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Dec 17

2018

Author Interview: Kyle Marquis, “Tower Behind the Moon”

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)

You are the greatest magician in the Sublunar World. It is not enough. As a rare Conjunction approaches, immortality is within reach. But the gods have noticed you trying to unlock the doors of heaven. Some demand you ascend–or else–while others plot your destruction. There are only two paths for you now, archmage: immortality or annihilation.Tower Behind the Moon, is a 400,000-word interactive epic fantasy novel by Kyle Marquis, author of Empyrean and Silverworld. I sat down with Kyle to learn more about his evolution as a writer for Choice of Games. Tower Behind the Moon releases this Thursday, December 20th. 

We’ve talked a little about Tower Behind the Moon in your Silverworld interview, but now that it’s complete, tell me a little more about this world. It’s an extremely elaborate fantasy with wizards, mages, lords, gods, monsters, angels, hedge-witches, warlocks, bards, dragons, castellans…it’s a lot.

One thing I wanted to do with Tower is take well-established setting assumptions and show them from a different perspective. Tower‘s Sublunar World has a lot going on, but the elements are familiar to any reader of fantasy: wizards and dragons and angels, all the big hits. In Tower, it’s your perspective that changes. You’re an archmage. Those world-shaking powers aren’t like narrative engines or forces of nature: they’re companions, rivals, even nuisances. On several occasions your peers casually throw regular people into what, in a “normal” fantasy, would be world-altering quests. I wanted to inject some wonder back into classic fantasy by offering players the perspective of someone who drives that wonder, rather than someone who marvels at it.

Who was your favorite NPC to write? I am a sucker for the monster. 

Everybody loves that sassy golem! (Or skeleton if you’re a necromancer or elemental if you’re a summoner, etc.–the sassiness remains constant.) But I most enjoyed the juxtaposition of your apprentice (ambitious, arrogant, occasionally selfish and greedy but also self-conscious and frightened) and your mentor, who failed to ascend and now follows you around as a self-pitying ghost. You’re in the middle of these two character arcs, both as important as yours and both reflections of your own ambitions. You have the opportunity to shape the destinies of both magicians, but your actions don’t take place in a vacuum; constrained by circumstance, you may end up sacrificing one or both. There’s a sort of madness to the magicians in Tower, a hunger for power and prestige that the player can’t help but notice–because your fellow magicians never seem to notice their own motivations.

This makes the third of three very long games with us: Empyrean, Silverworld, and now Tower, all published in the last two years. Your fourth game with us will be Pon Para and the Great Southern Labyrinth, which depending on how long beta takes might land in late spring of 2019. That’s got to make you our most prolific writer at this point, certainly in terms of speed. But I’m interested also in the different worlds and tropes you’re exploring in each game. 

When I was a kid, I read and watched a lot of formulaic, imitative stuff. I loved it, of course, and often I still do, but even as a kid I could see how the tropes I loved (the flying aces and cyberpunk cities that fueled Empyrean, the lost kingdoms that inspired Silverworld, etc.) were in service of…nothing. The writers didn’t really have anything to say about the tropes they used. I’m not saying that every story needs to be “about” something, but I grew up on so much surface-level entertainment that as I started to find my own voice and write my own stories, one of my goals was to return to the trope-heavy stuff I grew up with and, sort of, “fill it up” with things that matter to me. Empyrean and Silverworld were more overtly political, I think–Empyrean was an attempt to get the punk back in [whatever]punk fiction and tell a story about exploitation and resistance; Silverworld is about colonization and the excuses people make for greed. Tower is, I think, less social, more personal; it’s about wealthy and educated people (magicians, in this case) behaving in ways that aren’t only “bad,” but that are really incomprehensible–even to them. Tower surrounds the player with people who, despite all their power and knowledge, are doing what they’re “supposed to do,” bickering for scraps of magic and betraying each-other to the admiration of their peers.

It’s also got a very cool scene where you fight a bunch of dinosaur ghosts on a bridge with a bone sword. I actually do love all these tropes.

I feel like we’re getting to the point where our readers can feel what makes a Kyle Marquis game a Kyle Marquis game. But do you have any personal favorites in the rest of the Choice of Games catalog? Recent games?

