A busy few months then for the TMG team!

* The Oasis and Blur reference relates to the battle of two major Britpop bands in the UK, during the mid-90s. Not sure which company would be which though! ;)

2014
08.18

Appointment With F.E.A.R. is very nearly ready for release, and we’re happy to announce a date: August 27th, 2014!

This comic-stylized interactive graphic novel is based on Steve Jackson’s gamebook of the same name. Customize your character, including their gender, look and super powers, then head for the streets of Titan City to find and stop the Titanium Cyborg!

Want to make sure that you won’t miss your appointment? Then why not pre-order the game at 20% off for PC, Mac and Linux through Humble (includes a Steam key!):

Appointment With F.E.A.R. will, of course, also be available for iOS and Android on the 27th.

Don’t dare miss it!

2014
07.02

The origin of names is pretty awesome and something that appeals to many fantasy and sci-fi fans. Tolkien himself was one if the original scholars in this field, being heavily influenced by Nordic mythology and went so far as to create new languages for Middle Earth that actually worked – it’s actually crazy how much they work! Unlike many months though, July’s history isn’t based on a mythological character or event and actually on a mere mortal. Well actually not so ‘mere’ in that it was Julius Caesar who lends his name to the month. Originally called Quintilis (translated as ‘fifth month’ in Latin, as July was originally the fifth Roman month), the name was changed in honour of the great man after his assassination. So if you didn’t know the origins of July before, now you do! :D

Thanks for the history lesson Tin Man, but what about gamebooks? Show me the gamebooks!

The Complete Sagas of Fire*Wolf

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Herbie Brennan’s classic four-book series, Sagas of the Demonspawn, lovingly now known as The Complete Sagas of Fire*Wolf is around 80% complete as things stand. We are including all four gamebooks in one app, which has been quite an undertaking – more than we expected in fact. You will be able to read Fire*Wolf, The Crypts of Terror, Demondoom and Ancient Evil back-to-back in the one app and take the huggable barbarian on his quest from start to finish. With brand new illustrations, a new combat system and a gorgeous user-interface, this will be one of our best digital gamebook releases yet. Oh, and we just received the amazing soundtrack yesterday from Ryan Grogan that oozes the style of 1980s sword and sorcery movie soundtracks. We wanted to release this in July, but August is now looking more realistic on iOS and Android.

Appointment with F.E.A.R. (Fighting Fantasy – Steve Jackson)

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If you feel like Appointment with F.E.A.R. has been in development for ages, well you’re probably right and to be honest we feel the same! It is all for very good reasons though as AWF is our first title making it’s debut in our new gamebook engine and marks the start of a bold new direction for us in terms of interactive path-based storytelling. Gone is the booky feel and the dice have been well and truly lost down the back of the couch. The traditional Fighting Fantasy rules have been streamlined and instead of playing the fixed male superhero from the paperback, you can now design your character using a bunch of beautiful preset super-designs. We have also included a very retro map of Titan City and a new trading card mechanic!  Why continue reading about it when you can watch Neil’s recent demo on AppSpy!

Caverns of the Snow Witch (Fighting Fantasy – Ian Livingstone)

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We’re motoring ahead with Caverns of the Snow Witch, which will be available in our normal gamebook engine like all of our previous titles. Normally we would colourise the original black and white artwork from the original paperback, but due to the style of those illustrations having heavy black lines and little white space within them, we have decide to create brand new painted artwork, like we did with Starship Traveller. It’s obviously quite time consuming for one illustrator to create all of the images for one book and as we have a limited time release for this project, we have invited seven (yes 7!) artists to bring the creatures and locales within the Icefinger Mountains to life. Joining previous Tin Man illustrators, Pirkka Harvala, Josh Wright and Simon Lissaman, are newcomers (for us at least), John Stone, Leonardo Meschini, Dan Angelone and Ben Ee. The artwork so far has been amazing, getting approval from Ian Livingstone at every stage, and really brings a whole new visual vibe to this classic gamebook!

Gamebook Adventures 10: Lords of Nurroth

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We’ve had to put GA10 on hold for a while due to some of our other projects taking precedence. All illustrations are complete and editing is about 50% done, so we’ll be revisiting this over the coming months! We know that writer, Dylan Birtolo, is desperate to see it released so hopefully we won’t have to disappoint him much longer. :)

Translations!

English-speaking fans of Lovecraft will be pleased to know that we’re currently editing an English translation of Les Fils d’Uruzimé. This will be released in a few months along with an English translation of La Bataille de Ia Drang, currently being translated by gamebook writer, Paul Gresty!

We also have a (long overdue) Italian release of An Assassin in Orlandes due as well as Italian and French versions of Blood of the Zombies later down the pipe.

