For several months we’ve been hinting, being coy, posting images here-and-there but not really saying anything concrete about what we’ve been working on. There’s good reason for that and no small part is simply the legal things where any cart-before-horse announcements would earn us some well-deserved hot water, but all of that is over now.
It’s time to start talking about Redwall.
Soma Games has officially optioned the rights to make a Redwall video game – and now that my hyperventilation has begun to wear off I’m ready to start sharing some of the details. But before I get to anything technical I really want to tell a story, cause that’s just the kind of guy I am.
Think what you will, but this journey began, for us anyway, with a dream. One day JB came into the office and asked me half-mindedly as he’s unloading his backpack, “Are we doing something with Redwall? Or am I just making something up?”
My eyes squinted just a little and my head did that question-mark-20-degrees-to-the-left thing. “Funny you should ask – really funny actually – ’cause I was just on the phone with a guy a couple of days back about that very thing. Why?”
“I had a really vivid dream last night and we were making a Redwall video game…”
That was February 6, 2011.
Brian Jacques had passed away about 20 hours earlier and the news hadn’t hit the wire yet.
For me, there’s still a certain goose-bump raising aspect to that story and truth be told I’m partly weirded out by the whole thing. To be clear, we’re not saying that Brian’s ghost visited John in his sleep, it wasn’t that kind of dream, but still the coincidence definitely caught our attention. Bill Johnson likes to say that ‘coincidence is the language of the Spirit’ and I generally agree with that. Still, back in 2011 we really just didn’t have anything to go on. For one thing, Brian’s death threw some procedural matters into confusion and it took time for all of that to settle out but more immediately we were knee-deep in other things and I’d only barely heard of the story so the enormity of the property was lost on me and the invitation to consider our possible collaboration just wasn’t on my front burner.
Fast forward to the end of 2012 and we’re thinking about “The Future.” 2012 had been a particularly frustrating year for many reasons and I couldn’t help but feel like Soma Games has spent the year spinning its wheels. Then we remembered Redwall. The way our conversation left off with Chris Miller was more or less “we’ll think about it” and the reality is that we hadn’t thought about it much. We hadn’t really kept up on any progress or attempted to stay involved. In the mean time, Chris had started the ball rolling and done some really neat stuff. A website and Facebook page had been set-up, a raft of spectacular concept art had been created and collected, and a core group of serious fans were gathering around the idea. Frankly I was concerned that we’d missed the boat. But as it happened, where the public awareness piece was off to a great start, there was still room for participation on the technical side so we began conversations in earnest.
Several possibilities were considered, each with pros and cons, and we wound up here – where Soma Games has an option on the license and we have started the process of getting ducks lined up.
It seems worth being cautious at this point, skeptical even, for the sake of preventing any possible mixups. It’s super early in our process and still many things could scuttle this effort prior to launch. I’m not trying to be a downer – we’re very optimistic, but the web is littered with 15 years of so-called announcements for Redwall games or movies and all of them so far have fallen short of expectations or managed to produce an actual product. With that in mind, to be anything less than cautious would be hubris.
So please take that in the spirit it’s given – the big fat grain of salt.
For long-time Soma Games fans another point seems worth mentioning. We thought a lot about whether or not Redwall was a fit with the core values and mission of Soma Games. Answering that required a lot of thought and prayer. We take our voice and mission very, very seriously. Step 2 for me was obvious enough – read the books – and after that I was deeply impressed that we were in the right place. Redwall feels like the spiritual successor to Chronicles of Narnia. While in no way a Christian series the books are deeply spiritual, epic in scope and tone and full of the “right messages” for courage, self-sacrifice, peace and humility. They are fantastic reading and I’m wondering how in the world I missed them for 30 years. As an interesting note, I’m told it was just recently that the series started to be carried in Christian book stores. But allow me to be clear:
To long-standing secular Redwall fans: Fear not! We are not making a “Christian” video game.
To Soma Games fans who know about our faith: Fear not! We are not making Diablo for Mice.
Redwall is…something different. Something in the uneasy seam between Heaven and Earth and perhaps comfortable in neither.
So to wrap this post up I’m pretty gobsmacked. This story is simply bigger than us, much, much bigger and I wonder if we are worthy of the trust or equal to the task. But I’m reminded, by the very title, that Redwall is not just a place – it’s a community that lives and breathes and has its being in the combined strengths of the manifold creatures that call it home. Looking down this road I feel that our path is safe to the extent that we share it with others, seek the counsel of those around us, and keep the concept of legacy firmly in view.
Redwall is Brian Jacques’ Legacy, not ours. We are only honored to ride his haywain for a few miles.
Nonetheless I’m compelled to cry
2-Hours later Update…
OK, two hours after posting this and it’s already the most read post we’ve ever had…wow.
Some people are asking some really obvious questions that I should have anticipated so allow me to answer some of them here and now.
- What’s next?
- Coming up shortly we’ll be launching a Kickstarter campaign. While some kind of Double-Fine home run would be awesome our real goal is to get some eyeballs and provide a channel by which to engage the fans…a Minecraft world. No, Minecraft is not our goal for a final game, it’s just a handy mechanism that serves a purpose in the interim and seeing how the main character in Redwall is really a building…well Minecradft just makes sense.
- How can I help?
- The best possible thing for this project right now is awareness and momentum. If we could blow up Kickstarter it would save us much time and effort. That will work with awareness and support. So every like, every tweet, and especially every share is a giant help.
- There will be more ways to plug-in as we go, but today it’s all about eyes.
- Are the Squirrels all Scottish?
- I actually asked Alex Kain that exact question and he said no. Rakety Tam appears to be an outlier. But rest assured there WILL be kilts in this game. Oh yes! And Farquharson tartans.