We’re proud to announce that Battlemage: Magic by Mail, 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 August 19th!
Will you defend your kingdom with forbidden magic, or backstab the crown? Win tournaments, kiss a prince or princess, or just seize power for yourself!
Battlemage: Magic by Mail is a 168,000-word interactive novel by Nic Barkdull. It’s entirely text-based, without graphics or sound effects, and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.
You’re lucky you saw that ad at the market. “Learn from home! Full battlemage qualification by mail!” it said. Now, your first battlemage assignment is finally here! At last, you can master the magical arts of elementalism, illusion, healing, and necromancy.
Yesterday you were just a squire, but today you’re an aspiring battlemage! But Sir Kelton says that squires aren’t allowed to practice magic, so you’ll need to act like you actually want to be a knight, at least for now.
With the powers you can unlock, maybe you can win a tournament or two, or get in good with the royal family—you can even try your hand at the game of court politics. Or if you really want to get on Kelton’s good side, prove yourself on the battlefield, defeating the mysterious invaders that threaten your kingdom’s borders.
But beware, if you’re not careful, you’ll suffer from Arcane Corruption. At first, Corruption warps your physical appearance, but it soon takes over, putting the magic in control.
You won’t let that happen, will you?
• Play as male, female, or nonbinary; gay, straight, bi, asexual, or poly.
• Manipulate minds with illusion magic, master the elements, channel the forces of life with healing magic, or harness death with necromancy.
• Compete in tournament events like combat, archery, and jousting.
• Navigate the royal court and use intrigue and betrayal to gain power.
• Defend your kingdom from mysterious invaders led by a powerful battlemage.
• Compete with other students to gain the notice of the legendary El Cano.
• Romance a fellow squire, a humble stableboy, a prince, or a princess.
Will you be a loyal squire, a powerful battlemage, or ruler of the realm?
We hope you enjoy playing Battlemage: Magic by Mail. 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.
Will you defend your kingdom with forbidden magic, or backstab the crown? Win tournaments, kiss a prince or princess, or just seize power for yourself! Battlemage: Magic by Mail is a 168,000-word interactive novel by Nic Barkdull; I sat down with Nic to talk about his first Choice of Games title and the tropes of this genre. Battlemage: Magic by Mail releases this Thursday, Aug 12th. You can play the first three chapters for free today.
This isn’t your first time writing interactive fiction. What drew you to this form of storytelling?
My first published game was for the Interactive Fiction Competition in 2019. I did it at the suggestion of a fellow writer at another game I was working on, but I was immediately drawn in by the paradoxical simplicity yet potential complexity of the form. I quickly realized that interactive fiction is the same as any other game style, but the assets are all prose instead of drawings, 3D models, or particles. In fact, that first game, Black Sheep, was written largely on my smartphone (I had computer troubles while traveling) and it still managed to win some prize money. I had created what was essentially a point-and-click cyberpunk mystery with only the use of text and some imaginative coding. The fact that interactive fiction gives me access to such powerful mechanics made me love doing it. In fact, I’m working on another IFComp entry this year that I would describe as a cyberpunk text Metroidvania. I’ve moved on from Twine to Unity, but all the fancy UI additions are essentially for flavor. It’s still the text that drives the game.
Battlemage is a kind of classic squire story with some interesting twists and worldbuilding. Tell me about your inspirations for this game.
Honestly, at the risk of offending genre fans, it came from my doubt of the genre’s conventions. When I was young, I was an enthusiastic fan of high fantasy, but I’ve shifted more to science fiction as an adult because I never quite understood why everyone needs to carry a sword and speak like they’re from 1800’s Britain for it to be considered fantasy. It comes from Tolkien and Le Morte d’Arthur of course, but I also have a background in living outside the West and studying culture outside the dominant European knowledge sphere. So, I wanted to subvert the genre in a way that didn’t misrepresent any cultures. That meant creating a fun pastiche that plays on European fantasy but also includes modern vernacular and place names and people that are more familiar to the life I’ve lived around the world. I think this playful tone allowed me to simultaneously separate from specific historical tensions in the real world while also exploring themes like loyalty, heroism, and betrayal in an exciting way.
