As we gear up for this year’s Twelve Days of Gamebooks, we wanted to take a look back to last year and see how many of the announcements we made in December 2012, actually made it to release. If you don’t know what the Twelve Days of Gamebooks is, then take a look at the original blog post. It proved really popular and our blog received higher than normal visitors as gamebook fans were eager to know what we were up to over the next twelve months – hence why we’re doing it again, starting in a couple of days!
We’ll readily admit that we didn’t follow through on a few projects in the way we wanted to, for a variety reasons – some due to time and others due to a number of other environmental factors that we’ll discuss below. A lot can change in twelve months, not only for us as a company, but for our licensors too, as well as developments in the larger digital gamebook arena.
We did manage to release 9 apps though across iOS, Google and Amazon, as well as a number of French translated releases. Not bad we think when you consider that for the best part of that year there was just two full-timers and one part-timer! Things have obviously changed in recent months after securing some investment from Screen Australia, and as of next Monday our team will be five full-time members and one part-timer, which will certainly help with any resource bottlenecks.
Our tech has also changed significantly in the last year. We migrated over to Unity in 2011, mainly to help us easily cross-platform across from iOS to Android and Desktop. This was done with the help of a loan from Film Victoria, which we’ve since paid off – something we’re particularly proud of! This tech change, while helping us reach a wider audience, did come with a few problems, the major one being that we had to re-build all of our apps pretty much from scratch. Added to that we suddenly had a whole set of new customers to support and with Android being so fragmented, it meant quite a lot of early bugs and headaches. Throw in a request by Apple for us to remove Game Center, which meant we had to rebuild GA1-7 earlier than planned (see this post), and you can see that Ben has been a pretty busy bunny! Thankfully we’ve now ridden that hump and our pipeline is more robust than it ever has been, which puts us in the driving seat to enter 2014 with more full-time staff members and a plan to kick gamebook ass.
One other thing is that gamebooks have made a serious return to gaming culture (we hope in part to our efforts) in 2013 and the digital gamebook landscape has seriously shifted as competitors have appeared. We see ourselves as a progressive developer and want to make sure we’re doing all we can to take the medium forward, and having a number of amazing licenses signed up we obviously want to make them the very best they can be. This has meant that some of our projects have had to be put on hold a little while we work out how best to proceed with them. You can read more about that in this blog post from a few months ago.
So let’s look at each of the twelve days from 2012 and see how we’ve fared!
Day 1 – Fighting Fantasy: House of Hell – RELEASED!
Day 2 – Judge Dredd: The Dark – IN DEVELOPMENT
We’re happy to report that the initial writing and art is almost nearly complete. This project has suffered a little from new-engine-itis in that we want to do something a bit different than we did with the first book. All the tech we’re using with the upcoming Appointment with F.E.A.R. will be used on Dredd 2. Both projects are comic-book based so we’re looking to present them both in different way. We expect a release in late 2014.
Day 3 – Gary Chalk’s Gun Dogs – RELEASED!
Day 4 – Sagas of the Demonspawn – IN DEVELOPMENT
Now renamed to The Sagas of Fire*Wolf, we’re looking to release all four of Herbie Brennan’s Demonspawn books in one app. This has meant that it’s taking a little longer than planned to get it it going. We have an awesome new artist creating brand new artwork for this and books 2-4 are currently being edited. We expect a release around April 2014.
Day 5 – Shira Oka: Alice’s Story – IN DEVELOPMENT
This title was put on hold this year as our writer found out she was to become a new Mum! We’re happy to report that Leena gave birth to a beautiful boy, who is doing really well. We’ll have more news about Shira Oka in a few months!
Day 6 – Curse of the Assassin (RELEASED!) and Sultans of Rema (IN DEVELOPMENT – release Jan 2014)
Day 7 – Spellcaster Part 1: The Forgotten Spell – RELEASED!
Day 8 – Les Fils d’Uruzimé and La Bataille de Ia Drang – RELEASED!
Day 9 – Strange Loves 2: Hex Boyfriends – RELEASED!
Day 10 – Grailquest – IN DEVELOPMENT
Another victim to new-engine-itis! Grailquest is one of our top licenses and we want to create something awesome, but unfortunately it does mean a bit of a wait. Trust us, it will be worth it though! We expect a release at the end of next year.
Day 11 – Trial of the Clone – RELEASED!
Day 12 – The Forest of Doom – RELEASED! APPOINTMENT WITH F.E.A.R. (release April 2014), THE WARLOCK OF FIRETOP MOUNTAIN (Summer 2014), DEATHTRAP DUNGEON (Late 2014), CITADEL OF CHAOS, CREATURE OF HAVOC and CITY OF THIEVES (Unknown release date).
The Forest of Doom was probably our biggest release this year and was well received by critics, which we were over the moon about! We were already thinking of doing something a little different with Appointment with F.E.A.R. and were developing a slightly modified version of the engine to cope with that, hoping for a release around now. The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, Deathtrap Dungeon and Citadel of Chaos were in development and we were progressing well until we decided jointly with Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson to look at presenting these classic gamebooks in a different way. We discussed the reasons for this in more detail as part of this blog post. This meant putting on hold the development of those three titles and instead of simply modifying our existing engine for F.E.A.R., we decided to fundamentally re-design the engine to cope with all the things that we want it to cope with for the future. This has meant that F.E.A.R. has slipped a few months and obviously puts Warlock et al on hold.
So all in all, 2013 was an incredibly busy but very interesting year! Gamebooks have had so much more media exposure than they have in a long-time, not since the late 1980s. This can only be a good thing for these strange, interactive adventure stories that we all know and love. We’ve also got a few surprises up our sleeves for 2014 so keep an eye on the Twelve Days of Gamebooks in the coming days!