Lionhead No Longer Going On An Ink Quest

I hope you got planning permission for that.

Instead of just allowing a cancelled incubator project to fall down the side of the game dev sofa like so much pocket fluff, Lionhead released details of game-which-might-have-been, InkQuest.

The story involves a girl called Sophie who fails to heed the well documented problems surrounding literature consumption in entertainment media. As such she is literally transported to another realm as she reads and thus becomes trapped within the novel. There’s a degree of charm to what’s in the trailer and the papercrafty art style is very attractive but it’s the more experimental aspects of the prototype which caught my attention.

Lionhead actually refer to InkQuest as a hybrid rather than a game – “part magical map, part audio book, part adventure game”. Reading that sentence with the game unfinished is frustrating because the possible implementations range from the exciting to the mundane. Magical maps could mean resculpting the entire world by refolding the map or it could just mean you click on a location to fast travel there. Audio book could mean parts of the game remove all visual cues leaving the story to continue in innovative ways or it could mean “we are pleased with our cutscene narration”.

This sentence is far more exciting and less ambiguous! “We explored worlds made entirely from words and investigated different ways of telling stories within them.” Which would, I guess, be a kind of House of Leaves approach to gaming, using things like formatting and typography as part of the story creation. A kind of ergodic literature in gaming? That, to me is exciting.* Unless they mean they just discovered that books are worlds made from words and this is their way of saying “We wrote a book.” That’s also a thing which might have happened, I suppose.

From their post it sounds like Lionhead want to share more of these ideas which don’t make it to full production. I’d assume that’s to showcase interesting work from the studio in order to tempt in new talent rather than to tease excitable readers with what could have been. There might also be an element of dangling potentially interesting IPs into the waters of the internet and seeing if anything bites. Then hoping whatever has bitten is someone who could license and develop that IP rather than it turning out to be a giant digital pike or something.

Anyway, the upshot of all of this is that the post concludes with the exhortation to tweet or email the incubation project if you’re interested in them sharing more. Lionhead, if you’re reading this please can you check your inbox for something marked “WORDS!” Cheers.

*Disclaimer: other things I find exciting include developments in copyright law, salted caramel, and the buttons you press at road crossings.

14 Comments

  1. Gap Gen says:

    I assume there’s going to be some kind of… whatever it’s called to figure out why the project failed.

    But yes, shame, looked lovely.

    • mona says:

      Inkquest?

      • Gap Gen says:

        I suppose you can draw your own conclusions, unless it turns out to be an o-pen and shut case.

    • Artiforg says:

      That did indeed look lovely. Such a shame.

      Reminds me a lot of LittleBigPlanet in look and the way the background pops up/moves around – and the fact it’s made to look like cardboard.

    • Flavour Beans says:

      Post-mortem? I don’t have the quill to think of a pun-based answer here.

  2. Flavour Beans says:

    In all fairness, I, too, get excited about the buttons you press at road crossings. One crossing I come to on my way between a particular class and home is a circled-arrow about three inches in diameter, and when you push it, a little annoyed man says “Wait!”.

    You can press it repeatedly and get a pretty funky Club Mix going. Wait, wai-wai-waiwai-wait.

  3. DrollRemark says:

    the buttons you press at road crossings

    They’re mostly placebos!

    • frymaster says:

      not in my city they aren’t. The green man doesn’t come on if no one was requested him.

      Fun fact, feel underneath the panel for a textured metal knob (hurr hurr), it starts spinning when the green man comes on to let blind people know when to cross

      • Flavour Beans says:

        In my city, the busiest ones tend to be automatic, while the slower ones aren’t. Sometimes at the same intersection, it’ll be automatic one way, but manual the other. It’s fun to see people who assume automatic stand and stare at manual ones.

        As for the knob? I learned that same bit of info, but have yet to see one in person (hurrhurr here, too). A few of our intersections do pinging noises or bird-chirps for the blind, though.

  4. Hex says:

    Sophie is fucking horrifying.

  5. Gothnak says:

    Well, it’s nice to have an article on RPS on the team i am working within myself, even though i didn’t work on Inkquest much personally apart from helping with designing gameplay mechanics or suggesting possible stories :).

  6. 7vincent7black7 says:

    You guys DO realize that this game would likely have been at least inspired by the books Inkheart, Inkspell, and Inkdeath right? The three-book-series that features a man’s daughter get trapped in the magical world of a fictional book, and he has to go in and save her, and the next two books feature dangers involving that magical world in a book time and again?