Did you have a favorite NPC you enjoyed writing for most?
It really shifted around during the process. I thought I would like Princess Yuwen the most, but she ended up not getting as much attention in the end. I love the shrewd politics of the Contessa, I like the way Kelton interprets loyalty and tries to be serious on the outside but how he’s soft on the inside, and I like the fact that Yuxin is arguably an evil prince yet he’s still a potential romantic interest. But I have to say the unexpected winner of the favorite character award goes to the completely unplanned Sir Clyde. He was thrown in as disposable comedic relief for one chapter but he just kept coming back for cameos right until the end.
What would you tell a writer who was also beginning a journey to write a branching narrative?
I would say check out the Choice of Games model first, and see how similar design is used for games like Disco Elysium. The CoG theory uses stats to remember choices and feel the effect of them later. The key to branching narrative is that it should give the illusion of freedom while still guiding the branches back to the main path. If your branches split off completely, you’re simply writing different stories in parallel. That is a lot of work, and if you get too far away from the other branches it’s harder for them to affect each other. And I think that lesson is literally directly from the Choice of Games style guide, so I can’t take credit for it. But after that, definitely experiment with different mechanics that play on that fundamental theory.
What are you working on outside of writing IF?
I just finished a narrative consultancy where we reworked the story for the Switch and mobile port of a small indie puzzle game called In My Shadow, so it should look quite different from the Steam release. I have also started localization for a VR arena fighting game called Quantaar, which is going into alpha at the end of August. I continue to work on personal projects, like a survival crafting mystery about crash landing on a desert island called Beyond the Beach, but it’s somewhat on hold to take a little break and stay fresh with my IFComp 2021 entry Silicon and Cells. I am also still an active academic, and I’m working on a conference paper about mimetic transgender experiences in video games which I’ll present in Vietnam in December. Overall, I’m just writing and loving writing.
We’re proud to announce that Vampire: The Masquerade — Out for Blood, 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 20% off until August 5th!
Gather your allies to hunt the vampires that terrorize your town! Study their ways and exploit their rivalries, or you’ll become a vampire yourself.
Vampire: The Masquerade — Out for Blood is a 455,000-word interactive horror novel by Jim Dattilo, based on “Vampire: The Masquerade” and set in the World of Darkness shared story universe. 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’ve barely settled into your new home of Jericho Heights on the outskirts of Chicago, before discovering that vampires live in town. You’re struggling to start a new life, meet new people, and maybe even find love. But when your neighbors start disappearing, you’re forced to take action.
Take on the role of a vampire hunter to save your town from the influence of Chastain, a vampire more than a century old. When a group of young thin-blood vampires start a war with Chastain, will you choose sides, or hunt them all?
Gather your forces and sharpen your stake to take back the night!
• Play as male, female, or nonbinary; gay, straight, or bi.
• Choose from classic VtM attributes and skills to build out your character.
• Enjoy 17 character portraits.
• Meet an ensemble cast of dynamic characters each with their own skills.
• Romance other characters, either human or vampire.
• Hunt vampires, study their ways, or try to be Embraced.
We hope you enjoy playing Vampire: The Masquerade — Out for Blood. 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.
Gather your allies to hunt the vampires that terrorize your town! Study their ways and exploit their rivalries, or you’ll become a vampire yourself.
Vampire: The Masquerade — Out for Blood is an interactive horror novel by Jim Dattilo, based on Vampire: The Masquerade and set in the World of Darkness shared story universe. I sat down with Jim to talk about his experiences writing interactive fiction and the particulars of writing about the supernatural.
