Red Carpet Diaries

RCD inside choices.png

Red Carpet Diaries is here! Our newest Choices book is all about the glamorous (and sometimes not-so-glamorous) world of Hollywood. The path to stardom isn't easy, but with a little luck and the help of your friends, you might just make it to the big screen...

Longtime fans of Pixelberry know of our second game, Hollywood U. HWU has similar gameplay to the original High School Story game, but is set at a university where you learn how to make it in Hollywood. Last April, we released the final quest for HWU. We're really happy that we got to share the adventures of Ethan, Addison, and the rest of the HWU cast with all of you.

Red Carpet Diaries is an all-new and different story than its predecessor. But, we wanted to included a nod to some of our beloved characters from Hollywood U, so you'll be seeing a few familiar faces in Red Carpet Diaries. At the same time, the Red Carpet Diaries team wanted to create a fresh, distinct story of fame and fortune that new Pixelberry fans can get into, too...

To learn more about the new book, I talked to the team behind Red Carpet Diaries -- and as a bonus, Eric, the producer of Hollywood U, as well!

First thing's first. Give us the scoop on Red Carpet Diaries! What's it all about?

Jilly: It’s a thrilling tale of your first job in data entry! Will you finish that spreadsheet on time… or will you have to install Excel on your home computer? Kidding, obviously -- it’s a glamorous story of a rising actress’s first days in Hollywood, her path to fame… and obviously her steamy romantic opportunities (you are in the land of the professionally beautiful people, after all!).

How is Hollywood U linked to Red Carpet Diaries? How is it distinct? And will I get to meet any HWU faves, like Addison and Ethan?

Andrew: Red Carpet Diaries can be best seen as a companion story to Hollywood U, something like a spin-off. It’s not a direct adaptation like HSS; instead, it’s an original self-contained story with its own cast of main characters, but set in the same universe as Hollywood U. HWU fans should definitely expect to see a lot of familiar faces pop up (won’t spoil who!), and we’ve worked in some really fun interactions with that cast.

Here's a question for both Eric and the Red Carpet Diaries team: Both Hollywood U and Red Carpet Diaries depict the path to stardom. To you, what does this type of tale mean to you?

Eric: A path-to-stardom tale is all about potential! I love a main character with nothing to their name but a bag of Cheetos and a dream. It can be really inspiring to see that character start to realize that dream. In Hollywood U, it felt particularly rewarding to have your character’s campus and entourage grow the more famous they became. Envisioning yourself as a star is one thing; finally impressing Thomas Hunt is life.

Jilly: In a lot of ways, Red Carpet Diaries is a classic coming-of-age story, just in a much more glamorous setting. You’re facing the same kinds of challenges any young person would: Can you achieve your dreams, make new friends, and hack it in a new town? But of course that town is Hollywood, so there’s also some seriously awesome wish fulfillment built in!

The glitz and glam of Hollywood, the sweet outfits... there's a lot Red Carpet Diaries has to offer. What are you most excited for readers to encounter?

Jilly: Seriously, the outfits in this book are EVERYTHING. I need to be able to buy a “for me” version of at least half of them. I only wouldn’t buy the rest in real life because I don’t attend that many galas. Or, you know… any. Fashion aside, though, I had so much fun writing the side characters. Since the setting is Hollywood, they can be truly over the top! I want to spend an entire book hanging out with your neighbor Gloria--I feel like she has some seriously interesting stuff going on when she’s not hanging out with you.

Who's date-able in Red Carpet Diaries? Come on, spill the beans.

Jilly: The options are SO GOOD. You can ship with your megawatt costars (yes, plural!), the literal boy next door (who also happens to be a hilarious standup), the up-and-coming assistant director whose talent is only outshone by how incredible she looks in club attire… and yes, I might be partial, but I would say yes to ALL of those options.

Any final advice or tips for readers before they step into Hollywood?

Jilly: Forget tabloids, this is going to be where you find your fashion inspiration for the next few months!

Choosing my #OOTD, like, right now. To those reading along: Can you make it in Hollywood? Find out in Red Carpet Diaries, out now!

-Jessica

Home for the Holidays

Holidays Inside Choices.png

It's the holiday season! Here at Pixelberry, the holiday season is about spending time with your loved ones, hot cocoa (with marshmallows!), and new Choices books! The Sophomore came out last week, but we've still got more on the way! Get into the holiday spirit with Home for the Holidays, a heartwarming tale of family, love, and hometown charm. To learn about this wintry tale, keep reading...

First of all, what's Home for the Holidays all about?

Megan: It's about the fun, and romance, of going home to a small town for the holiday season!

Home for the Holidays is as much about family as it is about romance. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Megan: When we started brainstorming, we knew we wanted there to be a strong family element to it to go along with the holiday themes. For so many of us here at Pixelberry, the holiday season is all about spending time with your family. So even though there's a heavy romantic element (and of course, several love interests to choose from), we wanted to make sure the Joy family was a central part of the story.

Cat: Your adopted mom and brother are important characters in Home for the Holidays. Throughout the story, you have a ton of really sweet moments with your family, and you also get the chance to play matchmaker for them.

What was your favorite part of writing Home for the Holidays? What did you consider the most challenging?

Megan: It's basically impossible for me to choose one favorite part of writing this story - I enjoyed all of it! But if I had to choose... I have a soft spot for writing the Scarlett/ Dylan sibling relationship. As someone who grew up in SoCal (and never went skiing or snowboarding or anything), the biggest challenge for me was writing about snow!

Cat: I grew up in a small town and then moved to ~the big city~ for college, so the book's setting felt really familiar for me. I had a ton of fun writing the quirky side characters, and the interactions between you and your love interests are really unique and fun.

This is a holiday-themed book, so I've gotta ask. What do the holidays mean to you?

Megan: I love the holidays. We always get together with my extended family and do a big gift exchange, eat a giant meal together, the works. Especially now that my cousins and siblings have grown older and moved away, the holidays are the one time of year we all make a point of coming home to see each other. Plus my three-year-old nieces insist on calling the garland "garlic", so it's endlessly entertaining.

Cat: This is the Hallmark answer, but for me, the holidays are all about family. Plus holiday movie marathons!

Finally... hot cocoa or eggnog?

Megan: Between those two, hot cocoa. But my favorite holiday drink is a peppermint mocha. :)

Cat: Hot cocoa!

To those reading along, have you checked out Home for the Holidays yet? We at Pixelberry are so grateful that, through these new books, we get to celebrate the holidays with all of you. (Plus, more new books are coming soon!) This season, we hope you get to spend time with your loved ones, whether that's a special someone, family, or friends. Until next time...

-Jessica

New Books and Update

inside choices image.png

It's December, which means new books and a new update are coming soon! The Sophomore: Book 2 is out now, but there's more to come... Namely, Home for the Holidays, Red Carpet Diaries, and Endless Summer: Book 3! Which books are you looking forward to? Let us know!

Back in October, we updated James' look. (You can read more about this here.) As promised, we put together a list of other characters who will be getting a new look in the next update. These characters are: Ms. Twombly, Sebastian, Evan, Bill, and Keo. At the current time, we don't plan on changing any major characters or love interests. Thanks to everyone for being so understanding about these changes.

As Choices grows, the team is working on other ways to improve the game. Recently, we released the new Pin feature that lets you pin or un-pin books from your My Books section. Some books now include a timer that lets you know when new chapters are out. We hope to have every Choices book on this system in the coming months. In addition, we've got a few more changes planned to improve the quality-of-life in Choices, though they won't be immediately obvious or available to all players right away.

If you've got any questions or suggestions, be sure to reach out through Facebook message, or in-game support. We hope you'll tune in later this month for new Choices books! The holidays are here, and we can't wait to share new stories with all of you.

-Jessica

The Sophomore: Book 2

inside choices.png

Winter is here at Hartfeld! The Sophomore: Book 2 picks up at the start of winter quarter. The ups and downs of college life await The Sophomore crew. To get the 411 on The Sophomore, I chatted with The Sophomore writers. Read on for more...

So, what do you have planned for fans of The Sophomore in Book 2?

Saran: As always, there’ll be fun, romance, and drama; if you played through the end of Book 1, you’ll know that there’s trouble on the horizon, so a big part of the next book will be resolving those issues! We’ll also be focusing more on the main character and her academic/professional aspirations. Where Book 1 was more about solidifying your relationships with other characters and trying to help them reach their goals, Book 2 is more about seeing that closeness pay off when it’s time for your friends to help YOU. Depending on how much you’ve been there for them in the past, you might even get some special rewards…

A few new friends were introduced in The Sophomore: Book 1. Will this trend continue?

Maya: There will definitely be a few new faces, some friendly… and some not! Apart from that, players are still getting to know the new characters introduced in Book 1, and they’ll definitely continue to play a role this book. We’re also very excited to introduce a few previously mentioned but never before seen family members of certain characters, so we hope players will enjoy meeting them!

What part of The Sophomore: Book 2 are you most excited for readers to encounter?

Saran: I don’t want to give too much away, but I think readers will really enjoy seeing some existing plot lines reach their exciting conclusions. We’re also trying to expand our customization a little—in addition to being able to choose their player character’s look, readers will have a few opportunities to give other characters more comprehensive makeovers as well!

You're caught in a snowball fight! Who would you pick to be on your side in the battle?

Saran: Definitely Edgar. That guy has so many hidden talents, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s secretly got a mean throwing arm. If nothing else, he could probably rig up a snow cannon or something to make short work of our opponents.

Elizabeth: I would definitely pick Kaitlyn. She's the type of person who would always have your back - and she's not afraid to fight dirty!

Sara: A hundred percent, I would pick Amara. She seems like a fighter, and, let’s be real, I would die for her on the field of battle.

Maya: Becca. She’s ruthless (you all saw her in our beloved Halloween spinoff - glad you had as much fun reading it as we did writing it!).