I loved Katherine Nehring’s Grand Academy for Future Villains, which definitely felt like someone else taking loved, but well-used, tropes, and filling them up with personal significance. And I, Cyborg is brilliantly written–I mean, the whole story is great, but just at the level of the individual sentence, there’s so much craft there; Tracy Canfield manages a light and charming tone, reminiscent of the best Infocom games, while still maintaining tension and excitement through the entire narrative. One of these days I plan to make a deep dive into the “fantasy of manners” genre, which is this obscure little sub-genre in regular fiction, but which seems to be one of the most successful and popular parts of the Choice of Games catalog.

You’re kind of a DnD-ish fellow. You’ve got this project Hex a Day

Every day, a new location-based idea seed for tabletop fantasy games! I also have dungeons and whole adventure modules on my Patreon. A lot of RPG writing is interesting, but not immediately useful for people who have games to run that night; I wanted to provide ideas that people can use almost right away. Also, the best ideas end up in my interactive fiction–Tower has a few scenes that began as hex-map locations, especially when you journey into the underworld in Chapter 5.

And now Pon Para is coming up next. This is actually a trilogy, right? Which you’ve nearly finished the first part of. 

Pon Para is a Bronze Age fantasy adventure. It’s a sprawling heroic journey that takes the player from haunted northern forests to monster-haunted islands and out to a desert empire inspired by ancient Persia, all while trying to uncover the history of a still more ancient civilization that hold the key to saving a (literally!) dissolving world.

Dec 14

2018

7th Sea: A Pirate’s Pact — Command the high seas as an up-and-coming pirate!

Posted by: Rachel E. Towers | Comments (0)

We’re proud to announce that 7th Sea: A Pirate’s Pact, 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 Omnibus app. It’s 33% off until December 21th!

Fight for what’s right—as an up and coming pirate! Battle slavers, sea monsters, and your own corrupt government to become a hero of the high seas. But will you betray your own crew for wealth and power?

7th Sea: A Pirate’s Pact is a 200,000-word interactive adventure novel by Danielle Lauzon, set in the world of the table-top role playing game 7th Sea. It’s entirely text-based, without graphics or sound effects, and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

Looking for adventure at sea? You’ll get more than you bargained for when you end up joining a pirate crew. These pirates are known among sailors for having their own moral code, one that is now yours. You’ll have the chance to rescue prisoners, uncover a secret plot, and even build a navy to liberate an island fort full of slaves.

But you’ll also be tempted to break your pirate bonds to seek your own gain. Would you still free the slaves if you could take out your own rivals instead? How far will you go to save your friends? And when you uncover corruption in your homeland, will you choose villainy or vengeance?

Earn your crew’s loyalty and they might make you their captain, but get careless and you might have to walk the plank!

• Play as male, female, or non-binary; gay, straight, bi, asexual, or poly.
• Choose from three different nations as your homeland, with distinct stories for each.
• Romance other pirate captains, or compete with them as your rivals.
• Fight for good, or work for evil.
• Lead a rescue, uncover a secret plot, and defeat tyranny.
• Visit various island nations to win them to your side and build a navy.

If it’s the pirate’s life for you, what will you sacrifice for freedom?

We hope you enjoy playing 7th Sea: A Pirate’s Pact. 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 10

2018

Author Interview: Danielle Lauzon, “7th Sea: A Pirate’s Pact”

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)

Fight for what’s right—as an up and coming pirate! Battle slavers, sea monsters, and your own corrupt government to become a hero of the high seas. But will you betray your own crew for wealth and power? 7th Sea: A Pirate’s Pact is a 200,000-word interactive adventure novel by Danielle Lauzon, set in the world of the table-top role playing game 7th Sea. I sat down with Danielle to talk about the unique challenges of adapting material for Choice of Games. 7th Sea: A Pirate’s Pact releases this Thursday, December 13th. 

I usually begin author interviews by asking something like “how did you develop this world” but in this instance, 7th Sea: A Pirate’s Pact, is sprung from a table-top rpg. Tell me a little about that and your background writing for 7th Sea.

