Here's Giles and Ian discussing narrative design, storytelling for games, what we do at Talespinners, and the realities of VR storytelling. Thanks to Karsten from Nevigo for coming along to our stand at Gamescom 2017 to chat to us.
We've been working with Curiscope on Operation Apex, their roomscale VR adventure set in the depths of the ocean. For more info, check out their website here - the ocean is a perfect fit for VR, and given their experience in the field we're excited to see the result.
From the site:
We strongly believe we all have the power to inspire one another to care more about our planet. We are deeply concerned about marine life and its future. The ocean forms two thirds of the Earth and millions of tonnes of plastic ends up in it every year, killing marine life and threatening precious creatures. Operation Apex invites you to get fully submersed in the wonders of the ocean and connect with its inhabitants.
The Develop conference in Brighton was excellent for us this year – we’ve just confirmed that we’re working with two new clients who we met for the first time at the event.
Winter Hall is a game in development from Lost Forest Games. At Develop, it was announced as a semi-finalist in the Epic Games/Wellcome Trust Developing Beyond competition. The game focuses on exploring a village in England that has gone through the ravages of the Black Death – you, the protagonist, can jump into different characters’ perspectives to explore the horror-tinged legacy. We’re helping to knock the story into shape and to develop the writing – fingers crossed for the game in the final round of the competition!
Depot is a sci-fi adventure game from Villainous Games. We’re working with Mark and his team to develop the overall story, which we won’t spoil here – keep an eye out for further announcements!
Ian has two talks coming up in the next week.
The first is 3:15 this Sunday at the Nineworlds convention in London. In this talk, Ian will dive into what’s really going on when you’re trying to create strong emotions such as horror in computer games, LARP, and other media, drawing on examples from recent titles he’s worked on. He’ll discuss strategies you can use to elicit specific responses from your players through design, writing, art, sound and gameplay. More information here.
The second is at the Arcade Vaults popup in Cardiff on Monday 7th at 6pm, where Ian will be talking about the bits of game storytelling which aren’t the words, and giving some hints and tips on techniques to use. More information here!
We're really happy to announce that we're working with Earplay, the US company at the forefront of 'stories you play with your voice' - interactive audio productions across devices such as Amazon's Alexa and Google Home.
If you haven't tried out their games, enable Earplay on Alexa or the Google Assistant, or download the Earplay app on iOS or Codename Cygnus on Android. You'll soon get an idea of what's possible; interactive audio plays that put you right at the heart of the action and allow you to steer.
We're working closely with them to bring a number of new audio drama series to life. Keep your ears open for further announcements as soon we're allowed to talk about them!
(We're also extremely pleased to be working with one of our industry heroes, Dave Grossman. But don't tell him that! He's got to be tired of people talking about three-headed monkeys by now...)
We've been helping out Green Tree Games for over a year now on their upcoming title Burden of Command.
It's a great idea - a mix of interactive fiction and tactical play, but focusing on what it really means to be a leader of a squad of troops in war - the emotional struggle between keeping your soldiers alive and achieving the army's objectives.
It's built on real-world scenarios drawn from World War 2, and features consultancy from military experts, from game designers and writers such as Chris Avellone and Alexis Kennedy, and from us!
Check out the site, and keep an eye on this one, it's going to be something special.
We keep getting asked how someone can start writing for games. In fact, we’re asked so often, that Ian wrote a blog post on it so he can just point people at that. You can find it over here.
It's six months since our last State of the Nation and we haven't stopped. Both Giles and Ian have been working on Talespinners more-than-full-time, and we've had extra support from our raft of external writers - several of whom have now joined us as associates! It's been a joy being involved in so many varied projects, watching them grow from inception into full-fledged playable games.
So let's quickly catch up with what we've been up to since December:
- Fairytale Distillery's The Exiled came to Steam.
- We created a setting and story for Instinct Games, one of the teams behind Ark: Survival Evolved.
- Early previews came out for Raiders of Erda, a fantasy VR MORPG we're working on for Cooperative Innovations.
- The Bunker went to Cannes as a short film. Not only that, but it's up for several awards at Develop this year, including Best Writing! It's also just come out on mobile as well as console/Steam - take a look if you haven't.
- We announced that we're working on Quantum Soup's bardic RPG title Talesinger: The Voice of the Dragon - in both Welsh and English.
- nDreams and Paw Print Games announced Bloody Zombies a 2D VR brawler. Giles had a lot of fun on that one!
- The team behind Raid: World War II announced that one of their lead actors is John Cleese, which took us all by surprise!
- We gave a whole load of lectures and talks, including one for BAFTA on horror and philosophy in interactive media.
- We've also talked to lots of people and played loads of great games at GDC in San Francisco, Nordic Game in Sweden, EGX: Rezzed in London and all sorts of other places.
That's all on top of the other projects we've already announced, including our work on Frictional's upcoming super-secret game, and on Cardboard Sword's The Siege and the Sandfox.
So there we go - our second State of the Nation. It's impossible to list all the things we're involved with right now, partly because of NDAs, and partly because there are too many to count! Watch out for more news on releases, there'll be plenty of excitement in the next few months.
The Develop award nominations are out! Great to see Splendy Games’ The Bunker doing so well – Best Writing, Best Performance, and the studio itself for two other awards. We co-wrote the game with Splendy, Steve Ince and Kevin Beimers, so obviously the writing award is the important one from our point of view – it’s up against some amazing games.