Survivor is a book with a difference... you are the protagonist. Whether the book has a successful- or premature- end will depend on the decisions that you take. Only you can decide which career to follow, which risks to take, and which enemies to fight.
Set in the 33rd century, in the Elite: Dangerous universe, Survivor immerses you in a galaxy where man has already gained a strong foothold. Hundreds of star systems have been colonised, interplanetary trade is flourishing, and space travel is common enough for spaceships to be affordable to the masses.
To people such as you.
Thust into this universe, do you have what it takes to make a name for yourself?
ABOUT ELITE: DANGEROUS
Elite: Dangerous is the fourth in the classic "Elite" computer game series, created in David Braben and Ian Bell in 1984. It is the subject of its own Kickstarter project, here. Scheduled for release in March 2014, E:D will be a Space Sim game, creating (probably) an entire galaxy worth of system to explore, trade and fight in. If previous games in this series are anything to go by, we can expect a revolutionary game, taking Elite to a whole new level.
Thanks for all the support, it has been amazing. As we approach the goal, I need to start thinking about how Survivor can become the best addition to the Elite universe that it can be. With that in mind, I am proposing the following stretch goals:
- £3,000 (project target): Ebook, and Limited Print on Demand paperback as a tier reward/add on. Crowd-sourced editting, cover and illustrations
- £3,500 Plus ongoing Print on Demand paperback, gamebook extended to 750 sections
- £4,500 Plus professional editting, cover and illustrated Ship's Index, gamebook extended to a 1000 section "panther clipper"-sized adventure
We need to be conscious, though, that there are other books that still need funding, plus there's the main E:D Kickstarter itself. Thoughts welcome.
Three add-ons are available. To buy any of these, please add the required amount to your pledged total, without changing your tier reward level. As part of the final email, I will ask how you want to allocate these funds.
Miniature gamer's pack. Two dice, a pencil and an eraser (Survivor branded). Please add £5 to your total, or £7 if outside the UK (to cover higher postage charges).
Journal entry- the opportunity to write one of the journals that form a key role in shaping the events taking place in the galaxy (see "Herald" reward level for full details- this doesn't include any rewards except for the journal itself). Please add £20 to your total.
Encounters- the opportunity to describe the outline of an encounter in the gamebook- a meeting with another character on a space station or in space (see "Master" reward level for full details- this doesn't include any rewards except for the journal itself). Please add £20 to your total.
Plots in gamebooks tend to be rather lighter than plots in a novel- as much of the book is taken up by the "game", and the different options available to you, the reader. However, the plot for Survivor- without wanting to give away too many spoilers- will be as follows:
The most important question for survival: Fight, or Flight?
The FastJet LSC 13 series escape capsule is the last word in personal safety- the most expensive purchase you hope you'll never need to use. With its camouflaged surface, and near-silent running engines, its manufacturers claim the likelihood of you escaping from a heated battle are no worse than four to one against. After your ship is destroyed in an unexpected attack, these are odds that you need to beat.
You awake to find yourself in a hospital ward on Lave Station. Although you appear to be in reasonable health after spending five weeks in an LSC 13, the staff refuse to give you any treatment as there is no record of you in the database. In fact, when you gain access to a terminal you find that all your details have been deleted. Your credit balance, pilot record, mailing systems- it is as though your SysIdent has been erased completely.
Suspecting you might have a criminal past, the hospital staff alert GalCop and you quickly find yourself a wanted fugitive. Without a ship or SysIdent number, your only option is to steal a old Cobra III ship and escape before you can be pursued. Your next move will be to acquire identity papers, and under your new assumed name of Jameson, you will begin the quest to recover everything that has been stolen from you.
As you begin this task of rebuilding your life, you discover that the recent events are all interconnected. If you wish to restore your name, you will need to expose yourself to an enemy who has destroyed your ship and killed your crew, and who now threatens all of mankind's inhabited systems. Perhaps it would be safer to avoid this enemy entirely? Fight. Or Flight.
Faced with this choice, what decisions will you make?
How will YOU survive?
We shall spread unseen throughout your worlds.
A plague that you cannot fight.
And we are Legion.
-- Enemy unknown
So what is this Kickstarter for?