In college, winter quarter can get pretty rough. Got any tips for students about to start their winter quarter?

Sara: Finding a coffee shop like Zig’s workplace really made a difference for my college experience — I even ended up working as a barista there. Especially during winter, enjoying a hot drink, surrounded by other people studying and socializing kept me comfy, caffeinated, and accountable to get my work done.

Maya: Get plenty of sleep! With the shorter days, it’s easier to feel tired and to lose track of the time, so rest up. Winter blues are definitely a thing I’m familiar with when the weather gets colder and the skies get grayer. In college I found that it was really comforting some nights to just curl up with some hot cocoa and a book or a show to watch instead of worrying about homework and projects. It’s important to give yourself time to relax and take care of yourself every now and then.

Saran: Join some new clubs or try a new activity! Even if you’ve already made a solid group of friends, meeting new people is always valuable. If you’re feeling gloomy, sometimes trying something different can shake you out of your funk. But of course it’s good to stay connected to your existing friends too. Life is a balance!

Words to live by. Check out The Sophomore: Book 2, available now! And check back later this month for more new Choices books!

-Jessica

Endless Summer: Book 3

inside choices.png

Even though it's nearly wintertime for us here at Pixelberry, we've got summer on the mind! Endless Summer is on the horizon, with Book 3 slated to release in late December. The book is packed full with exciting adventures, and the team is hard at work on making it happen during the holidays! In anticipation, check out this interview with the Endless Summer: Book 3 writers (mild spoilers for previous books ahead)...

The plot twists were non-stop in Endless Summer: Book 2. Without getting into any major spoilers, can you tell us what Book 3 will be about?

Taage: Yeah, I think the cover is probably spoiler-y enough! Book 2 was quite a ride, providing many startling revelations about La Huerta and its inhabitants. In Book 3, players will be able to bring even more pieces of the puzzle together and ultimately make decisions that will impact the entire island. This is your home now, after all.

Are there any new game features, characters, or storylines that you're particularly excited for in Book 3?

Taage: If you’ve been dating someone, you’ll have the opportunity to take the next step with them in Book 3. I can’t say too much, but when it comes to soulmates, “when you know, you know”, right?

Jen: There’s a couple new characters that show up this book that really balance out the group dynamic and have been a joy to write. I’m really excited to see how the fans react to them, and hope they love them as much as I do.

Things are looking pretty dire for the Endless Summer heroes. Will they be okay?

Taage: That’s really the main question of the series. I think at its heart, Endless Summer is a story about a group of people trying to navigate a difficult transition. Most of the characters are on the brink of finishing college and getting ready to officially start their lives. There’s no turning back from adulthood at that moment, yet it can be very hard to make the jump. So in a way, I think Sean, Diego, Quinn, and the rest needed this time of exploration, and the challenges they face in La Huerta are serving to help them figure out who they are. I have faith that there’s hope for the gang, but of course it’ll all come down to a matter of good decisions.

Imagine that you're going on a summer road trip with the Endless Summer crew. Who do you pick to go in your car? I'd go with Estela, just 'cause she'd have the best life stories to tell during the long drive. What about you?

Taage: I hate to pick favorites, but I think everyone knows I’m pretty partial to Diego and Varyyn. I also really enjoy Quinn’s philosophical perspective. She’d be a great person to have a long, mind-expanding conversation with while Variego entertain us with their quirky chemistry.

Jen: I would take Sean, because of his born leadership qualities, charming/easy going nature, and cause he’s G O R G E O U S. I imagine he’d have everything planned and mapped out, and probably want to do a fair share of the driving. I would take Grace, because I feel like she would love stopping spontaneously at roadside attractions like a giant crater or geological park or something rad like that. Diego to make sure we have enough puns, Varyyn because I’d love to see his reaction to a classic American road trip. I’d take Yvonne, to make sure someone gets us in trouble, so we can tell stories about how we got out of trouble. And I’d take one more character, who the fans haven't met yet, but would totally be necessary for long days on the road.

Any final words of advice for players as they gear up for Book 3?

Taage: Prepare to be shook all over again!

So ready! To those reading along, check back in late December for the finale book of the Endless Summer trilogy! What are you looking forward to in Book 3? And what do you think will happen next (spoiler alert!)? Let us know!

-Jessica

Teaming Up

For the past year, we’ve been trying to grow Pixelberry as fast as we can while improving the quality of our storytelling. But by putting new stories first, there are a lot of things we want to do that we haven’t gotten to yet, like sequels to some of our one-book series, more ways to earn diamonds, or trying new genres.

While we’ve been growing, we’ve had a lot of different companies approach us about partnering. But we’ve wanted to make sure that if we did join with someone, it would be with a company who shared our long term vision for making Choices a long-lasting home for mobile fiction. We think we’ve found that partner. Today, we’re excited to announce that we’ll be teaming up with Nexon. 

They will provide us with additional resources to help us grow faster. Although not everyone is familiar with Nexon yet, we have a ton of fans of their game, MapleStory. In fact one of the things that really impressed us about Nexon is that MapleStory is still successful 12 years after it was launched in 2005. That’s also the same year in which our team launched our first story game, Surviving High School. We love that Nexon is serious about a long lasting approach to their games, and that they want to help us grow Choices into a long term app.

At the same time, Nexon realizes that no team has as much experience writing mobile story games as we do, so they will let us run independently and still be Pixelberry. We’ll be the same wacky, nerdy, and occasionally hip team, with the same writers, artists, engineers, QA, marketing, data, and player specialists, all making sure we continue to tell the stories of intriguing characters.

The biggest change from teaming up will be that we’ll have more resources to expand faster. And over time, we hope to leverage Nexon’s global experience to spread our games to more people around the world. 

We hope you are as excited as we are to partner with a company that wants to help us grow for the long term. 

The one other change we’d like to announce today is a new Pixelberry logo. It’s based off our old logo, but adds in some more Pixelberry personality. Sharp eyed players might have seen early versions of this on the Pixelbaby onesies we give out to the youngest members of our Pixelberry family.

With Nexon’s support, we look forward to giving out many more of these onesies far into the future.

With Pixelberry love,

Oliver

Level 10 Nerd

CEO, Pixelberry Studios

PB logo.png

My Books

A new Choices update is available now! Be sure to go get it if you haven't already. This update is a small one, but it includes one new feature that we're really excited about!

Several months ago, the My Books section was introduced to Choices. Players reached out with their feedback, requesting a way to add or remove books to the My Books shelf. That feature is now here! To add a book to your My Books shelf, you can tap the blue pin button in the bottom right corner...

inside 3.png

You can also remove books from your My Books shelf by tapping the pin icon.

inside 2.png

Books you're currently playing through are automatically pinned in your My Books shelf.

inside 1.png

And there you go! Those of you keeping an eye out know that we've also got Endless Summer: Book 3 and Red Carpet Diaries on the way. What books -- new or current -- are you looking forward to? Let us know! And if you have comments, questions, or just want to say hey, you can get in touch with us via in-game message, email (pixelberrystudios.com/contact-us), or Facebook! As always, we'd love to hear from you.

-Jessica

Rules of Engagement Series Finale

roe inside choices.png

When Rules of Engagement: Book One launched back in September of 2016, everyone at Pixelberry was over the moon and, to be honest, pretty nervous. This was the first completely new book to come out after the initial three launch books, and we didn't know how it would be received.

Before that, the Rules of Engagement team had spent months brainstorming, outlining, and writing the planned trilogy. The art team magicked together luxurious cruise ship art in record time. What started out as the jokingly coined "love on a boat" book transformed into a globe-trotting adventure. The series is now over, but will return for a short holiday special book titled Newlyweds. For a final look at Rules of Engagement, I interviewed a few of its writers...

roe swan.png

The curtains have closed on the Rules of Engagement trilogy. First, I've gotta ask: How do you feel?

Kara: I'm sad to see the story end! I can't believe it was just over a year ago that we came up with these characters and their stories. It's been a crazy ride, particularly since the Rules team pushed themselves pretty hard (we launched Book 2 and 3 with no break in between, which is really hard on the team!). I've really come to love all of the characters, even those that seemed less lovable at the start, and it's been such a fun product to get to explore the different voices of the siblings and their friends and love interests. I wasn't very involved in Book 3 other than the brainstorms, so it's been such a delightful surprise to see how the new writers have steered the ship.

Coco: It's very nostalgic for me. Rules of Engagement was the very first series I worked on when I started working at Pixelberry, so it's been a great cruise ship journey seeing the series through from joining in on Book One all the way to the end. We're all headed to other exciting projects after this, but Rules and its characters will always be very special to me!

Did the series go the way you expected? Were there any surprise detours along the way?

Ariel: A huge surprise for me was liking the cousin! Her arc felt really genuine, which is part of why it was easy to understand her point of view. Playing from her perspective really helped us see the good in her, as well Chaz's bird's-eye view of her. He brings out the best in her, and now they're the cutest couple!

Jennifer: This is kind of a spoiler alert for book one, but an unexpected thing that came out of Rules was tying Leo being the prince of Cordonia to the Prince in The Royal Romance. We'd always planned on doing a romantic royal adventure, but this twist wasn't part of the original picture. Kara and I are having so much fun working together on The Royal Romance right now, and doing it this way, as a spin-off, feels so perfect.

The Rules of Engagement cruise took the crew all over the world. What was your favorite place to visit, story-wise?

Coral: Istanbul was really different art wise and provided a look into cultures we didn’t get to see much of for a lot of the cruise. It was so cool to write scenes around the architecture there and and explore what made the city special. It also might be my favorite because so many important storylines converged there, such as the cousin and bookish sister coming together to light the lantern, and being able to emotionally connect.  

Coco: I absolutely loved getting to visit Iceland! The Aurora Borealis is high on my list of sights to see, and the art in that cutscene is so beautiful and colorful. It felt meaningful that we got to pair that setting with a very emotional talk between the bookish sister and Audrey that illuminates parts of Audrey's life that we hadn't gotten to hear about previously. My hope is that getting to travel virtually through Rules inspires people to look around their surroundings for the next adventure, even if that just means looking at your own backyard with a new perspective or curious lens!

