The Sleeper’s Call

August 6th, 2013 No comments

I’ve put a short story up on the Kindle store, called The Sleeper’s Call. If you have a kindle, or use a kindle app on your pc or whatever, I’d appreciate it if you had a look. It’s cheap!

It’s a little horror fairy tale, and I hope you like it.

Categories: Writing Tags: , ,

A Drabble

May 1st, 2013 No comments

He doesn’t stop. The first step is the hardest, but after that each follows naturally, putting distance behind him and the door. The weakness and the fear are left behind with his old life, and the cries of those with whom he shared it no longer have the power to move him.
For the first time in years, Adrian is free. What he will do now, he doesn’t know, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that his old life, his old family, no longer have the power to hold him back. Behind him, the flames rise, consuming the house.

Categories: Writing Tags:

Spec Ops: The Line – done!

December 15th, 2012 No comments

First off, play this game.

That’s the most important thing I can say about this game. Play it. It’s not, from a gameplay point of view, anything special, though neither is it bad. It simply is a third person cover-shooter without anything that makes it stand out to me. But, on a meta level, it’s awesome. It’s a story about what’s actually happening in all those other games, the ones where you mow down a horde of attackers without a thought. About who you would have to be, to actually do that. It’s a story about death, and failure, and (possibly, maybe) redemption, and I don’t think I’ve seen anything like this attempted in a computer game before.

The characters are three US special forces soldiers heading into the ruins of Dubai after the rise of terrible dust storms forced it’s evacuation. But the evacuation seems to have been botched, and they are going in to find out what happened to the US military that were trying to organise it. The setting is beautiful and awesome in and of itself, the streets and towers of Dubai full of sand and empty of life – until you find one of the factions fighting over the corpse of the city. That much is normal, though it does make for spectacular scenery. But once you start having to make choices, and thus revealing the characters of your squad, the game grabs you. Or at least it grabbed me and didn’t let go. The choices aren’t always flagged as such, either – there was one point where the game was prompting me to do something horrible, and I realised just in time that there was another, less psychopathic, way to solve the problem. And after that, I couldn’t help trying to work out what earlier incidents could have been resolved without atrocities that I’d thought were scripted…

I’m finding that I can’t actually write too much about it. This game is powerful, and important, and I don’t want to actually commit what it made me feel to a page. But it’s a brilliant piece of game design and writing, and I recommend it very highly indeed.

NaNoWriMo

December 3rd, 2012 No comments

I’m posting this a few days late, I know, but I I did finish my NaNo novel on time. 50,328 words of “Serendipity Jones and the Souls of Roness” written at the end of Friday, so I’m a winner!

A little break now, and then I’ll get to the massive job of editing and tidying it will take before I’m willing to show it to anyone.

Categories: Writing Tags:

Ars Magica Character Generator

October 12th, 2011 15 comments

06/09/12 Update – Another long wait – but I have version 1.5 ready in Excel format, so here it is. The rest will hopefully be along soon! Fixed a bunch of bugs and tidied some stuff up: thanks to all of you who helped by sending me feedback!

v1.5 Excel 2010

 

19/02/12 Update – Well, it’s been another big gap, but here we are – version 1.40. Now with equipment sheet, and a tested Excel 2010 file! I get error messages trying to test Excel 2003 format versions of this one, so I’m going to leave it alone until I can get to the bottom of that…

v1.40 OpenDocument v1.40 Excel v1.40 OpenDocument Template

29/11/11 Update – version 1.32, more bug fixes, this time for Custom Virtues and Flaws, which should now be counted right.

v1.32 OpenDocument  v1.32 Excel  v1.32 OpenDocument Template

27/11/11 Update – version 1.31, bug fix with Childhood Abilities xp calculation.

v1.31 OpenDocument  v1.31 Excel  v1.31 OpenDocument Template

26/11/11 Update – Latest Version v1.30 – bug fixes, Custom Virtues and Flaws, and now a Laboratory sheet. Still haven’t updated the Companion Sheet, must get around to that. Thanks very much to those who found the bugs for me!

Magus: v1.30 OpenDocument  v1.30 Excel  v1.30 OpenDocument Template

Companion: Still at v1.15, see below for download link

31/10/11 Update – Latest Version v1.20 – bug fixes, custom skills, and a spell sheet! The Companion Sheet is so far unchanged, will update it later.

Magus: v1.20 OpenDocument   v1.20 Excel   v1.20 OpenDocument Template

Companion: Still at v1.15, see below for download link.

***

23/10/11 Update – Latest Version v1.15 – bug fixes, abilities should now display correctly! Grimoire sheet is improved, though more work is needed.  Also, simplified Companion version is here – all the Magus only detail removed!

