NaNoWriMo Week Two

Week Two is over and Week Three has already begun. I’m still behind, but I’m still determined and some of the stresses that have been causing trouble for me and John are finally over. John has passed his driving test (YES!) and job frustrations should be easing up, too. So I will be able to dedicate more brain time and actual physical time to my own projects. Yesterday I had my best day of writing yet, which was five thousand words. I’m still twelve thousand behind (I have 16.6k and have yet to write today) but if I have another few days like yesterday I will catch up in no time!

How is everyone doing? I feel like I’m in a bubble, not able to see and hear what’s going on around me.

I’m hoping after Nano and Christmas time I will be able to get to being more social and learning how to interact with people. I want to start getting more involved, but at the moment I’m focusing on my own work and winning Nano!

Good Luck in Week Three

NaNoWriMo Week One

The first week of Nano is over and I’m not doing so well. I have 4065 words and at the end of the day to meet the goal I should have 13336. It is a bit terrifying to realise how quickly that I’m falling being. The gap grows wider each day as I manage fewer and fewer words.
I’m by no means giving up, I’m still aiming to win (get 50k words by 30th of Nov). All it’s going to take is a few good days. I think the problem is I’m reticent to let my imagination just go wild. I want it to be a great story straight away but it’s not going to work that way, I will need many edits and such and I know it will get better each time.
So I need to relax and write, allowing all the crazy things fall onto the page and have fun with it. So that’s what I’m going to do now, I have a couple of hours before I need to be anywhere, let’s see what I can do.
Here’s to a great week two!

The End of October

Aaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!
AHHHHHH!

Where did October go?? I’m absolutely not prepared for NaNo.
Despite my desire to be productive and my attempts at planning Life has had other ideas. Stress is a big stopper on my abilities to get things done, to think and this month (the last few really) has been one kick in the teeth after another.
I promise you that I did not start this website just to complain and be a downer. We started this site at a bit of a hard time for us, there are a few life changes and challenges which need to be overcome (which will hopefully be soon) in order for us to really get to grips with the creative.
For this post I wanted to get something down, to let those interested know that we’re still here and that there WILL be more and better content coming soon. I’m going to try and document my NaNo experience, let me know if there is a particular thing you would like to know, or if there is a way you would like it presented!
How are you doing? How was October and do you have plans for Halloween? I shall be settling in for some frantic noting and outlining!
Until next time!

Car Ride

The rain tip taps on the car roof, falling from a grey sky. Blue sky lies in the distance, far in front, beyond the trail of metal carriages filling the motorway lanes. Red lights flash, on and off, on and off, as we inch along the road.
A gloved finger taps on the steering wheel, in time with the drops all around. No small talk, or music fills the car, just the ambient sounds and the taps.
Beyond the barriers steep tree covered hills give way to undulating fields of pale green grass with cream coloured sheep. Then, a forest of white turbines, reaching their slowly rotating blades high in to the air.
Soon the inches turn into feet and the feet into miles and we are travelling at a steady pace, the landscape whips by, once again the hills creep back around us.
We will pass through into the sunlight before long, the rain will be behind us and the road will be clear.

I Did A Thing – My “200 word RPG” Entry

Good day all!

My games design journey has officially begun. I’ve been trawling reddit, trying to get involved in the community and I found a post promoting the 200 word RPG challenge. This is pretty much as it says on the tin; you have to write a fully playable Role Playing Game in only 200 words. Well this was a challenge that I couldn’t really pass up, so I strapped my dev-boots on and got working.

Previously I was sitting down to wade into Project Power, which will be a very long process even to get a first draft of the rules done, when I saw this little gem of a project; so I hopped to it! Last night I must have been fairly inspired because I hammered it out in only a few hours and was very happy with the result; so I posted it off and huzzah!

I give you the official release of “One Must Ascend” 0.1 (200 word version)

One Must Ascend:-

You are a God – describe your aspects (Fire, Love, etc.) – Start the game with a pool of ten power tokens.

