Thanks for sharing all of this, Matt. There’s certainly risk since this is, as you put it, an experiment, but I think if you build in the right sort of monetary incentives for yourself–whether related to the short-term success of the game or the long-term success of the idea at the company–it can mitigate that to some degree. If this succeeds, for example, it could give you oversight on editing additional projects that you do not write, which would be $ but less time consuming. I’ve also seen some contracts with a sort of trap-door: if you decide after say 3 months that this isn’t working for you, you can walk with no penalties.
On the plus-side of “this is an experiment”, that should allow you a lot of control and input into exactly what the game looks like and how it works. Depending on the company, it could make your relationship with them more collaborative. So, if this is a good company, this could be great. If it’s Zynga, on the other hand, just back away now. Living in the Bay area, I’ve known numerous people who work or have worked there, and it’s not a happy place.
I hadn’t heard of Tales or that model, but I can see how it would work. I just hadn’t realized that interactive fiction was popular enough to warrant a FTP model. But apparently so. I don’t know what they’re like, but I could see how this is sort of good? I mean, anything that gets the medium more recognition?
So here’s a question: since you code and write the games already, what theoretically would prevent you from doing a freemium interactive story just on your own? The money up front? The time/energy commitment? The marketing? If it’s that you just don’t want your name on freemium, well… I mean, imagine you did this solo as opposed to with this company and look at the pluses and minuses on each side of it.
I personally think you should do it, but I also think you should really think out what you want most from the experience, short and long term, and structure your agreement with them based on that. If it were me, it would be some kind of mix of collaborative decision-making and favorable payment structure. The more involved you are, the less likely that you’ll be railroaded into something you hate.