Category Archives: Game Development

Games I currently have under development in some form: Memories, Soccrpg, Tears of the King, and the Untitled StoryNexus Project (which is no longer being developed in StoryNexus).

#WriteTuesday – Edits 2.0 Complete!

I am so excited – on Thursday I finished the edits for the Make Your Way story!!!! I sat down that afternoon and got through the first few sections. I had plans to hang out with my brother, so I wasn’t expecting to get much more done that afternoon, but our plans got delayed a bit so I kept working. I managed to get through all 15 sections just before going to his place, but I wasn’t happy with the last two (sections 70 and 71). So after I got home (and made really yummy Creamy Zucchini and Carrot soup), I sat back down and changed them up quite a bit until I was satisfied with them. And now it’s done!!!

I immediately messaged a friend to see if he was interested in giving it a read through. Ideally I’m hoping to get it to a few friends so I can get some fresh eyes looking at it. Depending on how that goes, I’ll give it another pass or two (I need to look at dialogue to make sure the characters sound different, and of course one last read-through to make sure everything looks good) then hopefully submit it before the end of the month! 🙂

So here’s the new flowchart for what the story now looks like:

Flowchart of the Make Your Way story now that editing pass 2.0 is completed

You can see that it’s very similar to the old flowchart (just two extra sections added).

With the edits done Thursday (much sooner than I’d expected), I wasn’t really sure what to do next (besides giving myself a bit of space from the story before tackling the dialogue). That night I ended up finishing cleaning up this blog’s categories (I think I started doing that in April, then just put it off since). I’m now down to 14, which is where I’m going to leave things for now.  Originally I was going to get rid of all of my sub-categories, but in the end I decided to keep a few, like the one specifically for when I’m talking about using game development tools, and a few for writing like worldbuilding and characters. I also updated both worldbuilding and game development so they list (and link to) posts about the individual projects I’m “working on” (they’ve been on the back-burner for quite awhile unfortunately….)

As I was paring down the categories, I stumbled on the few blog posts about Memories. It’s been a few years since I put it aside because I didn’t know how to end it. So after I was done with the categories, I decided to play through the game again. I still really like the work I originally did on it, but unfortunately I’m still not really sure how to end it. 😦 But since that play through I’ve been puttering around with the game a bit, fixing some things I didn’t even realize needed to be fixed. A really big flaw in the game (besides the lack of ending) is that there wasn’t enough direction for what you need to do to progress. That first night I fixed a few spots, but got stuck on some others because there wasn’t an obvious  fix. I’m also very happy I made a picture with all of the NPCs (and that I noticed it while cleaning up the categories!)

The next day (Friday), I went back to working on Memories, fixing it up quite a bit. The NPCs now direct the player a bit more, explaining where things are and who needs your help next. I also had to close off one of the rooms that you could originally go through; closing it off directs your path a bit more towards certain goals earlier in the game. I also had to move a couple of NPCs to make them a bit easier to find.

Now that that’s all done, I’m back to needing to figure out how the game will end! I spent most of the weekend with that problem in the back of my head, and I’m still not 100% sure. I’ll have to keep thinking about it during this coming week; hopefully I’ll have some time to figure it out.

While I really want to get some more work done on both of these projects, unfortunately they aren’t my priority this week; ThunderCon is Sept 21 and 22 and I’m once again going to take pictures all weekend (while my friend Scott takes video footage for future ads and whatnot). I’ll be posting my pictures on my Flickr account at the end of the Con; I’ll share them here next Tuesday. 🙂

So how are your projects going? Any plans for the week? 🙂

PS, yesterday I stumbled on this Pinterest board I made for Memories a few years ago; I totally forgot it existed! That was a very fun find. 🙂

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#WriteTuesday – Where Did the Week Go?

Seriously, I can’t believe it’s Tuesday already!!  The last week has really flown by!

All week I’ve been trying to tackle the plot of the story I’m writing for the Make Your Way anthology, and totally failing. 😦

The problem is that I have a branch early on in the story where the player can choose to go to one of two places.  I know what happens if you choose the one place, and how it leads to the end.  But I can’t quite wrap my head around the second place and how it leads to the end.  What I’m very roughly trying to do is give some choices, but get everything back to the basic same ending, like so:

demonstration of my branching path

This is a very rough outline of how I’m trying to funnel the story to the ending.  I’m hoping the actual branches will be a little more complex than this (and they will lead to a few different endings, not just the one like I’ve shown here).

I want to funnel the story to the same rough ending place to keep it from ballooning out of control since it is supposed to be a short story, not a full game book.  But at the same time I want to have some choice so the player might play through it again at a later date and get a somewhat different experience.

So for this week I’m going to continue trying to tackle the plot and hopefully actually get back to writing the story!  I know I’m running out of time to get this story done this year (2019 is only 2 weeks away!) but I’m going to try because ideally I’d like to be working on something else at the beginning of 2019. Wish me luck!