Fighting Fantasy: The Next Generation

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We’re constantly being asked about re-releases of City of Thieves, Deathtrap Dungeon, Citadel of Chaos and the rest. Regular followers of the blog will know that we’ve been holding off on these for a while until we feel our new gamebook engine is mature enough to handle them – about now in fact! Appointment with F.E.A.R. is nearing completion and our next target for the new engine will be the grand-daddy of the series, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain.  We’ve hired a new technical artist in the office who is currently hard at work developing the art style for the game and Jonathan Green has already started re-designing many of the aspects of gamebook. Neil spent a day with Jon recently talking about the scope of the project and the narrative that we want to weave. While we want to keep as much of the gamebook as true to the original as possible, we also want to expand it significantly and give Firetop Mountain a certain logic and sense of history and scale. More news on this will be announced in due course!

In other News…

As well as working our socks off on our upcoming titles we also made the trip to Finland for Pocket Gamer Connects. As well as taking part in a panel, we also showed off Appointment with F.E.A.R. and took part in the Big Indie Pitch. Unfortunately we didn’t win said pitch, but we did receive some valuable feedback from visiting journalists. Overall it was a very valuable trip and lots of new contacts and potential business connections were made.

Talking of Pocket Gamer, Starship Traveller was recently included in their 21 Best iPhone and iPad Games of 2014…so far! Big props to Clinton Shepherd, Ben Kosmina, Kamina Vincent, Dan Maxwell and Simon Lissaman for that release. :D

If you didn’t know, Jonathan Green has been busy putting together You Are The Hero, a history of Fighting Fantasy. To celebrate the launch, Jon is running Fighting Fantasy Fest 2014, taking place in London on Sunday 7th September! There will be an amazing line-up including Ian Livingstone, Steve Jackson, Russ Nicholson, Malcolm Barter, Chris Achilleos, Tony Hough, John Blanche, Leo Hartas, Inkle Studios and Arion Games. We’ll also be there in some fashion, so if you’re attending come and say hello. Tickets are available here.

For the latest Tin Man Games news follow our Twitter @TinManGames and our Facebook page. Thanks for reading and your continued support! :)

2014
05.07

Back in January we ran an online poll asking which Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, outside those that we have announced*, fans would like to see coming to digital platforms in the future.

*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

It wasn’t a terribly scientific poll as we forgot to include Jon Green’s Night of the Necromancer and Stormslayer (sorry Jon!), but it at least gave us a rough idea as to which Fighting Fantasy titles YOU would like to see as future apps. We had 561 fans leave their votes in total and a mighty 4901 FF gamebooks were chosen (obviously not everyone chose 10). So without further ado, here are the results:

FF_poll_list20th – Midnight Rogue – 107 votes

19th – Rebel Planet – 111 votes

18th – Robot Commando – 113 votes

17th – Legend of Zagor – 115 votes

16th – Armies of Death – 124 votes

15th – Demons of the Deep – 125 votes

14th – Beneath Nightmare Castle – 127 votes

13th – Howl of the Werewolf – 130 votes

12th – Space Assassin – 134 votes

11th – Crypt of the Sorcerer 141 – votes

10th – Vault of the Vampire – 161 votes

9th – Seas of Blood – 171 votes

8th – Freeway Fighter – 186 votes

7th – Sword of the Samurai – 192 votes

6th – Temple of Terror 196 votes

 

5th – Scorpion Swamp 208 votes

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4th – Caverns of the Snow Witch 216 votes

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3rd – Talisman of Death – 221 votes

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2nd – Return to Firetop Mountain – 232 votes

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1st – Trial of Champions – 248 votes

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So there we have it! A list that has a few surprises and a few obvious fan-favourites. It’s interesting that the top two FF gamebooks are in fact sequels to titles we haven’t yet developed, so they may take a while for us to reach! As for the rest, there may be a few titles in there with rights issues, but there are some definite candidates that we have already discussed with Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson. If you’ve been following us you will know that we have been developing a new gamebook engine, with the first release to be Appointment with F.E.A.R. Moving forward we will be developing Fighting Fantasy titles in both engines to maintain momentum and at some point will probably move on to the new engine full-time.

So what’s next? Fighting Fantazine readers and Twitter followers will already know the answer to this but we can officially announce right here on the blog that we’re currently developing 4th placed, Caverns of the Snow Witch, by Ian Livingstone! Yesterday we tweeted a picture of the cover transparency that was recently sent through and it won’t be long until YOU can venture forth into the Icefinger Mountains!

snow_witch_transpBeyond both Appointment with F.E.A.R. and Caverns of the Snow Witch, we have already begun work on our new version of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain in our new gamebook engine. We can also reveal that we have also signed a further 3 FF titles to add to our expanding list of release. We won’t reveal those for a while though, but at least two of them reside in the list above! :D

And finally, we have a winner from our poll. Selected completely at random, the winner is Dave Marshall, who will be receiving a year’s supply of digital gamebooks from us! Congrats to Dave.

