Category: Updates

Face of Glass Pigeonhole Serial

A serialised version of my prehistoric fantasy novel, Face of Glass, will be running on The Pigeonhole from the 18th of March 2020. You can sign up free through this link, but be quick! There are only so many slots available.

You might recall that The Pigeonhole serialised Ten Little Astronauts shortly before the book launched. That was a really interesting few days, and if you didn’t grab a slot that time, I highly recommend giving it a go for Face of Glass. It isn’t just an opportunity to read the book for free: you’ll have the option to leave comments in the margin, and I’ll be following along myself to answer any questions.

Because there’s a community coming together to read the book all at the same time – which will be released in eight staves, one each day – the whole thing is a bit of an event. If that’s not your cup of tea, you can just enjoy the book and never open up the comments. But if you fancy getting involved and/or seeing other readers’ takes on the story as it unfolds, it’s well worth getting a slot even if you’ve read Face of Glass already.

Finally, regardless of whether or not you plan to sign up for a slot yourself, if you’d care to share this news around then you’d really be doing me a favour. I’m just one guy – I don’t have some big publicity department to help me out – and with events like this especially it can be a challenge to get the word out before it’s come and gone. It would be great to see as many people as possible all making a start on Face of Glass when the first stave goes out on March 18th!

Mash Mash Restoration

This weekend was Global Game Jam 2020, and although I had planned to tackle my fifth consecutive attempt at the event over in Brighton (back where I first started), I ended up going for a third year at the University of Southampton. The weekend was bookended by work on Friday and a competition deadline on Monday so all in all it was easier to avoid any long journeys. I took a fairly relaxed approach to the challenge (not sleeping under a computer desk like last year) and, with the help of Paul Robins, put together a project I’m really quite happy with. The theme this year was “repair.”

Mash Mash Restoration is the first Game Jam project I’ve taken the lead in that wasn’t made in Twine. I put it together in GDevelop 5 (much like Flappy Bard, Cookie Cracker and Bananarchy). As the title mich suggest, it’s (almost) a rhythm game in which you use three different sorts of repair tools spread across three conveyor belts in order to fix an endless stream of broken(?) robots. Continue reading

Ten Little Astronauts Review by Sara L. Uckelman

Sara L. Uckleman has posted a review of Ten Little Astronauts over on SFF Reviews, and amazingly that’s a review of the book as a whole rather than just the main novella! For those who aren’t familiar with it, Ten Little Astronauts (the book) actually includes three separate pieces of writing, each of which gets its own post on the site:

The second of these sometimes get passed over (particularly by ebook readers, who don’t have physical pages offering a clue as to the extra content in the book). That’s a shame, because Six Years Stolen – a tech noir crime thriller that’s been described as “Blade Runner meets Phone Booth” – seems to have been a real hit with pretty much everyone who’s found it so far!

If you’re looking for more short fiction, by the way, you really should check out some more posts on SFF Reviews. The site originally came to my attention through a review of every single story included in Jessica Augustsson’s Myths, Monsters, Mutations: it’s rare to see both that kind of focus on short fiction specifically, and such a dedication to it!

Hear Me on Voice FM Tonight

I got a chance to show Bananarchy at a game developers’ event in Southampton last night, and as you might expect its fruit-based control scheme attracted a fair bit of attention.

Later on in the evening I did a quick interview with Voice FM, which you should be able to catch sometime around 7pm tonight. You can tune in on 103.9 FM if you’re in the area, or use the “listen live” option online if you’re farther afield. At least a couple of other games people I know were also interviewed, so it should be well worth watching out for!

EDIT: The programme is now available on Catch Up through this link. My interview begins at 1:34:00, but do have a listen to the other developers featured in the second hour: they’re working on some fantastic things!

Ten Little Astronauts in Unbound Sci-Fi Bundle

Unbound has opened up a special Christmas Shop of books and bundles that would make good festive gifts, and Ten Little Astronauts is among them! This bundle would be perfect for anybody you know who loves sci-fi so much they’d definitely get through more than one book before New Year.

This is currently the second most ordered bundle, which I realise isn’t saying much as the shop has only just opened and most have yet to see any orders at all, but still seems like a pretty promising start. Most books have an RRP of around £10, so four for £25.99 is a bit of a bargain. Also, if you order before the 17th of December (from within the UK) the bundle should arrive in time for Christmas.

Even if you’re not shopping for sci-fi, do check out the full selection of books and bundles: there’s quite a range on offer!

