Sunday, August 13, 2017

Further Updates and a Few Changes


Hello Lovelies,

As you might have already suspected, my continued silence has still been related to working on the currently unnamed game. I'm definitely making progress and this will almost certainly become my next project versus just a 'tinkering' kind of situation. As such, I wanted to provide some updates and observations.

First off, the LITERAL update (seen above) highlights a mostly completed intro cutscene featuring the wonderful voice talents of Kristington Plotkin, the manager of and one of the voice actors for "Tales of Passing Fantasy". She will be acting as Science Officer Mara Lethe with one of the few voice acted positions in the game. As for the actual video, please ignore my developer button (Read: Google T-Rex) and the fact that I definitely need to tweak a little bit of timing and such here and there.

So what happens from here?

Well, I have no intent on simply STOPPING Infested (of which I've realized I might need to change the title for...turns out Steven King had a collection of short stories named the same thing so...damn). However, my time has definitely been split. Most any free time spent at home has quickly turned into 'coding' time and I've been working heavily on this project. While I call it coding, this has included art selection and manipulation, music picking, editing, and alteration, working with my CURRENTLY one voice actor, writing the story itself (which is a whole OTHER beast compared to normal work), and then actually coding everything together and fixing the bugs that pop up so it works like it's supposed to.

So that means home time has not been spent on Infested.

INSTEAD, what I'm going to be doing is working on it in the sidelines. I occasionally have free time early in the morning or on Sundays (as demonstrated by this very post) along with pockets of time here and there where I have pen and paper or laptop in hand. I think I'm going to try and make those instances work for continuing the story simply because I don't want to just drop it.

How will this change the site?

Overall, I don't see the game as being any more than a different kind of writing project. It's just a more challenging one (I'll talk about it later, but the story is going to be different because it's going to be basically 100% dialogue...and 2nd person). As such, I intend to post updates/examples/etc. from the actual game design (likely more focused on the actual writing) as well as posting updates from Infested. The scheduling might be a bit dirty compared to the every-two-days I kept fighting for, but I promise I will be here a minimum of once a week (although I'd like to continue the three/four a week trend I was trying to set).

Last but not least, I'm thinking of creating a Patreon for this project, but that's currently in the works.

I love you all and hope you are having a wonderful day.


- RB

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Intro!


Hello Lovelies,

I felt the need to justify my further silence and my not-finishing-'Birthday'-yet. As such, I wanted to provide the initial intro to my little pet project.

Please note, there are definitely a few tweaks that will happen. For one, the giant play button is functional and just there for immediate use. It will be switched out with a more appropriate menu when I set up the name and other buttons. Probably going to switch a few fade lengths and things of that nature. However from that stopping point, I have a young voice actress who will be adding the voice of one of our main characters and from there people will have an active story to follow that will switch between some minor interactive elements and voice acting and an extensive, in-depth story with multiple plot threads and endings.

All the same, figured I'd share why I've been so quiet.

Hope you all enjoyed.

- RB

Sunday, August 6, 2017

GameMaking


Hello Lovelies,

I hadn't intended on really saying anything further with regards to my GameMaker shenanigans other than the quick explanation the other day, but I was surprised to find I had several emails and messages waiting for me regarding just that.

In quick summary, the main questions I got were "Have you ever studied game design before?", "How do you actually make games?", and "What kind of game are you making?" There were a couple others, but these were the main ones, so I figured I'd throw it out there real quick.

First and foremost, here's the short answer to the first two questions: "No" and "Painfully".

Now for the long answer: I've never designed games before nor have I had any official training/schooling. Instead, I've always had a minor interest due to my love of video games in general. When presented with the opportunity because of the aforementioned deal at HumbleBundle, I just kind of figured 'Why the hell not? Let's play with it.'

What I found once I started was that I had genuinely no idea what the hell I was doing with the technology. I might have just left it at that except that I had a little free time and decided to do some digging. Now, several days later, I've lost count how many tutorials I've viewed, how many articles I've flipped through, and how many references I've read. I've even started taking notes of different code strings and functions to make things do what I want to do. As such, a lot of my time has spent going "What do I want to do? This. Ok, now to figure out HOW to do that."

So, to reiterate: making anything has been very painful and consisted of a lot of hunting for information from my coding-betters. But also very rewarding. There's something deeply satisfying about having a vision and seeing it come to life after hours of figuring out the code. It's akin to finding just the right puzzle pieces to make the picture the much more complete.

But it all boils back to the same question: "What kind of game are you making?"

As mentioned before, I'm not a game designer. Lord knows if anything will actually see the light of day and I've actually been playing with several different projects just as a means of better understanding how to program the game, but the game I actually have in mind is right up my regular alley.

