Wednesday, April 16, 2014

April A to Z - N is for Neil Rennison from Tin Man Games

Hello all!  Today we also have Neil Rennison from Tin Man games, a company that has produced tons and tons of gamebook apps both original and based on paper gamebooks in the last 5 years.  Neil has been kind enough to interview again (here is his 2013 interview) about his year.

Are you pleased with the last 12 months?
Yes! We turned 5 years old and released a sequel to our very first digital gamebook, Curse of the Assassin, as part of that celebration. We’ve also released lots of other gamebook titles this year including another Gamebook Adventures title, some more of Ian Livingstone’s Fighting Fantasy titles, Gary Chalk’s Gun Dogs, Trial of the Clone by Zach Weinersmith (narrated by Wil Wheaton!), Hex Boyfriends, some French exclusive titles, and our first Chooseomatic title. On top of that we secured some important funding and that investment has been used to create a new gamebook engine that will be used for lots of future titles. Expect things to change a lot!

What do you think has been your crowning achievement in the world of gamebooks?
Ooh, that’s tough. Creating our own brand, Gamebook Adventures, has been really special for us and that success has been so important for us to then secure licenses, the likes of Fighting Fantasy, Judge Dredd, Way of the Tiger, Grailquest and more.

You have a lot of gamebooks to produce.  Are there lots more that you can turn your attentions to?
Sure, why not? There is a wealth of classic gamebooks out there as well as some wonderfully written new titles coming out all the time.

What spoils a gamebook for you?
Too much tinkering with the existing rules system within the gamebook is an issue for me. I’m all for experimentation with rules systems, but once designed for that book, keep things simple and maintain the consistency throughout the adventure.

What makes a gamebook stand out for you?
Great writing and design that gives me agency. I want to be sucked into a world and I want to manipulate that world, though not by much. Gamebooks work best when there is a walled garden, but the trick to good gamebook design and writing not making that apparent to the reader.

What advice would you offer to someone who thinks that they want to write their own gamebook?
Write that thing! Self-publishing is pretty easy these days. Get it out there for sale on various print-on-demand sites.

What do people need to think about when writing a gamebook that will be turned into an app?
Writing a gamebook for an app over a paperback is very different. Firstly there needs to be a knowledge of the engine – both its advantages on where you can take the design, but also on its limitation too. Also the language needs to change. Having a quote like ‘you drink the potion, remove it from your adventure sheet’ isn’t possible. You need to take away the ‘doing’ onus away from the reader in the narrative as the app handles all that.

Are you planning on writing any more gamebooks?

Yes. I’ve been writing a prequel to The Siege of the Necromancer forever. It’s called ‘A Guard’s Tale’. I also have plans for an epic political-style gamebook called ‘The Two Thrones’, still very much fantasy, but with less animated skeletons and giant rats! It will be set in Drymar, the country to the east of Orlandes, and will involve the tale of how Drymar came to be – the battles between the two great cities of Dryborg and Marborn.

What future projects do you have that you can talk about?
Where do I start? We have a lot of Fighting Fantasy titles incoming including Starship Traveller (out soon!) and Appointment with F.E.A.R. using our new gamebook engine. Then we have at least three more Gamebook Adventures (one of them written by somebody called Stewart Floyd I think?), as well as Sagas of Fire*Wolf (a rebirth of Herbie Brennan’s Sagas of the Demonspawn), Way of the Tiger, Grailquest, Joe Dever’s Freeway Warrior, a second Dredd book and a whole lot more I can’t remember off the top of my head.

What is your wish for gamebooks?
That they continue to evolve and progress. We’ll try and help achieve that!


  1. I'm really impressed that you've been doing interviews for your A to Z theme! That's some serious commitment and planning. Also, you've got some interesting ones. I'm glad you commented on my blog with your link.

  2. I agree, very well done.

    Also, this seems like a good place to ask this question. Do you know what's happening with the 'Deathtrap Dungeon' android app? There's been little or no info about it for some time now. The last I heard it was still on the cards but had been postponed until a later date, but it was a fair ol' while ago now that I heard that.

    Anyone have anymore news. It's the main one I've been waiting for. I'm starting to get jittery!

  3. Wow, TinMan Games has lots of interesting future projects... You guys are very very powerful! Let's gamebook'em all!