7th Sea was originally published in 1999 by AEG. The game was designed by John Wick while he worked there. At that time, the game was innovative as a game that showed diversity in its writing, such as women doing swashbuckling and adventuring, despite its roots in 17th century Europe. In 2016, John released a 2nd Edition after regaining the rights from AEG. I joined the team shortly after its release to help develop the many supplements unlocked during the Kickstarter campaign.

Moving forward in the 2nd edition, we wanted to take those 16 year old innovations and push them forward even further. We endeavored to hire subject matter experts, and people with close ties to the real world locations we were bringing into the game world. And while Theah isn’t actually 17th century Europe, etc., there’s enough real world nods for our history buffs. Writing for 7th Sea as a property has made me dig into historical minutia I’ve never encountered before, and writing this novel was no different. I’ve learned so much, which is pretty amazing.

This is actually the second table-top game that’s been adapted for us, Choice of the Petal Throne being a Tekumel game. What is it like working within an established world? Did you feel many constraints?

Honestly, I have been so immersed in creating the setting for 7th Sea, that writing this game felt like second nature. The biggest constraints I felt were that we wanted to have a non-magical story for our first Choice of Games game, and ignoring the magical parts of the world was very difficult. Otherwise, the parallels built into 7th Sea with our own world made it very easy to write as I was able to pull a lot of information and inspiration from real world locations and events.

This is your first time writing interactive fiction but not your first time writing an RPG. What did you feel were the differences in concretizing a set of options for a player as opposed to writing like a more open-ended campaign?

Running a game of 7th Sea is pretty free form. I spent a lot of time considering options in 7th Sea: A Pirate’s Pact as challenges I’d throw at the players, then knowing my players, thinking of what they would want to do in those situations. It was interesting to consider multiple options for the same action or consider various ways to approach a situation. I never do that in RPG campaign planning, but now I want to incorporate that kind of logic when designing a campaign for play at home.

One thing that I got stuck on a bit was translating the 7th Sea game stats to Choice of Games. In the table-top RPG, those stats are open to interpretation and as long as the story makes sense you could really roll anything to accomplish a goal. Making those more static so that players could reasonably predict which stat would be used for each choice made me really think about what goes into those stats and what they really mean when describing your Hero.

What’s more fun than piracy? How much did you enjoy writing these swashbuckling scenes?

I can’t think of much I’d consider more fun that piracy, except maybe space piracy. Writing adventure scenes is a bit out of my wheelhouse when it comes to writing, so stretching my creativity into these scenes was fun if sometimes nerve wracking. But I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

And what are you working on next?

Well, I’m still making table-top RPGs over on the other side of the fence. I have been considering writing another Choice of Games novel that is in it’s own unique universe (maybe space pirates). And maybe if the IP licensing stars align properly, a sequel to A Pirate’s Pact.

Dec 06

2018

Death Collector — Severing tongues just became a career move.

Posted by: Rachel E. Towers | Comments (0)

We’re proud to announce that Death Collector, 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 Omnibus app. It’s 33% off until December 13th!

Sever and preserve the tongues of the dying to steal their stories! Whether you gather their tales and memories for the greater good, or use what you learn to become one of the elite who decide what to call “History” is up to you.

Death Collector is a 300,000 word interactive fantasy novel by Jordan Reyne, 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.

As a Death Collector, your job is to visit the dying and harvest their stories by cutting out their tongues. Whether you seek fame, fortune, love, or renown, you’ll find playing Death is more than just a job. Will you be able to stomach the gore-work that is cutting the tales of the dead from their mouths, or will you find out how the Ministry disposes of their workers?

• Play as male, female, or non-binary; gay, or straight.
• Learn to kill with style and professionalism, or to plunder information you were never meant to know.
• Join the elite ranks of the Board, or reveal the rot at the center of the system and lead a revolution.
• Get to know your cloak—a weird, organic entity that can render you invisible.

The wages of Death are yours for the taking!

