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Feb 13

2020

New Heart’s Choice Game! A Player’s Heart

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)

A Player's HeartWe’re proud to announce that A Player’s Heart, the latest in our popular “Heart’s Choice” line of multiple-choice interactive romance games, is now available for Steam, and on iOS and Android in the Choice of Games Omnibus app.

It’s free to win and 25% off to disable ads until February 20th!

Find love, fame, and intrigue on the stage of the city’s all-woman Opera! Put on a show, survive drama on and off-stage…and win your lover’s heart.

A Player’s Heart is a 222,000-word interactive lesbian romance novel by Melissa Scott. It’s entirely text-based, without graphics or sound effects, and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

You’re a rising member of the all-woman Opera company, one of three great theater companies in the glittering rivermouth city of Tristendesande. But Tristendesande’s legal ruler is a three-year-old boy, and his mother the Regent is under ever-increasing pressure from the Castagi Ambassador to rein in the city’s notorious freedoms, the theaters among them. The Opera’s leaders are determined to stay neutral, but the louche, disreputable Electricity Theater—where, scandalously, men and women perform on the same stage, in the same acts—is equally determined to undermine the Ambassador’s influence. And in the hothouse of the theater, love and politics are always entangled.

Who will you choose? Will you seduce your elegant rival at the Opera, Celeine, with a glittering smile and a dancer’s grace, the remains of last night’s paint on her lips as she helps you strive to be your best? Or the innocent Myrr, a genius “artifex” on the stage crew: olive-dark, clever, quick and resourceful, holding you close with strong hands and broad shoulders? Or will it be Mervelles, the daring star of the Electricity Theater, with her dapper suit and deliberately messy dark hair, a nimble and sensuous dancer at home with her contradictions? Or perhaps you’ll have the society hostess Jasquillyn Isalis, with her kohl-lined eyes and hair piled fashionably high, scented with rose perfume, diamonds flashing against her warm ivory skin.

Save the day with your brilliant performance and win your true love’s heart. On and off stage, a player’s heart conquers all!

• Play as female, romancing women.
• Find love with a scandalous rival, a fashionable noblewoman, your reliable friend, or an ambitious fellow actress.
• Choose to play male roles, female roles, or to be a theater technician.
• Show your skill at intrigue in Madam Isalis’s salon.
• Attend a scandalous performance and escape the watch.
• Bring your fellow players together, or seek to outdo them all.
• Court your love in a fencing match or through shared performance.

And now, the curtain rises.

We hope you enjoy playing A Player’s Heart. We encourage you to tell your friends about it, and recommend the game on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other sites.

Feb 10

2020

Heart’s Choice Author Interview: Melissa Scott, A Player’s Heart

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)

Find love, fame, and intrigue on the stage of the city’s all-woman Opera! Put on a show, survive drama on and off-stage…and win your lover’s heart. A Player’s Heart is a 222,000-word interactive lesbian romance novel by Melissa Scott. I sat down with Melissa to talk about her upcoming game, and the vicissitudes of romance writing. A Player’s Heart releases this Thursday, February 13th for Heart’s Choice.

This is your first piece of interactive fiction, but not, I think, your first romance novel. Tell me a little about your other work.
This is indeed my first piece of interactive fiction, but in my other life I’m mostly known as a writer of science fiction and fantasy. I have written two fantasy mystery series with strong romantic elements—the Points series (Point of HopesPoint of KnivesPoint of DreamsFairs’ Point, and Point of Sighs), which I began with my late partner Lisa A. Barnett and continued after her death; and the Mathey and Lynes novels (Death By Silver and A Death at the Dionysus Club), which I wrote with another Choice of Games author, Amy Griswold. 

The Points novels are set in the city of Astreiant, where astrology is a complex and important science, and center on the professional and personal relationship of pointsman (a kind of police officer) Nicolas Rathe and ex-mercenary turned guardsman Philip Eslingen. Each novel is a stand-alone mystery, but the development of the relationship is a major part of the ongoing story. The Mathey and Lynes novels are set in an Edwardian London in which metaphysics — magic — is a respectable profession akin to law or medicine. Metaphysician Edward Mathey has just purchased his first practice and rekindled his connection with a former schoolmate, Julian Lynes, a would-be consulting detective, when they are thrust into dealing with a series of mysterious deaths that risk outing their forbidden relationship.

