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Jan 14

2022

New Hosted Game! Studies in Darkness by Nathaniel Johnson

Posted by: Kai DeLeon | Comments (0)

Hosted Games has a new game for you to play!

Your submarine is gripped by giant tentacles! You are in a battle of wills with a murdered classmate! You play as every scoundrel in this fantasy heist. Steal a dark power… Escape with your soul!

It’s 33% off until January 20th!

Studies in Darkness is an adventurous 30,000 word interactive dark fantasy novel by Nathaniel Johnson, where your choices control the story. It’s entirely text-based—without graphics or sound effects—and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

In the haunted gothic city of Doskvol, you control the last surviving members of a secret society. Restore your infamous reputation by heisting treasure from an abandoned laboratory. Use ectoplasm-powered steampunk technology to dive deep underwater for a unique and precious artifact.

Beware, you are breaking into the Morlan Hall of Unnatural Philosophy. You will face the result of centuries of experiments with the occult and the undead. But you are prepared! Unleash the power of alchemy, electricity, and each scoundrel’s unique supernatural abilities!

  • Play as a heist crew of five young men and women.
  • Experience the award-winning Blades in the Dark system, where your every choice is significant and may bring both success AND terrible consequences!
  • Jump between the students’ perspectives in each chapter!
  • Solve a murder mystery by stepping into the realm of the undead!
  • Fight off the corrupt cops that are raiding your school!
  • “Flashback” to key events in the past, revealing hidden stories and special advantages!
  • Tap into your “Stress” resource to overcome impossible odds. Beware, too much stress will drive you mad!

The pressure is rising. Your future has been stolen from you. Steal it back!

Nathaniel developed this game using ChoiceScript, a simple programming language for writing multiple-choice interactive novels like these. Writing games with ChoiceScript is easy and fun, even for authors with no programming experience. Write your own game and Hosted Games will publish it for you, giving you a share of the revenue your game produces.

Jan 13

2022

New Hosted Game! The Soul Stone War 2 by Morgan Vane

Posted by: Kai DeLeon | Comments (0)

Hosted Games has two new games for you to play!

The Soul Stone War 2 by Morgan Vane

You have survived. You have survived and endured, still standing after beating unbeatable odds. But at what cost?

It’s 30% off until January 20th!

One of your companions is lost to you, and your party has been battered down. Secure in his supremacy, Manerkol holds all the cards.

Yet the power of the Gods now runs through your veins. Find allies to your cause, gather more Soul Stones, grow into your legend, and make choices that will change the shape of your world.

Will you accept the hand fate has dealt you, or will you fight against the presence filling your mind with visions of power and domination?

The Soul Stone War 2 is the thrilling 400,000-word sequel to the interactive fantasy novel The Soul Stone War.  Meet characters old and new, pick up on the friendships and romances you began and grow into the hero that you’re meant to be.

  • Play as female, male, or non-binary—with options to be straight, gay, bisexual, or aromantic.
  • Continue your romance or try to find new love in an unexpected place.
  • Choose how to deal with the powerful being now sharing your mind and body.
  • Infiltrate Manerkol’s palace and reclaim your lost companion.
  • Learn one of the biggest secrets in the series.
  • Nurture the bonds of kinship between your group and grow into a power to rival the Lord of All.
  • Find new and innovative ways to tackle problems, utilizing your unique skills, traits, and the new powers granted to you by the Soul Stones.
  • Immerse yourself in a rich world full of magic, sacrifice, and love where every choice has unexpected consequences for everyone.

Rise, Soul Stone Wielder. Your fate lies in your hands.

Morgan developed this game using ChoiceScript, a simple programming language for writing multiple-choice interactive novels like these. Writing games with ChoiceScript is easy and fun, even for authors with no programming experience. Write your own game and Hosted Games will publish it for you, giving you a share of the revenue your game produces.

Dec 16

2021

Pon Para and the Unconquerable Scorpion—Raise an army to save reality itself!

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)

We’re proud to announce that Pon Para and the Unconquerable Scorpion, the latest in our popular “Choice of Games” line of multiple-choice interactive-fiction games, is now available for Steam, Android, and on iOS in the “Choice of Games” app. It’s 40% off until December 23rd!

