Saturday, June 30, 2012

Re-Design may be coming up

Things in my life are changing, and it only makes sense that my website would change along with it. Like many good authors, especially starting ones, I need a dayjob to keep the writing flowing. Fortunately, I'm taking steps in a direction I'm pretty excited about. I learned a lot about gamification at my last job, working with a small startup, and received recommendations from several sources that I should set up a gamification consulting business.

It seems to be something I have a knack for, and game design has been one of my top three passions for my entire life, so I think this might be a good choice. My only concern is that I've really set this up as a gamebook-related blog. I don't want to lose that, but I'm thinking of redesigning my site to include some of my other passions as well, namely: game design and gamification.

I'm still working on how I want to organize it, but just wanted to let you good folks know that the change may be coming. Any thoughts or comments are welcome, as usual!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Lone Wolf: Reborn - Episode 15, End of Book 1

In case you've missed past episodes, see these links:
Lone Wolf: Reborn - Episodes 12345678910111213, 14

You enter the secret passage between the bookcases after only a moment's hesitation. The old man leads you through dark, winding corridors for perhaps ten minutes, his steps sure and unflagging. When he finally stops, it almost takes you by surprise. With a moment's searching, he tricks another hidden latch and leads you up into a large, plush room with a bath in one corner.

"Please make yourself comfortable. The King will see you soon," he says, leaving you alone in the chamber. The luxury of these apartments are unfamiliar, but that doesn't stop you from enjoying the bath. You sigh as the hot water steams grime and sweat from your skin, and eases aches from your bones. With regret, you pull yourself from the bath after only a few moments. Your duty is not yet done.

The old man returns to find you dressed in clean white robes. He smiles and nods, and leads you down yet another corridor, to a huge door flanked by two men in silver armor.

[At last! We get the treasured "Turn to 350!" I admit, it doesn't have quite the same ring as "Turn to 400," but I'll take it.]

The door opens and you enter the Chamber of State, where the King speaks with his advisors. Together, they consider a vast map spread on the table before them, their faces lined with worry.

A silence fills the hall as you tell of the death of your kinsmen and of your perilous journey to the citadel. As you finish your story, the King approaches and takes your right hand in his.
‘Lone Wolf, you have selfless courage: the quality of a true Kai Lord. Your journey here has been one of great peril and although your news comes as a grievous blow, the spirit of your determination is like a beacon of hope to us all in this dark hour. You have brought great honour to the memory of your Masters, and for that we praise you.’

You receive the praise and heartfelt thanks of the entire hall—an honour that brings a certain redness to your young face. The King raises his hand and all the voices cease.

‘You have done all that Sommerlund could have asked of a loyal son, but she is greatly in need of you still. The Darklords are powerful once more and their ambition knows no bounds. Our only hope lies within Durenor with the power that once defeated the Darklords an age ago. Lone Wolf, you are the last of the Kai—you have the skills. Will you journey to Durenor and return with the Sommerswerd, the sword of the sun? Only with that gift of the gods may we crush this evil and save our land.’

If you wish to accept the quest of the Sommerswerd, begin your adventure with Book 2 of the Lone Wolf adventures:

[Huzzah! We made it! I find it a little funny that the climactic final sequence of choices you make is no less than three instances of "do you follow this man," but whatever. Here we are! Congratulations!

So, who wants to start the next book?]

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lone Wolf: Reborn - Episode 14

In case you've missed past episodes, see these links:
Lone Wolf: Reborn - Episodes 123456789101112, 13

The officer elbows his way through the crowds, making slow but steady progress. Eventually, you break out of the press of people and pass underneath an arched gateway into the central compound, where guards keep out the tide of refugees. The officer shows his credentials, and the two of you are allowed through.

Ascending up a long flight of stairs, you are approached by a man in the white and purple robes of the King's court. He looks haggard and exhausted, making the old scars on his face stand out sharply against his skin.

The man greets you and leads you out of the main corridor into a small library to one side. When you ask where you are going, he simply winks to you, one bushy eyebrow twitching mysteriously. He tugs on a specific book, and before your eyes a section of the library bookshelves slides aside, revealing a secret passage.

"In here," the courtier says. "The King awaits."