Magus:           v1.15 OpenDocument    v1.15 Excel   v1.15 OpenDocument Template

Companion:   v1.15 OpenDocument    v1.15 Excel   v1.15 OpenDocument Template

***

17/10/11 Update -Latest Version: v1.1 – bug fixes, corrects several errors and makes the Grimoire sheet more functional.

v1.1 in OpenDocument format

v.1.1 OpenDocument template

v1.1 Excel format

 

***

I decided to teach myself to spreadsheet. This is the result – a character generating spreadsheet for Ars Magica 5th Edition. It only contains data from the core rulebook so far, and doesn’t let you choose spells yet. It’s not quite done, really, and I’m sure (since I was learning as I went) that it’s not very efficient. But it works! Comments and advice would be welcome, I will keep updating it as long as I have the interest and any idea what to do.

EDIT: Corrected a rather unfortunate mistake, where it wouldn’t track xp in Arts added in play. Also, I figured that people might prefer a separate, somewhat simpler sheet for Companions alone, so I’m adding that while I’m here.

The Sheets:

In OpenDocument Spreadsheet format (I made it in LibreOffice, so this is the original format)

In Excel format (no promises it’ll work – I don’t have Excel to test it)

As an OpenDocument template

 

Companion OpenDocument format

Companion Excel

Companion OpenDocument Template

 

Enjoy, and please send feedback!

Categories: RPGs Tags: ,

A very, very beautiful video

May 30th, 2011 No comments

Time lapsed view of the sky.

Stunning.

Just watch it.

Categories: Science Tags: ,

Anathem

May 15th, 2011 2 comments

I have just finished reading Anathem, by Neal Stephenson. It is possibly the best SF book I have read this millennium – not too much to say, only eleven years in, but still. It’s complex and detailed story is exciting many thoughts in my brain, and I think it will be remembered as a classic of SF.

I can’t speak much of what it means to me, too much of it would gives spoilers of the story. But a book about scientist-monks and quantum philosophy has provided me with the most thought provoking read I have had in as long as I can remember. It’s an excellent examination of science and religion (in a way, anyway) and I can’t recommend it highly enough to anyone interested in such things. Or interested in a very good read.

Categories: Reading Tags: ,

Portal 2 – Single player done! **SPOILERS**

April 29th, 2011 No comments

That was the best game I’ve played in quite a while. Short, yes, though not nearly as short as some reports and considerably longer than the original game – but short and perfect, rather than feeling padded out in order to make it longer. Or rushed, as some games are, and thus missing bits of plot.

No, like the original Portal, it’s the right length for itself. It also has considerable replay value, I think, having dived back in several times. No iconic single lines in this one, unlike “The cake is a lie!” and so on, but it has Cave Johnson, who’s cheerful monologues (and their slow dissent into maudlin dissatisfaction with the way his life have gone) are both brilliant and poignant. And other, almost as memorable characters – it’s a little more life-filled than the first game, with three other characters compared to Portal’s one.

The only downside is that the puzzles aren’t as interesting as the first game. There’s much more a feel of needing to simply put the portals in the right places and GO! rather than Portal’s explore/experiment feel. This is largely due to the fact that, unlike Portal, there are very few surfaces you can place a portal on in the second game. But this is a minor gripe, as the puzzles are still very interesting, and there is always something entertaining and funny about them.

It does contradict the established history of Aperture Science, but I don’t care much about that – the new version is probably sillier in some ways (Aperture apparently had a working teleportation gun since the 1950s! And still went bust!), but it builds this marvellous game for me to play, so it’s fine. And it doesn’t contradict anything in the first game, anyway – only the stuff that was written around the game, though it was by the creators. The story of the games works fine…

Anyway, brilliant game – if anyone hasn’t played it yet, they should! Unless they haven’t played Portal yet, in which case – do that! Now! And then play Portal 2.

Categories: Computer Games Tags: ,

Fallout 3 – Operation Anchorage

January 4th, 2011 No comments

I bought the Game of the Year edition of Fallout 3 over the holidays. Well worth it, in the Steam sale, even though I’ve already played through the main game. The first dlc, Operation Anchorage, was fun, and the rest look good too. But I’m just going to concentrate on Op:A today.

The biggest problem is that it’s so limited. It’s just one thing, a linear shooter, which the Fallout 3 engine is not great for. And, if you don’t have the Small Guns skill, you’re not going to have a great time, which is a shame as it’s not always the skill a PC will be good at in the main game, and there’s no real warning that you’ll need it in Op:A. Those two things aside, it’s an entertaining look at the frankly ludicrous (and unapologetically so) history of the Fallout universe, with the Red Chinese invading the USA. It’s just a straightforward shoot-fest, with some holo-tapes and other notes to give you a feel for the game’s history. But there really isn’t much to it. It’s linear, there’s nothing else there, you just kill soldiers until you get to the end. There is a story, of course, that ties it into the rest of the game, but it’s pretty flimsy. Still, a much better effort than most of the old Oblivion DLC; at least the radio makes it plausible to get the mission straight after leaving the starting area…

So, all in all, I’m glad I didn’t pay too much for it – I would feel cheated if I had bought it on it’s own, but as a small extra part of the game, it was pretty cool. The other DLCs look more interesting, so I’m going to be playing them now…

Categories: Computer Games Tags:

Northward Bound

December 25th, 2010 No comments

It was dark at the top of the world, and far above stars twinkled merrily. The winds whistled across the endless snow-scape, months after the last sun had been seen here. Across the field of white, a figure moved, his black leather shoes crunching on the crisp snow. Slowly, carefully, he made his way towards the windbreak, stopping just at the edge to look around in the starlit night, and sing.

