Interview #55

The fifty-fifth author interview on TBPL Off the Shelf went live today.  This time I interviewed Jordan Lehto about writing plays for the 10×10 showcase, the book that inspired him to write, and taking writing classes through UBC.  You can find the interview here!


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Website Updated!

Today I updated my website. The website was long-overdue for an overhaul; I don’t believe I’ve made any major changes to it since the last update in 2012. I have made some minor edits here and there, but they were all really piecemeal. I also wasn’t very happy with a lot of the pages on it, but other than vaguely thinking “I needed to change these,” I wasn’t really sure what to do.

Updating the site took me most of the afternoon, and a few hours this evening (interrupted by watching my first city council meeting via a live-stream). Here are the changes I made:

  • Updated my bio on the About page
  • Renamed the Articles page Nonfiction
  • Rewrote the information on the Nonfiction page – it’s now much shorter (and far more concise)
  • Changed Other Writing to Blogs
  • Rewrote the information on the Blogs page (again, making it more concise)
  • Rewrote the Home page (it now has a shorter bio about me on it)
  • Deleted a whole bunch of unused pages on the back end of the site (there were seriously like 10!)
  • Changed the banner picture (it’s now the dragons my friend Austin Alander made for me many years ago – he made it using concept art for a game we were working on together at the time)
  • Minor updates on the Games page
  • Changed out the pictures I had of myself for a new one I took yesterday

I’m much happier with how the site looks now. 🙂


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New Blog

So recently I started a new blog, called Sustainably North.  I’ve been worrying a lot about the future lately (mainly global warming, but also the sheer amount of plastic that’s everywhere); rather than just endlessly worrying, I decided to try to do something to help work towards a better future.  I specifically decided to focus on trying to live a more sustainable life locally because I wanted to feel like I was making a difference (even if it’s just in a small way).  I also get upset and overwhelmed with the way things are here…like we’re a small city with terrible transit, and the city has long had a weird mentality that since we’re so isolated with lots of space we can just sort of do whatever (and move the dump if it gets full sort of thing).

I started the blog in earnest in early April (I planned for it in January/February, but due to other commitments I didn’t actually launch it until this month); I thought April was a fitting month because that’s when Earth Day is.  I’ve decided right now to aim for one post a week – I didn’t want to over-commit to posting in case I wasn’t able to keep up the momentum (I figure I can always add another day if I feel like I can keep up with it).  Right now I’m really struggling with the fact that I don’t quite know what I want the blog to really be; plus I don’t have a voice nailed down for it, nor do I know what the posts should look like.  But I’m sure these issues will resolve themselves with time, so I’m not really worried about them (I just need to keep writing and see what happens!)

Even though Sustainably North is on the go, I will still be around on here, since this is my blog for my writing more generally.  I’ll probably be talking a bit more about Sustainably North in the future, too, as I work on developing a format and voice that I’m happy with.

sustainably north logo

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Interview #54

The fifty-fourth author interview on TBPL Off the Shelf went live today.  This time I interviewed Emily Berry about her natural preference for writing poetry, her attraction to psychoanalytic texts for her newest book. and becoming the editor of The Poetry Review.  You can find the interview here!

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Interview #53!

The fifty-third author interview on TBPL Off the Shelf went live today.  This time I interviewed Kim Casey about her newest book, Thunder Bay District’s True Murder Investigations 1885-2016.  You can find the interview here!

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Interview #52

The fifty-second author interview on TBPL Off the Shelf went live today.  This time I interviewed Lin Anderson about writing a long standing series, where Patrick de Courvoisier is, and Bloody Scotland.  You can find the interview here!

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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