Story #2 published

January 15, 2016

Odd, that story #2 gets published before story #1, even though I signed the contract for story #1 months ago.

Anyway.

The market for story #2 is brand new, and I would say its presentation has some rough edges. Perhaps more than a few. Story #1 is (heh) a different story and will be out in print.  Perhaps that is why the process there is slower.  Story #2 is (I think) online only.

It is not that easy to find. Rough edges, as I said. I will paste a link. I will also say that apparently there may be a “best of” at some point at this market. It is therefore important to leave a comment on the story after reading it. I guess there is a comment button or something.

Story can be read HERE. Please leave a comment if you read it (at the magazine, not here on the blog). Even if you hate it, which many people did ;)

For what it’s worth, this story contains real people and events (as in, people I’ve seen, events I’ve witnessed). With some embellishments. The other story, story #1, due out in March, is about magic and wizards. So, totally different.

I suppose I’ve rambled enough now. Stop me before I kill again.

First news of the year

January 4, 2016

After six soul-crushing rejections, I’ve sold another short story. It is due to be published (ironically) much sooner than the last story I sold, which is still not out (that one’s due in March).

More details when it comes out.

As an aside, I seem to tend toward parenthetical phrases far too often.

Filtering

November 11, 2015

A few thoughts to jot down. Maybe I can turn some of these into an editing checklist for myself some day…

I mentioned that the last editor to reject my second story (it’s about a homeless guy) left me some helpful comments. She said the writing was “generally strong” (yay!) and had good characterization. She also said I was “filtering” and gave several examples.

As it turns out, I’ve been told in numerous critiques that I need to “show, don’t tell.” I’ve been painfully aware that telling too much is a tendency of mine, but it is hard for me to detect in my own writing. I am sort of getting the hang of detecting passive voice, but that is not quite the same thing.

I had never heard of “filtering,” but between the editor’s examples and some googling, I see now exactly what is going on and how it contributes to my tell vs. show problem.

I seriously doubt anyone is interested, but it came as a revelation to me, at least :D

Now I have a clearer picture on a specific writing pattern I can scan my work for when editing. I’m hoping that will help! And… just for my own reference if nothing else:

Filtering discussed

List of filter words

Now this is more like it!

November 9, 2015

Rejection, that is.

My second story, which was quite a departure from what I usually write, has racked up three rejections already. I may spend a little more time editing it–the last rejection came with a nice set of comments from the editor.

It’s just as well. If my second story had been accepted on the heels of the first one being accepted I might have let it go to my head!

I’ve been  a little  very slow producing stories #3 and #4. I actually started one, then got stuck, and decided to “let it lie” for a while and start on another one… which is now also stuck. :p

Wait, there’s a blog?

November 2, 2015

It’s only been a few dozen months since I posted. Hardly any time at all!

So why post now? I do NOT have exciting news that I am developing games again. Instead, I have the modest news that I have been writing. Not really “again.”

What does that mean? It means I’ve been turning out short stories. The first one has been accepted by The Great Tomes Series and is due to be published in early 2016. That’s especially noteworthy because it is the first story I’ve submitted anywhere for publication, and I found it encouraging to get a little taste of success on my first attempt. All downhill from here, right?

I’ve got several more stories running around, I’ll be sure to post if something noteworthy happens on that front. I think I’ll try posting some book reviews, too, at some point.

There it is.

Forge of Legends: Post Mortem

February 10, 2014

It has been quite some time since the last update was posted on the Forge of Legends project.   I am finally able to share some information.

In the time since I last posted, the single largest factor in delaying work on the game is that I have moved my family twice.   Selling and buying a home turned out to be a bit more than I bargained for.  Moving twice even more so.  I totally stopped coding work during this period.

However, even while I was still coding the game, I noticed a few troubling trends.  Foremost was that when I began coding on FOL years ago, there were precious few examples of the kind of game it is intended to be.  That is, a party-based, turn-based dungeon crawler, old school in every way.  At the time, I wanted a game like that so badly that I decided to make my own!  After years of coding, the market has shifted.  There are more and more games like this out there.  I feel the moment has passed, in essence.

Even when the game was making steady progress, I had outlined such a large feature scope that I was probably doomed never to complete the game.  This in spite of lots of good advice out there about keeping your scope limited!  I knew it was too much, but every feature was just too precious to cut, it seemed to me.  I was designing the game I always wanted to play…

This is one of the lessons I have learned: if your gut tells you there is too much to do, there is.  Start by completing a core, then you can add more and more neat stuff if you finish that.  Don’t start out to build an aircraft carrier — start with a fishing boat.  Tack on the AI-controlled pneumatic arresting gear later.

Speaking of lessons, there are several I have taken away from this effort.  To list a few more:

— I tended to agonize over resources, like images, spending days on these alone.  That in itself is not such a bad thing, but I think it would have been better to get “something” in place, then come back later and plug in the ideal art or image.  Too often I allowed myself to bog down working on pieces of the project whose time had not yet come.

— A development soundboard is exceedingly useful.  What I mean is someone who understands your project, and even may have projects of his own.  A fellow coder or game designer who you can bounce ideas off of, or just help you stay interested.  You know who you are, and thanks :)

— Marketing too early.  One of the things I most regret about this project is that I reached out and set expectations which I have not met.  Take for example the fine folks at RPGWatch, who posted game updates from a nobody.  In the future, I think I will postpone this phase until I am practically ready for beta testing.

— Reduce scope.  Did I mention reducing scope?