There were plenty of plot twists, alongside heartwarming and hilarious scenes. What was your favorite moment of the whole series?

Kara: My favorite moment was when William Sloan takes you out for gelato in Italy way back in Book 1. It was one of the first dates I've written for Choices and I felt like I was getting to write the perfect date.

Ariel: One of my favorite moments was the scene where Chaz and the brother were shipwrecked on the island together. Every part of it was so fun from Chaz remarking on the beautiful shells to them falling in the hole. It made me laugh out loud!

Will we ever see the Rules of Engagement family again? Any plans for crossovers?

Kara: There are plans for an epilogue-style mini-book that'll take place after a slight time jump. While the story of Rules is complete, we wanted to show what life is like off the boat for the family... and what's next for them after the wackiness of the inheritance tasks has ended!

Coco: Yep! This shorter holiday special will explore how the family adjusts to life after the cruise, and especially how they struggle to remain close in spite of the many changes in their lives. We hope that it'll also be fun for players to experience the romance and excitement of newlywed life!

Finally, what's next for Team Rules of Engagement? Aside from Rules of Engagement: Newlyweds, of course.

Coral: I’m the newest member on the Rules team, so it’s really exciting to be able to keep working with a great teammate like Ariel on a new project. We have some amazing ideas we’re excited to share when the time is right!

Kara: Rules is probably the series that has had the most writers work on it over the last year. You can see that reflected in the zany humor, heartwarming sibling stories, family cultural heritage, and other elements that made it into each book. Every writer contributed something valuable and wonderful throughout this journey. Earlier on, some of the team moved off Rules to work on newer series, like LoveHacks and The Royal Romance (and another new book that's coming soon!). Others are just now getting ready to start exciting new projects that won’t launch until next year...

Can't wait! To those reading along, we hope you enjoyed the journey on Ember of the Sea. The holiday season is just around the corner, and the Choices team has a few surprises planned for the winter months!

-Jessica

Growing from "Rant ahead, be aware."

PB Team in Black.png

While looking through Tumblr posts this week, one of the longer response posts caught my eye. The post was well written and though titled “Rant ahead”, was a well reasoned commentary on things that bother the post’s author. Since the post brought up many points that other players have also expressed, I thought replying as a blog post so everyone has a chance to see the response would be appropriate.

Thank you to lauraotaku2234 both for your thoughts and for permission to share it in our blog. The post is bolded below.

From the Tumblr post “Rant ahead, be aware”:

I just love how Pixelberry reblogs fanart and nice messages about the game. But when fans are actually pointing out errors and mistake the game has done… they just ignore it. They have decided to close a bubble to them.

This is a very fair point. Our team really does read a lot of the feedback generated by our players. But even though we may be working on fixes or things that address the critiques, most of the time people on our  team don’t give a firm answer for fear of making a situation worse or suggesting something that might end up not happening in the future. Because I lead the team, I have a lot more latitude in responding to critiques, but I’ve been focused on a lot of different projects which means that I haven’t responded as often as I should.

I hope this post helps to provide some more light on many of the below issues.

Now, there is a difference between the: “We want more diamond options” and the “James situation”. Here’s why:

On the diamond thing, I doubt PB will change that, mainly because they get their money from us buying diamonds, the more options we get, the least money they make. So its understandable. Yet, the money they make is supposedly to get better staff and equipment so the game can improve and be better. A year has already passed and I still can’t find what the improvement is or was.

You’re correct, it is harder for us to change the diamond economy. We have been experimenting with different options that try to balance our ability with making money and giving players a better experience. As a player, myself, I totally get the complaints. I don’t have anything new to announce right now, but we are working on different features and will see if things like rewarding diamonds for watching ads will help in providing that balance.

It also makes sense that you and other players can’t find what improvements have been made. But I’m hoping that is partially because we’ve been slowly building and rolling out improvements over time and that you’ve gotten used to some of those changes. 

One of our most popular requests is launching more weekly content. And in the past year, the biggest change we’ve made by far is expanding from 3 books at launch to a much more robust library. When we first launched Choices, we had about 10 people writing with two new chapters per week. We now have over 30 writers and sometimes release as many as 6 new chapters a week with other new series in production, too. Along with all these writers, we’ve added more artists, producers, testers, and other roles to increasing our capacity for weekly storytelling.

It’s something you can’t see, but when I walk through the doors into our offices, I love hearing the buzz in our office and seeing all the people working together on Choices. And when all the writers assemble for their weekly “Writer’s Meeting,” I still get the chills seeing so many writers gathered around a long table talking about how they can improve their craft together.

So, I hope you really do believe we’ve been investing a lot in growing our team because we treat the future of Choices very seriously.

(As an aside, some people on the team have suggested maybe doing a Fan meet-up in the office - in the Bay Area in California - or maybe sending writers to different book conferences next year, so that maybe some of you can see that growth in person, too.)

Now… The James thing. PB common, you can do better than that. I wouldn’t be upset if you they gave us an actual reason as of why. Also, we need an explanation about what “other characters” means. Will the rest of the character change too? Will it only be a few one’s? I’m replaying every single finished book to find what other faces may have been changed. It has to be done, I don’t want to play The Royal Romance to find you changed Hana’s character appearance just… because.

You are right. We should have told you about the change ahead of time. Also, I wish I could go into more details about the change, but in my previous post, I tried to say as much about why we made the change as I already could. We know this really upset many of you. We understand. It’s our bad for disappointing you.

In regards to “other characters”, we have not rolled out the changes yet, but our Tumblr fandom is pretty clued into what other characters will likely be changed. We will make specific references to those characters when it happens. We will not be changing any other Love Interests (LIs), so Hana and others are safe.

The only book I’m not replaying is ROE, why? Because is a waste to my keys and time. The storyline got old really fast. It was actually a really good story, and I remember the First Book Finale actually left people with their mouths open, but they ruined it when they brought a third book, and now a fourth. I mean, it’s a plot that can be solved with a Snap. Adding more tasks as a way of length[en]ing the story was a stupid move and only brought fans rage. Most fans agree with me when I say: Endless Summer should have as many books as The Freshman, The Crown and The Flame shouldn’t have ended in the third book, The Haunting of Braidwood Manor should’ve been longer, Most Wanted deserves a second book, and even tho The Freshman is my favorite series, The Sophomore plot isn’t going anywhere, it’s like Love Hacks at its beginnings and it’s tiring.

As I mentioned before, Most Wanted 2 must happen. It’s the book every fan is waiting for, including me. It has an amazing storyline with amazing characters, yet, they decided to shut it out, and even erase it from their AppStore/PlayStore menu.

It’s pretty clear that much of the Tumblr fandom has the least love for Rules of Engagement (ROE.) But we have other fan groups and other people who really like this series. Just as we actively try to promote diversity in our characters, we do try to balance the resources we put into genres for various fandoms and individuals playing through our stories. We aim to have something for everyone, and all of our writers pour their hearts into everything they work on.

As the RoE series wrapped up, the writers of ROE moved on to a “mini-book” that would tie the series up in the right way. The book will probably finish too quickly for fans of ROE and not fast enough for fans of other series, but this book length fit the purposes of the story arc. Also because we have such a wide variety of writers, each with their unique storytelling talents and skills, continuing a romance series such as RoE doesn’t actually affect some Tumblr fandom favorites, like Endless Summer or Most Wanted.

Part of what we’re trying to do with Choices is to try new series and genres which is why we sometimes will end, or pause a series faster than fans want so that we can try new things. Most Wanted didn’t do as well financially as our other two launch series, so we moved that team onto Endless Summer and LoveHacks, where they could excel at leading new projects. One of those writers, Andrew, has moved onto managing another project. But Luke continues to be a part of Book 2 and 3 of Endless Summer (which we are aiming to start releasing in December.) And Owen is working on a secret new project, now that LoveHacks has completed!

I really do hope and think that when it makes sense, we will start work on Most Wanted 2. But it will be a matter of the right timing in terms of having one or more of the original team ready and balancing the start of Most Wanted 2 versus other new series we want to start. Dave and Sam will eventually return.

I respect Pixelberry as a company a lot. But with these changes and empty storylines, I just wonder where the old Pixelberry went. It seems like they just ran out of imagination to make stories, so they just continue old ones and create new ones with similar plots but shorter books that in the end everyone likes.

Thank you for respecting us. It’s clear in the thoughtfulness of your “rant” and in the praises and critiques of our fandom. Even when you think we’re ignoring you, we hear many, many of the messages. And I admit that some of the critiques really hurt and sometimes the ones that hurt the most are the ones that ring the most true. But we also recognize the strength of the critiques often is also a measure of how much our fandom cares.

I really, truly hope that as we release new chapters, books, and series that you’ll see that the creative wells of our teams has not run dry. And when a writer is being blocked, a designer is confused by the path forward, or a tester doesn’t know how to reproduce a problem, the creativity of the fandom often breaks that block, clears the path, and helps us keep moving forward. Whether it’s beautiful art, all the “Jomes” jokes, Brian’s Ask Blogs, the many forms of Cetus, faceclaims (yes, it’s okay to keep doing them), and other posts, your creativity motivates us.

As you continue to share on Tumblr or Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, we’ll continue reading, digesting, and modifying our plans. But if you have specific problems or want to ensure we hear what you have to say, I encourage you to contact us directly via our in-game Help. Or if the game is down, reach out via Contact us via our website. We have experienced Player Specialists who listen, solve, tally, describe, and share your thoughts with the right people on our team. They are the first to alert the rest of the team to major problems and Trina, the leader of that team, also shares motivating, poignant, or key messages to the whole studio. Also you can tweet story related questions to @PlayChoices. Jessica will often check with individual writing teams to see if it’s something they can answer. 