Chosen by the gods, betrayed by your king, you must stop the Scorpion!

Pon Para and the Unconquerable Scorpion is a 742,000-word interactive fantasy novel by Kyle Marquis, and the sequel to Pon Para and the Great Southern Labyrinth. Your choices control the story. It’s entirely text-based—without graphics or sound effects, and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

The philosopher witch Teijia has unleashed a new weapon: a scorpion-god whose venom poisons the very foundations of reality! As the edges of the world disintegrate, the nomadic Stormraiders make one final, desperate push to defeat the Three Nations and carve out their own kingdom.

This time you’ll need more than the sign of your god and a few friends: to end the war and save the world from destruction, you’ll need an army! Establish yourself as a warlord, crime boss, or divine leader and cross oceans and deserts to find a weapon that can stop the Unconquerable Scorpion!

Old Friends and Enemies Return. Once again find friendship, enmity, or romance with Melaxu the nymph philosopher and Tamur the Desert Empire spy. But beware: the Stormraiders Galimar and Gisla are back too. And what will your own rulers, King Hyras and the Desert Empress, demand of you this time?

New Heroes, New Threats. Recruit Col the satyr general and his young ward Clannath, a crow-woman cursed by the God of Rage. Claim territory across two nations and scheme to protect your followers. But beware the ambitions of the dark priests…and of the priests of Heaven, who still consider you a heretic and enemy of the gods!

The End of Philosophy? Even as King Hyras and Lord Vankred square off to end the Stormraider War, the witch Teijia unleashes her ultimate weapon: the Emissary Beast Magdala, the Unconquerable Scorpion, whose venom can destroy the engines that maintain the World That Remains. What can stop a creature forged by the gods to be unstoppable?

Return to the World That Remains. Make yourself at home!

• Play as male, female, or nonbinary; gay, straight, bi, or ace
• Defeat enemies with sword and spell, or make allies with diplomacy, deception, and the miracles of your god
• Unleash new companions and train them in alchemy, infiltration, diplomacy, or the arts of war
• Explore ancient cities, savage wastelands, and the glittering, deadly palace of the Desert Empress
• Find friendship, romance, or rivalry with nymphs and satyrs, thieves and monarchs, dark warriors or holy sages
• Bring peace to warring nations—or drive them to destruction for your own ends
• Forge an army strong enough to stop Magdala, the Unconquerable Scorpion

We hope you enjoy playing Pon Para and the Unconquerable Scorpion. We encourage you to tell your friends about it, and recommend the game on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other sites. Don’t forget: our initial download rate determines our ranking on the App Store. The more times you download in the first week, the better our games will rank.

Dec 13

2021

Author Interview: Kyle Marquis, Pon Para and the Unconquerable Scorpion

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)

Chosen by the gods, betrayed by your king, you must stop the Scorpion! Pon Pon Para and the Unconquerable Scorpion is a 742,000-word interactive fantasy novel by Kyle Marquis, and the sequel to Pon Para and the Great Southern Labyrinth. I sat down with Kyle to talk about the Pon Para series, Vampire: The Masquerade, and more. Pon Para and the Unconquerable Scorpion releases this Thursday, December 16th. You can try the first three chapters for free today.

Pon Para and the Unconquerable Scorpion is the second game in an absolutely epic trilogy. And you have very satisfyingly allowed the player to pick up where they left off from the first game, accounting for diverse endings in Pon Para and the Great Southern Labyrinth. Tell me about how you were able to construct this next part of the story.

I planned ahead, which wasn’t easy! The major binary divergence in The Great Southern Labyrinth is whether the city of Mytele survives the Stormraider invasion in the last chapter, and I made sure to script for both possibilities. Labyrinth also ends with you in one of 4-5 positions in the Sea Kingdom, from “army general” to “outlaw,” and with you choosing from one of a half-dozen goals, and the game picks up with you pursuing that goal with the resources you gained from the last game. So if you ended Labyrinth as a high priestess who wanted to learn more about the powers of your god, or a downtrodden clerk plotting to kill the king, that’s where you start in The Unconquerable Scorpion.

The romances are actually some of my favorite parts of the Pon Para series. Any new romantic prospects for our hero this time?

