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