My most recent novel, Finders, is far-future space opera about a trio of salvage operators who stumble into a discovery that may destroy their civilization.

Beyond those, I’ve written more than 30 science fiction and fantasy novels, most of them featuring queer themes and characters. I’ve won the Lambda Literary Award in SF/F four times (and been nominated four more times), and have won the Spectrum Award three times. I’ve written everything from near-future cyberpunk to far-future adventure to space opera in which the “science” is based on neo-Platonic magic, and the starships harness the music of the spheres to travel between solar systems. I’ve also written tie-in materials for Star Trek: Deep Space 9, Star Trek: Voyager, Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, Star Wars Rebels – and one more that I’m not allowed to talk about yet!

What did you find most challenging about the process? Writing a branching narrative, editing it, or handling the code?
Technically? Handling the code, hands down.  That’s not something I’d ever done before, and, while mercifully ChoiceScript is more language-like than mathematical, I still feel as though I’m “speaking” it at a kindergarten level.

On a conceptual level, though, the most difficult — and most rewarding —part of the process was learning to leave enough space at the center of the story for players to create their own character and experiences. The whole point of novel-length fiction is to put readers into characters’ heads, to show the world through that characters’ experiences, but that’s the exact opposite of what interactive fiction does. The writer doesn’t dictate the interpretation; you can only suggest and steer, and let the players make their own story happen. It was a hard leap to make at first, but once I’d gotten there, it was really fun to tell a story that way. In some ways, it suits my natural style — I prefer to create character indirectly, and allow readers to draw their own inferences — but it’s conceptually a very different kind of story-telling.

This is the first lesbian romance we’re releasing for Heart’s Choice and we would have loved to have it ready for the initial launch, because having a romance game for everyone is really the whole idea. Are you primarily writing for a lesbian audience in your other work?
I was sorry it wasn’t ready for the initial launch, too. I wouldn’t say that my work is written for a lesbian audience—I want as wide an audience as I can get—but it is all definitely written from a lesbian perspective. I mean, it really can’t not be! It’s a huge part of who I am. But I’ve been an out lesbian writer since the 1980s, and that perspective has meant different things and received very different reactions over those decades. It’s a lot less fraught than it was when I started, that’s for sure! And of course some of my stories are addressing issues that are most directly relevant to and subject to debate by a queer audience—the Mathey and Lynes novels, for example, are partly about creating and maintaining queer community—but I also hope they’ll be accessible to a non-queer audience as well. 

Tell me a little about the fictional world of A Player’s Heart
A Player’s Heart takes place in Tristendesande, the rich, sophisticated mercantile city at the mouth of the great river that runs the length of the country. Everyone and everything of importance eventually comes downriver to Tristendesande, or so its inhabitants will tell you; they have nothing but disdain for the people of the rival industrial city of Castago, at the river’s headwaters. But Castago’s power is in the ascendant, and Tristendesande is ruled by a foreign-born regent in the name of her toddler son. Even if its power is waning, however, Tristendesande is a beautiful city — imagine fin-de-siecle Paris or Vienna, carved stone facades and gilding and gaslight. It’s a center of the arts, and at the center of that artistic world are the Theater, where all the roles are played by men, and the Opera, where all the roles are played by women. Devas play female roles, dragons play male roles, and the artifices are responsible for special effects, costumes, and all the other technical pieces. The Opera’s shows are generally bright and frothy, full of song and dance and sparklingly witty dialogue, but often there’s serious point hidden among the frolics. Of course there are also cabarets and other venues, led by the upstart Electricity Theater, where — scandalously! — men and women perform together, on the same stage and in the same skits. 

Did you have a character you most enjoyed writing and spending time with?
I think the most fun was creating four love interests. They’re very different women — the best friend, the sparkling rival, the powerful society hostess, the scandalous lead of the rival Electricity Theater — and there had to be good reasons for someone to fall in love with each of them. However, it did create a certain amount of mental whiplash. Just when I’d gotten really comfortable with one of them, and knew exactly why she was wonderful, I’d have to switch to one of the others — and convince myself the she was the perfect lover! The other “character” that I loved was the Opera itself. I really enjoyed creating that social world. from the semi-retired Elders who manage the company and decide on the performances to the students who take walk-ons as they work toward joining the Opera proper.

