Blood & Laurels

Blood & Laurels is a political thriller set in imperial Rome, concerning the adventures of Marcus, a poet who gets pulled, against his will, into a whirlwind of conspiracies and cult practices. It runs an hour or two to play (on the shorter side if you get yourself killed quickly…), but allows for many possible changes of outcome: you’re likely to see less than 10% of its 240K words of authored content in a given playthrough, and your relationships with other characters may vary from romantic to murderous (or various other options) depending on what you choose to do.

Blood & Laurels is built on the Versu engine, which provides character AI – characters who remember what you’ve done to them and form relationships to you and to one another. It also uses a conversation model that is an evolution of Threaded Conversation, minus the parsing challenges, but with new features to cope with situations like characters entering or leaving a room. Graham Nelson created an entirely new content creation tool for us that allows rapid writing of interactive dialogue scripts. (Without that, building the chunky novel-worth of content in Blood & Laurels would have been prohibitively time-consuming.)

More about the engine can be found at versu.com.

The game itself is now available in the App Store for iPad.

At the risk of sounding like a Kickstarter plea: Blood & Laurels, and the entire Versu project, were developed for some time at Linden Lab. We have since parted company, which means that our ability to do interesting things with this tech in the future (like port it to non-iPad platforms, which I’ve always wanted to do, or develop the Versu engine towards additional functionality) depends on our resources. If those are things you’re interested in seeing happen, a strong launch for Blood & Laurels would help. We very much appreciate early downloads, which affect our app store rankings; likewise if you’d care to spread the word via Twitter, blog posts, etc., that would be extremely welcome.

For those of us without iPads, is there any other way of playing the game?

I’m afraid not, unless you live in striking distance of an IF group where someone has a copy and would be willing to share.

I was seriously dismayed by the brief appear-and-vanish Blood and Laurels did earlier. I’m so glad this is out again!