New (Re)Release: Sunless Sea: The Pirate Poet

Finally, she’s no longer just a rumour to the pirates of Gaider’s Mourn

Just a quickie to say that the Pirate-Poet and second half of the Merciless Modiste’s story is now available to all Sunless Sea players, and not just those super-generous DLC backers. I’m really pleased with this, as the Pirate-Poet is some of my favourite writing that I did for Sunless Sea. The Poet herself was my attempt to give the player a ‘worthy rival’ at zee, whose relationship is built up through combat rather than the usual gifts and romancing… though romancing is absolutely on the table, later on. Likewise, the Merciless Modiste was a chance for a little more humour in the game a la the Delightful Adventuress, albeit several shades darker in tone.

The two stories and characters intertwine, telling what I think is a fun story of honour and dressmaking, with a lot of variation involved depending on the current state of the player’s relationship with the Poet. Mechanically, there’s a lot going on here that most players will never see, but I hope the more surface level stuff is as enjoyable to play as it was to write. I’m particularly fond of the three-part conversation between the Modiste and the Poet on their respective views of Art, the Modiste’s seemingly genuine inability to understand why just because you’re sending someone to their doom doesn’t mean you can’t be friends, and a rare chance for the Captain’s poor crew to make a stand on behalf of something that they believe in.

Thanks to the original Kickstarter backers who gave us the okay to release this one for free. Hope everyone felt they got their money’s worth out of the content while it was still an exclusive.

Onwards, now, to Sunless Skies… (I hope!)

New Release: Torn Tales

A most unlikely party forms…

New game alert! This one’s called Torn Tales. I wasn’t involved on the design side of this one, but I wrote the cut-scene script – a fun interworld romp of Snow White, Robin Hood, Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde rampaging around worlds merged together by an evil Bookbinder. It’d have been fun to have more scope to play with those relationships in the form of in-game barks and additional cut-scenes, but watching early playthroughs on Twitch, it looks like the story side went over pretty well. In particular, the words are hugely helped by having Stefan Cornicard on hand, playing the two narrators in their feud over heroism and hypocrisy.

Sunless Sea And Me: Zubmariner

What’s that bubbling from the deep? Yes, finally the Sunless Sea expansion Zubmariner is out, and if you don’t mind me saying so, I think it’s pretty darn good. I wrote two of the ports for this one, an elephants graveyard called the Gant Pole where the beasts of the zee go to die, and the port of Nook, a silent society living in and harvesting the flesh of a giant eel in the name of Freedom. And that’s just some of what’s to be found on the Zee floor, including the crystal city of Anthe, the dreamlike Dahut, and vast numbers of wrecks, new monsters, and other reasons that sensible people stay on the surface.

This probably calls for a ‘mwah-ha-ha’. Ahem. Mwah-ha-ha…

The Long Journey Home

What is there to be found on this strange planet?

What is there to be found on this strange planet?

Meet The Long Journey Home, which I’m writing for Daedalic Studio West. It’s an RPG! It’s a roguelike! It’s a procedurally generated universe that you won’t find boring after seeing a few systems of it! And I’m super, super excited about it. Creative lead Andreas Suika has put together nothing short of a team of wizards to make this thing happen, and I’m thrilled to tag along behind them, cack-handedly throwing words at a screen in the hope that they all sound good. Seriously though, this game is doing a lot of stuff that I’ve wanted to see these things do for literally decades, including treating the crew as a vital part of the mission (complete with personalities, skills, arguments etc) instead of just stats, combining ‘proper’ RPG questing with an unpredictable universe, and offering basically all the freedom that you’d actually get if you were trapped at the wrong side of the universe on a slowly collapsing ship.

It’s Farscape. It’s Voyager. It’s Star Control II. It’s a lot of more obscure franchises and European SF worlds wrapped up into one, designed to play differently every time you play. Can’t wait to show you more of it, but check out the website for at least a few more details.

Sunless Sea And Me: Christmastide

"I WILL TAKE EVERYTHING YOU HAVE TO GIVE. I WILL TAKE MORE."

“I WILL TAKE EVERYTHING YOU HAVE TO GIVE. I WILL TAKE MORE.”

