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Interactive fiction engine Versu back with creators, games coming soon

Interactive fiction engine Versu back with creators, games coming soon
June 6, 2014 | By Christian Nutt

In March, Gamasutra reported that Versu, the interactive fiction tool developed by Emily Short and Richard Evans, would be discontinued after Linden Lab laid them off. Linden had acquired their prior studio, LittleTextPeople, in 2012, under the aegis of then-CEO Rod Humble; soon after Humble left the company, Linden laid off Evans and Short.

The problem was that the company kept control of Versu, the interactive fiction engine the pair had been working on even prior to joining up with Linden.

Though Short attempted to negotiate with Linden for the engine, those negotiations had failed. In March, Short told Gamasutra that she was giving up on negotiating with Linden for the rights to Versu -- but still, she gave it another go, this time with much more success.

Short dropped Gamasutra a line to let us know that the situation has changed: "Richard Evans and I now have worked out an arrangement with Linden that will allow us to release more Versu apps from our new company Little Story People," she says.

Blood & Laurels, the team's ambitious interactive fiction project created in Versu, will come out for iPad on June 12. It was completed while the pair were at Linden Lab, but Short did not anticipate that it would ever be released. Next will come Bramble House, another completed game that was never even announced.

That's not all: "The practical shakeout is that Richard Evans and I have the right to develop the platform and to release both new and old apps. Graham Nelson, who built an authoring language that significantly sped up Versu content creation, is also working with us," Short says.

She describes Versu as "the main focus" of Little Story People, moving forward. "I'm really excited to see this work out there, and grateful that Linden chose to make it possible." She also hopes to bring Versu games to Android and PC, but the small dev team means that that will take some time.

Third-party developers who were interested in working with Versu may also be disappointed -- for now. "As far as other developers, we don't at the moment have a package that would be suitable for third parties, but we're aware that there are lots of people who would be interested in trying their hand with the Versu tools. I'm not going to rule out anything in particular for the future, but can't promise anything specific either right now," says Short.

The terms of the deal with Linden Lab also prohibit Little Story People from open-sourcing the project, Short says.

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