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Game Writing: Narrative Skills for Videogames Published by Charles River Media, July 2006

International Hobo Ltd is proud to announce the publication of Game Writing: Narrative Skills for Videogames, the first reader on the topic of game writing, written by the IGDA Game Writers' Special Interest Group, and edited by ihobo Managing Director, Chris Bateman.

A dozen professional game writers each contributed chapters, including Richard Dansky, Mary DeMarle, Matt Entin, Stephen Jacobs, Ed Kuehnel, Tim Langdell, Rhianna Pratchett, Coray Seifert, James Swallow and Andrew S. Walsh, with four chapters contributed by members of International Hobo - Ernest Adams, Richard Boon and Chris Bateman. The book also recieved additional editing from Sande Chen, Wendy Despain, Beth A. Dillon, Ahmad Saad, and indefatigable ihobo troubleshooter Neil Bundy.

Game Writing takes a skill focus, and looks at the skills and techniques used by professional game writers in the context of real videogame projects, such as Myst 3, Far Cry, Discworld Noir and Madden NFL Football. Less speculative than most books on the subject of game narrative, this is a book about how the industry currently get stories into games. Anyone interested in learning these skills would do well to pick up a copy.

Game Writing: Narrative Skills for Videogames is available from Amazon and all good bookstores.

Published by Charles River Media, ISBN 1584504900.

Game Writing: Narrative Skills for Videogames


'Play with Fire' Announced, May 2006

Play with Fire is an inventive new platform puzzle game in which the player controls an indestructible ball of flames which sets fire to everything in its path. The game features unique gameplay based around burning and jumping, and three different ways to play – a Fun path which is easy enough for anyone to enjoy, a Puzzle path for those wishing to test their intellectual mettle, and a Challenge path presenting formidable trials for those who wish to test their limits.

Designed by International Hobo Ltd, the game has been developed by India’s first console game developer, Fantasy Labs Entertainment Pvt Ltd (a wholly owned subsidiary of International Hobo). Unique and innovative, Play with Fire is designed to appeal both to experienced gamers craving something original, and to a wider audience looking for something that is easy to learn but hard to master.

Play with Fire is a special game”, says Chris Bateman, managing director of International Hobo, and the game designer on the project. “The game mechanics are simple, but produce quite diverse play. We set off with the goal of exploring how we could deliver new play experiences on a relatively small development budget – too many games fail because they cost more to make than they can ever hope to make back in revenue. I’m looking forward to getting the game into the hands of the audience.”

The game has been in development under the working title of Fireball, and also the Japanese title for the game Hidama.

The PC version of the game, specifically aimed at the gaming underground, is being released with bold new independent publisher, Manifesto Games, based in New York.

"Play with Fire is precisely the kind of innovative, independently developed game Manifesto was founded to support," says Greg Costikyan, the company's CEO. "It's a clear indication of the power of combining a controlled, intellectual approach to design with a clear commitment to the creation of compelling popular entertainment."

The PlayStation 2 version follows later this year, and is being published by Europe’s highly respected budget publisher, Midas Interactive Entertainment. This release is geared towards a wider, more mass market audience. “Midas was our first choice for console publisher,” Chris explains. “They represent all the key strengths of the budget market, and this was the perfect market tier for a game like Play with Fire.” Midas adds: “We are delighted to be publishing Play with Fire on PlayStation 2. Our stated aim is to deliver the very best value for money games to the market and in Fireball we will be doing just that.”

Play with Fire PC is expected Summer 2006, with Play with Fire PS2 expected Q4.

Links:
International Hobo Ltd
Manifesto Games
Midas Interactive Entertainment


'21st Century Game Design' Published By Charles River Media, August 2005

International Hobo Ltd is proud to announce the publication of 21st Century Game Design by Charles River Media, the leading publisher of game development books. The book expands upon the research that International Hobo has conducted into gaming audiences over the last two years, providing a detailed analysis and discussion of the DGD1 audience model, as well as advice on applying the model to game design problems such as interface design, game structure and game world abstraction.

This book is the first game design guide to focus on the motivations behind game design, recognising that the purpose of a game is to meet the play needs of its audience, and that in order to complete this goal it is necessary for designers to understand those play needs. It is therefore complementary to other game design books on the market which focus on the pragmatic elements of how to design games.

