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Failbetter Games: what are we for?

By Failbetter, October 7, 2013 · Failbetter Tagged with ,

This blog’s been quiet for a while as Failbetter has gone through some soul-searching and worked out exactly what it is that we do. Are we the Fallen London folks? Are we the StoryNexus folks? People keep asking, and we wanted to get our answer clear.

Paul and I founded Failbetter because we wanted to tell complex, immersive stories over the web. We built Fallen London as an experiment. It was a cult success. We very much enjoyed making it. But we wanted to go wide with that approach.

Fast forward four years. We did some very cool client projects, mostly on the core Fallen London technology. We grew the team. We carved out a fine reputation for interesting interactive writing… and we built StoryNexus as a platform so that we, and other, could build more projects like Fallen London. We reckoned we’d see a half a dozen or a dozen worlds with an FL-y level of success – we’d take a cut, help grow the community and the platform, and recoup our development costs.

Unfortunately… it didn’t work out that way. We have almost four thousand projects on StoryNexus now, ranging from one-storylet experiments to big, challenging, sophisticated stories – post-apocalytic drama, urban fantasy, comedy, horror, planetary romance, surreal noir-inflected science fiction. The community’s done unexpected and wonderful things with our technology, and we’ve been proud to feature it. But I don’t want to varnish the truth: we put a lot of work into StoryNexus, and it hasn’t turned out as we hoped. Nothing – including our own in-house projects – has done nearly as well as Fallen London.

Why? It’s hard to pin down one reason. Many Fallen London players only have room for one FL-type game in their lives. Most lone creators don’t have access to a full-time artist. Most creators can’t risk going full-time in the beginning, as we did, and that means content and support and promotion are all limited. The SN tools are very well suited to creating something like Fallen London… which means they’re less well suited to other subtly different kinds of game. And we think we were fortunate enough in FL  to create a world which struck a spark with a large enough audience. Sometimes these things are just alchemy.

So we’re still going to support StoryNexus – and we’ll keep on doing so as long as the company is running – but it isn’t our focus any more. We’ll add features as and when we have spare resource – and everything could change if there are a couple of substantial SN successes – but for the foreseeable future, StoryNexus is in maintenance mode.

Fallen London, however, is still by far the most popular thing we’ve done. And Fallen London fans are articulate, vociferous, imaginative and loyal, and keep on demanding more Fallen London.

So we started listening to what the fans were telling us. We focused again on FL. And just this month,  we ran a Kickstarter for a moderately ambitious second game set in the same universe. Thanks to our fans, it has succeeded handsomely and got a very enthusiastic critical response.

There are a lot of stories left unfinished in the Neath, and you’re telling us you’re eager to hear them. For the foreseeable future, we’ll keep building and expanding the core game, we’ll keep making spinoff projects like Sunless Sea, and we’ll be the folks who do Fallen London.

Thank you. Delicious friends.

5 Comments

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Steven T Chennault Feb 6, 7:11am

Any chance this project could go open source or sold?

Paul Jan 19, 3:32am

Guys, could you publish StoryNexus engine as an open-source, maybe? It's a damn pity that such a great project is going to perish. There's nothing like it over the internet...

Tig Jul 14, 1:18pm

I didn't see anything about Storynexus not being around anymore, I just played through one of.their games recently and loved it.

Nika Nov 20, 7:24am

Well darn! I was hoping to replay 'What Happens After' and now I can't? And just when I had started playing some of the others too!

Resuna Jul 1, 11:02am

I've been playing Cryptic Stitching and thinking that what Storynexus really needs is a mobile version that can be played offline, the slow turn-every-20-minutes play would make for a good casual game, and in-game purchases are a good fit for Nex. It would also give you a new venue for Fallen London. I'm sorry to hear that you're not moving Storynexus forward, and hope that maybe a new market might change its path...