Gamebook store

Friday, 10 August 2012

2013 is "Open Sesame" for gamebooks

Here's what I've been working on while waiting for the proofs for The Court of Hidden Faces to come back from the printer. It's by Leo Hartas, of course - the doyen of gamebook cartographers - but can you name the book?

This is one of six titles with which we're launching our gamebook  co-publishing venture next spring. I can't reveal the full details till we have those contracts inked and in the safe, but all the books will be published in print and ebook editions, with worldwide distribution, and a couple of them (including this one) will also be turned into deluxe iPad apps by the masters of illuminated interactivity, Inkle Studios.

These are all pretty rare gamebooks, so for many readers they'll be completely new. And one of thse six launch titles will be new to everybody, because Jamie is only just starting to write it now. That's the one I've been calling Undeadwood. Think 30 Days of Night meets Django and you won't be far off.

Following those, if they're successful, we'll have Way of the Tiger, Blood Sword, Falcon - and more new titles too. You thought 2012 was turning out to be a good year for gamebooks? You ain't seen nothing yet.

28 comments:

  1. Judging by the "Arabian Nights" I'm going to guess Twist of Fate, seeing as Leo has illustrated other maps in the Virtual Reality
    series. Also you have the "Twist of Fate" under the labels/tags for this post! XD

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    1. Aha, you win the prize for observation, Jake. Although I never liked the title Twist of Fate, so maybe I'll take the opportunity to rename it. No, not "Escape from Zombie Castle"... :-)

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  2. Will the new book be in the Virtual Reality style, ie, no random elements?
    It's really great to see that some? of the Virtual Reality books get re-published.
    They will most definately be on my to-buy list.
    Fabled Lands 5 & 6 will make an excellent X-mas present to myself, too!

    /Magnus

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    1. They won't necessarily all be non-random, Magnus - not in their print versions, anyway. The new one one will use the Virtual Reality system, though.

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    2. Wait... You're going to wait until Christmas to read FL 5 and 6? You must have a will of iron.

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    3. Mine is 100% massive pure iron.
      I will not start reading until FL12 ist out.
      Consider it as a kind of hunger strike :P

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  3. Hooray for Virtual Reality (assuming that's the series that is to be republished).

    If all of the books are being published, I can't wait for "Necklace of Skulls". I must be the only person in the world who prefers that book to "Heart of Ice", which I found comparatively lacking but still very good in its own right.

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    1. I have a soft spot for Necklace of Skulls as I researched it on honeymoon when I and Roz went climbing up every Maya pyramid in the Yucatan!

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  4. I really like Virtual Reality Adventure and its play system, so I'm very happy to read that it will be back in print next year! Heart of Ice is probably my favourite stand-alone gamebook (with Howl of the Werewolf by Jonathan Green), but I like also Necklace of Skulls and its wonderful Maya setting and its thrilling path in the underworld.

    I also like the idea to start with this series, you explained very well why, but I hope Blood Sword will follow very soon, maybe with some little changements to the combat rules in order to make them easier to follow. :)

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    1. Blood Sword certainly will be getting a thorough overhaul to streamline the rather baroque '80s rule system. I agree with Ian Livingstone when he said recently that most people don't have the patience for lots of rules these days. We're used to videogames doing all the work for us, and when I look at some of those old gamebook systems it's like you've got to have a degree in mathematics just to get started.

      (Of course, Mark Smith and I already thought that in the early '90s. Hence the extremely minimalist VR rules.)

      In the case of all the other series, though, I expect we'll stick with the original rules for the print editions (we'd be lynched if we messed with Way of the Tiger) but for the digital editions they will all be non-random.

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  5. a NEW title based on the Virtual Reality Adventure??
    gimme gimme gimme!!! can't wait for the ipad apps too!
    inklewriter is genius.

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    1. We like inkle a lot. Their tools made Frankenstein the easiest interactive book to write - which meant I could concentrate on the story.

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  6. So many great news! :-)

    Lately I've been enjoying gamebooks mostly for the story. Video games these days have spoiled me to the point that I can hardly tolerate having to replay part of the adventure. That's also one of the flaws in the FL App, BTW - a save-anywhere feature would have been much more appreciated. My opinion, of course.

