Random House is launching a debut author with a new free-to-play online narrative game, Black Crown. The project, which is not attached to a full-length book as yet, has a gas mask logo, and describes itself as "an infectious new kind of narrative experience".
The publisher has worked with Failbetter Games and the project uses its StoryNexus platform, which provides a structure for discovering content, with new features specially created for the Black Crown project by software developer Popleaf.
The project is free to access, but users can make payments to access additional stories or pieces of content, building on RH's and Failbetter's collaboration on the free digital narrative project for The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.
The project, at www.blackcrownproject.com, is open for registration, with the site to go live to play in May, when the identity of the author will be revealed. A short e-book, Lincoln's Bedsheet, connected to the project, is already available free from e-book retailers.
Digital publisher Dan Franklin said the aim was to run the project for a full year online, if successful, with the publisher aiming for "thousands rather than hundreds" of users to register before launch. He said that "there was a possibility that it will become a book and an e-book" later down the line.