Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The Comicification of Lust!

The endlessly dedicated Michael Doig decided to 'comicify' (if it wasnt a word before it will be by the end of this post!) a portion of my short story 'Lust' in a quick sketch. I think it looks great!

Visuals do play through my head when I write, and seeing this tangible comicified image is really cool, especially for something I'd not thought about being presented in this form.

I have a long time love of comics, but I've never really considered them as a medium to work in, as the artists I know are more focused on games, but I guess its all drawing at the end of the day. I think I'll look into the area a little more in the future, especially when considering a speed story setup, as comics can be incredibly effective at delivering a story in a relatively short space.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Attempts and Failures

Last Friday was a hectic day,  I had my driving test at 830am (spoilers, I failed), and then a mini GameJam at work from 10-6 where I aimed to create an endless runner in Unity (spoilers, I failed that too).

However, the failure only goes as far as the event itself. If its picked up again, then the failure was just the first step.

My driving test went okay, but for 2 factors: First, I was told I was driving too fast, and dont leave sufficient space from other cars, which is good to know, and something I can quite easily rectify. Second, I almost drove into a BMW when joining a dual carriageway (whoops!), this one could be a major problem, but luckily its not. The near miss was down to me getting distracted by an emerging ambulance and the BMW in question altering speed (probably also because of the ambulance), so my assumption that he had passed my car was wrong. An unfortunate event, but ultimately one of circumstance, fixable by looking more, and now having experience in that eventuality.

Next time I take my test, I'll be more likely to pass because I have learned from the failure.

My gamejam went okay too, although I didnt manage to have a 'game' by the end, despite following a tutorial. My issues came when starting to deviate from the tutorial to make the game I wanted, which slowed progress greatly, and I only had 7 hours to work with in the first place. Using a tutorial to guide me was thanks to my incredibly rusty and now arguably non-existant C# skills, although I'm quite comfortable navigating the Unity engine itself.

While I failed to make a game in my alloted time, if I decide to do it again, I should succeed, because I'm more aware of the requirements for success. I could also pick up the project again and continue it, rather than starting again, also resulting in un-failure.

The point being, if you failed its because you gave up. You chose to leave whatever it was in an unfinished 'failed' state. Of course, an important part of this is knowing WHY you're doing the thing in the first place, and what constitutes success for you.

I failed, and in doing so, will succeed.

Thursday, 14 March 2013


Kairon skidded across the floor of the temple on his back, leaving a trail through the debris before crashing into the giant pillar in a cloud of dust. He coughed and spluttered, robes torn and bloody, his flesh much the same.

"Why have you done this my brother?!" he asked, the words catching in his throat, "how could you abandon your teachings so completely?!"

Murojou scoffed, "Ha! How, you ask? If you only knew!"  he looked at his hands, as the aura surrounding him glowed brighter as it pulsed. "The power that awaits beyond the void is..." he trailed off as he raised his arm into the air and his aura poured into his open palm. Kairon was mesmerised as it began growing orange and seeming denser as the swirling energy turned grew darker red. As he struggled to his feet, eyes drawn towards the glowing mass despite its intensity, he saw the aura around his foe begin to fade away. Murojou moved his gaze from the heavens, exposed through the broken roof, across to Luchia, who remained suspended in chains in the mouth of the great statue of Korvanu.

"Stop!" cried Kairon as he realised what was happening, stumbling forwards off the wall that was propping him up. Murojou loosed the energy built in his hands and it ignited into a black stream of fire surging towards the young woman’s prone body. Kairon launched into the air with immense force, cracking the stone slabs beneath his feet and put himself between the mass of darkness and the girl. The attack looked big from the ground, but straight on it was all encompassing. The dark edges of flame licked and furled at the periphery of his vision, and he summoned the last of his powers forth.

His fingers tingled as the energy was released, as it coalesced into a watery form his arms ached with the strain of controlling it. The cavalcade of water streamed from his palms and met the black fire just metres from his ruined body, hissing and roaring and causing great crests of violet firewater to flare above and around him. With every ounce of his strength he resisted, but he knew he could not last. His magicks fell to a trickle, and the fire could not be stopped. Kairon was tossed carelessly back as his body went limp, but he managed to turn and embrace Luchia, shielding her from the unrelenting fire.