We hope you enjoy playing Death Collector. 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 03

2018

Author Interview: Jordan Reyne, “Death Collector”

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)

Sever and preserve the tongues of the dying to steal their stories! Whether you gather their tales and memories for the greater good, or use what you learn to become one of the elite who decide what to call “History” is up to you. As a Death Collector, your job is to visit the dying and harvest their stories by cutting out their tongues. Whether you seek fame, fortune, love, or renown, you’ll find playing Death is more than just a job.  Death Collector is a 300,000-word interactive fantasy novel by Jordan Reyne, author of Choice of the Cat. I sat down with Jordan to talk about her upcoming game and the challenges inherent in creating new worlds across cultures. Death Collector releases this Thursday, December 6th. 

The world of Death Collector is so different and compelling. Tell me what inspired you in creating it.

There seems to be a kind of morbid, desperate archeology of identity going on throughout the world at present. Although it has a different flavour, I see it happening in Europe as much as it happens in places like the States and New Zealand that have very young identities to begin with. Along with general malcontent, it’s like we, as individuals, feel increasingly disconnected from the world and each other, which perforates upwards into how nations behave as entities. It’s an easy thing to exploit and there are a number of ways to do so.

I wanted to create a world where the search for reflections on who we are, and who we are not, has become as physically and obviously grim as it is in theory. In the real world, there are really two ways you can go about creating or encouraging certain identities and discouraging others: by creating heroes, and by demonizing others. In order to make it seem “objective,” one has the option of raking through history, like the Death Collectors do after harvesting tongues. They are looking for examples of whatever supports the chosen method.

The game focuses on the method of creating heroes, even though in the real world we often chose the easier option of highlighting who we are NOT. That’s where demonization method comes in. Creating heroes has its dangerous and creepy side as well, however. Quite apart from putting people into the categories of special and not-special, which keeps them separate too, we end up overlooking flaws that are important to acknowledge and learn from. We end up relegating part of even a real hero’s qualities into the world of shadow: the shadow being those things we ignore about them, but that will burst through and find a voice on their own at some point, and destroy us if we have not braved facing them.

The world of Death Collector is a world of stealth and subterfuge. Of old-world agendas and attempts at influence that may or may not get you loved or killed. In the end though, it is about who we are and how we construct ourselves and others.

The invisible cloaks are amazing. What would you do if you had one?

Haha! If I answered honestly it would be a definite spoiler! Answering from the info all players will get, though, I would probably just use it to aid in leading a quiet life. Or perhaps to get on trains I cannot pay for and travel through the rest of Europe!

You’re the author of Choice of the Cat, which when it was published was our longest game ever, and it’s still I think the second longest. It’s also extremely different from Death Collector. What kind of contrasts brought themselves out when you were writing this second game?

Cat was really more a comedy, and set to the background of a middle-class life. It was safe, bar the potential for some gruesome violence on one playthrough. Death Collector‘s world is not safe by any means. In a way, Cat was about the potential for chaotic behaviors to meet banality and cause big things (or hilarity, or disasters) to happen. The world of the Death Collector is almost the opposite. All those around the player are engaged in big plans, grand actions, and power plays.

The Death Collector’s challenge is more like steering a boat in a storm of magic, politics and the potential to have their own identity wiped forever. The cat, as a character, is really the author of her own destiny. The Death Collector has to at least pay lip-service to being the author of other peoples’ destinies instead. The Death Collector has more potential to become a sort of heroic introvert (although you can obviously play as someone who wants all the credit and attention) whereas the cat, by virtue of its species, lends herself more to extroversion. She does not have to juggle presenting the austere non-face of bureaucracy with the actual fact of her gore-riddled life. The cat may chose gore or not, the Death Collector has it as their bread and butter.

This game has a kind of general European feel to it, much like Cat does and it’s a really fun and interesting place to spend time while playing your games, I think. What has been your experience living in Europe versus where you grew up?

I could probably write a whole book on that topic, but it might not be as intriguing as the game! I grew up in New Zealand, and it’s different to Europe on more levels than I can mention here. I guess the main thing for me was that in New Zealand, there was this ever-present feeling that the rest of the world was someplace far away, and that it almost might not really exist. It’s a 13 hour flight to Asia, which is really the nearest place that isn’t similar (the States and Australia being similar, colonialist countries, with native populations whose culture and artifacts were all but destroyed, like ours).