Pon Para adds two new traveling companions almost right away, the satyr general Col and her ward, the crow-ferox Clannath. Together, I think they satisfy two of the most important daring sim archetypes: 1) a big cuddly bear with the maturity to respect your boundaries and 2) a violent, illiterate woman with an ax.

If you’re looking to marry up, you can also romance Princess Hyranni (daughter of King Hyras–this assumes you can free her from Teijia’s supernatural control, of course!), Empress Zoriza, and even Galimar, knight-captain of the Stormraiders. But they all have their own plots and ambitions, which can override their interest in going on nice dates with the main character.

What surprised you about the writing of this one?

Vibe-wrangling is hard!

Meaning: at the end of the previous game, your opinion on King Hyras can be anything from “I respect him despite his mistakes” to “I am literally plotting to kill him.” The same range of reactions applies to other elements in the setting, everything from the Stormraiders and the Dark Ax to the new position you find yourself occupying in Shalmek (the capital of the Desert Empire), as a semi-legitimate “crime lord.” A combination of opposed personality variables and chosen goals influences these things, but tracking them all, and deploying the main character’s mood about all these different elements of the story, at the right time, is complex and required an enormous amount of work.

Since we last heard from you, you’ve also published the first of Choice of Games’ new Vampire: The Masquerade licensed games, Night Road, which was amazing, and honestly some of your best writing in my humble opinion. What are the different pleasures and pitfalls of writing Pon Para and your own worlds versus playing in someone else’s sandbox?

World of Darkness was surprisingly generous with what they let me get away with; one chapter is basically “dark Scooby-Doo with Portal 2 aesthetics and some genocide” and they were like Yeah, sure. But my own work lets me explore cul-de-sacs of culture that don’t get much exposure. Pon Para, for example, is based on the old anime, fantasy novels, and 16-bit JRPGs I enjoyed as a kid. In retrospect, a lot of that material was conceptually empty: retreads of older creators’ surface gloss (Tolkien’s worldbeing being the most obvious example) with nothing underpinning it. Pon Para, I suppose, is an attempt to “fill up” those empty fantasy playgrounds of my childhood, to invest their surface aesthetics with a new kind of meaning. The Oricalchum is an explicit metaphor for this creative act: a fairly normal world underpinned by a system that’s deeply weird and (depending on your character’s personality) politically and morally depraved.

Obviously, we’re already looking forward to the third and final installment of Pon Para, The God of Knots. What can we expect to see, other than the totally epic conclusion to the tale?

If The Great Southern Labyrinth is a classic adventure story and The Unconquerable Scorpion is a higher-stakes drama of war and politics, The God of Knots is really going to delve into the metaphysics of the setting. The World That Remains is falling apart, after all–the Oricalchum that sustains it is a desperate and failing stopgap measure, maintained by enslaved gods–and resolving that (or failing to!) is what the final game will be all about. The trick is providing satisfying resolutions without, hrm…pulling a Frank Herbert.

By which I mean: all the Duneheads are laughing because if the new Dune movies are good enough, they’ll eventually run out of fun desert adventures and have to move into the later books, which are about how fun adventures lead to apocalyptic wars. How could you, the reader, ever enjoy those early books? Don’t you know what they lead to?!

It’s hard to interrogate fantasy without destroying what makes a fantasy story fun, or blaming the reader for wanting to hear about a cool adventure. But interactive fiction has unique advantages over static novels, and I look forward to giving players room to explore the setting in God of Knots and to tell me how they react to it, rather than me telling them what they should think.

Pon Para is the “Christmas release” for us this year–pride of place in our release schedule. What have you asked Santa Claus to bring you this year?

A deadline! Mary, I’ve been without a deadline for months and I’m going nuts because I don’t know what to write next! Please, nail something down on your end and give me something to put on my calendar!

[Ed. Soon, my friend! Very soon!]

Dec 09

2021

Witchcraft U—Uncover secrets in first-year Magical Studies

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)

We’re proud to announce that Witchcraft U, the latest in our popular “Choice of Games” line of multiple-choice interactive-fiction games, is now available for Steam, Android, and on iOS in the “Choice of Games” app. It’s 40% off until December 16th!

