Tagged: Creative Writing

Ten Little Astronauts is Fully Funded!

We did it! Ten Little Astronauts has all the funding it needs to make it into print (and then some!). Unbound has just moved it over to the paperback list, which means it now has 131% of its target. That’s pretty incredible, and it’s all down to the people who pledged or just generally helped to get it in front of enough readers to make this happen. Continue reading

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We All Saw It Coming Launch Event – Where Should it Be?

Since We All Saw It Coming wraps up the first hexalogy* of my flash fiction anthologies, I’m planning some kind of launch event to mark the occasion. Part of that planning involves trying to work out where would be best to actually hold the thing (provided I can get a venue in any of these locations):

Feel free to tick more than one box. If you can make it to Eastleigh, Winchester or Southampton, that’s great. If you’d only make the trip if it were just down the road, go ahead and tick only the relevant box. Also, if you’re local and would like to help out further, there are two things you could do that would really help get this book off to a great start:

  • Share this poll with your friends (especially if you think they might like to come).
  • Let me know of any venues that might be happy to host the event.

I’m not sure when this’ll be happening, but I hope not too long after I get the paperback finalised. It depends partly when I can secure a venue, and the place I opt for will largely depend where people can attend, so go ahead and have your say!**

*A series of six books. I know the word sounds ridiculous but honestly I think that kind of suits them.

**You can comment right here on this post without needing an account or even an email address.

Twine for Beginners: Displaying Random Text

Even using only the most basic range of tools, Twine gives you a lot to work with. You can produce a fully featured interactive story with nothing more than plain old hyperlinks, and if you’re willing to sink just a little time into learning how to use variables, you can introduce some very sophisticated adventure game elements with minimal effort. But those tools only take you so far. No matter what you do with them, games produced with only hyperlinks and variables will always be entirely deterministic: the same sequence of actions will always produce the same effect.

That’s actually a perfectly good way to go. Sometimes – if anything most of the time – you want people to know that what happens in the game will be a direct result of what they’ve decided to do. But an element of chance can spice things up, and if the player is going to be coming back to the same passage again and again (maybe it’s a room they pass through several times, or an action they must take repeatedly) then it never hurts to vary the text they see. There’s a really easy way of doing this:

The (either:) Macro:

Simply writing (either: “one thing”, “another”) is enough to display one thing or another. If you don’t have a whole lot of possible options in mind you can just stick this in the story where you want the random text to appear and it’ll do the job nicely.

This looks like a mess, but the text it generates when played is perfectly serviceable. It might look like this:

Continue reading

Southampton Global Game Jam 2018

I said a while ago that I was planning to take part in the Global Game Jam in Southampton this year, and I invited anybody interested to join me and possibly form a team before getting to the event. My approach last year was pretty much just to turn up and improvise, so I was really glad this time around to be able to tackle a project with people I already knew.

Me, Alex Carter, Jay Connell and Claire Rose: all the people behind Resonance!

This was a first for me for two reasons. One was that I had a fairly solid idea what kind of skills people on the team would have going in, and the other was that I ended up not really writing very much at all in the end. All four of us are writers, so when it came to producing a story – even an interactive one – we were all set. My job was more or less just to come up with the Twine gubbins to keep track of everything that’s happening in that story. Continue reading

Twine for Beginners: Using Variables

Back in my first Twine for Beginners tutorial (which I recommend at least taking a glance at before tackling this one), I mentioned that it was possible to do just about anything you see in the classic Fighting Fantasy books using only passages and hyperlinks. These gamebooks use a system of numbered passages and references, and choosing which passage to turn to performs exactly the same function as choosing which hyperlink to click in a Twine game. In addition to these standard choices, however, the passages will occasionally say something like “If you have a dagger, turn to 294. If you do not have a dagger, turn to 334.”

I think if I were going to fight Eyeface McBlubberson or Beardy the Dragon Wizard then I’d probably want something bigger than a dagger, but whatever.

There’s a totally obvious way to do this in Twine, and that’s to directly copy the method used in this Fighting Fantasy book. “[[If you have a dagger, click here]]. [[If you do not have a dagger, click here]]” will do exactly the same job and involves absolutely no Twine know-how that wasn’t covered in my first tutorial. If you’re happy to simply ask the reader to keep track of their previous choices (or note things down on some kind of character/inventory sheet) and don’t fancy reading on, then you can just do that. Continue reading

Join me at Southampton Global Game Jam!

From the 26th to the 28th of January, you’ll find me at the University of Southampton for the Southampton Global Game Jam, working on something that should at least vaguely resemble a videogame.

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2018 will be my third year joining in with the Global Game Jam, but unlike the last two I won’t be making a trip to Brighton for the occasion. There are a handful of reasons for this:

  • Brighton is kind of a hike for me and between promoting Ten Little Astronauts and exhibiting Girth Loinhammer’s Exponential Adventure I’ve already travelled around a TON over the past few months.
  • I feel like I know a good chunk of the Brighton crowd by this point (and it’s pretty likely I’ll see some of them at other events later in the year).
  • I actually don’t know all that many game developers based near me, and this seems like a good opportunity to sort that out.

Because of all of that, I’ll be staying in Southampton this time around! One other upside is that I figure it’ll be easier for anyone I know who maybe doesn’t already make games but would like to have a go. My usual approach to these things is to turn up (possibly late, if the journey involves trains), wander about chatting to people, then join whatever group will have me and/or seems to be thinking through the neatest idea. However, on this occasion I figure I might actually be in a position to take a team with me! Continue reading

We All Saw It Coming Ebook Available

We All Saw It Coming, my Flash Fiction Month anthology for 2017, is now available as an ebook through Smashwords. It’ll be available through other retailers shortly, but I haven’t yet assigned it an ISBN because I’m still confirming that everything is working as it should.

