Art as Product vs. Art as Idea

Since it seems like recently I’m on a spree of writing all the blog posts I vaguely hinted at in previous posts but hadn’t written up until now. Sorry about the sequel barrage – I promise I’ll start coming up with actually new content soon. Continue reading “Art as Product vs. Art as Idea”

Interactive Stories and the Introduction

This is another blog post that I mentioned a while back and have been sitting on for a while. I’ve been working for a while on interactive types of fiction, at the moment in the context of tabletop games, but I think this applies to other types of interactive fiction as well. I’ve had a few discussions with friends on this topic recently, so that’s enough, apparently, for me to go off on a rant here.

I don’t know how many of you have played any TTRPGs, especially ones that involve some sort of worldbuilding at the start or before the game, but I’ll assume you’re at least familiar with the concept. The part of the experience that’s relevant to this post is the decisions around what setting the group plays. Continue reading “Interactive Stories and the Introduction”

The King’s City Release Update

Here it is! The day I promised has arrived!

There are some caveats, but The King’s City is now available for people to read!

If you want the book now or prefer e-books anyway, you can go to Smashwords and purchase the book right now!

However, if you like a shelf-able version, you may have to wait a few days. I’m doing the last of the form-wrangling at the moment. I’ll keep you updated, but I doubt that it’ll take much longer.

We are still going ahead on the 16th of August for the livestream at my Twitch channel. The stream starts at 1pm, and will go for about half an hour. I’ll be answering questions on the stream, so Tweet them to me before hand, or ask in the chat! Hope to see you there!

Little Story, Big Heart

Before the hiatus, I was talking about why I thought that, despite the very simple mechanics and gameplay, the game ‘To the Moon’ was a better experience as a game than it would have been as a movie. In that, I made a comment that there were a few games that I really enjoyed for reasons that were difficult to describe – not because they’re flawless, and not despite their flaws, and not because of their flaws, really, either. I also said I was going to come back to that later, and so here we are. Continue reading “Little Story, Big Heart”

The King’s City Release Announcement

Here it is. The long-awaited arrival announcement.

The King’s City is making its way to print and e-book, at a retailer that we hope will be if not near you then at least close enough that the shipping costs won’t be extravagant. (just imagine all the Australians laughing in the distance here).

So, to get straight to the point, here are some key dates and times:

2 August 2020: The King’s City becomes available! Purchase it in e-book or in hard copy!

16 August 2020: Starting 1pm Australian Eastern time, there will be a launch party on Twitch. Tweet me questions beforehand or ask them on the Twitch chat on the day and I’ll answer them on stream!

Details about the book can be found at this page here, including content warnings if you would like them.

You can Tweet me questions or just ask about the book in general at @whimsy_metaphor

And stay tuned here, and on Twitter and Facebook for more information about the book and the livestream launch over the next few weeks!

The Museum

The museum is deserted.

The museum never closes, but it is deserted. The evening sun lengthens the shadows, stretching the dark patches left by the little information stands until they are the same height as the buildings themselves.

A janitor leaves one building, pulling a cart, headphones on, tunelessly humming every second bar of the song pumping through the tiny speakers.

Inside the next building, the back wall is made of clear plastic, ancient pipes carefully labelled behind it. It is someone else’s job to take care of those, to carefully take them apart, to check that the protective resin is still proof against the rust, and then put them back exactly as they were, ready for the janitor to come past and scrub down all the glass. A janitor in a busy museum might have scrubbed off fingerprints, the little marks left where people pointed things out to each other, and children pressed their faces against the glass, and people leaned back against the exhibits while waiting for a late companion. But here, the janitor’s scrubbing removes only dust and whatever little pieces of grime that might get in when the janitor opens the door to clean the exhibits.

The job takes a long time, but is not hard. The wood fittings are oiled, the metal ones polished. The range of bottles along the back wall are dusted off and placed back, making sure that the antique labels are facing forward, so they could be easily seen if a guest should happen to wander past. The plaques are wiped down, showing the terse descriptions of the things on the bar.

Cocktail shaker. Boston style. Early 21st Century.”

Photograph of a 20th Century film star. Mass produced. Black and white. Film star died 1962. Photograph likely printed 2008.

Certificates of the venue’s license to serve alcohol. Obtained in early 21st Century. Restored.”

Next door, the building is white, lit by the fluorescent lights so popular at the time. The lights make it painful, almost, after the moodily-lit bar. They reflect off the white walls, the white ceiling, everything except the little black tiles on the floor, little islands in the sea of white. The janitor cleans down the benches, the stand-alone metal machines with displays and trays next to them. Then, the interior proper, shelves upon shelves upon shelves full of plastic models of things, all labeled. A two-pack of leeks. Potatoes, loose or by the bag. Kale, bunch. Further back in the shelves, the plastic models are of cardboard and plastic containers. Cereal. Eggs. Instant coffee. Detergent, for laundry. Each shelf has a little button next to it that will remotely activate a pair of headphones and play a guided tour as a guest walks past, detailing all the necessities of the household of the time.

This is the last building the janitor needs to visit. This is the end of the day shift. Soon, another janitor will arrive to pick up where this one left off, but in between them, the museum is silent.

The museum stretches for miles. Next to the supermarket there is a health food store, on the other side of the bar, a Tex-mex restaurant. The museum contains stores, movie theatres, blocks of apartments, warehouses and factories, all carefully preserved, labeled, and categorised. In places, the walls are peeled back so that the curious can see the inner workings of these places: electrical wiring, plumbing, insulation batts, the cross-section of solid brick or thin-as-a whisper plywood and plaster. It takes an army of janitors and archivists and curators to preserve the whole museum. It is a marvel of engineering and planning and human effort.

The museum never closes.

But it is always deserted.

Interactivity and Managing Pacing

So now that I got that rant from last week out of my system, let’s spend some time on the topic I actually wanted to talk about. Interactivity and Pacing.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about pacing in the past couple of days, because I’ve been editing, and editing means fixing up the horrendous pacing errors I made in the first draft. Continue reading “Interactivity and Managing Pacing”