No updates in a while, largely because I’ve been busy finishing up work on the novel that was once called The Clockwork Princess, but will now end up being called something else.
The trouble, you see, is that between me starting the novel and finishing it, someone else went ahead and released a book called Clockwork Princess. Being as I don’t have substantial evidence to prove that I in fact originated the use of the words ‘Clockwork’ and ‘Princess’ in the title of a book, I guess my book’s title is going to have to change.
Cue the rather agonising process of picking a new name for it. I’ve been calling it ‘The Clockwork Princess’ for so long that the very thought of it being called anything else is terribly uncomfortable. Currently I hate all the alternative names I’ve come up with; there are about 50 or so. Eventually I will realise that it’s not really that important and just pick one, but until then, I shall agonise.
In videogames-related writings, I wrote a piece about Telltale’s The Walking Dead roughly a year after everyone else already wrote a piece about that game, having finally manned up and finished it, and criticism of David Starkey’s musings about Bioshock Infinite‘s accessibility led me to write about accessibility in games in general, which generated a fair bit of discussion over at Gamasutra.
Today I laid down the final few words of the first draft of my current novel project, the sky pirate adventure The Clockwork Princess. To celebrate the coming months of crunching, editing and proof-reading, here’s an excerpt from the story’s beginning as a kind of teaser.
It began with a rumour.
Cultivated amidst the tumultuous commerce of the Docklands, the rumour travelled up the Great Chains all the way to High Kensington, where lips tightened in disapproval above perfumed jowls and china teacups.
It travelled downwards, past the chaos of the Circus and the civilised boroughs to the distinctly uncivilised Lowborough, where knuckles all too used to being cracked were cracked anew in anticipation of debts painfully repaid. (more…)
For me, there’s a special feeling to the first few hours of a new JRPG. It’s a comfortable feeling, like sinking slowly into a hot bath, or curling up under a blanket in front a well-loved film. It’s anticipation of many adventures to come, and acclimatisation to a world you know you’re going to be spending many hours in.
These games always take me back to my childhood, recalling adolescent years spent with games like Final Fantasy VII and Skies of Arcadia. I guess a part of me pines for a time when I could spend entire days absorbed in a massive RPG, a part of me that’s strong enough that if I’m given half a chance, I’ll still spend entire days sitting in front a massive RPG.
It’s a mixture of familiarity and uncertainty. In a sense, you know exactly what you’re getting; monsters will be defeated, levels will be upped, bosses will transform into bigger bosses and Some Bad Guy will threaten to Destroy The World. There will be a desert level. There will be at least one magic sword. The world, ultimately, will be saved, but only after a three-part final boss fight set to a thunderous orchestral score. (more…)
In videogames nothing can be said to be certain, except death and poor checkpointing.
Modern videogames seem to be at a loss with how to handle death. Player death used to make sense in the days of the arcade, when a dwindling stock of lives meant a dwindling pile of quarters in a gamer’s pocket. Death used to be the game designers’ main revenue stream, and in a pay-per-play world it made sense to challenge a player with fiendish difficulty, to always keep the next checkpoint tantalisingly out of reach.
In the age of the cinematic AAA blockbuster, this model doesn’t work so well. Increasingly, designers build their games as glamorous content tours, devices to show off explosive visuals and movie-aping storylines, delivered to a mass market with a lower threshold for punishment than the arcade gamer of old. So games get easier. Checkpoints more generous. The challenge of staying alive is rarely allowed to get in the way of accessibility.
But we still have to die. (more…)
Done. Wrote a novel in a month. I added the final few words last night at about 9PM, brining the total word count of my NaNoWriMo novel, Ziggurat, up to 50,370.
The last week of writing was actually pretty relaxed. I wrote a big pile of text early in the week, so I only needed to write a few hundred words each night as the month came to a close. I have noticed over the course of the process that I’ve actually started writing a lot faster as well, which is a bonus, and half the point of undertaking the experiment in the first place. I’m fairly sure I can bust out a thousand words faster now than I could at the start of the month. The actual quality of those words is, at the moment, an unknown entity.