I have been making games with Joel Haddock for six years now. I have to remind myself how long it’s been, because it’s just a fact to me. I have a lot of difficulty imagining otherwise.
We had always talked about building games, but it wasn’t until I found Flixel, which abstracted away all of the housekeeping and ceremony you’d normally need to get a game up and running, that we actually built them and released them to the world. There’s a symmetry there with my work on Twine, I think.
We invented a studio name for ourselves, Twofold Secret, after much hand-wringing. We built a web site for ourselves and probably argued over the page design more than any actual work we did on the games. We released five games, all of which I’m very proud of– even the early ones, with their warts. Alight landed a sponsorship on Newgrounds homepage. When Flash’s popularity began to wane, we moved into downloadable games with Sought and Camp Keepalive. We put on a gallery show that made the cover of the Baltimore Sun‘s companion tabloid b.
And then there was a space in our work. We tinkered with game concepts but never fell in love with one enough to fully follow through on it. We never gave up on the idea of building games — just, we weren’t sure what to build next. We had both changed.
It took some time to figure things out, but I think we have our bearings once again.
We’ve decided to change our focus to be more squarely on interactive narrative, and our name to Unmapped Path. Joel and I both have always thought of ourselves as writers, but our Twofold games belong to genres like strategy game and platformer. You can see our interests poke out of the dark clouds of Alight and the terminals of Sanctuary 17, but someone giving them a quick glance would surely think retro before they thought literary.
It’s time to let our writing play a larger role. We want to build games that engage more fully with storytelling, and we’re going to leverage our experience with Twine to do it. We’ve developed an in-house engine called Disbound (which, of course, has an etymology) that makes building polished experiences for mobile and desktop with Twine extremely easy.
The other reason why we’ve changed names is that we’re actively pursuing client work, and Twofold was more a garage band for us than a professional enterprise. Our first client project, Undo Othello, debuted in March. We built this for the Shakespeare Theater Company in nearby Washington DC, and it was a real pleasure working on it. I’ve always liked working in the nonprofit space, and especially the education space. I’m hopeful Undo Othello is just the beginning of our work there.
We’re also working with Andrew Schneider to bring his game Nocked! True Tales of Robin Hood to iOS using Disbound. You can get a taste of the storyline by playing the version Andrew entered into the Back Garden of this year’s Spring Thing interactive fiction festival. I can promise, though — the Spring Thing version is just a preview of what’s to come.
And there is a third project Joel and I are working on ourselves that I can’t tell you about yet. There have to be some secrets for us to keep, right? If you’d like to know when we do announce it, follow us on Twitter or sign up for our monthly newsletter. And — of course, if you have a project you’d like our help with, please drop us a line.