2014
05.04

To celebrate the release of the new French version of Gamebook Adventures 4: L’Avènement du Revenant, we invited Romuald Finet, our French Tin Minion to write a guest post for the blog!

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En Français…

J’ai contacté Neil Rennison pour la première fois en octobre 2010. À l’époque, je cherchais la possibilité d’utiliser l’outil de Tin Man Games pour un projet personnel de livre-jeu : Ombres sur Arkham (depuis lors publié sous le nom de « Les Fils d’Uruzimé »). Je visais alors un accord de licence uniquement.

Après de nombreuses conversations et de passionnants échanges sur un style de littérature qui avait connu son heure de gloire mais qui vivotait dans une semi confidentialité, nous nous sommes rendu compte qu’un partenariat était ce qui se révélerait le plus bénéfique pour tous les deux.

Je suis donc devenu apprenti Tinman ce jour-là.roll1_320_480

Les débuts furent difficiles car derrière la facilité d’utilisation des livres-jeux, il y a un vrai travail d’adaptation et d’intégration dans un outil dédié. Mais petit à petit, en particulier grâce à la réactivité et créativité de Ben Britten, en charge de l’outil, la transformation des livres en applications est devenue une seconde nature même si Neil et Ben m’étonnent à chaque titre par leur capacité à renouveler l’expérience des utilisateurs via de nouvelles fonctionnalités.

Aujourd’hui, après deux ans, on peut juger du chemin parcouru, neuf livres-jeux disponibles en français, et de ce qui nous attend, un planning d’au moins autant de livres prévus d’ici à fin 2015. La machine est lancée. Pour le moment, nous n’avons publié que deux ouvrages francophones originaux mais deux autres sont en préparation. Quoi qu’il arrive, vous aurez encore de longues heures de jeu devant vous !

In English…

I contacted Neil Rennison for the first time in October 2010. At the time, I wanted to discuss the rights to use Tin Man Games’ gamebook editing tool for a personal gamebook project: Shadows of Arkham (published under the name “The Sons of Uruzimé”). At the time I was only considering a license agreement for it.

After many conversations and exchanges about this exciting style of literature, which saw its heyday but was slowly returning, we realized that a partnership would prove to be beneficial for both of us.

So I became a Tin Minion that day.widget4_1024_768

To start with things were difficult because there was a lot of work adapting the gamebooks into the editing tool. But little by little, especially thanks to the responsiveness and creativity of Ben Britten, who wrote the tool, processing the books in the application has become second nature even though Neil and Ben often surprise me by their ability to renew the user experience through new features.

Today, after two years, we can judge how far we have come. Nine gamebooks available in French, and a schedule of many books planned by the end of 2015. The machine is running. For the moment, we have published two original French works but two additional books are in preparation. Whatever happens, you’ll still have many hours of play before you!

- Romuald Finet, Studio09

2014
04.30

Yikes, time rolls ever forward and we find ourselves at the back-end of April and encroaching on the month that is May. What the blazes has been going on for us over the last couple of months and what is coming up? Well let us fill you in…

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Starship Traveller Engage!

It was a great feeling to finally release the Traveller into the cosmos with both Clinton, Kamina and Ben (Kosmina) spending the last few months powering through the Seltsian Void, bringing Steve Jackson’s classic Fighting Fantasy gamebook to the next generation. Thankfully they had some valuable allies warp in from the neutral zone in the shape of Simon Lissaman (internal illustrations) and Dan Maxwell (cover and user-interface), who brought the gamebook visually to life. For old-school FF fans (yes, we’re looking at you 35+ year olds) it certainly was life, but not as they knew it previously because, for the first time, we created brand new illustrations for an FF title, rather than re-colourising older classic art. The gamble seems to have paid off as we’re getting lots of love from fans and reviewers alike about the new lick of paint as well as lots of positives about the key design changes we made to the interactive story too. High commendation must also go to Ryan Grogan too for his amazing soundtrack!

