The game was inspired by:
- a competition called ‘The Ronnies’ where you have to write the game within 24 hours, and
- a collection of interviews with Philip K. Dick (PKD) that showed me how human he was: fallible, creative, moving somewhere between a working poor and middle-class lifestyle, filled with convictions and insight, and having experienced something mystical and inexplicable that completely changed his relationship with reality.
The simple pitch for Left Coast is that you create a short story about a science fiction author and her eccentric friends and family. The problems really start when weirdness from the author’s novels begins invading real life. The whole game takes about two hours to play, and you should be able to sit down and be creating a story with your friends within 15 minutes.
How do you get a copy?
Short answer: go to this Kickstarter site and pledge $5: Radio Free Albemuth kickstarter
Long and weird answer:
While I was developing the game, Ivan (one of the playtesters) recommended PKD’s novel, Radio Free Albemuth to me. He was totally right: this book was the missing piece in my inspirations for the game. It’s set in a world that’s pretty much like ours; one of the main characters is Philip K. Dick. The other main character is Nick Brady. He’s receiving telepathic messages that are leading him towards trying to overthrow the government. The book’s main mystery is where are those messages coming from? Is Nick crazy? Is he receiving messages from an alternate dimension or time travelers?
At the start of the year, I was contacted by John Alan Simon, an actual Hollywood producer. Once I'd recovered from my surprise, we started talking about a passion project he’s worked on for years: a film adaptation of Radio Free Albemuth that's (a) finished and (b) faithful to the book.
If you’re like me then PKD film adaptations are quite frustrating. There’s a tendency for the ideas in the original story to get strapped onto a chase narrative, so that Act 1 introduces a cool world and a fascinating premise / interesting situation, and then Act 2 jettisons all that to put the main characters on the run.
Radio Free Albemuth is different. It’s got the character focus of an adaptation like A Scanner Darkly. However, the minds of the main characters in Radio Free Albemuth aren’t disintegrating quite as much as the lead character in Scanner. As a result, the story and film focuses more on what it might be like to live in a country ruled by a government obsessed with surveilling and controlling its citizens, and what the cost of rebellion against that government might be.
John Alan Simon found a copy of my original draft of Left Coast online and recognized we were both passionate about these sorts of worlds and stories.
He talked about how the film was complete and had gotten excellent reviews:
The London International Festival of Science Fiction and Fantastic Film
... and explained that he was kickstarting to finance a limited release of Radio Free Albemuth in theatres.
I was happy to help. So, I’ve offered Left Coast as a Kickstarter reward.
If you're interested, you can find out more about Left Coast and the Radio Free Albemuth kickstarter here:
Radio Free Albumeth: the Left Coast bonus