You’re the only author to write for all three of our labels: A Wise Use of Time for Choice of Games, the Zombie Exodus series for Hosted Games, and All-World Pro Wrestling for Heart’s Choice. This is, however, your first time writing for a licensed property. Tell me about how your experience has varied writing for those different publishing labels.
Writing for Hosted Games is a far more open and unstructured approach to developing games. For the most part, you work directly with your beta testers or readers on an ongoing basis. You can make wild changes even after you start a project. Though I often outline scenes ahead of writing them, I can make changes based on feedback or scrap whole sections if I want to take the story in a different direction.
When writing for Choice of Games or Heart’s Choice you work directly with an editor and sometimes multiple editors that take a closer look at the game during the writing process. It’s more important to stick to the outline, since you’ve already spent time with your editor working out the entire story from start to finish. That’s not to say you can’t deviate from these plans, but you’ve already gone through rounds and rounds of discussion before you begin the first line of code.
That’s not to say one method of writing is better than another. Hosted Games allows you more freedom throughout the development process, but you can easily get derailed or sidetracked. You can second-guess yourself or allow feature creep, in which beta testers make suggestions and you keep adding to the project and push back your timeline farther and farther.
You’ve collaborated in the past with another author to write (for instance) All World Pro Wrestling. What was the “collaboration” of working in someone else’s story universe like for you?
Both challenging and rewarding! My friend, David, had a series of books all based in his wrestling universe but did not understand the program we use to develop choice-based stories. It took me a while to read through his series, learn all the characters, and understand what he hoped to achieve with the story. On the other hand, David had to change his mindset to creating choice out of a linear story. In the end, I believe the game is a success, and it’s given David the interest in learning how to code so that he can continue writing more stories for Heart’s Choice.
What surprised you about writing for a licensed IP?
I’ve been a fan of the World of Darkness for decades, all the way back to the first edition, so this was an exciting opportunity and I was completely freaked out from the start! I realized that the WoD team will provide consistent feedback on all of my writing which was both exhilarating and frightening. Even though I have played Vampire: the Masquerade for so long, I obviously don’t know the rules and setting as well as the people who developed the universe. I’m sure there are many fans who know more about the game than I do. So there’s always that worry that you’re going to write something that strays from the books. And as someone who has played for so long, you tend to homebrew and develop your own rules that fit your gaming crew. Often you don’t even remember you made those things up.
Having said all of that, I also had the benefit of hundreds of books for inspiration and access to the WoD team. To be able to bounce ideas off of them was invaluable. They provided feedback and made suggestions that made the game feel more authentic and real. It was incredibly fulfilling to receive notes on each of my chapters and at times even see their excitement in my choice to use certain lore of the game.
Diversity was a key to the cast in a number of aspects. I wanted to show how a number of people from different walks of life could come together to battle a common foe. It can be a single mother who is vice principal of the middle school, or a young man who works for his family’s accounting firm. It can even be a teenager who realizes the supernatural threats in town. Jericho Heights is a small town, but it showcases exceptional people who step up to defend the place they call home.
It was also important for me to include a main character with a mobility impairment. As someone who has used a wheelchair for most of my life, I wanted to provide representation for a hero like me. I can’t share all the details about this character due to spoilers, but I wanted to explore a character that appears on the surface to be at a huge disadvantage fighting against vampires but in fact has adapted to be a major advantage to the rest of the group.
Vampire: The Masquerade — Out for Blood is also an interesting departure for our Vampire: The Masquerade games in that the PC is in fact, not a vampire. What was it about that side of the story that made you pitch this? I’m thinking of course, about your PCs’ relationship with the supernatural/monstrous in say, Zombie Exodus.
I’ve always been drawn to the concept of a normal person battling against the supernatural. I’ve been fascinated with the role of a hunter ever since reading books like Dracula and Salem’s Lot and movies like Fright Night. I love the setting of a small town stalked by a vampire and how a group of citizens join together to battle this supernatural foe. When you play as a vampire, you have clear power over mortals but you’re also a creature of ego, greed, and callousness. Mortals need to work together in a coordinated fashion, often selflessly, to battle the odds. Those are the stories I enjoy sharing with others.
