Tagged: design

Twine for Beginners: Timers and Live Text

If you want to make your Twine games more interesting, there are few easier ways to do that than the (live:) macro. This thing can do as little as shuffle your random text from time to time, or as much as introduce completely new mechanics into your game. This tutorial will borrow a few ideas from others in the series, but honestly – if all you want to do is make your games a little more dynamic – it shouldn’t be too hard to follow on its own. Here are a few different methods of using (live:) to do interesting things:

Method Zero: What (live:) Actually Does

This macro behaves a little differently to (if:), (else:), (either:), etc. so I think it’s worth taking a moment just to introduce it. If you open up Twine 2 and type in (live:)[Here’s some text I want to appear live.], this is what you’ll see when you run the game:

At a glance, it’ll appear that nothing’s going on. However, what’s actually happening is that the (live:) macro is constantly refreshing that text. You just can’t tell because refreshing the text doesn’t actually do anything. It looks the same every time it shows up, so it doesn’t really matter whether it’s being re-displayed a thousand times a second or it’s displayed once and just stays there. However, the fact that this doesn’t draw attention to itself can actually be pretty useful, as you’ll see in the next step. Continue reading

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Blunderball Ebook Now Available!

I figured I’d get my 2018 flash fiction anthology out while it was still 2018. Blunderball is now available on Smashwords for $0.99 and should soon appear at other non-Amazon retailers. I’ll aim to get it on Amazon as well before too long, but until then Smashwords also has a Kindle version available so if that’s your device of choice then I recommend getting it there. It isn’t hard to do. A paperback version is in the works as well.

This is actually the fourth book in which my writing has appeared this month, after Unrealpolitik, The Ruminations of a Multiheaded Monster, and of course Ten Little Astronauts!

If you’ve read any of these (or a significant number of the individual stories that make up Blunderball), please do consider leaving a review at your retailer of choice (or Goodreads). It makes such a difference.

Ten Little Astronauts One Week Away!

Ten Little Astronauts is now in print, just in time for its trade publication date: December 13th. The copies I’ll be taking to book fairs – including the Hampshire Writers’ Society Members’ Book Fair on the 11th – arrived just today!

This seems like as good a time as any to share the cover with everyone, especially because it’s already showing up on Amazon, where (among other places) you can now pre-order copies. Naturally supporters of the book got a look at the cover as soon as it went to print. Continue reading

Project Pandora 3

You might be wondering how there can be a Project Pandora 3 given how Project Pandora 2 ended. You might also be wondering what Project Pandora even is, and if that’s the case then I recommend starting with the first one.

Project Pandora 3

That said, familiarity with the series isn’t essential and this wouldn’t be a terrible place to jump in (especially compared to Project Pandora 2, which will not even function if you haven’t played the original). My Project titles in general have always been about exploring one particular (usually fairly meta) game mechanic and how the player interacts with it, and developing an epic multi-game storyline isn’t really a big part of that.

Basically, have a quick go at the first two beforehand if you want the full experience, but don’t be afraid to get stuck in with Project Pandora 3 if you just fancy playing something vaguely sinister.

Happy Halloween!

Supporter List for Ten Little Astronauts Closing Imminently!

If you’d like to support Ten Little Astronauts but haven’t already, this is your absolute last chance. The supporter list will close at midnight on September 17th, UK time. If you’ve never even heard of this book before, here’s a video – filmed on board a submarine – to tell you what it’s all about:

Everybody who supports a book at Unbound gets their name listed in the back to record their contribution. But with Ten Little Astronauts set to launch next month, the thing has to be typeset and printed which means – inevitably – they have to call time on adding new supporters.

If you’re reading this before the deadline, please do consider spreading the news however you can. Post it on Facebook. Send out a tweet. Print out this blog post, fold it into a dainty origami swan and foist it on somebody while shouting “HONK! HONK!” I promise I won’t judge you (though can’t speak for anyone else).

Remember: if your name’s not on the list by midnight on the 17th, it won’t be in the book!

Announcing Wolf at the Door

Back in May I set up Codename Caerus: a game project bringing a team of people together to make something better than any of us could have produced individually. That something is still in the works – it’ll take more than a couple of months to see it through to the end – but we’ve made great progress and Codename Caerus now has a title: Wolf at the Door.