I'd like to design an interactive horror story.

The basic concept I have is taking any of my given writing and immersing the reader in it. To provide a platform to make it less about some other and make it instead about the reader. They will then be exposed to a 'choose your own story' sort of narrative that will lead them down branching paths based on the decisions that they make with multiple endings depending on what the reader decided to do. I will likely include interactive elements outside of just reading and choosing path A or path B, but the end goal is to create an immersive narrative that will get a reader's heart pumping and their brain buzzing.

Currently, it's a sci-fi thriller set on a spaceship designed for android phones. This platform would allow a reader to enjoy it like they would a book or e-reader but instead of simply reading, they get to dive into the story first hand.

At this point, I've only designed the initial start menu and cutscenes, but the more I work the more comfortable I am and the faster things are moving. There are dozens of things that need to be accounted for, not to mention acquiring artwork, sound effects, building branching paths, and actually writing the story itself.

Still, it's enrapturing.

I haven't given it too much thought yet, but depending on how well received the concept is, I was considering creating a blog at the absolute least for the project; if not maybe some sort of funding or assistance. We'll see.

Love you all,

- RB

Friday, August 4, 2017

Birthday - Part 7


    The sea water that filled the cave entrance was warm. It seemed to soak into every inch and every crevice and gave Couglin the distinct feeling of wading through hot sludge.
    At its deepest, it came up to her waist.
    She was just about to call it off, to write the cave off as a misstep in judgement, when she heard it: the echoing 'poppop' of a service pistol.
    The sound rang through the cave and seemed to galvanize the remaining members of her squad.
    Bullock traded a quick glance with her and she nodded in silent agreement.
    Within a few minutes, they were through the thickest part of their watery trudge. And, while the tunnel was still unpleasantly humid and much of the rock was actively wet and slick, it was nice not to be wading through it.
    Even better, the cave was widening out, allowing for something more than single file.
    "Alright." Coughlin said in a hard whisper, surprised at how loud she had to speak to be heard over a constant trickle and splash of water. "Fire teams, form up. Alpha. You've got point."
    Automatically, the groups fell into a double-diamond shape that always reminded Coughlin of an hourglass. Bullock took the front with Brick and Mikhailov on either flank and Greer just about at Coughlin's side. Bravo team took up a similar stand behind her.
    "We get anything through this rock?" she shot back at Kuroba who was following tightly at her heel.
    "Negative. Any telemetry we might get isn't going through the rock. We're blind."
    "But not deaf." she said, reminding Bravo leader of the shots they'd just heard.
    "Not at all. At least we know there's something down here that wants us dead." Ludwig sarcastically complained.
    "Sounds fine to me." Dixon said in an oddly even tone."
    Coughlin glanced back at Ludwig in annoyance and was about to say something when the wall next to the Rifleman exploded.
    The man didn't even have time to react as the rocky wall gave way to a single, massive clawed hand that punched through his shoulder and side and tore the entire limb clean off. Simultaneously, the private let out a gut-wrenching scream and squeezed the trigger in shock, his pulse rifle firing directly into the mass of his fellow soldiers.
    Greer hadn't even turned around when the back of her helmet exploded.
    "6 O'Clock!" Coughlin bellowed only moments before fire from six other rifles joined her own and ripped the beast that was only now crawling from the wall into a fine mist.
    But it wasn't alone.
    Emerging from the waters they had just come through, from the opposing wall, and from below the path they had just walked, several others emerged.
    They were all the same in appearance. None of them were like the hulking centaur like they had seen before, but instead a vicious, humanoid creature with long claws, chitinous armor, mottled flesh, and occasionally slender lashing tentacles. Some seemed to wear shreds of cloth and others had hollow white eyes but all were intent to kill.
    And all met a firestorm of rifle rounds.
    Twice more a wall gave way but each time the now alert squad greeted the emerging monster with a roar of death that ripped it to bloody chunks. Pieces sprayed everywhere in the close quarters and the earlier warning of a "biological contagion" flashed through her mind as she saw Brick step forward with grenade launcher in hand.
    The man was painted red and brown with pieces of the beasts.
    "FIRE IN THE HOLE!" he bellowed and launched a grenade that would definitely be against several rules of close quarters combat.
    The resulting explosion nearly knocked them all on their asses as several of the recently created tunnels collapsed in on itself.
    The air swirling in the dark, smoky tunnel, the squad swiveled in every direction as they waited for the next attack.
    But none came.
    "Form back up and check your weapons, people." Coughlin said, grinding her teeth. "No more accidents."
    She felt sick to her stomach. She had just lost two of her own in a matter of seconds. Ludwig, one of the youngest and arguably one of the more annoying, had still served under her for a full year. Greer for three. She would have to contact both of their families now. To talk to Greer's husband...
    Coughlin shook her head, telling herself that this was something for another time.
    She caught sight of Dixon who hadn't moved yet.
    He was staring back down the tunnel.
    "Dixon."
    He didn't respond."
    "Soldier."
    Dixon glanced at her but said nothing. And then back. He simply stared back down the tunnel. Back towards Ludwig. His expression unreadable.
    "Yes, Sarge."
    And then he was back in formation.
    They moved unassaulted for another five minutes.
    During that time, Coughlin noted two minor injuries and three potentially noteworthy encounters. Brick, who was painted red, was not only covered in the creatures' blood but also had a nice slash cut out of his left arm; clean through the battle armor. Gorman was equally covered in gore. Quinn was bleeding from the forehead after having been bashed against the rockface. And Xi had was covered in SOMEONE'S blood but Coughlin wasn't sure if it was from the monsters or the quick patch job on Brick's arm.
    No matter what, she knew they'd all be in quarantine for weeks after this.
    She was just picturing the barren, empty cells and the doctors in white coats hiding behind glass when the tunnel opened up to a massive antechamber.
    And there, hanging on the wall, was Charlie team. Along with a hundred others.
    Cocooned.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Submissions and Games


