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Friday, 8 March 2013

Patience, grasshopper

The mad hunt for bugs in the epub code of the upcoming Infinite IF books has left me with no time for anything else, but hopefully this little taste of a certain famous gamebook series will make up for the dearth of posts.

Those covers, which you'll get to see in all their glory in just a few weeks now, are courtesy of Mikael Louys, sorcerer supreme at Megara Entertainment, and his talented artists Aude Pfister and Mylène Villeneuve. I've been looking at some of the advance material for Megara's Way of the Tiger RPG and it's looking pretty Orb-some.

To anticipate some of the questions about this series:

Will there be print versions?
Osprey are describing the series as "digital only" on their website, but you can bet I'm lobbying strongly for print editions. I don't believe ebook-only is a viable publishing strategy for any books, but most certainly not for something like this. You want something you can collect and keep. Well, I would.

What will the apps run on?
Technically they're not apps, they're fully interactive ebooks, and they'll run on any epub3-compatible e-reading software. Currently that means iBooks, Astri-Bee for Android devices, and Firefox's e-reader plug-in. (If you use that last one, you'll need to switch on Javascript; look for the cog icon at bottom left of the screen.)

What about artwork?
There are a few new filler pieces for the ebooks by Bruce Hogarth, and I'm currently designing covers for the four VR books. (Note to self: hire an artist.) If I get to set up the print books, and if Russ and Leo agree, we'll use their original artwork for those

Are there going to be more Way of the Tiger books?
What's the obsession with Way of the Tiger anyway? Maybe I should read them. If the first two are successful, we'll hopefully go on and do the rest and maybe even continue the series, which fans have told me ends with the hero stuck in a hellish cobweb about to be eaten. I expect Mark Smith had just been watching The Fly on TV or something. "Help meeeee!"

Will the Infinite IF series include any other classic gamebooks?
Fabled Lands LLP owns the rights to Falcon, Golden Dragon, Blood Sword and Duel Master. I can't see how we'd do the last two in this epub3 system - only something like Tin Man's gorgeous apps would do them justice - but Falcon and GD would be easy enough. (Just as long as I don't have to code them. The experience of writing all the Javascript for Frankenstein and four Virtual Reality books over the last seven months has been quite enough, thank you.)

What about all-new gamebooks?
Well, Undeadwood didn't happen. That's a shame, but it doesn't mean we won't try other new titles if the series takes off. Personally I'd like to push the envelope a bit towards the more mature character-driven approach I used in Frankenstein, as zombies and dungeon bashes have zero appeal to me compared to stuff like the Story Mechanics' 39 Steps, but the overall imprint for Infinite IF is called "Osprey Adventures" so I suspect that my own experiments in interactive fiction are more likely to come out elsewhere. Meanwhile, Jamie is going to be fully tied up on Dirk Lloyd and our new kids' series Starship Captain - which is what put the kibosh on Undeadwood. But there's no shortage of excellent gamebook authors out there who we can enlist. Hey, it worked for Jackson and Livingstone.


  1. +1 for Leo and Russ artwork on print copies.

    Speaking of which, would the original Bob Harvey artwork from Way Of The Tiger also be a possibility?

    1. There are two problems there. First, we don't have very good copies of the WOTT books to do scans from. (Jamie's books all lived in my garage for 10 years - they got a bit mildewed!) And we have no idea how to get in touch with Bob Harvey these days. If anyone knows where he is, give us a shout!

    2. I may still have a couple of these in my garage (in dry plastic crates) if you need them. Might be a bit of a search but I'm sure I saw them in recent years. There's a good chance I could get some decent scans from them.

    3. Thanks, Derm. We'd have to cut them up, though, to get a good scan. That's what I did with the Virtual Reality books, anyway. You'd be better off selling them on eBay for a huge sum :-)

  2. Very interesting news! The first questions that come to my mind are:

    1) Will WotT's apps be released for Kindle in the near future, too?
    2) Apart from Undeadwood, are there scripts or sketches or ideas for other new gamebooks?

    1. (1) Kindle Fire, sure - you just need Astri-Bee. Not for regular Kindle, I'm afraid. Somebody did say to me, "Can't we just put the epub3 file into the KF8 converter?" Nope, doesn't work like that!

      (2) There are concept outlines. The ones that will get done are probably not what you'd call gamebooks per se, though. Undeadwood was the most detailed outline we had for an old-style gamebook. As it didn't get used in the end, I'll post those notes up here in case anybody wants to take up the baton.

  3. Hello Dave
    Good to see progress is coming along. A few questions: If the WOTT series transitions back to paper format, will these be dice rolling based or follow the new diceless format? Also how are the new Fabled Lands IOS format games coming along? A shame about undeadwood - I was looking forward to that one!

    1. Me too! I even bought Jamie the GURPS Wild West supplement as inspiration. Oh well, I can retrieve that and use it in my own role-playing campaign.

      WOTT still uses random numbers in the combats, you just get a narrative pay-off in the ebook version. The print books will be pretty much unchanged from the original paperbacks, dice and all.

      The FL apps are inching along. See comments to previous post.