Our efforts so far have been focused on getting a demo prepared for submission to AdventureX. At this stage, it’s not in good enough shape to share – this one’s just to demonstrate that we have the bare bones of a working game – but it can be played start to finish and most of the gameplay that’ll appear in the finished version is already present in some form or another. In some ways it’s already more ambitious than what I first planned, as we’ve got in-game sound: something I wasn’t even sure was possible to do in Twine back when I organised this! Continue reading

Codename Caerus Application Deadline Extended to June 7th

Codename Caerus – my portfolio-building game project – has had a phenomenal level of interest since I announced it a couple of weeks ago, and although I’ve yet to look through all the example pieces people have sent in, I’m now pretty much certain we’ll be able to get a great team together. Every role has at least one person going for it, and in most cases more than that. I’ve been hugely impressed by some of the work people have chosen to share.

However, if you’ve been meaning to put your name forward to work on this game and haven’t yet got around to it, don’t worry. You haven’t missed your chance.

I’m still on the lookout for anyone else who’d like to work on this thing!

In a way, you’ve actually got more of a chance than you did when I first announced this project because I’m extending the deadline to apply. When I decided to stop taking applications at the end of the month, I neglected to consider that I’d be attending Feral Vector from May 31st to June 2nd. Continue reading

Codename Caerus

So I made a trip to London for EGX Rezzed last month, and up until now I’ve totally neglected to write anything about it for two reasons:

  1. I’m still just a little freaked out over how many people recognised me as “that Girth Loinhammer guy.”
  2. The event gave me an idea for something big and it took a while to come up with a plan for it:

I want to get a team together to make a game.

At this point I feel as though I’ve got a pretty good number of games to my name – I’ve even set up a separate website as a portfolio – but it would really help to have a few more team projects out there for people to enjoy. I expect plenty of other people are in the same position. So far I’ve mostly worked alone, and (with the exception of the two commercially released videogames I’ve had a hand in) when I haven’t it’s generally been for Game Jams. Game Jams are great, of course, but the results are never particularly polished and they don’t really demonstrate the ability to work with a team on an extended project. As a writer, I don’t feel as though there are all that many opportunities already out there. Some, certainly, but far from oodles.

That’s why I’m planning to set something up: not having a title for the game itself yet, I’ll refer to this whole endeavour as Codename Caerus for now. This will be an opportunity for anybody who wants to get more of a foothold in games to work on something polished and substantial as part of a team. Continue reading

Project Procrustes Has Been Solved

As you might have guessed by the suspicious timing, Project Procrustes (and its accompanying competition) was my April Fools’ prank for 2018. This one was subtle, and unless you worked your way through a substantial portion of the game, chances are you won’t even have noticed what was going on. However, two people managed to finish the thing on April 1st, so given the challenge involved I’d consider that quite a success.

Phil McArthur completed the game staggeringly swiftly, tweeting a line from the final passage within a couple of hours of release:

However, since he already owned Kingdom: New Lands (the game I was offering to the first person to complete Project Procrustes), he very kindly decided not to share a screenshot of the ending, giving someone else a chance to solve it and win the prize.

That person was G. Deyke!

Don’t go clicking for the original tweet if you still want to explore Project Procrustes for yourself: the screenshot (necessary for me to verify it had been properly completed) contains both spoilers for the story and some hefty hints on how to complete it yourself.

Despite having been made as a joke, I’m hoping that Project Procrustes will serve as a portfolio piece when I’m looking for work in games. As well as being a substantial piece of interactive fiction in general, it includes a sophisticated character creator, a very versatile battle system, and easily the most refined design of anything I’ve made so far. It’s very finely tuned and I put it through a lot of testing.

Revealing the joke here would also reveal quite a chunk of the solution to the game, but if you’ve been trying to work your way through and have found yourself hopelessly stuck, here are some very general clues:

  • Project Procrustes is tougher than you think it is. Find yourself hitting the back button looking for a choice that won’t kill off your character? You can stop looking: there probably isn’t one.
  • Reaching the true ending of the game will take a lot of lateral thinking. Focus on what you have to do, not what you’re supposed to.
  • There’s a reason Project Procrustes has such a naff title: a little familiarity with Greek myth could help you out a lot.

And one more thing. Don’t expect to get anywhere importing the flowchart back into Twine: