Critically-acclaimed author Neil Gaiman is making a video game with the help of the fine team at The Odd Gentlemen. The title in question, Wayward Manor, will be the fourth game from the independent developer, just five years after their first title, The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom. So how do you go from small indie to working with Neil Gaiman? Luck, a deal with the devil, or kidnapping? I asked studio founder Matthew Korba how the entire project came about in a brief - the team is busy making a video game - interview.
USgamer: So how did you fine odd gentlemen get hooked up with Neil Gaiman?
Mister Korba: Every night, while brushing my teeth, I would turn off the lights, stare into the mirror, and chant the name "Neil Gaiman." That was surprisingly ineffective, but eventually we met up in Los Angeles and showed him a Lego prototype we were working on. He loved it and saw it as a "story machine" where we could merge story and gameplay.
USgamer: What was it like in the studio on the day that "Neil Gaiman" became a reality for your team?
Señor Korba: We were stoked. After we woke up from our three day gummy-bear induced coma, we realized the game was real and we ought to get to work.
USgamer: Were you familiar with his work beforehand? How you feel his body of work dovetails with the types of games you like to make?
Monsieur Korba: Oh yes, we are giant fans of his work. We all have different Gaiman pieces as our favorites, mine is The Graveyard Book. We both toil in the pleasantly dark, so that's twistedly splendid. The Odd Gentlemen have three studio goals; create innovative games that tell charming stories, make games with awesome people, and breed tiny horses. Neil helps us achieve at least two of those goals.
USgamer: How much of the planned game is Gaiman's input, and how much is what you're bringing to the table?
Korba-san: It is a true collaboration. We chat on skype, email, retreat it up, and exchange documentation. Neil's input has been great, as he really understands games and how to seamlessly integrate interactive stories to the project. The obvious split would be Neil writing the story and us designing gameplay, but in practice it is something way more intertwined than that. Both The Odd Gents and Neil have concocted something that blends story and gameplay in a unique way.
USgamer: How has the campaign gone so far?
Signor Korba: It's been fantastic! We have already sold a good amount of the top tier dinner with Neil package and are almost sold out of the tier where you can name a game character. We can't wait to reveal even more about the game and see what happens with the campaign. Also, if anyone wants experience an evening with me and some street tacos, you can send me 20 bucks via PayPal and an email to TacosWithKorba@theoddgentlemen.com (Sorry, But, you will have to provide transportation).
USgamer: Do you feel it's working better that something like Kickstarter?
Herr Korba: It is definitely a different route and one that I am happy to explore. It gives us more flexibility and control over the presale campaign. We were going to make the game either way, but at the same time we wanted fans to be able to help support and expand the game which is why we chose to take an alternate route.
USgamer: What's it like working with your new publisher Moonshark?
κύριος Korba: Really great! They have been handling all of the pre-sale and marketing so we can focus on the creative. Plus they introduced us to Neil Gaiman... so... Best Friends Forever!!
USgamer: Your site says you strive to become masters of the short form gaming experience. Do you feel you're closer to that ideal? How does Wayward Manor fit into that?
Matthew Korba-씨: Our site also says we strive to become the buffest game developers in the world, and we are certainly closer to becoming masters of the short form gaming experience. With each game we make we get closer and closer to the ideal and Wayward Manor certainly fits into the studio's vision of creating games that tell stories with innovative gameplay. It also fits the ideal of sneaking a delicious pie into every game we create.
USgamer: You started with two odd gentlemen, how many ladies and gentlemen are there now?
Korba-úr: We are 10 odd gentlemen now, including two odd gentleladies. We are always looking for talented odd gentlepeople to join the team; inquiring minds can send credentials to firstname.lastname@example.org.
USgamer: Are you prepared for all the Gaiman fans who will want to know if you have touched his hallowed hand?
Encik Matthew: Let's just say we got quite a few odd emails the day the game was announced. And no SandFan445, you cannot have another lock of my hair, one should be plenty.
Wayward Manor is coming to PC, Mac, and tablet platforms this Fall. If you want to pre-purchase the game, you can still do so here.