Rush the university’s secret societies as a first-year Magical Studies major! Will you keep your magic a secret from the mundanes or expose the truth?

Witchcraft U is a 200,000-word interactive fantasy novel by Jei D. Marcade. It’s entirely text-based, without graphics or sound effects, and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

You’re a fresh-faced new student at Larkspur University, a college for witches that began accepting mundanes a few decades ago. (Strangely, the mundanes never seem to notice the witches.) It’s your first time living away from home, and that means new spells, new friends, and new opportunities for romance!

Three secret societies control the university, and they’ve all taken a special interest in you. But you have secrets of your own: namely, your family’s underworld criminal empire–and just when you think you’re out, they pull you back in.

As a first-generation university student, the pressure’s on to make friends, find a date, maintain your grades, hold down a part-time job, and prove to your family that you belong here, while keeping your magical abilities a secret from your mundane peers.

Will you rush one of the secret societies or rebuke them? Dress to impress or attend lecture in PJs? Will you choose the path most likely to lead you to fulfillment, knowledge, influence, or wealth? What kind of witch will you be?

• Play as male, female, or nonbinary; gay, straight, bi, or asexual
• Hone your spellcraft in one of four magical tracks
• Collaborate with your classmates, compete against them, or hook up with them
• Support the mundane students or sabotage their plans
• Inherit a criminal empire or abdicate the throne
• Keep your grades up or lose your scholarship
• Avoid the abyssal gaze of the Campus Squirrel

See you next semester at Witchcraft U!

We hope you enjoy playing Witchcraft U. We encourage you to tell your friends about it, and recommend the game on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other sites. Don’t forget: our initial download rate determines our ranking on the App Store. The more times you download in the first week, the better our games will rank.

Dec 06

2021

Author Interview: Jei D. Marcade, Witchcraft U

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)

Rush the university’s secret societies as a first-year Magical Studies major! Will you keep your magic a secret from the mundanes or expose the truth? Witchcraft U is a 200,000-word interactive fantasy novel by Jei D. Marcade. I sat down with Jei to talk about the game and its world.

Witchcraft U releases this Thursday, December 9th. You can play the first three chapters for free today.

The world of Witchcraft U is so delightful. Tell me about its origins.

My first entry to this world was in the form of an occult crime family drama set about ten years after the events of Witchcraft U: the protagonist, who’d gone to college in an effort to leave the underworld behind, winds up being drawn back in on account of her academic specialization (anthropodermic bibliopegy), and a couple incidents from the protagonist’s undergraduate years come into play. I thought it would be interesting to explore some of those incidents, and so the basic premise behind this game was born.

In terms of the magic system, I’m afraid that I can claim very little credit there; high magic, spirit contact, and wildcraft are all based on historical and extant occult practices.

Why are schools such an intriguing literary trope/setting?

An unfamiliar setting that A. comes with externally imposed (and arbitrarily decided) expectations and metrics of success, B. forces the participant to navigate new social dynamics, and C. presents every decision as being fundamental to one’s future prosperity? Truly, the stuff of nightmares. What’s not to love?

What was the most difficult part of the writing process for you?

Roughly twelve hours after I wrote a scene in which the PC is hospitalized for days with a mysterious ailment, I was hospitalized for days with a mysterious ailment. Grant Morrison told a story about a similarly synchronistic experience he had while writing The Invisibles, from which point Morrison wisely chose to make good things happen to his lead character. I have elected to do otherwise, and can only wait and see if I’ll have cause to regret my folly.

What did you enjoy most about writing the game?

This was my first up-close-and-personal encounter with ChoiceScript, and I loved stretching my brain into exciting new shapes to figure out what was and wasn’t possible to achieve, or what could be done more efficiently.

Do you have a favorite NPC?

Oof, this is a tough one; I love all my dysfunctional babies. I’d say that it’s a draw between Enzo and Risoria, though I always have fun writing interactions with Maks.

What else are you working on?

A secondary-world fantasy novel inspired by Korean history and mythology; the story is centered around a living severed head and the hapless wretches who have come to possess it.

Dec 02

2021

Faerie’s Bargain: The Price of Business—Amass a goblin hoard of treasure and wonders!

