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Frankenstein's secrets raise an unstoppable army from the dead. The battle for supremacy. Interactive story (gamebook) of war & horror.
Frankenstein's secrets raise an unstoppable army from the dead. The battle for supremacy. Interactive story (gamebook) of war & horror.
Frankenstein's secrets raise an unstoppable army from the dead. The battle for supremacy. Interactive story (gamebook) of war & horror.
351 backers pledged €8,000 to help bring this project to life.

A LETTER FROM PAUL

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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 taskmaster was like this guy, but about 10% more brutal.
The taskmaster was like this guy, but about 10% more brutal.

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.

P.

Cubus Games, Saodhar, and 8 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Cubus Games Creator on June 3, 2016

      Hi Diego,
      right now, we're 80% certain it'll be done by summer...
      To get the feeling of how the project is going and see some cool stuff, don't miss the January and April updates. Moreover, there's an upcoming update by mid June.
      Thanks for asking!

    2. Diego Cuartielles on June 2, 2016

      Hello people,

      Do you know when are you gone to be end with the game?

      Best regards,
      Diego

    3. Missing avatar

      Paul Gresty on December 9, 2015

      Re, the question about Fabled Lands (Michael)... The work on The Frankenstein Wars doesn't really impact the work on Fabled Lands, for a couple of reasons. 1) It's 'day job' work I'm cutting down on, not writing work - I'm boosting both FL and TFW higher up my 'to do' list. And, 2) what will likely take the most time on FL is the artwork. I need to keep ahead of Kev Jenkins and Russ Nicholson - as long as I'm making sure there's never a moment when they're twiddling their thumbs, with nothing to do, then progress on FL is going as fast as possible. I'm able to do that, and work on TFW.

      Re. the comment that we don't care about delivering the product (Anthony B)... Well, no, that's not correct. We really are working hard on this. I could have posted a bunch of project updates saying, 'I worked on TFW all weekend again,' or, 'I sent my family on holiday without me, so I could spend a few days working at home by myself'. But that'd be grim, repetitive reading. Nobody wants to see that.

      And re. the question about why these structural changes weren't decided earlier (Anthony B again)... A couple of points here: a) we aren't talking about structural changes, precisely; the overall structure of the story has been fixed for a while now. Rather, it's a change of emphasis of the tone of the story - switching round the first- and third-person perspectives within the story, for example, inclusion of more information on the relationships between various characters (and potential payoffs within the story based on that information), that sort of thing. And, b) the reason that we've only made these changes fairly recently is because we didn't anticipate them. And, in our defence, you see this sort of thing all over Kickstarter - when you're creating something original, you can run into unexpected problems. It happens.

      The Kickstarter ethos, however, is also that these difficulties should be communicated to backers. And I'll agree with everybody else here - we should be communicating with backers more frequently. Sorry about that; we'll make that change from here on in.

    4. Cubus Games Creator on December 9, 2015

      First of all, we admit we haven’t been doing a good job keeping backers informed for the last 4 months. We’ll share more regular news from now on.

      Having said that, we’ve been delivering part of the following rewards: Gamebook Collection, Frankenstein’s Technology Specialists Group, and the Imperial Marshal. As we estimated.

      Also, we’ve been developing the product: illustrations, writing, game mechanics, music, programming… and it was at this stage of the progress when we found out that we should change (improve) certain things to offer you the better possible experience. Writing a gamebook app is a challenging (but unforgiving) path! ;)
      Again: more regular updates are necessary. Thumbs up!

      We promise war and horror, heroes and villains, and the soul of humanity at stake!

      --
      Btw, don’t worry about the retire to the Caribbean: not just for the 8K, but for the Barcelona weather (it’s good enough!) ;)

    5. Michael Hartland on December 8, 2015

      Not to belabour the point, but I agree with the sentiment below; Jon Green did a good job of keeping backers informed when his campaign drifted very late. The end result was worth it there though, and I'm confident the same will ne true here, judging on the intent.

      My only other raised eyebrow was around Paul divesting himself of other commitments to write this. Does that include Fabled Lands 7? Is there already a knock-on impact there?

    6. Missing avatar

      Jeremy Pignat on December 7, 2015

      Paul, take your time to offer us the better possible experience. However I can only agree with the other comments : some more regular news would be appreciated.

    7. Markus Kaut on December 7, 2015

      Thanks for the heads up.
      I don't mind waiting a bit longer for a better product, so take your time with it...
      It's not as if you guys could retire to the Caribbean with the money you got from us....
      Still, more regular updates are necessary. I was getting worried if there's any progress at all.
      Once a month would be enough, for me at least...

    8. Anthony B
      Superbacker
      on December 7, 2015

      Translation: we've got your money, so now we don't care about delivering the product. Why were these major changes to the structure decided the month the product was supposed to be delivered, and not during the 6 months with no updates?