2013
12.17

…to bring you a public service announcement from the Gongchong!

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AVAILABLE NOW FROM THE FOLLOWING APP STORES:

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Normal service will resume in the next 24 hours! Door 8 of The Twelve Days of Gamebooks is open! What could it be?

2013
12.14

…some amazing new Gamebook Adventures artwork!

We couldn’t have The Twelve Days of Gamebooks without our very own Gamebook Adventures series. Our beloved Orlandes has returned to life this year with the critically acclaimed release of Curse of the Assassin and soon we’ll be travelling south across the seas to Rema in Sultans of Rema (released in January), a direct sequel to our third GA gamebook, Slaves of Rema.

Back in September we released some information about the next 3 Gamebook Adventures (after Sultans), but we didn’t show any artwork, until now! So feast your eyes on amazing illustrations by Simon Lissaman, Tony Hough and Pirkka Harvala.

Awakening of Asuria written by Stuart Lloyd and illustrated by Tony Hough

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Songs of the Mystics written by Kieran Coghlan and illustrated by Pirkka Harvala

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Lords of Nurroth written by Dylan Birtolo and illustrated by Simon Lissaman

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Lords of Nurroth will be out around April 2014 and both Songs of the Mystics and Awakening of Asuria will make an appearance later in the year. As usual, available on iOS and Android. :)

Join us for more gamebook guesswork tomorrow when we open the eighth door of The Twelve Days of Gamebooks!

2013
12.12

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Zombocalypse Now is an epic, novel-length pick-a-path adventure in which you play as a stuffed bunny trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. In the first scene you’re waiting to meet a blind date, nervous because you haven’t told your date you’re a stuffed rabbit. (Your date, of course, winds up being a zombie, and your first choice is whether to stick around, since it STILL isn’t the worst blind date you’ve ever had). – MATT YOUNGMARK

We first caught up with Matt Youngmark during PAX Prime 2012, held in Seattle, and found out that we had plenty in common in the world of interactive fiction. Like us, Matt did a lot of growing up in the 1980s and was enamored with the original Choose Your Own Adventure series, particularly the fact that even though they were written for little kids, the authors had no qualms about straight-up killing you! As an adult, he set out to write the gamebooks he always wished he could read, keeping the spirit of his original inspiration very much alive.

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On reading both his Chooseomatic books, Zombocalypse Now and Thrusts of Justice, enjoying them immensely (and laughing a lot!), we started discussing the possibility of turning them into apps. We are really pleased to announce that we will be developing these as apps in 2014. So get ready for the hilarious tale of a stuffed bunny and the end of the world! This will be followed later in the year with the superhero antics of an unemployed reporter. We’re also told that Matt is working on a third title too. :)

ZN_image2_blogMatt is also the illustrator of his books too and will be introducing some brand new artwork exclusively for the apps, as well as adding colour to his existing illustrations. We’ll be bringing our usual Tin Man Games twist to proceedings, adding in some music, sound effects and a bit of animation! Zombocalypse Now will be released across all of our usual undead digital platforms in the next couple of months.

If you want to find out more about Matt Youngmark, especially his prolific conference appearances (seriously – the man is an expo-machine!), then head over to his blog now for a great read!

Join us again tomorrow when we open the seventh door of The Twelve Days of Gamebooks!

2013
12.10

Starship Traveller by Steve Jackson!ST_new_01

We know, we’ve already announced this, but this is an important Fighting Fantasy release for us as it’s the first gamebook of the series where we’re completely changing the overall aesthetic of the original! ST_new_02While we’ve dabbled with new cover designs and adding colour to all the old illustrations, this is the first time that ALL the artwork is new in an FF app, and the first time that Starship Traveller has had new artwork since the cover was changed by Wizard Books in 2005.

There were unfortunately a few issues with the original Starship Traveller image rights so we turned a potential hiccup into a positive situation by hiring the skills of talented Australian illustrator, Simon Lissaman. ST_new_03If you’ve been following the blog recently you’ll know that Simon has created artwork for our upcoming Gamebook Adventures 10: Lords of Nurroth release next year, and will also be giving Herbie Brennan’s Sagas of the Demonspawn (renamed Sagas of Fire*Wolf) a new lick of paint. So for door five, we thought you might enjoy a sneak peek at some of the new artwork in development!

The art isn’t the only thing that’s getting an overhaul in Starship Traveller either and we’ve had permission from Steve to change the design of the book somewhat. The major change will be having the ability to customise a few things, such as your starship’s name (no longer just the SS Traveller!) as well as having the ability to design your crew members. These changes may impact the way the adventure plays out. With a brand new user-interface from Dan Maxwell too, Starship Traveller could well become our best looking Fighting Fantasy release yet!