What happens next?  I haven’t explicitly stated what I now intend for Forge of Legends.  Partly that is because I am not sure.  I will say that I am putting the code down for now, and moving to another project.  There is still a largely complete 2D/3D game engine, however, and a usable level editor.  I think I would be open to making the code for both of these available, given the right kind of person was interested in it.  I have also given some thought to releasing a free, scope-reduced version of the game.

There is also a chance that I could return to the project in the future when the winds have changed.  Who knows?  Never say never, right?

As for me, I do have another project underway.  One of my first and primary efforts is now to design what is minimally viable (see reduce scope above).  I intend to bring it almost to completion before I bug anyone about it.

If you have interest in past or future projects, you can contact me via my website!

Maven

December 3, 2012

You haven’t lived until you’ve spent 10 hours straight debugging maven.

That is all.

Various short updates

November 14, 2012

A shame I have not posted more.

Great shame.

I have a few tidbits, none of which are worthy of a post individually.

First, RPGWatch is my new best friend!  They have agreed to post regular news articles on my current project.  Check out the first one here:

http://www.rpgwatch.com/show/article?articleid=198&ref=0&id=511

Second, I spent considerable time this year editing a book on API design.  It is now finished and can be purchased here:

http://www.amazon.com/20-API-Paradoxes-ebook/dp/B009NNXPES/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1352911078&sr=8-1

Last, an observation about my development practices and how I spend my time.  Actually, I COULD make a full post out of this one, but until such time as I believe I have a large number of readers, I am probably too lazy.  At any rate, here is the observation:

NEVER EVER EVER copy and paste code.  I spend hours tracking down bugs that boil down to this root cause.  Besides being bug-prone, it indicates design flaws when one is copy/pasting.  Lesson learned?  Sigh.  Probably not.

Over the course of many past failed projects, I’ve learned some lessons.  Without boring people with a list (ok, actually I’m too lazy) I’ll say that one of these lessons has recently become relevant.

That is, when you’re looking at a nice new set of functionality you’ve coded, or even a complete working system, and you say to yourself, “Well now, that’s cool.  I can see, though, that if I ever want it to do XYZ that it won’t work.  Also, it’s so complex that even I don’t understand how it all works without studying the code.”

Such is the case today, as I look at the new combat system in Forge of Legends.  The combat attacks for player characters and monsters is now basically done.  There is a lot to add on to it and flesh out, but the most basic kind of combat can now be carried out.  But, I coded it all for PCs and monsters with only one attack each, and with only one damage type each.  So, if I later wanted a PC to take two swings with a flaming sword that does slashing and fire damage, it can’t be done.

So I’ve got to refactor it.  For monsters too. 

I could ignore this, keep my “working system” working and move on.  But I’ve learned the hard way that this leads to ruin.

Back to work!

 

Forge of Legends update

June 19, 2012

A quick note that I’ve updated the site with new info on combat.  There’s a new dev journal video, as well as some new content in the combat section.

Indie!

May 4, 2012

No, I’m not dead (yet).

I invite you to read this:

http://rampantgames.com/blog/?p=4307

which is one of the best posts about Indie Game development I’ve seen!

And… there.  Proof I’m not dead.  Or something

More on algorithms

April 10, 2012

In my last post, which was a bit of an eye-chart, I alluded to the pain involved in doing things the wrong way.  Lessons learned, was the point.

Here are some of the fruits of those lessons!  In my current game project, “Forge of Legends,” I have needed to do each of the following:

  • Find a path through a dungeon
  • Determine what a player or monster can see
  • Get all the integer points within an area

To be honest, I actually already had an idea how to tackle the first one.  I knew of the existence of the “A* Pathfinding Algorithm” but had had only limited success implementing it.  Instead of a ghetto attempt, I went to google and found a really nice walkthrough of the algorithm here:

http://www.policyalmanac.org/games/aStarTutorial.htm

I got to experience that unique joy only a game developer can understand — when you code something and watch it work, and are amazed at how cool it is.  I traced paths all through my test dungeons, watching the algorithm find the shortest paths and avoid dead-ends.  Neat.

The next two problems in need of a solution I had come across before, when working on a now-defunct life simulator.  How to determine what an entity “sees,” including taking into account things like obstructions.

It turns out the key to this problem is also the perfect solution to the problem I showed ugly monster code for in the last post.  A ray-tracing algorithm.  Namely, “Bresenham’s Line Algorithm.”  My guess is that anyone who has worked much with programming games is well aware of what this is, but I was not.

If I treat an entity as a light source, I can then use the algorithm to trace rays out from the source, “illuminating” an area — but also “seeing” into an area.  It is also affected by obstructions just the way I’d want.

Here’s a little graphic that shows what it does — getting back integer coordinates interpreted from two points on a grid:

There is a bit more to it, though.  This shows one “ray,” which is just a set of coordinates from point A to point B.  Perfects for looking down a line at something.  But, if I am an entity or light source, I’m looking in all directions, of course.  So, I have my entity’s location as a starting point for any number of lines that radiate out, but how do I select all those needed destination points for drawing a line?

I was tempted to try to figure out something complicated and… probably broken.  But, a little more research yielded information on the “Midpoint Circle Algorithm.”  With that, which you can visualize with the following image, I was able to build a circle of destination points and trace lines to each one.

And bam!  It works.  And it’s so fun to watch.  My entities can find paths, and can see!

To see all these algorithms in action, head over to the Forge of Legends site and view the developer journal entries for “formations” and “line of sight.”

Here’s a link:

http://empireforge.com/fol/devJournalOverview.html

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