I’ve made myself a new website!
I’m going to continue to use this WordPress site as a blog, but it’ll no longer double as my central web presence. The johnayliff.com domain now points to my new site rather than this blog, and this blog’s address is now johnayliff.wordpress.com. More frequent updates about my Twine games will appear on my Patreon page.
The new website will host my Twine games, so they won’t be at the mercy of external hosting sites going down. Seedship’s new address is www.johnayliff.com/games/seedship/.
Writing Seedship got me interested in procedurally generated text, and the other day I stumbled on Tracery, which is a simple procedural text generation tool. It powers Cheap Bots Done Quick, which lets you create your own Twitter bots using the Tracery system.
I spent a few hours playing around with it, and eventually came up with @spaceoverlord, which tweets random plots to destroy the world! (I was surprised that the @spaceoverlord handle was free.)
Tracery also interfaces with Twine, so I might try to use it in a future Twine game (not the orc monk game, which is more linear, but a future procedurally generated one).
I’ve just launched my first Twine game: Seedship! It’s free and you can play it online in your web browser.
In Seedship, you take the role of the AI controlling a robot ship filled with frozen human colonists. Your job is to find the best planet to found a new human colony. The game is based heavily on random generation, so no two games will be the same.
Seedship is the first game I’ve launched supported by my Patreon page. If you’d like to support my creation of more games like this, you can go to that page and make a pledge.
I said last time that I don’t usually share my works-in-progress, but maybe that’s a habit I’m changing, because here I am doing it again:
I’m working on a new game, called Seedship. It’s a text-based game in which the player controls an AI colony ship searching for the best planet on which to found a new human colony.
I’m writing Seedship in Twine, a tool for creating non-linear hypertext stories (stories that you navigate by clicking links). Seedship is based on randomly-generated content and intended to be replayable. You’re moving from planet to planet until you find a good one to found a colony on, but every time you move on you risk the ship being damaged, so it’s a game about judging how far to push your luck: do you settle on this less-than-perfect planet, or move on and risk serious damage?
I’m hoping to release Seedship around the end of February or early March.
I’m also planning for Seedship to the the first of many Twine games I create. I think Twine is a good medium for me: I enjoy the close mix of coding and writing, and I can create a game on my own despite my lack of artistic skills. I’d like to release a game a month, although one every 2-3 months is probably more realistic.
Which brings me to my second announcement: I’ve set up a Patreon to support my development of Twine games like Seedship. I’m going to release the games for free, but if you want to encourage me by throwing some money my way for each one I release, you should sign up as a patron. Patrons also get access to exclusive developer blogs and (at higher levels) get their name in the credits and get to play preview versions of the games.
I’ve set up the Patreon to be per game rather than per month, so you’ll only get charged when I release a game. This means that if I need to spend less time on Twine games some months in order to focus on other projects, I can do so without feeling like I’m robbing my patrons. I do intend to release Twine games on a fairly regular basis, though.
I don’t normally share information about works in progress, but this is an exception. I’m delighted to announce that I’m in the early stages of working on a comic, in collaboration with artist Paolo Puggioni.
I’ve been interested in working on a comic for years. When I was working on RuneScape it occurred to me that the kind of writing I was doing was kind of similar to comics–short, discrete blocks of text accompanied by mostly static visual images, through which the player proceeded at their own pace–and reading comics had helped me with the writing I was doing there.
So when Paolo contacted me with the proposal that we create a comic together, I was pretty excited. Paolo and I had worked together when he was a concept artist at Jagex, and I was always very impressed with his work (see for example his art for the abbey from One Piercing Note).
We both wanted to work on a science fiction comic, and after bouncing a few ideas around we came up with a setting based on conflict between genetically/cybernetically enhanced transhumans and ‘pure’ humans. On planets where ‘pure’ humans dominate, transhumans are kept in orbital reservations and forced to perform in ‘Freak Shows’ where the public can gawp at their modifications.
Here are some of Paolo’s concepts for our main character, Zaquida. She has an unusual modification that lets her interface with computers using nanotech tendrils that come out of her forehead.
This project is still in its early stages: I’ve written a script for one issue, and Paolo is concepting the characters and setting before he starts working on the pages. Keep an eye on his blog for concept art as it appears.
Vancouver folks! I will be doing a reading from Belt Three at the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library on Wednesday 14 September, in the evening. I’ll have a few copies of the book available to sell. Several other Vancouver writers will also be there.
When: Wednesday, 14 September, 7pm-8:30pm
Where: Vancouver Public Library, central branch, level 3 meeting room
It has become a tradition among genre authors to write a post at the start of each year listing their works from the previous year that are eligible for awards. Some people see these as grabs for attention, but I think mostly they’re just informational. If a reader wants a reminder of what an author has written, or is in any doubt about what works are eligible for what awards, then an award eligibility post clears things up neatly.
Anyway, this is the first year I’ve been able to participate in this tradition, so here it is: my first Award Eligibility Post:
- Belt Three is eligible for the Hugo and Nebula awards for Best Novel, and any other Best Novel Awards.
- Because it’s my first professionally published work, Belt Three also makes me eligible for the John W. Campbell award for Best New Writer, and any other New Writer or Debut Novel awards.
I’m not going to say that I think Belt Three is worthy of an award, or that I think it isn’t. Mostly I just like being able to list it!
Belt Three is now out in paperback! Here is what it looks like:
To tie in with the paperback release, I have a post on Harper Voyager’s blog, in which I talk about things to consider when designing a fictional spaceship, using Belt Three‘s Remembrance of Clouds as an example.
I’m on the radio! Art Hartmut of the Writing Life show on Vancouver Co-op Radio interviewed me about Belt Three, science fiction, and my writing process. It includes dramatised readings of a couple of excerpts from Belt Three.
Listen to it on the show’s website.
Direct link to audio.