Saturday, August 23, 2014

A New Beginning

The last year has been a time of a lot of transitions for me, but I think at last I'm settling into a new pattern. I've gone through grad school, earned my credential as a teacher, and will be starting as an English Teacher at Prospect High School in Pleasant Hill, California in two days. At last, I feel like things are coming together.

Something I've noticed in the past is that when my life is stable I'm a lot more psychologically prepared to keep up with my writing. Though I thought I would be too busy and stressed to write once the school year started, I actually feel, if anything, even more excited and ready to write. We'll see how well this holds up as the school year gets rolling, but I have a good feeling about the next few months.

So what am I up to? I've been silent for a long time, and that's mostly because I've been A) in grad school and B) focusing on actually writing with whatever time I have rather than maintaining the blog.

What I'm up to is a lot of the same things I was up to this time last year, to be honest, I'm just farther along on them. I tried to do too many things at once, so progress has been slow on each of them. At this point, I'm thinking I might try to focus on one at a time, knock them out, and then be able to give the next one my full attention each time.

Here's the things coming up from me:

The Good, the Bad, and the Undead: A little over a year ago, I was fortunate enough to land in a collaboration with Jamie Thomson (of Fabled Lands and The Dark Lord fame) on a western-horror interactive novel called "The Good, the Bad and the Undead." Think Clint Eastwood meets Night of the Living Dead. It was originally an idea of Jamie's, but I took it and did some major revisioning, with his support and approval. I've taken point on actually writing it up, in fits and spurts through the year of grad school, between other projects, and more steadily over the last summer. Now, we're reaching the point where the end is in sight. Together with the Fabled Lands guys, we will run a Kickstarter campaign sometime coming up soon to fund the artwork and printing to get this project in print. By this time next year, my book will be on shelves credited to "Ashton Saylor and Jamie Thomson," a heartwarming echo of the first gamebook I loved, "Talisman of Death," which was credited to "Mark Smith and Jamie Thomson." I could die happy.

Dwarf King: A little over two years ago, I got an email from Michael Akinde of Micabyte Systems, offering to work together to turn my Winhammer Merit Award winning short interactive story, "Peledgathol: The Last Fortress" into an Android game. After saying, "Hell yes!" we began work on it. I don't think either of us expected it to take this long, but it's not a small project, and we've kept slow but steady progress for two years on this game. At this point, as with The Good, the Bad and the Undead, the end is in sight. Or at least the alpha. It's a strategy rpg that incorporates elements of interactive fiction, strategy civilization management, and his wholly original Small Battles tactical combat system to create one of the most fully realized strategy RPG games yet released for Android. And soon it will be real, oh yes, it will be real. *cue dramatic laughter*

Shadow over Rema: Perhaps my most ambitious project (and with the two above, that's saying a lot) is the gamebook for Tin Man Games I'm still working on, Shadow over Rema. This is my dark fantasy masterpiece which will probably take years to complete. In retrospect, starting with an Epic Masterpiece was probably not the best plan, and to keep myself motivated and enthusiastic, I'm working on other things in the meantime. But once I do get there, I think it will be glorious.

At this point, I'm hoping to finish GBU by the end of this year and have an alpha for Dwarf King out by then as well. That one depends on Michael as well as me, but I at least want to have my part done. I'm probably going to be working on Dwarf King and keeping it updated, adding new content, for years to come, but that can be a source of fun side projects while working on other things. At that point, instead of taking on something new, I'd like to turn my attention fully to Shadow over Rema, and hopefully finish it, or at least be nearing the end, by the end of 2015.

There are a lot of other projects I've dreamed of or sort of have up on the back burner, for once I have time. I'd like to write more LARPs, like the Arcadian LARP, and I have several partially developed. Theatre Noir is almost completely developed, but as that is purely a solo project, I'm putting that on the back burner until I complete some of the projects I'm working on which are accountable to other people. I've got ideas for the next game which will come after Theatre Noir as well, including a fantasy RPG set in my Isles of Mist world, but that's further down the line.

Though getting started in my career as a teacher has been stressful and time-consuming, I'm still determined to pursue both careers, both education and writing, and I think I can do it. Over the next year, I think you guys will start seeing things of mine come out. I hope you like them :)