A downloadable game

Hi there, this is the development page for my current work-in-progress, The Fossilist, a fossil hunting RPG based on the life of 19th century fossil hunter Mary Anning.

Who is Mary Anning?

Mary Anning (1799 - 1847) was an English fossil hunter, who's finds from the Jurassic cliffs near Lyme Regis were crucial to the early science of paleontology. Her research, expertise and creative thinking were highly sought after by the geologists of the day, but because she was both working class and woman, she saw little recognition of her accomplishments in her lifetime.

Mary made early discoveries of animals such as ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, pterosaurs and sharks, many of which are still on display in museums throughout the world.




Why make a game about her? 

 For a long time I’ve wanted to make a game about fossil hunting, and Mary Anning’s life makes the perfect backdrop for game-play involving finding and understanding fossils. Although overlooked in her own lifetime, the last few years has give Mary Anning something of a revival as more attention is given to her work, as well as to the poor representation of women and other marginalised groups in science and technology in general. Her story is important as it reminds us that science is not just the domain of a few privileged men, and that women have been contributing, often unrecognised, right from the very beginning. With an ongoing campaign being run to build a statue of Mary Anning in Lyme Regis, and the Mary Anning biopic, “Ammonite” currently in production, it seems a good as time as any to explore her life in a new medium.

What kind of game will this be?

Fossilist will be about exploring, collecting, and learning.

Using a third person top down RPG, it will have some similarities to games such as Stardew Valley and the Pokemon series. As Mary Anning, will have to collect fossils, prepare them, and sell them for a profit to wealthy collectors, all the while improving your knowledge and skills to find bigger prizes. The hazards of dangerous tides, unstable cliffs and bad weather, will all provide challenges you must learn how to overcome. You will be able to talk to and befriend the folk of Lyme Regis, including some of the big names in early paleontology, and learn about the ancient seas of the Jurassic. If you are interested in how the game might look, check out The Curious Case of Timmy McRover, a short game I made with friends last year of the 2018 Rainbow Jam. 

 Will the game be historically accurate?

Yes and no. I’ll do my best to be true to Mary Anning and the time she lived in, but the nature of video games means I will have to take some liberties with the exact details of her life. You’ll be given freedom to explore the town and hunt for fossils how you see fit, rather than being forced to do everything when and where Mary Anning did, and I’ll most likely compress some of the major events of her 47 years into a more manageable time frame. I’ll try to balance fun, education and historical authenticity so that the game has the widest appeal possible, whilst also doing justice to the life of a pioneering woman.

Who are you? I'm a solo indie game developer from Manchester UK. I have love of paleontology and fossil hunting, as well as a background in arts, social justice and science. In 2017 I made a game that was shown as part of an exhibition on trans peoples lives in the People's History Museum in Manchester, and I'm really interested how games can be used to talk about social issues, history and the natural world, as well as entertain.

How can I support this project? If you like the idea of this game, you can follow me on Twitter @frostdragonliz for updates. I have a several simple and silly games over on my itch.io page you can look at to see my past work, including a game where you throw bagels over a kentrosaurus... You can also contribute to development via patreon. All money I get here will be used fund the development of the game. In the next few months I intend to launch a kickstarter for the project, in order to raise funds for music, research and other outlay.

Thanks!

Development log

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