Take one action per turn:

War: Pick someone; your followers fight theirs. Both describe how and where.

Divine Council*

The winner rolls 2d6, the loser 1d6 – whoever rolls highest takes the difference, in tokens, from the other.

Worship: add one token to your pool.

Quest: Describe your hero and their quest and add up to three tokens to it. Any other god may describe a challenge for them to face. The questing god then describes how the hero tackles it.

Divine Council*

Hero wins – add one token from the challenger’s pool to the quest.
Challenger wins – Take one token from the quest and add it to their pool.

Repeat until no more challenges are offered.
The questing god then doubles the tokens, adding them to their pool.

Ascend – Commit any number of tokens. Any god may commit tokens to cancel yours out. If any remain at the end, you win. All tokens committed are removed from play.

*All gods not involved must decide who wins, by majority. No draws allowed. The council can demand more description to decide.

–END–

As you can see, there is plenty of scope for back and forths between mortal enemies and amazing stories crafted from your imagination and the barebones mechanics! There are elements of chance and strategy and potential for politics with enough players.

This will be put into my playtest list and refined, but if anyone possibly takes a look at this and actually plays it, well I’d love to hear from you 🙂

’til next time you beautiful nerds; game on.

John.

Link to the competition site: https://200wordrpg.github.io/

NaNoWriMo Prep – Games Development!

Good day readers!

John here and things in my life have been very hectic recently. I have myself a new job that comes with a host of new challenges; not least of which is scheduling all the amazing things I want to do, creatively. NaNoWriMo has been a part of Emma and I’s life for a few years now; every year we give it a go and inevitably fail (Emma succeeded once, which was amazing!) So this year we really want to give it our best. Emma is attempting a traditional fantasy novel based on the world she has been developing for quite a while, it’s really good and I can’t wait to read what she comes up with.

I however am going to do something completely out of the ordinary. I am going to be developing games for the whole month! You heard that right: in the time honored spirit of National Novel Writing Month, I’m not going to be writing a single word of narrative fiction!

For ages I’ve had a few half-developed games ideas rolling around my skull, a few of which I have taken quite far with the help of some friends, but there are some really interesting ideas which I always return to but never develop any further. Well, this November will give me the opportunity to flesh out those ideas into prototypes with proper rules and hopefully some art.

Idea 1 – PAP RPG – this will be a totally lightweight tabletop roleplaying system that I half-developed last year with the help of a friend. I am taking a few core mechanics that I really liked and going to try and build it into an enjoyable game!

Idea 2 – Project Power – This will be a card game centered around the political turmoil of our time, I’ll say no more!

Idea 3 – Project Felix – Another card game utilising some fairly interesting and underused mechanics which will be a cross between Resident Evil and Neko Atsume.

Idea 4 – Project Stellar – This is the project that is the furthest along, I have actually made some wooden spaceships and have a first-draft ruleset. It’s a tabletop, space-based, fleet combat game.

Idea 5 – I have no idea – Here’s the real challenge! I’m going to develop a brand new idea for some kind of physical game; from the ground up. I am going to try and make it fully print-and-play so I can basically just release it on here and get people playing it and best of all, I’ll be uploading dev diaries and hopefully find a few other ways to connect with you all. I really want to stream this stuff on Twitch!

Wish me luck, this is a purposefully large undertaking so I can really try and push my motivations into creating something a lot more interesting and fulfilling his year!

Good luck to everyone prepping for NaNoWriMo!

John Steadman.