To all of our fandom everywhere, thank you for your love. We understood that love isn’t just fun and compliments, but it also comes with teasing and obstacles. And the best love comes with hard talks, accountability, and growth. When we stumble, we promise to honor our side of the relationship by continuing to learn and grow. And we hope that you will continue to rant, tease, and grow with us.

On behalf of our whole team,

Oliver

 

It Lives in the Woods

It Lives Inside Choices.png

BOO! Halloween's almost here, and we at Pixelberry love celebrating the spookiest time of year. We've got pumpkin carving, tons of candy, and a new horror book! The newest Choices book It Lives in the Woods is a nightmarish look at past and present terrors. Can you fight off the monsters that lurk in the woods? And will your friends survive the encounter? It's all up to you in It Lives in the Woods!

I followed the sound of eerie, haunted wails to find the writers all crouched around a single laptop in the woods. To find out what the writers behind It Lives in the Woods have to say, keep reading... if you dare!

It Lives in the Woods is the second horror book in Choices. What is this one about?

Kathleen: Okay without spoiling too much, It Lives in the woods is a lighthearted woodland romp full of fuzzy friends and cool nature facts! It's fun AND educational! ...LOL, JK. Do not go into these woods. There's something in there. Something old and powerful. Something you and your little friends should never have toyed with. Now it's reawoken, and it wants you to come back to play...

Are there any new gameplay features in It Lives in the Woods? What's the deal with Nerve? More specifically, are we all doomed?!

Kathleen: The major one is Nerve Scores, which are basically a measure of how well a character is at dealing with the terrifying stuff happening to/around them. Nerve scores start out high, and are gradually chipped away over the course of the book as things get scarier and scarier. I think horror stories are most compelling when you can see the toll that the scary events are taking on the characters. With Nerve, we're trying to incorporate that feeling in a way that's realistic, but still gives players some control over the outcome (certain choices you make can boost those scores back up!). Other than that, we've got some awesome animations, and a sick new inventory system that I'm really stoked about :D

This is basically standard procedure for Inside Choices at this point, so you know what I'm gonna ask. Who can we date in this book?

Kathleen: So many people, hahaha. We've got guys and gals, tough rebels and popular kids, all super cool (and hot) in their own way.

To be honest, I was pretty freaked out playing the first two chapters. (I may have screamed in the office.) Do you ever scare yourself when you're writing?

Chelsa: Very few things scare me, except for like repaying my student loans and, in general, dolls. I will say I got chills playing some of the scenes in these first few chapters and there was some screaming involved, though less of the scared kind and more of the 'YAAAAASSSS' kind.

Kathleen: Never, except for those times when I was mid-spooky scene and you suddenly tapped on the window that's right next to my desk because you are an EVIL PERSON, JESSICA.

#SorryNotSorry, Kathleen! So in this book, you've got both friends and foes. Who is your favorite character?

Brandon: Ava is really fun (snarky characters all day every day). I'm also enjoying writing for Andy a lot. In general, it's just pretty cool to write for such a diverse cast as It Lives has. It can feel a little scary sometimes—putting these characters through the unsavory stuff that pops up in a horror story, while still trying to be inclusive and respectful—but it's also super important. It's exciting to explore the kinds of characters and subject matter that videogames don't tackle very often.

Chelsa: Ava hands down. Around the office we've been describing her as 'if me and Kathleen had a baby' but somehow more sarcastic? I also really love Britney, but I will never say no to writing a mean girl.

Kathleen: Hahaha, I was gonna say Ava but I had a feeling everyone else would pick her too so I'm gonna talk about someone else. I have a special soft spot for Jocelyn, partially because physically intimidating women are so rare in fiction, and partially because she's a much-needed source of comic relief in a pretty dark story. Here's hoping she learns the error of her ways and stops being such a jerk to people.

What's it like to write for a horror book as opposed to a series belonging to a different genre?

Chelsa: When I first started working for Choices I was asked what my dream book to work on would be and horror was number 2 on my list. Up until now I've been leading The Sophomore, so working on It Lives was definitely a change but one that I couldn't be more excited about! It's been really fun branching out and working in the romance genre, but working with these guys on It Lives feels like getting back to basics.

Brandon: So, when I wrote for The Crown & The Flame, one thing I think I leaned on pretty heavily was a lot of big florid event texts and descriptions. In practice, though, those don't work very well in a horror game, as they really kill the momentum. So that shift has entailed a lot of adjustment. And red ink. And sobbing.

Kathleen: I'm just stoked that I get to use modern slang in dialogue. Writing in fantasy-speak all the time is hard, man.

Sounds like It Lives in the Woods will be the ultimate test of courage. Any final advice for players?

Chelsa: For the maximum spooky experience, PLAY WITH YOUR SOUND ON. I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

Kathleen: Be nice to your friends <3

Brandon: (frantically scribbled in blood) RUN

Yikes! To those reading along: What do you think of the new horror book? With the holidays on the horizon, we've got plenty planned - including a brief return to Rules of Engagement with Newlyweds, a holiday special epilogue, and other new books that might just be set on a certain mysterious island...

-Jessica

Choices Update

As you all know, in recent weeks some of you have been experiencing new game crashes. We're really sorry about this, and hope the game is now working for you after the latest update. Thank you for your patience.

With the new version update, besides the crash fixes, there have been a few changes. That includes an update to James' appearance in The Freshman and The Sophomore. We know that many of you, like us, are very passionate about James. We don’t like changing our characters and didn’t do it simply because we wanted a new look for James. We made changes to James and some other characters, too, so that there would be no doubt that these are fictional characters. We apologize for the abrupt change and any confusion it may have caused.

As always, we appreciate your feedback. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have comments, game support queries, or questions. You can send us a message on Facebook, message our Support Team within the game, or email us at support@pixelberrystudios.com. Thank you for sticking with us and continuing to share new adventures in Choices with us.

-Oliver

LoveHacks Finale

lh inside choices.png

After many jokes, clickbait titles, and San Francisco shenanigans, the #LoveHacks series finale has come and gone. The #LoveHacks story is one that many of us on Team Pixelberry relate to -- that millennial life, amirite? -- and we're sad to see this laugh-out-loud story of friendship and love end. For a final behind-the-scenes look at #LoveHacks, read on:

This Series Finale Will Blow Your Mind! You Won't Believe What These Writers Have To Say -- ah, who am I kidding? I can't do these clickbait titles. So how do you feel now that the series is over?

Megan: It's definitely a bittersweet experience. We've been working on LoveHacks for almost a year now, and while we're proud of what we've done, it feels weird to not be hanging out with Dani, Brooke, Cole, Horatio, Mark, and Sereena each week as we write new chapters.

Owen: Ditto to all of that. Writing LoveHacks felt really unique and was a lot of fun. It's great to move on to different things, but #LH always will hold a special, ridiculous place in my heart.

What did you love about writing #LoveHacks? What did you consider the most challenging part?

Megan: I loved so much about writing LoveHacks, it's hard to choose just one thing! Exploring the different relationships between Dani and Mark, Ben, and Leah was a lot of fun, but I think writing the friendships between the core group was my favorite. The biggest challenge for me was keeping things funny week after week (and trying to keep up with our resident jokester, Owen!).

Owen: I loved getting to write PB's first foray into a sitcom-style story, and being able to push the jokes a bit further. The challenge for me was balancing unbridled tomfoolery with delivering the romance and drama that Choices fans love. Luckily, Megan's an amazing Book Lead and kept us on track... Like, originally, I wanted Cole's real name to be "Cole Minor", so that I could joke that it sounded like "coal miner"... In retrospect, Megan was right to veto that one.

#LoveHacks was chock full of jokes, situational gags, and quirky characters. What was your favorite joke?

Megan: My favorite joke was one Owen wrote:

Owen: I loved the figurative "death" scene we did during the paintball fight! (Also I hadn't written combat in a while, so it was fun to do a nod back to the action sequences and death scenes of Most Wanted and Cause of Death.)

Out of curiosity, who do you think you identify with the most in the #LoveHacks group?

Megan: I identify with our heroine Dani a lot, especially in Book 2. She's at such a crossroads in her life, and there's a lot of freedom in that, but also a lot of stress!

Owen: I like to think that Ben is essentially me, but much hotter and more Korean. This is wishful thinking of course, but I aspire to the ideal of a geek who is charming because of his geekiness, not in spite of it.

Where do you think the #LoveHacks crew is headed after the series finale? What's your headcanon (or is it just canon)?

Megan: A sneak peek at our headcanon of the future... Flash forward to a year later. Dani, Leah, and their blog are kicking butt, and Andi interns for them after school. Ben is preparing to do a Solaris panel at the Seattle HeroCon. Mark and Isaac bond over Isaac's success running Dopey Cat and the sequel, Dopey Cat Bros. Sereena has finally graduated, and Aiyana has moved in with her. The friends meet up for a drink at the Double Tap, and toast together just like old times.

Owen: ...And also Horatio's a cyborg now. 

Give us one last #LoveHack. For old time's sake.

Megan: Be picky. You're worth it.

Owen:  Be as strong as Sereena, but as kind as Horatio. And don't underestimate a good cologne.

What's next for the #LoveHacks team? Tell ussss.

Megan: Sadly, the LoveHacks team is splitting up! (RIP) But I'm really excited about my next project! I can't say much more about it right now, but keep an eye out for something new in the coming months!

Owen: I am a wandering swordsman, going from team to team, wherever the people cry out for a hero. (I'm actually literally doing some writing on Hero with Keyan right now). But soon I'll be teaming up with Coco from the Rules of Engagement team for a different TOP SECRET PROJECT that I am honor-bound not to disclose.

Like Brooke said, this feels like the end of an era. LoveHacks will be missed, but I'm sure the jokes, the friendship, and the spirit of Dopey Cat will live on in my heart and the hearts of many others. To everyone who took the time to read this finale post, thank you! We hope you're looking forward to whatever's next for Choices.