The fire did not burn with heat so much as it burned freezing cold. Kairon thought of his childhood with Murojou in the mountains playing in the snow and his palms sticking to the fresh ice on the lake, it burned his skin the same way, though the betrayal hurt him more. He was awoken from his  reminiscence by a groan, and saw Luchia before him, her beautiful face bloodied and long black hair hacked short, but her eyes had opened.

Luchia’s vision was blurry, distorted, her body ached and she tasted iron. She remembered Murojou shouting at her, beating her, threatening worse if she would not be his, but she was strong, and she refused. It wasnt until he had promised to kill Kairon if she would not be his, that she finally relented, and now here he was, her love before her, gripping her tightly. She smiled.

“Impossible” whispered Murojou as he saw the battered monk leap into the air once more, furrowing his brow and gritting his teeth he spoke mystic words he knew would end all of this. He would have what was promised him, what the prophets had tried to hide from him, his place as King of all creation was secured, and Luchia would be his Queen, reborn as Korvanu the Serpent Goddess. He saw Kairon’s pitiful resistance fail as his mantra ended, and the statue’s eyes glowed red. His face softened into a smile, dissipating his stream of fire he began to laugh, “Finally...” he chuckled, “Finally I shall have what I DESERVE! What I am OWED!” his joy flittering into mania.

Kairon felt cold. Too cold... He heard a woman’s voice, but could not respond, too cold...

Luchia screamed as his arms slipped from around her, falling to the floor far below. Falling hard, and kicking up a cloud of dust. She could barely see through her tears as panick and disbleief took hold of her, and she screamed again for her fallen lover. She lifted her head and cast her eyes towards Murojou as her sadness turned to fury. “YOU! You disgusting cowardly demon scum! I’ll kill you! I’LL KILL YOU!” she struggled with her manacles as she screamed “IF ITS THE LAST THING I DO I’LL KILL YOU!!!”

Murojou’s grin fell away as he watched the Luchia releasing her rage towards him, why was she shouting? Was she not pleased with him? Why was she angry? The Goddess Korvanu should have been exalting his fine work at completing the ceremony and bringing her human form once more. So why was she angry?

A noise sang in her ears. A fire stung his eyes.
Pain resonated tore her flesh. Warmth soothed his bones.
They breathed deep, and sighed long.
They were one.

“Murojou you idiot pawn, your desperation is your undoing.” Their voice boomed across the ruined hall, filling his head. “The incantation calls my spirit forth to the one most full of desire, of greed, of lust. So I now reside here, in this body, with this mind, both strong and imploring me to kill you.” Luchia thought she may have gone mad with grief, and had not taken a breath since the voice cut through her dismay, but from her shackles she clearly saw the body of Kairon rise from the broken mess he fell to, and walk! She was as still as she could be, lest some movement break this dream and wake her into misery again, but she could not resist, she called out to him “Kairon! Is it true? Do you still live?”

Kairon half turned his head and responded without breaking stride “Yes my love, you are safe, we are all safe now” his voice was sweeter than before, he gestured with his hand and her chains were gone, and she fell slowly down to the floor. Her legs gave way as soon as she had to stand under her own power and she collapsed to her knees. “Kairon... How...” she croaked, but her voice was lost in overwhelming relief, her tears flowed once more but this time accompanied by a smile.

Murojou’s eyes could be no wider as this figure stepped slowly through the settling dust. “No... It cannot be... I was the chosen of Korvanu! She would be mine! I would sit at the right hand of the Godess! This is against the pro-” he was silenced by a solid fist to the gut. He felt the wretching ache before he saw the God-man move, in an instant his breath was taken, his brother had moved to him in a blink, he thought of retaliation, of how impossible the situation was, but all he wanted to do was breathe. His body flew backwards as fast as Kairon had moved to him, and he found himself wedged in the rubble of the thick stone wall of the temple, breathing dust and tasting blood.

“I am sorry my child, my brother” said Kairon’s body calmly as he walked over to his enemy’s broken body “I cannot let you continue, and you must pay deeply for your sins.” Murojou tried to free himself from the debris, but he could only manage to squirm. “My mind has survived the ordeal of posession, and now Korvanu lives within me, not instead of me. She speaks through me, not for me. My desires are her desires, and hers mine. We wish you gone.” Murojou tried to speak as he sensed his life was at an end, but could only manage to gurgle. “Do not fear brother, we will not kill you, you may live and repent for your sins, but know this: We will be watching you always, if you choose an unvirtuous path we will appear and make you repent with blood and pain. This is the least we can do as Korvanu, and the most we can do as Kairon. Do you understand?” Murojou had calmed now he knew there was no more resistance to be had. His breathing steady, he nodded clearly, and tears began to stream down his face. Kairon smiled softly and shook his head “Then go.” And Murojou was gone.