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)

We’re proud to announce that Faerie’s Bargain: The Price of Business, the latest in our popular “Choice of Games” line of multiple-choice interactive-fiction games, is now available for Steam, Android, and on iOS in the “Choice of Games” app. It’s 33% off until December 9th!

Amass a goblin hoard of priceless treasures! Will you corner the market on memories and dreams? What will you pay for true love, and what is it worth?

Faerie’s Bargain: The Price of Business is a 300,000-word interactive fantasy novel by Trip Galey where your choices control the story. It’s entirely text-based—without graphics or sound effects—and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

You are one of the goblin merchants in the Untermarkt: a magical bazaar beneath Victorian London that trades in memories, wishes, secrets, and more. The Untermarkt has been a mainstay of London Faerie life since High Queen Elizabeth first forged the Treaty with Titania, Queen of Faerie. As merchant, you are skilled in dealing in all manner of impossibilities: new faces and voices, silks spun of starlight, bottled time, twists of fate, and even stranger things. Here, anything can be bought and sold for the right price. Will you line your pockets, or are the rewards of your trade more valuable than money?

When a mysterious business opportunity takes you by surprise, you have the chance to deal in something new: political intrigue! High Queen Victoria sits upon the Throne, but there are many who would prefer to rule in her place. Who is plotting against her, and what will it take to stop them? And where has the princess gone? To find out, you will have to learn the deepest secrets of the most powerful people in the Untermarkt: noble knights, fabulously wealthy merchants, dispossessed royalty, and more. Will you defend the High Queen, or use your newfound wealth to fund a little revolution?

Your fellow merchants certainly won’t allow an opportunity for profit to slip away. Will you undercut their efforts at the Merchant Conclave, or ignore all the politicking in favor of growing your wealth? And then there’s love—which could come at a greater cost than you ever imagined. Whatever you decide, one thing is certain: It’s time to get down to business!

• Play as male, female, or nonbinary; gay, straight, bisexual, pansexual; asexual and/or aromantic.
• Play as mostly-human, mostly-faery, or an even balance between the two, and shift the levels between the two extremes as the story progresses.
• Buy yourself new eyes, skin, or a whole new body!
• Gain mystical power from your supernatural ally: Mirrors, Roses, or the Fog of London itself.
• Wear hair made of stormclouds, sing with the voice of a Siren, drink from a wineskin of luck, sell dragon scales and flowers from a glass mountain.
• Romance—or betray!—a socialite, a Lord, a Lady, maybe even your Supernatural Ally!
• Make deals with creatures both fae and mortal; trade in favors, memories, magic, bottled time, twists of fate, and more!
• Attend society balls and grand galas, investigate scheming nobles, and defend (or betray) the Empire from threats without and within!
• Rise to a seat on the High Council and rule the Untermarkt along with the highest of goblin and fae elite—or just build up enough wealth to dig yourself out of debt
• Advocate for the rights of children trapped in factories and labor contracts, or exploit their plight for your own gain.
• Play politics to bolster or break the relationship between the Empire and Faerie, to make your own fortune, or to put a puppet on the Throne!

We hope you enjoy playing Faerie’s Bargain: The Price of Business. We encourage you to tell your friends about it, and recommend the game on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other sites. Don’t forget: our initial download rate determines our ranking on the App Store. The more times you download in the first week, the better our games will rank.

Nov 29

2021

Author Interview: Trip Galey, Faerie’s Bargain: The Price of Business

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)

Amass a goblin hoard of priceless treasures! Will you corner the market on memories and dreams? What will you pay for true love, and what is it worth? Faerie’s Bargain: The Price of Business is a 300,000-word interactive fantasy novel by Trip Galey. I sat down with Trip to talk about goblin markets, fantasy settings, and their experience writing them.

Faerie’s Bargain: The Price of Business releases this Thursday, December 2nd. You can play the first three chapters for free today.

The world of Faerie’s Bargain: The Price of Business is so delightful. Tell me about its origins.