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#WriteMonday – Lots of Doubt

Over the last week, I found myself really struggling with doubt when it comes to working on the short story for the Make Your Way anthology.  Specifically, I’ve been doubting myself and my ability to write this piece.

Deep down I know this doubt is silly.  I’ve worked on similar projects in the past, most notably Holdfast.  Holdfast is a game book that was developed by Black Chicken Studios.  For Holdfast, I worked on two separate story lines.  I developed the characters, and had to write out a branching story (rather like a Choose Your Own Adventure story) complete with a couple of RPG choices.  And I did it all within a week.  This experience is exactly what I need to call on for the Make Your Way anthology.

Perhaps part of the problem is that this specific experience happened five years ago.  Yes I have done it, but I haven’t done anything quite like this recently.  And in truth, this project is a little more intense than Holdfast was (even though all the work I did for Holdfast happened within one week, which is a very tight turnaround time); where in Holdfast I was just writing the story stuff, this time around I’m designing the RPG system, editing everything, and having to randomize the sections at the end, too.  So it’s possible that this stuff is intimidating me a little bit, too.

Another thing that I’m worried about is the story ballooning out of control.  Being a choose your own adventure style story, having multiple paths increases the replayability.  But it also means the story becomes physically much bigger.  While Make Your Way didn’t have any word length specifics, they do remind you that whatever you submit is just one part of a bigger book, not a standalone book on its own. How do I keep the word count down while making sure the piece is fun?  Should I sacrifice replayability by making it a super linear story?  I don’t really want to, but it might be the only way forward.

While grappling with all of these doubts, I have made a bit of progress.  I have the main characters figured out.  And I’ve brainstormed a lot of individual story elements (including a possible bad ending!)  I think at this point I really just need to sit down, start writing, and see where things go, even with all the doubts.  So wish me luck as I do that this week! 🙂

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#WriteMonday – Short Story Submitted!

I did it!  I actually got that short story edited and submitted!

I had a really hard time sitting down to deal with it.  I kept putting off the editing.  Finally on Tuesday I sat down and started writing whatever was on my mind (it was a free write, much like I did years ago in a writing class).  By the time I was at the end of the page, I actually felt inspired and read over the story.  It was in okay shape and didn’t need too many edits.  So I worked on those when I could and finally finished on Friday.  I ended up calling it “A Friend from the Deep;” it’s set on Imezza and deals with a kraken (which is why its working title was the ever original “kraken story.”) I submitting “A Friend from the Deep” to Martian Migraine Press’s Monstrous Outlines: an Anthology of Camouflaged Horror Friday night.  I kind of doubt it will get accepted since that anthology specializes in horror and weird fiction and this piece is probably closer to fantasy (I could have sworn it said it accepted fantasy somewhere but I can’t find whatever I read now). Oh well, the worst that happens is they say no, right? I guess we’ll see what happens.

I need to make sure I remember to free write next time I have a hard time sitting down to work on a project like this!

On Friday I also followed up with my last submission (oh my gosh, that was a year ago!) I *think* the story has been published but I haven’t heard anything from the publisher.  I’ll give more details once I hear back from them. 🙂

So with all that happening on Friday, I had the rest of the weekend for whatever.  I took the rest of Friday night to look over (and clean up) my favourites list on Duotrope.  In doing that I found a few markets that sound pretty interesting; I decided to try writing something for the Make Your Way anthology. Make Your Way is looking for pieces that the audience will have to interact with in some way; I’ve written for projects like Holdfast in the past, so I’m hopeful that I can pull this off.  So I spent a bit of time later on Friday night coming up with a really simple RPG system for use with my story, with the rest of the weekend spent plotting things off and on.

I also spent a little bit of time trying to research tools to help me make this.  I’m a fan of Articy Draft but do not currently have my own copy (I was able to use it for a project I worked on in the past; the license was provided by the company I was working with).  Twine shows some promise, but it’s the type of thing I’ll use if I ever decide to publish this story on the web rather than in a book.  So I ended up defaulting to using my physical white board to plan this out.  Well, until I discovered The GameBook Authoring Tool, which I downloaded and tried out.  I think it’s exactly what I need to link everything together as I go.  So between my white board, my trusty notebook, and The GameBook Authoring Tool, I think I’m good to go for this project!

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Working on Samples

Over the last month or so, I’ve had a couple of different people ask me for game writing samples.  I directed them to my main website, shaunakosoris.com, so they could see what I had readily available.  Unfortunately in both cases, my available samples did not meet their needs (one person requested samples with romantic dialogue, while the other was looking for non-fantasy samples). Currently on my website, I have three samples: two are character biographies that were developed for different games, and the other is made up of actual scenes from a game (mainly dialogue with a bit of branching narrative).

