You might recall Craft Keep VR from my writeup of EGX 2016, where I was lucky enough to try out the virtual reality fantasy artisan game first hand. Well, there’s some exciting follow-up news. First of all, Craft Keep is coming to Steam Early Access on the 10th of November: that’s less than a week away!
Second, I’m writing this thing! At EGX I got talking to the developer, Arvydas Žemaitis, who said that he was looking to include an interesting story as the player travels about setting up shop in all these weird and wonderful locations around the world. Naturally I sent off an email about it after the event, and here we are! Continue reading
While preparing the paperback version of Osiris Likes This, I took the opportunity to revise a few of my other books as well. In most cases that involved little more than making sure the front and end matter was up to date (the “Books by Damon L. Wakes” page has grown significantly since the earliest ones were first released). However, for Face of Glass, I wanted to do something a little more significant.
UPDATE: As the Humble Weekly Bundle is only ever available for a week, the links to it here will no longer work properly. Anything that originally pointed to the bundle in which Spoiler Alert appeared will instead point to the current weekly bundle. Chances are there’s some good stuff in there, but it won’t be the same stuff I’ve described below.
I’ve been putting off sharing a lot of interesting things just because I won’t be able to do much with them until I hand my 20,000 word final project in at the end of the month. However, this is something I think it’s well worth passing on now.
For anyone not already sick of hearing about it from me, Spoiler Alert is a platforming game played entirely backwards: You un-collect coins! You refill the health bars of fallen bosses! You sprint backwards right-to-left through a cartoon landscape while rain falls up!
If that sounds like the kind of bizarre thing you’d get from me during Flash Fiction Month, then I’m afraid that’s mostly down to coincidence. Though I did have a hand in it, the game was already in great shape by the time I got involved.
My main contribution was the final/first boss, Mr. Deathbunny:
So that’s the first part of this post’s title covered. The second part is the Humble Bundle. This thing is both a great idea, and a great deal: it’s a name-your-price bundle of games with whatever amount you decide being split between the game developers, the guys organising the bundle, and a deserving charity (you decide who gets how much). You could get Spoiler Alert and four other games for a dollar if you wanted to. Spoiler Alert on its own is typically about £2 (or £5 if you’re after the collector’s edition, which is what you get here), so if you want to try it, now’s the time.
However, I’d recommend sinking in a little more. The Humble Bundle typically offers additional games if you pay more than the average price offered at that point, though at the time of writing the big bunch of games is being offered at a steady $6. That’s not a bad offer given that it includes a Professional license for GameMaker Studio, which would ordinarily cost $149.99. Also the source code for Spoiler Alert itself.
If you really want to splash out, $12 gets you the Android export module for GameMaker (ordinarily $299.99). However, that bundle tier is almost all GameMaker-related, so if that’s not something you’re interested in then a $287.99 saving could still end up being a waste of $11. Personally I’ve gone for the $12 option, since I’d love to be able to put out a couple of mobile games even if they’re no more ambitious than Blacklight 1995 or Rainbow Bears’ Playtime.
So just to sum up, Spoiler Alert is in this week’s Humble Bundle, and it’s possibly the best bundle I’ve ever seen. I know with downloadable games that the chore of setting up an account to buy them can be more of a put-off than the money itself (perhaps especially when it’s such a trivial amount) but the Humble Bundle is well worth keeping an eye on.
Disclaimer: I’m plugging Spoiler Alert because I played a small part in making it and want to see it reach more people. However, that part was small enough that I don’t get any royalties or anything. I have absolutely nothing to do with GameMaker Studio or the Humble Bundle whatsoever. (I just think they’re neat.)
I’ve noticed two things recently. One is that, as with this week, I often end up with a lot of stuff going on at once. The other is that I sometimes go a long time without releasing any new work.
That’s not to say I’m not actually producing anything. Along with my Creative Writing MA, I’m still working on Inhuman Resources and the Alterworld collection, and I’ve got a handful of less conventional projects on the go as well. The problem is that, individually, progress on those sorts of things doesn’t really warrant telling everyone about them.