Chris Bateman, Managing Director of International Hobo, believes the book represents a significant step forward in the field of game design. "There are many talented game designers in the world, but there is still a tendency for people to have too narrow a focus as to what is meant by 'gameplay', and much of what has been written makes broad assumptions as to the way a game should be. This book challenges assumptions of what a game can be, by looking at the needs of the audience first.

"As well as summarising our research, we also examine and reference other psychological models, including Nicole Lazarro's Four Keys, Csikszentmihalyi's Flow and Roger Caillois' patterns of play. We have also included one of the most detailed critical analyses of game genre available, in which we consider the probable play styles associated with all the major patterns in gameplay from the birth of the industry to the present day. I believe this book has something in it for everyone with an interest in game design."

Ernest Adams, who runs the Designers' Notebook subsidiary of International Hobo added: "21st Century Game Design approaches some of interactive entertainment's most compelling problems in an entirely new way. It is, so far as I know, the first time a book on design has attempted to understand the player's desires and motivations in an orderly fashion; to move beyond rules of thumb, hidebound convention, and what 'everybody knows' about gamers. 21st Century Game Design takes the extraordinary step of examining the personalities of the players themselves, and then extrapolates from those personality types to arrive at a coherent theory of design."

The book is available from Amazon, Charles River Media, and all good book stores.


Kult: Heretic Kingdoms Released to Critical Acclaim

Early reviews for 'Kult: Heretic Kingdoms' are showing an overwhelming positive response to the game. The new computer role-playing game developed by Slovakian studio 3D People, with design and script by International Hobo, has been released across Europe by publisher Project 3 Interactive to glowing reviews.

WorthPlaying - Editor’s ChoiceWorthplaying give the game an Editor's Choice award and 9 out of 10. "Kult just feels like a quality act," they say. "It's probably the best [action RPG] that's going to hit the shelves this year."

GameSurf - Award of ExcellenceGamesurf at Tiscali also has praise for the game. "Fresh ideas packed into an interesting story in a fantasy world without the usual clichés." They give the game 90% and an Award of Excellence.

"Kult: Heretic Kingdoms is an RPG with a great story, atmospheric graphics and sound, and excellent gameplay," says Gamevillage. "It feels solid and satisfying, with no loose ends or obvious untidiness. If this is the first game from 3D People, I can't wait for the next!" They give it 85%.

Dutch site Games.Fok.nl agrees: "Kult: Heretic Kingdoms is a hugely entertaining RPG... The tale is highly original and both Attunements and the Dreamworld really distinguish it from other RPG's. Also, because the game has several endings, it has great replay value." They give it 84%.

"If you have always wanted to have a good option for long term play with a role playing game, you should absolutely get into Kult: Heretic Kingdoms!" says German site Winfuture. "But beware, because it can become addictive, because the story and mechanics work better the more you play!" They give it 83%.

Russian site Absolute Games give it 81% and an Our Choice award: "You won't be sorry about the hours you kill playing this game, or the money you spend on buying it."

The English speaking press has also praised the game. Cult gaming site Idle Thumbs calls it a "satisfying, well written experience" in its irreverent but highly positive review of the game, and RPGdot says: "Kult takes the standard action-RPG formula, adds some real story depth and shakes it up with interesting ideas. There's nary an elf or dwarf in sight, replaced by a mysterious and gritty setting of downtrodden peoples and warring factions."

'Kult: Heretic Kingdoms' is out now in Europe and Russia. The US release is expected to be announced shortly.

http://www.worthplaying.com/article.php?sid=21586
http://gamesurf.tiscali.de/pc/reviews/200411/02/result.php
http://games.fok.nl/review.php?reviewid=1130
http://www.gamevillage.nl/index.php?act=ST&f=133&t=25945&
http://www.winfuture.de/magazin,17164,1.html
http://www.ag.ru/reviews/2926
http://www.idlethumbs.net/display.php?id=58
http://www.rpgdot.com/index.php?hsaction=10053&ID=1055


'Kult: Heretic Kingdoms' Gone Gold

Project Three Interactive (Limmen, The Netherlands) announced today that the highly anticipated fantasy RPG for PC 'Kult: Heretic Kingdoms' has completed development and will ship to retail stores around October 1st 2004 across Europe.

'Kult: Heretic Kingdoms' combines accessible hack & slash gameplay with an engaging adventure storyline, perfect for fans of the RPG genre. The game features game mechanics for healing and character customization that set the game apart from others in the genre - easy to learn, yet rewarding to master.

