Pocket Gems, a San Francisco-based mobile gaming company, has announced the launch of a new mobile gaming platform, Episode, which will include a writer’s portal to enable anyone to utilize the platform and create their own animated story. During a beta launch 10 million chapters of the various stories were read, suggesting an eager audience.
The stories on the Episode platform are animated and take a form similar to the classic “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories. The look and feel is similar to the Batman Arkham Origins collaboration between DC Comics and Madefire, a multimedia digital comics platform. There’s slightly more animation to the characters, though less by way of dynamic action. Instead of tapping through pages, the reader taps through word balloons and scenes, making choices from a menu about what to say and where to go. Whereas the Madefire product still skews towards the comic book reading experience, Episode seems almost precisely halfway between a cartoon and a comic book. A cartoon with word balloons might be the best description.
Episodes is launching with 30 professional authors, including Rachel Maude of the Poseur series of books and former Marvel Comics editor Andy Schmidt. The genres of the stories will be split between mystery, romance, fantasy, adventure, comedy, and SF.
The writer’s portal will allow writers to customize characters and convert their script into a game. PocketGems has created a custom scripting language that allows authors to program in dialogue, actions and story paths. The scripting language is much more English language-based than most, and looks like one that can be picked up relatively quickly.
Episode sprung out of Pocket Gems CCO and co-Founder Daniel Terry thinking more about the storytelling opportunities of the digital medium. “While gaming will always be at our core, we’re very excited to release a product that falls into an entirely new genre of mobile entertainment,” said Terry. “This platform combines aspects from TV, novels, and games to give its audience an experience that they haven’t seen before.”
The revenue model is fremium + advertisements. While much of the content will be free and updated weekly, avid players will have the ability to buy additional chapters to play if they want to jump ahead.
While the professional authors at launch are paid for the services, Terry says as the writer’s portal goes live “we'll work out a system for non-pro writers who get featured on the platform, although we expect they will account for a smaller percentage of featured authors on the platform.”
Pocket Gems is launching the platform and then talking to potential partners. “We're interested in exploring publisher involvement and licensing deals for the platform in the future,” offers Terry. “At this point, we're wholly focused on creating a strong and vibrant community of writers and audience members on Episode.”