Girth Loinhammer and the Quest for the Unsee Elixir 33rd in IFComp

The 25th Interactive Fiction Competition is now over, and the results are in! Girth Loinhammer and the Quest for the Unsee Elixir came 33rd in the end, which may not be a Top Ten result but I’m still pretty happy with. There were 82 entries altogether so that’s very much in the top half of the rankings, and apparently high enough to score a small cash prize and possibly some other stuff. (IFComp is pretty generous when it comes to runners-up: if you’re on the fence about submitting something in 2020, I highly recommend giving it a go.)

The range of responses from the judges is interesting: the game attracted more votes than most (I’m guessing because people saw the title, thought “Haha what?” and clicked it), and managed to snag every possible score from one to ten. It didn’t divide opinion enough to earn me the Golden Banana of Discord (which, as you can imagine, I really really would have liked to win), but clearly there were at least a few people out there with strong feelings about it, and quite a few more who got a chuckle out of it. For something I hammered together in about a week, I think that’s a pretty good response.

I’ll be aiming to produce a slightly more ambitious version of the game in the not too distant future, which I’ll hopefully make available as an actual printed gamebook. There should also be an ebook, an online version, and probably a mobile app.

The full results for IFComp 2019 can be found here.

Make Your Twine Games More Accessible

If you’re interested in learning to make games with Twine – and especially if you’re interested in using them to build up a portfolio – it’s well worth considering how to reach as many players as possible.

Anything that runs in a browser (such as a Twine game) will tend to be played more often that something must be installed, and anything that’s primarily text and choice -based (like most Twine games) is generally more accessible to players with disabilities than something that depends primarily on using quick reflexes to respond to graphics on screen. By making just a few small adjustments to your Twine games – such as ensuring your text is clearly legible, and adding descriptions to any visual media included along with it – you can boost their reach even further!

This post offers a few quick tips, as well as links to further resources if you want to look into the subject in a little more detail:

Hey all, After our group discussion about my “Disability Media” Twine project on Frost accessibility, I went on to do some further research on how to make Twine and the HTML you put in it as accessible as possible. I hope to update this post as I learn more, because this is actually to some […]

via Brief Understandings of HTML Accessibility — Electronic Literature & Digital Writing [2]

Unsee Elixir on The Short Game Podcast

Girth Loinhammer and the Quest for the Unsee Elixir got a mention in Part 2 of The Short Game‘s IFComp 2019 podcast! (That bit starts at 00:39:27 if you want to skip ahead.)

It’s great to see the game reaching people in any form – this being my first time entering IFComp, I’ve been pleasantly surprised just how many players have already given it a go – but it’s especially nice for it to be so well received!

If you haven’t yet played Unsee Elixir, this might be a nice little lead-in to it, and if you haven’t got involved in IFComp at all, it the podcast as a whole might point you towards some good ones to try. You’ve got until November 15th, you only need to rate five to be a judge for the event, and naturally it’s easier to manage that number in that time if you throw a few short ones into the mix. For an introduction to the entire event (and a few more games), do check out Part 1 of their IFComp podcast as well.

Audio: Girth Loinhammer’s Most Exponential Adventure at EGX Rezzed 2019

Since Girth Loinhammer’s Most Exponential Adventure will be returning to EGX next week, I thought it was about time I uploaded the audio from its appearance at EGX Rezzed back in April.

If you’d like to catch Exponential Adventure at the main EGX event, it’ll be running from 13:00 to 13:45 on Friday the 18th of November. Even if you’re not there in person, the Fringe Theatre schedule suggests that you should be able to catch it streaming live on the official EGX YouTube channel, so you can still enjoy my live interactive* theatre thingy from the comfort of your own home!

*Unfortunately you can’t actually interact with it over the internet.** You’ll only be able to have a hand in the story if you’re there in the ExCeL centre.

**I guess technically you could still yell at your computer screen, but I won’t be able to hear you. Also, you’ll probably get some funny looks from anyone who can hear you. Especially if you’re in a library.

Announcing Girth Loinhammer and the Quest for the Unsee Elixir

I had big plans to enter IFComp this year with a big fancy sci-fi game, but they were pretty much scuppered by a perfect storm of things getting in the way: I got called up for jury service again (making me the only person I know who’s done it twice), I snagged some extra freelance work, and EGX accepted my Fringe Theatre panel (also making me the only person I know who’s done it twice).

Since that plan went out the window, I came up with a new one:

It’s exactly what it looks like.

The scenario is going to be pretty familiar if you played Girth Loinhammer’s Most Exponential Adventure: Girth Loinhammer (Dungeon Lord) is unsatisfied with the public perception of his seriously evil dungeon, but this time – more than that – he’s traumatised by a certain something he was unfortunate enough to witness during its day-to-day operation. A certain something he wishes to unsee. Continue reading