Have you been a tabletop roleplayer or LARPer in the past? What do you think about the intersection of interactive fiction and roleplaying?
I have been playing TTRPGs for the past 30 years. I actually signed up for my first LARP just before COVID hit! I was excited to role play a live session as a Malkavian therapist to the Kindred, but all sessions were cancelled due to the pandemic. Since then, I’ve moved all of my games onto virtual tabletop. I’m excited to see Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition recently launching on Roll20. Playing online over Discord with dice rollers, maps, and images has made it so easy and immersive that I’m finding it difficult to fit all of the games I want to enjoy into my busy schedule.
One of my goals with writing interactive fiction is to allow players to role play their specific characters. The difficulty is always balancing how much choice to provide vs. the complexity of the game. I want to give a wide variety of options that pushes the boundaries of immersion despite the limitations of the medium. As game developers we can only code so much.
What are you working on next?
I’m going to spend most of my focus on Zombie Exodus: Safe Haven though I will be collaborating on several secret projects. Over the past five years I’ve worked on no less than two titles at one time and now I want to put the majority of my effort into the game I started with.
Dinosaur Island Escape (DIE) is a 84,000 word interactive puzzle based-open world novel written by Chris Viola, where you attempt to escape the deadliest place on Earth. It’s entirely text based, and powered by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.
Explore an uncharted island filled with prehistoric predators that see you as nothing more than a free meal. Solve mysteries, uncover secrets, and explore this open world in a unique way. The sandbox style of the game, combined with the chance to build your own statline and dozens of different items to find and invent gives you the chance to have a new experience every time you play.
Play as a male, female or non-binary; gay, straight, lesbian or bi.
Find multiple ways off the island, allowing for a different adventure each play through.
Be the center of a love triangle while your current partner and an attractive stranger fight over you.
Fight dinosaurs with a katana, run from them with your blazing speed, fight them in hand to hand combat, shoot them with a rifle or sneak by them with unmatched stealth.
Explore an abandoned city, a vast castle, a mountain range, and a vast beach. Survive jumping off a waterfall, sinking in quicksand and a facing a giant crocodile.
Save civilians in a race against the clock to stop pterosaurs from destroying your home town.
Will you die a violent death, survive by the skin of your teeth, or uncover lost secrets and bring them back for the world to see?
A terrible curse ruined your royal wedding, placing your soul into your pirate grandfather’s body. To lift it, you must lead a crazy crew through countless hilarious challenges in this adventure inspired by Monkey Island and Pirates of the Caribbean.
Pirates of Donkey Island is a funny, 79,000 word interactive swashbuckling novel by Gilbert Gallo, 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.
A gorilla gentleman, an undead rocker, a fast-aging Voodoo crone, and a ridiculous spokesman. These will be your only companions in the most incredible journey of your life. Every member has a peculiar story, and their experiences/interactions will help you determine your final, authentic self.
After dozens of insult-sword fighting duels, grog contests, and rigged wheels of fortunes, you will eventually look at life from an entirely different perspective.
With your crew’s help, you’ll discover the truth about your hated pirate grandfather. Will you then embrace your cursed condition or fight against your doom?
Decide your main character’s body and orientation during the game. Will you end up being male, female, or non-binary? Gay, straight, or asexual? It’s up to you to decide.
Live the cursed swashbuckler’s life! Will you look for a way to lift your curse or enjoy your damned existence until the afterlife?
Find romance with a hairy, mighty gorilla or spend your life together with a zombie. Or will you prefer to date a venerable, wrinkly, and toothless lady?
Lead a motley crew of cursed people and use their incredible powers to uncover the Cursed Caribbean’s mysteries.
Engage your opponents in hilarious insult-sword-fighting duels!