Hello Lovelies,

Allow me to apologize for my absence. In short, there are several things that have proceeded to eat up my free time and, in turn, I have not been paying attention to social media. In retrospect, I feel I should share the wealth on the why not only for explanation purposes but for my fellow writers to utilize.

To begin, I've started looking around for options for submitting stories and works where you might actually get paid for them.

I know. Crazy, right?

One of the pages that I am now following on Facebook is a group called "Authors Publish". For those of you that are unfamiliar with them, they're a very simple little page that posts helpful advice, story inspiration and, most meaningful to me recently, lists of potential groups and magazines that are taking story submissions. I'd encourage you to check them out, but I'm also going to post links to some of the respective entries below so you can investigate for your own purposes.

3 Lists of Paying Sci-Fi Publishers
24 Open Calls for Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror Submissions
Chicken Soup for the Soul Needs Submissions for 5 Upcoming Books

Again, I'd like to encourage you to check them out. They are not limited to Sci-Fi stuff (as I'm sure you can tell with the Chicken Soup one) but those are just the ones I was actively playing with. And, before you say anything, my wife encouraged me to try the Chicken Soup one to challenge me as a writer since my comfort zone is drama, sci fi, and horror.

NOW! The next problem I ran into stems from a wonderful little website called HumbleBundle. For those that haven't heard of this website, they are a group that create bundles of games for both standard game consoles and mobile devices along with books in both e-print and audio. The bundles are generally extremely ridiculous and contain hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of really GOOD content but they take donations at extremely low prices. Normally the donation categories are $1, $10, and $15 with the higher tiers getting everything below them. They of course take more than that and you can pay what you want...everything goes to charity!

This site can be wonderful for a gamer on a budget, but what REALLY caught me is their 'GameMaker' bundle. Once in a grand while they do useful technologies and GameMaker is exactly what it sounds like...Game Development software. Market price runs upwards of $2000. So when I was able get that technology for $15, I had to jump on it.

I have since been playing with it, figuring out how to make it work, and brain storming on what I could actually do with that technology.

When all is said and done, I haven't been attentive, but for a relatively good reason. I intend to dig back in and finish Birthday promptly along with starting up the next bits within the Infested series. Check back shortly (as I will also need to check out what I've missed in the last week on YOUR sites).

Love you all!