As part of its own pledge campaign. Frontier Developments have a high reward tier, to buy the royalties-free rights to create a piece of fiction set in the Elite: Dangerous world. The only problem is- I don't have the £4,500 needed to buy this reward. However, I would like the opportunity to add to the richness of the Elite universe. This Kickstarter is therefore to help me raise £3,000 of that £4,500 total needed to buy that tier. If I reach the funding level, I will make the pledge for the full amount on the main Elite: Dangerous Kickstarter, and ultimately write the gamebook itself.
What is a gamebook?
Gamebooks became popular in the 1980s- about the same time as the original Elite, in fact! Unlike a novel, where you start at the beginning of the book and read straight through to the end, gamebooks follow a non-linear path. At many points, the reader is asked to make a decision on how to progress. If the right decisions are taken, the book/gamebook/story/adventure continues to a successful conclusion- the hero (by convention, referred to as "you", since you are making the decisions) will win out against the odds, and you get the sense of satisfaction in having found the "solution" to the game. Make the wrong decisions, and the book will end early- normally with "you" suffering an untimely end, or some other form of failure.
Most gamebooks introduce an element of chance, through the use of dice or coins, and require you to keep track of your hero's status and equipment. Survivor will be no different in this regard, except that instead of being in control of a sword-wielding warrior (by far the most common hero type), you will, instead, have a spaceship that you need to equip and fly.
What will Survivor be?
Survivor will be a 600 section adventure. This will make it somewhat larger than a novella, but rather smaller than a fully fledged novel. This is on the large side for gamebooks, which are traditionally 400-500 sections long.
In addition, there will be a 100-section prologue adventure, only available to backers of Survivor, which should serve to whet the appetite of readers.
In addition to the book, you will need to record your ships status, equipment and cargo, and use dice to simulate combat with any enemies you encounter. As such, it will be a cross between the Elite: Dangerous novels, and the game itself.
I will, of course, endeavour to make the book fit as closely as possible within the Elite: Dangerous universe in terms of the ships you encounter, the equipment you can buy, and the systems you can explore. My ability to do this will rely on the extent to which Frontier Developments release information prior to the launch of the game, of course?
Why me, Nathanael Page?
I have written gamebooks before, although this was some time ago. One of these is freely available on the internet as a pdf.
The second, Horror of Craggen Rock, is somewhat harder to find, but exists in html format here.
These are full length, fully playable gamebooks, and should give confidence that I can pull this project off. There are now many gamebooks available on the internet, but these two were some of the earliest complete adventures available.
I'm excited by the prospect of writing a space-based adventure gamebook, particularly one which will be set in an established universe!
Why should I pledge?
If Survivor is funded, I believe that this will add to the richness of the Elite: Dangerous universe. It will be a fun addition to the fiction series that Frontier Developments have planned, and I think that it should appeal to many of the original players of Elite.
More importantly, I am only asking for partial funding. If Survivor reaches its £3,000 funding target, I will pledge £4,500 to Elite: Dangerous. So for every £1 you're pledging, Frontier Developments will get £1.50- a 50% bonus! Plus, you will get the benefit of the reward tier that you choose... anything from a simple e-book, to the opportunity to include your own encounters in the book.
Careers, stretch goals, physical books
The great news is, the funding target for the ebook has been reached, so I've now included some stretch goals for creating a slick finished product, and a tier reward for a signed limited edition book. Thanks so much for all the support so far!
Today's video diary discusses the different career paths in Survivor, how they align to the different goals and objectives, and how the structure of the gamebook will help support these goals.
The video can be found below
Flight to Riedquat
FtR is a new micro-gamebook, a mere 30 Sections, setting you as the captain of a Cobra Mk III running contraband to Riedquat. The pace of this book is frenetic, as with only 30 sections to play with, there's little opportunity to create much of a plot, if there's going to be any game left to squeeze in. :)
It's got a full combat system, which is one of the possibilities for "Survivor".
Comments and feedback welcome. How many tonnes of cargo can YOU safely bring to La Soeur du Dan Ham?
Enjoy- it's available here.
In this video diary, I demonstrate the software I use to write gamebooks- how it keeps track of the sections I've written/still need to write, and how it generates the gamebook "map" for me as I go along.
No new "Survivor" news tonight though, sorry!
No video diary tonight, instead I have the second of my promo videos available. This one takes a somewhat more lighthearted approach...