Will you cherish your crew members as a respected leader, or will you betray them for gold, selling their souls to Davy Jones?
Stop waving your sword like a feather duster and sail the Cursed Caribbeans to discover the ultimate treasure: your true self!
Chris and Gilbert developed their games 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.
We’re proud to announce that Pugmire: Treasure of the Sea Dogs, 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 25% off until July 22nd!
Will you be a good dog, or a scurvy sea dog? In this swashbuckling furry adventure, when nefarious pirate cats murder your mentor and steal the famous Corgi pearls, you’ll chase the cats across the seas to fetch and recover the treasure!
Pugmire: Treasure of the Sea Dogs is a 100,000-word interactive nautical tail by Eddy Webb, 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.
“Be a good dog. Protect your home. Be loyal to those who are true.” — The Code of Man
Dogs, cats, and other uplifted species have inherited the world, untold centuries after the Ages of Man have ended. Now, in the kingdom of Pugmire, you are a recently graduated member of the Royal Pioneers of Pugmire, a group dedicated to traveling the more hazardous parts of the world to protect dogs in need, recovering lost knowledge and artifacts, and hunting down dangerous criminals. But when your trustee and patron Padraig Corgi is murdered by a dark wizard, and his family’s treasured pearls stolen, it’s up to you to recover the pearls and avenge his death!
You’ll travel with fellow pioneer Sonya Pyrenees, a fearless warrior who has turned her back on her family’s heritage in order to fight evil abroad, and Damian Borzoi, a ne’er-do-well ex-lover of Padraig’s who wants revenge while having a good time…ideally with someone else’s money. Together you explore the ruins of Earth with sword or spells in your paw!
As you strike out and make a name for yourself, and for your family, can you navigate the tense post-war politics between your kingdom and the enemy city-states of the cats? Will you embrace or reject the dogs who have cast off the leash of civilization? Are you a good dog, and will others see you as one?
• Play as male, female, or nonbinary; gay, straight, aromantic, or polyamorous.
• Explore a future-fantasy world of uplifted dogs, cats, birds, and others.
• Navigate the politics of both the kingdom of Pugmire and their rivals, the cats of the Monarchies of Mau.
• Choose any breed of dog you like, as well as from one of eight distinct callings.
• Sail on the Acid Sea, keeping your ship afloat while avoiding sea monsters and pirates.
• Fight or outsmart demons, zombies, and the kraken.
A pawesome adventure awaits!
We hope you enjoy playing Pugmire: Treasure of the Sea Dogs. 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.
Will you be a good dog, or a scurvy sea dog? In this swashbuckling furry adventure, when nefarious pirate cats murder your mentor and steal the famous Corgi pearls, you’ll chase the cats across the seas to fetch and recover the treasure!
I love the Pugmire world. Tell me how it came about, its origins, and all about the TTRPG this game comes from.
I’m glad you like it! That always means the world to me when I hear it.
The short version of Pugmire, for those who don’t know, is that it’s our world, but in the distant future. Humanity has gone… somewhere… and uplifted animals altered by technology are left behind to pick up the pieces. They view their mistaken archeology through a fantasy lens, so it’s kind of “Lord of the Rings” meets “Planet of the Apes,” but with dogs and cats.
The world partially came because, as a TTRPG designer, I knew I eventually wanted to make a fantasy game, but a lot of fantasy games are heavy on lore dumps or reliance on knowledge of other fantasy games. The other part came from a time when I was walking my two pugs at the time (Puck and Murray), and I started comparing their contrasting personalities to Dungeons & Dragons classes. When I got back home, I started playing with the idea of how far I could take that analogy. It turns out, quite a distance!