What are you working on now?
I can’t yet talk about the project that’s currently eating my life (I hope to be able to say more by the end of the month), but beyond that I’ve just completed a fantasy novel, Water Horse, about the queer king of a beleaguered kingdom fighting to twist free of the prophecies that threaten his people. Next up is Fallen, a sequel to Finders, about a weaver of webs for forbidden AI who has to chose between saving her lovers or seeing her people fall into the Long Dark.

Feb 06

2020

New Hosted Game! The Shadow Society by Cara Palmer

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (1)

Hosted Games has a new game for you to play!

“There exists a world parallel to ours; alike in many aspects, yet different where it matters most. The only thing we know for sure is that certain people of that world have found a way to get to ours. Don’t trust them. And, whatever you do, look out for your own shadow.”
-Unknown

One night, you are faced with a dream that alters something within you, forcing you to return to your now abandoned childhood home to search for answers.

It’s 30% off until February 13th!

Little do you know that the abnormalities of the house are tied to another realm, and it appears your ancestors have a mysterious connection to it. But although their stories ended, yours remains to be written. Will you trust what you see, or search for a different truth? Will you put faith in those who claim to be your friends and shun the enemy, or turn the tables around? You may find your best friend, your nemesis or even fall in love during your journey. The outcome is up to you.

The Shadow Society is a 675,000-word interactive modern fantasy novel by Cara Palmer, where your choices control the story. It’s entirely text-based—without graphics or sound effects—and fuelled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

  • Shape your main character according to a variety of choices.
  • Play as male, female or non-binary; gay, bi, straight, aromantic or asexual.
  • Discover a hidden world and take the first step in changing its future.
  • Experience romance with one of five love interests along with two secret ones, become entangled in a triangle between two siblings or remain single.
  • Determine who to trust and who to shun, who to befriend and who to antagonize, among a cast of characters with differing secrets and motivations.
  • Choose a side – if any – in the conflict brewing between two worlds.

Cara 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.

Feb 06

2020

New Hosted Game! Critical Mass: The Black Vein by Michael Meillarec

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Hosted Games has a new game for you to play!

They say the world ended a hundred years ago, yet it still turns. In the century since, Philly has been torn apart by rabid monsters and rabid men. Highwaymen, slavers, and militias have carved up territories and claims, while simple villages suffer their wars. You are a simple wanderer looking for work. That’s why you’ve come to the Daughters of Liberty. But a simple scouting job is about to take a turn for the strange, sending you into a spiral of mysteries, intrigue, and brutality. Will you stand by the Daughters? Or will you fight to bring the fire of civilization to your home?

It’s 33% off until February 13th!

Critical Mass: The Black Vein is a 108,000-word interactive novel by Michael Meillarec, the second in the Critical Mass series. It’s entirely text-based, without graphics or sound effects, andfueld by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

  • Choose your gender.
  • Fight for freedom or bring military order to the wastes.
  • Accomplish your goals with stealth, combat, or persuasion.
  • Make allies and enemies with survivalist factions.
  • Protect a village from brutal raiders or lead them in the front gate.
  • See (or destroy) the successes of Amish Country post-apocalypse.
  • Uncover the secrets buried beneath Black Vein.

Michael 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 23

2020

Sky Pirates of Actorius–Infiltrate a pirate airship crew!

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We’re proud to announce that Sky Pirates of Actorius, the latest in our popular “Choice of Games” line of multiple-choice interactive-fiction games, is now available for Steam, the web, and on Android and iOS in the Choice of Games Omnibus app.

Please note this is a special, omnibus-only release for mobile.

It’s free to win, and $4.99 to turn off advertisements and delay breaks, discounted to $2.99 until January 30th!

Infiltrate a pirate airship and foil the captain’s plans! Can you survive the greedy crew and ruthless officers and disrupt their schemes in time? You’ll hunt merchant vessels, and seek lost treasure while undercover as a sky pirate!

Escape to the skies above the world of Empyrean and command a brutal crew of pirates in search of plunder, glory, and high-tech booty!

Sky Pirates of Actorius is a 37,000-word interactive adventure story by Kyle Marquis, 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.

No one on land, sea, or air can stop Captain Krayl as he plunders the great city of Actorius—no one except you. Trained by the Actorian Air Guard, with a clockwork animal companion that not even your commanding officer knows about, you must infiltrate the crew of the pirate airship Falling Angel. Your orders: learn Captain Krayl’s true plans and stop him at any cost.

