making Tattered Skies Easier to Navigate

•January 7, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I made some small formatting changes to make the book easier to navigate. Now if you follow a link to a chapter, it provides a link to the previous ones.. I am noticing a lot of people starting at chapter one, and missing the fact that there is a prologue there at all. Hopefully this remedies things. As always the book can be found here

Chapter One posted to Tattered Skies

•January 5, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I am proud to post for the first time, the entire first chapter to Tattered Skies. Only took 8 years to get it out. Please head over to enjoy it, and please if you could spread the word as far as you can so I can get as many people reading it as possible. It should be just as easy as sharing my Facebook post about it. More to come of course. Feel free to leave any comments or questions here about the book, the characters or anything!

 

Here is the link: HERE

 

2013 means the publishing of Tattered Skies

•January 1, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I have decided this year, to put away all of my distractions, try my hardest, and actually finish the novel Ive been working on for years. Since most of it is written, it will mean just a lot of editing, filling in the blanks, and staying focused. I have created a new site for it to keep things separate. This also means begging my friends and supporters for help, either with donating while they read the novel, donating because they want to see more, or spreading the word as far as they can. Get as many people to the site as possible so that this can finally see the light of day.

You can find the project here (and yes I might be tweaking the look and feel) – Tattered Skies

2012 in review

•December 31, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The London Olympic Stadium is 53 meters high. This blog had about 5130 visitors in 2012. If every visitor were a meter, this blog would be 100 times taller than the Olympic Stadium – not too shabby.

Breathing Life into the Clouded World

•December 9, 2011 • Leave a Comment

One of the hardest things to do for Tattered Sky is filling the game with as much content that has been rumbling around in my head since the book was started. There is a complete world there in my mind with a history, geography, and cast of characters spanning several generations. While the book centers around the first generation and explains the mysteries of the clouded world and Daer’Kalon the game is set several generations later when the old dust has had just enough time to settle for the next threat to emerge. Getting it all out is a matter of time and for every word or image put into the game project a sigh of relief can be heard from the muse over my shoulder. I’m sure she is sick of having to whisper the same things for so long without me actually creating it.

The project ticks on, and as always I’d love feedback on the content Ive posted here and here and as I continue I’m reminded that I still haven’t managed a domain/hosting space, or purchased the licenses for tools I need to complete the project so any support or serious talk of investing is always welcome. Till again, I leave you with the Usurper.

The Free MMO Roundup : Shadowgate

•August 11, 2011 • 1 Comment

The Free MMO Roundup :  Shadowgate (or west west west stab *curse*)

Gamers today are faced with a thousand and one options for their online gaming enjoyment. Thankfully each genre, sub genre and type of player is presented with a dizzying array of options. These games provide amazing graphical experiences, challenging game play and countless hours of entertainment. What most of these games have lost though is individual impact.

But I have impact! Im the top rated <insert pirate, city manager, pet groomer> on the entire game! My <insert guild, clan, corporation> lubs me!

You may have impact now because you are able to dominate your small section of the game trouncing the competition and your name is up in a flashy hall of fame for today but if you close the game for a weekend you’re gone. You haven’t made anything lasting with your game play because the hall of fame will continue to tick along and all the work you did just sits idle for the competition to pick off. (I’m sure my marvelous city in Evony is now just a garden ornament for whoever moved into the area and my guild in Vindictus probably bounced me two days after I wasn’t active).

 But why have we lost impact?

 We lost impact when games became more about graphical achievement and less about the interaction of players within the environment. Few people remember that online games started without graphics and were focused on the environment, the story and the dynamics between characters. I speak of course about the humble MUD (multi user dungeon). For those who haven’t heard the history I strongly suggest the wiki entry here. MUDs for the most part abandon graphics for extensive descriptions played through a client or telnet. Instead of a mouse or game pad, you type your directions to your character in an environment with other players doing exactly the same thing. Think of it as playing a giant dungeons and dragons table top game with a group separated by countries, continents and time zones.

 Weren’t you going to talk about a game?

Before I do that, full disclosure, I am one of the ‘immortals’ of this particular MUD. Think of an ‘immortal’ as the GM, the developer, and the community manager. We develop the code for the game constantly as it grows, and act as the game master to run plots manage players and generally make the game a lot more interactive. As an immortal I have a vested interest in getting more players to play, but at the same time I don’t get paid for my work, and the MUD itself is free with NO option to donate or pay money. This of course makes it unique among online games but keeps things fair and allows the use of creative commons licensing. The MUD is called Shadowgate (http://www.shadowgate.org/). The game follows the tried and tested formula of a role playing game and the character a player creates grows from level 1 on to greatness gathering skills, equipment, friends and enemies. The world is persistent and characters can have amazing impact on it in a thousand different ways. It also has no end point and due to the constant player and immortal interaction there is always some conflict or trouble to enjoy while you play. It is also a game that provides immersion as everything is role-played within the setting that has been created.