Luchia had managed to get to her feet, astounded by the feats being performed before her eyes and still aching, but she was locked tightly onto the vision of her lover, and shuffled shakily towards him. “Come my love.” He called as he turned towards her “Let us rebuild this place once more, as did the masters of old. Our lives and fates are entwined with this temple, as our children’s lives and fates shall also be.” They embraced, and Luchia felt a warmth surround her, and her pain was gone. Then she realised. “...Children?!” she shouted, astounded and embarrassed. “Well...” smiled Kairon “I AM the Goddess of Lust!” and he raised his eyebrows knowingly. Luchia blushed, and laughed, and held him tightly.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Speed Stories

So my last post was a short story I cranked out in about 2 hours. It was meant to be one hour, but it wasn't finished then and it's part of my current efforts to do more in less time. Spending less time refining and getting stuff out there, mostly inspired by Michael Doig's recent posting of lunchtime sketches and other 'speed' focused work from artists in his Artchemical group on Facebook.

So the idea of 'speed stories' is tied to my goal to write more in general this year. I have one major project of 'converting' my RPG story into prose (there's not much converting really, more connecting the dots between plot points). The problem with that is it will take forever and still not be finished so what I needed is something ultra short, a snapshot or sketch of a story, that I can fire out quickly.

There's no hard and fast rule to speed stories, other than they're hard, and fast! My initial target was write a story in an hour, same as the lunchtime sketches, but stories are a little different (or so i tell myself) and cant be left without some sort of resolution, so I set a new limit of 1000 words instead of an hour, but I hit that as I was writing the ending, so my final limit was 2 hours, because I really had to stop!

For a speed story, you just pick a topic and start writing. I had a vague idea of the story when I started, having been talking about time travel concepts earlier that day, but it wasnt essential.
I'm pretty happy with the outcome, although I'd still really like to go back to it and make the ending better, and generally refine and flesh it out but I probably never will. Too many new stories to write!

Friday, 8 March 2013

Lost Memories

Sweating, dizzy, and struggling to focus on the dials and lights in front of him, Frank gripped hold of the handles as hard as he could, as his whole world shook violently around him. Barely able to think above the cacophanous roar of the machinery rattling and scraping and whirring louder than it seemed possible for such tiny contraption, he attempted to focus on the blurry swirls flying past the tiny glass window in front of him. Reds and oranges flowed and merged as his ears were blasted with the shrill whines of electronics, apparently the only noise louder than the grinding of the metal box he was trapped in. The warm patterns gave way to cold and pale blues as it continued, far less extravagant than his previous view, but no less impressive. Suddenly the palid weave was snaked with purple streams, the ambient glow through the viewport grew swiftly darker, and just as the last of the light was fading, the scene exploded into a halcyon tempest once again.

Frank would have thought it beautiful, had he not been fighting so hard to stay conscious, his tongue pushed hard into the roof of his mouth being careful not to bite it as he gritted his teeth, eyes barely open under the weight of their lids. Occasionally he would realise they were closed as the nautiousness swelled in his head and stomach, and would open them wide in defiance of this living hell he found himself in. Despite the numerous straps entangling him he did not feel the least bit safe. Their heavy leathery embrace felt suffocating before the test had begun, but now he found himself gripping onto the metal shapes by his hands so tightly they hurt.

The pain was good. The pain in his hands was something to focus on instead of the heat or the pain in his head. The doctor had told him to focus and think of what he would do when he arrived. At the time he thought it was ridiculous, as if he'd forget why he had signed up for the experiment, but he had already started to wonder why. Something about the past... Something that was bad... Pain... He grunted as he struggled to remember, already losing himself.

He was getting angry now, angry at the noise, at the shaking, at the pain. He started to strain more, as the shaking somehow increased, as the noises were louder. He pushed his face forwards into the restraints on his head and chin, the blood pressure rising as the veins started to throb above his skin. Panting hard through his teeth as the heat in the chamber climbed higher, drool running down his chin, any pretense of coping with this ordeal was gone, but he forced himself to read the panel below the window. Cold green lights flashed by quickly on the black screen, but not as quickly as earlier, he could see them now, the numbers, but what were they for again? His head spun with the attempt at making sense of his situation. The numbers kept getting slower, but the heat had made the air too thick, he couldnt breathe. Why was he here? Why did he do this? Someone must have done it to him. Yes... from before... he remembered thinking of a man, a young man who had no right to put him here, in this box, how dare he make him suffer like this! Frank's rage had peaked now, as he realised he had been trapped here, tricked, robbed of his freedom by some little bastard who thought his life was worthless. He would change that, he would escape this prison of and teach him a fucking lesson, wipe the smile off his stupid fucking face and...

