Tagged: design

Twine Stories on Tap

Last week Wattpad began accepting Twine stories on Tap – a mobile platform for interactive fiction – and I’ve begun the process of converting my own work to submit. You can already find Ultraviolent Unicorn Deathmatch of Destiny on my profile there!

This version of the game has a little more graphical flair than the one that originally went out as part of Flash Fiction Month 2017, with a style loosely based upon the physical edition I had printed earlier this year. I’ll likely opt for a similar setup if I ever release it as a standalone mobile app: the default Twine stylesheet isn’t spectacularly well suited for very small screens. Continue reading

Coming Soon(?): Bananarchy

If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you might be aware that I’ve spent the last little while working on something that involved wiring bananas into my computer.

I’m now ready to announce that the thing in question was Bananarchy, an arcade shooter controlled entirely with two real bananas (or a regular keyboard or touchscreen, just in case you lack the hardware necessary to generate keystrokes using fresh fruit). You play as Hitcan – Agent 57 – and must use twin banana pistols to shoot down ever increasing swarms of flies that converge upon your precious pink donut.

I came up with this project as a submission for EGX’s Leftfield Collection, as they’re particularly interested in games that use alternative controllers and who doesn’t like bananaguns? If it’s accepted you’ll be able to play it at the ExCeL Center in London from the 17th to 20th of October 2019. If not, I’ll probably still cobble together a version to take to DIY Southampton and whatnot. Continue reading

Flash Fiction Month Omnibus – Send Me Your Artwork!

I’m putting together an illustrated omnibus of all my Flash Fiction Month pieces from 2012 to 2017, and I need your help! This thing will include 186 stories – 31 for each of the first six years I took part in the event – and I’d like at least a significant portion to have an image to go with them. Read on even if you’re not an artist: it matters less than you’d think!

This Google sheet lists the full selection of stories, organised by year (as well as a link to each one to refresh your memory). Produce an illustration for any of them – even if it’s just a doodle on a napkin – and I’ll consider it for inclusion in the book. I don’t promise to add in everything that’s sent, but I don’t rule it out either! Here are some tips to maximise your chances:

  • The images will probably be included on their own page, which means it’s preferable for each one to be portrait (taller than it is wide).
  • Colour illustrations are absolutely fine (and people reading on phones and tablets will see them in all their glory), but bear in mind the interior of the paperback will be printed in black and white. Most e-readers will show the images in greyscale too.
  • Bigger is better. I can always shrink or crop a large image to fit the book, but I can’t do anything to conjure more pixels out of a smaller one!
  • Scans are preferable to photographs (if you’re working on paper/canvas/whatever). Each of my #draw365 images is just hastily snapped with my smartphone, and they really suffer because of it. If you don’t have access to a scanner, this blog post offers some handy tips on how to get good photos (even on a phone).

If you’d like to submit an illustration, simply add your name and a hyperlink to the Google sheet. That’s all there is to it, but if you’d like to tell your friends too then that would really help me out a lot!

The goal here is ideally to have one illustration for each of the 186 stories in the book. I’d settle for less, and I might consider more, but that one per story seems like something to aim for. Obviously nobody’s had a chance to ask any questions yet – let alone frequently – but here’s an FAQ anyway.

An FAQ Anyway:


Q: Will I get paid for this?

A: No.


Q: Will I at least get a copy of the book?

A: If I end up using your artwork, I’ll send you a free ebook! I’ll probably send one even if I don’t.


Q: Why should I send you my work for free?

A: Literally the only reason is “Because you want to.” If you don’t, then don’t. Absolutely do not consider doing this for exposure. That’s a terrible idea in general and in this particular case I can’t even promise it’ll get your work in front of a significant audience.


Q: No, seriously, is there any reason I should get involved with this thing?

A: I think it’ll be fun! If you like any of the stories I’ve produced for Flash Fiction Month, this is a chance to engage with them and create something for future readers to enjoy. If you just like drawing and want to get involved with a big project, that’s great too!


Q: What’ll happen if you get more than one illustration for the same story?

A: I’ll probably just choose my favourite and the other(s) will go unused. However, if it’s a long-ish story then I may be able to fit both in.


Q: How should I add my name and link to the spreadsheet if someone else has already illustrated that story?

A: Just stick them in the next available cells on that row. I don’t anticipate that there’ll be too much competition.


Q: What’s stopping me doing an absolutely rubbish scribble just to get a free book?

A: Nothing. Scribble away! But again, there’s no guarantee I’ll use it and therefore no guarantee of a free book. (This is the internet: I acknowledge the possibility that 5,000 people will send me a hastily scrawled dickbutt, but I’m not emailing out books for the privilege.)


Q: Can I submit more than one illustration?

A: Yes, submit as many as you like!


Q: You’ve emphasised that quality isn’t much of a concern, but I’ve got an idea for something really good! Will that look out of place?

