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Game Writing Update: The Genehunter Files

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

So, I haven't posted anything about the game/novella deal I've been working on with Rusty Axe games for a while. Time for an update.

Actually, the arrangement has changed a bit. As you may recall, the original idea was for me to write the scenes and dialogue for a modern-day Elmore Leonardesqe thriller, along with a related novella. Rusty Axe would then write the game code, create the graphics etc. to give us a game/novella bundle. I figured that, since I've been a software developer since for ever as well as a writer, I should be able to take on this fairly technical writing task : eg. worrying about seamless dialogue in a game where the player can make free choices.

Well, you live and learn. And one thing I've learned - this may seem pretty obvious to you - is that by far the best way to create interesting, believable characters and settings is to write straight, old-fashioned stories about them first. Combining doing that with trying to design workable game mechanics just doesn't fly. A lot of effort went into trying, and what we ended up with were dull characters and clunky game mechanics.

So, back to square one. Fortunately, Rusty Axe are great people to work with : friendly, open, keen to experiment. We've decided to take a bit of a different tack. When we first discussed collaborating, I happened to show them a story I'd recently had published in Jupiter SF about a "genehunter". The set-up was a near-future, dystopian Earth where illegal cloning was commonplace and rich collectors employed genehunters to track down DNA sequences for their private "zoos".

This all suddenly seemed like a great setting for a game. I had characters, settings, technology etc. and plenty of scope for puzzle-solving and drama. So we decided to focus on this world instead.

So, the plan is for me to write the first three stories, each at about 10-12K words. These will then be published as straight Kindle downloads and, most likely, serialized at Rusty Axe too. There may also be audio versions. As well as allowing me to build up believable characters and a convincing world, this will hopefully also allow us to gauge whether there is sufficient interest in a related game. If there is, we can then work on that.

Will it work? I have absolutely no idea. But it's going to be fun finding out.

I've already written the first story - Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll - and hope to have another two drafted by the end of the year. Then we'll see how they do out there in the big, bad world ...

So, does anyone fancy a spot of beta reading of what I've got so far? Any input would be very gratefully received. I'm obviously keen to make these stories as effective as possible, so that folks start clamouring for "the game of the book".

Well, a man can dream ...


  1. Sounds like a terrific idea! Sorry the first take didn't make it, but with what you already had, I guess the old adage of 'it's meant to be' really is true. Good luck!

  2. Kittie,

    Thanks for that! I'll keep you all posted.

  3. Anything you need, Simon, just let me know. I can do some reading if you like.

  4. This is a really exciting project, Simon. I will beta read if you like.

  5. Joe and Deborah,

    That's absolutely fantastic, guys. I'm deeply in your debt. And happy to reciprocate, of course, should you need it. I'll be in touch. Many thanks again.

  6. Sounds an interesting project, best of luck with it.

  7. Simon, I'd be happy to beta read anything you need. Drop me an email.

  8. Thanks, Stephanie, that's really appreciated. I'll send you an email.


I'd love to know what you think.