Gamebook Adventures make the leap to Android

Tin Man Games has very quietly released the first of its Gamebook AdventuresAn Assassin in Orlandes – onto the Android Marketplace Google Play.

An Assassin in Orlandes

Gamebook Adventure #1 for Android

How quietly? The official announcement was in the form of a cryptic tweet from company co-founder Ben Britten Smith:

Shhhhh.. Dont tell anyone 😉

The link contained in Britten Smith’s message lead simply to the Google Play details page for An Assassin in Orlandes. And that, my friends, was the sum total of the studio’s initial promotion for the game’s grand launch onto Google’s mobile platform.

So why so quiet? Because it’s a secret! The big reveal is coming next week, at PAX East. Britten Smith explained to us that the team wanted to get the game onto the store early to “get a jump” on the inevitable bugs that accompany any new release.

Why wait? It wasn’t getting any more finished, and we can only test on so many devices before we have to release it…

12 months ago, at the studio’s first appearance at PAX East, Tin Man Games sketched out some plans for the future. In their own words, these plans were:

  1. More iOS
  2. Kindle
  3. Sumthin
  4. Sumthin
  5. Profit
  6. ..
  7. ..
  8. ..
  9. Android

According to Britten Smith, this wasn’t due to any hard feelings against Android, merely that porting the game across would be a “monumentally expensive thing”, plus the fledgling company didn’t quite feel ready to brave the tempestuous waters of the Android Market.

…that didn’t last long, however, as attendee reponse from PAX East 2011 started pouring in: Gamers who had never heard of Gamebook Adventures wanted the games – and many of them had Android phones. Combine that with the groundswell of interest back at home, and Tin Man found itself reshuffling its priority list.

Fortunately for the developer, this all happened around the time that Unity3D was “making great strides” to the plugin for Android platforms, meaning that games developed in Unity could be easily ported to Android. Rather than having to write another proprietary game engine, Tin Man could simply redo the Gamebook back-end as a Unity app.

Unfortunately, while the rewrite would be relatively simple, it would also be relatively expensive – and this is where government body Film Victoria comes into the story.

Britten Smith explains:

I think that we made this bold new plan about 5 or 6 days before the funding deadline for Film Vic last year. So I dropped everything and whipped up all of the necessary paperwork and budgets and marketing plans and other bits and pieces to meet the funding deadline.

We were very lucky that Film Victoria liked our plan and agreed to fund us to the tune of $25k (of a total of about a $70k budget.) We actually proposed a $50k budget, which Film Vic offered to pay half as is their policy, but after it was all said and done we ended up changing our project estimates and it looks like we will end up spending between $70 and $75k to get the first 6 books ported to Unity/Android.

So, we got our first payment from FV in the end of October 2011, and since then we have been racing to get it done as quick as we can.

Gamebook Adventures in action

Gamebook Adventures in action

Fast-forward twelve months, and March 2012 saw Britten Smith set up an Android beta sign-up form, gaining 30 interested people in just a few hours. Thanks to this grass-roots approach, the new version of An Assassin in Orlandes has been tested on “about 20 different devices”, something Britten Smith acknowleges would never have happened if the team were relying on in-house testing.

Britten Smith is also grateful for the local indie dev community, explaining that fellow Melbourne studio The Voxel Agents (developers of Train Conductor) generously loaned Tin Man “a few” Android test devices.

We would never have been able to release so quickly if it had not been for the huge generosity of the dev community.

With the big announcement still headed our way when PAX East kicks off later this week, Britten Smith still has his hands full – and not just with the finishing touches and bug-fixes for the new game. With the re-release of the original 2009 video for An Assassin in Orlandes, it seems an eagle-eyed gamer has spotted an iPhone being used in the footage, so that all needs to be tidied up. An indie developer’s job is never done!

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