News Item

Wayward Manor

Neil Gaiman is making a very Neil Gaiman video game

By Matt Gerardi • July 25, 2013

Neil Gaiman, author of American Gods and the comic book series Sandman, is making a video game. He’s partnered with The Odd Gentlemen, the studio behind The Misadventures Of P.B. Winterbottom, to make Wayward Manor. It’s a game about a ghost who needs to scare the living invaders out of its 1920s-era New England mansion. Gaiman says he’s had the idea kicking around for years, but couldn’t quite figure out which medium best suited it. After realizing “it felt like something you would have to experience yourself,” he settled on a video game.

Given the game’s macabre yet fanciful trappings, Odd Gentlemen is a great choice. Their prior work, Winterbottom in particular, has featured a marriage of Victorian-era style with goofy modern humor. Wayward Manor isn’t going the Kickstarter crowd-funding route, but it sounds like it will be made available in multiple acts, the first of which is poised to release this fall for PCs, Macs, and tablets. If the game is successful, Gaiman says in the announcement video (which you can watch below), he’ll be able to continue telling the story. You can pre-order Wayward Manor, along with an assortment of very Kickstarter-like bonuses—including a “spooky dinner” with Gaiman himself for $10,000—at the game’s website.

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  • valondar

    And the slow fusion between kickstarter and pre-order bonuses continues rapidly apace.

  • Citric

    That character’s chin looks like a bum.

  • TheMostPopularCommenter

    I wish GSOC Notifs would show up on my AVC red square.

    • fieldafar

      I got a Community notification for this?!

  • Effigy_Power

    Lame. Now, if this was about a benevolent house spirit…

    • DrFlimFlam

      That would be so awesome. Just trying your hardest to be helpful and the reactions of the freaked out normals that can’t understand why the dishes kept getting done and the whites are always properly seperated.

      • Effigy_Power

        If only someone was making something like that. Alas, who could do something that awesome?

    • uselessyss

      Ooh! I’ve got it!

      They’d want the inhabitants to leave, but they’d be too nice to be effective. Then they’d have to call on the services of a sarcastic “professional” ghost who would be summoned by saying his name three times.

      And his name would be……………

  • http://tmaiblog.wordpress.com/ Chalkdust

    I like this, if only because I want more folks who have proven themselves in other media to start looking at games as a potential storytelling vehicle.

  • Ralphie_in_Vegas

    Mr. Gaiman,

    As a fan of your work, let me suggest kindly that when the question “What medium is best to tell me stories?” comes up, the answer is never “a novel.”  Never.  Just stop writing those altogether.  Short stories, comics, video games, movies?  We’re more than thrilled.  Just don’t inflict any more novels on us, your fans.  Thanks.

    • ShrikeTheAvatar

      I love American Gods.  

      • Ralphie_in_Vegas

        AG was exactly teh novel I had in mind.  I read that whole damn book, thinking that somewhere the pieces had to fit together and it would be awesome.  What I got was a

        SPOILER

        ridiculous, abbreviated, anticlimactic battle at Rock City of all places, devoid of any real description, which was a laugh considering how much description was wasted on things that didn’t matter, like how often and in what circumstances Shadow got naked.  (Seriously, what was up with that?  Is Gaiman trying to tell us he’s gay?  Because I’m gay and the constant lingering on big ol’ Shadow taking his clothes off every 10 pages just got exhausting for me.)  Anyway, yeah, did not like.  Which is odd, considering that almost every other medium I’ve experienced Gaiman in has been phenomenal.

        • ShrikeTheAvatar

          I’ve read it a couple of times and I never noticed the Shadow nakedness.  

          As for the ending, I wasn’t really expecting a major battle.  I was just so entranced by the world he created that I loved every bit of it anyway, even the ‘asides’ that weren’t very relevant.

          In fact, I think the prose is so good in that novel that it ruined all his other novels for me.  Neverwhere and Anansi Boys read almost like bad high school fiction compared to AG.

      • valondar

        I thought it was pretty good. It’s basically Small Gods but in America, though I really get his premise that the America that is, the one he’s come to experience, is a far weirder place than the homogenized image we’ve been sold on TV and film and culture generally.

      • DrFlimFlam

        AG is my favorite book ever, so yeah, I love it, too.

        I think Gaiman’s economy can work against him, as AG could’ve told the same story in two times the page count easily. Same for Stardust, which I also love, and Neverwhere. Since AG, however, it seems like he’s been stretching short stories into longer form stuff. Anansi Boys could’ve been a pleasant novella but was instead much too long for the story it told. The Graveyard Book works so well precisely because it is a collection of individual tales. All of his shorter stuff is good. I don’t want him to stop writing longer form stuff, but it’s not been where he has shined the brightest these last ten years.

    • Fluka

      Awww, I liked his most recent one a lot.  It had the advantage of being super-short, though.

      (Disadvantage: there is kitten death.)

      • Effigy_Power

        I adore Neverwhere, but not for the story. For the characters. The Marquis, the Angel Islington, the Amazon warrior, the Duke and of course Croup and Vandemar. Lovely characters.

    • JohnnyLongtorso

      I liked the one where the normal human character came into contact with a supernatural world hidden just below the surface of everyday society.

      • highnumber

        I wish he had written more like that.

