This weekend was Global Game Jam 2017, which means that much like last year I ended up spending the whole shebang knocking together a complete game in just 48 hours. Not on my own, though: that would be crazy! These things are best tackled as part of a team effort. Last year’s game was Brituals, a social-awkwardness simulator set in a hellish parallel Britain (playable here). This year’s was Undercurrent, a nautical interactive fiction piece featuring rhythmical Mexican-wave action. The theme for this year was “waves,” by the way, which will probably be apparent in the range of games produced for the event.
This video should give some idea of what the finished game might look like: impressive, no? Unfortunately, we didn’t quite get the whole thing put together in time for the presentations at the end, but basically all the elements were there. If you download the source code .zip file on the GGJ page, you’ll find what we’ve got so far. However, if you don’t feel like poking around with that, have no fear! I spent a frantic three or four hours at the end of the event implementing the entire game in Twine, complete with an approximation of our central Mexican wave mechanic. It doesn’t have any of the audio or eye-candy hinted at by the video above (in fact, anybody who spent a particularly long time trying to uncover the arcane meta-mystery of Project Proteus is likely to find the overall appearance of this game very familiar indeed), but it is playable beginning to end and should give some idea how the finished thing would actually behave.
I feel as though I managed to weasel my way into a really strong team this year. Laurence had a hand in the audio for Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, and Mark is the guy behind the Posetastic drawing reference app. Fiona wrote the bulk of the actual story in the game (my main contribution was the nonsense island encounters), and Morrison tackled getting the interactive text into Unity. I’ll definitely be checking out how to do that myself because if I could manage even half of what he did, my interactive fiction would be at least 800% more stylish and flashy. Continue reading
Since the launch of Ten Little Astronauts by Unbound (in fact, more or less since it was first accepted), I’ve been planning to turn up at various places and talk about it. From the very beginning Fair Oak Library was more or less guaranteed to be the first, though in the end wasn’t because Charlotte Comley got in there really quick and invited me to a meeting of The Writers at Lovedean.
Fair Oak Library may be small – as you might expect for a village whose biggest landmark is a tree – but it’s special to me because I still remember going there for storytime when I was considerably smaller. It was the source of an awful lot of the books I enjoyed as a child, as well as the copy of The Well of Lost Plots I read in the run-up to the first Winchester Writers’ Festival that I attended, where the keynote speaker was Jasper Fforde.
If you’d like to drop in and say hi on Saturday, I’ll be there all morning: from 9:30 when the library opens until 1pm when it closes. I’ll have with me all my current books, plus a necklace of the sort I’m offering for a select few supporters of Ten Little Astronauts. I’m not sure how many people reading this will be in a position to just pop in, but if you’re not too far away then you might like a visit: the village is very pleasant, as are Stoke Park Woods just to the West of it. And if it sweetens the deal at all, the library itself is one of the area’s few PokeStops.
Ten Little Astronauts has hit 10% funding. Double digits!
Everyone who’s pledged so far has done their bit to get the book to the stage it’s at now, and you’ve all earned my eternal gratitude. Still I’d like to thank The Writers at Lovedean in particular for having me over to speak and to run a little flash fiction exercise at their group: their very short stories had me very impressed! While I was there, Charlotte Comley also filmed me (and I her) for her vlog, so check out this video for my top five writing tips.
10% is quite a milestone, but there’s still quite a way to go. If you haven’t pledged already, doing so now would be a real boost to the book. If you have pledged already but want to help further, please consider recommending Ten Little Astronauts to a friend. You’ll have someone to follow along with, and the book will be that much closer to publication.
Flash Fiction Month has just ended, which means that (as well as bundling my stories together into a brand new anthology) the task of catching up on everything else that happened during July begins. There’s been a fair bit of news that I would have shared already if there hadn’t been quite so many 3am finishes or 6am starts, and top of the list is probably Kicking and Screaming.
I‘ve gone to a fair bit of effort to spread the word about my crowdfunded novella, Ten Little Astronauts, which was accepted for publication by Unbound at the start of the month. However, somewhat embarrassingly, I completely neglected to mention another book that was released even before that. Kicking and Screaming is an anthology of stories from the Screamprompts group on deviantART. Continue reading
After days of planning, one of which involved getting up at 5:30am to film on board a WWII submarine, Ten Little Astronauts is now live at Unbound. If you’d like to see a hard sci-fi reimagining of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were none become a thing that actually exists and that you can find in bookshops, now’s your chance to make that happen!
Unbound is a crowdfunding publisher. If you’ve ever organised a project through, supported a project on, or simply heard of Kickstarter, you’ll have some idea how the process works. The main difference with Unbound is that they’ll only take on projects they have some faith in: they already put forward the money to get me on board that submarine with a professional videographer!
However, in most other respects things do work a lot like on Kickstarter, right down to the goodies for supporters. If you just want to support Ten Little Astronauts, the minimum pledge is £10 and you get an ebook to read. An extra £5 gets you a first edition paperback as well. For £10 on top of that, I’ll sign your first edition and throw in every ebook I’ve ever published up to this point. Continue reading
The Hampshire Writers’ Society Book Fair is coming up on the 14th of June. That’s this Tuesday!
I mentioned this in a recent blog post that focused mostly on the Alresford Literary Festival, but the Hampshire Writers’ event was such a success last year that I think it’s worth giving it a post all to itself. If you’re in the Winchester area, I’d really recommend going: there are a lot of authors who’ll be turning up. The place to be is the Stripe Building at the University of Winchester (on Sparkford Road): it starts at 6.
If you can’t make it, I’ll be aiming to write all about the event (and the Alresford festival) here. However, the Winchester Writers’ Festival is now less than a week away as well, so I can’t say for sure exactly when I’ll get around to it: June is a very busy month, and naturally I don’t expect July to leave me much more time!
On Saturday the 4th of June, I’ll have a table set up at the Alresford Literary Festival from 14:30-16:30. I’ve never been before, but Robert Hardy (who played Cornelius Fudge in the Harry Potter Films) is going to be there so it promises to be a pretty interesting event. I’m hoping I’ll get a good chance to talk to people while I’m not manning my table.
I’ve taken the opportunity to build on my display from last year’s Hampshire Writers’ Society Book Fair. The publication of Osiris Likes This hasn’t shaken things up too much, as it occupies a space that used to be taken up by flash fiction ebook CDs. Though the ebooks on disc have been handy as freebies–and the processes involved in creating them proved absolutely essential for one of my more adventurous MA projects–they’ve never attracted a lot of interest and Osiris Likes This is far more deserving of the space. Plus I gave all the CDs away at last year’s Writers’ Festival, so it’s something of a moot point. Continue reading