Work.

Friday, 7 July 2017 13:39
lea_hazel: Typewriter (Basic: Writing)
My work agenda is getting complicated. For one thing, I want to finish my editing, proofing, changes and additions to my route on BookSLEEPer so I can pass it on to the rest of the team, finalized. I have some story drafts laying around gathering dust, which I need to decide what to do with and/or where to submit. I've started putting together an outline for another game, in Twine form, and it's looking good but still needs a lot of work before I can treat it as proof of concept. I still need to get Wreath of Roses to an editor, too, and I have a short story critique I need to make a decision on.

Then there's all the books and games that need reviewing.

All in all, though, having a lot of work to do is actually a good sign. I just need to keep reminding myself of this.

Name Generators

Tuesday, 4 July 2017 12:51
lea_hazel: Neuron cell (Science: Brains)
As a writer, RPer, and all around nerd, I have a whole bunch of name generator websites bookmarked, and am always on the lookout for new and exciting ones. Of course I have also tried my hand at creating some small, primitive generators myself, like this one.

But one of the best qualities of worldbuilding, whether in games or in books, is the ability to simulate greater depth than you actually have. No one can build a world as rich as the real one, and if you tried to do it you would never have time for writing the actual stories taking place in this world. The trick is to make it look like the gaps in your knowledge are full of something that you just happen not to have mentioned. Part of it is investing more work into the things your characters have knowledge and interest in, or rather the reverse: make your characters proficient in something you're interested in developing.

What all that means is that most SFF writers aren't conlangers, and they don't need to be. You can simulate the richness of a unique language to the satisfaction of most, usually just by creating a quick-and-dirty phonology guide, and then staying out of your own way by being careful about idioms, puns and wordplay. The reader's (or player's) imagination provides the rest.

Part of my process is that I find it terribly difficult to write about characters if I haven't named them. This means I'll usually have a string of names before I have any kind of set phonological rules to follow. It also means I find it very hard to change those names, even if they were only meant to be working products. What I would like to be able to do is design a naming tool that you could input a string of names into, and it would break them down into an approximation of individual syllables, and then use those units to construct a series of new names.

I'm pretty sure I have the skills to do this, but it would take time and a fair amount of thought going into designing it, instead of just jumping into tinkering with code like I'm used to.

I'm open to feedback on the technical aspects of this project. I'm also interested in discussing the meta theory behind it, but based on the premise that I laid out. I'm not here for "everything you said is wrong, you're not a real fantasy writer unless you build your own language from scratch". Or anything along those lines. Comment at will, if you cross a line I promise I'll let you know.
lea_hazel: Kermit: OMG YAY *flail* (Feel: OMGYAY)
It helps me think. But there always seems to be too damn much going on, and I always seem to be criminally behind on something.

I took my one and only exam for the semester and it went remarkably well. I am cautiously optimistic about my grade, which I won't find out for a while yet. My next semester starts in late March, a little more than two weeks from now. Much more intimidating, because it's one of the more notorious branches of mathematics. It's a CS requirement, though, and I think a face-to-face class will force me to pay more attention to the lectures, compared to sitting on my sofa and watching the lecture through the computer. Still, it's another shot for my "get ahead of the material in case you fall behind later" plan, which has never yet quite succeeded as intended.

Work-wise I have deadlines and more responsibilities and I'm sitting with the rest of my team instead of in a separate cubicle, so there's progress there. I work hard to get in enough hours a month, not only to stay on top of my workload but also because I get paid by the hour. Working in an office is still a struggle because at a certain point the fluorescent lights and over-exposure to smells etc. starts to wear me down. Bug generally I'm keeping up and getting good feedback.

Writing is exciting. I submitted a short story today. I've been trying to put it together from an idea that surfaced unexpectedly, part-way into outlining a totally different piece for the same deadline. That other piece is partly drafted but still languishing. I also have a rejected piece that I need to decide whether/to whom to submit next. In game writing I did FFS Jam and it was pretty great, but ow I'm losing momentum in the journey to polish the alpha to perfection. And now March is starting and I'm on a team doing NaNoRenO.

More on that last part, probably tomorrow.

I have to remember that writing down everything I'm doing not only reminds me of everything I'm behind on, but also everything I've accomplished. When I describe my life to other people, it sounds a lot better than it does in my head.
lea_hazel: Angry General Elodie (Genre: Games)
So rating closed on FFS. At first I was a little disappointed with my game's performance but eventually I realized it's a pretty small jam, and lots of other submissions didn't get many ratings. I didn't expect to get rated very well because the crux of the game is the writing and that's not even really a category. I did get some friendly comments, though, which was nice to see. And posting about it on Twitter generated surprisingly much traffic. Someone even downloaded it, although why you'd download something that's just an HTML file I will never know.

