The Oliver twins, the veteran creators of the Dizzy games and co-founders of Blitz Games and Radiant Worlds, have a new venture: RichCast.
It aims to take user-generated interactive stories up a notch with a richer set of tech and tools for creators to play with. And cofounder Philip Oliver says RichCast, which is soon to go into soft launch, is far superior to established storytelling platforms like Episode and Choices.
“If you look at what we can do functionality and what we can offer creators, we are way beyond them already,” he tell us.
Oliver says learning to code is a barrier to young people trying to get into the creative industries and, alongside his brother Andrew, the duo have been trying to solve that problem for years.
“It would be very, very cool for creatives to just not worry about programming and not worry about what platform they were making it for,” says Philip Oliver. “For them to just be able to make something interactive that’s as easy as it is to make something for YouTube and upload it. And then it just works and everything works forever – it doesn’t matter if iOS does get updated or a new platform comes out.”
In early 2020, Neil Campbell, a former colleague of the Oliver twins, used the lockdowns to tinker away with a game demo for his daughter. It turned into an open-ended tool you could use to make stories by creating a flowchart-based conversation tree.
And because Campbell knew the Oliver twins were looking for ways to help people create content online more easily, he gave them a call and told them about it.
“He showed us on Zoom, and it was like: that is the nub of what we were looking for,” says Oliver. “Anybody can use these flow charts, you can put graphics and pictures and video into it….the challenge then was to just build it all out.”
Skip forward to July 2022 and the RichCast team are demoing it at UK industry event Develop: Brighton. On top of that flowchart-like storytelling system, creators can import their own images and audio or use the a stock graphics and sound database to make their stories feel more like something you’d find in Episodes or Choices.
There’s also some clever AI voice systems that can generate spoken dialogue and allows players to play by speaking, which will help with player accessibility.
The RichCast team are also commissioning writers to create stories for the game at launch, both to build out a content database and show players what it can do. It’ll monetise through subscription, with more prolific creators on the top tier able to sell their stories within the app and take a 70% cut.
And further down the road, the RichCast team want to work with IP holders to create a more legitimised strain of fan fiction, where rights holders provide the assets and guidelines and let fans go from there. There’s also some loose talk of tokenising story ownership on the blockchain, but it’s early days there and will depend on how the next round of pitching to investors goes.
RichCast is out on PC and Mac already, but the real focus for the app is the mobile edition, which is due to be soft launched this summer.