Sunday, August 27, 2017

A Paladin’s First Steps | The Chronicles of Braum Stormforge


A Paladin’s First Steps
The Chronicles of Braum Stormforge

Bruam’s first days away from Wyrms-horde were ones of confusion, despair, and a deep sense of loss. By all accounts, it was his decision to leave the mountain; to venture from the depths of Myrepeak in the name of the Trudd. No one had forced him and it was not as if he’d been coerced by the deity to do his bidding. If anything, he had been unconsciously searching so long and so hard for a cause that he truly felt drawn to that the reaction was practically reflex. A knee jerk reaction. Something that he’d thirsted after for decades without knowing what that thirst was.

Yet, with the initial thrill of acceptance dying down, it was replaced instead by the aching of his sore feet and a deep, gnawing feeling in his gut. And as he trudged through the long, forgotten halls traveled only by the few humans and even fewer gnomes that ventured down to the Dwarves’ great halls, all of the weight and fear of the decision was hitting him full force.

He didn’t know what he would do.

Sure, Braum had heard the tales of paladins. They had done many great things. He’d seen the Greataxe of Journ, the paladin of Torag from the third Eon, glittering in its perfect, Mithril splendor as sharp and gallant as the day the dwarf had fought and defeated the Scourge centuries earlier. He’d seen the statues of Lon and Glon, the twins in the service of Pelor that had slain the Great Crimson Wyrm Faranak whose home and treasure piles would give way to the tunnels of Wyrms-horde. He’d even listened with wholesome intent to a young human man by the name of Kalen Nodworth who claimed to be tasked by the god Zohls to procure the recipe to everlasting life.

Braum always chuckled at that one; wondering if, to a human, everlasting life was just living past their formative years and making it to a rich age of forty or so. It seems like their race was too foolhardy to get much further than that without divine intervention.

Still, Braum thought with a furrowed brow as his feet throbbed in their steel boots, there are a lot more stories of horror than of wonder.

For every tale of magnificence that he could recall about a paladin of this God or that, Braum could think of a half dozen stories that he’d heard in passing about the mistakes of following one’s god. Hell, it was just another reason his family was always disinclined to the cloth.

For every Journ that stood gleaming in the night against the forces of evil, there was a Koveg that was killed by his followers when they decided THEY were the chosen followers of some damned deity. Or there was a Thurdag who got beheaded in the name of some holy crusade to the Eastern Kingdoms. Or there was a Wennoki, or a Thentrol, or a Javi… All of them met their end horribly in some dank hole in the world because they’d been driven forward by some divine light. Even Journ, glittering and fucking perfect as he was supposed to be, died of the Scourge that overtook his body after he slew the Lich Pathos.

Braum swallowed hard as he thought about the implications.

The tunnel that reached out before him sloped upward. Cold and hard, it was little more than baren, quickly carved stone and a paved flat surface so carts could pass into the Lower Cities. He’d never seen the entrance or the Sky beyond, but he knew it was there based on the stories he’d heard about it. He could feel the wind rushing down in little gusts and bursts that rustled his beard and the air around him felt far colder than he was used to.

And here he was walking towards it.

In his left hand, he held his shield, the weight always so comforting now seemingly unyielding. Khadgar it was called. “Trust” in his dwarven tongue. In his right hand, Magna. “Protector”. He could trust his shield most of all and, with his hammer in hand, he’d protect those that would need it.

Braum felt the fear well further up in his throat.

No. Not just fear.

Something else far worse that boiled the bile at the top of his gut.

He craned his neck back to look down the tunnel he’d been following for the last three days. The way that led back to the Lower Cities of the Dwarves. To the Heart of Myrepeak and the capital city of Wyrms-horde. Could he really just abandon it? Abandon everything he’d done in the name of some god on a whim? Just do what the supernatural bastard wanted?!

As if response, Braum felt a soft warmth grow in his chest. At first he thought it was Trudd listening to his thoughts somehow and judging him for it. He would punish Braum for some perceived heresy and destroy him right here and now. A dead paladin before he’d ever even gotten out of the mountain because he’d dared question the will of his lord. A reminder to never question a god’s will again.

But, upon looking down, he saw that his armor was glowing softly. His god was listening and Trudd was sending a message, but not one of anger...but of reminder.

Braum touched the glowing spot on his armor and chuckled in realization as to what it illuminated.