- RB



Thursday, July 27, 2017

Birthday - Part 6


    The ride felt like an eternity. The dropship rocketed towards Charlie's last known coordinates with and the radio constantly chirped with sounds of combat and chaos broken only by the sporadic explosions of gunfire.
    "THERE! THERE!"
    "Get over here!"
    "Reloading!"
    "FUCK!"
    A minute in, the radio signal for Charlie went dark in a burst of static that petered out to a soft, unending hiss.
    Two minutes later, the dropship touched down and Coughlin with Alpha team in tow stepped down into a salty muck. It might have once been like the rest of the marsh, a serene pool of sea water and mangrove trees, but not anymore.
    They were standing in waist deep water filled with churning mud and far too much blood.
    Bravo arrived seconds later, slipping through a small thicket of trees a dozen yards away.
    "What've we got?" Kuroba whispered quietly as his squad rejoined theirs.
    Coughlin looked around and considered.
    The marsh was an absolute mess. Along with the churning stew of mud and blood, the surrounding area had been torn apart. Piles of trees and foliage had been blown apart by small arms fire or torn apart by some unknown force. There were massive, gaping holes carved out of what little solid ground there was and those were quickly filling in with sea water. Chunks of flesh and viscera were thrown this way and that but there were no obvious bodies from either sat of combatants.
    And, probably about fifty yards away, there raised a wide cave opening jutting only barely out of a patch of solid ground. The sight of it made Coughlin think of a giant, gaping mouth.
    "Well," she began, "at the very least we should be in the right spot. We've got Quinn's cave he mentioned over there."
    She nodded towards the gaping maw set into the ground.
    "As for what happened: based on what I heard and what I'm seeing, it looks like these things pulled their way out of the ground." she continued, motioning towards the quickly filling sinkholes. "After that though..."
    The two fireteams watched her expectantly. All except for Dixon. He had his rifle butt to his shoulder and was slowly scanning the area, his eye to the scope.
    Coughlin appreciated it.
    "Alright, we can't presume anything, but dirty guess is that with these things coming out of the ground, maybe they're a fan of being under it. Everyone fan out, see what you can find, and then we're going to check out that cave. I'm not seeing any bodies so maybe our boys are just down there waiting for the cavalry to roll in."
    "Sir." a few of them responded sharply.
    Eight of the soldiers fanned out in different directions, their eyes downward as they searched the ground and the muck to try and find any signs of what they were facing. All except Dixon. He remained planted in place, slowly turning this way and that like he were some kind of automated turret.
    Again, Coughlin was alright with it.
    It didn't take the soldiers very long to find something though.
    As it turned out, the reason that there were no obvious bodies had more to do with the nature of their environment then anything else.
    "Got something." Brick called.
    The massive man, waist deep in the marsh, strained as he grabbed something beneath the water. His face turned red and he snarled as he moved slowly towards the gathering marines. With a huff and heave, he pulled out the largest, ugliest son of a bitch Coughlin had ever laid eyes on.
    "Jesus christ!" Ludwig exclaimed.
    The monster was large. Even without pulling it completely out of the water, they could tell it could probably take on a Land-Master rover head-on and win. The ugly bastard was covered in natural, chitinous armor with a huge mouthful of teeth. Further inspection revealed large scythe like limbs and a lower torso that reminded Coughlin of the old stories of centaurs.
    Despite its ferocious appearance, the thing was riddling with holes. Charlie wasn't caught with their pants down.
    Dixon gave it a half an eye before focusing back on his scope. 
    "Least we know what we're looking for." he said quietly. "But if you like that, you're gonna love this one."
    Coughlin glanced at Dixon and followed his line of sight and gasped in surprise that they had missed it.
    There, mostly buried in a downed thicket of trees, was another corpse. However unlike the huge creature before them, this one was notably smaller and disturbingly human in appearance. While still monstrous in nature and covered in sharp edges and armor, there was no doubt that this was a humanoid.
    "That one's different." Dixon observed.
    "No shit." Coughlin agreed. "Alright, I want one more sweep before we hit the cave. Anything else, shout out; but more importantly I wanna make sure we're not following ghosts into the dark."
    There was a grim nod. They knew what she meant. If Charlie team was dead and submerged in water like the big thing was, they'd rather not be going into the cave to rescue those that didn't need rescuing.
    If Charlie was dead, Coughlin would have no apprehension to calling in some bigger guns to clear the tunnels.
    The squad spent another few minutes searching, but didn't find anything substantial. Plenty of blood and one more of the dead humanoid monsters in one of the gaping holes, but no bodies from her squad.
    Charlie was still alive.
    And, as they made their way into the gaping maw of the cave system and stepped into the water in the humid, dark rock tunnel, that was the driving thought that pushed Coughlin forward.
    Charlie was still alive.
    And she'll be damned if she wasn't going to save them.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Birthday - Part 5


