Back at EGX 2016 I got involved with virtual reality game Craft Keep VR. A certain portion of the game was already available in Early Access before I even heard about it but over the past few months I’ve been writing story and dialogue and gradually seeing the whole thing take form. At this point my work is done and, not only that, the finished game has just been released! You’ll need either an Oculus Rift or an HTC Vive virtual reality headset to play it, but even if you don’t have one of those knocking about I highly recommend checking out the trailer.
I got a chance to play a very nearly complete version at EGX Rezzed this year, and the experience was…strange. Amazing, but strange. I don’t have the VR equipment necessary to play this sort of thing at home, so beyond a few YouTube videos I hadn’t really seen the work in progress while I was writing. It’s quite a shock to go from “Ha ha! This’ll make for a fun bit of dialogue,” to “Oh wow! There’s the guy saying it!” with absolutely nothing in between. It would be weird if the jump were simply from page to screen, but when it’s from page to 3D people walking around in the room with you, it’s especially striking. Continue reading
I realise we’re halfway through March at this point, but wow is that second half packed full of things to do! If you fancy meeting me in person, you’ll have plenty of chances over the coming couple of weeks (though it helps if you’re currently in the southern half of the UK). Here’s what’s coming up, in order:
Truth is Like a Lazarus Launch
(University of Reading [Van Emden Theatre, HumSS Building], 6pm Monday 20th March)
I got my BA it the University of Reading, and after getting in touch to let them know about my recent success with Ten Little Astronauts, I was invited to submit something to this year’s Reading Creative Arts Anthology, Truth is Like a Lazarus; or, A Roof Bursting with Stars. That something is in there now, and if you turn up in the Van Emden Theatre at 6pm you’ll hopefully have the chance to hear me read it!
As an added bonus, the HumSS building is worth a visit in its own right: think “Hogwarts as imagined by M.C. Escher.” In my second year I almost missed a class because it took place on a floor I didn’t know existed. Fortunately, however, the Van Emden Theatre is up just one flight of stairs visible from the main entrance. Reading’s Whiteknights Campus is full of quirky things like this: it was very nearly declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest and has its own (obsolete) nuclear bunker. Well worth taking the time explore beforehand if you do decide to come to this event!
Winchester Comic Con
(Winchester Discovery Centre, 9am – 6pm, Saturday 25th March)
The first ever Winchester Comic Con is coming up, and I’ll be on the first ever author panel! I’m also one of the judges for the flash fiction competition, so if you fancy making a day of it then come prepared with a ≤100 word speculative fiction story. The competition is open to anybody with a ticket (which presumably you’ll need to get in there anyway, though it may be possible to pay on the door) and this is very much my kind of thing.
As you might expect from a nine-hour event, there’ll be lots going on. There’ll be guests from Harry Potter, Star Wars and Doctor Who, as well as the world’s leading Tintinologist (an expert on Tintin) Michael Farr. Also, it’s not certain at this point but I’m hoping fellow Unbound author Niall Slater will be there too.
(Tobacco Dock, London, 30th March – 1st April)
After having a really great time at EGX in September last year, I’ll be returning for EGX Rezzed at the end of the month! I say “returning” but actually this’ll be a fairly different event. For one thing it’s in London rather than Birmingham, and for another the focus is more on PC and indie titles such as Craft Keep VR, which will be on display there!
For anyone who hasn’t been following for a while, I first came across Craft Keep at EGX and, soon afterwards, ended up writing for it. That was a bit of a dream come true, really. EGX was the first games event I ever went to, and standing in the massive crowd heading in at the start of the first day, I never imagined I’d have my own work on show in the next one I went to. It was only an outside possibility even at the point I was on the train back home! I met a lot of great people at the last event (and bumped into a couple of people I’d already met at the Brighton Global Game Jam), and I’m hoping there’ll be a chance to catch up with at least some of them at this one.
As the “VR” in “Craft Keep VR” might imply, this is a virtual reality title and you’ll need a VR headset and motion controllers to play it. For most people (including me) then, an event like EGX is your main chance to give it a go. Tickets are available here, and they’re actually not too pricy considering the range of games you get to see! I gather that Rezzed will be more low-key than regular EGX – I’m not expecting to grab quite as many free T-shirts (if any) this time around – but even so you’re looking at three full days of gaming for less than the price of one current-gen console release. It’s certainly cheaper than buying an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive if you just want a go at Craft Keep VR!
