MetaArcade partner with Josh Kirby estate to make Discworld artist’s work part of their games

Josh Kirby Discworld

MetaArcade are trying to be the Twitch of game development. Not in the live-streaming sense, but in ease of access. They want to make it possible for anyone with a bit of design expertise to be able to create RPGs using their rulesets without having an entire team of animators, programmers and producers at their back. For that you need art, and on that theme they’ve partnered with the estate of Josh Kirby, who worked on movie posters for the likes of Return of the Jedi and The Life of Brian as well as being the main artist on Terry Pratchett’s Discworld covers.

Want to know more about MetaArcade? Matt caught up with them this month.

Kirby also created work for the original Tunnels & Trolls books, the tabletop adventure IP on which MetaArcade is building one of its games and the first ever followup to D&D. They wanted to use that same art for the digital version once they found it, as CEO David Reid explains.

“Early in our development of the Tunnels & Trolls prototype, we did a quick inventory of all the books in circulation,” he says. “One of our partners picked up the Corgi book which included solo adventures Naked Doom and Deathtrap Equalizer, which included artwork [we’d] never seen. We were instantly blown away by the quality of the art Josh had created, and after conferring with Flying Buffalo to determine the artwork’s origins, we contacted the Josh Kirby Estate through Rob Liano.”

Josh Kirby Tunnels & Trolls

Reid also says that some of the very best adventures in the original books were illustrated by Kirby, and they’re going to debut his art as part of the digital version at GenCon this year, August 4-7. While it’s going to be used to illustrate the same adventures it originally did, it will also be part of the MetaArcade Adventures Platform, meaning budding designers can use Kirby’s art as part of their own games if they wish.

“Personally, as I look over the archive of art from the past 40 years, at times entire ideas for adventures spring forth to me just by looking at one illustration,” says Reid, “and it’s my hope and expectation that other writers will take the same inspiration from Josh’s art and the rest of the library.”