If you wish to follow the man into the passage, turn to 332.

If you do not want to enter the dark corridor, leave the guildhall and return to the street. Turn to 144.

[What do you think? Do we trust him? Save point 196.]

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lone Wolf: Reborn - Episode 13

In case you've missed past episodes, see these links:
Lone Wolf: Reborn - Episodes 1234567891011, 12

Carefully, you ease the pin from it's socket--until you hear a faint click. With one sudden movement, you leap to the side, taking the pin with you.

Your quick reactions have saved your life, for a vast granite block has fallen from the ceiling and crushed the steps, just in front of the lockplate!

Breathing a sigh of relief, you dust yourself off and look up. A shaft of grey sunlight comes in from the ceiling, through the opening made when the block fell. Grabbing on to some nearby roots and vines, you scale the opening, and come out onto the surface at last.

Tombs and gravestones surround you in the shadowy necropolis, but to the south you can make out through the mists the arched southern gate to the great graveyard. Without wasting any more time, you pick your way between the graves and exit through the gate.

Clambering up the steep, musty hillside, you find that you are not far from the painted-log walls of the city's outer defense works. Scanning the sky for the Darklord's minions, you hurry across the intervening distance. The guards on the city walls see you coming, recognizing you by your green Kai cloak, even though it is torn and dirty from your travels.

They throw the gates open and greet you with jubilant cheers. Then, with sobering faces, they ask, "Where are the other Kai Lords?"

You explain the sad fate of your kinsmen, and the news hits the guards hard. No longer cheering, they make way for you to pass through. One of the officers leads you into the city proper to meet with the king, but once you get there, you find the city streets a chaos of refugees and frightened civilians. The officer struggles to push through, but you grow impatient.

If you wish to continue following the officer, turn to 3.

If you feel that you stand a better chance of making your way to the King’s citadel on your own, turn to 144.

[Save Point: 129. We're apparently not there yet. I guess more is going to happen in the city here. We got lucky with that roll for the pin; it was 0-4 = death, 5-9 = survival. I rolled a 10, but before I rolled I had decided to stick with my previously established convention (unconventional though it may be) of subtracting one from the result rather than treating 10's as 0's. (I just like being able to root for the high numbers  in combat :) I actually wasn't sure which result led to what this time; it was quite a relief when I realized we had narrowly avoided being crushed by a giant block.

On that note, how do you guys think we should play this? Are we in hardcore mode--stop as soon as we die the first time? Or do we get respawns? Any limit to the number or way in which we respawn?]

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lone Wolf: Reborn - Episode 12

The adventure continues...

In case you've missed past episodes, see these links...

Lone Wolf: Reborn - Episodes 12345678910, 11

The dark, circular room has a heavy atmosphere, and the two rows of skulls with green, glowing eyes lining the path ahead of you give you an unsettling feeling. A certainty comes over you that you do not want to walk between those lines of glowing eyes.

Without a second thought you heave your sword and bring it crashing down on the nearest skull. To your horror, inside is a slick, grey jelly, writhing and bubbling. As you watch, tiny, misshapen wings begin to form. Without waiting to see what it becomes, you turn and smash the next skull, and the next, picking up speed as you go.

A click ahead catches your attention--a portcullis is falling across the doorway ahead of you! Without bothering to destroy the last few skulls you leap and roll--just in time. The portcullis lands with a crash behind you, completely sealing off the area.

Moving ahead, you find that the corridor widens into a large hall. Before you, you see a staircase that ascends to a great doorway of carven stone. The illumination in this room comes from two black candles flanking the stairs, but you notice that no heat comes from those candles, and no way has melted from them.

Cautiously, you ascend the staircase to the great doorway, marveling at the carvings on the walls and door. As you grow closer, you search for some means to open this door. Upon close examination, you find that a pin seems to lock the door, but there is also a keyhole near to it.

An ornate pin appears to lock the door, but

there is also a keyhole in the lockplate.

If you have a Golden Key and wish to use it, turn to 326.
If you have the Kai Discipline of Mind Over Matter, turn to  151.
If you wish to remove the pin, turn to 337.