-Jessica

The Royal Romance: Book 2

inside choices trr.png

Just this spring, The Royal Romance: Book 1 kicked off with a dance in the palace ballroom of Cordonia. The whirlwind romance of the first book ended with a courtly plot against you. Who in the court can you trust? And how will you fight back?

All will be answered in Book 2... The Royal Romance will return at the end of September! To read more about the upcoming book, check out the interview with the team behind The Royal Romance below:

Soooo... how's book two of The Royal Romance going? What's next for our Cordonian crew?

Jeffrey: Well, next I'm probably going to go home, cook some vegetables, listen to a podcast, then socialize with some friends through the interwebs--

Oh, you meant the characters, not us. Well... In Book 2, we want to take the main character's journey in a more experimental direction where she really discovers who she is and what she wants. First, she was living under the expectations of her role as a waitress in New York, then she escaped into the trappings of high Cordonian society. Now's her chance to pursue her true self.

Kara: Even though we're not releasing chapters right now, we actually started Book Two right after we finished Book One! I finished writing the last few lines of the Coronation and then immediately started writing the first chapter of Book Two! We actually had to do most of the planning while we were still working on Book One. We've got a lot of fun planned--even though things can get a little dire in the Royal Romance, the fun of being at court and spending time with your friends is still there. We're going to travel the world, meet new people, build a barn, and probably talk more about hats.

It's a pretty big understatement to say Book 1 had quite the cliffhanger. Can you tell us a little bit about where this is going?

Kara: I think the most striking thing about the reactions to the end of book 1 are how people interpret what happened differently. It all happens so quickly, and we only gave people a few lines to read into, but it really isn't very much to go off of. You don't know exactly how the Prince is feeling, or why he picks who he does. From the writers' perspective, we jump right into writing Book Two, so there's not much of a wait. I wish our players didn't have to wait either, because a few weeks of being in suspense can go a long way! In Book Two, you'll be able to finally fight back and figure out who framed you and Tariq in Book One.

Jennifer: I don't want to say exactly where Book Two is going, but questions that were brought up during our brainstorming were: Who sent the blackmail note? Will Olivia come back? Who tried to sell the bachelor party photos?

I need to know. Will we get our happily-ever-after?

Jennifer: I think you can really tell by a writer's favorite novels what kind of outlook they have on endings. My favorite novel is Pride and Prejudice, so you could extrapolate how The Royal Romance will end from that. On the other hand, Kara likes Wuthering Heights, and Jeffrey really likes Hamlet, so... take from that what you will.

Hm... interesting. Now given Olivia's ancestry and other factors, Cordonia is essentially the modern day version of Stormholt from The Crown & The Flame, which had quite a bit of worldbuilding. What does worldbuilding look like for The Royal Romance?

Jeffrey: Worldbuilding is a delicate and intricate process. First, I like to devise an economic system because economics answers a few questions on how we organize ourselves. For The Royal Romance, we developed an export market for the Cordonian apple sector by defining the exchange rate between the Cordonian currency versus the Euro. We have spreadsheets, graphs, and everything. It's very professional. In fact, if you look closely, you can see a subplot where Cordonians attempt to tackle the housing crisis and rising inequality.

Once you have an economic framework which people organize themselves around, you can move on to the stories engrained in the national identity. What do they believe and how do their surroundings and past traditions influence them? What are the dissenting points of view?

With these two pieces in place, you can finally embark on a 10-volume historical record following the rulers of Cordonia, which will prompt a body of work on Cordonian history from the perspective of the common people. When you can recite the third edition of the Encyclopedia Cordonia, the writing can begin.

Jennifer: Jeffrey will be publishing his next novel, "Cordonia: An In-Depth Look At A Glorious Peoples" in Spring of 2028.

Very funny. (Just so we're clear, Jeffrey is joking. Sort of.) Out of curiosity, who's your favorite character to write in The Royal Romance?

Kara: I love writing Maxwell. In the first draft of The Royal Romance Chapter 1, he actually didn't exist, and Bertrand was your only host. But that world felt too flat and un-fun. I realized we needed someone more playful to be opposite of Bertrand, so that's how Maxwell was born! (He was originally just "Nobleman 2"). Right away, everything in the group felt like it finally clicked, and everything got a lot more fun to write. Even though we had to do a lot of last minute changes to the plot, I think it was worth it. Now he's such a major part of the book that it's hard to imagine a world without him! I also love writing Hana and Maxwell together because they're both very sweet and playful but in very opposite ways. Hana also kind of reminds me of Jennifer and Jessica in some ways... XD

Actually, it's very striking to me how each of the three Royal Romance writers for Book One has influenced the world and cast. Jennifer gives everything a touch of formality and courtly grace, and Jeffrey brings in a lot of wacky humor about horses and hats and poodles. If I've added anything, it's probably making Bertrand meaner, throwing in more silly group moments with your crew, and probably having Drake drink too much whiskey. (I don't even like whiskey.) But overall, it's really thrilling to see the world and the characters that come out of this combination.

Jeffrey: Madeleine. It's fun to write someone who's constantly trying to spin a situation to their benefit, and making power plays along the way. I've actually been writing for Madeleine since her appearance in Rules of Engagement: Book 2, so we're practically besties.

And who's your favorite love interest? *wink* *nudge*

Kara: I love them all! I probably end up writing the most Drake, but I often get to write some of the Prince's speeches to you, and I love how considerate and loving he is. There's nothing selfish or mean about him. He's the kind of person that you'd want to be around in real life.

Jennifer: In my personal game, my love interest is definitely Drake, and I totally make Kara write him just so I can read his scenes and enjoy the romance. =) Writing-wise, I enjoy Hana the most because I feel like we have a lot in common, and some of her struggles with trying to please while simultaneously trying to figure out what will make her the most happy in the long-run really resonate with me.

Is there anything you'd like to tell the fans before Book 2's release?

Jennifer: We hope you'll enjoy the twists and turns we have planned for Book Two!

😱 🤔 Well, that's something to look forward to! To everyone reading along: Check back at the end of September for the start of The Royal Romance: Book 2! And as always, we've got more on the way...

-Jessica

High School Story in Choices

hss pics.png

As longtime Pixelberry fans know, Pixelberry's journey started with the game High School Story. The same team behind Cause of Death and Surviving High School launched High School Story back in August of 2013. Since then, the Pixelberry family has grown and found new ways to share our love for storytelling.

When Choices first launched, we called our first few books the spiritual successors to SHS and CoD. Over a year later, things have truly come full circle with the release of High School Story in Choices. As the original game (fondly called "HSS Prime" around the office) continues, we are so excited to bring the adventure, drama, and romance of high school into the Choices universe.

What ties this story together even more perfectly is the team behind the new High School Story book... Last winter, Oliver wrote on our blog about one of our new writers, Wendy. Before she joined the Pixelberry team, she was a High School Story fan. She started out writing for The Freshman, but now she writes for the Choices version of High School Story. She -- along with Rachel, another new fan-turned writer, and Max, the original writer for Surviving High School -- has been working on Book 1 for the last few months. (Fun fact: Max first started writing with the team back when he was in college. And yes, he's the namesake of HSS Max... but they're total opposites in temperament!)

For more on the High School Story journey, keep reading for our behind-the-scenes writer interview...

Let's start at the very beginning. What's your experience with High School Story? Specifically the game, not the Choices book.

Max: I loved writing for HSS Prime. One of my favorite quests to write was 'Hope's Story,' which spearheaded our anti-cyberbullying efforts. I loved the original HSS for its blend of humor, heartfelt earnestness, romance, hijinks, and social consciousness. I'm hoping that we've carried that spirit over into HSS within Choices.

Wendy: I started playing the game back in 2013, shortly after it launched, and it quickly became my not-so-guilty pleasure. It's a lighthearted, idealized game, but the challenges the characters faced were grounded in reality in a way that really surprised and impressed me. I never got to write for the game, but I have played it faithfully ever since launch. Working on this new book has been a fangirl's dream come true.

Rachel: So I was a fan of HSS Prime from day one. I remember downloading it the first day it came out on the App Store after I heard about it from the old Surviving High School and Cause of Death days. When I started working for Pixelberry, I had the chance to write for both High School Story and Hollywood U before moving over to HSS for Choices! It's been a fun journey from fan to writer.

Can you give us a quick introduction to the High School Story book? What's it all about?

Wendy: It's been two years since the original HSS game, and a lot has changed. You play as Jordan, a new student who just moved into town, and help him or her make friends, find love, and navigate the always-crazy world of high school.

How does the Choices version of High School Story differ from the original? Will we see any familiar faces? Like, are we gonna see Nishan? This is important. He's my fave.

Max: The biggest challenge of writing HSS for Choices was to make a world that both rewarded returning fans and welcomed new ones. Our ultimate strategy was to feature our existing beloved characters like Sakura, Julian, Wes, and (of course) Nishan, but to also introduce several new, younger characters that could take up the torch and live their own story. I think we ended up with something that's a natural extension of the HSS world that can be enjoyed by new and old fans alike.

Wendy: To me, the biggest difference came about with the shift in genre. In the original game, you were a student at the school, but you were also the founder, and a huge aspect of gameplay was building the school from the ground up and recruiting new students. This time, you're a new student trying to find their place in a world that already exists. In that sense, the game has much more in common with The Freshman than it does with the original HSS.

While this story mainly focuses on a new cast of characters, you'll definitely see some familiar faces! Most of the major characters (including Nishan) from the original game appear in this one as upperclassmen, and a few even have a major effect on the plot. We're also introducing some family members of the original characters, such as Ezra's brother, Caleb, and Nishan's cousin, Myra.

With the original High School Story and Hollywood U, one of our guiding principles has always been to create stories with heart and a positive message. How does that translate to the new High School Story book?