 You make it sound like puppies and rainbows, what’s the catch?

There are catches, ones that have stymied more than one MUD. Players have become so accustomed to graphics and pretty effects that getting back into a mindset of being creative in written form can feel ‘off’. A lot of people don’t do creative writing so it feels rusty at first. It becomes second nature after awhile though and it is an amazing outlet for those who do love being super creative and show off their writing skills. The second catch is the learning curve. While most online games can be learned by scanning the user interface for ten seconds a MUD takes a lot longer. Shadowgate helps a lot by providing a tutorial area that teaches commands slowly and the community is always ready to assist with any questions that come up. Once you get into the game and get the commands down it flows a lot more and the creativity takes over from the basic syntax.

 So drop by, read the web site and come create a character. Let the community know you’re new, why you’re there, and what you’re looking for in the game and see what you think. It’s a great addictive game that I’ve played for over a decade and I’ve always returned.

The Free MMO Roundup : Battle Pirates

•July 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The Free MMO Roundup : Battle Pirates (or Waterworld, with less Costner)

 Battle Pirates is a new game by Kixeye that is a refreshing change for Facebook games, and when I first looked at it I almost danced off my chair to see a game that looked unique. In retrospect I’m glad I didn’t dance, because I needed the energy to distract myself later on.

 Battle Pirates puts you in command of an island fortress in a never ending expanse of water. You play as a pirate (arrr) who is fighting for resources from other pirates (arrr) and against a scourge called the Draconians (arrr?). I have to pause for a moment and share my surprise that the Draconians aren’t spawn of Takhisis with cannons (which would have been really cool) but instead just another pirate force that for some unknown reason the rest of the pirates hate. The game uses a standard formula for growth. Gather resources from resource buildings, use combat forces to get more resources, build up, research, rinse and repeat.  

So Its an Evony clone?

Well yes and no. The debate will rage for a lot longer then I will care to listen to on what’s a clone of what. There are obvious Evony clones and there are games that use the same formula that are distinctly original in their own ways. Battle Pirates is unique enough that I wouldn’t call it another clone. Hell, we don’t still call things Dune clones do we? It’s just the genre.

 So what about conflict?

 Conflict is where Battle Pirates shines. Each player controls a number of fleets with different types of ships that each can then be configured with different weapons and armor. If you just click fight and let the game control the forces you get some fun action or you can control the ships yourself and use some strategy. While the controls for selecting ships and controlling them is tedious at best it does add a lot more depth to the combat. Since the game is wide open for combat there is a lot of back and forth PVP and PVE fleet battles and base assaults that keep things interesting.

 So…

Yes, there are negatives. Some are simply due to the fact that this is a new game and still being developed, and others unfortunately are simply the nature of Facebook games. First is the lack of a good communication system. For each sector of the never ending ocean there is a chat channel with basic whisper/block/unblock commands but that gets spammy with fourteen year old egos and smack talk so it becomes unusable. There is no guild system as well so everyone looks like an enemy unless you have a very active Facebook group.

 My biggest problem with the game is the extreme snail’s pace that building up and progressing has. Your force only has one “builder” and building upgrade times jump exponentially until you are waiting several days for a shinier building so you can then wait days for the new upgraded weapon. Being a Facebook game you can of course pay the pain away but for the non paying customer like I am you spend a lot of time just watching the counter thinking ‘what else can I get done in the three days this is going to take?’ As well if you step away from the game and someone attacks your base damaging the building doing the work it pauses until you come back and repair.

 My last concern is the smallest for a lot of players, but for me its important. I don’t just play games to blow stuff up and be the best at whatever the game has for me to be. I like to be immersed in the game and Battle Pirates refuses to allow me to do so. We never learn anything about the world, the enemy or any of the circumstances. Why are we trapped in a Waterworld fighting on floating garbage heap fortresses? Who are these Draconians who constantly harass us and while I sit in my lonely pirate tower what is my end goal? If a Kixeye employee reads this I’d be more than happy to flush out the story for you and add that creative content that is lacking, just shout.

 I think that the game has a lot of potential and I do suggest you check it out. Just don’t expect the major payday of game greatness for about… a month.

 
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