In early Spring, 2015, Choice of Games will publish my choice game/text adventure, A Wise Use of Time. In it, you play an insurance executive who awakes one morning to find yourself possessed of the ability to command the flow of time. How did this happen, and what are you going to do with your new-found powers?
People have asked, “why would a zombie fiction writer switch genres for his second game?” To answer that, I need you to understand a bit about my history and goals.
I wrote Zombie Exodus for several reasons but mainly to gain writing experience, to get people interested in my writing, and to learn about publishing. I wrote A Wise Use of Time (WUoT) to gain credibility. I like WUoT but rather write ZE:Safe Haven. If you want to know more about the last three years of my game-developing life, read on; otherwise, go play a game.
About fifteen years ago, I wanted to become a writer. I started working for a company called The Mining Co, which became About.com. I was their guide to Computer Simulation Games and did fairly well at it. In the early days of blogging, I had 50,000 unique visitors per month. But About.com changed ownership and changed the money-making model, and I lost 75% of my income. I quit and took a job in clinical research.
Five years ago, I wanted to be a writer again. As a new, amateur writer, I found it difficult to get short stories published or gain followers, both of what you need for your writing resume. In May, 2011, I read Choice of Vampires, found out about Choice of Games (CoG), and started work on what would become Zombie Exodus.
CoG published ZE on their amateur label as a free app with advertising. Eventually for reasons outside the scope of this post, they changed the app to have paid downloadable content. ZE did well and gained me exposure and followers.
In January 2014, I proposed a sequel to CoG, Zombie Exodus: Safe Haven (ZE:SH) to be published as an official title. Details of the differences between official CoG and Hosted Games titles are here, but basically with an official title, you gain more support from CoG, more marketing and exposure, and more money. Indirectly, you gain credibility as a writer.
For me to keep writing, to write more, and to support myself full-time with writing, I need credibility.
CoG passed on my proposal for ZE:SH. They didn’t want to make yet another zombie game (they have Choice of Zombies). That was the reason they stated. I thought they made a mistake in passing, but they have big picture ideas about the genres and types of games they want on their official label. I respect their decision as they have more knowledge about the publishing world, their readership, and their coverage of different genres. They said ZE:SH can be a Hosted Games app, but I still wanted to publish an official CoG game.
In April, 2014, CoG accepted a proposal for WUoT for their official label. I handed in roughly one to two chapters per month and a first draft on 12/26/2014. At that time, the game consisted of 197,000 words of code. I have a 2nd draft due in the 2nd week of January. From there, it enters a closed beta for a few weeks, and then will be sent to a copyeditor for several weeks. WUoT should be out in early Spring 2015.
I am very excited for the release of A Wise Use of Time. I used everything I learned in writing ZE to develop it. Also, I used feedback from my followers to tweak the game to make it as entertaining as possible. I made choices matter, gave a variety of choices, enhanced replayability, and created some interesting characters. Romantic interests affect plot. Character customization affects plot. You can be gay, straight, female, male, moral, immoral, greedy, or altruistic. It’s not a zombie game, but I anticipate that my ZE followers will enjoy it.
For me to continue writing, I need people to enjoy my work and show my publisher they enjoy my work. When WUoT is released, please buy it. Number of purchases is the main metric used to measure whether a publishing company takes you seriously or not. I wish it was another way. Believe it or not, I don’t care much about the money; I want to show CoG and other publishers that people will download a game by Jim Dattilo. If that happens, I can work on bigger projects and devote more of my time and energy to doing what I love—writing stories that people enjoy.