Now I'm looking for an editor. Rather, I'm still looking for an editor.

Life Update

Tuesday, 7 February 2017 12:09
lea_hazel: Angry General Elodie (Genre: Games)
My coworkers have learned of my migraines this week and I'm kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop. In every other respect work is pretty good.

I'm looking into finding a new primary care physician, but for unrelated reasons.

The alpha of Wreath of Roses, my secondary world fantasy intrigue text game, will most likely stay up on itch.io for another week (because I might as well make the date a little symbolic). After that it goes back into "in development" mode while I (continue to) search for an editor. I would like to get it as good as it can be, and I'm also interested in commissioning a new logo by a more experienced graphic artist. Mainly I've been looking on the Lemma Soft forum, home of all things both gamey and narrative-y.

Otherwise things are good. I'm conflicted between plugging on with the short stories I have in progress, versus trying to come up with a new (more modest) game concept. I took a look at my philome.la page when I was doing some promotion, and I haven't posted a new game in ages. I miss it a little. But then, there are other things to consider. Writing is hard.

Anyway, if you wanna play WOR and don't mind the typos and assorted blemishes, definitely do it now.

(no subject)

Friday, 3 February 2017 09:04
lea_hazel: Typewriter (Basic: Writing)
I made the decision of publishing WOR and leaving it openly accessible for at least the ten day period of FFS Jam's ranking, so that's it's available for other jam participants to play. I still want to edit and test it further. I am also seriously considering whether I should put a price on it, or at least a recommended donation. Not before I get it edited, I think. If I'm going to charge for a text game, even if it's less than a piece of prose the same length would cost, I want to be sure it's as polished as it can be.
lea_hazel: Kermit: OMG YAY *flail* (Feel: OMGYAY)
After about fifteen months in development, and twelve months of actual writing, Wreath of Roses is actually finished. That is to say, the first version is complete and it was submitted to itch.io's Finally Finish Something (FFS) jam. Right now it's marked as in-progress which means it's access restricted. I don't want to make it public at 11:45 PM, that doesn't seem sensible. But now is the jam's deadline.

Once I've gotten a little extra distance I'll be able to decide whether it should go public or if it needs more work (professional editing, better graphics). The link to the game is here, and according to itch.io's guidelines I ought to be able to generate keys that allow access to the game.
lea_hazel: Angry General Elodie (Genre: Games)
After having been playing it pretty regularly for about a month and a half, I believe I might finally be ready to make my review of Kisses and Curses. There are 5-6 routes (depending on how you count) and I played two of them to the end, then quit halfway through another. Now I'm dipping my toes into a fourth with hopes of clarifying something about the reasons why I DNFed the last one. I've been trying to review this game for ages so getting this out of my system will be real nice.

In other game news, I made a thread for Wreath of Roses on the Lemma Soft forums, the mythological birthplace of so many OEL visual novels and dating sims. My concerns about text games and game writing and etc. are more or less validated, but it's okay.
lea_hazel: Neuron cell (Science: Brains)
The business behind being a writer is not my favorite aspect of the whole deal (not surprisingly).

However, I am keeping up with my chores and accordingly I updated my Patreon profile and my itch.io page to reflect the status of my work.

Oh, yeah. Zinc Alloy Games is the name I am now putting on all my decent-sized games. A bit premature, maybe, but I like to be prepared ahead of time.
lea_hazel: Typewriter (Basic: Writing)
Wreath of Roses is a 16,000 word text game written in the Twine engine and playable through any JavaScript-supporting web browser.

wor_banner
Wreath of Roses is a project from Zinc Alloy Games.

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.

Crossposted to hazelgold.net and Patreon.

lea_hazel: Angry General Elodie (Genre: Games)
Escape to Princess, a CYOA where you play Narnia for grownups, because being a grownup sucks.

Why Aren't You Happy?, where you play a weird little dragon/princess courtship game.

Both also posted to the AO3, and there's a blog post queued for my main blog as well. I feel good about this.
lea_hazel: Neuron cell (Science: Brains)
As part of an ongoing effort to assess the strength of my self-promotion, I decided that the only way to keep track of the enduring popularity of my text games is to document it, probably on a roughly weekly basis.

Lots of dull numbers behind the cut )

Next time I will do this is the form of a table for convenience's sake.
lea_hazel: Typewriter (Basic: Writing)
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. Read more... )

Progress

Friday, 15 April 2016 13:02
lea_hazel: Neuron cell (Science: Brains)
Like most forms of progress for me, this one involved a lot of forgiving myself for things that are not actually crimes/sins.

I am still working on half a dozen projects in parallel. I am still behind on my personal writing missions (i.e. update my Patreon rewards to something more reasonable, queue one blog post per week, editing milestones, etc.). I am still stretched thin between work, school and my writing schedule.

I have, however, collected a few tangible reassurances regarding the basic fact of what I owe and to whom.