Sucked through the nightmare of the Seltsian Void, an inter-galactic starship emerges at the other side of the black hole into an unknown universe. YOU are the captain of this beautiful starship and her fate along with the fate of your crew depends on YOU! Will you be able to discover the way back to Earth from the alien peoples and planets you encounter, or will the starship be doomed to roam uncharted space forever?

ST_new_04To check out more of Simon’s artwork, visit his portfolio. Also note the images here are work-in-progress and may look slightly different to those in the final app.

Join us again tomorrow when we open the sixth door of The Twelve Days of Gamebooks!

2013
12.09

…Golden Dragon Fantasy Gamebooks!

GD_02_GBAbout 4 years ago, an email from famed gamebook author, Dave Morris, first appeared in our inbox to see if there was any possibilities for collaboration. We were obviously really excited as this was THE Dave Morris, one of the pantheon of gamebook writers from the 1980s that we’ve always held in such high regard. GD_02_USDave has been one of the torch-bearers for gamebooks and interactive fiction, writing a large number of titles over the years and is co-creator (with Jamie Thomson) of arguably the most innovative gamebook series, Fabled Lands – a work so far ahead of it’s time! When Dave first got in touch, it was the early days of Gamebook Adventures and licensing deals were not even on the radar for TMG. We didn’t have anywhere near the amount of tech and tools that we use now and to be honest we didn’t have the experience either. So sadly nothing transpired, but we still kept in contact with Dave and Jamie with the hope that someday we could work on something together. That someday has now come to pass and we’re over the moon to be able to bring Dave Morris’ six-book fantasy gamebook series to iOS and Android.

(The Temple of Flame covers above are from the US and British versions)

Over to Dave…

Who didn’t have a gamebook series in the mid-eighties? That’s how it seemed. Oliver Johnson, Mark Smith and I had been at college together. Mark went to school with Jamie Thomson, who had worked with Joe Dever and Gary Chalk and Steve Williams at Games Workshop – where, of course, the two grand old fellas of Fighting Fantasy first cooked up the whole idea. We all lived quite close to each other, too. Jamie had a flat around the corner from me. Mark and Oliver were a ten-minute walk away. We’d bump into Ian Livingstone in the local pizza place. Paul Mason joined our role-playing group and pretty soon he was writing gamebooks too. Only Herbie Brennan avoided being part of that little London enclave, by the simple dint of living in Ireland.

Golden Dragon got started like this. In the mid-80s, the big London publishers were eyeing the success of Fighting Fantasy and they all wanted a gamebook series of their own. Angela Sheehan, who ran Dragon Books, asked me to come in. I’d hardly finished my coffee before she offered me a two-book contract. A week later another meeting, with cocktails this time, turned it into six books to be written by me and Oliver. That’s how much easier it was to get publishing projects off the ground back then!

Role-playing was and is my real passion, and I always saw gamebooks as a way to smuggle it into high street bookshops. I used one of my Tekumel scenarios as the basis for The Eye of the Dragon, and later series like Blood Sword drew heavily on my Legend campaign and the characters who inhabited it. But the Golden Dragons came first, and most of those were just plotted as I went along. In spite of that (or perhaps because of it) they were and are among my most popular books.

We’ll be releasing all six books next year as part of two compendium apps that contain the following books:

Golden Dragon Compendium 1: Crypt of the Vampire – The Temple of Flame – The Lord of Shadow Keep
Golden Dragon Compendium 2: The Eye of the Dragon – Curse of the Pharaoh – Castle of Lost Souls

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If you have any vague interest in gamebooks or interactive fiction (you’re here, so you must have!) then we highly recommend checking out the Fabled Lands blog. Lots of amazing posts and articles! If you’re a fan of Jamie Thomson’s work too, then you might want to keep a close eye on the our blog in the coming weeks, as we may have some information than may tickle your fancy. :)

Join us again tomorrow when we open the fifth door of The Twelve Days of Gamebooks!

2013
12.06

…The greatest work IN English literature, now in the THE greatest format OF English literature: a digital GAMEBOOK ADVENTURE!

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Around November 2012 a relatively unknown project hit Kickstarter that wanted a modest $20k. One month later To Be or Not To Be: That is the Adventure went on to raise $580,095 – the #1 most funded project on Kickstarter! We are super-proud to announce that we’ll be bringing Ryan North’s illustrated, chooseable-path book version of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet to iOS and Android in 2014. :D

ToBe_01Ryan North is best known for his writing on the incredibly popular Adventure Time comic series as well as his hilarious Dinosaur Comics. Not only did he write this tome of magnificence but assembled one of the greatest artist line-ups in modern gamebook history! Seriously, just check out the list of artists on the Kickstarter page.