There is a bit of a story to this, actually, so please bear with me! The seed for what would become the world of Faerie’s Bargain was planted back in New York City in 2010. My partner took us to a show called Nevermore —The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe. It’s a show with absolutely stunning visuals and amazingly evocative music in places. Central to that story is the idea of the beautiful art that can come out of a life of misery and pain. So I started thinking of Goblin Markets and how you can pay for things like incredible artistic talent with esoteric coin like a lifetime of suffering. Victorian London seemed to fit well as a setting for the thematic idea because it’s a time period of amazing industrial progress and achievement that was realized at an absolutely abhorrent human cost. One thought led to another and over the next seven years the world took shape though related ideas and characters. The Godson of Despair…Improbable technological marvels made possible by paying for them in misery…The Fog of London and its hatred for the stars was present from very early on. But it all started because one October in 2010 we thought it would be fun to go to a little-known gothic musical on Broadway for Halloween!

Why are Goblin Markets such an intriguing literary trope/setting?

I’m terribly glad you asked because I’ve actually done an entire PhD around this very subject (I am literally defending my thesis on 8th December)! I would argue one reason they’re such a compelling trope is because they encapsulate in microcosm one of the most prominent threads of the Western tradition of storytelling: a character getting what they want/need. A quest has an object or an objective. A romance has a longed-for happily ever after. The heroine of a fairy tale goes into the woods to get the thing that makes it worth the journeying. And all of these objectives take work to achieve, work and sometimes sacrifice. You can think of that as the price the characters have to pay to get what they want. In classical storytelling though, that price is drawn out, it’s hidden as part of the quest or journey. The Goblin Market takes that whole construct and distills it down. Your heart’s desire is right there on the market stall before you. All you have to do is pay the terrible price. What’s it gonna be, boy? Yes? Or no?

At the Goblin Market, that experience is purer, more intense. Characters really come face to face with asking themselves what it is they are willing to give up, to do, to become, in order to get what they want. Do you want a voice so pure and perfect people weep to hear you sing? The price is your looks, your pretty face, your beauty. Is it worth it? People do terrible and ridiculous things for fame and fortune in our world, and intangible prices (like time with your family) are paid all the time to achieve dreams. We respond to it because it’s a very real part of being human. And the Goblin Market is so much more alluring because it can offer things that we cannot simply buy in our world: eternal youth, true love, a happily-ever-after. Who among us hasn’t fantasized about having things not even billionaires could buy?

Plus they’re just incredibly cool!

What was the most difficult part of the writing process for you?

I think the most difficult part of this particular writing process was working linearly. My normal writing process tends to skip forward and back quite a lot. I’ll write the parts I know (though yes, often scenes end up orphaned along the way), and I tend to write the beginning and the end before joining up the middle. For Faerie’s Bargain I had to start absolutely at the beginning and follow directly all the way through to the end. I was not expecting how difficult that would be compared to my normal process and I definitely struggled a great deal in the middle precisely because I hadn’t had the chance to write the end yet. I got there in the end though! (Puns are always intended, even when they’re accidental).

So writing linearly was the most difficult part of the process for me. That and editing. Editing across so many different potential lines of narrative was murder on my poor grey cells! 😂

What did you enjoy most about writing the game?

From a personal standpoint the thing I enjoyed the most was the chance to really dig down into the Untermarkt, all kinds of different deals, and new goblin merchants. I had the most fun describing Blatterbosch’s stall, I think. He’s definitely a character that I’m carrying through into other projects. I also really enjoyed writing the Council chapters. That was something I hadn’t considered at all before beginning Faerie’s Bargain and I’m very happy that this project sparked its creation.

From a professional standpoint hands down it was having to write in such a way that considered multiple ways any given scene could go or evolve. It taught me so much about my own process and the craft of writing in general. So much of creating a story comes down to the choices one makes as an author, so essentially training yourself to think through the myriad ways a scene could break as the default way of writing? Priceless.

Do you have a favorite NPC?

This is not an easy question, at all. If I were forced to choose, no clever wordplay or dancing around the issue allowed, however, I would say The Fog of London. One of the things that draws me to stories about fey creatures is the alien ways in which the minds of such beings might work, how they differ from our own, and what that can tell us about our own shared humanity. So yes, the Fog of London (Plus, the Fog has a definite edge to it that I really enjoy writing).

What else are you working on?

I have a novel set in the same world as Faerie’s Bargain currently doing the rounds with agents. It also, as you might easily imagine, features the Goblin Market in a very prominent role.

