An interactive puzzle novel written by Mike Selinker, with enchanting illustrations by Pete Venters.
The Maze of Games is a full-length, limited edition, hardback puzzle novel with over 50 puzzles and a deeply engaging story, all woven together in a "solve your own adventure" style which will keep you jumping from page to page. This innovative format has never been seen in a puzzle book before, and will be delivered to you in a gorgeous illustrated tome.
The main characters are teenagers Colleen and Samuel Quaice, who live in England in the year 1897. During a visit to the Upper Wolverhampton Library, they discover a musty book called The Maze of Games. This summons a mysterious skeletal guardian named the Gatekeeper, who plunges them into dangerous mazes rife with monsters and bizarre puzzles. Only by solving their way through the mazes will the Quaice children find their way home.
For details on what you can reserve, see How to Back This Project, below. For details on the stretch goals and the special Conundrucopia section featuring all your favorite puzzle designers, see Stretch Goals. For details on the map, pencils, soundtrack, and other cool Maze of Games stuff, see Add-Ons.
The unique structure of the book
The book is intended to be a 176-page, 8 1/2 x 11" hardcover novel centered around a series of mazes, each with several descriptions of encounters between the Quaice siblings and the denizens of the maze.
To solve the book, you must crack a series of four mazes, which will put the pages of the story in the right order.
Each of more than 50 two-page puzzle spreads includes a portion of the story and a puzzle that gives a keyword necessary to break out of that portion of the maze. Puzzles will be of all types: word games, logic puzzles, mindbenders that defy categorization. The section below shows a crossword that might be encountered in the first room of the first maze, on page A6.
Then you return to the maze and continue on to your next adventure. Each maze has a metapuzzle which combines all the answers in that maze into a single puzzle, and then there is a global metametapuzzle that... well, that's all we're going to say about that.
We don't intend to print answers in the back of the book. Once you're in the Maze of Games, you're on your own.
Spread lavishly throughout the book are Pete's illustrations, giving life to the story's many comical, ruthless, menacing, and crazy characters and creatures. Below are two of Pete's pieces featuring the book's three main characters: Colleen and Samuel Quaice, and the mysterious Gatekeeper.
The creative team
Mike Selinker is the book's author, and one of the top puzzlemakers in the world. His puzzles appear in Wired magazine, the New York Times, Games magazine, and the Chicago Tribune. As president of the design studio Lone Shark Games, he has designed such games as Unspeakable Words, Risk Godstorm, AlphaBlitz, Lords of Vegas, and the upcoming Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. He is a co-author of the books Puzzlecraft: The Ultimate Guide on How to Construct Every Kind of Puzzle, The Kobold Guide to Board Game Design, Cremation: Is It the Answer?, and Dealer's Choice: The Complete Handbook of Saturday Night Poker.
Pete Venters is the book's illustrator, and one of the most popular game artists around. He is best known for his nearly 300 pieces of trading card art for Magic: The Gathering, but has also worked in concept art, comic books and book design. He is the illustrator for the Gothic Charm School trade paperback, written by his wife, Jillian Venters. He and Mike have collaborated on projects for Disney and Wizards of the Coast.
Elisa Teague is the book's graphic designer. She is vice president of the Los Angeles publisher Backroom Incorporated, and the editor of Cupcake Quarterly Magazine. As former senior director of product development at Playroom Entertainment, she was responsible for the direction of games such as Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot, Ligretto, and Portobello Market, as well as Mike's game Unspeakable Words. She now consults and art directs games for several different game companies.
Gaby Weidling is the book's developer. She is Mike's assistant at Lone Shark Games, and is the designer on many of its puzzle projects, including work for Wired, Microsoft, Eltana, and the Seattle Symphony.
How to back this project
There are lots of options on the right, and so a little guide might be needed. The Maze of Games is a book that comes in four main forms: a hardcover ($50), a signed hardcover ($65), a solvable ebook ($20), and the Gatekeeper's Limited Edition ($175). If you'd like a copy, start by clicking one of those. In addition to your book, you will get a free PDF and a free mazefinder bookmark (for the hardcovers or limited edition only).
Then, when you make your pledge, you may add to that amount any number of add-ons. You may add a maze map (+$10, though it's free in the limited edition), a soundtrack (+$15), a set of code pencils ($30), one or more of our three art prints (+$55 for the 1st, +$30 for the 2nd, +$20 for the 3rd), a thank-you video (+$50), and a puzzle seminar (+$100). We'll give you a survey at the end which will let you tell us what you ordered. This is all explained in way more detail below.
Our newest add-on is the "Music from the Maze of Games" soundtrack. For a $15 add-on, you can get a digital download of the Maze of Games soundtrack by Grammy-nominated composer Austin Wintory, winner of two British Academy Awards for his score for the videogame Journey. He's composed music for nearly 40 films, as well as the videogames Monaco, Kinect Party, and The Banner Saga, among others. The soundtrack will include a main theme and sections for the four mazes, as well as a special bonus musical puzzle that will not be available in the printed version.
Stretch goals and The Conundrucopia
Our main stretch goal is The Conundrucopia. Mike, Mark, and Thomas explain.
The Conundrucopia is a section of The Maze of Games which takes place outside the maze. It’s the amusing and challenging Victorian-era puzzles Sam and Colleen solve on the way to the maze, in the style of turn-of-the-last-century puzzlers Sam Loyd and Henry Dudeney. In The Conundrucopia will be the works of some of the most famous puzzlemakers in the world. We know this, because the Gatekeeper locked them in cages and won’t let them out till they make puzzles for us. He’s a devilish sort, that Gatekeeper.
At each stretch goal, we will “unlock” a puzzlemaker, who will make a puzzle for The Conundrucopia. Every backer of any hardcover book will get these puzzles. They will not be available in the ebook, but will be in the PDF for everyone at the $20 level and up. The puzzlemakers to be unlocked are:
- UNLOCKED at $20,000! Maze of Games author Mike Selinker. Because if you let Mike decide who goes free first, he goes free first.
- UNLOCKED at $22,000! Lone Shark puzzle ninja Gaby Weidling!
- UNLOCKED at $24,000! Logic puzzler Thomas "Dr. Sudoku" Snyder!
- UNLOCKED at $26,000! Crossword auteur Patrick Berry!
- UNLOCKED at $29,000! Trivia god and author Ken Jennings!
- UNLOCKED at $32,000! Cruciverbalist Brendan Emmett Quigley!
- UNLOCKED at $36,000! Puzzlemaker/palindromist Eric Harshbarger!
- UNLOCKED at $40,000! Duck Konundrum creator Dan Katz!
- UNLOCKED at $45,000! Puzzlemaker Sean Trowbridge!
- UNLOCKED at $50,000! Puzzlemaker Jeffrey "Jangler" Harris!
- UNLOCKED at $60,000! Crossword constructor Trip Payne!
- UNLOCKED at $70,000! Puzzling radio host Wil Zambole!
- UNLOCKED at $80,000! Crossword constructor Patrick Blindauer!
- UNLOCKED at $90,000! Puzzazz founder Roy Leban!
- UNLOCKED at $95,000! Puzzler and poet Francis Heaney!
- UNLOCKED at $100,000! Ambigrammist Scott Kim! Also, free Mazefinder Bookmarks for all hardcover backers!
- UNLOCKED at $105,000! World Puzzle Champion Wei-Hwa Huang!
- UNLOCKED at $110,000! Physical puzzle maker Pavel Curtis! Plus Gatekeeper wallpaper for all backers!
- UNLOCKED at $115,000! Crossword champ Tyler Hinman!
- UNLOCKED at $120,000! True Dungeon founder Jeff Martin!
- UNLOCKED at $125,000! Indie crossword designer Matt Jones!
- UNLOCKED at $130,000! Game and puzzle designer Mark Gottlieb!
- UNLOCKED at $135,000! Author and puzzler Deb Amlen!
- UNLOCKED at $140,000! Winston Breen novelist Eric Berlin!
- UNLOCKED at $145,000! Game creator Richard Garfield!
- UNLOCKED at $150,000! Computer game designer Cliff Johnson! Plus a Maze of Games RPG by Mike and James Wallis!
- UNLOCKED at $153,000! Puzzly humorist David Ellis Dickerson!
- UNLOCKED at $156,000! Radio hosts John Chaneski & Greg Pliska!
- UNLOCKED at $160,000! Jeopardy! champ Scott Weiss!
- UNLOCKED at $163,000! Crossword constructor Jeff Chen!
- UNLOCKED at $166,000! Crossword impresario Peter Gordon!
- UNLOCKED at $170,000! legendary enigmatologist Will Shortz!
We've organized our backers into "clubs": the 1 Ring Club ($1+), the 13 Coins Club ($20+), the 21 Gun Salute Club ($50+), the 19 Wishes Club ($65+), the 5 Star Club ($100+), and the 4 Diamond Club ($120+).
All backers will get to participate in a maze puzzle series during this campaign, where you will solve hidden messages and assemble the maze. All backers get their names on the Maze of Games website. Everyone who orders a physical book will have their name included in the thank-you section of the book.
The beautiful hardbound book is available for $50. Everyone who selects any version of the book gets the PDF for free, just in case you don't want to write in your tome. Signed copies are available for $65, or $15 above a higher reward price. You can reserve more than one book by simply adding on an additional $50 (or $65, if signed) to any reward level, up to a maximum of 10 books.
We're doing a second Kickstarter-only run of a specially bound Gatekeeper's Limited Edition for $175, which will look similar to the one the 1897 version the Gatekeeper is holding in the picture above. This deluxe version is only available to Kickstarter backers, and limited to one per backer. When they're gone, they're gone.
In addition, Puzzazz, the puzzle technology company, is making available for $20 an innovative and solvable ebook version, where you won't need a pencil to tackle the puzzles. This will be available for all iPhones and iPads as soon as the hardcover comes out, and for Android and Windows 8 sometime after launch. You'll also get the PDF. If you want to add an ebook to a physical copy reward, just add on $15. (All backers of the ebook will also get the PDF for free.)
Every backer who buys a hardback book of any kind will get this fully illustrated and functional Mazefinder Bookmark (unlocked as a stretch goal at $100,000). It will track where you are in the maze as you solve puzzles, allowing you to mark your progress along the way. So when you solve a step through one of the mazes, you'll indicate on the bookmark where you came from and where you're going next. Trust us, you'll need every tool you can get to make it through the maze.
Add-ons and high-level rewards
Add-ons are items that can be added to any purchase of a book, either electronic, hardcover, or limited edition. We have some fantastic ones.
For a $10 add-on, you can add a maze map to your hardback book. It's an all-new optimization puzzle by Mike and Eric Harshbarger, featuring many of the characters you’ll find in the book. The map poster will be roughly three feet across when unfolded. You can add this to any book purchase (electronic or hardcover) by adding an additional $10. All Gatekeeper Limited Editions will contain a map for free.
For $15, you can get a digital soundtrack created by famed composer Austin Wintory. This "Music from the Maze of Games" soundtrack features an opening theme and chapter themes for all the mazes. The soundtrack will also contain at least one special bonus musical puzzle that will not be found in the printed versions.
For $30, you can get a set of a dozen Maze of Games code pencils. They give you the codes for binary, Braille, Morse, and semaphore; months with birthstones and Western and Eastern zodiacs; numbers with squares, cubes, and the Fibonacci sequence; denominations of money with the associated presidents; and rulers in inches and centimeters printed right on the pencils.
For $100, you can participate in a Google hangout seminar on puzzle creation, led by Mike and his Puzzlecraft co-author Thomas Snyder. This will be scheduled at several times, so that all participants will have several opportunities to select a time to attend.
A high-quality art print of one of Pete's illustrations (the Quaices, the Gatekeeper, or a mystery monster) is available for $55. Two prints for go for $85 total, or three for $100.
At the $600 level, you'll get a unique handcrafted Gatekeeper's cryptex, similar to the one seen in The Da Vinci Code. Puzzlemaker Eric Harshbarger will create your personalized cryptex, with a six-letter password of your choosing and your personal inscription on the key. We will then destroy all records of your password, so that only you know the way into your cryptex.
At the $800 level, you can have a cameo illustration in the book itself! Using the pictures you send us as a guide, Pete will draw you as one of our many characters both beneficent and malignant. This is a once in a lifetime chance to appear in a Pete Venters illustration, and the opportunities are strictly limited.