The Sabotage

I’m a saboteur. I try to ruin my own life in lots of small ways. Once I experience a tiny amount of success I find ways to fail, to stop what has been successful and to pursue the unhealthy habits that keep me trapped.
The last couple of weeks have been that way in many respects.
I’ve not been using my office, a place we made for work. I choose to be uncomfortable in a chair which leads to less productivity.
I give in to urges to eat and buy rubbish. Luckily not gaining weight but not losing.
My Nano prep is at a minimum, so much so I worry about being able to complete the writing challenge.
I sit and I scroll through Instagram and Twitter, trying to silence the screaming worry in my head. And it makes me even more frustrated, why can I not just DO something to help myself.
I felt this way shortly before starting this website with John, and for awhile it was great, with all you lovely people liking my posts. But I got caught up with questioning myself and all the other little blocks I put in my own way which caused me to back away from what helped.
It’s a tough time at the moment, John’s about to start a new job, so money is a bit of a concern, and the nervousness that comes with something new.
John’s last day is tomorrow and we have sometime before he starts the new job. We will be spring cleaning, changing things around and making the flat beautiful. I’m hoping it will be the start of a productive time and that I can throw myself into world building and prepping for Nano.
I know that periods of depression are going to happen throughout my life, but I’m trying to deal with them with a more mindful attitude and to make the most of the times where I am okay. With each bout it’s getting better, one day I hope to have a good balance.

Sorry for this self-indulgent post, but it’s good to get this out and to have some accountability, to have my feelings out there in a place where others can see, and maybe not feel so alone.

I will be back with more soon, as will John, but it may be sporadic for a little while.

Rail Way – A Poem

A train clickity clacks passed the window. Causing flocks of birds to flee. Peace is torn, black dust is thrown, taking passengers from here to there.
It isn’t a bother per say. But it causes alarm in the night. With a shudder and shock, it whisks on by, stopping my heart for a beat.
For now its gone. The birds have landed, silence returns and passengers are off on their way.

***

This was quite an experiment for me. I really enjoyed testing out the flowing of sentences and seeing what I liked. I may very well do more like this and try and work more thought of flow into my stories!

Worldbuilding – A Journey Into Scifi

I’ve been working on science fiction stories for a long time, and with that comes the desire to support your ideas with as much flesh as you can. Scifi is a strange genre simply because by its very nature it requires more thought and exposition; the context in which you place your stories can in fact end up being the entire substance of those stories. This means that wherever possible, you need to be able to recall an interesting piece of galactic lore, or try to simulate grand politics in an interesting and engaging way.

This is where worldbuilding comes in. The pursuit of spending inordinate amounts of time on crafting a setting is all about creating a context which can organically make your stories come to life; as a dungeon master for many DnD groups through the years, there is nothing more annoying, or so able to break the flow of a story, as being unprepared for a twist. As a writer, when you’re actually writing your story, you don’t necessarily know where it’s going to go when you’re writing it. This is one of the joys of writing; with your notes you can set little milestones in your story, winding avenues where you know your characters must end up, but it’s those misty in-between parts where your instinct and indeed cunning as a writer must shine through.

Incidentally, you can make yourself seem a lot more skilled and a lot more cunning if you do most of the work in your setting beforehand, and that’s why we’re here; you want a nourishing soup of interesting facts and lore to draw from when you’re putting your characters in compromising situations.

Anyway, I began the journey into my setting a few years ago when I was working nights at my old job. I had some cleaning and restocking to do, I worked on my own, but after that I had atleast 2 hours a night to do whatever. Over the course of a few months to a year, I filled first an A6 notebook with tons of ideas for a history, then an A4 notebook that codified everything for me; in here I went into a ton more detail and actually wrote out the timeline for my setting’s history and fleshed out some of the more interesting ideas I had for the landmark events that really defined the setting.

Something that really stuck with me was a piece of advice I believe said by Jim Butcher – the writer of The Dresden Files. I will now butcher (no pun intended) that advice by paraphrasing it: “Ask yourself when you’re writing your story, whether you’re setting it at the most interesting time in your history, because if not, why not? Why would your reader want to hear second-hand about that interesting event rather than read it?”

The reason I bring this up is because these “interesting events” are what you should be looking out for when you begin worldbuilding; it’s these that should naturally turn into your stories. You’ll know them when you find them.

I’m writing scifi, so I began my setting’s history at the time when the timeline diverged from our own – conveniently, this was around the present time at which I was writing it, so 2017. I then went forward crafting a history which would catapult humanity to the place I needed it to be to have humans in my story. I went back and forth quite a lot on whether I should make humans the focus, or aliens; personally, I love the idea of aliens, but felt in the end that it would end up being more relevant if humans were the “main protagonists”. I actually go back on this later, but this decision paved the way for some really key decisions in my worldbuilding.

