The heartbreak of a video game shutting down

In an era of RPG popularity, it isn’t hard to find a good story line.

But what if a good story line is all you want?

That was the boat that I found myself in just a few months ago.

I needed something to fill the void while I mellowed out after work. I needed a story line to take me away — but I was tired of books and I didn’t want to mash buttons on a game system all night.

I wanted to lazily live a story experience without having to imagine what the characters looked like. The avatar style, colour, design and format mattered very little because of this — I’m an avid book reader so I was hungry for a story that I could live, with very little freedom to imagine because I was in fact that lazy.

I’ve come to learn that as a consumer, the demand is always in your favour. And if you want something, it’s guaranteed that someone has made it a reality already thanks to the internet.

Unlike books however, the allure of an RPG that didn’t require an expensive game system was where I went to look.

And I found exactly what I was looking for.

I began by googling the best RPG’s for cell phones and a list came up.

I tried a few of the memory debilitating apps, but none of them were exactly what I needed.

I needed a game with writers that were excellent, not lackluster with a game layout that was looking for my money to get ahead in the game.

Finally, after several apps I stumbled across cellphone RPG gold.

STORYSCAPE, by FogBank Entertainment.

It was perfect, so perfect in fact that the name combined what I wanted to do: escape into a story.

I tapped the google entry in and boom, the description was resonating: “A single choice can change everything. Enter Storyscape, where world-class writers bring you tales of romance, intrigue, and adventure and every decision you make transforms your story. Discover love aboard James Cameron’s Titanic or confront the unknown with the X-Files. Find romance in a new city or explore a magical realm as a slave-turned-revolutionary leader. New shows and seasons drop often, so there’s always something exciting to play.”

The games were amazing to say the least.

I spent nights reading interactive stories on my cell phone, all the while making decisions for the characters that impacted the storyline after selecting an avatar and a name that best suited my in-game persona.

Of course, you could make a handful of choices and some of them did cost a bit of money, but the money that I spent to enjoy the game wasn’t even half of the cost price for a regular video game. Plus, if you restarted the series, anything you purchased as a choice wouldn’t have to be paid again if it was a repeated selection.

The “episodes” were beautifully animated and the animations left just enough to keep it personal, like freedom to imagine the characters voices.

I fell in love.

But just a few days ago, the app gave me a notification. I assumed it was a regular notification that would invite me to play a new series of episodes.

I was mistaken.

The notification announced that the app would be shutting down on February 3, 2020, a mere six days away.

‘Why?’ I thought, as my heart sank.

I googled and soon enough, came across the deal between Disney and Scopely, with the latter purchasing FoxNext Games (including Cold Iron Studios) for an undisclosed amount.

The San Francisco based studio Fogbank Entertainment wasn’t part of the deal and its fate remained unclear. However, GamesBeat reported last Friday that Fogbank Entertainment would be shut down by Disney and its 60ish developers are being laid off as a result.

According to Sensor Tower, the game registered about 1.7 million downloads since then.

This app had offered worlds created by award-winning authors from movies, television, video games, comics and novels.

Even a series influenced by Drew Karpyshyn, the acclaimed writer behind Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and the first two Mass Effect games, who joined Fogbank Entertainment after leaving BioWare in March 2018. He had followed Daniel Erikson, who was at BioWare for seven years as the Lead Designer and Writer on Star Wars: The Old Republic; Erikson held the position of Studio Director at Fogbank, though he left the company a few months ago, just as Storyscape was about to release.

Unfortunately, because of the shut down, many of the series I began will never be finished. I know I share the same level of dismay with hundreds of players. I even found forums where fans would chat about their experiences in the game. Of course a petition was created to help, but Disney isn’t a very forgiving company and we know this.

Thus we must say goodbye to the characters and stories we fell in love with.

So farewell Storyscape, you will be greatly missed — I wish I could spend more evenings escaping into the worlds you offered.

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