I did write and publish a short story in the world, but the editors asked me when the TTRPG would come out, so I quickly pitched the idea to my friends at Onyx Path Publishing, who eagerly greenlit the idea. It went on to a successful Kickstarter in 2015, it’s been reprinted a couple of times, and now there’s even a version in Japanese! I made the TTRPG to be familiar to fans of D&D, but also easy to approach for new gamers. So if people love the world in “Treasure of the Sea Dogs,” there’s a lot more to find at realmsofpugmire.com!
How does Treasure of the Sea Dogs fit into the larger canon of Pugmire?
As I started work on this novel, I was also working on the first big supplement for the TTRPG, “Pirates of Pugmire.” So as that book evolved, I went back and adjusted the novel to fit seamlessly into it. For example, the two central characters of Pirates of Pugmire (Sabu and Pally) have significant roles in this novel, and some small details in the novel get mentioned in PoP. I naturally had to take a few small liberties to make an interesting Choice of Games title, but I tried hard to make it as seamless as possible.
What inspired your anthropomorphic creatures? Is there a pug in your life? Can I see a picture if so?
There were two pugs in my life who were very inspirational during the initial creation of the game, and even get referenced in the novel. Murray, our black pug, appears as Seneschal Murra Pug, and his brother Puck briefly appears at King Puckington Pug. Luckily, the cover artist for the novel (Claudio Pozas) has also worked on a lot of Pugmire books, and I was able to hire him to make Pugmire-ized versions of them for my own personal use. They have both since passed on, but I’m always happy to share pictures of my boys!
This is a real departure from Ratings War, which I feel is one of our really underrated Choice of Games titles. Tell me what you’ve learned about narrative and choices since writing that game.
I’m glad that there are Ratings War fans out there! I still have a soft spot for that game, but I’ve learned a lot since then. For one thing I was never happy with the abrupt ending for Ratings War, so I worked hard on this to make sure the ending was more satisfying. Some of the beta readers had even more great insights, which helped refine that as well. But I also learned a lot more about how to make each choice compelling, even if they weren’t all deeply impactful. And I learned a lot from y’all! Choice of Games has really figured out what their audience likes and were able to articulate those details to me both at the start and throughout the process.
What else are you working on right now?
At the time I’m writing this I’m getting ready to launch the next big Pugmire Kickstarter for “Squeaks in the Deep”, featuring mice and rats, and there are a lot more Pugmire-related things happening in the background. I also do a lot of freelance work, most recently on the official Transformers TTRPG, as well as other tabletop games like Blackbirds and Trinity Continuum: Anima (a cyberpunk game that Ratings War fans might enjoy!). I’ve also been writing scripts now and then for Extra Credits, a YouTube show about game design. I try to keep everything I’m working on up at my professional website, so folks can head to pugsteady.com and find everything I’ve worked on!
Romance immortal beings in a world of epic fantasy! Fall in love with witches, princes, dragons, and more in a millennia-spanning search for eternal companionship. Immortality is a life of sex, violence, and tough moral questions. Burn castles, write poetry, seduce mortals, stop wars, unlock dark powers – you have all the time in the world to do as you please.
It’s 33% off until July 8th!
Kiss from Deathis a 320,000-word interactive novel by William Loman. A typical playthrough is between 50,000 and 100,000 words. It’s entirely text-based, fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.
Play as male or female, straight, gay, bisexual, pansexual, or asexual.
Romance partners who are asexual, bisexual, gay, straight, male, female, gender-fluid, or non-binary.
Seek out rumors of eight romanceable immortals across the land: an undead witch, an eldritch cultist, a shapeshifting demon, a cursed prince, a suit of animated armor, a mermaid, a vampire, or a dragon.
Hoard power, influence, and wealth as you take advantage of many lifetimes to hone your skills.
Encounter more than a dozen romanceable mortals, including elves, dwarves, satyrs, demons, and other fantasy creatures along your many journeys.
Fight against a dark destiny foretold by the God of Time. Tear the gods from their perch above the world. Bring justice to all.
Immortality comes with a price. No story ends happily ever after, but happy moments with the one you love are still worth fighting for.
