Here’s Hoping: Neil Gaiman, The Gamer? Thoughts On WAYWARD MANOR…

I’m trying to remember the first time I became aware of Neil Gaiman. I don’t recall if it was the Sandman series, or if it was one of his novels. I’m thinking it might have been one of his collaborations with Discworld author, Terry Pratchett. Yeah, that sounds right. When I was in high school a good friend of mine introduced me to a lot of interesting books(And games, actually.), and one of them was Good Omens; a quirky take on the anti-christ and the apocalypse he absentmindedly brings forth. It’s a really interesting, and funny, take on some well known characters, and mythology. Especially, for a kid(Me, actually.) who grew up Catholic, and spent most of his high school career in Catholic schools, and, you know, was raised to be terrified of the apocalypse.

Neil Gaiman is an interesting author. He takes these fairy tale characters and settings, and, in a way, brings them back to their roots. Sure, these types of stories have always kind of been “for kids,” but the sub-text of them has always been rooted in gravely serious adult themes. They are often posited as a type of “morality tale,” and peel back the curtain to truths that you don’t fully grasp until you’re much older. It’s this fact that makes his “adult” explorations of the themes so interesting, and darkly funny. Even more impressive, in his writing style/skill, is that he writes these stories without a hint of cynicism; even with all the dark subject matter, it never feels “dour.”

I really like what’s said in this “announcement” video. Okay, I would have liked to hear a little bit more about the actual game, and a little less about the donation tier reward of a “spooky” dinner with Gaiman, but it’s atleast not without a purpose. It seems like this is going to be an episodic series, but only if the game makes enough money. What’s interesting to note here is that they are foregoing the recent Kickstarter phenomena, and taking an almost quaintly old fashioned route. They are trying to raise money themselves, through pure interest in the game. There is no guarantee that this is going to be a success. There isn’t going to be enough money raised upfront to guarantee whether or not they will be able to continue. I kind of appreciate that. Although, I imagine that the recent controversy over Amanda Palmer‘s Kickstarter, his wife/friend/???, probably had something to do with it, as it creates a weird sense of entitlement among donators. I’ll say this though, I kind of respect Gaiman, and developer The Odd Gentlemen, for going this way. Way too often, in recent times, things on Kickstarter get funded without really any “vetting” process. I like the idea of it being done privately.

The thing that I really responded to in this video is Gaiman’s impetus for wanting to make a game. He’s had this story knocking around in his cranium for awhile, and feels like the best way to tell this story, is to have it “experienced.” It’s not some type of “cash grab” that his association would surely bring about. It’s his story, and this is what he feels is the best way to tell it. I can get behind that. Hope he fairs a little better than Clive Barker(Cool story, and idea. Really mediocre execution. He should get in touch with Amnesia: The Dark Descent creators, Frictional Games)…..

So, like I said before, the video is a little light on the actual game details front, but it does reveal it’s basic conceit. You’re a ghost, and you’re mission is to scare away the inhabitants of a manor(A “wayward” one, I suppose.). It’s an interesting idea for a puzzle/adventure game, and I imagine it’s going to be the type of game that doesn’t have a “right way” to go about haunting. I like that idea; a mansion “sandbox” that I can play in. If you’re a little older, or into retro games, you may remember an old Electronic Arts game for the Genesis called, Haunting Starring PolterguyWayward Manor, almost seems like a “spiritual successor” to that game, and it has me pretty excited. I used to play that game all the time as a kid(Actually, I still do!), and the idea of playing a more mechanically complex version of it definitely has peaked my interest beyond my affinity for Gaiman’s work.

So, yeah, I’m pretty interested in this project, and I’m curious as to how this funding model will play out. Also, I’m curious as to how many “episodes” it will require to tell it’s story. I have really come to enjoy the episodic game format. Telltale has been doing some really fantastic work in that realm over the past few years. It gives me something to look forward to every month or so. Well, that is if the game is actually enjoyable, but if it’s not, the barrier for entry is low enough to justify at least checking it out. So, as usual, here’s hoping!

Here’s a link to Wayward Manor‘s website. Check it out!


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