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...
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!