LongStory: It’s not about who you date, it’s about how you date
Last month, the game LongStory (Bloom Digital) received the Jury’s Honorable Mention during the 12th IMGA. We met Miriam Verburg, the game’s executive producer who describes the game like “mystery dating sim that’s not about who you date – it’s about how you date”.
Tell us about your victory…
I think the award itself was the surprise : ) Following the conference GDC we were featured on the App Store under “Our Recommendations” and I am sure the award helped with that. We have also been approached by some publishers in Japan and China who probably wouldn’t have heard about our game without the additional publicity of the awards.
What inspired you when making this game?
Well, I was inspired in a positive way by how much I enjoyed the strong storytelling in other narrative games like Gone Home. In a negative way I was inspired to make a romantic game that was welcoming to players who identified as gay, trans, lesbian or bisexual because it just seemed there weren’t that many options out there that were welcoming to LGBTQ players and also had strong storylines.
Are the kids/teen games a new trend for the mobile gaming industry?
I don’t think its a new trend. I started working with a company that produced mobile games for kids in 2010 and they already had games in market. The market for kids mobile games is enormous. Many kids games are created by toy companies like Mattel, broadcasters like Nickelodeon, or PBS and book publishers like Scholastic, and mobile games support their primary revenue streams. So the paid app market for kids is quite small since most of the big titles are free to play.
The market for indie kids games is much smaller because it is harder for our companies to obtain the same reach because generally the marketing budget is smaller. There are a few breakout hits every year and then there are some blue chip brands like Toca Boca or Sago Sago. I’d say the market for games for tweens and teens is much smaller than the market for kids aged 3 – 9 simply because most tweens and teens play all ages games. There are a few games like ours or High School Story that look like they were created with a junior high or high school audience in mind. I can’t speak for High School Story though, I know we were thinking of tweens and teens when we developed LongStory.
Can you tell us more about the new episode coming out?
We just launched episode 5 and are super excited about it. This episode includes two new features. The first, and arguably the most important one for players who are following the game is that you finally have the opportunity to kiss your date – if you want. This is a big milestone in the game since up to this point the dating has been largely about flirting and going out on dates. We made some awesome art for that scene too very romantic.
The second new element is that the newest character Em, who is a musician sings a song that helps give some context to their back story.
What’s great is we found a real talent to play the voice of Em. Her name is Tamara Weber Fillion and she is currently kicking ass and taking names on The Voice, France.
We lucked out and saw her busking in Montreal last spring and immediately said – this is the voice of Em. We’re excited to continue the collaboration and have her write another tune for our final episode this fall.
In terms of future projects we have two more episodes coming out, episode 6 lands this summer and episode 7 our season finale should be out in September. After that the crew of Weasel Heights will graduate and move on to a new school.
Once the whole season is done we will focus on localizing the game for international markets. Because it is so story heavy that may take us a bit of time but eventually the gang of LongStory will be available in German, French, Dutch and Portuguese. Who knows maybe Chinese and Japanese too : )