I figure the best way of dealing with these two issues—nothing for ages; everything at once—is to save up news and send it out monthly. And so I’ve set up a mailling list to do just that. If you sign up, then you’ll get a summary of things that have happened each month and you can pick and choose what you want to read about in more detail. There won’t typically be any news in there that isn’t covered in various tweets and blog posts, but the newsletter will make it a lot easier to keep up with what you want and skip over what you don’t.
If you like, you can also sign up for email notifications when I release new work. This sort of thing will also appear in the main newsletter, but only once a month, so the notifications will be handy if you want to hear about new stories and whatnot as soon as they’re available.
In addition to that, I’ll be using the newsletter to push myself to finish work regularly and to reward my most dedicated followers. For that reason, each month’s newsletter will include a brand new story not available anywhere else. There may be other newsletter-only or newsletter-first goodies down the line, but at the moment this is the one I really want to do.
So to sum things up, this newsletter will be a regular, reliable way of keeping up with what I’m doing. It’ll cover everything that’s happened over the course of a month—so you won’t miss any news—but at the same time it will only be sent to you once a month, so there’ll be plenty of time between updates.
If you want to read the ins-and-outs of the newsletter and notifications, you can find those here, or if you just want to hop right in and sign right up, the form to do that is over here. Of course, if you don’t want to sign up at all, that’s fine too: I’m not going to change the way I post anywhere else.
…but you will be missing out on monthly stories, and also the sock puppet will get it.
My journey to university comes in two chunks: a bus to the nearest train station, then a train into the city. By car, it takes twenty minutes or so. By public transport I’ve got to head off about an hour and a half before I need to be there. It’s actually not that bad since I can use the time to catch up on reading and/or pick stuff up from the shops on the way.
But yesterday I had a perfect storm of mishaps that really screwed things up. I had intended to go in an hour early and see if I could work on my current coursework project (which involves Twine) on the university computers. However, I’d forgotten that the buses come slightly earlier in the hour if it’s earlier in the day, so I missed the one I was aiming for. The next one got me into town just in time for the train, but there was nobody selling tickets at the station so I had to queue up to get mine from one of the machines. That took long enough that by the time I got to the platform, the train was just leaving.
Which is where the good luck comes in!
Figuring that I had more than half an hour before the next one, I headed over to the game shop where I worked last Christmas. I’d handed in a CV a while ago hoping to get some more seasonal work, so it seemed like the thing to do would be to follow that up. As it turns out, that was definitely the thing to do. I start tomorrow!
While having a job again will almost certainly force me to prioritise some things (namely the course and the job) over others (the Alterworld collection, my jewellery sales and Beyond the Black Throne), I’m hoping that it won’t totally eat up all the time I could possibly be spending on personal projects. If nothing else, I’m still hoping to produce regular (if nothing else, fortnightly) Black Throne updates, and I’m also hoping to put together something rather ambitious for Christmas this year. I wouldn’t like to spoil the surprise, but as I’ve just got the news and I’m feeling good about this right now, I will mention that I’ve got an entire freakin’ orchestra behind this one. Alright, I’ve got permission to use a wonderful piece of music they’ve already recorded, but I’m still chuffed to have this kind of talent on board, and I’m determined to make the most of it.
So yes. The course is engaging, my own projects are going places, and I’ve got a job again. Things are good right now, even if–perhaps because–public transport can be kind of a nightmare.
To keep up with the ongoing exploits of everybody’s favourite Dungeon Lord, just head over to Beyond the Black Throne where there are giggles, groans and goblins aplenty. I won’t be regularly announcing Black Throne updates on this blog, so if you want to keep up with the story in future then you might want to follow that blog or @BlackThroneNews on Twitter. Alternatively, Beyond the Black Throne will be updated every Thursday, so you could just check back once a week.