So Mr. Shakespeare. We all studied the bard at some point in our schooling life and love him or loathe him, imagine if you actually got to change his work (or follow the path he chose – your choice!) whilst also have a good laugh? ToBe_02Imagine if you could actually read in an English that you understand (or have the big speeches kept in their flowery, wordery goodness – your choice!). Imagine if you got to choose a character at the beginning, die, and have that character return as a ghost where you have to investigate your own murder? YES – you can totally do this! Hamlet is actually a great story, which all ends horribly for most of the characters, but YOU can take it in all sorts of crazy directions! Interested yet? Yeah, I thought so! :)

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To Be or Not To Be: That is the Adventure is a choose-your-own-path version of Hamlet I wrote after realizing that for some reason Hamlet was NOT presented as a second-person adventure game!  Shakespeare forgot to get around to that part, I guess.  I launched the book on Kickstarter where it did really well.  Like, crazy well?  We reached our $20k goal in three hours and by the time the Kickstarter was over we’d raised over half a million dollars and become the most successful publishing project on the site.   And now it’s being made into an actual game!  This is gonna be great: there’ll be automatic bookmarking, an audio performance that is legit hilarious, and some other fancy new features.  I can’t wait! – RYAN NORTH

ToBe_03To Be or Not To Be: That is the Adventure will be our second audiogamebook (after Trial of the Clone) and will hit the various app stores sometime before the middle of 2014! Join us again tomorrow when we open the fourth door of The Twelve Days of Gamebooks. Some more ‘new’, old classics, but this time of a sword and sorcery persuasion. :)

 

2013
12.04

Coffin01The Second Garden!

Here at TMG we get sent quite a few new gamebook proposals, many of which we sadly have to turn down for a number of reasons. When The Second Garden appeared in the inbox though, we knew immediately that this was something we’d like to be involved in. Gamebooks (and interactive fiction in general) have dealt with a great many subjects over the years, but the realities of dealing with “death”, and we’re not talking Fighting Fantasy fall into a pit of spikes “death”, has not been explored very much in choice-based narrative. Coming to terms with loss is something we all have to deal with at some points in our lives and we loved Marie-Paule Graham’s story concept, which dealt with a lot of these themes, but within a fantasy dream-like environment.

Today you buried your Father.  The mourners have left and despite the tap, tap of rain on the window, the house is overwhelmed by a deafening silence.  As you wonder how to fill the space he left, a portal opens up taking you into the Second Garden – a world between worlds – where those who have died wait to settle unfinished business with the living before moving on to wherever we go when we die.

From the forests of Dremore, to the crystalised tunnels of Isfyd; through the contorted branches of the Knotty Wood and into the long luminous hours of the Endless Night; you must walk the winding path of memories through Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, facing the Undead who wait for redemption.  And, only then can you cheat death and see your Father.

Hurry, he’s waiting and he has something for you…”

The Man at the Tree02The Second Garden will be a very personal journey for the reader and each experience will be different depending on which seasons are approached and in what order they are walked through. As with gamebook proposals, we get lots of art enquiries too and illustrator, Tristan Tait, dropped us an email last year with his portfolio attached. There was one image in his portfolio that captured the art-style we were looking for with The Second Garden, so a couple of art tests later and a glowing approval from Marie-Paule, Tristan was hired to bring his visual magic to this unique story!

We invited Marie-Paule to give us some insight into where The Second Garden came from. Here’s what she had to say…

 

This gamebook has some personal origins.  Not long after my Grandfather died, my Grandmother told me a story: It was three weeks after they had buried their son and Granny had gone to Ireland to visit her sisters, giving Granddad the rare pleasure of time alone.  One night, he got out of bed to close the window and turning back, he saw his son, my uncle, standing in the room.  And my uncle said to him “I’m not coming back anymore, Daddy. It’s time to say goodbye.”

Granddad was a man of science who could not be persuaded of anything that sounded in the slightest bit supernatural; if it was not concrete and couldn’t be proven through scientific rigor, it didn’t exist.  He certainly didn’t take the idea of ghosts seriously, except to frighten his Grandchildren during their bedtime stories.  And yet, here he was recounting to his wife the story of a visit from his deceased son.  Granny couldn’t be sure if it had really happened, or if his mind had played a trick on him as a way of coping with his grief.  I decided, whether the episode in the bedroom was real or imagined, it didn’t matter; what did matter was that, in his own mind, my Grandfather had cheated the finality of death and found peace in a last meeting with his son.