The sheer scale of this year’s interactive fiction challenge, Ultraviolent Unicorn Deathmatch of Destiny, meant that I had to set up internal hyperlinks just to make it navigable. There was some extra faff involved in making sure I didn’t end up with all 48 of those listed in the book’s table of contents, and although everything seems to have worked out fine, there were enough opportunities for things to go wrong that I don’t like to assume they haven’t. Still, whether or not this story turned out perfect first time, I’ve definitely got a better grasp of how to handle interactive fiction in this format than I had before, and so at some point I expect I’ll be going back and giving the same treatment to Robocopout‘s interactive fiction piece, Inquisition.

The next job will be to format and publish the paperback, and when that’s available I’m strongly considering having a launch party of some kind! This book completes the six-colour cycle I’ve been working towards (I’ll be sticking another orange object on the cover of whatever I write for 2018), so although I’ve never made all that much of a song and dance about the release of these books in the past, I feel as though this is a good enough occasion to start.

Since this is pretty much the first book launch I’ve ever organised, I’m keen to get an idea of how many people would be likely to turn up, as well as where they’d be able to get to. The poll above allows multiple answers: feel free to tick as many as you like. In fact, ideally don’t be too picky: if you really could make it to any of these places, that gives me more options to work with. Conversely, picking only Southampton because you live there could screw things up quite a bit: if 30 people only pick the closest Hampshire town, they could quite easily be outvoted by half that number in London.

Promoting Ten Little Astronauts has put my work in front of people from much farther afield than before, so I’m really not sure where most of my followers are based at this point. My guess is that most know me from various local open mics – and I’d probably prefer a local launch myself – but the biggest events have been in London, and those are generally the ones where my name’s been on the flyers and whatnot. Ultimately I figure the thing to do is to hold the launch wherever people can get to it, so that’s why I’ve put out this poll. Tick whichever boxes work for you, pass it on to anyone else you think might like to come along for readings and live interactive fiction, and if you’ve got any other thoughts then leave those in the comments. As always, you don’t need an account or even an email address: just type words into the box, hit “Post” and it’ll get to me.

What Now for Ten Little Astronauts?

The Christmas deadline for funding Ten Little Astronauts has now passed, but since nobody’s in the Unbound office over the holidays there’s technically nothing stopping people from contributing. If you meant to pledge before Christmas and are currently kicking yourself for missing your chance, don’t do that. There’s still time, and your support can still make a difference.

Artwork by Joe Wright

It’s pretty much certain that there are still people out there who’d pledge if they simply knew about the book – so if there’s a friend you’ve been meaning to tell about it, it would be absolutely great if you could do that – but personally I’ll be focusing on other things for the next little while. Once Unbound opens up again in the New Year I expect to hear from Scott Pack about what the options are for Ten Little Astronauts – at 72% funded and with 245 people already lined up to get a copy, I think it’s in a pretty good position right now – but until that happens there won’t be much news.

In the meantime, I’m hoping to get this year’s flash fiction anthology – We All Saw It Coming – wrapped up while it still is actually this year. Ideally I’d like to get the ebook out before 2018, but the paperback may be a little longer. I might also do a little work on the interactive sci-fi story I offered as a reward for the first 150 supporters of Ten Little Astronauts. I’ve been looking forward to working on that for a long time!

As always, thanks to everyone who’s put in a pledge for Ten Little Astronauts, or even just passed it on to somebody else. The response to this book has been just mind-boggling, and everyone who’s done anything to help it out has had a hand in that. Thanks!

Ten Little Astronauts Has (well over) 225 Supporters!

Ten Little Astronauts has been making spectacular progress recently. So much so that it’s actually a little difficult for me to keep up: by the time I actually managed to record the 225 supporter book draw, the count was up to 233. That’s a good chunk of the way towards the next draw, which will be coming up at 250 (if we reach 250!). That next draw, by the way, will be for a brand new story written specifically for the winner: quite a prize!

This is the kind of sudden surge of interest that the book needs to reach 100% by Christmas: a tight deadline, but one that’s looking more achievable than ever now that we’re already more than two-thirds funded. Right now Ten Little Astronauts is just a hair away from 70%, and if we can reach that today there’s a chance that Unbound themselves will even step in and start promoting it more.

Basically, whether you’ve put in a pledge or not, doing something to share the book would make an absolutely massive difference to its chances of success. Tweeting it or sticking a link on Facebook helps a little, but actually sending a personal message to someone you think would enjoy a sci-fi murder mystery in particular would help a whole lot more. With so many people behind the book already, I know there must be more out there who would be willing to support it: the only challenge is reaching them in time!

Last Chance to Support Ten Little Astronauts

It’s the eleventh hour. Aragorn is making his “It is not this day” speech. The rebels are approaching the Death Star. Neville Longbottom has destroyed the final horcrux and Harry Potter is preparing to battle Lord Voldemort. I’m not familiar with Twilight, but I’m sure there’s some confrontation between Heartthrob McSparklepants and a bad guy of some kind.

The point is, there are just days left to fund Ten Little Astronauts. At 63%, it’s the bulk of the way there and it has a solid chance of reaching its target, but only if the people who want that to happen make it happen.

At this point, you’re either behind the book or you’re not: there’s no time left to “get around to it.” 213 people (at current count) have pledged for a copy of their own. Countless more have shared it, told their friends about it, and generally helped it along in less direct ways. If it’s not your kind of thing, I get it. If you can’t afford to chip in for a copy right now, I definitely get it. But if you’d like to help my career as an author all the same, doing something – anything – to spread the word about it before that Christmas deadline would make a spectacular difference to the book’s chances of success at absolutely no cost to you. Continue reading