It is only a few weeks away. Another NaNoWriMo is fast approaching. The question looms, as always: what to write? I had some ideas, I posted them on Facebook and in the Forums, to get feedback.
Here’s the real kicker, I’m not going to tell you what I decided! Instead, I created a new area of the site. The trunk at the bottom of the page, labelled Oddballs, is now clickable, and will take you to things like the new NaNoWriMo Porject page… and more things in the future. So, go check it out, and you can find out what I decided about this year’s NaNoWriMo!
Today, I am writing elsewhere. Specifically, over on Unicorn Bell. I just love the name of her blog. Yesterday, she posted several random pictures, and challenged her followers to a 500-word maximum flash fiction piece, based on one of the pictures. I chose the man and woman with a spacecraft taking off in the background.
I hope you like the piece and comment whether you like it or not! So head on over there and check it out.
Hear that? Your Unicorn Bell is ringing…
This past spring, my family grew by just a loud little bit. I haven’t spoken much about my family here, but perhaps now is a good time to open that window.
The little one is affectionately known as ‘The Goblin’. Anyone who has seen a newborn baby will probably understand. She was born with a full head of dark hair and is generally not fond of taking naps. The Goblin wants to be walked!
She, though being my darling wife’s firstborn, is not the only child we have. The next youngest is a set of 12-year-old twins, which we will call Wyld and Scout. Wyld is a sweet, small-framed girl that works hard for what she wants. She’s a naturally talented rock climber and loves to draw. Scout isn’t as fond of rocky cliffs, but loves baseball with a passion. He’s also on the tech-savvy side of computers and a strong reader.
Their older brother has suddenly turned into a giant. At 14 years of age he is almost exactly 6 feet tall! We’ll call him Scooby, though he looks more like Shaggy. He’s into music and comic books and has dreams of being rock star. He lives on the east coast with his mom, but comes for holidays and summer, any time that has presents involved.
Finally, let me introduce my beautiful Muse. She can do amazing things with a computer, but is also the best and fastest proofreader/editor I’ve ever found. It is thanks to her love and support that I can achieve whatever success lies ahead of me.
So, that’s my family. I hope you’ll enjoy looking through our window from time to time.
Well, finally, the school year is drawing to a close, and summer is heating up. In perfect time for kicking off summer, my website has just launched the redesign done by Arimaspy.com. Let me tell you, it looks amazing!
It’s mostly in the same layout as before, and, so far, with mostly the same content, but the look, wow, you just have to see it. I think you’ll be very pleased with how easy it is to navigate around now.
Oh, but don’t think there’s nothing new under the DavidJace sun… we’ve put in some really fun little “easter eggs” and extra stuff, with more coming as we settle in. For instance, keep your eye out for this guy.
He’s our new mascot. Talk about a blend of fantasy and science fiction! Watch for him around the site, because you’ll never know where he’ll show up, or what he’ll be doing. Some of the things that might happen around the site are small, but fun, others are very new and I hope surprising.
Check out the new site at www.davidjace.com and let me know what you think! Is there anything missing? Anything you wish was there? (And of course, if you happen to run into anything that doesn’t work, do let me know, so we can get it fixed.)
When you’re done checking out my new site, surf over to Arimaspy.com to see what else she’s capable of, and let her know what a great job she did on DavidJace.com!
Hi, we’re remodeling! Sorry things are blank right now, but when you come back, it’ll be AWESOME!
Unless you leave and come right back, then it might not be awesome just yet… but it will be, I promise!
NaNoWriMo 2012 is over. Somehow, unlike past years, this blog was silent throughout the entire month. I was dreadfully irresponsible regarding my blogging. Yes, that does usually happen during the school year, but it’s no excuse, and certainly not during NaNo. So this is to recap the month, which was full of firsts and frustrations, tied with a bow of success!
I am not teaching a writing class this year, so had no students to ‘force’ through the YWP. I also did not lead it as an after school program, for various reasons. I did put up a poster to chart my own progress, and I spread the information out to some other interested teachers, but as far as I know, I was the only one in the school writing. (I did get a surprising bit of interest in my progress, so will probably repeat that next year, and may again be the staunch supporter of the school’s YWP.)
However, this year, I decided to shoot for the full 50k. Then, I had an extra surprise: my wife decided to write! It was a very different experience, pursuing our goals together. Then, we decided to get more social than I have in the past. We attended the regional kick-off party, the “Evening of Scribbling Recklessly” (all-night write-in for our region), and even the TGIO party on Dec 1. We made some friends, got well acquainted with our fantastic MLs, and both succeeded in writing over 50,000 words!
