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An interactive puzzle novel written by Mike Selinker, with enchanting illustrations by Pete Venters.
2,630 backers pledged $171,146 to help bring this project to life.

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Maze of Games: nearly printed

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Here is The Maze of Games being printed.

The Maze of Games is rolling off the printer as I write this. We sent it over three months ago, but we've learned it takes a whole lot longer to get a crazily complex book like this printed. We have a new schedule for when we believe it will get to you.

The book is scheduled to be done printing in a couple weeks and on its way to us in late May. It will get to us in late June. Our friends at Penny Arcade will begin the shipping process at the end of June, and hope to be completed by mid-July. Again, that's assuming all goes well, and our assumptions have been wrong before. But we're optimistic that we're on a good road here.

Other elements are also coming together. We've got things like the ebook and soundtrack being worked on, and cryptexes and pencils bundled for the moment the book arrives. See below. (No. 2 pencil for scale.)

All of this will ship out together, if all goes well. We're very excited to be reaching the end of this process, and bringing you the things that we hope you will love.

Making The Maze of Games available again

We are also planning to open up an ordering site by the end of May (again, all schedules approximate). That will allow you or your friends to order more copies of the hardback, ebook, and soundtrack as we prepare for shipping. We'll make sure everyone knows when that launches.

We'll also put together a mailing list for people to keep up on Maze-y developments. We'll keep making updates happen here, so if you're following along on Kickstarter, you won't need to keep up with the mailing list.

We're also going to open up the perfume ordering sometime in the next month or so. We expect that will be on the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab site, so they can ship it directly to you. All Maze of Games backers will have an opportunity to get that perfume, if you like.

More announcements... to be announced!

I have some more big things to say, but, well, I can't yet. We're waiting for some dominoes to fall in the desired arrangement before doing so. But please know that they are (a) big, and (b) worth waiting for.

I hope that'll be the case for everything associated with The Maze of Games, of course. Thanks again for listening, and for your patience. We will talk to you soon.

Mike and the Sharks

What it looks like when your printer sends you a book for proofing

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While at the Gamestorm convention this weekend, I got this in the mail.

Now, that's not quite what I expected when I heard we were getting a "proof copy," but it's still pretty cool. I splayed out everything on my hotel bed and discovered:

  • 1. The unprinted version of the regular edition.
  • 2. The unprinted version of the Gatekeeper's limited edition, with its plush black cover, ribbon, and cool worn treatment of the paper.
  • 3. Twelve 16-page folios of the interiors, with the first one flipped open to the title page.
  • 4. Color-treatment proofs of certain pages in both editions.
  • 5. The two endpapers of the Gatekeeper's edition. 
  • 6 & 7. The cover of the regular edition, both folded and color proof.
  • 8. The overlay treatments for the embossing of the Gatekeeper's edition cover.
  • 9. The sewn spine treatments for both editions.
  • 10. The mazefinder bookmark and the Gatekeeper's edition library card and pocket.
  • 11. The maze map, both folded and color proof.

This is exciting stuff. We are making a couple of fixes and then approving the book for its full run. Which leads to...

A new delivery date

We got a new schedule from our printer today. Assuming they start printing next week as planned, it's likely to arrive in Seattle in mid-June. We should be shipping to you guys by the end of June. Again, we're assuming everything works -- and that hasn't exactly been a safe assumption for us so far. But we remain hopeful that we'll have this to you not too long from now.

Repeating what I said in the comments: Every single step of this process has taken vastly longer than we expected. Some of that's because we cared about getting everything right. And some of it is because things just surprised us about how long they took. We know a lot better now, and I assure you that we didn't mean for this to drag out this long. Of course, it's not our business to be learning on your dime. We made mistakes in the planning process, but the primary mistake was simply not adding six to eight months to the intended delivery date. That's on us, not our contractors or our printers. Some things we can't control, but we can definitely control our ability to estimate difficulty. We were way too optimistic, and it won't happen again on my watch.

That said, I really think you will believe this book was worth the wait. It's been almost 19 years for me, and I'm thrilled with it. I hope you will be too.

Mike

Maze of Games: at the printer

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This week I flew down to LA on official Maze business. And came back with some big news.

We sent The Maze of Games to the printer today. It took quite a bit longer to get here than anyone of us could have imagined, but it was worth it. It’s a really, really good book. The puzzles, especially those by the Conundrucopians, are some of the best that have passed through my hands. The novel has been through a torrent of editing and proofing. The art and graphic design is some of the prettiest work I’ve been associated with. And it just feels like a heavyweight book. I think you’ll like it.