In Europe, you can catch a train and be in another country and culture in a matter of hours. There are different languages everywhere, different traditions, different views on the world. I have ended up standing in buildings that existed before a single human being set foot in New Zealand. The first people there being the Maori, who are thought to have arrived a thousand years ago (though at the time of writing, I think this is still contested as being both possibly earlier and possibly later). We don’t have a lot of historical structures as the Maori built mostly in wood and things that decompose. Europeans arrived less than 200 years ago. Buildings get a “heritage” sign slapped on them if they are 100 years old, which is kind of a joke to people here in Europe when I tell them. Though possibly not as absurd as how we paint snow on the windows at Christmas, and then go outside for a swim because it is summer.

In any case, living in Europe is the first time I have ever felt like I belong. My family live in New Zealand, but we have no contact, so the sense of belonging there stopped a long time ago. New Zealand is beautiful, but beauty is certainly not all I am looking for in life.

What do you find most challenging about interactive fiction design?

On the one side, the usual challenges that exist for anyone who is self-employed. You have to manage time very carefully, and hope to hell there are no unforeseen problems, or you can end up in serious trouble. The other side is the challenges posed by anything with a creative element. It is very hard to invoke ideas and inspiration at will. Sometimes you just have to start typing, and then, at the end of the day, you might realise you can’t use any of it, and need to work longer hours to make up for a lost day, and hope to hell your muse comes back. Other times, it’s easy, and the ideas come thick and fast. Of course, then you can’t rest on your laurels, because you don’t know when the next “block” might come.

On that note though, I actually don’t believe in “writer’s block.” I think it exists as an idea because the expectation is that creatives (be they musicians, writers, or any form of arts) will produce in a linear, production-line fashion. I’ve read that a lot of creatives think more in terms of a cycling of periods of production, followed by one of absorption/digestion, where new ideas have time to form—or you are able to actually experience things that become what you will write about. Of course, trying to juggle that pattern with the expectations of the linear, output-oriented business-world can be a bit like trying to fit a circle in a square hole.

Jordan is a writer and musician with eleven albums, two books and two interactive fiction novels to her credit. She has been nominated for several New Zealand Music awards, and made guest appearances on several international projects, the most recent being guest vocalist on Resident Evil’s theme tune “Go Tell Aunt Rhody.” She currently lives in an artist community building in Poland, where she is working on her newest album “Bardo.”

You can find her work at http://jordanreyne.bandcamp.com

Nov 29

2018

Weyrwood — Advance in Society and defy your daemon overlords!

Posted by: Rachel E. Towers | Comments (0)

We’re proud to announce that Weyrwood, 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 Omnibus app. It’s 40% off until December 6th!

Advance in Society and bargain with creatures in the Wood in a Regency fantasy of manners, daring, and magic. Will you join your daemon overlords in destroying your hometown or will you defy them?

Weyrwood is a 174,000 word interactive fantasy novel by Isabella Shaw, 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 a fledgling member of the shabby-genteel, you’ve returned from your education to disentangle your inheritance from your small town’s oblique magical property laws. Attend assemblies, call upon friends and neighbors, withstand scandal and intrigue, and court prospective suitors as if your life depended on it—for it does. Maintaining your status as a member of the Gentry and living among the Willed depends upon keeping your spina, a magical currency. Otherwise, you will serve as a tithe to the daemons and join the Fallen, their Will-less thralls.

Yet you cannot remain only concerned with your own affairs. Someone is tampering with the magical contract that binds Prosper, the Wood, and the daemons to the tenuous arrangement that you now enjoy.

Can you survive long enough to claim your inheritance and return to the City—or to remain in Prosper and enjoy the abundant blessings that wealth, freedom, and influence can grant you?

• Play as female, male, or non-binary; gay, straight, bi, or asexual.
• Uncover the daemon plot and protect your town, or side with the daemons to destroy it.
• Win a high-stakes game of cards.
• Ally with the daemons or with the weyrs.
• Gain wyrdsense to perform sorcery.
• Fight a courtly duel.
• Court an eligible marriage prospect and take a lover.
• Gain influence at balls, assemblies, and social events.
• Avoid—or embrace—scandal.
• Bargain with the magical weyrs of the forest to preserve your Will.
• Advance to become a Pillar of Society.

