Original Intentions and History of the project
I started writing and programming Masq directly into Macromedia Director in 1997. I also started drawing the graphics in Photoshop. Masq was supposed to be just a proof of concept, however the dot.com opportunity kicked in and given that there was nothing like Masq (this is still seems to be the case) we decided to turn it into a product. In those times most of the web was text.
Soon we discovered it would take much longer to develop Masq than we had anticipated. (Reasons for the delay later)
Around one year later we ran focus groups to test the first two episodes. The test was successful. Around this time Noah Falstein and Charles Swartz joined us as advisors.
We set up a shop in Mexico City with 8 people; 3 artists, one producer, two assistant producers and testers to accelerate the production of illustrations and testing.
It passed around another year before Ken Melville joined us as an advisor and started reviewing the dialogues and really making them work in English.
It took us 5 years to "finish", and we only finished the downloadable version of Masq (2002). We just developed 2 episodes of the browser version.
The main reasons for the delay were the following:
- We really wanted the player choices to matter, and "Real" branching demanded many more scenes than anticipated.
- We did not have adequate authoring tools. Macromedia Director is powerful but is not designed for the task.
- No way to delegate. The kind of interactive authoring that the genre demands is an organic mix of screenwriting, programming and game design understanding. This is not only a "new" skill, but an uncommon one.
- Lack of resources during development. This forced us to spend a lot of time looking for more resources, and doing many necesary but distracting administrative tasks.
From 2002 to 2004 we brought Masq public and start doing market tests as well as showing it to many people in the industry looking for support to keep developing stories. For more information about this, read:
The tests consisted of charging different prices to play, giving it away for free, asking different information or none at all, trying different low budget advertising channels to reach the users, and even exploring different target markets (within a very limited budget), gathering feedback form players, registering every path they took to play Masq, etc. We even ran more focus groups with one of the major game developers and publishers. These tests were very successful but those who were in charge inside this organization lacked the capacity to move the project forward.
In Abril 2007 Tom Francis from PCGamer magazine UK, found out about Masq and wrote a very postive review. From there on, many people started noticing Masq, appearing in the Belgium-Holland magazine PCGameplay who gave Masq a score of 88 out of 100, later in Computer Games magazine in Greece as well as many important blogs such as 4ColorRebellion, JustAdventure, Independent Gaming, Tigsource, Grand Text Auto, etc. Masq was just selected (08/2007) one of the Top 100 Games (all times) by PCGamer magazine UK.
Masq has been online since 2002, and has been played (to varying degrees) by more than 60,000 players. As of today, we keep receiving enthusiastic emails and incredibly positive reviews.
As today, we're looking for investors an strategic partners, distributors, believers, etc.
Our intention was to create a new design model, an interactive entertainment genre capable of:
1.- Provoking in the player the kind of emotions that novels and movies do, but at a whole new level by leveraging the participatory and immersive qualities of interactive games. The kind of emotions mainly absent from games.
2.- Unleashing alternative personalities or facets of the players, embarking them on journeys of self-discovery as they contemplate moral and other exciting choices.
3.- Dealing with the broad range of themes and situations found in movies and novels, but offering the deeper experiential resonance of multilayered what-if scenarios.
4.- Making the interactive experience revolve around personal relationships with well-rounded characters instead of mainly dealing with the physical world as in most games.
5.- Being much easier to play than most games in the marketplace; easier interface, shorter learning curve, and far less frustrating to play for non-gamers.
Source: The Publisher Website.