Project Three COO Erik Schreuder said: "We picked up this promising project about 10 months ago and have been very enthusiastic about the direction it has taken since. We are glad we have given the game the time it needed to mature and are now really proud of the final result. We are confident that RPG fans all over the world will really enjoy the game. I'd like to add that we are very pleased that we will simultaneously release the English, German, French, Spanish and Italian version at the same time."

Peter Nagy of 3D People added: "Thanks to the years of effort we put in, as well as the assistance by International Hobo and Project Three, I think we have succeeded in creating a really exciting new breed of RPG, mixing traditional elements with well thought out gameplay additions. I am really curious to hear the first feedback from the many RPG players out there."

Chris Bateman, MD of International Hobo is also pleased with the project. "There has been a decline in releases of computer RPGs, probably because of the expense involved in developing this style of game. However, the fan base is still out there, and we hope we have designed and scripted a game that RPG fans will find refreshingly different."

'Kult: Heretic Kingdoms' Storyline

Set in the world of the Heretic Kingdoms, a world where God is dead and religion heresy, you are cast as a young female inquisitor, working to stamp out the last remnants of religion. On instructions to destroy a relic the Inquisition considers a significant threat, you are drawn into a conflict between two warring secret societies - a conspiracy of mages whose goal is true power and a shadowy cult who seeks to resurrect the Dead God.

As the story progresses, you will be placed in an amoral world and left to decide your own morality. Just like the real world, your actions have consequences and it is up to you to decide if you can live with them or not. Play as an altruistic heroine, a vicious and selfish egotist or just a woman trying to get her job done - your actions will lead you to one of six different endings depending on where you decide your loyalties lie. Will you crush religion underfoot or become its saviour? Only you can decide.

'Kult: Heretic Kingdoms' Developers

'Kult: Heretic Kingdoms' has been in development for 3 years by young and talented Slovakian studio 3D People and will be published in Europe by Project Three Interactive during October 2004. 'Kult: Heretic Kingdoms' features an engaging storyline written by a script team lead by critically acclaimed writer-designer Chris Bateman (Discworld Noir, Ghost Master), as well as uniquely immersive game mechanics designed by Chris' infamous International Hobo team.

About Project Three Interactive

Project Three Interactive is an innovative publisher of PC Games. The company was founded in 2000 in the Netherlands and has shown a steady growth since. Its quality products are being distributed through a vast and growing quality network of international partners all over the globe with the emphasis on Europe.

Project Three has a history of giving young and talented developers a chance to show their worth; at the same time, with the acquisition of Project Three Interactive Studio AB in Malmö Sweden, the Project Three Group has integrated game development and publishing activities under one umbrella, thus securing a steady flow of PC games for years to come.


'Kult: Heretic Kingdoms' Announced

Kult: Heretic Kingdoms - LogoInternational Hobo Ltd is proud to announce its involvement with 'Kult: Heretic Kingdoms', a computer role-playing game for the PC. The game is being developed by Slovakian studio 3D People, and will be published in Europe by Project 3. The game design and script are being developed by International Hobo Ltd, based upon an original story concept by 3D People.

Chris Bateman, Managing Director of International Hobo, is enthusiastic about the project. "When 3D People contacted us about this game, they already had a dynamite game engine in production, but there were some issues about the game mechanics and script that needed resolving. We're very excited about the direction the game is heading in, and believe it will certainly appeal to fans of the genre.

"Working with 3D People has been very satisfying. As a game design and dialogue scripting agency, it is always gratifying to work with a team who are open to new approaches, but are also confident in assessing what can and cannot be achieved within the project schedule. This development team has tremendous potential."

Peter Nagy, Lead Designer at 3D People added: "We're very happy to have an experienced design and scripting agency like International Hobo on board this project. With their fast and professional assistance we will deliver an original, involving and memorable fantasy RPG game."

Raymond Snippe, Development & PR Executive for Project 3 is also pleased with the direction the game is taking. "With an award winning company like International Hobo teaming up with a talented studio such as 3D People, a great final product is now very much in the cards. I must admit we have high expectations for this release and I hope the RPG fans out there will feel the genre has been enriched with a classic when they'll play it."

'Kult: Heretic Kingdoms' will be released in Europe end of Q2 2004.