What would you sacrifice to keep from Falling?

We hope you enjoy playing Weyrwood. 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 26

2018

Author Interview: Isabella Shaw, “Weyrwood”

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)

Advance in society and bargain with creatures in the Wood in a Regency fantasy of manners, daring, and magic. Will you join your daemon overlords in destroying your hometown or will you defy them? Weyrwood is a 174,000 word interactive fantasy novel by Isabella Shaw, where you play a fledgling member of the shabby-genteel, returned from your education to disentangle your inheritance from your small town’s oblique magical property laws. I sat down with Isabella to talk about the inspirations for her game and the world of the creatures who inhabit it. Weyrwood releases this Thursday, November 29th. 

Your world is roughly analogous to Regency England, but with magic. Why did that time and place appeal to you? What aspects of the historical setting changed when you added supernatural elements?

So, actually, first I should say that Weyrwood came about in a rather mysterious, complete way: I had a dream that depicted a game of Prosper, complete with spina, Weyrs and daemons, feral cats, the pressure of an elite Society, the Fallen, and the overhanging shadow of the bargain. The world and most of its pinch-points arrived somehow, basically whole—and instead of building up, I ended up working backwards, finding the threads of the story from the fabric of the world itself. From the material of the dream I delved into things like etymology, questioning why certain details were as they were, and looking at the logic behind the patterns in the world, in order to make sense of it. So, for example, the system of spina—the concept and even the name, and its connection with the Weyrs and bargaining—arrived as a complete unit. It was only later when I was thinking about why it might have been called spina that I found some sense of its origin as something wild, something connected to the Weyrs (I think the name came from “thorn” in Latin or else from the ancient name “Despoina.”)

However, all of the things that arrived subconsciously had to come from somewhere, of course! As a pre-teen and teen, I ingested quite a lot of 18th and 19th century literature—Jane Austen, yes, but also Fanny Burney, Maria Edgeworth, the Bronte sisters, Wilkie Collins, George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell, etc. At the same time, I was reading copious amounts of fantasy. I think I loved the language and the subtlety of the historical novels, and at the same time, magic and fantasy felt so true. The combination of these worlds felt inevitable. By the time I read Patricia C. Wrede and Susanna Clarke, who have Regency England-period magical worlds, it felt like coming home.

I think there is something about a setting that requires strict social rules that seems graft nicely with the threat of wild magic, of otherworldly rules that can align with and brush against these social requirements. Social rules in many ways can have a ritualistic, weighted meaning—something subtle might have been said or done that has a dramatic effect upon a person’s status or possibilities. This kind of subtlety and weighted consequence already can feel like magic—invisible currents, running through a room or situation, that can cause dramatic shifts in story. Magic, or fantastic elements, can add an extra shine, but the basis is in many ways already there, just in the way humans give weight to behavior, rules and ritual. It also is interesting to me to think about a society that has a certain level of technological advancement, in which magic is present. As you’ve mentioned, this world is tonally derived from Britain’s Regency-period literature, but it is meant to be a neutral place, somewhere else entirely. To me, what also came out was the feeling of a frontier town in Prosper (its history only goes back 200 years or so, after all), attempting to keep its gentility while faced with very real wilderness close at hand.

The main ways that Prosper’s setting differ from a historical one, I think, actually came about from the perspective of the social rules themselves, who they are meant to be protecting, and who oppressing. At least in my thinking, broadly speaking, most of the strict social rules and customs that give the historical tone were pointed towards preserving a woman’s “virtue” for marriage. And one thing I love about the COG interactive novels is that the player must be able to play as any gender without essential changes in the possibilities available to them. This meant, for Prosper and for Weyrwood, that the idea of virtue and who is protected and who limited needed to be about social class and not gender or “marriageability.” Therefore, the line needed to be drawn much more strongly between the landed Gentry and non-landed commoners, and the idea of the Gentry as semi-voluntary tribute became much more important.

Your descriptions of the daemons and weyrs, the two major types of supernatural creatures, are especially vivid. How did you go about designing these creatures? How did you get into the mindset of characters who think and act in such a nonhuman way?

