It’s a war between your werewolf pack and the Human Sovereignty Movement! Lead the pack to victory before extremists turn your packmates against each other. Werewolves 2: Pack Mentality is a 360,000 word interactive novel in Jeffrey Dean’s acclaimed ‘Claw, Shadow, and Sage’ series, and the sequel to Werewolves: Haven Rising. I sat down with Jeffrey to talk about the challenges of writing a series and what players can look forward to in Pack Mentality.
Werewolves 2: Pack Mentality releases this Thursday, July 23rd. You can play the first three chapters today.
Werewolves 2: Pack Mentality, the follow up to Werewolves: Haven Rising is coming out almost two years to the day after the first game released. This one is a bit longer, and definitely more complex. Tell me about the writing process this time around.
In many ways writing the sequel was more collaborative. I’m normally what’s known as a “pantser” when it comes to writing—an author who lets the story come to them as they write rather than planning out every detail. While writing the sequel I had pages and pages of reader feedback, both on the Choice of Games forum and through other mediums. While I wouldn’t say that the feedback changed the way I chose to go with the main plotlines, it did make a difference on sub-plot and side-adventure additions. The most visible of these was the addition of Tiva as a potential romantic partner which was not part of my original plan. Her story is a difficult one to tell, and I think the addition of a closer relationship gave me a better position from which to examine it in greater detail.
One of the reasons Pack Mentality took a while to write is that there’s so much side content available. I wanted to flesh out characters and plotlines which in a more traditional novel would have been left a bit one-dimensional. If a player wants to sit with the elders and learn about werewolf history and world-building for several pages, they can! If they’d rather spar and impress their friends with their fighting prowess, they can do that too. Or maybe they want to check on a particular friend, or interview a prisoner of war, or investigate a bizarre new scientist character, they can do that too. I certainly wouldn’t call Haven Rising linear, but Pack Mentality is a whole lot branchier and that took a lot of work to keep straight.
What was the biggest challenge in writing the sequel?
The biggest challenge by far was bringing all the different endings from book one together in a cohesive and natural way through the prologue with a minimum of railroading and making sure that the player’s choices still mattered. It was immensely important to me that major plot points in book one were reflected in book two. Love interests all carry over, endings carry over, faction relationships, character proclivities (bookish, fighter, killer, peacenik, etc…) all carry over and are acknowledged.
Have you already created plans for a third book in what you’re calling the Claw, Shadow, Sage series?
Absolutely! Book three (working title: ‘Evolution’s End,’) will be the final chapter in the main trilogy with the potential for branching out to additional stories set several years later if sales show enough reader interest to create more volumes.
Much like book two, the third book will continue immediately after the events of the previous one and wrap up the last remaining plot threads in a rather explosive manner. I can’t talk much about the primary antagonist for book 3 as they’re introduced in Pack Mentality, but I think readers will be excited to learn more about them. Things will also come full-circle with a certain father figure as well, who will remain nameless for those who haven’t yet played Haven Rising.
What will people find surprising about this game?
Probably the same things that surprised me when I deviated from my outline because the plot demanded it. ~laughs~ I mean, there are a few things, really. I think the climax will surprise a lot of people, particularly regarding who the player can choose to aid or betray and how that choice alters tens of thousands of words worth of plot points and endings. Also, while the reader still has the option of behaving entirely peacefully with no killing, there are some pretty dark places the player can go which leads down a rather twisted rabbit-hole.
How did you handle creating a satisfying playthrough for people who haven’t played Haven Rising?
It’s difficult, because as a reader I can’t understand why someone would read book two without reading book one first, but I certainly wanted to prepare for all eventualities. I created an interactive recap of book one where a new reader can choose through all major plot points and have their choices reflected in book two. A Cliff’s Notes version, basically. Ideally though, a reader should start with Haven Rising if they want to get full enjoyment out of the series.
And what else are you working on?
I have a few projects on the go, most notably my new gamebook for CoG’s licensed project, Vampire: the Masquerade–Parliament of Knives. It’s a bit of a changeup for me, mostly revolving around vicious interpersonal politics with sporadic bouts of violence depending on which factions you choose to support or defy. It’s really a dream come true to be working on an official Vampire: the Masquerade project, since I’ve been a fan of the IP for more than half my life.
Other than that, I’m outlining Werewolves 3 and designing a possible port of my ‘Road Less Traveled’ gamebook trilogy to Choicescript. I’ve been wanting to dust off my first gamebook, ‘Westward Dystopia,’ for years now and update the text to make the prose more attractive. All in all, it’s an exciting few years ahead of me!