But far from your commanding officer and surrounded by treasure and opportunity, you will have to decide where your true loyalties lie. If you can deflect Captain Krayl’s suspicions, please your handlers back home, and keep the crew from turning against you, glory awaits you: promotion back in Actorius, fame and riches as a sky pirate, or even the Falling Angel itself. But step carefully: everyone wants something, and everyone here will kill to get it.

• Play as male, female, or nonbinary.
• Fly aeros in deadly dogfights against merchant vessels and enemy pirates.
• Stay loyal to the Actorian Air Guard or betray them for glory, treasure, or friendship.
• Outwit spies and rival agents in shady ports of call.
• Command your clockwork animal companion to help you fight, fly, and spy.
• Use cunning and misdirection to balance the conflicting demands of captain, crew, and your secret mission.
• Hunt for buried treasure in the metal jungles of the Deep Tech.

We hope you enjoy playing Sky Pirates of Actorius. 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.

Jan 20

2020

Author Interview: Kyle Marquis, Sky Pirates of Actorius

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)

Infiltrate a pirate airship and foil the captain’s plans! Can you survive the greedy crew and ruthless officers and disrupt their schemes in time? You’ll hunt merchant vessels, and seek lost treasure while undercover as a sky pirate! 

Escape to the skies above the world of Empyrean and command a brutal crew of pirates in search of plunder, glory, and high-tech booty! 

Sky Pirates of Actorius is a 37,000-word interactive adventure story by Kyle Marquis. I sat down with Kyle for a short interview about writing short games. Sky Pirates of Actorius releases this Thursday, January 23rd. 

Since this is a short short game, how about a short short interview?
This is a tie-in game for Empyrean. Tell me a little about how it came about.

The original plan was to make Sky Pirates a spoken-word Alexa game, but I always wanted to return to the world of Empyrean. I loved the “secret identity” element of Empyrean, and with a shorter game, I wanted to focus even more purely on that: in Sky Pirates, you’re infiltrating a criminal gang, and everything hinges on your ability to please the crew while hiding your identity from the pirate captain and keeping your superiors back home happy. It’s a delicate, high-tension balancing act.

What’s the challenge in writing short? I would have guessed that for you, it’s almost impossible, given the length of Empyrean, Silverworld, Pon Para.

Balancing brevity with clarity is hard, especially for an unfamiliar setting like in Sky Pirates. Everyone knows what a goblin is, or what a Corvette looks like, but what’s an “aero,” exactly? But I have a trick! It’s to let the text of the choices help players understand what’s possible. Even if the player doesn’t pick the option, “I want to see if I can look inside the captain’s cabin,” the player understands that this is a world where captains have cabins, and can use that to imagine what sort of story they’re in.

There’s really a certain kind of genius in writing short. That so mis-attributed that I have no ideas of its true origin quote “If I had more time, I’d write you a shorter letter.” I think you see it in games like Choice of the Dragon, which tips the scales at 33,000 words.

What’s next for you?

I can’t tell anyone! Right now I’m working on a secret urban fantasy project with a popular licensed property. I’m up to chapter 4 now and having a blast—I’ve never written a game set in the modern world before, and it’s a pleasure to write in my natural voice instead of shaping the prose around genre assumptions and the requirements of a faraway world.

But I do love faraway worlds, and fortunately I’m returning to the Three Nations soon in Pon Para and the Unconquerable Scorpion, the sequel to Pon Para and the Great Southern Labyrinth. That’s more than halfway done already. And if Sky Pirates does well, I’d like to write more mini-games in some of my other settings—maybe a murder mystery in the alt-history Byzantium of Silverworld, or a bard’s adventure in the Sublunar World of Tower Behind the Moon.

Jan 10

2020

New Hosted Game! Street Jam: The Rise

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Hosted Games has a new game for you to play!

The circuit calls for a new king and you’re ready to answer them! Will you overcome all odds and become the new ruler, chief of police, a gang leader, or end up six feet under?

It’s 33% off until January 16!

Street Jam: The Rise is a violent 370,000 word interactive adult novel by Tevin Betts, 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.

Content Warning: Ableist insults; problematic depictions of race; transphobia; rampant chauvinism; fat shaming; poor depiction of neurodivergents; forced sexual activity; description of narcotic distribution, including to minors; child abuse. Reader discretion is advised.