So after going through year by year, then decade by decade and eventually century by century, I got the the “present day” of my setting; this is the time in which all of the stories that take place in my setting will happen. At this point, I revised all the history which had been laid down and highlighted some of the more key moments: many battles and tactically interesting maneuvers took place in the huge upheval that brought humans forward and I wanted to make those events reference points from which I could craft exposition later on.

I also finalised who and what will be the main players in my story and every time I inserted another main player or race, I had to go back and quietly slot them into the story, or make a reason as to why they weren’t in it up until that point; it’s all quite a challenge, but incredibly fun when you feel like a decision you’ve made about your setting really clicks and creates some amazing ideas you hadn’t seen before.

For instance, I wanted a robotic race in my setting; I think the idea of AI is being explored more and more, so I’d love to be able to do some of that in my stories. Now, because I had waited until I had most of the history written before I put them into the setting, I had to figure out a reason why they were removed from most of the galactic history I had up until this point (almost 500 years). I did this by coming up with a little conceit – that they came about by accident: humanity, once they had conquered most of the galaxy, sort of began forgetting about most of the pusuits they had undertaken over the years. Humans had so many resources that they could open a huge mining operation for instance, then when it turned out not to be profitable, instead of taking all the robots and machinery with them, they just left it.

A group of scientists were studying a curious type of crystal that only seemed to exist in this obscure system at the edge of known space, the whole team end up dying from a radiation burst from a nearby star; this radiation burst also energises the crystals and kick-starts their sentience. They then access all the records from the scientists, learning earth’s history and also the plans of the scientists, namely that if this experiment were to result in sentience, they would dispose of the crystals and the budding life within. Eventually this crystalline race who are able to interface with technology reach out and discover the robots and primitive AI which had been discarded wantonly by the humans.

I came up with all of this after about 70 percent of the history of my setting was complete and it ended up being a hugely influential part of the story. To me, this just goes to show how having an idea and taking it to it’s logical conclusion, even if you believe that you might be “shoe-horning” your idea into the setting, is worthy and should be pursued.

I hope this little dive into how I crafted by scifi setting was interesting. I’ll be working on all of this for my upcoming entry into NaNoWriMo.

See ya!

NaNoWriMo Prep

We’re just under two months away from NaNoWriMo! If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a writing challenge where in November you try to write 50k words. I’ve tried the challenge in the past but I’ve only completed it once, and I think that was with a lot of excess words thrown in.
So, in order to prepare and to give myself the best chance possible I’ve been doing several things.

  1. Getting into a routine – I’m aiming for get up earlier in the morning, taking myself to the office to write and separate myself from the worries of the day, and meal prep so that cooking is less of a hassle and to keep us from indulging. This is still an on going process (especially since John is about to change jobs), but we have time!
  2. Making notes – So many notes! I’m one of those people who take hours to come up with names (and even then I’m not happy or just chose the first one I thought of) and just sit and stare and the blank page when I’m not sure of something. In order to prevent that I’m fleshing out my fantasy world, creating places, history and lists of names. This has been coming along slowly but getting quicker as I know more.
  3. Creating a story Outline – I’m not a pantser (going by the seat of your trousers). I can write stories that way, but they would all just be happy, with no conflict and lost plot threads. So, planning out will allow me to create a better story and I’m sure I will add some things as I go!

There are other little steps I’ve been taking; trying to be more social, spreading my writing wings, attempting to not feel guilty for spending so much time on something that may not go anywhere. But I love writing and it’s all worth it. The process of writing in pen on paper, tapping on the keyboard, of editing and of streamlining, it’s all a part of it and all wonderful.
This site is a little over a month old and already it has helped me so much. I hope in some way I can help others, whether now or in the future.
Are you joining in NaNoWriMo, if so how are you getting prepared? Any advice or questions, let me know!