Spiderweb Software have been producing huge elaborate RPG series since 1994, and yet there's still a good chance you've not heard of them. Created chiefly by one guy, Jeff Vogel, his series like Avadon, Avernum and Geneforge have incredibly dedicated followings, and we've covered them a bunch before. The Avadon series concluded in 2016, and they finished remaking all the Avernums earlier this year, and now, for the first time in seven years, Spiderweb are announcing a new series: Queen's Wish. And a Kickstarter too.
I've played a fair bit of a fair few of the Spiderweb games, and they're far more accessible than a glance at screenshots might suggest. The very retro style is as much an aesthetic choice as it is a necessity for a tiny team to be able to construct such vast games. (Vogel discussed this at length in an interview I did with him a few years back.) But the games themselves are slick and enjoyable, with their emphasis on story. Yet, whenever I've played, I've always been daunted by the sheer amount of it.
I see Queen's Wish as this really hopeful opportunity to get in at the start of a Vogel series, without worrying about the years of prior creation, or the knowledge that two other equally vast chapters of it already exist. And despite the Kickstarter, they're not looking to suddenly change the nature of the games. "Queen’s Wish will be very much in the Spiderweb Software tradition," explains Vogel. "Low-budget, but fast-moving, fun, highly open-ended, and with a cool story."
New in Queen's Wish: The Conqueror - the opening entry - will be fort building and customisation, which will give players a base, as well as add "significant bonuses depending on your overall strategy". And the game will apparently have different paths, different approaches, and different endings. In the game you will play the youngest child of Queen Sharyn, the "absolute leader of the Empire of Haven". You're ejected from your comfortable life, and sent out into the war-torn lands of Sacramentum. I mean, that's what it says here.
From here it implies there will be a lot of choice about how you go about things. Do you rebuild your lost colony to win the Queen's favour? Do you rage your way through Sacramentum to expand Haven? Do you be Mrs Friendly and join the enemies? Or just peg it?
The Kickstarter is obviously to raise some funds - a very specific £22,637 - but also to get players in at the ground level. Also, rather pleasingly, Vogel also suggests it's an opportunity for those who've previously pirated Spiderweb games to give them a bit of cash in return. Or as he puts it, "you can purchase personalised absolution."
The Kickstarter is here.
(And not to be confused with this impossibly failed Kickstarter, in which somehow people weren't convinced to raise money for a book about a girl with an enchanted tennis racquet.)