    The dropship tore over the fog-shrouded wetlands. The twin engines roared loudly and scattered small creatures from their hideaways; their departure illuminated by the powerful floodlights that sliced through the darkness.
    The ship had stealth options, of course. A means of making them run quieter in exchange for minor loss in capabilities. But Coughlin had no interest in that now.
    If she could scare her quarry into the open, whatever the organism was, it would make it all the more easier to deal with it. Blowing something away from the sky while it was out in the open would be much easier than trying to stalk it through the salt marshes.
    Still...
    "Anything yet?" she asked.
    "Nothing." Bullock confirmed.
    The five of them all had their eyes glued to their respective monitors. Video feeds from the hull cameras showed the darkened landscape lit up by the floodlights as water and trees rushed by. They could see lizards large and small as well as jakdus, the strange deerlike creature that inhabited the small continent, but nothing else showed its face.
    Nothing that appeared particularly dangerous and definitely nothing they didn't immediately recognize.
    "It'd be nice if we knew what we were looking for." Greer commented.
    "But ve wouldn't be marines then. Ve'd be qualified exterminators." Mikhailov remarked as she flipped through the cameras.
    They all chuckled a little bit at that but said nothing further. After another extended period of staring at the landscape rolling by, a tone chirped in her headset.
    "Talk to me."
    "We're approaching Calenburg again, sir." the pilot reported.
    She stared down at the screen. It was the fifth time they'd approached the little town and so far their patrols had been totally fruitless.
    "Alright. We're going to be making one more round and then rejoin Bravo and Charlie."
    "Yes, sir."
    Coughlin closed the channel and scanned the monitors again. She tapped the mic again.
    "Bravo. How are you guys looking?"
    "Quiet so far." Kuroba answered shortly, the sound of sloshing in the background and someone, probably Ludwig, speaking indistinctly.
    "Charlie."
    "Not sure, Staff Sergeant" Quinn said. "Found some tracks. Might be nothing, some kind of large pachyderm maybe, but we've got a bit of blood too so we're going to check it out."
    "Blood?" 
    "Yea. We think it is blood anyway. Seems to lead to some sort of low cave structure in the marshes. We'll keep you in the loop."
    "Be careful, Quinn. And keep us informed if you find anything."
    "Yes, sir." 
    The mic went dead and Coughlin felt the dropship lurching to the side as they made their pass over the town. That was when Bullock spoke up.
    "Hey Mik, have you looked at Calenburg the last couple passes."
    "Da. Why?"
    Bullock remained silent, seemingly staring hard at his screen.
    "I'm not sure." he finally said.
    Mikhailov glanced at Brick and Greer who both shrugged. But Coughlin was the one to ask the question.
    "Sergeant." she said flatly; her request for more obvious in her tone.
    "I'm not sure, sir." he said again, answering the unasked query. "It might be nothing, it just seems like something's weird."
    "Care to elaborate?"
    "Can't, sir. Something's grabbing me about the images and I'm not sure why."
    Coughlin gave him the stink eye but said nothing further. Instead, she deactivated the live monitoring and started rolling through the recorded vids from their passes over the town. It was pretty easy to find their Calenburg passes just by how well lit the video was compared to the rest of the dingy media.
    She cued it up and watched it carefully.
    The first video didn't seem that interesting. Just the town. Bright lights, plastisteel buildings, civilian vehicles...
    Nothing outstanding.
    The second video was very much the same.
    So was the third.
    Actually, it was exactly the same.
    "Nothing's moving?"
    "Yea." Bullock confirmed. "That's definitely it. I knew I noticed something but I couldn't put my finger on it."
    "At the very least on this side of the town." Mikhailov added.
    "Small town. Quiet night." Brick suggested.
    Coughlin studied the monitor. There was logic to the statement and with a town of only ten thousand or so, one couldn't expect a lot of nighttime activity. This wasn't some dense urban area and it wasn't uncouth to expect the majority of the population to be asleep at night.
    But at the same time...
    "No. Bullock's right. We don't know what we're dealing with and we don't take chances. We need to investigate any possible leads. We'll make one more sweep and then set down a~"
    "ZZZT~AGING! ENGAGING! HOLY SHIT! WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?!"
    The sound of Quinn's panicked voice exploded over her headset and she nearly jumped in surprise. She could hear the jackhammer sounds of pulse rifles rattling off over his yelling and could indistinctly pick up the other soldiers in the background.
    She slapped the mic in response.
    "Quinn? What the hell is happening?"
    "They're coming out of the swamp!" he screamed, barely audible over the crashing roar of gunfire. "There! And there! GORMAN! Behind you!"
    Another explosion of gunfire.
    "Quinn? Corporal?"
    More static broken by screams and gunfire.
    "ZZZT~ Hands are full right now, Sarge!" was his only response before the line went dead.
    "Bravo?" Coughlin demanded quickly.
    "I heard it." Kuroba confirmed over the radio. "We're zeroing in on their location now. Sending the coordinates back your way. We should be to Charlie in five minutes."
    "Make it two. We're en route."
    "Roger." 
    A moment later, Coughlin felt the ship shudder as the afterburners kicked in and she sunk back into the seat as the dropship. They tore away from the silent town, the question of why it was so motionless slipping from her mind as she steeled herself from the coming combat.