I recently had the opportunity to interview Jean Leggett, COO of One More Story Games, about the company and an exciting new development! They’ll be adapting Charlaine Harris’s novel Shakespeare’s Landlord into an interactive story game using their StoryStylus tool.
“Shakespeare’s Landlord is the first novel in a five-part series featuring Lily Bard, a tough and complicated woman who is determined to hide her nightmarish past from her small town neighbors. After stumbling across a body being dumped in a park late at night, Lily embarks on a journey to find the killer, as well as the reason they’re trying to frame her for the murder.”
Kelsey: How did the idea for One More Story Games come about?
Jean: The idea for One More Story Games (OMSG) came from my husband Blair Leggett, our CEO. He’d been in the games industry for over 15 years with companies like Electronic Arts and Zynga as a software engineer. In that time, he noticed quite a few games where story was not the priority and wanted to create something lasting that would bring characters to life and focus on storytelling.
The #1 reason people buy games is for the story/concept (Entertainment Software Association, Essential Facts 2015). At OMSG, we’re passionate about storytelling in games, and most importantly, we’re passionate about writers getting paid for their craft. This lead to building our game creation and publishing engine StoryStylus. It was built for new and veteran writers to create and publish story games.
Kelsey: What’s your favorite game that’s been made through OMSG?
Jean: I really love Hard Vacuum Lullaby. It’s our most recent release and uses a lot of the features we added to the engine this past fall. I love the soundtrack and sound effects. I love exploring the ship. I love that it’s a great story game that can be played in 30 minutes.
Kelsey: What was your biggest challenge in creating OMSG?
Jean: There have been quite a few challenges as a startup. It has taken us two years to develop and refine our engine to get it where it is. We’re still in beta, which means storytellers can create story games with us and publish them to our website, mobile app or Facebook app. We’ve raised $250,000 to be able to do this full time for the past 2 ½ years. With a team that fluctuates from 4-20 (we sometimes employ interns from the local college), bootstrapping a startup is challenging.
Kelsey: Have you written any games with OMSG? If not, do you have plans to?
Jean: I wrote the current tutorial story game and I narrate the tutorial videos for the engine using my dummy story game. Both are littered with dumpling references. I like to think I’ve infused my standup comedy background into the story game. I’d love an opportunity to sit down and completely rewrite it – maybe I’ll finally get that chance in March. It needs more oomph!
Kelsey: Were you a fan of the Sookie Stackhouse books before Charlaine Harris joined forces with OMSG? Do you have a favorite book?
Jean: We’d met Charlaine Harris at a mystery writer/reader conference in California in November 2014. Prior to that, we’d only seen the True Blood series on HBO. The first Charlaine Harris novel I read was Shakespeare’s Landlord, from her Lily Bard series. When I read it, I knew I wanted us to adapt it into a story game.
Kelsey: What are you most excited about in regards to Lily Bard and working with Charlaine Harris?
Jean: We’re excited to develop a story game with a strong female protagonist – the Lily Bard character has some dark secrets and deep scars from her life and as a result, she really shies away from deep relationships with the people of Shakespeare. She’s thrown into an intense situation – a body being dumped and someone trying to cast blame her way – and she does a fantastic job of figuring out whodunit.We’re excited to work with Charlaine because she writes great characters. She writes mysteries, supernatural and romantic stories. All the things that women in particular enjoy. With women gamers over 30 becoming the largest game consumer demographic, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Landlord is well-timed!
Kelsey: What are your biggest inspirations?
Jean: Both Blair and I love adventure games. We’re huge fans of the Tex Murphy series by Big Finish Games and we’ve played all of the Gabriel Knight series as well. Those series are focused on character, storytelling and curiosity. We wanted to build an engine to make our own games because we were inspired. Now we hope that other writers – whether they’re brand new or veteran storytellers – will be inspired to create interactive story games with us.
Kelsey: What’s next for OMSG?
Jean: We’ll spend 2016 working on Charlaine’s game, and for those who want to see the behind the scenes development (how we break down a story and recreate it in our engine), they can follow along at http://www.lilybard.com.
We’ve also got some talented writers who are working on several story games for release in the coming months. Fellow geek enthusiast and journalist Bonnie Burton is developing a horror romance story game for us. Eeeee!
When writers ask me about writing for OMSG, I tell them to go play one of our games first. Play Hard Vacuum Lullaby. We’re just getting started with what our engine can do!