A LETTER FROM PAUL
My name is Paul Gresty. I'm the lead writer for The Frankenstein Wars. I was watching our Kickstarter page very closely the morning the project finished. When that countdown counter clicked to zero and I saw that we'd hit our target - and we'd reached it literally seconds before - I was elated, and proud, and supremely thankful to our backers, and everybody who'd done so much as share a link to the project online.
That first feeling of elation lasted for about twenty-five minutes. Then came a looming anxiety, a sense of 'Wait - now we're actually going to do this.'
The Cubus guys and I had some further planning discussions, the first time we'd been able to do so with an exact budget for the project in mind. Jaume Carballo taught me to write code in a way that the Cubus parser would find agreeable. He was a harsh taskmaster.
The fact that we'd grazed past our minimum target for the project imposed some restrictions on us. Not so much from a technical standpoint - we'd always maintained a realistic view of what we could achieve. The greater pressure came from time limitations. Put simply, as we wouldn't be making any money on the game in the short term, it became difficult to make it top priority - we all had to work on the game while simultaneously pushing forward with other projects.
Time constraints notwithstanding, I began writing. The first section of the story takes place on the island of St Helena. The second occurs at the Clerval family home, a chateau a little ways south-east of Paris. I worked on both segments together, sending regular updates to the Cubus guys to check over.
It was around the 20,000-word mark that we realised that the text wasn't ticking the right boxes for us. As a standalone gamebook-style story, it was pretty good. The player takes the role of Anton or Thomas Clerval; the story moves forward as the player attains various objectives, overcoming obstacles and defeating enemies along the way.
But that was never our mission statement with this game. The Frankenstein Wars has always been intended as a more three-dimensional game. It is a story of the transition between fanatical devotion to a cause, and disillusionment with that cause. Of the closeness and the tension that exists between two brothers who are in love with the same woman. The reanimated lazarans of The Frankenstein Wars are neither mindless zombies nor indestructible revenants - rather, they are people who have died once, and been dragged back to life; they must continually question the purpose they find in this new existence when they have already tasted oblivion. Yes, it's a story about remarkable technologies, and how those technologies can be turned to the age-old business of warfare. But, above all, it's a story about the seismic impact of this technology on people - both living people, and the resurrected. And that wasn't coming through.
To my knowledge, these sorts of character-led themes have never really been attempted within the quite specific format of interactive fiction - and we're aiming for a particularly compact style of IF. So, we're exploring and learning as we go along. And that's slowing things down.
The bad news: it's going to take us longer than planned to get the game out to you, our backers. Sorry about that.
The good news: we're behind schedule on this game precisely because we're working hard to create something really innovative and absorbing. We have no intention of phoning in a mediocre IF app. We want The Frankenstein Wars to be something you'll remember.
For my part, I'm succeeding in extricating myself from other time-leeching obligations. I'll very shortly able to work on TFW full time (or very nearly full time). I think progress will come thick and fast thereafter.
And, a bonus: if we ever get around to making a special '20th anniversary edition' of this game, I have a ton of deleted material I'll be able to include as extras.
More news soon, Franken-fans.