      • Effigy_Power

        That’s Neverwhere. There’s also a fairly decent TV adaptation.

        • Enkidum

          I think Mr Torso is suggesting that that is everything Mr Gaiman has ever written. Which is more or less true.

      • Effigy_Power

        Ah, that’s what you meant. What @Enkidum:disqus said. Yeah, that’s certainly the basic formula in everything he did. Mirrormask and everything. Don’t change a winning formula, I guess?

      • DrFlimFlam

         That’s what I love about his work.

    • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

      I agree, I’ve never really been enthused about his novels. For me it’s always been a sort of “well, there it is” feeling when I read a Neil Gaiman, not quite a “meh” but definitely on the level of a Gallic shrug.

    • neodocT

      I have to agree, unfortunately. I’m a huge fan of his work – I couldn’t shut up about Sandman until I was around 19, and even after I still think about it frequently – but his novels never seemed great to me. Neverwhere is by far the best one, but even that is lacking the tragic, dark wit that makes his comics and short stories so great. 

  • Aurora Boreanaz

    “It’s a game about a ghost who needs to scare the living invaders out of its 1920s-era New England mansion.”

    Sounds great!  All it needs is for one of the invaders to be a goth girl who is a kindred spirit, a competitor ghost with bad fashion sense and a foul temperament, and maybe a giant black-and-white-striped worm?

    • STOP_RIGHT_THERE_CRIMINAL_SCUM

      daaaaaaaaaaaaay-o

    • Andrew

      and Helen Bonham Carter

  • Blatherly

    So… Beetlejuice?

    I quite like Gaiman’s work, though admittedly that’s limited to 3 or 4 books and several volumes of Sandman. Winterbottom was also pretty cool, though it started to get way too timing sensitive for a puzzle game towards the end. Looking forward to the future of this.

    Also, paying $10,000 for a dinner with someone must make for an extremely awkward dinner. I’d be tempted to try and somehow make sure I was getting $10,000 worth of food/conversation, which probably doesn’t make for the most natural interactions.

    • PhilWal0

       Beetlejuice??

      • Aurora Boreanaz

         Beetlejuice!

      • STOP_RIGHT_THERE_CRIMINAL_SCUM

        nice fucking model!

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

      Yeah, I imagine the most awkward dinner one could have is with someone who a.) has a spare $10,000 lying around and b.) is an big enough fan of you to drop $10,000 to eat dinner with you. I’ve always wanted to have dinner with a spoiled sycophant!

      • Effigy_Power

        I am actually a little put off by the fact that someone like Gaiman can’t bankroll this game himself. We’ve had Kristen Bell beg for Veronica Mars, now Gaiman… is Kickstarter going to be about already rich people holding people emotionally hostage for their creative works in order to remain rich? I may be using hyperbole, but seriously… buy Tori Amos one less gold-plated guitar and the game ought to be financed for.

        • DrFlimFlam

          Gaiman has always been pretty upfront about the cost of doing business as a content creator. His time is insanely valuable based on what he brings in. Sometimes that means a $10K dinner. Sometimes he performs “Creepy Doll” in St. Paul at a Jonathan Coulton show gratis. And sometimes you’re RIGHT BEHIND HIM but you melt into a puddle of starstruck and you never even say, “Oh, hullo Mr. Gaiman, your work is amazing”, even though you went to that concert in part because you thought he might show up.

          Or whatever.

        • neodocT

          I need to mull over the ethics of celebrity Kickstarters a bit more, but I’m not entirely opposed to it. Seems like an effective way for creators to raise money for fan-favorite projects that wouldn’t see the light of day if they relied on traditional backing methods. It also allows for a greater creative control over the work, which can be good or bad, really, but I’d rather see a hot mess than a dull, homogenized work.

      • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

        The price is because the dinner consists of grilled panda sprinkled with crushed rhino horn and accompanied by coffee with gold dust. The social part of the evening will involve five minutes of awkward conversation about the weather with Neil Gaiman. He will spend three of those minutes avoiding eye contact and checking email on his phone.

        • DrFlimFlam

          If his appearance(s?) on Colbert Report are any indication, he is an excellent conversation partner. I mean, he’ll look and seem smart. You’ll seem dumb and flat-footed.

        • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

          @drflimflam:disqus The dumb thing would be paying $10,000 for the dinner.

      • Aurora Boreanaz

        That could never work for me.  The only times I’ve had a chance to meet celebrities whom I admire, I’ve been speechless.

        Penn & Teller:
        Thinks – *Loved the show, I’ve been a fan since I saw you on TV 20 years ago!*
        Says – “Thanks!” for autographs/cell photos.

        *sigh*

        • Rick Joyce

          The only time I ever got speechless in front of a famous person was when I was at the Senate and saw Sen. Ted Kennedy walk by (with his two dogs and tennis racket). I might’ve been starstruck when I met Robert Plant as a 7-year-old had I known anything about Led Zeppelin. /coolstoriesbro

  • Jack Lint

    Back in the Tekno comics days, Gaiman worked on the storyline for a game version of one of his Tekno properties. I wonder whatever happened with the storyline for that. 

  • Cole Chapman

    So, like, Ghost Master but set in the 1920s? SIGN ME UP!

  • Rick Joyce

    AND HE DOESN’T EVEN KNOW HE’S DEAD.