It is the story of Thalia, a princess on her way to an arranged marriage. The story follows Thalia as she arrives at the kingdom meant to be her future home and gets to know her future husband, tracking her responses to her environment, positive and negative. As the wedding nears Thalia can choose to explore the castle and get to know some of its inhabitants, and at the end of the game the player makes a decision based on Thalia’s overall impressions: to go through with the wedding, or cancel it.
This early version of the game is fully playable and features character customization and four different endings.
An excerpt from the game’s opening will be available on my Patreon later this month.
It’s been a little over two years since I first signed up for 750words.com, a site based around the idea of morning writing exercises. One of the classic pieces of advice that professional writers give, is to start every morning by writing three pages, stream-of-consciousness style. This helps unclutter the mind and gets the writing brain into high gear. For people poor at planning it helps set an agenda for the day. For people prone to anxiety or rumination, it sets worries on paper and out of the mind. This exercise has many different uses. One page fits on average 250 words, hence the URL as given. 750Words.com.
On Monday evening I returned home from a grueling evening class, intending to “just quickly” check my social media before turning in. Now, normally I am a lot less active on Twitter than I am on Tumblr, but I like to check in and make sure that my account has something on it other than links to my blog posts. It was on this occasion that I discovered the hashtag #OwnYourOwn.
Own Your Own was started by the YA lit blog Interrobang and championed by Kaye M., a Muslim American YA writer and intersectional feminist activist. The core concept of OYO is to further the discussion of diversity in publishing, highlighting the perspective of writers and creators from marginalized communities. To own your own is the ability to write your marginalized experience into your creative work, without fear and without apologies.
I have two new games out on my philome.la page!
- Escape to Princess is a light-hearted humorous adventure where you escape your dreary life… to become a princess. Just as advertised. This twine is built in the form of a story with multiple choices. Your previous choices are highlighted and you can scroll back up to see them at any time. Content note: the game is humorous but does contain some strong language, if that’s not your cup of tea.
- Why Aren’t You Happy? is a game where you play a dragon who is trying to keep its princess happy. Give gifts to improve her mood, but remember that the cost comes straight out of your hoard. The game has three settings that determine how many game days pass before your tenure as a princess-minder receives its judgment.
A few weeks ago, I posted to Tumblr a link to a game I wrote in Twine. Well, not exactly a game. This Twine story contains images of the Minor Arcana, the lesser-known component of the Tarot deck. The code allows you to select random cards and arrange them in one of three different ways, the better to exploit Tarot’s rich history of symbolism as an aid to characterization.
Normally when I use Tarot cards, they serve primarily as a handy go-to source of writing prompts, perfect for little warm-up exercises when I’m having difficulty revving up the writer’s engine. I don’t really put much stock in cartomancy and I don’t use the cards to divine the future, although I read a lot of Tarot sites and gather different, contrasting interpretations of the cards and their meanings. Symbolism, particularly that of mythological origin, is incredibly useful to me as a writer. The Major Arcana are an excellent writing tool because the twenty-two trump cards are arranged such that they deliberately draw from the Hero’s Journey.
Nominations for WorldCon 74‘s Hugo Awards opened earlier this month, and will remain open until the end of March. Hugos are awarded in a number of different categories. In 2015, I wrote a number of short stories and other works that meet the qualifications.
Works that qualify for the short story category (stand-alone stories):
- “The Katabasis of Queen Esther“, originally posted on March 2015 (1666 words).
- “Hail the Hunter“, originally posted on June 2015 (3500 words).
Works that qualify from the Collar of the Damned ‘verse:
Reviews and other posts that qualify for the related works category:
- Review of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted (August).
- Cold Women, a review of CW’s The 100 (September).
- Bounty Hunters in Space, a review of SyFy’s Killjoys and Kameron Hurley’s God’s War (November).
- Review of Failbetter Games’ Sunless Sea (November).
- Every Hero Needs a Villain, a perspective on CBS’s Supergirl (December).
- Review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (December).
Although I have mentioned it elsewhere on social media, I haven’t discussed my games here much. Over the last few years, I’ve been dabbling in making hypertext games and stories using Twine, a wonderfully simple and flexible platform. It proved the perfect tool for making tiny little mini-games, light-weight and playable in a couple of minutes. Bearing in mind, of course, that the several minutes of gameplay took several hours to write, code and test.
It took some time before I was comfortable enough with Twine to create something that I could call a complete product. Once I did, and uploaded the final product to the lovely philome.la, the page seemed a little desolate. I looked at it and wanted it to be full of links to different games! Well, creating a portfolio of games takes some time and effort, even if they’re the sort of games that can be completed inside of six hours. But if a writer is not going to be realistic about their goals, they can at least be brave for them.
My first complete Twine adventures, the “Unicorn Trilogy”:
- “Box of Unicorns“, a cute cotton-candy colored romp where you collect small colorful unicorns to no apparent end.
- “Box of Unicorns: the Gritty Reboot” a.k.a. Unicorn Hunt, a low-rent grimdark post-apocalyptic parody, based on code almost identical to its predecessor, but with the added possibility of a bad end.
- “Unicorn Wars“, a heroic pseudo-epic in which you are called to defend unicorn-kind against sundry enemies. Slightly more complex gameplay with a countdown and a bad end.
And so, 2015 is over. It’s been an interesting year. I’m not certain whether I can comfortably look back on 2015, but I feel confident in saying that I look forward to 2016, and that’s no mean feat. My writing goals for the past seven months have mainly been “write!” and so it’s difficult for me to assess how well I’ve met them. I accepted some new challenges and took some new risks.
Here are a few things I am happy about, this year-end: