Share this project


Share this project

Hadean Lands: Interactive Fiction for the iPhone's video poster

I'm going to write and sell a full-length text adventure for iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch). The game framework will be open source. Read more

Boston, MA Video Games
Share this project
pledged of $8,000 goal
seconds to go


This project was successfully funded on December 6, 2010.

I'm going to write and sell a full-length text adventure for iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch). The game framework will be open source.

Boston, MA Video Games
Share this project

About this project

Update, Nov 1, afternoon

So, I'm over the top. On day 1. I am perilously close to speechless (or even textless). The outpouring of support has been overwhelming.

But maybe you've just discovered this page -- you just read a news article, or a blog post, or you saw it on Kickstarter's "most popular" list. Have you missed out on the fun? Is the Hadean Lands funding project now in past tense? Certainly not!

By Kickstarter's rules, you can contribute until December 6th -- the original deadline. And here are some reasons you might want to:

* The more donations, the more time I can spend working on the community projects and open-source work. Finishing Hadean Lands will be top priority, of course. But like I say, this Kickstarter project is not about just one game.

* If you want to play Hadean Lands on Mac, Windows, Linux -- anything but iOS -- you must pre-order. The Special Runs-Anywhere Limited Edition is only available as a $25 Kickstarter reward. If you wait until next year to buy the game, you will find it available only for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch.

* The immediate plan is iOS only. But the more people donate, the more resources I will have for other mobile ports such as Android.

* You think I look fantastic in that Werewolf t-shirt.

And so on. Regardless: this is the best Monday present I've had in a long, long time, and I am absolutely grateful to each and every one of you.

I'm Andrew Plotkin. I want to write text adventures.

Of course, I already do write text adventures. I've been writing them for fifteen years now. If you're not familiar with my work, check it out -- you can play all of my existing games online, for free.

(If you're not familiar with text adventures at all, I guess you weren't playing videogames in 1981. Sometimes we say "interactive fiction" -- that ring a bell? You've heard of a "maze of twisting little passages"? Or a lurking grue? Zork? Or read one of those silly game transcripts where someone types "HIT TROLL WITH SWORD"? Sure you have.)

But I was saying. I write text adventures... in my spare time. I've been writing short games, art pieces, experiments. They're fun, but I haven't written a long-form game since 2004. I'd like to buckle down and create a new full-length interactive story.

I'd like to try selling IF. Crazy! I know. Not too many people have tried to make money off IF since the 1980s ended. But now is the time. Text is more popular than ever -- what do you think Twitter is made of? People are reading. People are carrying around book-readers. I can write a world-class narrative game, and I think people will pay for that. So let's give commercial IF a shot.

Hadean Lands: An Interactive Alchemical Interplanetary Thriller

The Unanswerable Retort is a starship, and you're the second assistant alchemist. Sound like an easy job? It was -- up until one second ago, when the Retort crashed out of hyperspace, into some God-forsaken airless landscape. Or maybe it crashed only halfway out of hyperspace. Time seems to be fractured, the crew is missing, and you've been trying to fix the ship for... well, that "one second" has been going on for weeks.


You didn't think a starship ran on coal, did you? Too bad the ritual circle is cracked, and most of the elemental supply cabinet is stuck two seconds in the future. You'll need to figure out how this disaster happened -- eventually. It's not your first problem.

You're going to have to calcine, dissolve, separate, conjugate, ferment, distill, and coagulate. You're going to have to improvise rituals based on every element of the shipboard environment. And you're going to have to hurry. Because the ship's Dragon of Pneuma is off-line, and without it, the air will only get staler....

Want a preview? Play the teaser intro to Hadean Lands (the game's opening scene) in your web browser.

I will create a full-length adventure game for the iPhone.

Hadean Lands will have old-school puzzles, a modern-era storyline, cutting-edge game design, all the textual immersion I can bring to bear, and it'll be an iPhone app. Five dollars, flat. ($4.99, really.)

Obviously, it'll run on the iPad and iPod Touch also. A game in your pocket or backpack. Android? Kindle? Could be next; we'll see. I use an open-source text-game format; it should be easy to port to different platforms. If it takes off, PC and Mac versions would be a snap.

I'm asking for a fair bit of Kickstarter money, because this is not a knock-off effort. It might take six months; it might take more. Even a short IF game is a lot of writing. If Infocom is your IF touchstone, fear not -- Hadean Lands will be built on that scale, and to that level of sophistication.

(Higher, really. I blush to say it, but IF technique and standards have moved up since 1990. We kick ass now. I kick ass, and I have the design awards to prove it.)