As Frank's revenge became the only thing in his mind, the green numbers slowed more and more, and the machine began to rupture. Cracks quickly jumped across the tiny window, fractures and splits ran across the ceiling and floor, inevitably meeting up in the middle. His straps loosened as the guerney came away from its fixtures and in his apoplectic fury Frank struggled out of his steel cocoon in a waterfall of heat and schrapnel. Staggering forwards, legs wobbling everywhere now finally finding solid ground again he saw the man in front of him.
He looked younger than he remembered, and surprised, face painted with disbelief and confusion, but that didn't matter to Frank, he saw his opportunity and knew he was there to kill this arrogant little shit of a boy. Frank lumbered towards him as he scrabbled backwards, but it was too late, even on his uneasy legs he charged him off of his feet winding the youth. In a moment of clarity, Frank realised he was succeeding in his task and let out a long gutteral scream, staring unflinching into the teenager's eyes before throwing down heavy fists into his face.

Grunting and spitting as he pounded against wet, bloody, softened flesh, Frank began to go numb. His head was swimming from the journey, but the fresh air outside the cage was helping, he wasnt as warm as before, the breeze drying the blood on his sore hands making them feel sticky. He began to hit the boy anywhere he could now he had started to defend himself a little, but moving his arms was getting harder, they were sore and not moving right, and his face was numb, he could only feel the breeze on one side of his face. He stopped flailing as the moment passed, and his back began to seize up. Touching the numb side of his face and tracing his fingers across his lips, his gums also felt strange, and just as he was about to touch his front teeth to see if they were sore, they fell out, landing in the pool of blood that had amassed from the boy he'd been assaulting. Horrified, he left out a concerned noise and jumped up off of him, almost falling over in the process. Seeing the boy's face again looking up at him through puffy eyes stained red and purple from blood and bruise sparked his rage again and he swiftly stuck a boot into his ribs causing the boy to curl into a ball, but the kicks came again and again into his side and back. Finally Frank was exhausted, and launched one last boot to the face of the boy, knocking him out. He staggered backwards, barely staying upright as he stumbled through the wreckage of the infernal carriage that had brought him there. Why was he there? What was he supposed to do now? He couldn't remember much of anything now, other than his time with the machine.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

February Achievements

Oh my February has been and gone already? That was quick...

February has seemed just as busy as January, although it felt a bit less productive because some of the previous tasks were still ongoing. Now I'm sitting here working out what I did though, I'm pretty happy with the spread.

So what was February all about?

#6 - Learn to drive: Completed(ish)! Again...

My driving lessons continued on and my test was booked for the 20th of Feb, and unfortunately it was postponed until March 15th. It was extremely frustrating at the time, but I'm pretty confident about passing, and the extra 3 weeks will make damn sure of it! I dont think I can call this completed until I pass my test though, so no advancement here. :(

Luckily, I'm not with BSM

#12 - Visit Jorvik Viking Festival: Completed!

We'd arranged to go to Jorvik (York) for a long weekend with friends last year, to discuss our upcoming LARP plans (just go with it for now, I'll convince you all I'm not a gigantic loser in with another post) as well as see the viking battle re-enactment there, which had a surprising twist endingwhere Eric Bloodaxe didnt die at the end! Vikings win!

A boar-snout formation. It will kill you dead.

All in all it as a very successful trip, plans were planned, things were bought, alcohol consumed and a merry time had by all. I even got to do some driving, and try out the new satnav (Nexus 7 + worldnav app - review coming soon!). I reckon we'll definitely go back, maybe even make it a yearly thing.

#16 - Start a blog: Completed!(ish)

Here we are! Completed right? Well... sort of.
Starting a blog is easy, but continuing them is not so easy, I've decided to call this started, but will only count as completed if I keep up posting throughout the year.
What just happened?!
#19 - Write more short stories: Started

I've let my storywriting slide over the years since focusing on game design, and while I always try to create narrative structures to go alongside games, they never become something in their own right, because they're more of a framework for the game. So last month I got some creative energy and started thinking stories again.

