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The archive of The Black Crown Project, a now-dismembered narrative web game.
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The Black Crown Project Archive

The Black Crown Project was a rather large work of interactive fiction about archiving, curating and researching the belongings, souvenirs and correspondence of a long-dead tourist. Despite what many people have said, there was not much more to it than that.

The Project was funded, edited and published by Random House UK (now Penguin Random House), and the technical aspects were developed and hosted by Failbetter Games and Popleaf Games. I wrote, designed, painted and implemented much of the narrative and its mechanics.

It was in active development between late 2011 and late 2013, with new episodes of the main narrative being released every few months. It was still live until the last months of 2014, when it was taken offline for a variety of very good reasons. The copyright was initially held by Random House itself, though it has since reverted in full to me. In the last six months I have managed to gather up most of the dissembled nonsense into which the Project had fallen, pruning it from the various different servers where it was slowly bitrotting.

It wasn't, and isn't, in any fit state to merely rehost. Many of the proprietary technologies that it relied upon no longer exist. While I do (now) have the technical ability to redevelop the project myself, I have neither the inclination, mental hygiene nor the time to do so. However I did not want all that hard work, by myself and many others, to merely unpick itself into a scramble. I have no interest in trying to make any further money from the Project; I never made much in the first place, and I think that the Project itself is allergic to monetisation. To that end, this entire archive is being released for free and libre use by anybody, anywhere, to any degree. More details can be found in the License document.

The Project was developed over several different media and modes, and while the assets of most of them can be found in this archive, pathologically but appropriately organised into various folders, some elements have inevitably been lost. The trunk of the work was a choice-based narrative game, built using Failbetter Games' Storynexus engine (assets/main_if), but it also included pseudo-3D virtual objects that could be examined in a browser (/objects), recorded voices and field sounds (/audio), fragments of the tourist's travel diaries (/text_shards), and supplementary works including interview transcripts, short stories and theses written under very obvious pseudonyms (/supplements). I have also organised and included most of the product's paratextual elements, including a folder of /screenshots, all of the /promo material that we generated, early drafts, sketches and prototypes (bcp_scrivener_project), and two older versions of the Project that I created for my Master's degree (old_project).

The Project Elsewhere

All links were functioning at the time of creating this archive, but I cannot supervise them forever.

Late Acknowledgements

If I have forgotten anyone, it is entirely my own fault for being forgetful, and not theirs for being forgettable.

  • Sam North, the closest thing to a domovoi that I have, albeit with far more lustrous (and even more translucent) shirts, hair and soul. Thank you for your guidance, your attention, your humour, the white wine, dinner on Dartmoor, the fractal array of lunches for which I hope you kept the receipts. I miss smiling at people on the Tube while they stared at the tongue-red suitcase between our knees, the biohazard stickers turned towards them.
  • Sarah, who comes first in any other acknowledgement in my life.
  • Vael, for his exactitude, advice and expansive self-vivisection.
  • Joseph McShea and Isley Lynn for putting the silences in the right places, alongside Freesound users soundmary, natashachubbuck, ciccarelli, al-barbosa, sphion, landub, zaem, miklovan and productionnow.
  • Paddy, Rob, Harry, Nick, Alex, Loic, Lucy, Melissa, Ed, The Real McCoy and Otto Retro's Sarah for helping me put together the suitcase, for posing as the survivors of Loss despite the shoppers, and for making that year in the South West one of my best so far.
  • Dan Franklin, Harriet Horobin-Worley and everybody still and once at Random House. I'm sorry that I didn't become what was expected.
  • Jo Rodgers and Elizabeth Sheinkman at WME for being kind and helpful for far longer than they were contracted to.
  • Alexis, Jon, Berb, Ahron, Paul, Henry, Liam and everybody else at Popleaf Games and Failbetter Games.

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