I have written a couple of pieces over the years that I think would have better met what these people were looking for. Unfortunately I am unable to showcase them as samples.  So I decided to set to work remedying this.  Two nights ago I went looking for writing prompts to use as a starting point.  I was specifically looking for more of a real-world idea, but ended up finding a fun romantic dialogue prompt instead.  I was going to write the sample in Chat Mapper, with the intention of exporting it as a .rtf (I was really hoping to see what the output would look like with branching dialogue).  Unfortunately I don’t currently have access to that capability, so I had to use a different program instead.  Last night I played around with TyranoBuilder a bit, thinking I could build it there, but I don’t think there’s a way to export the dialogue (and I wasn’t planning on writing an entire Visual Novel, although that might be something to try in the future).  So I ended up writing the first draft of the sample in Word. I had a lot of fun writing it (it’s currently over 900 words!) I’m hoping to get it edited and up on the site over the weekend. 🙂

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Designing Hostile Takeover’s Pearl

The final character in Hostile Takeover is Martin Ryker’s assistant, Pearl.

Pearl

Pearl designed by Shaun Ellithorpe

Pearl was an interesting character to develop.  She started off as a joke in the very early stages of our planning on Friday night.  Originally named June (she was renamed at the request of one of the volunteers running the venue here in Thunder Bay), she was going to be a character who gave you random hilarious side quests. We talked about a filing mini-game, where you had to file things for her because being a ninja isn’t your day job.  Or while you’re hacking into Claudius Capital’s servers, you would need to find someone in the company who would be a good match for Pearl’s daughter or granddaughter.  Of course none of these ideas made it into the game (we only got the very first level into the game, and that doesn’t even have all the basic functionality we wanted in it).

While the mini-game idea was out, I wanted to keep Pearl in the game in some form.  We also ran into the problem of communicating the level objectives to the player (while the other three levels didn’t make it in, most of them all had slightly different objectives for you to accomplish before you could open the elevator and progress upwards).  Having her helping Ryker break into Claudius Capital gave an easy way to both have some story and to communicate objectives to the player.

I had a fun time writing her dialogue (only a little bit of which made it into the game).  I knew she was going to be a bit older from the get-go, so I spent a bunch of time on Saturday reading over Golden Girls quotes to get an idea for her voice.  She has a bit of a playful air to her dialogue, which is at odds with Ryker’s more stoic and short dialogue.  I also went through and removed words like “okay” and “intel” in favour of things like “great,” or “details.”  The result is that she sounds like a genuine regular person rather than a professional intelligence officer, which is exactly what I was going for.

A slight snag happened while trying to figure out why your assistant would help you break into another company to frame them.  I hit on the idea that she was an ex-Claudius Capital employee.  I thought that she was fired by the CEO and replaced by a younger woman, hence her own desire for revenge against the company.

When we were later thinking about the setup of the game (and how Ryker really isn’t the “good guy,” we thought it was a bit ludicrous that he had an assistant.  We talked about changing Pearl into his aunt, but by that point it was too late because the story screens were already added into the game calling her his assistant.  And with being down to the wire on our 48 hours, we had no time to change it. And so she remains his assistant.

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Designing Hostile Takeover’s Michael Claudius the 3rd

Michael Claudius the 3rd was an interesting character to develop.  I knew while designing Martin Ryker that Claudius was the villain Ryker wanted to take down.  The problem was that Ryker himself isn’t exactly the “good guy” of this story.  I knew he was pretentious (he makes sure everyone knows he’s from old money with the whole “the 3rd”), but that was about it.  Then on Saturday, Shaun showed me this picture he’d created:

Michael Claudius the 3rd

Michael Claudius the 3rd designed by Shaun Ellithorpe

Yeah, that definitely doesn’t look like a good guy.

I wanted Claudius to have the first name “Michael” because it is supposed to mean “Who is like God?”  I took that literally in the sense that he is very full of himself.  His last name changed a few times, starting out as Costas, or Costel, changing to Constantine, and finally settling with Claudius.  The three previous names all mean “constant” or “steadfast;” I was initially thinking of using “constant” in the slogan for his company.  But somewhere along the way his name changed to Claudius (I believe that was at Shaun’s suggestion, but I can’t remember now).

Claudius Capital was an interesting thing to name as well (and I can’t take final credit for it – that was Shaun’s suggestion as well).  I had to look up investment companies to see how they are named first.  A lot of companies have a form of “invest,” “trading,” or “brokers” in their names.  So I was going to name his company “<his name> Investments.”  But then Shaun suggested Claudius Capital, which has a nice ring to it.

claudius capital banner

Claudius Capital banner designed by Shaun Ellithorpe

I didn’t worry too much about Claudius until Sunday, when we decided to make a trailer for the game, and later the Twitter page (we came up with the Claudius Capital slogan while making his Twitter page – I’m still not sure who in their right mind would actually invest with his company with that slogan!)  As I mentioned the other day, we used his Twitter account to justify some design decisions/lack of functionality for the demo.  I didn’t pay too much attention to voice, other than letting him make ridiculous and over the top pronouncements using hashtags.  He also has no dialogue, so I didn’t have to worry at all about his voice in the game.

All in all, Claudius was a fantastic collaboration.  He wouldn’t be who he is today without the help of my team (esp Shaun)!

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