PG_gold“The original gamebook has been beautifully revived, and now stands shoulder-to-shoulder with its sci-fi peers across all entertainment media.”- Pocket Gamer – 9 out of 10

Starship_icon“It’s interesting because in the increasingly large mobile gamebook scene, I find Starship Traveller stands out for exactly the same reasons it did 30 (oh my, is it really 30?) years ago. We’ve got lots of fantasy books, some horror books, a few modern books, but this energetic take on classic sci-fi is a breath of fresh air, not just for its theme, but also its eccentricities, both good and bad. The absolute best Fighting Fantasy books are still to come, but this is one of the real classics in the series, so if you enjoy gamebooks or goofy sci-fi, I encourage you to give it a try.” – Touch Arcade – 4.5 out of 5

“Continuing the release of Fighting Fantasy titles, Starship Traveller is a change of pace from the usual, and all the better for it.” - 148 Apps – 4 out of 5

“Considering its age, Starship Traveller still feels incredibly fresh and newcomers are going to love Jackson and Livingstone’s universe, with its richly-cultured aliens and startling discoveries. Combined with Tin Man’s highly polished re-packaging, this makes for a top-class fantasy adventure you will keep coming back to.” - Super Game Droid – 4.5 out of 5

Bostonian Superhero Adventures!

paxeast2014_boothIf you’ve been following Neil on Twitter or our TMG Facebook page then you won’t have failed to see that we were over in Boston a few weeks ago exhibiting at the 2014 Penny Arcade Expo. We were once again proudly part of the indie MEGABOOTH, a collective of 92 indie game developers showing off 104 games, which makes the collective space the largest booth on the showfloor, even outsizing the offerings from companies like Bethesda, Blizzard and Riot Games. Clinton flew in from Australia, paxeast2014_heroesAriel jumped on a train/bus from New York and Neil flew in from the UK, armed with banners, buttons, flyers, postcards and two headless superheroes!

We had three of our games on show including GA8: Curse of the Assassin and the first Spellcaster gamebook, The Forgotten Spell. The big event for the TMG booth however was our very first playable version of Appointment with F.E.A.R. We had this running from a Mac on a large vertically-mounted TV (donated kindly by Intel) and controllable with an Xbox controller! As you will see from the video below (check out the demo auto-running in the background), AWF is a huge departure from anything we’ve done before and uses our new gamebook engine that Ben Britten has been working hard on over the last few months. The new engine gives us a new level of flexibility when dealing with interactive text and opens up many possibilities, the first of which will be our new chooseable path style interactive comic format, perfect for AWF and the our Judge Dredd sequel!

Overall we had an amazing PAX East 2014. We interacted with a lot of our fans, made some new ones and generally spread the digital gamebook love Stateside, far and wide. The extra bonus was being part of the MEGABOOTH, which was a complete privilege and meant we got to hang out with some seriously talented games developers, both during the show and into the early hours of the morning over a drink or few. ;)

Big thanks go out Clinton, who was a Tin Man Machine over the four days, and to Ariel Magnes for making the trip south to Boston and giving us much needed support. Also a big hug to Liam Esler who popped up and manned the booth at crucial points too. Also never-ending thanks to the MEGABOOTH organisers, Kelly Wallick, Chris Floyd, Eric Chon, Ryan Burrel and all the enforcers and helpers.

Future Releases!

So what’s next I hear you cry? As well as Appointment with F.E.A.R. we’re also in the middle of developing a further three titles, using our regular gamebook engine. First up is Sagas of Fire*Wolf which is our take on Herbie Brennan’s epic four-book series, Sagas of the Demonspawn. demon_blogAll the books have been devoured into our gamebook editing tools and we’re currently designing the user-interface and redeveloping the combat system somewhat. The original books were a little on the hard side (actually almost impossible!) so we’ll be adjusting a few things and play-testing to get the balance just right. This is is the first time we’ve combined four books together in one volume so readers will be able to read the whole series in one-go, start to finish (should you survive that is!). We’ve had a whole new set of artwork commissioned (by Starship Traveller‘s Simon Lissaman) that is almost complete and we’ll also be including the original artwork by Geoff Taylor and John Blanche too for those who like their gamebooks retro!

oath_imageSecondly we have the second gamebook in the Spellcaster Trilogy from Louisa Dent Pearce. The Gatekeeper’s Oath follows on from The Forgotten Spell in the quest to save the Kind of Suidemor. You must find a way to unlock the gates of his castle, by seeking out a gatekeeper and finding the password. Olcrada is after you again and you need to learn special Elder Magic in order to keep his elemental followers at bay! As with the first book, you can expect some magical writing and some dark but beautiful new artwork created by Tony Hough (Fighting Fantasy and Warhammer 40k illustrator).

Thirdly, we have a secret release in a few months. All we’ll say for the moment is ‘Fighting Fantasy’ and ‘as yet unannouced’. Let’s leave it at that eh?FF_question

Finally, while we’re in an FF mood – we’ll also be announcing the results of our recent poll along with the winning entrant in a future blog post! Stay tuned. :D

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!