The Far Shore: Indie Games, Superbrothers, and the Making of JETT

My book The Far Shore: Indie Games, Superbrothers, and the Making of JETT — which I started writing in 2013 — was published by Coach House Books on November 16th, 2021.

Please support your local independent book shop by buying it from them, or buy it directly from Coach House, an amazing and amazingly independent press (more on this here!). You can also buy it from Amazon, of course! Amazon US, Amazon Canada, Amazon UK.

You can read more about the background of the book, and the thinking that went into it, in my December 2021 Opinion piece in The Globe and Mail (the PDF is here, and an image of the print version is here).

Coach House describes the book as follows:

The genius and artistry behind Superbrothers and the making of an indie video game, from inception to its highly anticipated launch. 

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery was released in 2011 at the forefront of an exciting era of “indie games” – with the aesthetic of punk rock and the edge of modernist fiction, indie games pushed gaming into the realm of the avant-garde. Superbrothers (Craig D. Adams) was hailed as a visionary in the video game world. 

Now, his long-awaited follow-up, JETT: The Far Shore, has been released for Sony PlayStation and Epic Games Store. In the decade from inception to launch, Adams brought author Adam Hammond along for the ride, allowing unprecedented insight into the complicated genesis of Jett. 

The Far Shore offers a portrait of the enigmatic Adams and his team, the genius and artistry, the successes and setbacks, that went into building the world of JETT, in which you’re tasked with scouting a new home for a humanoid people after they’ve decimated their planet. To provide context, Hammond recounts the history of indie games and how their trajectory has followed that of independent art and literature. A riveting insider’s look at one of our most popular art forms. 

The announce post at SuperbrothersHQ gives an excellent sense of the scope of the project, and includes this description from me:

“In 2011, I was a guy who was writing a dissertation about modernist literature, loved arty movies and post-punk… and hadn’t thought about videogames since high school. Then I played Sworcery and my brain exploded. Suddenly I saw how all my obsessions fit together — how David Lynch and Lydia Lunch and Virginia Woolf were all connected to videogames. What linked them was DIY production.

Since 2013, I’ve been piecing my grand unifying theory of the independent arts together while following the development of JETT. Craig, Patrick, Andy, and the rest of the Squad have been my guides in the world of games. The game they made over those eight long years, JETT, shows all that’s possible in this brave new art form — as well as how unbelievably hard it is to make a game when your vision is uncompromising. It’s a story that hasn’t been told outside the world of indie games. My book, The Far Shore, aims to tell it. 

Excerpts

An excerpt from the book is available from Game Developer.

Reviews

Steven Beattie — former reviews editor of Quill & Quire — was the first to review The Far Shore, for his website The Shakepearean Rag. And it’s a great piece! It’s such a joy to read a review by someone who has taken your work seriously — so nice to see your project brought into focus and presented back to you. I particularly love the closing paragraph:

In The Far Shore, Hammond has created something that is as unclassifiable as his favourite works of modernism: part biography of an iconoclastic and brilliant game designer, part cultural critique, part hipster manifesto. One doesn’t always have to agree with him – he is no more correct than Bangs was that “the DIY ethic of punk” renders a lack of technical proficiency forgivable – to appreciate the thought that went into his text or to marvel at the diligence and perseverance required to see a project as ambitious as JETT through to completion. Any book that is equally comfortable parsing the abstruse theories of Mikhail Bakhtin and the music of Bikini Kill is worth the price of admission.

Steven Beattie, That Shakespearean Rag