It may only be the second part, but I’m already hugely enjoying writing this thing. It’s a form I have virtually no experience writing in, so I wasn’t sure what kind of start it would get off to, but I’m happy to say that all the suggestions receieved were extremely promising, and that on this occasion I’ve made use of every single one of them. That almost certainly won’t happen every week, but I will be making an effort to work in as many as I can. Do get them in quickly, though! If I’m going to keep to my planned schedule, I’ll need to start coming up with new chapters at least a day or two in advance. Anything coming in as late as Tuesday or Wednesday is unlikely to make it in (though there’s always a chance it could be relevant to a future update, so don’t give up hope!). Also, from this point onwards (if I’ve set things up right) you should no longer need to provide an email address in order to leave a suggestion. That might change if I start to get floods of spam, but ideally I’d like to make things as easy as possible for anyone who wants to contribute.
This week also marks the first chapter to include animation, and there is quite a bit of it! While that did significantly increase the amount of time it took to put this chapter together, I feel that the extra character it adds is well worthwhile and I’m likely to get quicker (and better) over time. I’m also still cutting out new puppet parts—even for the Dungeon Lord, who I initially designed to be as versatile as possible—so once I’ve established a cast of characters things will hopefully get easier. At the moment, cutting new shapes accounts for roughly half the time spent creating images and animation.
Already, it’s clear to me that reader input is going to completely change the way I write this. I already knew that I was giving up control of the plot as a whole, but what I hadn’t considered was how much of an influence suggestions would have on the humour within it. That’s going to be interesting to explore in future. However, to do that I’m going to need a steady stream of suggestions, so if you haven’t already, tell your friends! The more people get involved, the funnier this will be.
You might recall The Dungeon Lord–aka. “Girth Loinhammer”–from some of my flash fiction stories earlier this year. More specifically, he featured in the Black Throne series: Before the Black Throne, Rebranding the Black Throne, and Black Throne White Noise. Well, he’s back again, this time with his own blog all to himself. He’s even got his own twitter account. The thing is, even though this is a reboot of sorts, he’s still dealing with the same old problem.
While good old Girth just wants to run a nice respectable dungeon–torturing heroes, stealing their gold, all that honest dungeoning stuff–a lot of the people who’ve been turning up recently have some very strange ideas about what kind of dungeon he’s running. It’s starting to look like his whips and chains and black leather armour are giving the wrong impression entirely, and this makes him very, very uncomfortable. Long story short, he’s fed up with the situation, but he’s out of ideas as to how to fix it.
This is where you come in. Leave a comment over on Beyond the Black Throne, or shoot @BlackThroneNews a message on twitter, and give the Dungeon Lord a suggestion as to what he should do next. Your feedback will dictate the course of his story! But naturally this is a big problem, and he’ll need lots of advice, so be sure to share the site with any friends you think could help (or, failing that, anybody you think could get a laugh out of the situation).
Where this goes next is up to you!
We always joked that having gone down the rabbit hole, stepped through the mirror, one day we would walk right into Alice.
Well, one day we did.
~Pvt. John Reynolds, Alterworld Expeditionary Force
It’s been a while since I posted anything Alterworld-related, largely because I’ve been working towards writing stories to go in the collection. However, there’s been one development I’m more than happy to share:
I’ve got in touch with Thomas Venner, a local artist whose work is absolutely spot-on for this setting. The scene above–from Never Look Away–should hopefully give some idea what a difference this could make to the stories themselves. Dealing with a world in which there is no light, and where seeing or not seeing can be the difference between life and death, having something visual alongside the text seems especially significant.
I’d also just like to point out that I didn’t ask for this scene specifically. Despite writing the thing, I couldn’t even imagine what this creature looked like, so it seems like a particularly ambitious thing to tackle. Seeing it done, though, it all works so well: there’s just enough visible to suggest something entirely alien, but at the same time not enough to build up an complete idea of what it looks like, or even what it is.
Fun fact: at exactly this point while writing this post, my internet connection cut out for five days. So much for getting this out there straight away!
Thomas has told me quite a bit about the thinking behind this image–particularly the quality of light emitted by the lantern and how it interacts with the creature–but I’m really not qualified to pass any of it on. Visual art isn’t my strong point, which is one reason it’s so nice to be able to work with someone who properly understands it. Still, even just at a glance I feel like it all works. Having the creature’s “face” partially obscured by the character’s shoulder is a particularly nice touch: again, it provides enough detail to suggest something really creepy, but not enough to give away the complete madness-inducing view.