Much like his hammer and shield, he had named his armor as well. Inscribed with the same dwarven runes, quite literally molded into the armor at the time of its birth, Durmgrist. “Home”. He had always felt safe within the steel and something about the name always brought comfort to him in the darkest times. It had seemed perfect when he named it.

And now it did again.

Braum looked back down the tunnel one more time before continuing onward up the tunnel, his feet no longer aching as they had a moment before.

He still felt afraid. Only an idiot wouldn’t be. And the thought of how he would die and what terrible fate this decision would lead him to still swirled about in his mind. However, the biggest one...a feeling that he couldn’t quite put his finger on...was beginning to fade.

Braum no longer felt homesick. For he carried his home with him. He carried his armor and his shield and his hammer and, he supposed most important of all, he carried a faith that Trudd would watch over him; not just as some angry, vengeful spirit that demanded retribution in his name like some, but as a benevolent protector. Just as Braum would defend the innocent with all his power, he knew Trudd would watch over him in his own travels.

And, when the time came, he would not be wrought with fear at slipping into the void. He would be welcomed to eternity by the very father that watched over him.

Braum smiled to himself.

These thoughts stayed with him for many miles, washing away all other anxieties and terrors of the dark, as, for the first time in his life, Braum stepped out into the sunlight beneath a wild blue sky.

===

Hello Lovelies,

I was quite surprised to see how well Braum's story was received earlier. Surprised, but happy. My Dungeon Master not only liked it but also wants more information. He's encouraging us all to highlight the in-between the origin of the character and when the story of the game that we're playing actually starts. While I don't think anyone is quite tackling it to the length I am, I find that actually fleshing out the character's story makes me feel for them and understand them more than just going "Braum fought this badguy" and leaving it at that.

I do hope you enjoyed. I intend to do more but I guess I'll see if they get posted or not.

Love you all and have a wonderful day,

- RB

=== 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Braum Stormforge

 
Braum Stormforge
Character Background/History
 
---
 
Braum Stormforge was born the sixth child and fourth son to Olanna and Gorm, the second heir to the Stormforge clan. He, like his brothers and sisters, are direct descendants of the matron of the Stormforge line: Bronnah Stormforge. Although, at that time, the young bastard woman was known as Bronnah Whitestone and she officially worked as a low-wage, forge-scraper for the Metallurgists and Smithing Guilds. Unofficially, Bronnah was a whore, and her free time was often spent in the back alleys of the Haglin Palace and marketplaces, doing anything she could for the coin just to eat.

The matron’s luck changed when the Drow, who had been battling on and off with the dwarves of Myrepeak for a dozen years at that point, broke through into Wyrms-horde through a series of forgotten and unpublished mines. Their intent was simple: to kill, maim, and rape as many dwarven civilians of the great city and inflict as much potential damage as they could while the soldiers on the front line scrambled for a footing and doubled back while trying to fight back against the Drow who were already knocking at the gates in the adjacent cities of Hratholm and Vergis-Hold. There were many guards in Wyrms-horde, but plenty were killed in the initial attack when they were caught unprepared by the onslaught of heavily armed and armored Dark Elves and Dryders. The tide changed, however, when Bronnah, thinking quickly and using her knowledge of the pipes and systems of the great, interconnected forges, used the very city against the assailants. With the help of several acquaintances, savory and unsavory alike, Bronnah led a group of civilians to cool and heat key areas of the massive forge networks that ran through the city like a spiderweb. The result was a ‘storm’ of exploding pipes that rained down fire and fury of molten metal onto the Drow; hurting some, killing many, and giving the weakened militia and guards enough foothold to slay the Dark Elves before fleeing from the city. Then, under Bronnah’s insistence and with the support of her future husband, the then guard-captain Ogrinn Shieldsong, the offending mine networks used to assault the city were filled with the remaining molten metal and used to flush out any remaining Drow while simultaneously adding their own assault to the front line of the war some thirty miles down.

After that day, the bastard woman Bronnah was officially dubbed ‘Stormforge’ by the King of the Myrepeak in honor of the ‘storm of fury’ she had wrought upon the attackers. She was granted all of the titles, rights, and lordships of a minor noble and was even granted the right to live within Haglin Palace for the services she rendered in saving the city. While she accepted the titles and even the hand of Ogrinn several months later, the man who was key in helping her save Wyrms-horde, Bronnah did not elect to join the majority of other nobles in the Palace. Instead, she worked to rebuild the forge networks, relight their fires, and eventually was integral in the discovery of ‘Living Steel’ later in her life. To this day, her clan is at least a hundred strong, some by blood but many by marriage, and it is considered an honor to work within the Lumos Forge Network in honor of the clan’s matron or to act as a guard for the city should evil ever strike again.