In one of the biggest metropolises in the world, you are a new street fighter looking to hit it big, be it for cash, fame, or the cops. Choose from a variety of unique backgrounds and use your skills to rise from nothing to everything. There will be blood, death, and more…all surrounding you as you clear out club after club in this story, inspired by the criminally underrated Def Jam series.

Will you be an honorable and merciful fighter who wins with their skills? Or a murderous scheming cheater who wins by shooting up the streets? Or even an ambitious undercover officer who wins by using the police force? Your personality will affect your journey as much as your wins.

Find love or lust with over eleven characters, settle a rivalry that has been going on since elementary school, fight in several distinct styles, and change both the city and the circuit forever. Whatever you do, remember, actions always have consequences, no matter how small they may seem at first.

  • Play as male, female, non-binary; cis or trans; gay, straight, asexual, or aromantic.
  • Fight your way through rich, poor, crazy, wrestling, and karate clubs across the city.
  • Fourteen unique backgrounds including military, detective, rapper, a sports star (with four distinct sports options), stripper, and more for unique experiences.
  • Choose your proficiency in six different attributes including brute strength, intelligence, charisma and more to become a wrestler, martial artist, or another type of fighter.
  • Use the police, your gang, money, or your own skills to defeat the brawlers and challenges in your way.
  • Get with an experienced older woman, a hot and chilled out young man, a muscular amazon and more for love, or just fun.
  • Settle a grudge that has been going on for years with a bloody vendetta or forgiveness.
  • Rock an entire city and become the biggest fighter in the entire world.

Tevin Betts 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 26

2019

An Odyssey: Echoes of War–Fight Poseidon’s wrath to reclaim the throne!

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We’re proud to announce that An Odyssey: Echoes of War, 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 January 2nd!

Fight the sea god’s wrath to reclaim your throne, and free yourself from the ghosts of war. Will you live forever as a hero, a sovereign, or as a god?

An Odyssey: Echoes of War is an interactive retelling of Homer’s The Odyssey by Natalia Theodoridou, where your choices control the story. It’s entirely text-based—250,000 words, without graphics or sound effects—and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

The war is over—Troy has fallen. After ten long years, you, the crown sovereign of Ithaca, have set your sails for home. But Poseidon, god of the sea, has cursed your journey, and now, many trials stand between you and the loving embrace of your spouse and son: Polyphemus the Cyclops, Scylla and Charybdis, the Sirens, the Land of the Lotus-Eaters…you and your companions will even journey to the land of the dead.

And what about the memories that haunt you: the ghosts of those that you slew on the fields of battle? Do you even want to return to your spouse and the burdens of rulership? What if you find love or peace somewhere along the way? Not all homes look the same. And what songs will the poets sing of you—will they hail you as a hero?…Or a murderer?

• Play as a female, male, or non-binary, cis or trans; gay, straight, bi, aro and/or ace; monogamous or polyamorous.
• Lead your crew across the wine-dark sea, home to Ithaca—or fall prey to the many temptations along the way.
• Make your way as a leader, a fighter, or rely on your notorious silver tongue as the protean hero of “The Odyssey.”
• Build your reputation and make sure you are remembered as a hero–or redefine the meaning of heroism itself.
• Prove yourself to the gods and claim your place in the pantheon as a god yourself.
• Face your personal demons and the actual monsters of ancient Greece: the Cyclops, the Sirens, Scylla and Charybdis, and the Hydra!
• Return to the loving embrace of your spouse and son who wait for you in Ithaca, or make a new home for yourself along the way.
• Travel to the underworld—but make sure you can pay the ferryman, and tame the three-headed Cerberus!

They say you can’t go home again…

We hope you enjoy playing An Odyssey: Echoes of War. 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 23

2019

Author Interview: Natalia Theodoridou, An Odyssey: Echoes of War

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)


Fight the sea god’s wrath to reclaim your throne, and free yourself from the ghosts of war. Will you live forever as a hero, a sovereign, or as a god?

An Odyssey: Echoes of War is a 250,000-word interactive retelling of Homer’s Odyssey by Natalia Theodoridou, author of the Nebula nominated Choice of Games’ title Rent-a-Vice

The war is over—Troy has fallen. After ten long years, you, the crown sovereign of Ithaca, have set your sails for home. But Poseidon, god of the sea, has cursed your journey, and now, many trials stand between you and the loving embrace of your spouse and son: Polyphemus the Cyclops, Scylla and Charybdis, the Sirens, the Land of the Lotus-Eaters…you and your companions will even journey to the land of the dead.