My wife wrote an Elven Fire campaign, similar to The Beginner GM, which was my project from last year. I wrote The Mayan Millennium, and was surprised at how much my characters took over and guided the work this time around. Pleasantly surprised, I should add. I think they made it a much better story than I had planned! I’m glad that I didn’t abandon it at the beginning of NaNo and switch to something else. I stayed faithful to the work, and it rewarded me well. I finished Mayan at 50,090 words.
Another new thing? I used the writing program Scrivener this year and LOVED it. It’s a fantastic program that any writer would benefit from trying, in my opinion. Winning NaNoWriMo allowed me to buy it at 50% off it’s usual price. Great deal, and now I own it.
What’s next? Well, I’m planning to submit a story called Slave Princess to the quarterly Writers of the Future contest. Slave Princess is a novella that was never posted to my website or otherwise much advertised, mostly written for a friend during a failed NaNoWriMo attempt in the past. However, I’ve dug it back out of the dust and am now editing and revising to send it in to WotF. After that, I have two novels to edit! Mayan Millennium and On Common Ground. One of them will be going to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest, and the other will get agent-shopped and then self-published (if it isn’t picked up first) this summer! The question is, which one gets what?? Yet to be determined. I’m horrible at choosing between great options!
Also, my amazing wife has taken up a hobby of cover artwork! She did several NaNo covers through the forums, and modified / finished a cover concept that someone else offered for On Common Ground! I love the new look, front to back.
Oh, there’s one more thing that will be new, but started in November: the website! DavidJace.com is getting a redesign, courtesy of Stephanie from Arimaspy.com. I am super-excited about this, and will try to keep updates posted here as it happens. (If you have any thoughts about features or pages you’d like to see on the site, PLEASE comment and let me know so I can get them included in the big redesign!)
Happy Holidays, everyone.
JACE: Hello, Calvin. Thank you for meeting with us.
CALVIN: Sure, no problem.
JACE: Let’s start with you, Calvin. Would you tell us a little about yourself and then maybe your heroic alter ego?
CALVIN: The alter ego is probably more fun to talk about. He laughs self-consciously. Well, I’m 19. I’m a sophomore in architectural engineering at Drexel University. I don’t do a lot of sports, well, any sports, and I study a lot. The most exciting thing I do is sometimes I play an RPG game called Elven Fire with a group at school who’s into that. I’m kind of a nerd.
JACE: Nerds are important, too, Calvin. What about your hero?
CALVIN: His face brightens up a little. That’s where things get more exciting. He’s a super hero, obviously. I made him with blond, surfer hair. He’s pretty athletic. He has a castle-hemmed cape, and a dragon on his chest. The dragon is for my school. I picked a pair of powers to start with: Statue and Lead Feet. Statue is a single-target freeze, and Lead Feet is an AOE slow. Of course, each one costs energy, so there’s some strategy in using them. It’s fun.
JACE: And AOE is short for?
CALVIN: Area-Of-Effect. It means it hits several enemies at the same time.
JACE: I see. That does sound like a good combination. Let’s talk about powers a little bit. Can you tell us how these powers work, and how you learned them? Press A to shoot, B to jump? Certain hand motions for certain tricks? Is there a tutorial, or do you figure it out in game?
CALVIN: He laughs comfortably. No, this game isn’t like that. There aren’t controllers; you’re completely inside the game. Whatever you do, you’re really doing in the game. A lot of players, when using classic controllers, jerk the controller up when they press the jump button. The game doesn’t care if you lift your controller or not. In some more advanced games, lifting your controller will make your character jump. In Hero Games, if you jerk your arms up, your character just jerks his arms up. If you want your character to jump, you’d better jump yourself. You and the character are really the same person.
JACE: Okay, so I know how to jump, and walk, but where did the real you learn how to cast “Statue” or “Lead Feet”?
CALVIN: Oh, that happens in the Training Room, with TrainerBot and his TAs.
JACE: That sounds interesting. Can you tell us a little about that?
CALVIN: After you make your character, you go down a mirrored hallway to the Training Room. It has a very high, arched ceiling and is mostly steel walls. You go back to the Training Room any time you learn a new power, to learn how to use it. TrainerBot is a floating robot. He’s metallic humanoid on top, but the bottom half of him is a round floating set of equipment. He guides you on using the powers, and the TAs, Training Assistants, are basically the practice dummies. They look like gym class rejects until they start coming at you.
JACE: The TAs attack you?
