New World Notes has recently published a couple of articles about Linden Lab’s decision to end Versu. The first by Iris Ophelia entitled Versu’s Epilogue: How an Interactive Fiction Pioneer’s 15 Year Project Ended Up in Limbo at Linden Lab laments the loss of the title. This is a very good read and I agree with much of what Iris has to say.
The second deals with feedback to that article, Limbo Status of Emily Short’s Long-in-Development Interactive Fiction Project at Linden Lab Goes Viral and highlights a tweet from Gamastura’s Leigh Alexander:
I have always been interested in Emily Short’s work, especially the Versu stuff. This is awful news about its future http://t.co/TJo4WldkLy
— Leigh Alexander (@leighalexander) March 14, 2014
From there we can go to Gamasutra itself and find an article by Chritsian Nutt : The end of Versu: Emily Short looks back. This article includes commentary from Emily Short and highlights points Emily has made on her own blog, Emily is extremely grateful to Rod Humble and Linden Lab for supporting Versu in the first place. I’ve seen Emily make this point more than once, if it wasn’t for Linden Lab’s support, Versu would not have reached the stage it did.
This is a point that could easily be lost amidst all the disappointment over how things turned out but it remains a very important point. Emily is quoted in the gamasutra article as saying :
I want to stress this because some of the people I’ve talked to about the closure of Versu don’t seem to understand this point: 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. There are so few opportunities to do this kind of research within existing companies, and if Richard Evans and I had taken venture capital, we would have had to spend a lot more of our time trying to learn to run a business and a lot less writing stories and code.
And that doesn’t begin to count the other resources besides financial support that Linden put at our disposal, such as a hugely devoted and enthusiastic QA team, or the opportunity to work with other experienced interactive-story authors like Deirdra Kiai and Jake Forbes. Both of them not only wrote content but contributed useful thinking about how to develop the system as a whole.