An Odyssey: Echoes of War releases this Thursday, Dec 26th. You can play the first three chapters for free, today, at the link.


This game is a huge departure from the setting of Rent-a-Vice, which is possibly one of the grittiest and also most moving games we’ve ever seen. An Odyssey: Echoes of War is also gritty and moving, in very different ways. What inspired you to retell The Odyssey?

It was the idea of retelling that felt pertinent to me. In a sense, The Odyssey itself is a retelling. This is an oversimplification, but you can say that it is a written retelling of oral retellings of something that happened, long ago. All of that is a form of remembering. Meter, rhymes and rhythms are mnemonic devices, and, in the end, that is one of the functions of poetry. For me, poetry as technology is not so far removed from the technology that allowed people to share individual experiences, memories, and a sense of selfhood in Rent-a-Vice.

I am at a point in my life where I am continuously and palpably made aware of the importance of the tellings and retellings of stories–stories of nations, of races, of genders: our stories are being told and retold, and what stories we are told about ourselves or are made to tell about ourselves shape our histories, our bodies, our politics, our material conditions, our memories. The world is story, told and retold. Every telling of the story preserves and at the same time erases a bit of the original, because the memory of the storything is replaced by the memory of its retelling, to the point that, in the end, the story exists only in its retellings, for there is no one “thing” to be retold. This is cyclical, of course: you have to presuppose an original in order to recognize something as its version. So one is better off focusing on specific practices of retelling and their particular contexts. Translations, too, are retellings. So is the “original” text of The Odyssey–a version that we have decided to revere and uphold as the original, even though it is, in fact, an assemblage, an articulated and curated collage of fragments. The Odyssey itself is only “an” odyssey. I find that vital to remember on a personal level as I move through the world right now.

I think what I found most surprising about this game is that it’s both…action-packed and poignant. Which I suppose is true of the original, but for me Homer is always sort of steeped in this elegiac tone that makes it hard for me, the reader, to feel in the moment or on the edge of my seat. Tell me a bit about the departures you’ve taken in this game–because it certainly on some level is The Odyssey, but it’s also quite different. 

I enjoyed working with The Odyssey as a blueprint, but the game is in many ways a pastiche full of–fun, I hope!–anachronisms and intertextual references. There are echoes of Greek tragedy, other mythological cycles, and, of course, their reception in modern literature, art, and theatre. Everything and everyone in this game is supposed to be seen as an aspect of or variation on their counterpart in the “original”–however, it’s not a prerequisite to be an expert or even remotely familiar with the original to enjoy the game. I think of each playthrough as The Odyssey from an alternate universe.

One of the things I really regret about the production side of publishing An Odyssey: Echoes of War is that your original title, “Wanderer’s Song,” had to go in favor of a title which conveys more clearly to our audiences what the game is about. I love the title “Wanderer’s Song,” though, and I wanted to hear from you about how you think it captures the nature of Odysseus’ story. 

Carrying on from the previous question, what I had in mind for this game was to use The Odyssey as a theme, or even a motif, on which to elaborate and variate. I wanted to play with the idea of song and music on multiple levels. The Odyssey is, literally, the song of the wandering Odysseus as told to the poet by the Muse. In the game, you have the poet narrating everything that happens in the form of a song that in the end becomes the story of your adventure. But this song is already a retelling of the truth; how well it corresponds to the “original” is always a question of circumstances, contexts, and the agendas of the people doing the singing.

As you know, I studied Ancient Greek and classics in college, so An Odyssey holds a very special place in my heart. Have you spent time with the original text? Are there modern English translations you enjoy?

Modern Greek translations of the Homeric epics are part of the curriculum in Greek secondary education, and I have spent some time with the original text during my undergraduate theatre studies. What I really enjoy is approaching translations as retellings and interpretations and poking them in order to find out what they can reveal about the cultural, historical, and ideological contexts of their creators.

The one modern English translation I adore is Emily Wilson’s. It is often characterized as radical, when it is, in fact, much more faithful to the original than ones that came before it. For instance, not calling the slave girls that Telemachus murders “sluts” and “whores” is not a radical departure from the original, but a radical departure from the misogyny of translations that had denied these girls their humanity.

