Fans of the first Lifeline game may have saved the story's astronaut from disaster, but their adventure isn't over yet.
Lifeline 2, the new game for iOS and Android, offers players the same type of choose-your-own-adventure story as the first game, but this time in an urban fantasy story on planet Earth.
But Dave Justus and Matt Sturges, who wrote Lifeline 2, want to make sure players know the two games are interconnected — in "unexpected ways" — and the adventure will continue in future Lifeline games that all build toward a "bigger, more epic story."
Justus and Sturges are best known to comic book fans as the guys behind titles likeFables: The Wolf Among Us and Public Relations. But when Justus wrote the first Lifeline game, it became so popular that the game's maker, 3 Minute Games, decided to expand the story and bring Sturges on to get things rolling.
Newsarama talked to the pair about the success of the first Lifeline, why this one takes a different direction, and whether players will ever see Taylor again.
Newsarama: Dave, for people who might not have heard of this game before, how would you describe the first Lifeline game, and how did its success lead into the next one?
Dave Justus: The first game was a science fiction adventure, and you were the "lifeline" for a character named Taylor, who was a student astronaut stranded on a distant moon. So it operated very much like a choose-your-own-adventure book. You had to get them through three days of real-time play and survival on this moon until rescue could come get them.
A lot of those elements really clicked with people. The real-time, which was something we were very unsure about, going into it, people really seemed to like that.
So when we went into designing Lifeline 2, we thought, let's see if we can do a bigger, more epic type story that also has the same real-time elements and puts the player in a position of being a lifeline to the character.
But how can we make it different enough from the first experience that they won't feel like they're just walking the same path again?
We realized that the lifeline concept — the idea of the player being someone who was helping the character and helping guide their decisions — was a concept that could be applied to a number of different genres. So rather than science fiction, we're operating in a sort of urban fantasy. It's set in America, in Oregon and Washington, but with some magical elements to it.
The character you're helping this time is a woman named Arika, and she has been cut off from her brother and she has lost her parents. So she's on a mission to avenge her folks' death and to see if she can get back to her brother.
Sturges: From the beginning, in the first game, Dave really put character first. And that's clearly what people responded to. And this one has more of that.
Nrama: But with a different character this time.
Justus: Yes, but I want to make sure people know — this game absolutely has ties to the first game. And it may seem like, because it's a different genre, that it's something different, but I want to promise anyone who loves the first game that this is part of a bigger story.
All the Lifeline games are part of a bigger story. We've got a lot of this universe worked out. And anyone who's into world-building is ultimately going to be impressed at how deep this goes.
Sturges: And nobody's saying that we've seen the last of Taylor either.
Nrama: Matt, why did it interest you to get involved with the second game? What do you find appealing about this form of storytelling?
Sturges: It's really unique, in that it does something that prose and other kinds of writing we've done can't do, which is create this very instant, visceral connection between the player and the game. You're interacting with something. And we use that as a storytelling device, to tailor each story to each player.
And being able to tell these stories with really interesting characters that people respond to make that work.
Nrama: Can you play Lifeline 2 without having played the first one?
Justus: Absolutely. It completely stands on its own.
However, for people who played the first one, there is definitely the sense that these take place in the same universe, that there's a larger story going on.
Nrama: So it sounds like there are more Lifeline games coming?
Justus: Yeah, we're building a universe where all of these things count and they all tie into one another and they all make a difference.
Sturges: In really unexpected ways.
Justus: What players are doing and the decisions they're making are going to create a gigantic, grand universe of a story.
We're already working on Lifeline 3.
Sturges: I was just at the bookstore doing research for Lifeline 3 this morning.
Justus: Lifeline 4 is also in the works. There are plans that extend into the future and into several different genres and different types of characters that I think we want to try to weave into a larger universe of Lifeline games.
Sturges: We've spent a lot of time talking about the future of this world, and there's so much we've dreamt up and have plans for, I think people are going to be really blown away by the stuff that we've come up with and what's going to happen with the game going forward.
Justus: It's to 3 Minute's credit that they've given us the freedom to really go nuts with our plans for the future.
And we're really grateful to the players and the reviewers and everyone else who has picked up this game and made it popular enough that we get to build this universe and play in it. That's been an amazing experience, to watch people react so positively to something we've put together.