Category Archives: Writing

Designing Hostile Takeover’s Pearl

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



Filed under Characters, Game Development, Game Jam, Hostile Takeover, Writing

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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Filed under Characters, Game Development, Game Jam, Hostile Takeover, Writing

Designing Hostile Takeover’s Martin Ryker

During the NGDC, we knew we were making a guy who was a “trader by day, ninja by night.”  But it was up to me to flesh this guy out.  So the first thing I did was come up with his name.

Martin Ryker

Martin Ryker designed by Shaun Ellithorpe

To come up with his name, I went looking for names that meant things like “swift,” thinking he’s supposed to be a ninja.  I settled on Ryker, which means “fast” or “strider,” and Martin, which is derived from Martis, which is rooted in Mars, the god of war.  I thought it was a fitting name because Martin is waging his own war against Claudius Capital.

Once I had his name, I had to start thinking about Martin’s backstory.  For this, I mainly started asking myself questions like “what’s his job?” “How did he end up working at his company?” “What company does he work at?” “Why is he framing the other company for insider trading?”

Working through these questions, I named the two companies (which is also how Michael Claudius from Claudius Capital came into being).  I also had to figure out why Martin was a trader rather than a ninja (the whole team agreed that being a ninja would be the first choice here).  It was a little before we were packing up at the library on Friday night that I solidified his backstory: the other company had bankrupt him, and he was looking for revenge.

Since the NGDC was only 48 hours (and everyone lost a few hours due to technical difficulties), I was extremely grateful that I managed to have Martin’s backstory figured out all within the first night.

So on Saturday I worked on his dialogue a bit.  While I had his backstory, I had a bit of a hard time nailing a voice for him.  In the end I tried to go for more of the more “strong silent type” of character within the game. I kept his dialogue short and snappy (you can see a few lines at the beginning of the demo, when his assistant Pearl is telling him what to do – he has very short replies).

I later had to write dialogue for the trailer.  Since Martin is the one talking through the entire thing, I had a harder time keeping with the whole “strong silent type.”  Overall I thought his dialogue was alright.  If/when Hostile Takeover is made into a longer game, I’ll take another stab at nailing his voice down.

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Hello 2018!

Happy New Year everyone!  It’s that time of year again – time to look at the goals I set for myself last year and set new goals for this year.  Last year, my goals were:

  1. Read 40 novels.  Success!  I read forty novels, a bunch of graphic novels, and a bunch of comics!  2017 was a great year for reading!
  2. Write four polished short stories.  Yeeeah….partial success I guess?  I did write one.  But that was it.  I did start on a second one, but I discovered that Imezza isn’t in as good shape as I thought; I got a bit bogged down in worldbuilding, and the story ended up really blah as a result.
  3. Work on Tears of the King. This was nice and vague.  I worked on it a bit this year (it’s no where near being finished).  So partial success?  I don’t know if I built another third, but I did make some progress.

I apparently also set a fourth goal, which I managed to forget about (it was to spend an hour a week on writing).  😦

2017 saw me start two new RPG Maker Games (oops): Memories and a second one I haven’t actually talked about on here yet (oops, I’ll have to remedy that).  It also saw me working on a freelance project which I’m still unable to talk about, which was very exciting.  It also saw me slowly and unexpectedly move away from my second job.  So for 2018, I’m going to work on freelancing a little more than I have.

So with that in mind, here are the goals I’m going to set for 2018:

  1. Read 25 novels.  Well, novel-length books.  I know that the 40 novels from last year was my only really successful goal, but I need to back that off.  I found that 40 novels was a lot of pressure while I’m trying to accomplish other things.  I also found myself shying away from any books longer than around 300 pages, so making this goal less should help me tackle some of the longer books I’ve had for years and have ignored.
  2. Write two polished short stories.  I wrote one, so this year I will aim for two.
  3. Finish a bloody RPG! Like I said, I currently have THREE RPG Maker games on the go.  So this year, I want to get SOMETHING finished!  lol I also have to not start another RPG Maker game until I get something finished!

A couple of final notes for the upcoming year:

  • next weekend I’m going to be participating in my first ever game jam!  I’m really excited for it!  I’ll have to blog more about it. 🙂
  • I am not going to make a goal for “so much time writing” this year.  Instead, I’ve currently got one guaranteed afternoon off from work, so I’m going to try to use that time for working on things, be they writing or researching (although it’s also a time I use for other things like vet appointments, because I know it’s a time I don’t work).  Depending on how the year goes, this can change, so I’ll have to be flexible with it.

So that’s it.  Hopefully 2018 will be a good and creative year, giving me the flexibility to work on different things (and actually get some stuff finished!)

So what about you? Have you set any goals for the upcoming year? 🙂

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Autumn Update

I’ve been rather quiet on here since talking about refreshing my writing space  and submitting that short story (omg I forgot to mention – it was accepted!!!) The reason was that I was working on a big freelance project that came my way.  Once it was over, I had to deal with a couple of personal things (and honestly rest my brain!)  I read four books over the last week, which was great (I hadn’t read any fiction since early September); one of them, Brandon Sanderson’s Warbreaker, was absolutely fantastic!

Today was a day spent catching up on email and whatnot.  I went through all the Duotrope emails I’ve ignored over the last few months, looking into a few more listings that sounded interesting.  I also signed up for my very first game jam, which will happen in mid-January.  I don’t have a team yet (as far as I know, I’m the only local person who has signed up so far); I figure I’ll just make a small game on RPG Maker or Twine if no one else signs up (since I do not have the coding know-how to make an engine or anything fancy like that).  I’m really excited though – I’ve always wanted to participate in one, and now there’s one being held locally (previously this particular game jam was held only in Sudbury – that’s not too far away, relatively speaking, but the time of year is so iffy with the weather).

So now I’m not quite sure what I want to be working on.  I have two RPG Maker projects on the go (both Tears of the King and Memories), so I wouldn’t mind working on one of those.  But I also wanted to write four polished short stories this year (and to date I’ve only written one).  With just over a month left of the year, it’s looking like I may have to sacrifice one in order to achieve the other.  So I’m going  to take some time to decide on what exactly I want to be working on through December.

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Short Story Submitted!

I submitted the short story I was working on last week today!  😀

It took me a bit longer to edit than I had thought. More than anything, I had a hard time finding the time to actually sit down and edit (I was exhausted all week for reasons unknown). But thankfully I managed to sit down, edit it, and submit it today.

The market I submitted it to says they try to respond within one month of receiving a submission.  So I’ll report back once I hear something. 🙂

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Holy Crap, I’m Actually Writing a Short Story!

One of my goals for the year was to write four polished short stories.  To work towards that goal, I signed myself up for Duotrope a few months ago (I subscribed to them years ago, but ended up unsubscribed because they stopped accepting Paypal).  My goal this time was to keep an eye out for markets that sounded interesting (and hopefully ACTUALLY submit something somewhere).  I found a few markets that seemed to fit the bill at the beginning of the month.  Well, the month is almost over, and yesterday I realized I had done no short story writing at all!  So I took another look at the markets I was planning to write for, chose one, and wrote about 100 words of a story yesterday.  They were crappy words, but they were words all the same.

Today I sat down and thought a bit more about the story (specifically the characters, but also the setting – this is not set in one of the worlds I built).  Once that was done, I set to work revising the bit I had already written.  Draft 2 is now over 700 words long, with things (obviously) fleshed out a lot better in this draft.  I doubt it’s going to get much longer, so I’ll be editing and revising it over the next few days before hopefully submitting it by the end of the week.  Wish me luck!  🙂

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