Quote of the Day – Working with a Really Tricky IP

We hold the Bible completely sacred, and we’ve gone to great lengths to maintain authenticity. For this reason, we formed an advisory team of four well-respected pastors and ministry leaders to make sure all of our storylines and characters are historically accurate. Although we consider ourselves devoted Christians, it’s amazing how many details this team has caught and adjusted to make sure we stay accurate to the biblical record.

-Phoenix Interactive Studios, on their Bible Chronicles RPG Kickstarter

Yeah, you think working with Tolkien or the Star Wars IP is difficult?  Think again!

While they have wisely opted to stick to the Old Testament, even there it isn’t like we have a universally accepted interpretation to work with.  Cornerstone of three major religions?  Sure, let’s make a video game out of that!  I cannot foresee anybody getting angry about choices made around interpretation!

Color me a pessimist, but they may have chosen more wisely than they suspect when it comes to the main image used for their web site.

Metaphor or premonition?

Metaphor or premonition?

Of course, on the flip side of that, teaching the Bible… or a given interpretation thereof… seems to be pretty much perfect for the WoW model MMO format, where quests have only one possible end state.  The story will move on only when you do the right thing.

It will be interesting to see if people will be any more likely to read the quest text in this game than they are in WoW.  The forum questions about that ought to be amusing.  I foresee “Can’t watch the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah without being turned into a pillar of salt!”  Any other likely candidates?

No word on the business model… subscription vs. free to play… that this project will follow on release. [Addendum: because it isn't an MMO. Silly me.]  Of course, they still have a $100,000 Kickstarter goal to surmount.  But for $2,500 you can have a character in-game modeled on your appearance, and for $5,000 that character will be one of the kings of the local city-states.  You could be Melchizedek!

17 responses to “Quote of the Day – Working with a Really Tricky IP

  1. Someday someone will get one of these Bible-games right. I’ve seen these fail so many times over the years, but that said, good luck to them !

    Now what happens if your party manages to keep that women from turning into a pillar of salt ? That’s not true to the Bible….. so will such a possibility even be present ?

  2. Be nice if they made it a sandbox – I would wander the desert for a while then start my own religion. Then I would have my followers put to the sword all the none believers – would be great fun.

  3. @Mrrx – Heh, is Lot’s wife an escort quest that you must fail to move on?

    @Jo – Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s why this won’t have any sandbox elements at all. As much as it would keep with the spirit of the age to have Goons jump in and create a cult based on the worship of graven images, the motivation here appears to be to teach you the correct (for a specific definition of “correct”) interpretation of Old Testament Bible stories.

  4. I have a vague memory of reading about a religious-themed MMO being the most, or one of the most, successful online games somewhere in the Middle East. And wasn’t there an Indian MMO that used that pantheon?

    Precedents aside, this really does not look like a good idea…

  5. Well, at least this is a Bible game that won’t require you to plug it into a real game before you’re allowed to play it on your system. It still astonishes me that the NES had Bible-based games that intentionally got around getting Nintendo’s approval to be published.

  6. While the UI certainly looks like WoW, I don’t see anything in the Kickstarter indicating this is an MMO. Looks just like a regular RPG. That would explain the lower funding figure and timeline.

  7. @HZ – I have a press release from them as well and it does say in there that it is a single player RPG. Somehow I got it into my head that it was an MMO. And I think the Blizzard style quest system would fit such an MMO just right. Ah well.

    As Emily Litella used to say, “Never mind.”

  8. I think it would too. I’m surprised someone hasn’t put up the capital to try it yet. If people are willing to fund biblical theme parks, I’m sure MMO’s can’t be far behind…

  9. Technically the Bible isn’t an IP, nobody owns the rights — so anyone that wants to translate or work with the material is free to do so. I guarantee that any “expert” they hired to keep the stories “historically accurate” is only going to be a believer in at least one side of about 1000 different closely related versions of every story. Entire religious sects have been founded on those differences. All of which begs the question as to whether they are treating the Bible as a literal historical document?

  10. Pingback: Biblical MMO? | Harbinger Zero

  11. Their video makes a good point…there really are no high quality Bible games out there. I don’t know if this will be one, but the Biblical setting and some of the events from the Bible would be as fertile a ground for a videogame as anything else from the ancient world. I am dubious about the power of videogames to evangelize, but if they can make it fun that’ll be accomplishment enough.

  12. @dsj – I appreciate what you are saying, but I cannot figure out what other sort of generic term I can used for a body of work that falls under a single heading or something. When I say Tolkien and Star Wars are IPs, you know what I mean, but what term should be used for the analogous body of work that is in the public domain?

  13. I’m not sure how to take this. I got a follow up message from the team making this game griping about people criticizing the graphics in the demo video. So they made a new one. But there was also this:

    “Juicy Side Story: We got two great articles on Gamespot, but there have been about 2,000 EXTREMELY negative, anti-God comments on the articles. There’s a great trend piece here on the struggles Christian entrepreneurs face, and how much backlash there is against entirely positive, non-proselytizing spiritual endeavors. Why, in a country so supposedly Christian, the onslaught of hate against Christian businesses?”

    That seemed like a pretty big outpouring of hate. Then I checked out the two articles (here and here), found a total of 1,665 comments on the pair, a good quarter of which I would estimate are in favor of the game, or at least games like it, while a huge number of comments are from the same small group of people arguing about religion, hypocrisy, conspiracies, and all the side garbage that keeps such comment threads running long after the subject at hand has been forgotten. They might feel embarrassed about how little of the discussion thread applies directly to the game itself.

    Meanwhile the Kickstarter sits at 5% of its funding goal with a third of the time gone. I guess they felt they needed to go the sensationalist route.

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