Plus, of course, Hadean Lands will be a polished iPhone experience. There's nothing wrong with iPhone Frotz -- you should grab it, it's free, it's got some of my games -- but I'll make an iPhone game that'll sell as a game. The feelies will be included as browsable documents. There will be dynamic hints and a map. Why not record your progress as GameCenter achievements? Today's gaming isn't solitary work.

But that's not the whole story.

If I wanted to take six months and write a game, I could cram that into my spare time. If I wanted to write an iPhone interpreter, I could probably manage that too. That's not how I want to run this project.

I will quit my day job at the end of December, to work on interactive fiction full-time. That means all my IF-related projects. Most of these are not commercial; they benefit the whole community.

  • Remember that open-source IF game engine? I've been promising to add CSS and Javascript integration for a year now. Fund me, and I'll get that done.
  • I'll release my iPhone game framework as open source. Anybody will be able to use it to put IF in the App Store.
  • I'll spend time optimizing and accelerating my IF web app. I need to add graphics, too.
  • Hadean Lands will be my day job -- but I'll be able to keep doing smaller text games in my spare time.
  • I'll have more time to help out the Boston-area IF group. More events at PAX East in 2011!
  • Blogging at The Gameshelf, game reviews on my web site -- all my usual work.
  • Maybe I'll finally figure out that rule-based IF programming model I keep tossing around.

And then, if it pays off, I'll write more of them.

Maybe it will, maybe it won't. I'm optimistic (naturally). But even if Hadean Lands isn't a big seller, it'll still exist -- I'll have written one more game, and you'll have one more game to play. Plus all the open-source code and related IF projects.

Let's make it happen.

About Andrew Plotkin

Follow @zarfeblong on Twitter!

I hang out with the People's Republic of Interactive Fiction, Boston's IF discussion and writing group.

My entry on IFDB. (Yes, we have an Interactive Fiction Database site. Of course we do!)

My entry on IMDB. I know, it's got nothing but my name and my appearance in Get Lamp, Jason Scott's (immense, rich, detailed) documentary on the history and culture of interactive fiction. But Get Lamp was just added to IMDB this weekend, and that means I was too. I'm kind of tickled about this.

A quick Zarf ludography:


Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

Ask a question


  • You selected
    Pledge $3 or more

    119 backers

    Hadean Lands for iPhone. A $5 value! (If I ever port to Android or Kindle or any other mobile platform, you can have those versions too, for free.)

  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    33 backers

    Hadean Lands collectible postcard! With bonus IF quick reference on back. (And also the game for iPhone, plus any mobile ports.)

  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    358 backers

    Hadean Lands Limited Edition: shipped on a rune-inscribed CD. Playable on Mac/PC/Linux. This will *only* be available through Kickstarter. (Plus the game for iPhone, and the postcard.)

  • You selected
    Pledge $40 or more

    73 backers

    Hadean Lands full-page, full-color map poster! This map will be part of the game docs, but this poster will be larger and prettier. (Plus the game for Mac/PC/etc, and iPhone, and the postcard.) (Belated note: the poster will be added to all rewards $50 and larger.)

  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    15 backers All gone!

    Your name will appear in Hadean Lands, in some form, as an ancient alchemist or sage or spell-rubric. ("The Sulphuric Dragon of Andricus Plotinus", that kind of thing.) (Plus the game for Mac/PC/etc, and iPhone, and the postcard.)

  • You selected
    Pledge $75 or more

    20 backers All gone!

    You will have access to the closed beta-testing phase of the game. Early access! Opportunity to offer feedback! (Plus the game for Mac/PC/etc, and iPhone, and the postcard.)

  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    42 backers

    You will be credited in the game as a Hero of the Calcination. (Plus the game for Mac/PC/etc, and iPhone, and the postcard.)

  • You selected
    Pledge $180 or more

    27 backers

    You will receive the source code of the game, for your edification and amusement, as a printed volume. (Plus special credit as Hero of the Dissolution, and the game for Mac/PC/etc, and iPhone, and the postcard.)

  • You selected
    Pledge $250 or more

    10 backers All gone!

    A mystical alchemical calligraphical formula of ancient (made-up) lore, hand-written on (freshly-made) ancient paper. With incomprehensible mystical symbols! (Plus special credit as Hero of the Coagulation, and the game for Mac/PC/etc, and iPhone, and the postcard.)

  • You selected
    Pledge $1,000 or more

    2 backers All gone!

    The traditional Kickstarter "I'll fly out to visit you and bake you cookies!" offer. (Continental US only please.) We can hang out and talk about IF, or play the game together, or go out for Peruvian -- whatever's agreeable. Plus all of the above.


Funding period

- (36 days)