New Demographic Game Design Model Announced

International Hobo Ltd is proud to announce a new demographic model, based on applying Myers-Briggs typology to data gathered about the computer game audience in connection with their gameplay needs. A summary of the results is being distributed in a brochure entitled Demographic Game Design: How to make game design as valuable as marketing, which is being sent to clients of International Hobo and all major publishers and developers. The brochure has been produced in association with industry marketing agency Head First.

Demographic Game Design - coverThe brochure describes the nature and foundation of the research, the disposition of the Types of player and provides data which indicate the key findings with respect to Myers-Briggs traits such as Introversion and Intuition.

In brief, the research identifies four types of player - Type 1 Conquerors, who are concerned with competition and beating games, Type 2 Managers who are interested in strategic and management gameplay, Type 3 Wanderers who enjoy open games and "toyplay", and Type 4 Participants who are focused on the emotional context of play. These are subdivided into Hardcore and Casual clusters to make eight subtypes (H1, H2, H3, H4 and C1, C2, C3 and C4).

Chris Bateman, Managing Director of International Hobo, claims the research is a breakthrough in game design theory. "Demographic models are used extensively in marketing and especially in narrow-casting media such as TV, but no-one has attempted to apply similar techniques in the context of game design. This model suggests that thinking about games in terms of 'good gameplay' is meaningless, as the audience is divided into separate groups all of which have differing needs from their games.

"I'm especially enthusiastic about the understanding this research gives us in respect of 'toyplay' products such as 'The Sims'. These games are clearly hitting a different audience to conventional game products. The research also makes it clear that the vast majority of programmers belong to the Type 1 and Type 2 profiles - so it is unsurprising that the market has tended to be polarised towards games that suit these Types."

Head First - logoStephen Hey of Head First added: "This is a fascinating study that has strategic implications for every sector of the industry. The more the industry can do to understand the gamer, the better, and that's something that Head First are very keen to encourage."

A PDF of Demographic Game Design: How to make game design as valuable as marketing is available for download here.


US 'PC Gamer' Awards Ghost Master 90%/Editor's Choice

The largest distributed and most influential PC magazine in the world, the US edition of PC Gamer, has awarded Ghost Master a review score of 90% and a coveted Editor's Choice Award, which is historically synonymous with a Top 10 chart hit.

The arrival of Ghost Master in the North American territory has been greeted with extremely strong reviews, averaging 90% across the board, with the game already building a global cult following after its release in the European territory. The PC Gamer score, however, is considered to be the clearest indication of the game's design being matched to the US market.

International Hobo's Managing Director Chris Bateman had this to say: "We designed this game with the US market in mind. It's PC based, and the US has the strongest installed base for PC, contains a strong element of experimental play, and draws from pop culture influences well suited to the needs of a typical US gamer. The PC Gamer review score is a satisfying validation that we did our job right."

The game has been selling steadily in all territories, although awareness of the game has not been widely distributed. Mr. Bateman comments: "I'm not entirely sure why, but Vivendi seem to have dropped the ball in promoting this game. Good game design will get strong review scores, but then it's up to the marketing department to convert that into sales figures. For whatever reason, Vivendi seem to have missed the chance to have a Halloween blockbuster."

Despite this, the game continues to sell at a steady pace, and rumours of a sequel are rife although Empire Interactive (whose Sick Puppies studio developed the game) refused to publicly confirm or deny whether a sequel was on the table.


Ghost Master Reviews

Action Trip

http://www.actiontrip.com/reviews/ghostmaster.phtml

Action Trip

"Ghost Master turned out to be a successful mixture of various genres, which establishes excellent gameplay mechanics and presents an extremely challenging experience."
The review gives it a rating of 'Excellent - 9 out of 10' and an Editor's Choice Award

PC Zone Essential

PC Zone

Major UK Consumer Games Magazine
"The most fun I've had with a game in ages... it displays innovation and imagination in an industry that can often be accused of putting the almighty dollar before genuine creativity."
The review gave Ghost Master 87% and awarded it a 'PC Zone Essential' award

The Guardian

Major UK Broadsheet Newspaper
"It's rare these days to find a game that feels genuinely fresh as well as fun, but Ghost Master is truly one of the most original games around... Ghost Master is the most fun you can have on your computer."
The review gave Ghost Master five out of five stars.