The process of getting the book printed will take a while. With luck, the book will be rolling off the presses sometime in February. Then it might get to Seattle sometime in March. I can’t guarantee any of that, because it’s out of our hands now. But the important thing is that it is out of our hands now, and that makes it possible to get it to you.

Here's a look at some elements that have come together.

The cover

Elisa put the finishing touches on the cover today. Here’s what the back and front of the regular edition of The Maze of Games will look like. Note the weathered look, which we're experimenting with to get that old-time feel infused throughout this book.

Regular edition cover
Regular edition cover

And here’s (sort of) what the Gatekeeper’s edition will look like, back and front. The highlights will all be silver embossings. There will be ridges down the spine and a ribbon and other delights. Scott Kim's ambigram makes its debut here.

Gatekeeper's edition cover
Gatekeeper's edition cover

The Gatekeeper’s edition also has a couple of other intricacies that the backers of that edition and the first 100 people to order the hardback will get. Let’s just say that Colleen Quaice wasn’t the first person to check out The Maze of Games from the Upper Wolverhampton Bibliothèque.

The bookmark

The Mazefinder Bookmark is a simple way to keep track of your progress through the mazes. Here you'll see our page ordering system involving card suits and such. You mark your pages in the order you encounter them, so you'll know where you've been. You can also write your answers on the bookmark as well. Here's side 1.

Front of Mazefinder bookmark
Front of Mazefinder bookmark

The map

We finished the map too. Eric Harshbarger did a fabulous job working with me on the puzzle construction and writing, and Corey Macourek made it look awesome. The final version will be in color. (Some blurriness has been added in places to obscure puzzle content.)

Maze map (black and white)
Maze map (black and white)

The soundtrack

Down in LA, Austin Wintory, Elisa, and I laid down some principles for the music. It’s going to be six pieces each keyed to the specific mood of a chapter. Austin, fresh from his grand success with The Banner Saga, has a sweeping vision for the music which I absolutely love. And of course we talked about how it will tease your brain as well as your eardrums.

I was also down in LA working on another potential use for the music, which I can’t talk about yet. But trust me, if it works out I think you’ll really like the results of those discussions.

The perfume

Elisa and I dropped in on the Black Phoenix Alchemy lab yesterday to see the Gatekeeper scent that BPAL perfumiers Elizabeth Barrial and Brian Constantine are decanting for your consumption. It’s an amazing scent in an awesome bottle. It’ll be ready for purchasing sometime in March, we believe. We will give you plenty of warning, we promise.

The Gatekeeper perfume at the BPAL office
The Gatekeeper perfume at the BPAL office

*Poor word choice. Please don’t drink it.

The bottom line

We still have a lot of things to do on our end. We’re just getting into the build of the ebook, which is a major project. We need to prepare our art prints. We have thank-you videos and Google hangouts to schedule, and pencils and cryptexes to wrap up. So we’ll be busy for the next couple months. But not on writing, editing, art, graphic design, or proofing. We’re not doing those things any more, and it’s quite a relief. We thank you for your patience and support, and we hope you like our Maze of Games.

Mike and the Sharks

Maze of Games Holiday Card!

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For backers only. If you're a backer of this project, please log in to read this post.

A Conundrucopia of riches, and some realizations

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The Conundrucopia is a 40-page book that, on its own, could probably win a bunch of puzzle book awards. It is insanely good. Every one of those world-class puzzlers I imprisoned in my cage has turned out a world-class puzzle. It looks awesome. Here's Elisa's cover.

There are probably one or two of you who just had a serious flashback. The rest of you don't quite know what that cover's based on. I'll make it a challenge, then. First person to post the origin of that cover's concept gets a tip of the hat from me. (Those who are in the book already know, so not you guys.)

Anyway, I mentioned the book was phenomenal, and I'm going to post the table of contents so you understand what I'm getting at. Here it is, in an unfinalized order:

  • “An Instance of Quizzism,” by Ken Jennings
  • “Professor Babbage’s Other Engine,” by Scott Weiss
  • “Dr. Flattbottom’s Conundrum,” by Jeff Martin
  • “Pop Quiz,” by Patrick Blindauer
  • “A Japanese Battle,” by Matt Jones
  • “Edison’s Cylinder,” by Eric Berlin
  • “As Heard Thro’ a Fogg,” by Greg Pliska and John Chaneski
  • “The Case of the Missing Social Calendar,” by Deb Amlen
  • “The Deck of Destiny,” by Cliff Johnson
  • “Free the Moon Zeppelin!” by David Ellis Dickerson
  • “Helter-Skelter, Skimble-Skamble, All Around the Park,” by Brendan Emmett Quigley
  • “A Most Exhausting Day,” by Eric Harshbarger
  • “For Science!” by Francis Heaney
  • “Geoffrey P. Tynesdale, Consulting Metagrobologist, in The Case of the Emperor’s Son,” by Peter Curtis
  • “Train Station ANTics,” by Richard Garfield
  • “Initial Impressions,” by Will Shortz
  • “Horseplay,” by Gabrielle Weidling
  • “Flatland Eyewitness Reports,” by Scott Kim
  • “The World’s First Roles-Performing Game,” by James Wallis
  • “A Bit of Disorganization,” by Jeff Chen
  • “Prestidigitis,” by Peter Gordon
  • “A Piece off the Action,” by Jeffrey Harris
  • “Harry’s Chessmen Boggler,” by Wei-Hua Huang
  • “Cutting Boards,” by Thomas Snyder
  • “Puzzles from the Eastern Enigma,” by Trip Payne
  • “Bold Predictions—of the Future!” by Wil Zambole
  • “The Magic Circle of Mr. Houdini,” by Roy Leban
  • “alfie at the zoo,” by Mike Selinker
  • “Two by Two by Clue,” by Tyler Hinman
  • “Bikeworks,” by Mark Gottlieb
  • “English Roses,” by Liz Berry
  • “The Mysterious Canals of Mars,” by Sean Trowbridge
  • “A Desperate Call for the Preservation of Books in Our Declining Society,” by Dan Katz

That is about the best table of contents I could imagine. I asked folks to imagine what puzzle they would submit to an 1897 puzzle magazine, and -- look, Dave Dickerson wrote a puzzle called "Free the Moon Zeppelin!" So much good stuff here. I'm looking forward to showing it off to you.

But I can't just yet

I'm not going to sugar-coat this -- well, I just did, by showing off the awesomeness that is the Conundrucopia. But the calendar has turned on December, and with that has come the awareness that we're not going to make Christmas. We're quite close to finishing, with only the covers and a few bits and bobs to design, and a whole lot of proofing to implement. But we're looking at somewhere in the first quarter of 2014 now. I'll get to what that means in a second, but first, some explanations.

I'm not the kind of person who thinks you, the backer, should be subjected to some tale of woe about how we just didn't know what we were getting into when we started this project. We had a pretty good idea what we were doing, because I put together the best team possible to make this particular project. Pete is brilliant, Gaby is brilliant, Elisa is brilliant, Tanis is brilliant, our business team of Liz and Marie and Evon is brilliant, everyone who contributed to the Conundrucopia is brilliant, and I'm not too shabby either. I can't imagine a better team to run this marathon with.

But when we hit the heights of fundraising and enthusiasm that we did, something overtook us. We went from thinking we needed to make a very good puzzle book to thinking we had to try to make the greatest puzzle book we could imagine. And that meant everybody redoubled their efforts, putting in tons of overtime to make the best puzzles, the best words, the best art, the best design.

And all that overtime adds up. It's an assembly line process; Tanis can't edit what hasn't been designed, and Elisa can't lay out what hasn't been drawn or edited. By the time Elisa got the edited files, we were already past the date she was supposed to finish them. We figured we could make up time. We couldn't. We kept improving it and improving it, and now it's even better than we thought it could be. We've invested as much time on this book as on any other project we've ever worked on, and it will show. Just not yet.

What we can do in the meantime

We know a bunch of you ordered this book for holiday presents. Obviously, the book isn't getting to your friends and family by Hanukkah or Christmas. But if you want to give it as a gift, we want you to follow through on that the best you can. So we've made a little winter holiday card from the Gatekeeper. Here's the front of the card, with a fine bone-chilling piece of art from Pete.

There's going to be a holiday-themed puzzle on it too. I don't want to spoil that, but I promise you it will be fun and festive.

We're going to distribute the card by private Kickstarter update. You can print it out and solve the puzzle. But if you intended to give The Maze of Games as a gift to someone else, then we'll go a step further: We'll mail you a printed copy, and you can give it to them. It will have our holiday apologies that their present didn't arrive on time, and let them know they can look forward to the gift from you in the near future.

Again, this is intended for those giving the book to others. If you bought a copy for yourself, you can get the full experience just from printing the card or solving it online. But if you want a keepsake for that special someone, we're here for you.

Let us know what you think

We're trying to do right by you guys. We're pretty sure that you'll like what we come up with when we've finished making it as good as it can be. But we want to hear your feedback. Let us know what you think in the comments below, and we'll aim to help you with anything we can.

And now, back to proofreading. There's a moon zeppelin to free.

Mike and the Sharks