Both creatures popped up from the dream basically fully-formed (including the name “Weyr”—my best guess as to where that came from is some kind of conflation of early medieval Anglo-Saxon “wyrd,” personal destiny, and “weir,” a dam—I get an image of branches from this word). I think at essence the Weyrs probably sprang from the concept of a wild, unknowable impulse that is the forest—and the very old human respect for and fear for what lives in the forests—and, on the other hand, an idea of a harder-edged, rule-bound instinct. In fairytales across cultures, the magical creatures always seem to follow their own rules; even if those rules do not seem fair or right to the human heroes, they have a logic of their own.

That the daemons living in the Wilds, living in these very (from a human perspective) chaotic lands, have more human courtly manners and customs, in some ways, felt very instinctive—as if representing an urge to carve out order from chaos in fine detail. To me, the daemons have a slightly more human instinct, in both negative and positive ways. Initially, I got glimpses of these spiky, somehow beautiful beings in elaborate, courtly dress with bright colors that humans wouldn’t dare use in this world—all flame, smoke and show, with substance being hidden; and always untouchable, riding in the chariots or carried in their palanquins, which were nice hard, practical, confusing lines against all that floaty, vivid fabric and manners. When it came to writing them, I took some inspiration from surrealist painters such as Anne Bachelier and Leonora Carrington.

Both sets of creatures have their logic, but it is just slightly skewed from the interests and logic of the human characters. Neither are intended to be bad or good—they are both amoral, ambivalent, with their own rules and goals.

You’re a poet as well as a novelist: your collection Songs of Remembrance draws on medieval lyric poetry. How did your experience as a poet influence your writing in Weyrwood? Is there anything medieval in Weyrwood?

One crucial thing that Weyrwood took from my background and interest in medieval literature and music is the feeling of the forest as this vast Other—you can find this theme repeated in so many early medieval stories across European traditions, especially in early medieval lyric poems and lais, such as Thomas the Rhymer, Sir Orfeo, Lais of Marie de France, much of the Arthurian canon, etc. Most of today’s remaining folklore about forest creatures, which survives in stories and in echoes in peoples’ imaginations, are very old, dating from times when most of Europe was forested. But there are also huge strains resting on the idea of woods as not only dangerous, but as magical as well, potentially transformative. The idea of some form of non-human forest guardian is also extremely old.

You also have a background in music. Did you have any musical inspirations in the creation of Weyrwood, or a particular writing soundtrack?

Oddly enough, I don’t feel like the music part of my life particularly influenced Weyrwood (with the exception of some very real bits about the feeling of being underprepared for performing for a soiree, and the opera sections)! If I listen to music when I write, it tends to be something more general, to help me to turn off the internal critic and type faster—when I’m not thinking too much is when the good stuff usually comes through. So if I was listening to something, it usually wasn’t specific to this project—usually something like Kayhan Kalhor or Ross Daly. Or else very fast Balkan music on repeat.

I will admit, though, that when I was in the planning stages, I was going through a phase of listening to Hamilton on repeat. So there may be a couple of nods to that in Weyrwood as well.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

Hippolyta, I think. She kept knocking on the door with more to say.

What was the most challenging thing about writing your first interactive novel?

Working with the code, and planning in greater detail ahead of time, was the most challenging part for me. The way I normally work is very intuitive and slightly chaotic, plucking things from the sky and seeing how they knit together—dreaming things and doing subtle detective work to see how they unfold—which is not really possible with a project of this scale and intricacy. So, being more with planning and logic brain than creative-chaos brain was probably the best challenge, and I definitely learned a huge amount from the experience.

What is your next project?

At the moment, I’m working on a collection of short stories—some set in the same world as Weyrwood, others set in completely new worlds entirely. I also have a larger project in the works, concentrating on the figures of Merlin and Nimue from Arthurian legend, retold.

Nov 22

2018

New Hosted Game! The Butler Did It by Daniel J. Elliot

Posted by: Rachel E. Towers | Comments (0)

Hosted Games has a new game for you to play!

Life in Port Terris is tough. There’s never quite enough to eat, nor quite enough work, and your friends have a nasty habit of being snatched up by the Constables and their bots. When the majordomo of a Great House offers you employment, a warm bed, and all the food you can eat, it’s a tempting offer. Never mind that the alternative is a long stay in the City Dungeons. It’s 40% off until November 29th!

The Butler Did It is a 300,000 word interactive novel by Daniel J. Elliot, and a finalist in the Choice of Games writing contest, 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.

It doesn’t take long to realize that things are a little bit off though, to say the least. At Coburg Manor, you’ll make friends, battle enemies, and uncover a mystery far deeper and stranger than you ever imagined.

• Play as male, female, or non-binary; gay, straight, bisexual, or asexual
• An odyssey in steampunk, with a twist you’ll never predict
• Face foes both human and mechanical with your wits, sword, or skill with steam
• Expose a conspiracy that threatens the very fabric of your society, or choose to keep its secret
• Get to know a diverse cast of characters, and you just might find love
• Maybe end up on a spaceship?

Will you save your home from the strange apocalypse that its people don’t even suspect, or will you fall prey to madness, like so many of your friends?

Daniel J. Elliot 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.

Nov 22

2018

New Hosted Game! Critical Mass: The Bridge by Michael Meillarec

Posted by: Rachel E. Towers | Comments (0)

Hosted Games has a new game for you to play!

The world has ended in atomic flame. You are a lone warrior on your way to the mythic Crescent City – a center of civilization and even democracy and the degenerate wasteland. But to get there, you must first barter for the right to cross the Bridge. Will you collapse under the weight of mutant beasts and conniving wastelanders? Or will you prove your mettle and fulfill your mission? It’s 33% off until November 29th!

Critical Mass: The Bridge is a post-apocalyptic 160,000 word interactive novel by Michael Meillarec, and an entrant in the Choice of Games writing contest, 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.

• Play as male, female, or non-binary
• Determine the fate of three factions and at least one gator.
• Find love in the time of radiation sickness.
• Balance the needs of the wasteland community, or conquer it instead.
• Liberate slaves or rule over them as their master.
• Use honor or deception to achieve your goals, no matter how small.

Michael Meillarec 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.

Nov 16

2018

Stronghold: A Hero’s Fate — Defend your people from invading monsters!

Posted by: Rachel E. Towers | Comments (0)

We’re proud to announce that Stronghold: A Hero’s Fate, 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 Omnibus app. It’s 33% off until November 23rd!

Defend your stronghold from invading monsters and lead your people to glory! Rule your territory, punish your enemies, and build your legacy in an epic fantasy tale that spans decades.

Stronghold: A Hero’s Fate is a 250,000-word interactive fantasy novel by Amy Griswold and Jo Graham, 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.

Monsters have plagued your valley for as long as you can remember. But if anyone can destroy them, it’s you: you’ve already killed a powerful undead lich, and your sovereign was so impressed that he gave you a town in return. As the ruler of this new settlement, you’ll fend off invading goblin armies, flesh-eating bats, and feuding warriors in your quest to build a thriving community.

Now that you have your own stronghold, will you raise an army to repel the monsters once and for all? Or will you hold power for a lifetime without ever attacking another soul? Harness your strength, cunning, and even magic to defend your citadel and help your people prosper.

Invest in trade, mining, or farming—but choose your favorites wisely. Show mercy and forgiveness to your enemies, or be bold and aggressive as you expand your realm. Will the burden of governance make you serious and solemn, or will you retain your sense of humor and win fans near and far? Which groups will you please, when you can’t ever please everyone? And when the end draws near, will you be respected, forgotten, or reviled?

Will you triumph as a great leader, or see your stronghold fall?

• Play as male, female, or non-binary, gay or straight.
• Enjoy an epic fantasy of adventure, friendship, and city-building.
• Lead your people as a bold warrior, clever diplomat, or fledgling sorcerer.
• Defeat a goblin army or make peace with your people’s oldest enemies.
• Rule on blood feuds between your townspeople, or just judge the best pickles at the harvest fair.
• Court a spouse (or two), or found a new family with a sworn sibling.
• Select an heir to continue your legacy.

We hope you enjoy playing Stronghold: A Hero’s Fate. 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.

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