Some medical issues have also made themselves apparent, but right now only at the testing stage.

My running projects, for the record, include two Twine games (one more gamey and the other more storyish), three short stories in Hebrew, one short story in English and a blog post. Oh, and the card game I've been trying to play-test for something like six weeks. Which I will probably bring to Olamot later this month, for those to whom it's relevant. And I've started dabbling with ChoiceScript, which is like Twine but more viable.
lea_hazel: Angry General Elodie (Genre: Games)
I am still "dabbling" in Twine fairly regularly. I like playing around with randomizers and variables and trying to figure out the right balance to make a game playable. Not too difficult to be fun, not so easy that there's no tension, with enough variability to keep from being boring, but not so random that the player feels helpless.

And I like trying out different ways to structure the games. I've enjoyed playing around with a timer. Now I'm looking for something else to hold my interest.

My attention-span seems to be Twine-sized.

(And I had fun dropping a tiny cryptic reference to the Zionist moon colony project.)
lea_hazel: Typewriter (Basic: Writing)
Since I'm not blabbing details or intending to talk (type?) anyone's ears off, this is a public game progress post, not a filtered one. (If you want in on my game-writing filter now's the time to comment and ask.)

I wrote on the ongoing game last week and today. I hope to keep working on it later this week, even as I step up the studying for exam period. Studying entire solid days didn't so much for me last time I tried it.

This game is, to remind, a "skeletal" text only version of the story in question, with much of the potential features left undeveloped or left out altogether. The idea being, if I can complete a fully-formed narrative branching story that makes sense, and people play it, and enjoy it... then I can consider making it into a visual novel.

Because visual novels require art, and music, and other assets. And that requires more work, and work of different kinds. And probably hiring an artist, since that's what most game writers seem to do. At least, as far as I can tell. And I can't risk doing any of that unless I know that I'm capable of creating a branching story.

So I am writing in Twine, because that requires only the skills that I have. Although the style of writing needed is different from most of what I've done so far, so there's still a lot to develop and learn. What I've done on Twine so far is much lighter, smaller and more humorous, not counting an unfinished story that I started on a whim and never did any planning for.

My twines are stored here on philome.la, the great fee Twine repository. So far they consist of two simple games that operate exactly like programming homework assignments -- which is good news! Basically looping game algorithms with very little writing or code. I have a longer (humorous) story that I created for workshop, which I am in the process of translating into English. When I'm done I will put up both versions, if only so that my page looks less lonely.

If there is an intermediate between the unicorn games and the size of game I'm working on now, I don't know what it is. Yet.

Writing Update

Thursday, 24 December 2015 12:04
lea_hazel: Kermit: OMG YAY *flail* (Feel: OMGYAY)
Yuletide deadline has come and gone and I am still ambivalent about my submission. However, it meets all the qualifications and it represents my very best efforts, so that will simply have to do. Saturday ought to be interesting. I've also been keeping an eye on the list of fandoms and it seems we're in for an interesting year's haul -- although still no Dutch/Delle Seyah that I can see. Tragically.

Today and yesterday I've been feeling ill and so I fell behind on writing. However, I did sign up for a newsletter that keeps me appraised of paying jobs. I am also looking more locally at translation and proof-reading. I'm not a professional editor to be sure, but I think I can still monetize my English skills.

Best news of all, after many ups and downs I have completed my first game written in Twine, a JavaScript engine for browser-based hypertext stories/games. I used my blog's Twitter account to sign up for philome.la, a site that archives Twine games. Now I have a profile that lists my one game: Box of Unicorns, a short and silly game about collecting unicorns and putting them in a box.

This game took over six hours to write and you can play through the whole thing in roughly fifteen seconds.
lea_hazel: Angry General Elodie (Genre: Games)
Comment here if you want to be in the Dreamwidth filter for my Twine experiment and watch me try to write a branching plot for a choose-your-own-ending romance game.
lea_hazel: Kermit: OMG YAY *flail* (Feel: OMGYAY)
Friday was the big AO3 Israeli fandom meetup. It was completely awesome.

Fannish meetup )

I don't remember if I mentioned here, or only on Tumblr, but I downloaded a program called Twine that manages and compiles interactive fiction into hypertext games. I'm working on my first game and it's going well.

don't believe in love; )

Fanfic is hard. I have two ongoing projects that I swore up and down I would finish before I progress to the rest of my WIP folder, because I don't want my attention to be too scattered. That way lies madness, and fics languishing forveer incomplete.

But it turns out I only really know how to do the "hurt" in hurt/comfort. It came up on Friday, actually. )

The ceiling light in my living room crapped out again. I really just need to get a standing lamp. In better news I had a guy clean and fix my computer, which is a vast improvement. The inside of the box was piled with dust, it was so gross.

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