Massive-multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) continue to grow in popularity with an estimated 15 million people logging in for hours of fantasy adventure each day. The phenomena has made some companies rich and others bankrupt as they compete for the billions of dollars in subscriber fees and micro-transactions. Each generation of game attempts to one-up the last while established games patch in new content to retain their players.
It's in this market that Chicago start-up Great Illusions Games (GIG) would venture forth with their new IP still in development after 4 years and 50 million dollars invested. Their angle is a fantasy MMO with incredibly advanced and experimental artificial intelligence. But A.I. in an online multi-player game? Some would argue that an MMORPG is about human players grouping or fighting each other in epic PvP battles - where advances in A.I. don't factor in. But the creative genius behind the game argues that the A.I. brings depth and versatility, allowing the players to immerse themselves in a much more believable fantasy that evolves to keep them engaged and challenged. This so-called A.I. Adversary System is the answer to player retention. Yet the argument will not be settled until the game ships. After two extensions and a disastrous data loss reportedly caused by the A.I. Adversary, the question of whether the game will ship is in doubt and the fight for control of the spiraling project becomes an epic battle of its own.
The battle for control is fought in both the real world game studio and within the fantasy world of the game. Told from the perspective of the new Adversary, the A.I. at first thinks it's a player, a simple bard with uncanny skills as an illusionist. Then its true destiny as a shaper of worlds is slowly revealed as the game's creator gives it more and more control. Yet other members of the company have their own in-game avatars. While some help the Adversary along, others challenge that destiny, and that conflict culminates in a duel over ultimate control. The game's future and people's jobs depend on the outcome.
This novel's target market is the 15 million MMORPG players. It's about half-way done. Writing doesn't take a lot of money but time, so this request for funding is more about testing interest and building up market-support so I can take it to an agent or publisher. Should the goal be reached, besides my gratitude and electronic copies of the book, I would offer the chance to immortalize your online game character as an extra or featured player in the story. Should it get picked up by a publisher, I would also acknowledge your support in print.
Current chapters are posted here: http://drop.io/iilusiongame but I will be posting updates and soliciting feedback through the kickstarter project page.