Think of it as “Beetlejuice” meets “The Legend of Zelda” meets “Arsenic and Old Lace.”
Neil Gaiman is an author who can do just about anything: spooky tales for kids and adults (the Newbery Award-winning “The Graveyard Book,” the recent “The Ocean at the End of the Lane,” respectively), sharply witty fantasy (“American Gods”), comics and graphic novels (“The Sandman,” “Death: the High Cost of Living”). And that’s barely scratching the surface of his multimedia, nearly 30-year career. Hollywood, HBO and the BBC adapt his projects on a regular basis (“Stardust,” “Coraline,” “Neverwhere”), or at least they give it the old college try. He is one of the writers who gets and understands Twitter, cultivating more than 1 million followers. He has co-written books with other novelists (Terry Pratchett) and performed on stage with his wife (Amanda Palmer). He does many things.
Which is why it’s a surprise, that, as of yet, Gaiman has not worked on a video game, as he is certainly omnivorous and nerdy enough to have done so in the past. But that status is about to change. Gaiman is working on his first video game, Mashable reports, titled Wayward Manor.
On Friday, an introductory video -- in which a rumpled Gaiman establishes that the game is for pre-order and there are crowdfunding-like tiers of prizes available on the official website, in a situation he describes as a “pop-up shop” -- flew across the Internet. In it, Gaiman introduces himself and says, “I’m an author. Although more specifically than that, I’m a storyteller. What I tend to do is try and find the right medium to tell the right story.”
For one of the prizes, he promises that one funder can win a spooky dinner with Gaiman in Los Angeles. “We will have the single spookiest dinner anybody has ever had -- in Los Angeles” he says. “Obviously Detroit, Portsmouth, Boston, Seattle -- spookier dinners. But Los Angeles, we are going to ace it.”
According to Gaiman, Wayward Manor is inspired by the “crazy, mordant, playful, funny, weird” movies he loved as a kid: “Arsenic and Old Lace,” “Blithe Spirit,” and “The Man Who Came to Dinner.” In the game, the player is a ghost who wants to scare away the people living in his house, a rambling, gothic, New England estate.
The game is a collaboration between Gaiman and the dev studio the Odd Gentlemen and publisher Moon Shark. The first half should be ready during the spookiest time of the season, in October/November of this year. Meanwhile, Gaiman continues to do publicity for “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” -- the book that inspired his “last U.S. booksigning tour ever” -- and in between, steal some time with his wife, musician Amanda Palmer -- according to Gaiman’s Twitter, Palmer and Gaiman performed together at this weekend’s Newport Folk Festival.