Merry Sacksmas! My latest Sunless Sea story just went live – a special, free quest to celebrate the season (though it’ll still be available afterwards). Mr Sacks has come to town, and he needs your help. Every year he shows up to take the people of London’s sacrifices. You will help him deliver the unwanted ones far from the reach of the Bazaar, and prove that when the ammonia snow falls, it is indeed better to give than to receive. And there’s a bit more to it than that, but I won’t spoil it. Suffice it to say that in the Neath, many a good deed goes unrewarded… but that only makes the moments of compassion all the more important.

I’m pretty pleased with how this one turned out. Hope everyone likes it. Not to be unseemly, but I’m still so happy to have been part of this game and to have had the chance to leave a few marks on it. It’s such a wonderful world to spend time in, and I’m thrilled that it’s currently getting its due in Best Of lists. Not to mention a nomination for the Writers Guild of Great Britain’s gaming category, alongside Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, which I haven’t played (though only for want of a PS4), and Sam Barlow’s awesome Her Story. Would not mind losing to either, though obviously hope Sunless gets the nod. I do really like that all three are indie titles though, where actual writing took priority over flashy marketing. Not always the case!

(Also, secretly, I can’t say that I mind that when people comment in reviews “Well, YOU make a better game!”, I can tell them “Sunless Sea, baby!”, drop the mic, and walk off while We Are The Champions plays at high volume. Okay, so it’s scraps of a bigger team effort, but… sssh! Don’t spoil a good retort…)

Next year of course we’ll be seeing the expansion pack, Zubmariner, which explores the even darker world beneath the waves. Really looking forward to sinking my teeth into that one, if they’ll have me. Quite a lot of game writing and design on the slate for next year actually, which is cool. More on that in 2016 though.

Sunless Sea And Me: Now With Added DLC

It's all about the Art, as the serial killer said to their victim.

It’s all about the Art, as the serial killer said to their victim.

What’s that splashing sound? That’s a great big dollup of new content being added to Sunless Sea. Hurray! It’s written by me! Sorry! But hopefully you’ll enjoy it anyway! (I don’t think there are any puns!)

In order of my typing then. First up – the rodents of Pigmote Isle need your help again. This one builds on Amal’s awesome rodent war by letting you return and help the rats and cavies decide what to do next. You’re the Hairless Adviser, leading them through their tricky foundations and trying to get them ready for the rest of the zee to notice them… or alternatively to abuse their trust for your own purposes. Mwah, ha, and indeed, ha.

Then, it’s time to play with two more characters. Backers who supported the game at Corsair level and above can match their strength with the legendary Pirate-Poet, roaming the zee with her powerful Alcaeus ship. She was originally promised as a straight enemy, but I wanted to experiment with something a little different. I’ve always liked the idea of the worthy opponent in fiction, and the idea of friendship behind fighting. Sunless Sea doesn’t have much scope for that in the naval battles though because you just tend to be against ‘pirates’ or ‘Unfinished Men’ and so on. Having a specific character as an enemy allowed me to experiment with a relationship forged through battles… though as ever, it’s your choice what form it takes.

And finally – she’s here. After getting bored of her latest exile/cruise, the Merciless Modiste has turned her eyes to the zee in search of a new captain worthy of her scandalous fashions and murderous hobbies. She’s one of our ‘backer’ characters, along with the likes of the Sigil-Ridden Navigator and Maybe’s Daughter, though based on an existing character rather than a person. She was a fun one to write – a cheery sociopath completely commited to art, and the philosophy that while great art demands great suffering, its obligation does not necessarily have to fall upon the artiste. Anyone can recruit her, though to finish her story, you do need the Pirate-Poet DLC. Let’s just say, their pasts and your future are connected, for better or worse.

(The DLC is currently backer-only, but will be available to all at some point)

Fallen London And Me: Lost In Reflections

It looks like the Calendar Council is missing one of their months...

It looks like the Calendar Council is missing one of its months…

Looking for a delightful new chunk of Fallen London? This month’s Exceptional Story was written by myself and professional word-deity Alexis Kennedy, and you’ll enjoy it. Really! It’s a tale of ravens and music, of mirrors and possible futures. To play through it, you need to be a Fallen London subscriber (“Exceptional Friend”) during July, though it’ll be available to purchase individually in a few months for those who miss it during its debut.