Games Domain

http://www.gamesdomain.co.uk/gdreview/zones/reviews/pc/jun03/Ghost_Master.html

Top Game

"Ghost Master has turned the whole horror genre on its head... an original and entertaining idea that has been excellently implemented."
The game is awarded a Top Game award

ESC Magazine

http://www.escmag.com/v5/reviews/review.cfm?rv=362

"Ghost Master is probably going to be one of the most overlooked games of 2003. That's a shame, because it's a smart, fun and best of all unusual sim in a genre too often crowded by clones."
The reviews gives the game 9 out of 10.

TechTV

http://www.techtv.com/xplay/reviews/story/0,24330,3525994,00.html

"Ghost Master is one of the most creative and enjoyable games to come around in a long time. Its mixture of creativity, solid gameplay, and sense of humor make it a game to die for."
They give the game a perfect score - 5 out of 5

The Adrenaline Vault

http://www.avault.com/reviews/review_temp.asp?game=ghstmstr&page=1

"It's a fantastic game especially if you are into strategy puzzlers. Even if you're not, it's still a terribly addictive venture that's easy to pick up and you'll find yourself haunting with the best of them in no time flat."
They give the game 4.5 out of 5 stars

GameZone

http://www.gamezone.com/gzreviews/r20617.htm

"Without a doubt, this is one heck of a creative and fun game that can provide a great addition to your PC library."
The review gave it 9 out of 10 and an Editor's Choice Award

GameSpot

http://www.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/ghostmaster/review.html

"It's a great novelty, first of all, but it's also a real success in terms of gameplay, thanks to outstanding scenario design and an irreverent sense of humor."
They give the game a ranking of '8.8 - Great'

Gaming Illustrated

http://www.gamingillustrated.com/ghostmaster.php

"Ghost Master is a highly playable title with a lot going for it... it's sheer originality carries it through. One of the best fun games I have played in a long time, full of humour and detail."
They give the game 86% overall.

Tiscali

http://www.tiscali.co.uk/games/reviews/ghostmaster.html

"In this day and age, when originality is scarce, Ghost Master shines out."
The game scores 9 out of 10

Gamer Nation UK

http://www.gamer-nation.co.uk/games/reviews/pc/ghost_master/index.shtml

"Ghost Master will just have to rank of one of the best games we'll see this year for it's wit, charm and sheer wealth of options."
They give the game 87.6% overall.

Gamer's Hell

http://www.gamershell.com/reviews_GhostMasterReview.shtml

"Ghost Master is a totally unique and original idea. If you like The Sims, you will be right at home, watching humans go about their usual daily routines. And if you don't like The Sims, it will be right up your street too! Think of it this way - after all those times they messed up your house and made you take them to the bathroom, it's time to get even. Scare them witless - it's fun!"
They give the game 88% overall.

IGDA Launches New Game Writers' Special Interest Group with White Paper

On behalf of the International Game Developers Association, International Hobo Ltd is proud to announce the formation of the Game Writers' Special Interest Group, which is officially announced by the IGDA this November.

The SIG was set up by International Hobo's managing director Chris Bateman, in association with Canadian game writer Raphael van Lierop, who had originally started the ball rolling by setting up a discussion forum for game writers at the IGDA website. After attracting a series of other game writers to the fold, including Richard E. Dansky (Red Storm Entertainment), Marc Laidlaw (Valve Entertainment) and Sheldon Pacotti (Ion Storm), independent writer Robert Buckley was chosen to be the third member of the SIG's Executive Panel, along with Bateman and van Lierop.

The first official action of the SIG has been to produce a white paper - the IGDA's Guide to Game Writing - which is available for download from the SIG's webpage. The paper provides an overall picture of the current state of game writing, and advice for people interested in becoming game writers - both existing writers looking to move into the interactive media, and newcomers with little prior experience.

"The formation of this Special Interest Group is a landmark event in the history of games development," Mr. Bateman asserts, "since the field of game writing has been largely brushed under the carpet until now. Providing a mechanism to reflect the needs of game writers, and to promote good narrative practices in games can only represent a positive step forward for the industry."

International Hobo and Media Training North West will be providing copies of the white paper to attendees at the Game Writer seminars, being run by Chris Bateman and Richard Boon (Head of Script Services at ihobo) this November, to tie in with the SIG's launch.

Mr. Bateman will also be hosting a group gathering for game writers and people interested in the field at next year's GDC conference in San Jose, on behalf of the special interest group.