Thaum: (noun). A unit of magical energy
Bodge: (verb). To hack or kludge
Eric Knight was a child prodigy who was featured on the cover of Invent! Magazine at the age of 13 for his invention of an anti-stain chemical treatment.
Unfortunately, he hasn’t invented anything since and now, at the age of 23, he has a strong case of imposter syndrome. He feels like a failure.
For the past few years he has been given laboratory space in a start-up incubator, but as the game opens, he is holding a letter from IncuLab threatening to pull the plug if he cannot demonstrate within a day that his latest invention works.
As he thinks this over, an energetic stranger named Jack bursts into his lab and says, “I’m your wake-up call, dude. You feel like you don't quite fit in, right? Weird things happen when you're around? Traffic lights turn red just as you get to them. Elevator doors don't close when you push the button. Your alarm clock randomly fails in the morning. There's a name for people like that. We're called Bodgers. I'm one, and you might be one too.”
Eric soon learns that Bodgers are a group of people through whom magic flows into the world. Some Bodgers aren’t aware of this ability, and they come to regard themselves as accident-prone, jinxes, or jonahs. But Bodgers who realize their identity can learn to channel this mischievous magic. The aim of a Bodger is to make a small thing go wrong in order to make big things go right.
Is Eric himself a Bodger? Through the course of the game he tries to find out. But first there is an imminent danger that must be dealt with. Another inventor has created a thaumeter – a device that measures magical energy. Its unveiling is planned for the end of day, and if that happens then the existence of the Bodgers will be exposed, and mass persecution will follow.
Years ago, I wrote text adventure games for Infocom. And then I wrote text-and-graphic adventures, like TIMEQUEST and Eric The Unready, for Legend Entertainment.
And then, sadly, the genre lost its commercial potential and I had to move on to making different kinds of games for a living. But I was always looking back over my shoulder to the games that used only words to fire players’ imaginations, games where the person playing the game felt an intimate connection to the person who designed it.
I believe something was lost when our industry moved away from parser-driven games. Players lost the feeling that we could try anything we could think of. Games became more claustrophobic. And we especially lost the feeling that we were playing with the person who wrote the game.
So eleven years ago, I decided to return to the genre I love best. The task was daunting – to design, write, and code a game all by myself. I had to select and learn a development engine. I could only work nights and weekends. I had to battle orcs and balrogs… no, wait. That was a WoW raid last weekend.
Years passed, but now the game is coming to life. With it, I hope to restore that intimate connection. I hope that each player feels they are playing with me. That we can have a conversation. That we can have fun together.
Last May, I held a closed alpha test. Twenty players sent me their transcripts, and by the end of the month I knew for sure that the game will be up to the standards of a classic adventure game. It is a full-size, comedic, puzzle-driven, text adventure of the sort we would have been proud to publish at either Infocom or Legend.
So, having self-funded the game for so long, why am I now coming to Kickstarter and asking for your help in getting the game out the door? The answer is time, technical help, ports, and music. At the rate I’ve been going, it will take several more years to complete the game. But with a successful Kickstarter, I can devote more time to the game now and get it out the door within months, rather than years. And with stretch goal funding, I can hire technical help to port the game to more devices, and potentially even get music into the game.
Pardon Me While I Have a Strange Interlude
"Strange how the wind blows tonight. It has a thin eerie voice. It reminds me of poor old Marsden."
Here are some excerpts from early in the game when Jack lets you try some experimental spells they are working on.
TO TADS & THE IF COMMUNITY
This game would not have been possible without the amazing TADS game engine created by Mike Roberts and documented so well by Eric Eve. I am also indebted to the members of the interactive fiction community who have kept the flame burning lo these many years and who have helped me out on many occasions.
Risks and challenges
The biggest risk facing the development of any computer game is scope creep. As that applies to Adventure Games, that usually translates to the number of locations and characters in the game. With the completion of the alpha test last May, I am satisfied that there is no need to add more locations or characters in the game.
The other obvious risk in a single-author project is that the author might get hit by a bus or contract a fatal disease. I always look both ways before crossing the street and have been certified fatal-disease-free by the US Department of Fatal Diseasery.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)