At the $1,000 level, Mike will make a custom crossword or similar puzzle for you. This can be used as a gift, in a publication, or for whatever else you please.
Some of these items can be added on to any pledge of a certain level or higher. So if you want:
We encourage use of backer Cathy Saxton's pledge calculator if you want multiple options and add-ons. You'll be glad you did.
A minihunt for all to solve
Can't wait for the Kickstarter exclusive puzzle maze? Don't fret, because Mike and his sidekick Gaby have imbedded a puzzlehunt inside this Kickstarter page. Digest this poem and you will crack the code.
Eight hidden teasers can be found
By those inclined to look around
For each a trick we did concoct
Wherein a word must be unlocked
The first can swiftly be mistook
By trusting names of every book
The second comes for those so vexed
By cards with missing flavortext
The third is quite the strange contraption
Built inside an errant caption
For the fourth the word's been set
Around a humble cabinet
And when the fifth is found then you
Will have your questions answered too
But should you find your mind prehensile
Seek the sixth at tip of pencil
As the seventh’s been recorded
In the clubs for those rewarded
If the eighth should still elude
Meander to the source of food
And when this octet you’ve revealed
Then modify and each will yield
The name of one whose monstrous gaze
Might soon be found within our maze
But wait! A final step remains
For those who seek to wrack their brains
A string of numbers you will see
If only you can find the key
When you have an answer, go to http://www.puzzazz.com/mazeofgames and type in each answer, and then the monster associated with it. If you solve the final answer, type that in too. Only type in one answer at a time.
If you solve all 17 words, lord it over your friends! Place a Maze of Games Puzzle Solver badge on your Facebook page, Twitter feed, or other site.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
At this point we have only a draft of the text and an early draft of the puzzles. Quite a bit of redesign is needed to bring it up to modern standards. We're going to dive into the text as soon as the campaign funds, with a goal of having it completed and fully tested by May 2013.
In addition, we will need a great many more of Pete's illustrations to make it look as stellar as we think it can be. We will be going into layout in late spring and early summer, with the intent of having it ready to print by July.
We also need to print and fulfill the book, not an inexpensive endeavor especially considering the recent skyrocketing of international shipping prices. We have given ourselves enough time to print and ship the books before the holiday season, when we expect many of our backers will give these as gifts.
And of course, we will communicate with our valued backers every step of the way.
Lone Shark Games, The Maze of Games, Solve Your Own Adventure, and their associated artwork and logos are trademarks of Lone Shark Games, Inc. All puzzles, artwork, and text are copyright 2013 Lone Shark Games, Inc. All rights reserved.
Naw, it’s not that complicated. The pages appear to be in the right order. You just have to travel around the book as you go through the mazes, like in one of those old “choose your own adventure” books. Except you have to solve the puzzles too.
Actually, we don’t know yet. Part of the funds raised will determine how many illustrations Pete can make. We want it to be a lot.
Some of the puzzles are easy, and some are hard. There’s going to be something in this book for every puzzle solver. Multiple somethings, in fact. Plus, the story’s awesome.
Tragically, no encrusted lapines will be entombed during the making of this book. Kickstarter doesn’t allow contests, so we’re not running one. We will keep track of who solves the book’s major metapuzzle, and likely post it on our website.
It is our intention to make only one press run based on in part on how many books people request through this campaign. We will sell any remaining books at a similar MSRP as we’re selling them here, possibly with some variances for shipping. Lone Shark Games will not make another hardcover version for at least two years, and we will NEVER make another Gatekeeper’s Edition. If you want that, you’ll need to get it now.
Everybody in your family sounds a bit like a book distributor. We love distributors, but we’re abiding by Kickstarter’s maximum of 10 copies per buyer (see the $400 level). If you want to distribute the book, send an email to info at lonesharkgames dot com and we’ll talk.
Sorry, but no. All rewards will ship at the same time, and the PDF and ebook will ship slightly after the physical book so that your first experience is with the printed copy. We’re old-fashioned that way. (If you order a cryptex or a print or anything else that requires info from you, we’ll send out a form through Kickstarter that lets you tell us what we need to know.)
Take a look at the poem above. That will tell you where to look. At some point during the campaign, we’ll make some hints available. And then we’ll give the answers out at the end. After all, we’re not cruel. Well, not always.