We passed the 25% mark today- not bad, as we had only just gone past 20% last night. Still got a way to go though, so please help spread the word.
In other news... we will have an app for Survivor! JTK has kindly offered to build a mobile app for all major platforms (smartphone, tablet for iOS, android and windowd8. I know what Windows 8 is...). This will be a brilliant addition to the gamebook, as I'm sure you can imagine- true mobile gamebookgaming! Thanks RTK
Andrew Winter has also added Survivor to his Elite stats page, so you can see how the project has progressed there. It can be found here.
Today's video diary takes a more detailed look at the elements of the Elite universe that I'd like to bring in to Survivor. I also talk about the limitations around those elements, where I need tomake compromises to get the vastness that is "Elite" onto the page.
This is a mini-update, to alert backers that a number of additional tier rewards have been added, some of them limited in quantity, get 'em while they're hot!
Back to the video diaries, this time talking about combat, in particular how different aspects of combat in Elite (equipment and combat tactics) might play a role in a gamebook.
Bit of a change of pace here. In place of another video diary, I've pulled today a promotional video for Survivor.
The artwork in the video is a combination of the E:D concept, and some images from NASA. The NASA artwork is quite spectacular, and added the holes that I needed for the video's "story", where I couldn't find ones suitable form the concept art.
The music is from a website called here, which has a smallish selection of free royalties free tracks. I've used 4 of them pulled together. Many thanks to Rickvanman for this music, as it fits what I wanted to do for the video perfectly.
Watching my video back, there are some mistakes in it, both in terms of the technical side, and in the Elite references. I do apologise for these. However, also watching the video back I get goosebumps at 2:24. I hope you enjoy it!
In the second of my video diaries, I start to get down to the nitty gritty about what Survivor will be about. Here I talk about the importance of maintaining the Elite universe's freedom within the gamebook format, and the role that FFE-like journals will play.
And although not mentioned in the video, I promise that Survivor will have seamless planetary landings in the first release.
In the first of my video diaries, I talk about gamebooks in general- what they are, how they work, how they differ from novels as well as giving a few teasers on how Survivor will work as a gamebook:
Michael from Frontier Developments interviewed me about Survivor, so to learn a little more about me and Survivor please visit his blog here.
Other Elite: Dangerous Crowdsourced Books
There's a few people trying to raise funds for their books- links to their campaigns are below (ordered by earliest finish date first):
The Space Farer's Tale, by Sean Curtin
Funding ends Thursday Jan 3rd
Reclamation, by Drew Wagar
Funding ends Friday Jan 4th
Tales from the Frontier, by Chris Booker
Funding ends Friday Jan 4th
Supermassive, by Andre Czausov
Funding ends Jan 4th
Elite Chronicles by C.L.
Funding ends Jan 4th
Risks and challenges
Writing any book is a serious time commitment, and Survivor will be on top of my 9 to 5 (or rather, 8 to 7) job. I know tha tmany people give up on the gamebooks they start before they're completed. However, I'm confident that I will be able to complete this adventure, as I have a track record of completion for this type of book- even when there wasn't £4,500 riding on the outcome!
The design of the gamebook will be important. The mechanics of the game need to be playable and enjoyable; the plot needs to be engaging; the adventure need to be sufficiently difficult to prodivde a challenge, but not so difficult so as to make the reader give up in frustration. An element of chance is needed; but not too much that it becomes the deciding factor on a successful win/loss in the game. Balancing these elements will require the help of the Elite: Dangerous community (and in particular the backers of this Kickstarter). In order to make this a success, I have included the "Prologue" adventure, where backers can test out the mechanics of the book long before it is actually completed.
I will also need to get to grips with electronic publishing, which is a new world for me, but this can be overcome, though. 15 months is a long time to work these things out!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Yes, I've thought about it. Primarily, this is to raise funds for E:D, and anything that adds in cost beyond that could reduce the amount of cash available for E:D. However, I may add these in later if they're needed/wanted, or possibly even do these as a separate KS later (so as not to pull money away from the main E:D KSer
As many as I can. If there's a particular format you'd like to see, please let me know.
Under these circumstances, Frontier Development have said that they will sell the rights to publish for £2,500. I will therefore buy these rights, complete the book and use any spare pledged money towards releasing this in a physical format.
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