Versu’s Blood & Laurels arrives in the App Store

versuFollowing the announcement that a deal had been reached which allows Versu, the interactive fiction engine, to continue after Linden Lab had discontinued it in February, comes the news that, as promised, the much-anticipated Blood & Laurels is now available.

As I noted in my report on Versu’s return, Blood & Laurels is the first title to be released under the new Versu banner, and will be followed in the near future by Bramble House by Jake T. Forbes.

New Versu titles will, for the forseeable future only be available on the iOS operating system and focused on the iPad. As the Versu team has noted, while they would like to have an Android version, resources are such that right now that it just isn’t possible.

So what is Blood and Laurels about? The slip notes provide an overview:

It’s the eight hundred and twenty-first year of the city of Rome, a year of bad omens and unrest. The Emperor is bloodthirsty and watches keenly for anyone who might be trying to overthrow him. The grain dole is running out and the people are going hungry. Romans are beginning to put their faith in foreign cults, as their old gods seem indifferent.

In this dangerous environment, Marcus is concerned with two things: his poetry, and keeping his patron Artus happy. But when Artus sends him to ask a secret question of an oracle, Marcus is forced to get involved, with conspiracies, politics, and a woman he is trying to forget.

Blood & Laurels offers dozens of outcomes for Marcus, his friends, his enemies, and Rome itself. The choices you make for him will decide not only how he ends up, but what kind of man he is when he reaches the end.

A page from Blood & Laurels (via the App Store)
A page from Blood & Laurels (via the App Store)

Blood & Laurels might best be described as a piece of theatre; play is heavily influenced by the evolving conversations as much as by the actions of the protagonist, Marcus the Cowardly (that’s you, by the way, should play the game). As Marcus, you have to steer your way through the complex situations which develop around you, some of which are a direct result of your actions and words, while others may be the result of things you perhaps didn’t do or say earlier in the game. Your interactions with other characters (and their interactions with each other) can be reflected in the changing expressions on their little portraits. In keeping with most intrigue in life, few things go unnoticed and repercussions can be positive or negative.

The complexity of Blood & Laurels is staggering: 240,000 words of interactive content, a branched, two-part storyline and a large cast of dynamic characters. All of this adds up to a piece in which a player is only likely to encounter around 7% of the content in any given play through.

Alongside of the launch, the Versu team also issued a teaser video of movie-like quality and presence.

Blood & Laurels can be purchased from the App Store for $2.99 / £1.99.

Related Links

Note that Emily Short of the Versu team, and the creator of Blood & Laurels, will be featured in a Drax Files Radio Hour interview on Friday June 13th. Also, coverage of the “new” Versu and Versu titles in this blog can now be found under the Versu category or via the menus: Pey’s Travelogues > Other Worlds > Versu.

Kitely’s Metered Worlds become Premium Worlds

kitely-logoOn Wednesday June 11th, Kitely, the on-demand virtual world provider, announced that their “Metered World” offering has been restructured as a “Premium World” offering.

“Metered Worlds” were one of two world types offered by Kitely to customers, the other being Fixed Price Worlds (which remain unaffected by this change). Rather than being paid for through a fixed monthly fee, “Metered Worlds” were paid for through small fees charged for various actions performed on them, as specified in the Kitely Services web page.

Up until the June 11th announcement, both Premium and Regular Account holders had been able to add  new Metered Worlds to their accounts at a cost of 10 KCs per world, per day. However, as of the June 11th announcement, only Premium Account holders remain able to so; hence the product being renamed “Premium World”.

Furthermore, from July 1st onwards, any existing Premium Worlds held by Regular Account holders will only be accessible to Premium Account holders. This means that Regular Account holders must consider what they want to do with their existing Premium Worlds.

For example: to retain access to their own Premium Worlds beyond July 1st, Regular Account holders will need to either upgrade to a Premium Account, or convert their world(s) to one of Kitely’s Fixed Price World plans. Alternatively, they could allow their Premium Worlds to continue “as is”, and simply not be able to access them until such time as they do upgrade their account or convert these worlds to a Fixed Price plan. Because only Premium Account holders will be able to access these worlds, no additional charges will accrue in the interim.

As noted in the Kitely blog post, Regular Account holders can even, up until July 1st, opt to export their Premium Worlds to OAR files for use elsewhere (subject to object permissions and the normal export fee of 150 KCs per world).

Fallingwater, my region-wide build on Kitely utilises was was a Metered World. I now face a decision on what to do about its future ...
Fallingwater, my region-wide build on Kitely utilises what was a Metered World. I now face a decision on what to do about its future …

A single Premium World will continue to be provided to new users signing-up to Kitely’s Regular Account. However, only the account holder and Premium Account holders will be able to visit it during the initial 6-hour trail period supplied to Regular Accounts – the world will be closed to other Regular Accounts and Hypergrid users. At the end of the trial period, if the user wishes to continue using the world, they must either convert it to a Fixed Price world plan or upgrade to a Premium Account.

Again, please note that these changes do not affect Kitely’s Fixed Price worlds, which remain available to both Premium and Regular Account holders.

Reaction to the announcement has been mixed, with some expressing disappointment at the move, and others appearing to be somewhat confused, at least initially. Some of the disappointment has perhaps been the result of Regular Account holders feeling they are being disenfranchised from land ownership in Kitely.

However, an alternative viewpoint to this is that the move might actually help to further stimulate Kitely’s in-world economy by allowing land rental businesses to develop, particularly where Fixed Price worlds are concerned. If so, this could have a further benefit of allowing themed estates to develop, which in turn may help give in-world locations more of a “community” feel than might currently be the case.