CALVIN: I think it depends on the kind of power you have. Mine is actively offensive/defensive, so yeah, they attacked me so I could use my powers on them. Using the powers is mostly a matter of concentration and focus. Since the entire game is wired into our heads, it makes sense that using the powers would just be in our heads, too.
Other Hero Games Introductions:
Nick “Virgil Ante”
Paul “The Peace Keeper”
Erin “Vanessa Pyre”
JACE: Hello, Erin. Thank you for taking the time to join us today.
ERIN: She shrugs. It’s no problem. They said you were interviewing all the Beta testers.
JACE: Yes, we are. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself to get us started?
ERIN: Okay. I’m seveteen. My birthday is October 8th if you want to send me a present. I read a lot. I do okay in school. I’ve never been arrested, but I beat up the last guy that said I was emo. When I was a kid, we had a lizard in our backyard, a gecko, and I got friendly enough with him that he would let me feed him. I like your goatee, and I think I’ve run out of things to say.
JACE: I’m caught a little off guard by her reference to myself. We were supposed to be talking about her! Ah, thank you, Erin. What about Hero Games? Are you enjoying being a Beta tester?
ERIN: Yeah, it’s fun. When I read, I kind of fall into the story, you know? This game is even better than that; I’m really in the world and action.
JACE: Can you tell us a little about your character?
ERIN: Sure. Her name is Vanessa Pyre. She’s kind of a vampire. She wears a gothic corset and dress, and she can do some of the traditional vampire stuff, like turn into mist and bite people. Her bite just puts them to sleep right now, though.
JACE: Traditionally, fire is one of the ways to kill a vampire. Was the irony in your character’s name intentional? A pyre is a burning structure.
ERIN: She flashes that pretty smile again, perhaps even slightly longer and larger. I think you’re the first person to get that. I didn’t start with that in mind, but I liked the idea, so I went with it.
JACE: So, Vanessa is a vampire. Is that one of the options when you make your character? I don’t think we’ve heard much about that.
ERIN: No, the Character Creation isn’t like that. There are tons of options, and none of them are stereotypes. Obviously , you can stereotype if you want to, but it isn’t setup by default. There aren’t even player classes like in most games.
JACE: Could you explain more about that for our readers who might be less game-proficient than others?
ERIN: Well, most games like this, you choose a ‘class’ of character, like an tank, or a blaster, or a mage.
JACE: I think you lost me there, Erin.
ERIN: A tank is the term for someone who can take a lot of damage. They run in and keep the bad guy’s attention, doing a little bit of damage, but taking all the hits while the other guys attack the same bad guy. A blaster is someone who attacks from a distance, like an archer or gunman. And a mage is someone that uses magic. There are other types, but that gives you the idea. When you choose one of those characters, you choose powers or abilities or weapons that work for that type of fighter. In Hero Games, you don’t pick a class, and all the abilities are open for anyone to choose. You can make your own class, or spread it around and be a little of everything. It changes the strategy a little bit that way, and that’s cool.
JACE: What about the social aspects of the game? Are you making lots of new friends?
ERIN: A slightly disgusted look crosses her face. I don’t make friends. Yes, you can group, and there are options for that in the game, but you’ll have to ask someone else about that; I work alone. Everything’s going social these days. People act like you can’t do anything on your own, like it’s a bad thing to be by yourself.
|Image created by HeroMachine.com|
JACE: So you don’t talk to or interact with anyone else in the game?
ERIN: Well, there’s this one guy that’s helped me out a couple of times. He’s kind of sweet, really, but that’s the sad part, cause he’s just going to get hurt in the end. Nice guy, though.
JACE: Well, if you don’t go in for the social aspect, what is your favorite part of the game.
ERIN: She clearly ponders this for a moment, her watery blue eyes looking off into the distance. I like the pure freedom of it. I get to experience things without worrying about getting trapped, or getting hurt. I’ve jumped off a building and faded into mist half way down, drifting gently to the street. I can talk tough to the bad guys, cause their just computer pixels. Yeah, I like the freedom to feel anything.
Other Hero Games Introductions:
Nick “Virgil Ante”
Paul “The Peace Keeper” Granados
I’d like to introduce you to the Beta Testing team for Modson Technologies’s newest game in development: Hero Games! Modson is using their proprietary, experimental Neural Interceptor technology in a full immersion virtual setting for this new game. If the Beta trials are successful, they expect this technology to radically change the gaming industry, along with many other applications. Modson has been kind enough to allow us access to this technology to interview their Beta testers. Each one we interview will actually be comfortably at home, hooked into their Modson gaming system. Since this system interacts directly with their minds, we’ll be able to get much more complete answers than subjects may otherwise give. It’ll be almost like they are having a dream.