Braum, influenced by the tales of old, decided to take up the mantle of Guard of Wyrms-horde while many of his brothers and sisters took to the forge.

He, like his family, were small for their ilk, even by Dwarvish standard. It made them wonders in the forge; strong yet dainty hands crafting keen pieces of the finest Dwarven steel to come out of Myrepeak, but Braum knew he had another calling. He had never been able to back down from a fight and more often than night found himself rushing in to stop an injustice rather than look around for help. He always felt the calling to protect and, after decades of training his body, trying to achieve perfection, he was accepted into the specialized Guard platoon known simply as ‘The Wall’. They were a group of Shield Bearers, born long before the time of Bronnah by Ogrinn’s clan, the Shieldsongs. They specialized in the use of weapon and shield combat, specifically phalanx tactics, and were seen to be the living embodiment of protection for the citizens of Myrepeak. Even should the roof of the mountain crumble and the walls of the city fail, ‘The Wall’ will always stand as a barrier to those that would seek to do evil. Immovable and invulnerable, they will serve as a living shield to drive back the threats of the dark at no matter the cost.

Clad in the Living Steel full-plate armor with the molten-metal-splattered tower shields of his family, Braum served in ‘The Wall’ for over a century.

While he worked diligently to be not only a protector but servant to his people, Braum was dissatisfied over the years to learn that his doe-eyed impression of ‘The Wall’ and the guards themselves were not all he hoped they would be. Heavily influenced by politics and nobility, he realized slowly, but painfully, that ‘Law’ did not always equate to ‘Good’. Depending on who had the coin, Justice could often be avoided with a simple piece of fresh paper for those in the power to wield the pen. As time rolled on, Braum witnessed more and more moral tragedy and started to recognize trends. The guards, despite being sworn to serve, often had an inclination to imprison and punish lower class clans and individuals, treating them with extreme and unnecessary harshness under the claim that they’re “just more likely to be criminals”; ignoring the obvious self-fulfilling prophecy that was that mindset. Likewise, the nobility, those that could change laws to suit their needs with a little help from a soft word and a bag of coin, always seemed to be treated with utter respect and velvet gloves; even when their crimes were far more heinous than those in the lower wards.

The realization sickened Braum and, for a time, he didn’t know what to do with himself. He had sworn to uphold the Law, but had realized after decades of servitude to that Law that it only served those in power; it didn’t serve those in need.

As his life dragged on, the answer to the questions came from the place he had never expected: the Gods. Braum had never been religious. None of his family was. With a history of bastards raised to good fortune through hard work and men and women that dedicated their lives to the crafting of swords and shield and their usage, not but a few of his clan had ever taken to the cloth whether half-hearted or otherwise. Those that did often favored Torag, father of Creation, as he was well known by all within the Dwarvish communities and held a special place in his heart for smiths.

Braum had never even heard of Trudd before that day.

While on a routine patrol through the lower mithril mines, his heart heavy with woe and his mind reeling on the topic of justice and law that had plagued him for over two decades, dipping him further and further into depression, he heard a sound. A mix of sobbing, roaring, and yelling echoed down the tunnel to him and, upon reaching it, he was surprised to find an older man clothed in fine silk running away from a small contingent of orcs at least a dozen strong. A young man, a servant or lower clan based on his appearance, was on the ground bleeding with a laughing, half-tusked monstrosity roaring his pleasure and beating his own chest with a great wooden club.

“You can’t help him.” the noble said. “We have to alert the others. More are on their way!”

It made sense. The other man was clearly worse for wear and he was but a single guard. “I can’t just leave him.” He responded.

“Please! He’s just a Slagshed.” the noble begged, confirming that the other man was, quite literally, a shit-cleaner. The lowest of the low. “He’s not worth our lives!”

“He’s worth mine. Get the others, I will hold the line there.” Braum told the man, pointing directly at the group of orcs. “Make sure you bring a medic when you do. For the Slagshed.”

And so Braum fought. He charged directly into the group and planted himself before the bleeding out lower clansman. He fought and bled and screamed and triumphed, never letting even one of the orcs slip past him. He was a wall. He was “The Wall”. And no man, monster, or beast would harm those he stood before, Slagshed or otherwise, while he still drew breath.

After what felt like hours of fighting, but only really equated to a few minutes, Braum collapsed next to the man on the ground, hurting but victorious. The other man, bleeding but alive, smiled his thanks and, to Braum’s complete surprise, stood up and dusted himself off.

