Neil Game-Man: Neil Gaiman’s Wayward Manor

By Nathan Grayson on July 26th, 2013 at 2:00 pm.

Get out of my home! And take your weird blur effects with you.

As someone who self-identifies as (and gets paid to be) an oftentimes colossal nerd, I’m ashamed to admit that I’m only just now getting into Neil Gaiman. I’ve been ploughing through Sandman, and I just finished American Gods the other day. It’s all been marvelous, and I absolutely despise myself for not starting sooner. But late-bloomer Gaiman binges do have their advantages. For instance, maximized excitement over the Man Who Desperately Wishes He Had My Hair’s first foray into the world of digitized amusement laser rainbows – sometimes referred to colloquially as ”videogames”. It’s called Wayward Manor, and it sees you play as a grumpy ghost who must frighten away a “remarkable” band of intruders while maybe – just maybe – learning a little something about himself in the process. Or, well, his death, anyway.

There’s no actual footage of the ghastly puzzler in action just yet, but it sounds promisingly intriguing – especially in light of involvement from The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom developer The Odd Gentlemen. Here are the basics:

“Wayward Manor is a puzzle/adventure game hybrid that invites players to solve the mysteries of the mansion any way they choose. You play as a disgruntled ghost, trying to reclaim your house from its newfound owners. This dysfunctional family of misfits and eccentrics have stifled your power and brought their own abysmal possessions into your humble abode. Each level is a playground for scares where players absorb fear to take back control of the room. If you want free reign over your mansion once again, you must uncover their deepest anxieties and drive them mad with fear using your wits and their hideous belongings.”

Gaiman’s story, meanwhile, revolves around Neil Ghostman (note: not his actual name) slowly but surely uncovering more not just about the human plague mucking up his pristinely web-wound halls, but death, the world beyond, and “ the danger they are all facing”. WoooOOOOoooOOOooo [chains rattle, bats squeal, a painting looks directly at you and then things get really awkward for a second].

The first chapter of what Gaiman hopes will grow into an ongoing series is set to release this December. The website has a bunch of vaguely crowdfund-y pre-purchase options, which come in tiers and include all sorts of bonus treasures and trinkets. The game itself? $10. Dinner with Neil Gaiman? Er, $10,000. There are some other options too, but that’s the spectrum. Anyway, I just ordered Anansi Boys off Amazon and have one more volume of Sandman to read and bye.

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47 Comments »

  1. Matchstick says:

    You got the two Death mini series in the to-be-read pile as well ?

    • Blackcompany says:

      Also, read Neverwhere. It is fantastic. Bear with the first pages. The humdrum normalcy is setting up a later contrast that is all the better for the setup.

      • Scurra says:

        The BBC just did a radio adaptation of Neverwhere that was really rather excellent (Benedict Cumberbatch as the Angel Islington?!) Mind you, I still have a soft spot for the flawed television version.

        For those who haven’t read any Gaiman at all, try http://acalendaroftales.com/ which contains 12 immaculate short (and I mean “short”) stories. The website is a bit annoying although it’s probably worth it.

      • macnei03 says:

        my best friend’s sister makes $78 hourly on the computer. She has been out of work for 7 months but last month her check was $19278 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read more on this site ………http://xurl.es/wep6

  2. lowprices says:

    Excuse me, I have to go squeal like a pre-teen meeting Justin Beiber.

    • plsgodontvisitheforums_ says:

      25k will get you dinner with him

      • lowprices says:

        Pfft. For 25k I could stalk the man for months… not that I’ve costed it out or anything.

        • gwathdring says:

          He spends a lot of time in Minneapolis on this side of the pond. I have two friends who bumped into him on the street there and got oh-my-gosh-I’m-such-a-big-fan hugs out of it. He’s apparently quite friendly. :)

          • malkav11 says:

            I’ve never been quite so lucky as to run into him casually in Minneapolis but the fact that he lives in the area (or did, I think he may have moved out west recently) has meant that the number of readings and other Gaiman-related events in the area is statistically quite high. Especially since he’s friends with Greg Ketter, who runs a local F&SF bookstore called Dreamhaven and he periodically drops by to sign things he’s written for them (and once published a short story collection with their small press).

            He is a tremendously nice man. And a great story reader, too.

  3. RedViv says:

    What a dream project. Good omens throughout here.

  4. db1331 says:

    I had to lean into my monitor and stare for a good 10 seconds before I realized wtf was even in that image. It looked like a bird wearing a hat on top of a pair of fuzzy black balls. Guess I need more coffee.

    • Felixader says:

      No, no, don’t worry. I also needed several minutes of confusion (is this breasts? an ellbow? It looks like Balls! WTF?) before i realized that this is supposed to be a chin.

      • Squirrelfanatic says:

        Yeah, to me that chin looked like balls (hairy ones, too). Doesn’t help that the strip of white shirt can easily be confused with a lower jaw…

  5. BobbyDylan says:

    Is… Is that his chin… or his balls?

  6. HeavyStorm says:

    Enjoy Gaiman while it’s still fresh. At some point you inevitability realize that he’s just telling the same story again and again. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a wonderful storyteller, albeit one with a single idea in his mind.

    That, and sandman. Sandman is flawless.

    • gunny1993 says:

      That seems a common theme amongst fantasy authors, Raymond E. Feist, being the epitome of this.

    • gwathdring says:

      I’m not sure he’s so much telling the same story over and over as telling stories in such a limited space that he might as well be.

      There are only so many stories to tell, after all, and it’s the tone rather than the plot points and window dressing that make a story really feel dramatically different from other stories to a discerning reader. Neil Gaiman’s window dressing changes plenty from book to book. But his atmosphere is very, very similar across his work, as is his conceptual space. He’s interested very deeply in how mythology works. What makes a legend. The mechanics of storytelling over time and the power of stories. He does this in The Eternals, 1602, American Gods, Neverwhere, Sandman.