[I think we're nearing the end of the dungeon. We must not have done that well, because we don't have a Golden Key. We also don't have Mind over Matter, so this is going to be an easy choice. Try not to let the suspense get to you; we'll find out what happens next time!]

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Review of Brian Rathbone's "Call of the Herald"

(This is copypasta'd from my Amazon review of this book.)

One of the first ways I judge any fantasy is by the names, and the names here sounded hollow from the start. The characters are trite and straightforward, the writing is poor, and the story is rote. It's full of telling instead of showing. And the classist conflict of the first chapter, with the good, sweet innocent poor kids being oppressed and bullied by the evil wealthy and privelaged kids just made me gag. It's not the worst I've seen, but I don't recommend it. It's only not a one because I reserve one star for a special kind of bad.

I don't try to read a whole book if it doesn't win me over in the first few pages. In this case, I gave up when I got to the line, "The day was important, different. Something was going to happen--something big; she could feel it." Your mileage may vary; it's just not the writing style for me.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Lone Wolf: Reborn - Episode 11

It's not dead yet! Despite all evidence to the contary...

In case you've missed past episodes, see these links...
Lone Wolf: Reborn - Episodes 123456789, 10

Cursing, now, your decision to enter the Graveyard of the Ancients, you look with despair at the identical tunnels in the maze-like catacombs you have fallen into. Your Kai Sixth Sense gives you no insight here into which way may be best.

Choosing a tunnel at random, the one that you feel must lead north, you inch your way down the spiderweb-encrusted corridor. Before long, the hallway makes a turn to the left... and you see a greenish light farther up ahead. You look back briefly, wondering if the other path may have been better, then shrug and continue.

The ancient carven floor eventually gives way to a staircase leading down. The stones crack and grind as you descend the staircase, sending up puffs of bone dust with each step. The staircase descends into a round, open room, with a single door on the far side. The path leading to that door is lined with a row of marble plinths, and atop each column stands a skull, each skull facing its pair across the path.

To add a final flourish to the macabre scene, the eyes of each skull are glowing with a greenish light. That light is what you saw emanating from this room, back in the tunnel.

You lift your foot to take a step onto the skull-lined path toward the arched opening across the room, but hesitate. You mistrust those skulls. But would it be safer to destroy the skulls first, or to just hurry across the room?

If you wish to walk across the room to the archway, turn to 169.
If you wish to attack the skulls, turn to 107.

[Choices be made! Save point: 249]

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Working from Home

This post will be a little different. My circumstances have changed, and I'm doing a lot of thinking now about how to continue my writing when life doesn't always accomodate the time you want to put into it.

There's an irony in the fact that while I was working a boring dayjob, I wrote with every free moment--but once I took a few months off to write full time, I was no longer able to put the same level of energy into it. I think that while I was working, writing was my escape from the annoyance of my eight hour workday. A promise of a better future. But I constantly lamented that I didn't have more time to put into it. Once I had the time, I faced other challenges: organization, structure, motivation.

I still managed to outline a novel and write 25,000 words, which isn't too bad for one month. I just feel I could have done better. But now I'm finding myself with April and May having slid by, and only brainstorming on two new projects to show for it, no actual writing yet.

At this point, I'm facing yet a different set of challenges. I have a new job, but this time, I'm working from home on a project that I'm actually very excited about.

I do this thing: when I get into something, I dive in fully, barely coming up for air. This can be great for writing a LOT in short periods of time, when creativity strikes. It can be good for any project. But it makes it hard to multi-task.

I'm still looking for that balance. How do I meet my work obligations and still make sure to set aside time for writing?

I don't have to deal with commute time anymore (working from home) so that's a big benefit. But at the same time, there's a loneliness to working from home that saps my creative will. I know I'm not alone in that either; I've read about other authors who found they really needed to get out and at least work a part time job in order to keep up their creative spirits.

Then there's also the same challenges I've always had, just the challenge of keeping myself on task without external structure. I'm definitely getting better at it; five years ago I would not have been able to either write the way I do now or work from home successfully. But I've still got a lot to learn.

What do you guys think? Do you face similar challenges? If so, how do you solve them?

If this isn't what gives you writer's block, what does? What do you think your biggest challenges as a writer are?