“I see I chose right afterall.” the Slagshed said.

The man, bloodied and broken, changed to a new appearance. One that Braum instantly recognized as a thief that was convicted for “stealing” when a nobleman had literally taken the man’s gold pouch off his belt and condemned the ‘thief’ as a liar and a scoundrel for trying to take back his own belongings. He changed again and again Braum recognized the whoremonger that had tried to claim she was raped by one of the highborns only to be literally laughed out of the Palace. Four more times the man altered his appearance and four more times Braum recognized them immediately as being one of the many injustices that fueled his own depression. The last change was to that of a rather young, rather powerfully built dwarf that reminded him heavily of how he always imagined his clan patron Ogrinn to look as a young man. Powerful, intimidating, yet good natured.

“Who are you? What are you?” were the first words Braum could ask.

“I am Trudd.” the shapechanging dwarf explained simply in a gentle yet deep voice. “But I suppose that bears further explanation.”

Trudd went on to explain his stance in the pantheon of the Dwarvish deities, a topic that Braum was largely unfamiliar with given his own personal history with religion yet he felt himself dedicated to listen to all the same. In the dark, musty tunnel, surrounded by the slain bodies of orcs, he explained that he was the son of Torag and, despite being the youngest of his brothers and sisters, he is also known as being the strongest. He is tasked with guarding his father’s Halls and is dedicated to the protection of the innocent and the doing of good. Finally, Trudd explained that he has been watching Braum for some time now, even testing him occasionally, for at least a decade, and had finally come to a decision.

“And what is that?” Braum asked.

“I have chosen you to act as my paladin.” Trudd told him simply.

It’s not well-advised to openly laugh in the face of a deity; particularly not one that is known for their capability in martial combat and the fact that they can probably turn you into a fine jelly with a few well-chosen swings of a warhammer. In retrospect, Braum felt Trudd handled the slip up with good humor given Braum only realized several moments afterwards that the fit of giggles could have very well been his last.

“But I’ve never prayed to you. I didn’t even know you existed.” Braum explained sheepishly.

“Perhaps not consciously. But you have more than you know. Each time you raise your shield to the wicked in the name of those that cannot, you bear my sigil for all to see. Each time you speak out against injustice for those that would use the mortal law for their own gain, you speak my words for all to hear. Each time you ask the world ‘Why do I go on through that which I have seen?’ you whisper these words in my ear and I show you the answer.’”

This simple thought brought a smile to Braum’s face. There was something comforting about the idea he had been watched. That he had championed a cause of good and righteousness even as he felt like he was falling away from that very path by being disinclined to follow the clearly fallible laws of the land. And it was true, many times he had seen something immediately after the most breaking of trials that proved there was still good in the world. It was what kept him going for so many years.

His smile drifted away as the next thought hit him and he asked. “But what would I do as a paladin? I’ve known only my home and all the stories I hear of paladins are that they wander the world and die in, frankly, pretty horrific ways.”

“Paladins are bound to the will of their god. They spread their word and do the deeds of their god as if they were walking in their gods boots for they would become an avatar for their power. You would become an avatar for my power... and my pride. There are wrongs that need righting, there is good that needs doing, and, when your time comes, whether it bloody and horrific or quiet in your sleep, you will be welcomed into my venerable halls for the remainder of eternity.”

Braum thought of his family. He thought of his friends in the lower wards and his comrades in the “The Wall”. He thought of all of the men and women that he’d grown up with, lived with, fought for, and killed for through his many years. He was not young anymore and his head had long grown bald while his beard had began to silver. He had borne no sons or daughters nor even taken a wife, his life having been dedicated to the shield. And if he were to accept this calling, he would likely never see his home again nor ever have a true family for the rest of his days.

But it didn’t matter in the scope of the world…

“I’ll do it.”

“Then repeat after me these laws. You will repeat them every day. You will live them, breathe them, and they will nourish you as no other thing in this world may. They will be your food and your wine when you are hungry, they will be your lullaby to which you will rest, and they will be your anchor when the winds of the world seek to throw you off-course.

My strength is my sacred offering. I will maintain my body as I would a sacred relic and use it only for admirable pursuits.

To ensure the safety of those I protect, I will be among the first to charge and the last to retreat, save when such tactics would place those I protect at undue risk.

I will hold any defensive line if it will save innocents or the homes of my people.

Even the young can accomplish great things. I will never dismiss someone on account of youth.