I could probably spend some hours talking with you just on the nature of Odysseus’ character. We have a lot of interesting Greek words to describe him: polytropos, metis. I’m fond of Emily Wilson’s interpretation of polytropos: “a complicated man.” 

Also a bit of an asshole, if we’re being honest. I appreciate Emily Wilson’s take on polytropos. I think it also speaks to our current cultural moment: the Western literary canon has made allowances for problematic men without necessarily delving into or even naming the things that made them complicated. This interpretation lays it all bare, while preserving the ambiguity and layers of meaning and motivation of the original. I love it.

But to go back to my abandoned title, there is another aspect of polytropos that speaks to me. Tropos in Greek musical terminology refers to a song’s mode, modality, and mood–that which makes music cohere and feel complete. Odysseus is a complicated song.

But of course one of the best things about this game is that we have an incredible supporting cast of characters, gods, monsters. Did you have a favorite NPC?

I am very fond of all my NPCs–spunky Polyxena, broody Ajax, foolish but golden-hearted Eurylochus, disenfranchised Charon, and, of course, the goat, to name a few–but I think my favorite has to be Circe. She has her own history that she refuses to fully share with anyone; it is up to the reader to fill in the blanks through acts of intertextual retelling and cultural leaps of faith. And, most of all, she is not there to be owned, and her story cannot be controlled. Some players will be disappointed that Circe is not a possible romantic interest. I could have easily built that into the story; after all, our understandings of Circe are often bound up with her sexuality, her romantic neediness, her womanhood which is intertwined with and inextricable from her sorcery and her powers of seduction. But this Odyssey is about alternatives to and queerings of the canon; it is about the stories not told yet, the lives not lived. So this Circe has moved on: from her island, from men, from pigs, from romance.

And what are you working on next?

I have long considered myself primarily a short story writer, but it seems that the epicness of this game has rubbed off on me a little bit and I’m finding myself writing longer and longer. At the moment, I feel the need to revisit some of the worlds and characters of my short stories and continue exploring. In particular, I am working on a novel set in the world of “Poems Written While,” a short story published in Uncanny Magazine earlier this year. It is a tale of poetry and stars, and of how storytelling is remembering, and how remembering is storytelling, so not too much of a departure from An Odyssey, in certain ways…

Dec 19

2019

The Magician’s Workshop–Uncover magical secrets of the Renaissance!

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)

We’re proud to announce that The Magician’s Workshop, 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 25% off until Dec 26th!

When your master is murdered, you must uncover the magical secrets of Renaissance Italy, before your rival apprentices expose them first!

The Magician’s Workshop is a 190,000-word interactive historical fantasy novel by Kate Heartfield, 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 1512, Florence is known for ruthless politics, art, and magic. Now that the infamous Medici banking family is back in power, the city is full of dangerous secrets. What would the treacherous Machiavelli do in a situation like this? Just ask him in person!

When your master’s body washes up in the Arno river, you must take over his Maria Novella workshop—the designs, the paintings, the marvelous machines and inventions, and most importantly, his book of spells, written in various ciphers and magical invisible inks. You have inherited a roster of dangerous clients who are losing patience, and two rival apprentices who could prove allies or even lovers, if they don’t turn on you to wrest the workshop from your hands.

Can you use your skills in the arts or sciences to gain allies and buy time? Are you quick enough with a blade to keep yourself safe in the streets? Are you clever enough to decode the master’s instructions to build a terrible new machine, and are you ruthless enough to sell it to the highest bidder? Or will you work together with your fellow apprentices to build the machine in secret and use it to bring stability to the city, and to all of Italy?

• Play as male, female, or non-binary; gay, straight, bi, asexual, or poly.
• Use alchemy, animation and soothsaying to create magical entertainments, win street fights and impress your clients
• Design and build a flying machine, an unbreakable vault, a wall-breaking weapon, an enchanted pen and ink for a philosopher, or a refillable gold purse for bribes
• Uncover the secrets of Florence and rise to power in your own workshop, leading your own team of magicians and artists
• Meet famous historical figures such as Niccolo Machiavelli and the future Pope Leo X
• Paint a fresco in the public square, escape your enemies in a boat chase on the Arno River, or just play cards and talk politics in the taverns of Florence

The master made dark sacrifices to learn what he knew. Are you prepared to do the same?

We hope you enjoy playing The Magician’s Workshop. 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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