Oh come on, someone was always going to use that headline! Back in February, not long after Ebbe Altberg arrived, Linden Lab announced :
After careful consideration, Linden Lab has decided to cease development and support for dio, Versu, and Creatorverse. We’re grateful for those who took the time to experiment with these products in their early days, but ultimately we have determined that due to a number of factors, we and our customers will be best served by focusing our efforts on continuing to provide exceptional service and compelling new experiences for the users of our other products.
I was somewhat aghast at this as I liked the look of interactive fiction app Versu in particular, although the long awaited Android release was still being long awaited. Versu developer and author Emily Short hoped to be able to negotiate a deal with Linden Lab to buy the IP and codebase, but in March came the news that Linden Lab had said a firm no :
So for those who were curious, Linden has now given me a definite no about selling me the codebase and IP. – Emily Short
I was not alone in being disappointed about this news and the story was picked up by Gamasutra who interviewed Emily Short. Now it should definitely be noted that unlike me, Emily was very dignified and professional about the closure of Versu and she remained very grateful to Linden Lab, saying :
I remain hugely grateful to Rod Humble and to Linden for picking us up when they did, and for giving us the run they gave us.
The disappointment of course remained and one of the most disappointing aspects of this affair was that Emily had a new Versu title entitled “Blood and Laurels” on the verge of release, three days from release to be precise. As Emily had penned this title whilst employed by Linden Lab, not only was Versu gone, but so was her Blood And Laurels story as Linden Lab, not Emily, owned the IP to that title. There was also confusion amongst some as to why Linden Lab had decided to leave a title with such huge potential gathering dust on a shelf. This was a title after all about which a former Linden posted on Emily’s blog :
The Versu underpinnings are genuinely revolutionary; my jaw dropped in the meeting where you explained how the engine works.
Part of the reason some would speculate, is that interactive fiction is not known for being a huge money spinner, although it does appear to be a growing market. However that seemed to be that and we all went about our merry business, until now that is. Inara Pey has discovered that Versu is back.
Inara discovered the news via a blog post from Emily : News about Versu and Blood & Laurels. This blog post was based on a news story posted on … the new Versu website! The news story explains the exciting new developments :
After Versu’s cancellation, it looked for a long time as though neither the underlying technology nor the finished stories had a future. However, we are delighted to be able to announce that Linden Lab has negotiated a new arrangement that will allow us to release these stories and explore a future for the engine.
The first step is coming next week: Blood & Laurels will launch for iPad in the App store next Thursday, June 12.
The news story and return of the site also suggest that negotiations have been going on for some time and that the deal was struck before today, as another title entitled “Bramble House” by Jake Forbes is also in the pipeline, with the promise of more to come.
I’m not sure exactly what the deal is or whether anyone will ever inform us of what the nature of the deal is. For example I don’t know if Linden Lab still have a stake in this project. However whatever the deal, it’s great news to hear that Versu is back.
The team are obviously smaller and they won’t be receiving the financial backing they originally received from Linden Lab, which means that the long awaited Android version will remain long awaited for a while yet. However that’s not as important as this title being revived. This is really good news and I’m glad that Linden Lab have found a way to give Versu a second life.