In terms of projects I’m actively working on right now, I’m writing a queer short story inspired by all the fairy and folk tales that feature forced dancing (like The Red Shoes). I’m also in the outlining process for a new novel, a post-apocalyptic, high-camp, high-drama, glitter-explosion set in the same world as my short story “The Last Dawn of Targadrides” (available in the anthology Glitter + Ashes).

Of course, if you want another taste of the world of Faerie’s Bargain, I can accommodate as well! I’ve written a novella set in the world which includes one of the NPCs from Faerie’s Bargain, Eli Burghley (aka The Godson of Despair) and one of the supernatural ally options from the game as well (Roses). The story is called “War of the Roses” and revolves around Dafydd, a naturalist and adventurer struggling under a terrible curse. It’s a bit of a meditation on the realities of having an invisible disability, a bit of a blackmail thriller, and was a lot of fun to write! You’ll be able to find out more on my website, www.TripGaley.com!

Nov 24

2021

Cliffhanger: Challenger of Tomorrow—Punch Fascists in the retro-futuristic 1930s!

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)

CliffhangerWe’re proud to announce that Cliffhanger: Challenger of Tomorrow, the latest in our popular “Choice of Games” line of multiple-choice interactive-fiction games, is now available for Steam, Android, and on iOS in the “Choice of Games” app.

It’s 33% off until Dec 1!

Punch out Fascists and unravel conspiracies in this explosive pulp adventure set in a retro-futuristic 1930s world of airships, fast cars, and two-fisted action!

Cliffhanger: Challenger of Tomorrow is a 300,000-word interactive novel by William Brown, author of The Mysteries of Baroque. It’s entirely text-based, without graphics or sound effects, and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

Here, masked and caped adventurers with ray guns and rocket boots blast down the gleaming Art Deco streets of Manhattan. Sinister criminal masterminds scheme from tropical island lairs. Dinosaurs stamp and bellow in fog-shrouded jungle plateaus. Fearless archaeologists discover incredible secrets and terrible curses under the desert sands. Master thieves plot daring heists among the glittering casinos of Monaco.

And you? You’re Challenger, the most famous adventurer in the world–or, if you like, the most infamous scoundrel. You were raised as an orphan by Dr. Cosmos Zeta at his Tomorrow Institute, where he and his crack team of scientists have developed “zeta rays,” providing free energy for the whole world, and granting mysterious powers to a lucky few.

But now, Dr. Zeta has been assassinated before your very eyes, and replaced by a doppelganger, who accuses you of attempted murder. To clear your name and avenge Zeta’s death, you’ll have to chase the assassin around the world–and beyond!

Will you defend Earth against a sinister mastermind? Will you crush the axis of Fascism that rages across Europe? Will you uncover the shocking truth about the zeta rays?

There’s only one way to find out! Play Cliffhanger: Challenger of Tomorrow today!

• Play as male, female, or non-binary; gay, straight, or bi
• Protect the Earth from interstellar and extradimensional invaders!
• Find friendship, love, rivalry, and enmity among a colourful cast of stalwart heroes, brooding warrior princes, shy scholars, charming rogues, ruthless gangsters, enigmatic spies, inscrutable mystics, fast-talking reporters, and brilliant scientists!
• Travel across a huge, gloriously strange world, from the sky-high speakeasies of New York City to the whispering bamboo groves of Taiwan, from the dark streets of Fascist London to the raucous nightclubs and casinos of the Shanghai Bund!
• Blaze across the skies on a jetpack of your own invention, learn the secrets of invisibility and mind-reading, or swing from building to building using the incredible slingshot grappling hook!
• Conquer the Mansions of the Moon, the last great stronghold of a decadent empire, or attain enlightenment amongst the snowy peaks and ageless monasteries of Shangri-La!
• Build a network of spies, contacts, and allies across the world!
• Play guitar with Django Reinhardt and Duke Ellington, party with Texas Guinan and the Aga Khan, drink whiskey with Al Capone, swap ideas with Hedy Lamarr, and shoot Hitler in the face!