And that’s it.
I’ve got a few more things planned over the last little while, quite a few of them related to Ten Little Astronauts, but none of those involve turning up places in person. Or at least, none of the ones that do really offer an opportunity to meet up with people. If you are planning to head to any of these, though – whether you’re near Reading or Winchester or fancy a trip into London for EGX – then let me know! It would be great to say hi.
You might have spotted my Mystery Thriller Week guest posts around the beginning of the month, which is to say you might have spotted guest posts from other people on my blog. However, you might not have seen the guest posts I wrote for other people’s blogs. Fear not! You can find all three of them right here:
Damon L. Weeks sounds like an interesting guy indeed, and I’d very much like to meet him someday. Just kidding: there’s probably some way for CJ Petterson of Lyrical Pens to fix that name-related slip-up, but it’s amusing enough that I’m happy for it to stay. This one’s a Q&A that’ll probably make for a neat introduction to my work if you’ve only just discovered it, but even if you’ve been following me for a while I hope you’ll find out some interesting new bits and pieces.
If you’ve already discovered Ten Little Astronauts, this excerpt on Christina Philippou’s blog will probably be familiar to you already: it’s “Eleven,” the opening section of my sci-fi murder mystery novella, and you can also find it on the publisher’s website. However, unlike that page over on Unbound, this guest post reveals why the book doesn’t start with Chapter One.
Saving the best for last, this post will be brand new to absolutely everyone: it’s a run-down of my top five favourite books! Though actually it’s more like a list of my joint favourites. It’s a list of my joint favourites that had to be whittled right down to just five. In true clickbait fashion, you WON’T BELIEVE which one (not pictured) allegedly has the power to open the gates of Hell!
If you didn’t catch the guest posts here on my own blog first time around, here they are again:
- MTW Guest Post: Khristina Atkinson Character Bio
- MTW Guest Post: Robbie Cheadle’s Advice on Poetry
- MTW Guest Post: Miriam A. Averna Q&A
These aren’t the sort of thing you’ll usually see from me (poetry advice especially!) so do have a look if any of them catch your eye: it’s very much a chance to explore something new. Also, if you’re interested in mysteries or thrillers – and if you’re here then I feel as though there’s a good chance you are – do keep an eye out for more good stuff during Mystery Thriller Week: it all gets started on February 12th, and I’ll be running a live hour starting 4pm EST on the 15th! I hope to see you there!
Another guest post today, this one a Q&A with Miriam A Averna. No Cure For Fear was one of the books that caught my attention early on the Mystery Thriller Week website (largely due to the cover, partly because I’m currently quite interested in mysteries involving drugs), so it’s great to have her on my very own blog!
Miriam A. Averna’s Work
Eddy Miller, a local graffiti artist and cocaine dealer, has only one goal – to save enough money for his terminally ill sister’s care. When a blast from his past, Ralph, makes him an offer he can’t refuse, he ignores his gut feeling and takes on a dubious medical trial. This, in exchange for a chance to keep all the profits from the sale of a synthetic type of cocaine. But when things start going wrong, will Eddy care enough to put a stop to the trial? And what really lies behind the secretive medical firm producing these drugs? Continue reading
You might already be aware that I’m taking part in Mystery Thriller Week with my sci-fi murder mystery, Ten Little Astronauts. Well, as part of the run-up to that event I’ll be doing something a little different over the next couple of days: guest posts! Each one of these will be a chance to discover a brand new author with a totally different story to tell. First up is Khristina Atkinson with a biography of her character, Nathan Reed. If you like what you see, do consider following Khristina to keep up with any news: there are links to her website and works at the end of this post.
Khristina Atkinson Author Bio
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
As milestones go, this one’s kind of a biggie. Ten Little Astronauts has reached 100 supporters, which was the target I set for my first book giveaway. One lucky person–revealed in the video above–is getting a signed copy of Robocopout as soon as I have one to send.