I began to wonder if it were possible, what kind of quests would you have to complete, who would you have to help and what kind of wrongs would you have to right to be granted a meeting that bends the laws of nature as we understand them?  The result of those imaginings is ‘The Second Garden’.

InsideEverlastingTree03The Second Garden will be hitting all of our usual digital formats later in 2014! Join us again tomorrow when we open the third door of The Twelve Days of Gamebooks!

2013
12.02

mungo_blogIan Livingstone’s Island of the Lizard King!

Mungo, one of the great companions of Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. A fearless sidekick and old adventuring buddy, who has a taste for crab sandwiches and enjoys hanging out with pirates…or so we hear! ;) This hardy soul will set sail with you to the Island of the Lizard King this December. Together, your mission is to rescue the young men of Oyster Bay from a future of slavery, starvation and lingering death. Their captors, a race of Lizard Men from Fire Island, are ruled by a mad and dangerous Lizard King, who holds sway over his land of mutants by the strange powers of black magic and voodoo!

This was originally the 7th Fighting Fantasy gamebook in the old Puffin series and is a bit of a favourite with old fans. The cover by Iain McCaig is one of those iconic images that captured imaginations of young readers back in the 1980s. The story is set on the continent of Allansia and has direct geographical links to Ian’s two other early FF gamebooks, Deathtrap Dungeon (you travel from Fang) and City of Thieves (Oyster Bay is just down the coast from Port Blacksand). In fact a certain blogger recently loosely linked the three as a kind of of trilogy! Those who really enjoy geeking out on world lore would be interested to know that Oyster Bay is also just to the south-west of Darkwood Forest, the setting for The Forest of Doom. (Allansia map)

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Island of the Lizard King uses the same gamebook engine as The Forest of Doom and we have a new UI artist, Adam Mazzitelli, who has created a fitting interface to capture the feel of Fire Island. We also welcome back Ryan Grogan, last seen creating the soundtrack for GA6: The Wizard from Tarnath Tor, who has crafted a brand new score. Josh Wright also returns adding colour to Alan Langford’s classic pen and ink illustrations.

LizardKingLogoIsland of the Lizard King will be available on Android (Google Play/Amazon) in the next two weeks, shortly followed on iOS, hopefully before the Apple shutdown. Fingers crossed!

Join us again tomorrow when we open the second door of The Twelve Days of Gamebooks! It promises to be something new that we haven’t mentioned before. :)

2013
12.01

12Days_12Well here it is! What is fast becoming a yearly tradition, we present The Twelve Days of Gamebooks, a fun way for us to reveal to all of you that read our blog, exactly what we have planned for 2014 and beyond. If you’re unfamiliar with how it works, we open a door of our calendar above every other day, starting tomorrow on Dec 1st (or 2nd depending on where you are in the world). It will reveal a picture and we then let you guess what you think it will be – sometimes it’s easy, other times even the gamebook experts might be flummoxed! Around 24 hours later we write a blog post about the gamebook (or sometimes entire gamebook series) that is revealed. If you want to see how last year’s turned out then check out The Twelve Days of Gamebooks 2012. We’d love lots of Twitter chatter this year so if you want to guess any of the reveals then use the hashtag #12DaysOfGamebooks.

A list of the reveals will be published below:

On the first day of Gamebooks, Mungo gave to me… (Fighting Fantasy: Island of the Lizard King)

On the second day of Gamebooks, Death gave to me… (The Second Garden)

On the third day of Gamebooks, Shakespeare gave to me… (To Be or Not To Be: That is The Adventure)

On the fourth day of Gamebooks, a Fabled Writer gave to me… (Golden Dragon Fantasy Gamebooks)

On the fifth day of Gamebooks, a Red Shirt gave to me… (Fighting Fantasy: Starship Traveller)

On the sixth day of Gamebooks, a Stuffed Bunny gave to me… (Chooseomatic: Zombocalypse Now)

On the seventh day of Gamebooks, an Orlandrian gave to me… (Gamebook Adventures 10, 11 and 12)

On the eighth day of Gamebooks, a Ninja Warrior gave to me… (The Way of the Tiger)

On the ninth day of Gamebooks, an Orlandrian also gave to me… (Gamebook Adventures – new media)

On the tenth day of Gamebooks, a Gem Specialist gave to me… (Jack Striker and the Palace Under the Sea)

On the eleventh day of Gamebooks, a Vengeful Dwarf gave to me… (Holdfast)

On the twelfth day of Gamebooks: It’s a Miracle on Gamebook Street! (New Gamebook Engine!)

** GAMEBOOK ADVENTURES 2014 CALENDAR **

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A shameless plug for our new calendar - available to order now from Red Bubble!

2013
11.30

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! :D