Rachel: I think this has definitely carried over into High School Story for Choices! You'll get a chance to cheer up your friends and be the person to rally everyone together. It might be your first day at a new school when you start out, but if you make the right choices, I can guarantee you'll leave a lasting impression on the school.

At this point, it's practically an Inside Choices tradition to ask, but... who can we date in High School Story? The public must know!

Max: Oh man. This is something that almost broke us, but we've created FIVE dateable characters in HSS (usually for a new book, we max out at three!). In addition, you can play as a guy or a girl! This all led to a massive amount of extra coding and writing, but in a game called 'Choices' we felt like we should be pursuing a truly customized player experience. I think we've delivered that with HSS.

Who's your favorite High School Story character to write? That goes for the original HSS cast or the new HSS. (If we're talking original HSS, mine's Nishan. I'm just gonna keep bringing up Nishan. #Nishan4Life)

Wendy: I have so many feelings about Maria, the type-A leader of the homecoming committee. Teenage girls are not only expected to be pretty, smart, popular, and successful, they're also expected to make it look easy. Maria's story is about realizing it's okay not to live up to that standard.

Rachel: I absolutely love writing the dad! He's so awkward and dorky in such a lovable way! Plus, I love coming up with the dad jokes! I can only hope I make my own father proud... Besides the dad, Frank is a lot of fun to write. He may be a huge defensive football player, but inside, he's a lovable teddy bear who just wants to have fun. I wish I had Frank the Tank as a best friend in high school!

With Book 1 out in the wild, what are you working on now?

Wendy: No spoilers, but we've got some seriously cool plot twists planned. Stay tuned! (Do you say stay tuned for video games? Ah well, you know what I mean!)

Yay, can't wait! We hope High School Story fans will enjoy this fresh spin on the HSS world... and we hope Choices fans will check out the original HSS game! If you haven't started the newest Choices book, what are you waiting for? The first day of school is here, and the possibilities are endless.

-Jessica, Level 8 Nerd and Wallflower

Hero

hero inside choices.png

It's a bird... it's a plane... it's the latest Choices book! Summer has come and gone at Pixelberry, but that doesn't mean we're taking a vacation from new stories! The Choices team has been working on Hero for a while, and we're excited that we get to share it with all of you. To get the scoop on Hero, I talked to our resident superhero team...

Let's start with an introduction. What is Hero? Who is the, ahem, hero of Hero?

Keyan: Hero is the story of someone who’s granted extraordinary powers and confronted with the question of how best to use them. We’ve all dreamt of having superpowers... this story lets you decide just what kind of hero you want to be!

Hero is the first superhero story we’ve had in Choices. What has your experience been with superhero comics?

Royal: I was pretty fortunate. When I was little, my grandfather bought me The Smithsonian Guide to Comic Book Comics. I don’t think he actually understood what he was giving me, but that collection contained some of the finest comics ever printed. From the first appearance of Superman and Batman to classic EC war and horror stories. That book was a treasure -- page for page, maybe the best book on comics ever printed. From that point on, I was hooked. I’ve been reading comics voraciously ever since.

So... can I date a superhero? Asking for a friend.

Royal: Yes, you can. Turns out, you can marry one too! My wife is superhumanly kind, smart, and beautiful, so I know it’s possible.

Keyan: Come on, you don’t really think we’d write a superhero story and NOT let you date a superhero, do you? Of course, it might take you a few chapters to actually meet some of these characters...

If you could be a superhero, what would your powers be?

Royal: I already have a minor superpower. I demagnetize credit cards, and I constantly shock myself and other people. But if I could have anything... flight. Who doesn’t want to throw a bunch of clothes in a backpack and just jet away to a tropical island? So either that, or limited precognition.

Keyan: I’ll take time travel! Sure, there are all those pesky temporal paradoxes to worry about, but it’s hard to resist the appeal of traversing humanity’s past, present, and future at will. Imagine how much more value you’d get out of every vacation - instead of listening to some tour guide drone on about the Coliseum, you could just zip back through time and experience it firsthand! Hmm, maybe that’s a bad example...

Mayyybe. If you haven't already, definitely crack open your Choices app and check out Hero, available now! If you're caught up on the latest chapter, tell us who your favorite superhero so far is. Of course, the Choices team has more exciting stuff on the way for you - both in Hero, and in Choices - so keep an eye out! 

-Jessica
 

Rules of Engagement: Book 3

Since it launched last fall, Rules of Engagement has been going full steam ahead. Now on its third book, the trilogy is settling the question of your nana's inheritance, once and for all. Will true love prevail? Are you headed for married bliss or total disaster? And can your siblings figure things out in time? All will be answered in the upcoming Rules of Engagement chapters!

A chat with the Rules of Engagement writers has been long past due, so here they are! To get a behind-the-scenes peek at Rules of Engagement, read on...

I remember the feeling of excitement in the air when Rules of Engagement was being brainstormed as the first book to follow up the initial three in Choices. How did you come up with Rules of Engagement? Where did you want to go with it?

Kara: I was still working on TC&TF, which was a trilogy, so it felt right to think of this one as a trilogy too. With how big the cast was, I think it would've been hard to do justice to all of the characters and plots that we had planned in a shorter amount of time. We knew we wanted to get another book out fast, so we didn't have too much time going into it. We brainstormed each sibling's plot separately, which was a lot of world building, but we were really happy with how different each story came out. We knew we wanted Rules to have more crazy twists and drama than the other books, so it was really fun trying to come up with those, but mostly I just fell in love with all of the characters and telling all of their stories.

Jennifer: I remember when we were first brainstorming, one of the themes we wanted to touch upon was the theme of family. That's why the siblings are so close, and I think the idea of keeping the family together was what inspired all of Nana's zany requests. Even though Nana's will seems pushy, I always thought, at the heart of it, what she wanted most was to see everyone happy which is why the tasks push them to making such drastic changes in their lives.

Coco: I didn't join the Rules team until later on in Book 1, but I know they wanted to create a book that enabled players to travel often and see new places! Because cruise ships are so mobile, the Ember of the Sea was an ideal setting. I have an uncle that worked briefly as a pianist on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean, so I drew a little bit from my experience when I visited him! Getting to write about travel adventures was one of the aspects that excited me the most, and I can't wait to show the different places we'll go next!

What's new about Book 3? How do you think the series has changed?

Coco: In Book 3, players get to plan different aspects of their wedding from the vows to the decorations! The finale will be fun either way, but the art and events change depending on your choices, and our artists did a great job. I hope this gives a more customizable and personal feel to your wedding day!

We also reveal a bit more about the backstory of the family members, particularly your aunt and your cousin. In particular, how you choose to treat your cousin will affect your playthrough and ending of the series. I have something of a soft spot for cousin -- she's so snarky and fun to write, but she's also been through a lot. I'm looking forward to developing these characters more and revealing new dimensions to them.

Since this is Rules of Engagement, we've gotta talk romance. Who would you date in Rules of Engagement?

Ariel: Actually, the Rules of Engagement writers each have a different favorite suitor. There's no lack of love for any of our leading lady's prospective fiances! We often joke about which writer is the leader of their favorite guy's fan club and who's the hottie of the Ember of the Sea, but at the end of the day, each suitor has their own strengths designed to make us swoon. The businessman appeals to those who want to get swept off their feet and enjoy grand gestures, while the prince is perfect for anyone who loves adventure and being spontaneous, and last but not least, the bartender speaks to those who desire that confidante who always knows how to make them laugh.

Coco: Ariel came up with a very diplomatic answer, but don't be fooled! She's Team Bartender all the way! :P I have to agree with her; I think falling in love with your best friend sounds like the ideal. However, I think the prince is the most fun to write because he's the most rebellious.

Jennifer: I originally wrote for and have a soft spot for the businessman. But if I could personally date anyone in Rules, it would be the older brother, Alex, because I always find his chapters hilarious.

Aside from the cruise and the massive inheritance, a good chunk of Rules of Engagement ties into real life. There's the ups and downs of dating, figuring out your future and identity, being there for your family... How do you relate to the story? And how does that influence your writing?

Kara: Rules has always been close to my heart because I was able to put a lot of my own family experience into the story. I'm the youngest of four, with an older brother and two older sisters--I guess maybe that makes me the Jess? Also, like the Rules siblings, I'm biracial, though I'm half Chinese and they're half Filipino Chinese. Growing up in a big family, I've always loved sibling dynamics and how each person can be related and have these shared experiences of childhood, but also have their own personality that they bring to the table. I think what I like most about Rules is that the siblings all love and support each other so much. That's what I've always loved about my own family. We're each off doing our own things in life, but deep down, we're a team and we always have each other's backs. I really wanted the Rules siblings to have that same feel.

Jennifer: I relate to the story on many levels which is why it's so near and dear to my heart. Having a close family is a big one like Kara was saying. My nuclear family isn't that big, but I grew up with my sister and my cousins, so it felt that way. That made it super fun to write the sibling scenes, particularly the ones where you get dressed with your sisters or stay up late to giggle in your room talking about life (and boys). Another big one is that my own family is Chinese but grew up in the Philippines, so the blend of those two cultures was something we decided to put into the family's background. And of course, I drew on my own experience dating (eep!) when it came to capturing the excitement of meeting someone for the first time and realizing you're falling in love as well as portraying the doubts and thoughts that crop up as you're discovering who you are in that relationship and how you relate to the other person.

A key part of the whole inheritance task deal is that each sibling has to learn something - whether its responsibility, spontaneity, or discovering true love. Which of Nana's lessons speak to you the most?

Coco: I think I'm somewhere halfway between the twins Jess and Nicole (perhaps most people are?), so I'm not sure that either of their tasks fits me perfectly. But I think all of the inheritance tasks were their nana's way of guiding the cousins along to the future in the best way she knew how. As a 20-something who recently graduated college (ugh, a millenial, I know), I can definitely relate to them in terms of trying to figure out my next step and where to go from here. I feel like the summer tasks give the cousins a chance to experiment and explore, whether it's with careers, love, adventure, or independence, as well as learn that these don't all have to be mutually exclusive.