In terms of funding, Ten Little Astronauts is currently at 22%, so there’s quite a way to go. However, just the sheer number of people who’ve pledged to support it by this point is a huge boost. I’ve seen other books on Unbound published with under 100 supporters. If this were just an ebook, we’d be there already. But it’s not. There’ll be a super high-quality first edition for supporters, with a trade paperback distributed by Penguin Random House. That’s where the other 78% comes in, which will probably mean reaching another 300 or so people, but hey. There are 100 people on board already: there are at least 300 more out there.
If you’d like to be one of those fantastic people who gets their name in the back of the book and a ton of neat rewards along the way, you can pledge your support right here on Unbound.
It’s taken a lot longer than expected (the original plan was to have the entire thing wrapped up by the end of November 2015), but the first (or arguably left-hand) half of Girth Loinhammer’s Most Exponential Adventure is now complete!
Provided you choose to sit around moping at the at the very beginning of the story, rather than going off and doing something interesting, you can explore every single possible option leading off from that point, and follow along all the way to every possible ending: 256 in all!
I’ll be starting work on the second (or right-hand) half of the Adventure pretty much immediately, but it might be a while before I make the new content available just so that there aren’t too many dead ends for readers to stumble into. If you haven’t taken a look at this yet, now’s a great time: you’ve got absolutely masses of options and I can guarantee that any storyline you can start, you can also finish.
At the time of writing, the story is 78,629 words in length altogether, making it the single longest work I’ve ever released by a reasonable margin (the next longest is currently Face of Glass, at 55,550). Despite that, this novel-length interactive story is completely free to explore. If you’d like to chuck some money my way, however, please consider pledging to support Ten Little Astronauts, my crowdfunded novella. You’ll get a book that wouldn’t have existed any other way, every copy will have your name recorded in the back as one of its patrons, and you’ll be helping me achieve my dream of having my best work to date distributed by Penguin Random House. It’s a win-win-win!
It’s been a ram-packed four days (plus travel), but well worthwhile. EGX 2016 was the first event of its kind that I’ve been to but, much like Agatha Christie’s birthday celebrations, I’m already looking forward to the next one. I pretty much just caught the train up to Birmingham and stayed in the cheapest hostel I could find, which turned out to be a decent enough plan since plenty of other people had had the same idea. I spent most of my evenings hanging around with other EGX people, though the first night I was there I ended up grabbing a burger with Markus Stitz, who was heading to the same venue for a different reason: it turns out that EGX overlapped exactly with the Birmingham Cycle Show, and he was there to display the bike he used to cycle around the world. I definitely recommend checking out the video on his site – the distances he covered on not just one bike but one gear are simply extraordinary – but I also recommend getting out there and not just going for the nearest hotel next time you’re headed off to something like this. You meet people, you learn things, and your entire stay costs the same as one night in a Travelodge. That’s a definite plus point.
I actually managed to snag the very last EGX early access ticket going on the website a few months back, which turned out to be well worthwhile because it meant that I could get into the venue at 10am each day when the bulk of visitors were getting in at 11. That typically made for a chance to queue up for one huge thing for half an hour or so when it would have taken more like two hours at any other point during the day. If I’d had to wait that long to try Final Fantasy XV, Battlezone, or Gears of War 4, I probably wouldn’t have bothered. I might have stuck it out for Dishonored 2 just because the first game was so spectacularly well constructed, but for the most part a wait of more than an hour would have felt like time that would have been better spent trying out some of the excellent indie games on offer. Continue reading
On Thursday I got up at 6 and hopped on a four-hour train to Torquay. The reason? Agatha Christie’s birthday celebrations! Also, the event marked 100 years since the creation of (perhaps) her most famous character, Hercule Poirot.
There were a fair few Poirots at the festival itself, which reminded me somewhat uncomfortably of Stevyn Colgan’s A Murder To Die For, in which a murder takes place at just such an event and the mystery fans present (most of them dressed as fictional detective Miss Cutter) take it upon themselves to solve it. It was during the cream tea at the end of my visit that I realised that the opening chapter of that book had left enough of an impression on me that I should probably go ahead and pledge to support it. If anybody else would care to do the same (the book sounds very, very funny) then you might see me at the launch party.