Saturday, April 23, 2016

April A to Z - T is for Tin Man Games

 Good day to you all! Today, we have Neil Rennison from Tin Man Games, the company that started making great gamebook apps back in 2008 and has been making them ever since. And they look like they will still be going for a while...

Your latest Kickstarter for The Warlock of Firetop Mountain was a huge succes and it is taking your gamebook apps to another level. What new features shall we expect to see?

Essentially at it’s base core is the gamebook. That’s what we have the license to produce and it’s the major material we have to work with. Where we’re upping our game in this instance is in two major areas which are making it more visually accessible to gamers that like modern-day RPGs and increasing replayability. The way we have done this is by introducing digital miniatures, representations in 3D of the pewter figurines you would use in a table-top RPG or wargame. The digital miniatures can be used to move around a 3D representation of Firetop Mountain that accompanies the gamebook text – very much like a board in a board game or the graph-paper maps you may construct in a tabletop D&D game. What the miniatures also allow us to do is to add replayability by playing with a different miniature each time you enter Firetop Mountain and having a slightly different experience. The motivations of one character for entering the Mountain might be very different to another.

When will Warlock be out? Where can we get it?
Hopefully around May/June on Steam. It will then come to other platforms later in the year.

Do you have any other gamebooks lined up for the Warlock experience?

Yes! Assuming Warlock does well, we’ll go straight into Deathtrap Dungeon.

Are there any future features that you can tell us about at the moment?

We’re hoping that players of Warlock will be able to take their digital miniatures from one game to another to open up easter eggs in each. All still pie in the sky at the moment, but that’s the plan!

Are you now able to talk about that thing you showed people at Fighting Fantasy Fest?

The map? Yes! Firetop Mountain will now be a 3D map that you interact with.

You have bought many great classic gamebooks to digital format, such as Fighting Fantasy, Fire*Wolf and the Forgotten Spell. Are there any authors or series that will be released this year?
We’re currently working on Grailquest.

How about gamebooks based on popular culture, such as Warhammer 40k gamebooks, Judge Dredd or the Strange Loves series? Will we see any gamebooks based on the current zeitgeist?

We’ll be looking to continue and expand our free-to-play subscription based game, Choices: And The Sun Went Out. We’re also working on a choice-based visual novel based on the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries TV show, which is currently looking amazing!

You have also translated the foreign language gamebook Sons of Uruzime to English. Are there any other foreign language gamebooks you are looking to translate?
La Bataille de Ia Drang has been translated to English and will be coming out later in the year.

How about Orlandes? Will there be any return trips there?
Sadly not for the foreseeable. If Warlock does well for us then I wouldn’t rule out a new Orlandrian adventure in the future.

There seem to be a wave of gamebooks based on public domain/historical domain works, such as Frankenstein, 80 Days, To Be or Not To Be, Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland. Is this a seem of material that will be mined further?

Yes. We’re actually pitching an idea to someone important very soon. Watch this space.

Do you fancy writing another gamebook? A sequel to Siege of the Necromancer?
I would love to but work, life, kids, time…blah, blah, blah. ;)

How about products based on your gamebooks such as novels? Board games? RPGs? Music? Films?

We’ve investigated an RPG in the past based on Gamebook Adventures but nothing materialised.

There was a physical copy of GA1 floating around. How is that project going?

Snowbooks, a British publisher, are currently editing it!!

I know I've asked this before, but the climate was different back then. How does a gamebook writer get themselves out there today, what with a resurgence happening?
Write and self-publish. It’s actually pretty easy now although there is increased competition in that space now so choose your own genre wisely.

Besides writing, how else can people get into the gamebook world?
Illustrators and Editors are always at a premium. If you have any of those skills then you can easily leverage them if a company (or individual writer) is looking.

What do you look for in your gamebook app production team members?
Anyone we employ always needs to be able to just get on with the stuff they are good at. We are a small company with limited resources so we don’t have the time for hand-holding. Every team member is the wearer of many hats so needs to be adaptable to getting their hands dirty at times doing tasks that may not be their primary skill.

Your business is now 8 years old. Congratulations! If you had a time machine, what would you go back and tell yourself in 2008 to make your life easier?
Don’t make gamebook apps! Or do make gamebook apps but don’t expect to be one of those Angry Birds stories. That may sound bizarre as I love making our apps, but seriously the market is very niche and it’s difficult to make really good money. It’s lots and lots of hard work for very limited returns. You need to have passion and commitment and a decent LUCK roll every now and then.

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