A: I certainly hope not! I hope that people will endeavour to produce work of the highest possible quality, much as I did when producing these six years’ worth of stories. However, I realise that people may find they don’t always quite manage to achieve their own expectations, as I did when producing these six years’ worth of stories.


Q: What exactly am I letting you do with my artwork?

A: By submitting an illustration you are granting me the non-exclusive right to reproduce that image for commercial and non-commercial purposes, which is what I need to make, sell, and promote the omnibus. You maintain all the rights you would have if I weren’t using the image at all (which is actually kind of a grey area when it comes to fan art, but I’m not exactly going to sue people for drawing things I’ve invited them to draw!).


Q: I’ve already drawn fan art of one of these stories! Can I submit that?

A: Yes! I actively encourage it.


Q: I’ve already drawn something that wasn’t specifically based on one of these stories, but might as well have been. Can I submit that?

A: Yes, that’s fine too.


Q: Is there a deadline for this?

A: Not currently, though I’d like to be able to release the omnibus sometime in 2020.


That’s it!

If you’d like to submit an illustration (or a few!) then here’s that link to the spreadsheet again. Even if not, I hope you’ll consider sharing this around. I think it could be a neat project, and I’d like anyone who might be interested to have a chance to get involved.

DISCo Twine Workshop – July 11th

That’s DISCo as in the Interdisciplinary Digital Culture and Society Conference, not Disco as in, you know…

The event will be running from the 9th to the 12th of July at the University of Nottingham’s De Vere Jubilee Conference Centre, and I’ll be there for the full four days. My workshop in particular will be running all day on Thursday the 11th.

If you’d like to see what else is going on, you can find the full range of workshops through this link. Mine requires no previous experience and will borrow a fair bit from my Twine for Beginners series of tutorials. Since we’ll have a full day available and I’ll be there in person to help with any problems, there should be an opportunity to become quite proficient with the software in just this one session.

Tickets for the event are £65 for one day, £195 for the full four, or £340 for the full four with accommodation. They’re available until the 2nd of July.

Blunderball Paperback Now Available

There’s less than a month to go until Flash Fiction Month 2019, but I’m happy to announce that Blunderball – my anthology of flash fiction from Flash Fiction Month 2018 – is now available in classic dead tree format!

The paperback is available on Amazon UK, as well as basically any other Amazon store you’d care to look for it. You’ll find it in a bunch of other shops too, and usually somebody in Australia starts offering these things on eBay sooner or later, so basically just get one where such things are got. Continue reading

Ultraviolent Unicorn Deathmatch of Destiny – Physical Edition

I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if fifty copies of a book about unicorns with chainsaws for horns had just been dumped on a doorstep somewhere in Hampshire.

~Obi-Wan Kenobi (who is fictional, and therefore can’t sue me for making up quotes)

Yep, that’s right. This is a thing that exists now. It has been made and cannot be unmade. Continue reading

Flappy Bard

Here’s my first HTML5 game – Flappy Bard! You might be wondering why you’re hearing about this one after April 1st’s Cookie Cracker. Well, there are two reasons:

  1. I made Flappy Bard as a birthday present for my sister and wanted her to have a chance to give it a go before it went out to the general public.
  2. I thought that Cookie Cracker would make a better April Fool’s joke if people weren’t already aware that I could create this sort of thing.

Flappy Bard is essentially a clone of the classic Flappy Bird, but with some small changes to the way in which obstacles are spawned and an overall Shakespearian theme. Continue reading

Twine for Beginners: Styling Text

Twine offers several handy options when it comes to displaying text in particular ways. From straightforward bold or italics to more eye-catching animated effects, there are a whole range of features built right in and this tutorial will show you how to use them.

The following techniques are all very simple, but if you’ve never used Twine before then you might like to start off with this tutorial which offers a very basic introduction to it. You might also be interested in my tutorial covering how to colour text in Twine, which this one will also touch upon.

Much of this tutorial is so simple that you could probably get the hang of it simply by reading through the example piece, Snazzy Susan and the Majestic Markup. However, the tutorial below will go into slightly more detail as well as linking to other guides and resources, so if you find that you’re struggling with anything then do pop back. Continue reading

Twine for Beginners: Colouring Text

Colouring text in Twine is incredibly simple, but also incredibly useful. If you’re dealing with important information – whether that’s a particularly significant word or phrase, or a stat the player must recognise at a glance – then it helps to format it in some way that immediately sets it apart from the rest of the text on screen.

If you’re unfamiliar with Twine, you might like to familiarise yourself with it using this tutorial which will get you started in just four clicks – and possibly take a glance at some of the others in the series – but many of the following techniques will be very straightforward. If all you want to do is change the colour of specific bits of text in Twine, this tutorial will help you do just that.

In fact, this tutorial is so simple that you can probably just glance through the example story, Snazzy Susan and the Majestic Markup, which will contain most of the following information (as well as a few examples of how to style text in other ways). This post will only go into marginally more detail, but will also link to some handy external resources so do pop back if you get stuck. Continue reading

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