      When he strays from this, as in Coraline and Stardust and Good Omens (a collaborative work, so naturally out of his normal space), we see something more interesting and unique when set against the backdrop of his work as a whole. This is also true of his short stories, which even when they explore this space manage to find different things to talk about, different facets. The short-form requires him to be tighter, less meandering and that naturally pulls him out of the space so familiar to fans of his “default” stuff.

      I think Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader and Sandman are the standouts of his explorations of myth and legend. While I enjoyed American Gods and Neverwhere and 1602 … those and Anansi boys and The Eternals all kind of congeal together, slightly different takes on the same things so much more beautifully explored in those two comics. They’re worth reading … but not necessarily ALL worth reading. Pick a few iterations that seem most attractive to you, and then Good Omens, his short fiction and his young adult work if you’re into that sort of thing.

      I’m not suggesting any of this absolve him of your criticism, but most artists have a style that over-rides the details they present. Heck most bands have a core sound that takes precedence over the detail work in any given song. It takes a particularly special band to be coherent while also producing both high quality music and a truly varied sound. Some people like me don’t mind so much and are content to read the same book or listen to the same album over and over … and certainly content to listen to two very similar albums or read two very similar books that are both of high quality.

      I think Gaiman has more variety even within his really-rather-too-samey books than someone like Terry Goodkind or Robert Jordan does. And there it’s even worse because it’s supposed to be a series. You’re SUPPOSED to read all of them. : Also Brian Jacques is pretty bad in this department, dearly beloved as he is to me.

      Anyway, I totally get where you’re coming from criticizing Gaiman, I just don’t think it’s especially useful to characterize precisely what Gaiman does that limits his range as “telling the same story over and over.” Because there are far, far, far better examples of that in other authors and even that aside if that were my main problem, I’d have stopped reading books altogether after like …. two years. There are only so many stories.

      • Tacroy says:

        If you look at Gaiman’s novels, American Gods is really one of the few that’s in the same vein as Sandman; Stardust (as you mentioned), Coraline, Graveyard Book, and the new The Ocean at the End of the Lane are all sufficiently different that I don’t think the criticism really applies. I’d argue that Anansi Boys is different enough as well, but that’s a bit harder.

  7. Ironclad says:

    Interesting concept? Check.
    Decent writer? Doublecheck.
    Neil Gaiman? NEIL GAIMAN!!!

  8. Synesthesia says:

    i dont understand that picture. I really dont. Are those testicles with a face?

  9. Squirrelfanatic says:

    The description of the game mechanics reminds me an awful lot of Ghost Master.

  10. DestructibleEnvironments says:

    All I’m seeing is testicle-chin-man.

  11. DrScuttles says:

    As much as I enjoy Gaiman’s work, any time I see “celebrated writer/director/chocolate beer specialist involved in videogame project”, it seems prudent to retain a healthy dose of skepticism. 5cc’s usually, injected through the inside of the lower eyelids.

    I would like to know what happened with Nightmare In Silver. There was a brief clip of an interview I saw where the interviewer seemed almost put out to have to chat to this comics guy and completely cut Gaiman off as he was about to express dissatisfaction with how his second Doctor Who episode turned out.

    And Nathan, I envy you reading Sandman for the first time. Been rereading it again for the againth time myself.

  12. Tei says:

    I think I played already a game like this, “Ghost House” or something like that, a game where you play as the ghost, and you have to scare the humans.

    I have not read anything from Neil Gaiman, but the awesomeness of his creations have arrived to my place has ripples on the universe. Apparently that “Sandman” thing is 7 types of great. Not sure if that translate to anything in videogames. Like how Steven Spielberg did that Blolox thing…. I think theres somewhere in the desert of nevada a dump with a lot of E.T. atari games.

  13. Lambchops says:

    The first Gaiman thing I read was Neverwhere and it’s probably still my favourite. Apart from Good Omens obviously.

    Good news though, looking forward to this.

  14. darkmorgado says:

    ““Wayward Manor is a puzzle/adventure game hybrid that invites players to solve the mysteries of the mansion any way they choose. You play as a disgruntled ghost, trying to reclaim your house from its newfound owners. This dysfunctional family of misfits and eccentrics have stifled your power and brought their own abysmal possessions into your humble abode. Each level is a playground for scares where players absorb fear to take back control of the room. If you want free reign over your mansion once again, you must uncover their deepest anxieties and drive them mad with fear using your wits and their hideous belongings.”

    So basically it’s Ghost Master.

  15. LennyLeonardo says:

    Dear Nathan, if you’re just getting into Neil, maybe you haven’t yet read A Study in Emerald.
    It’s the best thing ever.

    http://www.neilgaiman.com/mediafiles/exclusive/shortstories/emerald.pdf

  16. sonson says:

    BUMCHIN

  17. lomaxgnome says:

    Anansi Boys is the only one of his works that I found disappointing, it just didn’t carry the American Gods torch well. All of his other stuff is phenomenal though, but will that turn into a good game? One can hope.

    • The Random One says:

      For me his one dud was Neverwhere. Flat characters, an utterly boring protagonist and a predictable ending. And to make it worse it made me like less my favorite, American Gods, because it reuses some catch phrases and they are actually better in it.

  18. The Random One says:

    10k for a dinner with Neil Gaiman? Well… will Amanda Palmer be there as well?

    Also, Oftentimes Colossal Nerd sounds like something you’d fight in a Dr. Seuss RPG.

  19. Noviere says:

    It sounds interesting, but I’m going to wait until they show some footage :)

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