Jennifer: Of all the siblings, I'm the most like Nicole in that, when I was younger, I wanted ultimate control of my life. In college, I had a very detailed plan to become a doctor and save the world, so I think it's funny that I became a writer for Pixelberry. Of course, writing was such a big part of my life growing up--I started when I was six and kept writing throughout high school. I'm surprised I didn't embrace that side of myself earlier, but I think I was a little afraid since so much of writing is putting yourself out there. I guess what I learned and tried to put into the Nicole arc is that life throws you so many curveballs, that some spontaneity and a little bit of courage is necessary for you to figure out what you want most and to go for it.

What do we have to look forward to with the rest of Book 3? What are you most excited about?

Jennifer: Planning your wedding! =) Also, I hope people enjoy the conclusion as much as we enjoyed brainstorming it. There's something very satisfying about tying up loose ends.

Coco: There's plenty to look forward to, like new ports to visit, new outfits, new characters, new animations, and also a few new romances for the supporting characters! In the first two books, we wanted to give you more of an opportunity to go on different dates and have fun, but in Book 3, you'll hopefully get to know your special, chosen fiancé on a deeper level. I'm probably most excited about bachelorette/bachelor party shenanigans, but also a few things that I can't quite share with you yet! ;)

As we reach the conclusion of the series, thanks to everyone who has been traveling on the cruise ship with us, from the several writers who have moved on to new projects, and of course, to the players! We hope you've had fun escaping to the Mediterranean with us.

Be sure to check back Wednesdays for new chapters of Rules of Engagement: Book 3! Where do you think the cruise will go next?

-Jessica

The Crown & The Flame

With Choices nearing its one year anniversary, The Crown & The Flame trilogy has come to an end. It's been an epic year-long journey for Kenna, Dom, and the rest of their ragtag crew. As one of the first books to launch with Choices, the team behind TC&TF started work on it long before August. Months later, saying farewell to one of our first series feels like saying good-bye to an old friend.

The team has weathered marathon brainstorms and late-night writing sessions, and celebrated epic plot twists and awesome character art. With the final chapter in the rearview mirror, the writers of TC&TF took the time to reflect and reminisce...

The Crown & The Flame trilogy is over, and it's been quite the journey. How do you feel?

Kathleen: Super weird. It kinda feels like graduating from college, actually. Like, you've been immersed in this cool new world for so long and surrounded by these people you've grown to love (even though Val's always stealing your food and Dom wants to party all the time instead of doing homework), and you get so attached that you kind of forget there's a world outside. Now graduation is looming and half of me is like "oh thank goodness" but the other half is going "WAIT, NO, I LIKE IT HERE, AAAAA".

Eric: So many feelings! Sad because I’ve dedicated so many hours to TC&TF, and it’s like saying goodbye to close friends. Happy because we were fortunate enough to get to create this whole world from scratch! Proud because I feel we’ve brought the series to a satisfying conclusion. And of course grateful for the fans, whose passion for it made Books 2 and 3 a reality.

Since we're at the end, why not talk about beginnings? How did TC&TF first come about? What were the early days like?

Kathleen: Lot of brainstorming, LOT of revisions. The first story that we outlined was much more focused on courtly intrigue, less so on the action. It looked totally different from the version of TC&TF that exists today, but there are a few relics from that first version that we kept because we loved them so much. For instance, Sei Rhuka was one of the first characters we created for that earlier story, and she survived the move to TC&TF pretty much unchanged (because what would you change? She's perfect).

There were some late nights, and times when I definitely thought I was gonna crack under the stress. Fortunately I had Eric and Kara, two heroes of legend, fighting by my side.

Kara: The first draft of TC&TF was written under so much pressure and at such a frantic pace that it was nothing like the book that ended up being released. To give you an example of how much things change, Val Greaves, everyone's favorite mercenary, was originally a male character just named Mercenary. Kathleen had the idea of making her a woman, and then the character of Val really started to emerge as the snarky, mean voice that the cast was currently lacking.

Another thing that came about because of that time was just the incredible trust between the writers. On most products, there's a more formal process of logging changes, but because we were so short on time, we were just actively editing each other's work, and I think we managed to get through that without killing each other, so it really says a lot about how well we work together! Sometimes you write your first draft and you don't realize how much better it can be until you take a step back. I wrote a scene once where Dom is carrying a sack of flour down the castle hallway, and I thought, this is boring, I'll add in a choice. Oh, I'll give the choice a timer! Then I realized I'd just made a minigame about carrying a sack of flour. So I cut the whole thing. But sometimes it isn't until you write the scene that you realized you're going down a bad or boring path. The early days were a lot of that.

We rewrote a lot of things together, but it was such a privilege to work with Kathleen and Eric on creating this world. It was amazing when we reached a point where we'd revised and revised and revised and finally felt like we'd burned away everything that was boring or not working and all that was left was even stronger than it had been before.

Eric: Hectic! It's one thing to write a book now, knowing what Choices looks like, but back then we were writing with placeholder art (everyone was Queen Adriana!) and we just had no idea what was going to work and what wasn't.

Also, I echo everything Kara said above about trust. So many times I wrote a thing and thought, "Oh gods, I'm a fraud! I'm a terrible writer!" and then had either Kara or Kathleen or Jessica swoop in and turn my garbage into gold. Having the safety net of a great team makes standing on the tightrope a lot more fun.

Strong world building is crucial to any good fantasy story. That ranges from history and culture to what you yell when you stub your toe. What was the worldbuilding process like for the Five Kingdoms?

Kathleen: You start super general (place names, general time period/level of tech, climate), then build your details on top of that. Every detail comes from somewhere, everything is the way it is for a reason. In those early stages it helped us to give each of the kingdoms a "thing" that they're known for. For Fydoria, it's knowledge and art, for Thorngate, it's trees and archery, for Lykos, it's jerks and backstabbers, lol.

That gave you a jumping off point for what these people would be like, and how they relate to the other kingdoms. We were also very deliberate about what colors and styles of clothing the different kingdoms would wear, which I was really into. It's great to look at a character and immediately know whose team they're on (or whose team they want you to think they're on...)

Then you take your pages and pages of notes to the artists, and they do some kind of beautiful magic that turns your dreams into something real you can look at. We work with some AMAZING artists. I have the Aurelian castle set as my computer's wallpaper because I like to stare at it all day.

Eric: Ditto what Kathleen said. The incredible art helps tremendously with this process. Sometimes we'd get a piece of art back and it'd be SOOOOO good that it'd inspire us to go in a new direction. That kind of moment (like with Val) is really special.

What did you consider the most challenging part of writing TC&TF?

Kathleen: Not making every chapter 5,000 lines long, haha. I have issues with writing these super long, flowery dialogues, but thankfully Eric is there to keep me in check. It can also be hard to find a character's voice sometimes, especially if you and that character don't have a lot in common.

Eric: Keeping Kathleen in check. HA! Seriously, though, we had a HUUUUGE cast, and all of the characters have compelling backstories and fun voices and fans on social media. Trying to make sure everyone got ample screentime (while still telling a good story) was tough.  

Going off of that, what were your favorite scenes to write in TC&TF? (Spoiler alert!)

Kathleen: Oh man. I'm a mean person who loves writing the super intense emotional climaxes where everyone is crying and screaming at each other. So basically the whole Whitlock/Hex arc. One of my favorite writing moments though was when I was working on that kraken scene in book 2 and I had to turn to my boyfriend and say "Hey, what sound does a kraken make?" Boyfriend: "<kraken sound>" Me: "Yeah... but like, how do you spell that?"

Kara: My favorite scene to write was a dream sequence where Kenna and Dom get married, because I got to jump around in different scenarios and it felt a lot like fan fiction in the best way. But my second favorite was when Val has to pretend to be a handmaiden for Zenobia Nevrakis. I loved the idea of getting to see from Val's point of view as she has to infiltrate this girly world of gowns and bodices. She's usually a character who's seen it all and can handle anything, so it was fun to get her out of her element for once.

Brandon: I had a major blast with the entire final battle, but I have a special place in my heart for the scene between Luther and Kenna in Chapter 13. I love when you get to shine the spotlight on a bad guy, in a way that makes you almost sympathize with them...but not quite.

Eric: By far, the action scene where Dom turns into a dragon for the first time. I was actually writing from my apartment, and I was like, "If I turned into a dragon, what would be the most fun, badass things I could do?" (Cut to me flapping my arms through the air as I run around my apartment breathing imaginary fire on unsuspecting Nevrakis boats...) It was silly, but I did get some good stuff outta that.

TC&TF is filled with so many different villains, heroes, and everyone in between. Who was your favorite character to write?

Kathleen: I have a soft spot for terse warrior types who just have no time for your nonsense, so writing Sei is always super fun. She behaves the way we all sort of wish we could, except she can get away with it because she's crazy strong and can light you on fire with her mind.

Brandon: Oof, tough choice. I think we all have a lot of fun writing Val (because who doesn't love that character who gives the bad guy the finger?). Personally, though, my favorites to write have been the Nevrakis, specifically Luther and Zenobia. Zenobia is just so annoyed and out of place most of the time, which is fun to play with. She's like, "Ugghhh, dragons? Really? Whatever." It's like she stepped in off the set of Mean Girls. And Luther is just such a fun jerk. He's got sort of a cynical wisdom, but also has zero self-awareness and is totally unapologetic for any of the ruthless stuff he's done. That is a character I really love to hate.

Eric: Severin. I felt like his art asset was really imposing, and his character represented this first challenge for Kenna on this impossible path. It was fun to make him this physical, monosyllabic, gruff presence that couldn't be reasoned with. She'd have to eventually fight him in combat to prove herself. Plus, he's kinda dumb, and I love writing dumb characters. Alas, no one seems to care much for Severin...