This week, we’ll talk to… Paul! A stocky, broad shouldered Hispanic guy comes in, smiling and waving to a non-existent studio audience. He pretends to shield his eyes from bright studio lights (though his lime green sport glasses are bright enough), scan the ‘crowd,’ recognize someone with a big smile, and point them out before finally joining us in the overstuffed interview chairs. The Hero Games tee shirt from the company is put on over top of the collared golf shirt he wears underneath.
JACE: Good morning, Paul. You seem to be in good spirits today.
PAUL: Every chance I get! He shrugs. I try to focus on the happy side of life. So, what did you want to talk about?
JACE: Laughs. Well, I thought we could talk about your role as a Beta tester, and your experience in the game, and maybe a little bit about you. Tell us about Hero Games.
PAUL: Okay. Well, you have this tower thing, with a helmet-gizmo attached to it. I think they call it a Neural Inter-something. Anyways, you put on the headset, and your whole body starts feeling numb. Oh, and everything is dark. Then all of a sudden you’re floating kind of in space, and there’s a start button that you can reach out and click, then you’re in the game. You start by making a hero character, and then you become the hero and go out and fight crime.
JACE: That sounds intriguing. So, what sort of hero did you make?
PAUL: Oh, mine is named The Peace Keeper. He’s got all this body armor, and he uses a quarterstaff that shrinks down when I’m not using it. When I level up some more, I plan to get a Bolo Gun.
JACE: I couldn’t help but notice that you switched pronouns, there, Paul. You went from talking about ‘him’ to yourself.
PAUL: He grins sheepishly. Yeah, well, that’s kind of the way it happens in the game, you really do become the hero. It feels so real. Once I finished creating the character and got into the armor myself, it was me out there fighting crime. It isn’t like you’re just pushing buttons and watching a screen; you’re really out there- or, in there, or whatever, I am the Peace Keeper. It’s great.
JACE: So, Paul, there may be some of our audience that don’t know what a Beta tester is. Could you explain that for us?
PAUL: Sure. When a company is making a video game, they have to write all the programming, and then part of the programmers’ job is to test it. Only they can’t see all the problems, cause they’re too close, so they do a Beta Trial. They invite a small group of people to play the game and see if they can find mistakes, or problems. We can make suggestions, and we can even try to break the game. I know one guy that always tries to find the highest part of the game he can and jump off, just to see how the game handles it.
JACE: I see. Have you tried that in Hero Games?
PAUL: He shakes his head vigorously. Not me; not in Hero Games. It’s too real. I’d feel like I was really jumping off a building. Some of the heroes can fly, though, so maybe they’ve tried it. But you do some exploring, you try to go into places of the game environment that the designers don’t expect you to go. I’ll be honest, I’ve mostly been having fun just playing the game. The world’s pretty complete, though. My buddy Blue Bow has been following the NPCs trying to figure out the patterns. He says they’re more complicated than any game he’s seen yet.
|Images thanks to HeroMachine.com|
PAUL: Oh, sorry. NPCs are Non-Player Characters. They’re just fake people run by the game to help fill up the world the game is in.
JACE: Well, Paul, you’ve told us a fair bit about the game, but what about you? Who is the ‘man behind the Peace Keeper’?
PAUL: His grin expands to cover half his face. Aw, there’s nothing interesting about me. I’m just a guy.
JACE: I don’t believe that for a moment. What’s your family like? What do you do for fun?
PAUL: Not much family, really. Just my mom and me. Mom doesn’t want me to work so I can concentrate on school. She wants me to get into a good college. She says she’s supporting me now so I can support her later. He laughs. She says when I turn 27 she’s going to retire, so I’d better be ready to take care of her. For fun, right now, I mostly just play Hero Games. It gets pretty addicting. I’m in there most of the time.
JACE: Offers Paul his hand to shake. Well, Paul, it’s been a pleasure having you stop by. I wish you great success in the future. Before you go, though, I have a special announcement to our audience:
The Beta tester that gets the most attention for his interview will receive a special in-game reward! So, tell all of your friends to come check out your interview, and comment, Like, +1, etc so you can get that special in-game prize. Also, the lucky Beta tester will choose one of their supporters at random for a cameo appearance in Hero Games!
PAUL: You got it! He gets up and again waves to the imaginary crowd, his grin as big as his heart.
Hero Games Introductions:
Nick “Virgil Ante”
Erin “Vanessa Pyre” Moore