We hope you enjoy playing Cliffhanger: Challenger of Tomorrow. We encourage you to tell your friends about it, and recommend the game on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other sites. Don’t forget: our initial download rate determines our ranking on the App Store. The more times you download in the first week, the better our games will rank.

Nov 22

2021

Author Interview: William Brown, Cliffhanger: Challenger of Tomorrow

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)


Punch out Fascists and unravel conspiracies in this explosive pulp adventure set in a retro-futuristic 1930s world of airships, fast cars, and two-fisted action!

Cliffhanger: Challenger of Tomorrow is a 300,000-word interactive novel by William Brown, author of The Mysteries of Baroque. I sat down with William to discuss his new game and the crazy worlds he builds. Cliffhanger: Challenger of Tomorrow releases this Wednesday, November 24th. You can play the first three chapters today.

Tell me how you conceived of the world of Cliffhanger: Challenger of Tomorrow. What are the influences on this game?

I liked the idea of doing a game that drew on pulp fiction in the same way that my previous game was inspired by Gothic fiction. So my primary inspirations was the pulp fiction of the 1930s, where excitement and pace always trump plausibility, and the radio and film serials and comic strips that were based on them – Doc Savage, the Shadow, the Phantom Lady, Tarzan, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Tintin, Terry & the Pirates, the Saint… I downloaded a bunch of old-time radio serials, put them on to my iPod, and spent weeks wandering around suburban London with, like, Orson Welles as the Shadow cackling in my ears.

In addition to this, I was inspired by a lot of early twentieth century thriller writers like John Buchan and Eric Ambler, classic adventure films like CasablancaOnly Angels Have WingsThe Maltese Falcon, To Catch a ThiefNorth by Northwest… and, of course, the Indiana Jones films.

The main thing I wanted to capture was the sense of excitement and fast-paced adventure in all these stories, the sense of infinite possibilities. So I set the game in an alternative version of the 1930s where, thanks to a machine known as the zeta ray generator, the Clutch Plague never happened, where the economic boom of the Roaring ‘20s never stopped but instead kept accelerating out of control, with people building ever-higher skyscrapers, driving ever faster cars, and throwing ever wilder and more extravagant parties. A pulp serial kind of a world, where everything is always in motion and every action just escalates the tension.

Who is the PC in this game? Are they the Shadow, are they Flash Gordon?

The PC is a famous New York-based, globetrotting adventurer who has been pretty much everywhere and has a host of friends and enemies all over the world. Other than that, the player can decide which particular pulp archetype they lean into: they might be a science genius like Doc Savage, or a mystic avenger like the Shadow, a Modesty Blaise-type superspy, or a treasure-hunting rogue like Indiana Jones.

This is a world filled with thrills and chills, but also Fascists and Martians. Fun to write?

It’s my sincere hope that players have even as close to as much fun playing Cliffhanger as I did writing it. There’s just something so liberating and satisfying about completely embracing the spirit of the pulp genre, about breathlessly applying superlatives to everything and freely breaking out the exclamation marks, about piling desperate situation on desperate situation and never ever slowing the pace down.

I wrote a lot of the game during lockdown, in those anxious and claustrophobic times, and it felt like a privilege to be able to escape for an hour or so a day into this colorful, glamorous Art Deco world of international travel, intrigue, and adventure.

This is your second game with us, the first being The Mysteries of Baroque. What lessons did you learn from your first effort that you were able to apply to this new game?

This time round, I tried my best to make failure fun. One of the guiding principles of the game was that, as much as possible, the player failing a stats check should take the story in new and interesting directions as opposed to just stopping them from advancing. One of my inspirations was Raiders of the Lost Ark, a film where the protagonist fails at least as often as he succeeds – but Indie never looks less awesome as a result, it just makes him feel more like a scrappy, resourceful underdog who’ll always find a way to fight back or improvise a solution.

What are you working on next? 

I have a few different ideas! One is a follow-up to Cliffhanger, taking place 30 years later in Swinging London at the height of the groovy, psychedelic 1960s – taking inspiration from the Bond films, The Prisoner, Beatlemania…

I also have an idea for an epic science fiction game in mind, inspired by big, weird sci-fi stories like Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem, Brandon Graham’s Prophet comics, Dune and The Book of the New Sun. And a couple of fantasy ideas as well. We’ll see!

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