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 am the Ghost of Christmas Past!” announced the spirit standing before Scrooge’s bed.
“Yes,” said Scrooge, sitting up. “An old associate of mine—a Jacob Marley—warned me there was something strange in my neighbourhood.”
“Rise,” demanded the spirit, “and walk with me.”
“Oh no,” said Scrooge, sniggering. “This is something weird, and it don’t look good!”
The spirit couldn’t help but be a little unsettled by Scrooge’s look of mock horror. “I feel like you’re quoting something, but I’m not sure what it is. Also, don’t you think you should be a little more concerned about my visit?”
“Why?” asked Scrooge, resisting the urge to burst out laughing. “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts!”
“What?” Suddenly, realisation dawned. “No,” breathed the spirit. “Oh, no!”
Just at that moment, Bill Murray burst out of the wardrobe and zapped the Ghost of Christmas Past with his ghost-busting proton beam.
“Thanks, Bill,” said Scrooge. “Same time tomorrow night?”
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 got a little overshadowed by Ten Little Astronauts and Craft Keep, but yes, I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month again this year! However, I’m not writing a novel this time around. I’m continuing last year’s massively interactive fantasy story, Girth Loinhammer’s Most Exponential Adventure. The upshot of this is that although we’re only six days into the event, and although I only really got into it on Day 3 myself, the project is already more than 60,000 words long (50,000 from last year, plus 10,000 words of never-before-seen storylines from the past six days).
Flash Fiction Month 2016, Day 29
Challenge #13*: David Bowie Day. Write a story exploring themes of death or identity, including something beginning and something ending, and incorporating transhumanism. It must include at least 10 quotes or lyrics by David Bowie, and a character based on Bowie himself.
Blasting across the universe in a napalm-propelled rocketship with an Egyptian goddess in the driver’s seat and a money-pooping goat in the cargo hold was not the carefree getaway Girth Loinhammer had hoped it would be. He let out a gentle sigh.
“What’s wrong?” asked Sekhmet. Despite being the goddess of bloodshed, she was surprisingly sensitive to other people’s feelings (and unsurprisingly liable to punch in the face anybody who mentioned this out loud).
“It’s nothing,” he said. Then, feeling he might as well get it out there: “It’s just…you know we’re fictional characters, right?”
“No,” said Sekhmet, rolling her eyes. “I thought we were in a real napalm spaceship with a real money-pooping goat.”
“Okay, point taken. The thing is, when we exist, it’s because we’re in a story. And when I’m in a story, I almost always have to explain that I used to run a generic fantasy dungeon, that everyone I took prisoner in it was expecting a different kind of dungeon, and then within a thousand words it ends with me running off because things get…erotic.”
“Why do you always say that in subscript?”
“Because I don’t like it! You know me, I like violence. I’m not happy when things get…sexual.”
“Hey, foos!” put in the ship’s computer, which of course contained the uploaded consciousness of Mr. T. “There’s a starman waiting in the sky!”
“What?” asked Sekhmet.
“Knowing my luck,” said Girth, gloomily, “it’ll be some androgynous weirdo.”
Flash Fiction Month 2016, Day 28
“We can rebuild him. We have the technology!”
“Aaand right off the bat, that’s a reference to the wrong thing.”
“What do you mean? It makes perfect sense!”
“We’re turning the guy into a robo-cop, and you just quoted The Six Million Dollar Man.”
“Yeah, but they’ve given us exactly six million dollars to do it.”
There was a brief pause.
“Do you ever get the feeling that the guys upstairs have a sense of humour? It never feels like it in person but then they pull something like this.”
Arnold K. Marty was finding it harder and harder to pretend that this was all a dream. He twitched and stretched, preparing to get up, and wasn’t too surprised to discover that his arms and legs made robot noises as he did so.
“Okay,” he said, somewhat surprised to discover that he didn’t have a robot voice too. “What did you do?”
