Interview with Ever, Jane’s Judy Tyrer

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Ever Jane is the virtual world of Jane Austen. Based in Regency Period England, players have a chance to immerse themselves in the social norms of the time.

Yesterday, I entered the world of Regency Period England with Judy Tyrer, Founder of 3 Turn Productions and Designer for Ever Jane. We discussed how she entered the world of game development, the inspiration for such a unique MMO and her opinion on how games are primarily developed for the male market.

When did you get started with playing games, and what was the first game you remember?

Well video games weren’t around when I was a child so my first memory of playing games was Chutes and Ladders and Candyland. My first video game was Pong. I was in college.

How did you get started with developing games?

It all started with a corporate take-over of a position I loved and a place I worked for 15 years. I began to look around for what to do with my skills. My son was thinking of what he wanted to be when he grew up and I told him, “If I was your age, I’d go into video games.”

For those who haven’t seen your Kickstarter, can you describe Ever Jane in a single paragraph?

Ever Jane is the virtual world of Jane Austen. We focus on role play and create a world in which you aren’t killing and looting, but inviting and gossiping. Based in Regency Period England we give players a chance to immerse themselves in the social norms of the time and take on their own character, writing their own stories, as they struggle to come out into society, hope to get invited to the best parties and balls, and seek for a mate.

Ever Jane Inside

What materials have you used to help develop Ever Jane to portray Regency Period England?

I’ve used a lot of historical sites, the Jane Austen sites, read all the books and all her letters, Chwe’s book on Jane Austen and Strategic Thinking which reinforces our core game play, and pretty much everything we could get our hands on about the period.

So would it be fair to say you have aimed for a realistic portrayal of the period with Ever Jane?

We are striving for historical accuracy, but not to the point of sacrificing fun for accuracy. I would not, however, use the term “realistic” as that implies an art style we are not using. For our art style we are going for more romanticized that realism.

In terms of historical accuracy, will there be any NPCs that people may recognise from studying the period?

Due to cost, I am trying to keep the NPC population as small as possible. We don’t currently have any such events planned, but I wouldn’t rule out something.

My son was thinking of what he wanted to be when he grew up and I told him, “If I was your age, I’d go into video games.” Judy Tyrer

What inspired the whole idea to take the classic MMO, and replace combat, which is typically central, with personality traits?

If you look at almost all of the MMOs, Eve and ATITID are two exceptions, they have the same game play. Kill rats, loot, level up, kill bigger rats.

I wanted something different, something that captured the imagination. I think the idea of inviting people to raise your status is kind of fun ,and figuring out how that person will react to it. So it was the invite system replacing the kill/loot system that got me really intrigued.

To replace PVP, we added the gossip system where you fight with words instead of sword.

It sound to me like it would be more slow placed than the typical MMO. Is that the case? And does this mean you are going for an older, mature audience?

It will be more slow paced. EQ had the best role play of any MMO I experienced and the reason was all that downtime. When a game is fast paced, there is no time to chat and thus no time to build a story. Since we are focusing on the role play, we want to provide lots of opportunities for chat and story creation.

Since sewing takes place during people visiting one another, the ability to chat during the visits is, of course, the first priority. So how we design things has to always give people the ability to chat. (We need to put in auto-walk for the very same reason – you cannot currently walk and talk at the same time).

I don’t know that I’m targeting “older players” per se. I am targeting the female market more heavily than most games do. It’s a market currently under-served by game developers. I believe we need to open this market. But it includes all ages, really.

I wanted something different, something that captured the imagination. Judy Tyrer

There has been a lot of discussion recently, following a bit of drama over a game, which sparked the conversation that not many games were being developed for the female market. Many people believe this is because not many girls play games. What is your opinion on this?

I think the statement “not many girls play games” has been false since day one. But we now have research and statistics that prove it false. 54% of gamers are female.

Let’s say we didn’t differentiate on age but on height. And let’s make the video game industry sports and lets make the only sport played be basketball. So now the sports industry, whose only games involve being tall, claims “short people don’t play games”.

It’s that way in the video game industry. Find me a game where I don’t have to kill someone. Good luck! If I don’t want to play a violent game, the industry can point at my purchases over the past year and say that I don’t play video games, but that is looking at the wrong marker. The market is there, it just has not been tapped.

Now you are $40,000 of your funding goal, but with only 7 days left. What are you plans if you don’t manage to hit it?

We also have over 1200 backers. If half of them would be willing to commit to a small subscription fee of $12.50 a month, I could afford to keep building the product live.

I also plan on going after Angel investors having proven the market is there. I have to tweak the budget one more time based on input from other game CEOs and then put the pitch together. I hope to be pitching to Angels by the new year.

Great! If you could recommend one game for someone to play, which would it be and why?

If you’ve never played it, I recommend A Tale in the Desert. It’s very small, very niche, and the only game where the game play is more about writing macros to play the game for you than actually playing the game. It’s really been my inspiration because it showed me how a niche game can really be fantastic.

Anything else you would like to add?

Fund my Kickstarter!

Check out Ever, Jane on Kickstarter

UPDATE #1: Ever, Jane was successfully funded on December 2nd.

– Callum

Callum Goss

Callum Goss is a current BTEC IT student who rarely talks about himself in third-person, loves games, tweets about random shizz, and believed he had invented the word ‘shizz’ until he Googled it.

View all contributions by Callum Goss

Website: http://thedailychill.co.uk/

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