Who will you love at the end of the world?
William Loman 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.
We’re proud to announce that Belle-de-Nuit, the latest in our “Heart’s Choice” line of multiple-choice interactive romance novels, is now available for iOS and Android in the “Heart’s Choice” app. You can also download it on Steam, or enjoy it on our website. It’s 25% off until Jun 24th!
Win duels and hearts as a swordswoman at the Belle-de-Nuit, Paris’s finest luxury brothel! Fight for the honor of the ladies of the night in this game of swords and seductions.
Belle-de-Nuit is a 115,000-word interactive romance novel by Rebecca Zahabi, author of Never Date Werewolves. It’s entirely text-based, without graphics or sound effects, and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.
The Belle-de-Nuit is yours to protect, and yours to love. Some of the courtesans have been your best friends for years, and maybe you have a childhood sweetheart whom you’d like to steal from her customers… There is also the shy bartender, with a heavy secret and liquor-scented lips. They have arrived in Paris without telling anyone where they came from, why they travelled this far, or why they always seem so nostalgic.
But Madame wants you to focus on securing the next big patron for the Belle-de-Nuit. Unfortunately, he has a duelist of his own, Sebastian–so frustratingly good at fencing, he threatens your reputation as the best duelist in Paris. You are burning to defeat him in a duel…but do you want to best him with the blade, or bed him?
Madame’s house is filled with lovers. But which will be yours?
Play as female, gay, straight or bi.
Indulge in Parisian nightlife, where seduction and good wine, lies and kisses go hand in hand.
Choose a sweetheart – or get involved with more than one – between a rival duelist, a lady of the night and the shy bartender who pours your drinks.
Climb rooftops, duel in narrow Parisian streets, outwit your foes, cross-dress to fool and seduce, throw a rose to your chosen one – all in a day’s work!
Win duels, role-play as a courtesan, outwit your foes – or fall for them!
Uncover secrets which are only whispered at dusk, on rooftops, looking over the beautiful Parisian skyline…
Protect the ladies of the night as they go about their evening, get involved with pouring drinks or playing card games with the clients – or more!
You’ll fight for the honor of the Belle-de-Nuit brothel, be it with steel or soft lips.
We hope you enjoy playing Belle-de-Nuit. 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.
Win duels and hearts as a swordswoman at Paris’s finest luxury brothel! Fight for the honor of ladies of the night in this game of swords and seductions. Belle-de-Nuit is a 107,000-word interactive romance novel by Rebecca Zahabi, author of Never Date Werewolves. I sat down with Rebecca to talk about the game’s unique setting and subject. Belle-de-Nuit releases this Thursday, June 17th. You can play the first few chapters today!
This is your second game for our Heart’s Choice line and Belle-de-Nuit couldn’t be more different from Never Date Werewolves. Tell me about how your approach to the genre has evolved.
That’s funny, because I would argue that they are actually quite similar: both have a central female MC, both focus on an aspect of women’s lives which isn’t often discussed in fiction (being a single mother, dealing with sex-work) and both, of course, are romances. But yes, you’re right, the setting and the genre are very different.
I think the reason I changed setting is because I like to find new spaces I haven’t yet explored in my writing. I find it hard to stick to the same story or genre, as I like to wander. I also felt a lot more confident with Belle-de-Nuit – I mastered ChoiceScript a lot more, I knew what players had liked/disliked in Never Date Werewolves, and I had a stronger sense of how to weave RO characters into the main thread of the story. So my approach to writing a Heart’s Choice changed, hopefully for the best, because of what I’d learnt.
What is it that drew you to write about this period in French history?
When I started thinking about the game, I knew I wanted to write a swashbuckling story, with plenty of sword- and wordplay. I thought about stories I had read in the swashbuckling genre: The Three Musketeers, Cyrano de Bergerac, De Cape et de Crocs, etc. All these stories are tales I grew up with, and in my mind they’re linked to flashy duelists making witty comments as they fight. They are all set in the 17th century, so that was the period I researched. I’ve actually set Belle-de-Nuit a bit after The Three Musketeers, around 1650. There is an interesting gap there, where Louis XIII has died, and Louis XIV is too young to rule, and his mother is Regent. There is a bit of a power-vacuum, and opportunities for a PC to be freer than in a more regulated period of history, which is always interesting to write about!
It’s kind of an amazing and perhaps unfamiliar world that the PC inhabits. What part of writing that most appealed to you?
Often swashbuckling stories focus on a few men from the nobility, who can afford to roam and fight. Career options for working class women at the time were limited: being married and helping run the family business, being sent to a nunnery, or doing sex-work. I was interested in exploring how sex-work both set women apart, yet helped them gain independence and freedom. Because it was a form of freedom: they were self-organized and their work was legalized, which is interesting to think about considering the current debate as to whether to legalize sex-work to better protect women.
I also think it is an unusual, underused setting in fiction. Often the men of swashbuckling stories have women involved in the periphery of their lives, but they never take central stage. (When they do, it doesn’t end well: look at poor Milady’s fate after her brush against Dumas’s musketeers!) I wanted a story that gave both women, and people who were not from the nobility, a chance to shine – and to fight duels whilst delivering witty lines!
One thing I appreciated about Belle-de-Nuit was the sex-positive feminist view it takes of sex work. Can you talk a little about that?
When writing Belle-de-Nuit, I knew I wanted to try to destigmatize sex-work and talk about women’s pleasure. I wanted a story which explored that setting, not through the lens of the male gaze, but as a place run by women and which was a huge part of their lives.
In fiction, we have few positive representations of brothels from a female perspective. The only stories I can think of underline the abuse and economical violence which often accompanies sex work. While we do need stories which acknowledge and denounce the exploitation which often takes place, I think we are lacking sex-positive, destigmatizing narratives where sex-workers are more than their job; we lack stories that acknowledge that a free, consensual form of sex-work is something we as a society could be striving for. These stories are starting to appear, in Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear, or Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers, but they are far from numerous.
One of the beta-readers said this: “I love the plot it’s bold and against the grain. This story brings lots of culturally taboo topics to the front stage. From prostitution, public sex, having children before getting married, men being vulnerable, and women’s sexuality, and women fighting, this story breaks all boundaries.” I was incredibly happy with this feedback, because it was exactly what I was trying to achieve.
You recently had a book out, as well. Tell me a little about it.
The Game Weavers came out in October 2020, with the indie press Zuntold. It’s been a long, exciting adventure getting this first novel published! If I had to summarize the story in one line, I would say it is about LGBTQ+ representation in esports – if esports were magic.
In The Game Weavers, the national sport is a magic practice called Twine, in which players weave creatures through threads that emanate from their fingertips. The main character, Seojun, is a Korean Twine champion playing for the UK. The story starts when he is outed by the media after a one-night stand. With the help of his brother Minjun and Jack, the man he can’t quite decide if he loves or not, Seo has to fight to get his life back on track whilst facing the biggest match of his career.
As you can see, like for Belle-de-Nuit, it’s hard for me not to be thinking about representation and how fiction can help us tell better, more inclusive stories.
Where is your imagination leading you for your next creative endeavor, or maybe even your next Heart’s Choice title?
With regards my novel-writing, I’m now working on a fantasy trilogy, which is scary for me, as it’s my first time attempting a story that spans more than one volume. Once again, I can’t seem to escape blending magic and political themes, thinking about representation and power structures in fiction and in life.
With regards to interactive fiction writing, I’ve had a lot of fun writing Belle-de-Nuit, and I’ve grown close to the characters. So, despite what I said above, I would be happy writing a bit more about the belles, and finding out where their journeys might lead them and the PC. If players enjoy the game – which I hope they do! – then I would love to write a sequel.