And so Braum repeated them and in his belly burned a fire like nothing ever had. He felt the diminishing strength of his youth return in a flourish of bulging muscles and cracking bones. He felt a fervor that burned away the aches and pains of his age, healed the open, bleeding wounds of his battle, and made him feel as hot as a mithril forge. He felt the power of his God, of Thrudd the Mighty, surge through him like pipes filled with molten steel and he bellowed in a mix of agony and delight that echoed through the empty mine.

When the nobleman appeared, five other guards in tow and one very weary looking cleric of Torag, they were unable to find Braum. Using the tunnels he knew so well from his patrols, he had already disappeared and doubled back, cutting through the rock to the main road just outside of Wyrms-horde. From there, he left the mountain and, for the first time, ventured into the daylight of the world above. The power of his God burning in his belly, the words of his oath playing over and over in his mind, and the willingness to do more than he’d ever imagined for a world that needed a champion of might pushing him forward into the shining sun above.

===

Hello Lovelies,

To all of my regular readers, I know I've mentioned before that I'm a big fan of playing Dungeons and Dragons. In general, I pretty much always run the games and act as what's known as the Dungeon Master, which basically equates to the storyteller. For the first time in a VERY long time, I actually am getting the chance to play and, as such, dedicated myself to creating a character that I found really interesting. Because I'm me, the character needed to be more than just gameplay stats and numbers, and so I started writing down a history for who he is and where he's from. While it started off as just a 'here's some history', the entire thing started flowing into an actual story. As such, I figured I would share it with all of my lovely readers because why the hell not?

I hope you guys enjoyed.

===


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Inklewriter and Dialogue


Hello Lovelies,

Once again, I decided to check in with a little update to how things are going on the game design side and what exactly that really looks like.

First and foremost, after having pounded out the basic concept and design of the initial cutscene, I realized two major issues. One, I had not fleshed out any of the actual STORY for my STORY-BASED gameplay. I had vague ideas and concepts but had never sat down and started pounding anything out. This quickly led to number Two: I wasn't satisfied with what I had written initially and have to have my poor voice artist re-record stuff.

Luckily she had only done three lines as of yet.

I'll have her rerecord when it's done. Not when I'm starting.

And so, as I began actually WORKING on the story, I was very quickly presented with a whole new problem to handle. Dialogue. Now, as a writer, I was already very comfortable with dialogue and making things go back and forth. You get a certain sense for how people speak and interact and how to cut out the fluff to keep the story moving forward. What I never thought of before this, however, was the problem of 'dialogue trees'.

In a regular story/book/etc. you are dealing with a simple back and forth. Character A says blah, Character B says blah, proceed to blah blah blah until you've gotten to where you intend to for the story. But within game design, particularly a game that's designed around a self-building story with multiple endings and multiple paths, you have a key issue of dealing with multiple dialogue options.

If one character says blah, another character might say ha. If that character says ha, than the first character might say la OR blah depending on whether it's ha or HA. So, in order to make things flow and functional, I'm now building a dialogue tree that connects paths to and fro. Dialogue 1 leads to Dialogue 3 and 4 while Dialogue 2 leads to 5 and 6. Branch and connect as needed from there.

Honestly, it's been kind of a bitch. It's hard to think in that manner but I'm trying for now. I realized that while I had one line of dialogue planned out, I never really considered the next trail of information or how everything would connect. I'm thinking I'm probably going to need to go storyline by storyline from top to bottom, beginning to end, before I go any further because otherwise there will be too many loose ends and knots in the story.

No matter how I write it though, I need a way to do it.

I quickly found out that just writing the dialogue in a standard word document did not work. It worked even less well trying to plot it out within the game itself. I ended up hunting around and found a few different options, none of which I'm particularly satisfied with but I've currently settled on writer.inklestudios.com.

As it stands, inklewriter works like post it notes that you can add dialogue directions to. If you have Point 1 and Option 1 and Option 2, you can follow respective options and keep writing, creating more options and points as you go. Personally, I like the flow of being able to just type like I was writing on a notepad, but in turn I can't SEE the flow of consequences. I can't see the tree...it's just a straight line of little pieces of paper.

There were a few other options but none of them were particularly appealing.

I'll need to just keep looking. If anyone else has ever worked on dialogue trees, I'm more than open to input.

 As always, I will try to post updates and new content through the week, but worst comes to worst will return on Sunday. With that said, I hope you all are having a pleasant day and enjoy.

- RB

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