In a way, TC&TF lives on in The Royal Romance. Olivia in TRR is a descendant of Zenobia, for one thing. If Kenna and Dom and the rest of the crew were around now in present day Cordonia, what do you think they'd be like?

Kathleen: Kenna is super responsible and runs her Kingdom like a proper adult, but when she gets frustrated with politics she dreams of running away to tour with Val and Sei's metal band (Damsels of Destruction). Kailani just won like, 12 olympic medals for weightlifting and martial arts. During the off season she and Noa split their time between running a gym and touring with Cirque du Soleil. Whitlock runs one of those tech companies that does supersonic maglev trains and smart dishwashers and stuff. He's totally gonna colonize Mars. This is fun, I wanna do this all day!

To write fantasy, you had to know the fantasy genre pretty well. What makes the fantasy genre special to you? And what are some of your favorite books?

Kathleen: I was raised on a diet of Grimm fairy tales and Greek legends (which probably explains a lot about me). I love the fantasy genre because you take these wild, magical worlds that look completely different from anything we know, and use them to explore themes that are really close to home (coming of age, sacrifice, family, etc). Fantasy is a dramatic metaphor for real life. Because I'm a huge nerd, I dig fantasy books that have logical, internally-consistent magic systems. Sabriel by Garth Nix is hands down my favorite book, but the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede was the first series I got super into. Arglefraster!

Eric: When I was little, I wanted to play Dungeons & Dragons with the older kids in my neighborhood, but they wouldn't let me play. That led me to this one book (I don't remember the name) that was basically like single-player D&D. It had a page where you kept track of your hit points, potions, etc. It was incredibly nerdy, but also the awesomest book I'd ever experienced. Little did I know it was paving the way for my career.

Pixelberry was the first place where I really felt comfortable letting my inner nerd loose. I finally got to not only play D&D (we ran a campaign after hours), but to write something within a similar world...

What's next for The Crown & The Flame team? Can you give us a hint about what you'll be working on after this?

Kathleen: *Evil cackling, hands rubbing together in glee* Ahem. I don't want to give anything away, but I will say that I seem to have been typecast as a genre writer and I am 100% okay with this.

Eric: No hints. We're definitely not planning something for Halloween.

Ooh, intriguing... To all the fans of The Crown & The Flame, thank you for coming with us on this epic journey! Check back every week for more Choices adventures!

-Jessica

The Sophomore

Last month, The Freshman ended on a high note at the Aurora music festival after a road trip with your friends. Now it's time to head back to school in The Sophomore! To make The Sophomore happen, the team behind The Freshman worked around the clock to set the scene for your second year of college. With the new book out in the wild, I managed to grab its writers for a few questions:

What does The Sophomore have in store for everyone?

Chelsa: We don’t want to spill all the beans, but I think we can safely say that it’s going to be a whole lot of fun! Sophomore year is when a lot of people work on finding themselves and figuring out their passions. We really tried to progress the storyline with the idea that these characters have been together at Hartfeld for over a year and show that through their personal and professional growth.

What's new and different about The Sophomore? How does The Sophomore put a fresh spin on The Freshman?

Saran: All your favorite characters will be back, but they’re slowly growing and changing, of course. We’re introducing a new ‘encouragement’ system that allows you to help your friends follow their dreams—and they’ll be inclined to help you in return. The biggest new feature is the introduction of the closet where you can see the full head-to-toe look of your outfit, just like in #LoveHacks. We’re also really excited about some new songs for the soundtrack debuting in this book!

Will we be meeting any new friends? Love interests? *wink wink*

Maya: It wouldn’t be a Sophomore book if you didn’t! There are some new faces coming in this book, both friends and enemies alike. As far as love interests go, you’ll just have to play and find out. Some Freshman players already know who your emerging love interest is, and boy do we have plans for her. There may even be new possibilities for some of your single friends!

What I loved about The Freshman was the way a group of unlikely friends were there for each other through the ups and downs of college life. More serious topics have been tackled in recent books. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Saran: Be warned: Spoilers up through Freshman Book 4 ahead! I think the college years are important for many because it’s a time of self-discovery and personal growth. In the last book, we delved into Zack’s breakup, Zig coming out to your friends as bisexual, and Becca struggling with her parents’ divorce. We wanted to show that these are part of the normal ups and downs of life. For players with similar experiences, we hope they’ll see that they’re not alone and others have gone through the same things.

Chelsa: I personally feel pretty lucky that the rest of my team feels as passionate and dedicated to some of these more delicate issues as I do. I suffer from anxiety myself, and have had many friends suffer similar breakdowns to the ones that haunt Zack in book four, and I hope that we showed people that it’s really, really important to create a conversation about it, especially with the people that love you.

Maya: It feels great when you’re represented in media you care about, and when it comes to bisexuality, too often it’s a sexuality that’s erased or skirted around. Regarding Zack, it was heartwarming to see how many players picked up on what he was experiencing and were full of support. We want to continue trying our best to dispel stigmas through our writing.

Who's your favorite character to write in The Freshman (well, now The Sophomore)?

Chelsa: My favorite character is Zig, definitely! I had so much fun putting together his look and personality when he was created for Book 3. I even have some Tumblr fanart of him as my phone background right now.

Saran: I’ve always been a fan of Twombly, myself! I appreciate her friendliness and comedic relief.

Maya: Becca! I’m so excited about the story arc we have planned for her in The Sophomore. She can be such a brat, but since meeting you, she’s developed this inexplicable urge to sometimes be... nice? What in the world is happening to her?!

For some of us, playing The Sophomore means reliving our college years. What was your favorite part of college?

Chelsa: Probably my Freshman year when I lived in the college dorms. One of the crappy things about adulting is all of your friends are busy with their careers, or live in different cities, or are getting married. I miss the days where if you were bored, you just went and knocked on the door next to you.

Maya: I personally really enjoyed my classes - what a nerd!! I also loved finding myself in this new place where I could be whoever I wanted. I remember walking to class at the beginning of my freshman year and telling myself ‘you are a smart, confident, beautiful person, and nobody here knows you well enough to think otherwise’. I basically faked it until I felt it, and then continued to build this sense of self throughout college.

Any tips or wisdom for current college students?

Chelsa: Something I still think works well for me outside of school is to remember to give yourself a break every once in a while. Sometimes the best way to study for a test or finish an essay is to take a step back and do something you enjoy for a little while. Staring at the same problem for hours doesn’t help you solve that problem. Also, if you’re not a morning person, don’t take a 7 am class. You will not get up for that 7 am class.

Saran: Get more sleep, don’t skip class, and take advantage of all the opportunities around you (seriously, there are endless resources on campus for finding internships, residencies, study abroad programs, grants, and more, and tons of people who will help you with any of them). Go forth and conquer!

To everyone reading along, what are your thoughts on The Sophomore? Let us know! And be sure to check into your game for new weekly chapters and more. The summer isn't over yet, and we've got more on the way!

-Jessica

#LoveHacks: Book 2

It's summer here at Pixelberry! That means ice cream breaks, duckling sightings, and new Choices books! We've got a few coming out this summer. The Royal Romance was the first of these. Endless Summer will be released around the middle of the summer. And LoveHacks: Book 2 is out now! (That's not all we have planned, but the rest remains a surprise.)

This week, I scooted on over to the other side of the office to get the lowdown from the LoveHacks team:

LoveHacks ended on quite the cliffhanger. Like, who's getting married? What?! Tell me!

Megan: No spoilers! :P You'll have to wait to find out like everyone else, but we are really excited for the wedding!

Owen: I can tell you it's not Martin and it's not Aiden. From there, you are free to use the process of elimination.

Okay, now that that's out of the way... what will LoveHacks: Book 2 be about?

Megan: At the start of Book 2, Dani is in a very unsure time in her life. She moved back to the Bay for a job she just quit, and she's trying to start a company in a city that eats startups for brunch. If that weren't enough, her love life is at a major crossroads. A lot of twenty-somethings face this kind of uncertainty, and we wanted to capture the humor of it (because sometimes the only way to deal with major life decisions is to laugh about them). Of course, Dani's not the only one facing new challenges in Book 2, and we have a lot of new stories planned, especially for Ben, Leah, and Mark.

Owen: Yup. Something happens to shake up pretty much all of the character's lives. For some of them it's work, for some of them it's dating, and for some of them perhaps a minor amount of property damage.

Ooh, can't wait to read more! So what part of Book 2 are you most excited for?

Megan: The Closet! Our artists do an amazing job with the outfits, and Dani has never looked more fashionable. Plus, if you carry over your choices from Book 1 to Book 2, you'll keep all of the outfits you purchased!

Owen: The new characters! Exclamation point! Guys, they're pretty cool. And some funny plot lines are coming along with them.  

Half the fun of LoveHacks is the revolving cast of characters and their adventures in San Francisco. Who's your favorite character to write?

Megan: I love everyone, but I think my favorite character to write is... Brooke. She's so upbeat and fun, but she can also kick your butt, literally. I also love the friendship between Brooke, Sereena, and Dani. Often the media portrays female friendships as toxic or fake, ready to fall apart at the mention of a man, but these women truly love each other and want to lift each other up. They still tease each other, of course, but in a only-I-can-say-that kinda way.

Owen: It's hard for me not to say Sereena or Cole, because they deliver some of my favorite jokes, but I think my answer is Ben. It's rare to see a "geek" in the media that isn't a nerdy caricature, so getting to write a geek that was natural and confident and charming was pretty cool. Also, it's even MORE rare to see an Asian male love interest, so TAKE THAT, MEDIA.

Give me a #LoveHack. You have five seconds. Go!

Megan: Drink lots of water. Works for both life and love. :P

Owen: Be more attractive. Lolz jk. Just be more confident. Lolz jk again. Just be yourself. That other stuff is too hard.

#Truth. Thanks for chatting! If you're reading this, I hope you're also playing the first chapter of LoveHacks: Book 2, out now!

-Jessica