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Project Mouseworks

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.

Redwall at DuskSoma 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.

Redwall is…transcendent.

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

Eulalia!


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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Tags: , ,

Posted in Games and Games & Faith and Gaming Biz and Redwall and Soma Culture and Soma Games 1 year ago at 6:43 pm.

33 comments

33 Replies

  1. Noel Rodriguez Apr 10th 2013

    Right on, dude. Keep at it, because I’ve been dreaming of this since 2006.

  2. Wow! I am so glad the game is your hands. It makes me confident that a good Redwall game will be produced. I have read the books since 5th grade and still read them in college. I plan to introduce them to my students when I complete my degree as an elementary school teacher.

    Thanks for being so vocal about your faith too! That is very encouraging to see.

    God Bless,
    -Greg

  3. Catherine Fox Apr 10th 2013

    Woo hoo! Redwall has been one of my brother’s favorite books and I loved the world the series depicted. I’m looking forward to seeing how the project goes!
    Super excited! Good luck!

  4. @Catherine – thanks so much! and your Gravatar says you want a pet falcon…wow. just…wow.

  5. @greg – thanks for the vote of confidence. To have all these eyes suddenly upon us…it’s a new sensation.

  6. Thomas Luke Apr 11th 2013

    I wish you guys the best of luck with this, Redwall was perhaps my favourite series as a child. Any hints as to what kind of game we’re looking at? RPG?

  7. Hey :) don’t get me wrong- this is awesome. And I love Redwall. But..

    Do you seriously need to start a Kickstarter campaign?? It really doesn’t cost much to develop a game these days. I don’t want to bring your hopes down or anything but.. don’t expect people to give much.

    Super looking forward to this anyway, rant aside. Hehe.

  8. Hi Thomas,
    The leading design concept right now is something we’re calling as “Progressive Adventure” and that has some RPG elements to it, but it’s pretty early still and I’m reluctant to say anything is a sure thing until some dust settles.

  9. Hi Mikale – as I’ sure you know, the cost of a game changes dramatically depending on the scope of the game. But that aside, the deeper reason for the kickstarter isn;t actually the money (though of course that helps) but rather the opportunity to start gathering the audience. Truth be told, we’re relative newcomers to the world of Redwall and we feel it’s important to make ourselves available to folks who’ve loved these books for 20-some years. Opening up the project to that kind of input and feedback is our real goal.

  10. please, for the love of god make this game open-world.

  11. I started reading the series 18 years ago, and never stopped. Every time I’d find myself in a bookstore I’d go straight to the sci-fi Fantasy section and would check up on the next book in the series. Redwall books are the only physical print books I’ve ever bought in my adult life. (something about turning those little pages and the smell of a freshly cracked epic tale in Mossflower gets me going).

    Anyway, super excited to see this as a potential project, and really glad that it’s coming now, and not years ago when games were crap (comaratively).

    DON’T LET ME DOWN SOMA! ;)

  12. magikfingaz Apr 11th 2013

    if you ere wondering why you post got so much attention, it’s because it was posted here: http://www.reddit.com/r/Games/comments/1c4scv/officially_licensed_redwall_game_in_development/

    People are definitely interested in the development of this game, and i’m sure the people of /r/games would would love to have you post and keep them updated and ask them for feedback!

    i look forward to seeing more about this game.

  13. will it have a anice long gameplay?

  14. @ben – that’s the idea though – to be cautious – how long is long enough in your expectation?

  15. I just want to say I discovered Redwall when I was in 4th grade and that was a really long time ago, I hated reading and then I found the one book that made me love reading. I own all of them…some I have to have multiple copies for some are really worn….I LOVE REDWALL and a true fan. I can’t wait for this game to just see a whole new side of a book series that made me fall in love with dreaming.

    I wish you all with the best of luck with this game and I can’t wait for the release!!!!!!!!

  16. Well now I’ve got to learn what this whole Redwall thing is all about.

  17. Jonathan R Apr 13th 2013

    FYI: there’s a wonderful tabletop RPG game that is loosely based on the Redwall series.

    http://www.mouseguard.net/

    It’s a fantastic game, and if Project Mouseworks is anything like Mouseguard, I would buy it in an instant.

  18. I think – though willing to be corrected – that Mouseguard started as a graphic novel. A super cool one too IMHO.

  19. Makaidos Apr 15th 2013

    Well, I just want to say you certainly have captured my attention. I want this game to be the absolute best it can be, and I will certainly be spreading the news!

  20. Thanks @Makaidos – we’re definitely aiming for awesome too. :)

  21. This project seems so incredibly awesome- I’m super excited about it! :) Best of luck to you and the team!

  22. Matthias720 Apr 28th 2013

    @Soma Games: You guys should post over on the Redwall Abbey Forum and post about the game. There’s a whole bunch of fans that would no doubt be on the edge of their seats for updates on this. http://redwallabbey.com/forum/

  23. This project you guys are undertaking has definitely piqued my interest. I just discovered this page and I’m hoping to stay behind Soma Games all the way.

    Like a lot of the fans here, as it seems, I fell in love with the world of Redwall when I was but in grade school, and even to this day–near the very end of college–I still respect the awesome legacy that Jacques left behind for us. Not only did I appreciate the adventures, but the novels themselves encouraged me to better my writing and creativity.

    One last thing I wanted to say is I do appreciate you being open about your faith. That’s extremely encouraging to me!

  24. @Laine – thanks on both accounts. We’re just crazy honored to have this opportunity and are well aware that we’re carrying something of immense value to many, many people.

  25. @Matthias720 – excellent idea.. Done:
    http://redwallabbey.com/forum/index.php?topic=3948.0

  26. Moshia May 2nd 2013

    Please don’t get me wrong I’m really excited about all of this but the thing that doesn’t sit right with me is the fact that Brian Jacques was against the idea of having a game, and yes I know that he’s dead, but don’t you think we should respect his wishes anyway?

  27. I’m the writer for our site’s e-zine (The Tapestry). We are going to re-vamp our methods for recruitment and activity-growth, so our community is going to see some major, major growth soon. I’ll try to promote this game as time allows, so I think you’ll be hearing from me again soon.
    In the meantime, there are about twenty active member and they’d love to hear from you, when you’ve got a chance:
    redwallslegacy.com


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