I-play has a history of partnering with literary powerhouses for its games. So far the company’s book-based franchises include four James Patterson Women’s Murder Club games, several Agatha Christie mysteries, a title based on a Nora Roberts novel, and most recently an adaptation of The Great Gatsby.
Charlaine Harris, creator of the Sookie Stackhouse series that inspired HBO’s True Blood TV show, has become the latest best-selling author to partner with the casual game studio. Gamezebo sat down with Charlaine to chat about the upcoming hidden object adventure game Dying for Daylight. We were joined by I-play VP of Marketing Tony Leamer as well.
How did the partnership with I-play come about? How did you get interested in making a video game based on your characters?
Charlaine: Well, I’m sure that the fact that True Blood was such a success made people more interested in my work. I-play contacted my agent and we started talking about a way to use some of my characters in a casual game, and we decided to use Dahlia Linley-Chivers whom I’ve written about in several short stories, because she’s very visual and she lives in the same world as the vampires of True Blood, but isn’t connected to them. so it seemed like a really natural thing, and I’ve really enjoyed the process.
Let’s talk a little bit about that process. How involved have you been with the development of the game?
Charlaine: Well, I have very little knowledge of the game development process, so I have enjoyed them asking me what Dahlia looks like and things like that. And then I’ve seen the pictures and parts of the actual game, and given my input at every point on the actual storytelling in the game and in the way that the characters look.
Are you involved in writing any of the dialogue or are you more of a consultant?
Charlaine: I’m there to provide nore of an overall check of the story against the facts in Dahlia’s world.
Why do you think the character of Dahlia is a good choice to base a video game on?
Charlaine: I think Dahlia makes such a great character because she’s very action-oriented, she’s very physical and she’s very visual. She’s all about how she looks, and she wants other people to know how great she looks too. She never hesitates to take direct action, and I think that’s a really good characteristic of someone who is the protagonist of a video game.
Why do you think that supernatural themes and vampires in particular continue to be so popular these days in pop culture?
Charlaine: I can only be glad they are! I’m not really sure why the supernatural is so popular right now. Every five years or so there seems to be a big trend in literature of one kind or another and I think this has been the five years of the vampire. I don’t know how long it’s going to last, but sooner or later something will replace the vampire as the desirable supernatural creature.
The game that’s coming out early next year will be Episode 1. How many episodes are planned in total?
Tony Leamer: Episode 1 releases early next year, and then we’ll release in fairly short order episodes 2 through 4. Then we’ll take a break and developer episodes 5 through 8. The major story arc will be resolved at the end of episode 8, but we are going to release them in groups of four primarily because development constraints because it’s hard to develop eight games all at once, and they really do function as independent experiences. How we end up packaging these episodes is still a little bit up in the air. Obviously there are technical constraints and business ideas floating around about how we release these games, and we’re figuring that out now.
Will the gameplay be hidden object adventure similar to I-play’s The Great Gatsby game?
Tony: Yes, I would say it’s much more adventure than hidden object. Jane Jensen is the designer, and Jane’s credentials as a game designer are obviously well-known, particularly on the adventure side, but Gamezebo readers will know her work from the Women’s Murder Club and Agatha Christie games, as well as Dead Time Stories and Dr. Lynch of her own creation, so I would say it leans much more heavily on the adventure side but with some hidden object gameplay as well.
Can you give us any hints or sneak peeks about the plot?
Tony: The general arc for the plot is that the leader of Dahlia’s nest, Cedric, has been made aware that there is potentially a potion that exists that allows vampires to exist among the daylight, which obviously in the world that Charlaine Harris has created is strictly not an option for vampires – they die. So it’s obviously of great interest to Dahlia for a number of reasons, not the least among them is that she gets to go shopping during the day if she can figure this out.
So she is sent by Cedric to New Orleans to look into this series of murders that have gone on in that area that they think might be related to the existence of this potion. So she starts to dig into this vampire circus troupe called Le Cirque Terrible and meets a variety of colorful and interesting characters there as she digs deeper and deeper into the mystery of this potion and whether it exists and do they have the ingredients and so forth.
Any final words for your readers and fans?
Charlaine: Well I hope that the people who love the books will be interested in at least trying this game as an off-shoot of my world. I’ve certainly found it to be very entertaining and I’m not a gamer, so I hope other people come away with the same experience.
Tony: I would say the same thing. One of the things that makes us really excited about working with Charlaine is the ability to take these characters that she’s created and use them to not only appeal to the existing casual game audience but to transcend that audience and reach out to the millions of fans of her printed work and bring them into a casual game experience that we think they’re really going to love.