If you liked the stories I posted every day in July, you’ll love this: you can now download the entire collection–Bionic Punchline–free to enjoy on your e-reader, tablet, phone, or just any old computer.
For those of you who didn’t catch every single story this year (and given how many there were, I’m guessing there’s more than a few of you), this is a great opportunity for you to catch up. For any die-hard fans who managed to read all of them, you’ll be pleased to find a never-before-seen introduction to and statistical analysis of the collection. And if that comes as a surprise to you, you may also be interested in OCR is Not the Only Font and Red Herring, because I’ve done this twice already. But don’t worry: it turns out different every time!
Flash Fiction Month 2014, Day 21
The shatterproof ruler caught the mugger across the face with a sound like a pigeon smacking into a recently cleaned windowpane.
“Ow, man!” the criminal did a little hopping dance, hand pressed firmly to his cheek. “Aah. That’s going to puff up like crazy.”
“That’s right!” The Astounding Welt pointed a chubby pink finger. “Crazy like you’d have to be to snatch purses when I’m on the job.” The point was a little laboured, but it got the job done.
“When are you not on the job? It seems like you’ve been slapping me with that ruler every day this week.”
“Which would suggest you’ve been out mugging people every day this week.” The Astounding Welt hefted his ruler menacingly.
“My criminal activities are the result of a system of government that forces the individual to shoulder unreasonable burdens on the grounds of personal accountability while simultaneously using public money to prop up large financial institutions when they inevitably collapse due to reckless business practices. Also a penal system that frequently leaves prisoners less able to support themselves through legitimate means than when they went in.”
“Wow.” The masked hero tucked the ruler back into his famous utility welt. “Now I just feel like a jerk.”
“Eh.” The mugger shrugged. “Everybody’s got problems.” He sat down on the curb. “You sound pretty tense. Everything okay?”
“Ahhhh.” The Astounding Welt sat down too. “Honestly? No. I used to patrol these streets with the Amazing Spiderguy, but it turns out he’s privately been struggling with chloephobia for a while now…”
“Chloephobia: fear of newspapers. I really shouldn’t be telling you this, but a lot of us superheroes have jobs in the media. Partly it gives us a reason to suddenly shoot off from our jobs when there’s supervillainy afoot, partly…I don’t know…I guess we’ve just got a thing for it. I know loads of guys—and girls—that have dated reporters. But Spiderguy…”
The mugger nodded. “I guess the news really wasn’t his thing.”
“It’s just so weird.” The Astounding Welt made his hands into fists, grappling with this new insight into his friend’s psyche. “He’d been working at the Daily Bungle for years! Now all of a sudden he just asks me to take over all his superhero duties. Won’t tell me when he’ll be back on his feet. All those years at the paper…you’d think he’d have got used to it!”
“Or maybe it was just steadily getting too much for him.” The mugger put a hand on the hero’s shoulder. “I know it’s hard to imagine how something as harmless as a newspaper could bring a superhero down, but that’s all the more reason to be a little understanding. You just don’t know what he’s dealing with.”
The Astounding Welt sighed. “You’re right. As soon as I’m finished this patrol, I’ll go and talk to him.”
“Maybe wait for him to talk to you. You don’t want him to think you’re just trying to drag him back out on patrol.”
“Yeah, I guess. And besides—there’s always online journalism. I’m sure he’ll find something.” He stood.
“I really shouldn’t be saying this,” said the mugger, “but I hope your friend’s back on his feet and fighting crime soon.”
“Thanks.” The Astounding Welt turned to leave, paused, then rummaged for something in his utility welt. “By the way, if you ever want to be more than just ‘the mugger,’ maybe this could get you started.” He held out a simple black superhero eye-mask.
The mugger took the mask and stared at it in disbelief. “But…I don’t have any superpowers.”
“You have compassion,” the hero smiled, “and that’s a kind of superpower.”
Meanwhile, in Spiderguy’s apartment…
“Hello? Helloooooooo? If anyone can hear me, I’m in the bathtub. I drained the water out because I was getting wrinkly, but now I’m cold. Hellooooooo…”