“♪I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…♪”

“That,” Agent Hanson said from behind the windbreak, “is not funny.”

“Come on, Jill.” He stepped out of the cold wind, smiling behind his mirrored sunglasses. “Where’s your sense of humour?”

“I left it back in Langley, Wolf. You know, in one of those warm rooms they have there?” She shivered, even inside her Arctic survival suit, glaring at her companion. “And tell me again why you’re comfortable dressed like that, Bob. We’re at the fucking pole here.”

“Exaggeration, Jill. We’re still twenty miles off.” He smiled as he dusted the snow from his jacket and checked his watch.

“I don’t care. You’re swanning around as though this is summer!”

He looked down at his suit critically, and took off his sunglasses to polish them. “No. In summer, I wouldn’t wear the jacket unless I had to.” He grinned at her. “Anyway, it’s just a perk. Do good today, and who knows – maybe you’ll impress someone.”

“Right. Homeland Security is handing out immunity to cold now.” She snorted.

“Jack Frost was real cooperative after a few minutes’ waterboarding,” Wolf smiled nastily. “Now he’s got a comfy little cell all his own, doesn’t get bothered by anyone. And he doesn’t bother me.”

“… whatever. Anyway, I’m just along to analyse the files.”

“Sure, but that’s a pretty hot job. Just think, it’s your chance to find out where Bin Laden’s been hiding. And to get us all a solid list of all the bad guys, everywhere. If this goes well, you’ll catch some attention.”

“You don’t seriously think this will work, do you?”

“Why not? It’s the one day of the year the Big Man’s away for sure. We’ll have twenty-four hours to secure the area, go through his files, liberate his ‘helpers’ and extract anything they know. By the time he gets back, the landing field will be one big ambush zone. It can’t fail.”

Wolf glanced at his watch again, and turned to look North. Hanson followed his gaze, bringing her binoculars up to her eyes. They waited in silence for a minute.

“… I still don’t feel right about this.”

Wolf sighed, and looked back at her. “What’s your problem? We’re here to keep America safe. That’s your job, right?”

“Yeah, but this isn’t a threat, is it? What harm is he doing up here?”

“Hey, it’s not our job to decide who’s a threat, remember? The President did that already. You’re not questioning the President, are you?” Wolf’s disconcerting grin flashed again. “Anyway, just think about it. This is someone who comes and goes as he chooses, in America as well as the rest of the world. He’s broken into the White House, Agent Hanson – and we take that kind of thing very seriously. The Big Man won’t enjoy Gitmo one little bit, after that.”

“So we grab him and torture him for, what, leaving the President a lump of coal?”

“We interrogate him, Jill, because he knows where the bad guys are. They get visits, too. Everyone does. And if he won’t help us find them, then he’s as bad as they are. He’s one of them, Jill, and if he’s dumb enough to annoy the President personally, well, he’s not making things any easier on himself, that’s all.

“If it makes you feel any better, though, think of the children. This old man, he creeps into children’s rooms at night, and do you really trust a man who does that? Would you trust him with your children’s safety? Or anyone else’s? When we take him out of circulation, we’ll be protecting our country and our children. Look at it that way.”

“I just remember… I mean when I was a kid -”

“When we were young, the world was different. The world was safer. We could afford to be more gentle then. Now,” Wolf sounded positively gleeful, “we live in a more dangerous world. And we get to be dangerous with it.”

Agent Hanson sighed, and glanced behind her, at the waiting men. Ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice, knowing they were serving their country, and that they were in the right. Hadn’t the President said so?

“This isn’t what I joined up for. I just wanted to keep America safe, not – not this.”

“But you are, Jill, you are!” Wolf’s hand landed on her shoulder, a friendly weight that somehow was anything but comforting. “Think of all the good we can do, with what he knows. Just think of the damage we can do our enemies, with his help.

“And, as an added bonus, the two of us get to have all our Christmases come at once! Come on, Jill, lighten up. It’s time to go.”

In the distance, Agent Hanson saw movement through her binoculars. A sleigh, lifting into the night sky, visible only by a faint red glow from the front. She shivered, not just from the cold, as the helicopters behind her started their engines.

Categories: Writing Tags: ,