Wadjet Eye Games re-releases its first title, Shivah, today, so that it’s playable on iPhone as well as PCs. They also put more work than they ever expected to make it stronger than it originally was.
If it sells, the team will take it as a lesson that the market supports evergreen content and gamers don’t only insist on only the newest looking games on the newest looking platforms. The company and family relocated from Manhattan to Brooklyn this summer. They live in Park Slope.
Pre-order the game here.
Wadjet Eye Games was born, roughly, when Dave Gilbert learned about an open source engine for creating games called Adventure Game Studio. In 2006, the community around the system had a monthly contest where folks would make a game in a month, using the system, and show it off to each other. Gilbert made Shivah, which would become the first game for his then nascent company. We wrote about the company’s recent drama surrounding a giveaway of the first title in their Blackwell series.
The Shivah re-release was largely the project of Gilbert’s wife Janet and CTO of the company. The two didn’t even know each other when Dave Gilbert created Shivah, but she took responsibility for porting the old PC format of the game over to the iPhone. He told us that it was better that his wife worked on the port while he worked on the company’s next new game.
“With Janet running it, there was no future creep,” he said, of the risk that a little project becomes a bigger one.
OK, there was some unavoidable future creep, as Janet Gilbert explained. After having their daughter, she wanted a project that she could do quickly. She aimed for a couple months. They quickly learned that all the art in the original game, however, had been made much too small. It wasn’t really playable as a 320 x 200 pixel game on modern cell phones. They go into this in more detail here.
So they had to redo it. All of it. Every little piece of the art. Every pixle. Every background. And while they were at it, they redid all the music as well.
So while the gameplay is much the same, this new edition of Shivah looks and sounds better, according to the team.
Wadjet Eye gave Technically Brooklyn a preview copy of Shivah for PC. All their games are the narrative sort that you might have become familiar in school. You are moving through the story and you have different options about how to tackle different problems. You can be curt with people you are talking to or you can be gracious. You can run into puzzles that force you to remember parts of the preceding story to figure them out.
Shivah is a murder mystery, conducted by a rabbi with a failing congregation, who learns in the opening scenes that he has inherited a substantial sum of money from a former member of his congregation that he hasn’t seen for almost a decade.
And he wants to find out why.
It takes about an hour to play through, according to its developers, and costs $4.99 for PC and $1.99 for iOS.
Here’s an example of a scene in the original version of the game and how it looks now.
You can hear Janet Gilbert talk about the porting of this and other games at NYU-Poly on Thursday evening.
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