“We rebuilt you,” explained a skinny guy in a lab coat whose nametag label said “Phil.” “You are now the most technologically advanced officer on the force!”
“But,” added an equally skinny guy whose nametag said “Apply label here,” “bear in mind that six million dollars is way, way less now than it was in 1973.”
Flash Fiction Month 2016, Day 14
“Keep scraping, Larry, DEAR GOD KEEP SCRAPING!!!”
With only two minutes to go until the nine o’clock slot, and only static to fill it, things were tense over at Channel 5.
“The barrel’s empty, Greg!” whined Larry. “It’s completely empty.”
“Just keep going! We need something! Anything!”
“Uhh…” Larry struck…not gold, but certainly something. “Benefits: Too Fat to Work!”
“It’s been done! Keep scraping!”
“Okay! Okay!” Larry dug his teaspoon into the damp wooden boards at the bottom. “I think I’m hitting floor here…”
“KEEP SCRAPING!!!” Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2016, Day 13
Challenge #6: Write a story involving a stranger and an ambiguous proposal, borrowing the first line from another author’s story written this month. As an optional bonus, incorporate one thing from the list of “2425 Things Mr. Welch Can No Longer Do During an RPG.”
Sunshine, good music and a very long bar queue. This, Büzenpüken decided, was a strange sort of oppressed village. A strange sort of oppressed village indeed.
“It’s the dragon,” whispered a nearby peasant, the bags around his eyes black as the devil, and saggy as the devil’s devilish man-boobs. “The dreaded Party Dragon! He has made his home in Bierkan Mountain and demands that we honour his appearance with a thousand years of vigorous celebration!”
“That doesn’t sound so bad,” said Büzenpüken, scratching his beard.
“It wasn’t at first!” The peasant dropped to his knees, clutching Büzenpüken’s barbarian bearskin briefs. “But that was ages ago! I haven’t slept in weeks! All I do is dance and uncontrollably guzzle cheap booze!”
“That doesn’t sound so bad,” said Büzenpüken, again.
“It’s horrible!” cried the peasant. “And if we so much as complain about it…”
There was a roar from the cave at the foot of the mountain. A searing orb of flame arced across the sky.
“Uh-oh!” yelled the peasant, desperately zig-zagging away from the bar queue. “Uh-oh! Uh-oh!!!”
Flash Fiction Month 2016, Day 7
Captain Redundancy stood atop of the building he was on top of, staring out across the city that occupied his field of vision, and so much of his time. There was a light on the horizon. A light that grew ever brighter, ever closer, as destiny approached.
“Is there no other way?” came the question from his side.
Captain Redundancy watched the approaching light with steely eyes of steel. “No, my heroic friend. There can be no more talk. The time for diplomacy has long since passed.”
“Right-o. I’ll be off, then.” Doctor Diplomacy tipped his cap at the other superheroes assembled on the rooftop. “Best of luck, chaps.”
“And I also wish you the best of luck to you too.” Captain Redundancy’s gaze did not waver from the light. The sound of helicopter blades cut through the night air. The heroes watched and listened. Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2016, Day 1
Challenge #1: Community Mashup.
“A variety of breakfast cereals + nihilistic dystopian setting.” ~distortified
“Fairies and NASCAR” ~Megan1289
It has been eighteen years since the Final War. Eighteen years since the mushroom kingdom vanished into mushroom clouds. In the days before, the races were mere sport: entertainment for spectators grown fat on crunch. Now, the races are survival. An endless struggle between the Coco Tyrants and the Sugar Crazies. Those who gain the approval of the ganglords survive. There is nothing more. There is no right or wrong. No mercy or restraint. No choice.
The wheel burns within my grasp. The pedal screams beneath my boot. Beneath the hood, a dual-linked pair of solvent-quenched shredcannons; in the hold, three hundred kilos of high-octane Frosted Flakes.
The Coco Tyrants want them. The Sugar Crazies want them back.