    My point is, I'm all for the VR rules and the simplification of the Blood Sword system. BS has such a great story and writing. It's by far my favorite gamebook series from the '80s. The Kingdom of Wyrd never ceases to amaze me, and the richness of The Demon's Claw is mindblowing.

    But if Way of the Tiger is to be messed with, it better be the ending! It was a "What the heck?" moment for so many readers back in the day :-)

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    1. You have good taste, Efrem :-) And Blood Sword lends itself to a VR-style revamp because the four character types already contain the essence of a skill-based system. I certainly plan on dropping the tactical maps for combat, which I was never very fond of. I only devised that system in the first place because the publishers kept insisting the books needed a USP. (I thought the fact that they could be read by four players together as a team was enough.)

      Whether there is no be a reprieve for Avenger in WotT is up to Mark Smith, but I'm certainly going to let him know that the fans want it.

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  7. How are books 7 to 12 figuring in the grand scheme of things? Or would those belong to 2014 and beyond?

    Also, thanks for republishing the Virtual Reality series, that's one less series I would have to hunt down on ebay!

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  8. And considerably cheaper than on ebay, probably.

    Wrt how FL books figure in this scheme, see my discussion thread with Alexander in the comments to the recent Arachnophilia post.

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    1. thanks! (I finally figured out how to set the username on blogger)

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    2. If only you could explain it to Jamie! His excuse for never writing a post is that he doesn't know how to log in to Blogger.

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  9. Personally, speaking about WotT 6, it's not the final cliffhanger what I hate, but the deep problems with the whole playsetting: it's horrible when a character you left at home suddenly appears on your side just as if it always were there! If WotT comes back to print, I hope everything will be checked to make the last book fully playable.

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    1. Rest assured, we are *thoroughly* checking every book. Flowcharting mistakes were bad enough in the old days, but they could make digital versions completely unplayable.

      If anyone out there would like to help, send any mistakes you've spotted in any of our books to me and Jamie (email there on the right) and we'll do our best to hunt down every bug. Apart, perhaps, from the eight-legged one that does for Avenger.

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  10. This page contains (but in French and for the French editions) the sum of all spotted errors. As the texts there are not very long, you may well consider to have a look at your own series's : http://www.bibliotheque-des-aventuriers.com/menu/erreurs.htm

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  11. Thrilled to hear about the re-release of the Virtual Reality series...Heart of Ice, Down Among the Dead Men, and Necklace of Skulls are some of my most favorite gamebooks ever!! A re-release of the Blood Sword series would be fabulous! I really loved the novellas in the Heroquest books..particularly "The Screaming Spectre".

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    1. That's a big favourite of mine too, Jeremy. I originally wanted to call it The Singing Skull, by the way, but marketing stepped in... ;-)

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  12. GREAT !!!!!
    You can count on me to buy TWIST OF FATE, HEART OF ICE, the whole BLOODSWORD, as soon as they are published.
    I'm so tired to try to find these at a reasonnable price on eBay or amazon ...

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  13. I have to second all of the great comments about Virtual Reality. I've been re-reading the series, and am blown away by the quality of the writing and elegant game system. Twist of Fate is an underrated classic (and I think the title is perfect, even though you mentioned that you didn't care for it, Dave?) Necklace of Skulls is another imaginative title in an unusual setting ("Necklace of Skulls" has to be the best name of any villain, ever!) Down Among the Dead and Heart of Ice are amazing, as mentioned many times before.

    Sadly, I've always considered the series to be almost two separate lines, because Marc's books (Green Blood, and especially Coils of Hate) contain numerous errors in game flow and consistancy. If the entire line is republished, I hope those two titles are cleaned up. But what's this I hear about brand new titles in the series? If it's true, I can't wait!

    ----Gaetano Abbondanza----

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  14. whole world spread across a series of books??? will be amazing to explore the rest of the world. do you hope to write/release these in the future? i find it a shame that games have taken ppl off books, but i find books more imaginatively realistic.

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