Life never turns out the way you think it will. Take, for example, my big news: TIGER EYE, my first novel in the Dirk & Steele series, is being developed into a video game.
I can’t even express how excited I am. It’s crazy, how excited.
Here’s the official press release:
New gaming company, PassionFruit Games, launches with first of its kind romance casual game based on bestselling author Marjorie M. Liu’s Tiger Eye novel.
PassionFruit Games today announced the creation of a new romance-themed casual game, Tiger Eye: Curse of the Riddle Box, based on the novel Tiger Eye (A Dorchester Love Spell paperback) by New York Times bestselling author Marjorie M. Liu.
Tiger Eye: Curse of the Riddle Box also officially marks the launch of PassionFruit Games and represents a unique moment in the history of gaming. Although a market for romance themed video games has existed abroad for years, these games are essentially unknown in the U.S. Tiger Eye: Curse of the Riddle Box will be one of the first romance casual games to hit the U.S. market when it goes on-sale in April 2010.
In discussing PassionFruit Games’ decision to launch their company with Tiger Eye: Curse of the Riddle Box, Melissa Heidrich, Studio Director, expressed her enthusiasm for reaching out to romance readers: “The majority of casual gamers are women aged 25-65, who report they play casual games mainly to escape. Interestingly, those same attributes apply to romance novel readers – so it’s surprising that there are currently so few romance casual games on the market. That’s why we’re excited to bring Tiger Eye to life as interactive entertainment.”
For Marjorie M. Liu’s fans, it will be a great chance for them to experience a game written by, designed by, and created for women. Mari Tokuda, one of the designers translating Marjorie’s novel into game form, says: “There just aren’t many romance games in today’s market. And, for many women, romance novels are not interactive enough. That’s where we come in – we are giving players a chance to experience the romance through fun gameplay and sensual cut scenes that further the relationship. This game will really appeal to players who want a storyline and those who want to BE the smart, down-to-earth romance novel heroine. And of course, we’ll have a sexy leading man heavily featured in the game. A game like Tiger Eye is one of the most engaging ways for readers to experience characters’ relationships.”
Fans will also be able to experience things that weren’t in the book and to search for hidden objects, play minigames, listen to a film quality soundtrack, and solve puzzles, all the while following the storyline as the main characters’ relationship deepens emotionally and grows in intimacy, though there will not be explicit sex scenes.
PassionFruit Games acknowledges the challenges of turning a popular book into digital entertainment and of adhering closely to the book’s storyline. In their quest to stay true to the novel, all members of the team—from artist to programmer—read Tiger Eye, as well as other novels in the Dirk & Steele universe, to get a feel for the “essence” of the game. The producer and lead designer held regular video conferences with Marjorie to go over the latest design ideas and Marjorie herself wrote the script for the game and is involved with the game every step of the way, giving input on scene art, character design, and voice actor selection.
Says Marjorie, who is well known for her New York Times bestselling Dirk & Steele and Hunter Kiss series and for co-authoring the hugely popular Dark Wolverine Marvel comic book series, about playing the game’s early build: “I was amazed by the beautiful cinematic cut scenes and the way players could actually experience things my characters had done. It’s an incredible feeling to not only see favorite characters brought to life but to experience life through their eyes as you progress through the game.”
The Tiger Eye novel, which Publishers Weekly praised as a “first-rate debut” and “a striking paranormal romance,” tells the story of Dela, a woman with psychic abilities who buys a riddle box in Beijing’s Dirt Market and opens it to find an ancient warrior, Hari, bound to serve as a slave to the person who has opened the box. The action moves between China and the U.S. and PassionFruit Games will mirror this international scope through two games, the first to take place in China and the second in the U.S. PassionFruit games also plans to involve readers in the release of Tiger Eye: Curse of the Riddle Box with the chance for a select few fans to be Beta testers and with fan voting on looks for the character, Long Nu.
PassionFruit Games was founded by a group of individuals who had created several critically-acclaimed casual games together before establishing their own independent studio. Their mission is to bring stories and characters to life through lushly-painted interactive environments and captivating cinematics, while providing engaging, entertaining gameplay. The PassionFruit Games team members also worked on the critically acclaimed Nancy Drew Dossier game when they were at Her Interactive; the game was just chosen as the “Best Hidden Object Game of 2009” by Yahoo! Games.
I’ll be talking more about the game in the coming days, but to finish up, here’s a preview—first up, some early concept art for Tiger Eye: Curse of the Riddle Box. Hari’s face is hidden in this image, but the complete shot will be revealed to those who pre-order. Next up is from the game itself—the Dirt Market, where Dela meets Long Nu…