And that's why the internet is great!

I had considered setting a goal like "100 short stories in the year" or something, but I think that'll put me off too much, so I'm aiming to do as much a I can whenever I'm free (which as you may guess, is infrequently). I've written a few things so far, and I'll be posting them up shortly. It feels really good to be writing again though, even if it's not exactly my best work, shaking off the rust is reward enough.

#20 - Convert RPG plot into book: Started

Related to the above, as a counterpoint, my RPG plot is the longest thing I've ever written, or attempted to write, having been going on and off since my teenage years. I think a lot of game developers start off with a love of RPGs, and I'm no different. Since I started this magnum opus, I have learned the depth of complexity required to make an RPG happen, and the story aspect that I latched onto a youth was only the tip of the iceberg, so now I'm trying to convert what work I did produce into a more achieveable format.

The only difference is that my desk isnt as nice.

I've started to pull together disparate notes and make sense of the timeline, but this a gargantuan project which I suspect will not be completed this year. But a year of work trying to weave this tale will bring a me a year closer to finishing.

#40 - Clean the car: Completed!

Seemingly an easy one, but for some reason the easy stuff seems to slide by every week, and its something we've managed to ignore for almost a year. The inside of the car was filthy, but after returning from York we had a sudden burst of energy and it got done. The moral of this story, is take those easy wins whenever you can!

So with inroads made to a new set of tasks, how does my overall progress look?

Feb Total: 3.5/50
2013 Total: 5.5/50

Shy of my 8.333~ target, but a significant start to the year, and over a tenth of the tasks completed. I'll be posting up progress reports each month, hopefully with a some more in depth posts about each thing I'm doing, assuming I'm not too busy doing all the things.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

January Achievements

Last time, I posted up my list of 50 goals for all and sundry to see, no backing out now!

Well, we're 2 months in to the year now, so that's 1/6 of 2013 gone forever. This means I should be 1/6 of the way through my list, or have 8.333~ tasks completed. January was incredibly busy, largely from compiling the list of 50 goals, breaking them down, and setting up the calenders to track them and whatnot... and that's not even on the list!

So what have I been up to? 

#6 - Learn to drive: Started

I started lessons a few years ago now, but then stopped, then started, then stopped, etc (much like my driving!). This year will be the end of it, and I will pass my test. I got my theory passed in December, and I'm no longer a poor student so there's really no excuses.

This is not my car...

#8 - Design a house: Started

Designing a house is... one of the more crazy items on my list. It started as a joke, with me and Maz often talking about 'the next house' as some sort of fantasy-land where all the problems of our current place disappear. BUT... through designing games I've come to the conclusion that everyone is a 'designer' in some respect, because design is in everything, so why not design a house?

I'll be aiming for something along these lines

I couldn't think of a reason, and now I've started forming some ideas, making a feature list, and researching the crap out of everything because I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING! It's lots of fun, but I sort of doubt this one will be completed before the end of the year, always better to get the ball rolling though.

#36 - Learn how to brew mead: Completed!(ish)

This is one I was REALLY keen to do, and Maz got me a pile of equipment for Xmas so there was no reason to delay. Also, the sooner its brewing the sooner it can be drunk! Marked as 'ish' because I have learned how to brew mead, and now have 7 gallons under my stairs! But its not properly completed until it's been sampled. If I brew a delicious nectar its a pass, if its a vile and disgusting poison, then it's back to the drawing board. The plan is to refine my process over the year, with a batch each quarter. I'll cover my mead making process in more detail soon! Alcohol! Woooo!

3 more months til I get to find out!

#49 - Learn Unity: Started

I've dabbled in Unity for the last few years, developing with it properly for the first time as part of my Masters, but I never really following that up with anything. This year I'll be learning more about how the engine works, following tutorials and maybe even a little coding. The end goal being some prototype games (#26-30 of the 50) that can quantify my learnings more clearly. Again, a long-term project, so better to start sooner than later.

This is actually a very exciting 'development' shot

Now, because so many of these tasks are ongoing goals that won't be done anytime soon, I can't count 'started' as progress, its just the first step, so I've decided that I get half a 'point' for starting, and half on completion, to better track my progress as well as rewarding myself for keeping at something. So how is my progress looking for January?

Total progress: 2/50 

Not bad, but in 1/12 of my time, I have completed 1/25 of my challenges, so I'm roughly sitting at half as productive as I want to be... Let's hope February pans out better!