Those of you who have been subjected to my gaming-related posts here can breathe a sigh of relief – I’ve got a new gaming column called “The Casual Gamer”:http://www.differenceinopinion.com/category/columns/the-casual-gamer/ over at Difference In Opinion, so most of my gaming-related essays will probably appear there almost exclusively. Now, Difference in Opinion is a website built by a friend of mine that contains reviews, news, writeups, etc., of various video games, movies, and other forms of entertainment. The site has just recently undergone a redesign featuring columns from several contributors. Feel free to head over there and check things out.
On a day when everything is a bit on the rough side, “a ray of sunshine”:http://comic.shamuswrites.com/2007/11/14/reclaimer-chapter-one-part-eight-more-than-genetics/#comment-22 appears. There’s nothing a writer loves to hear more than a comment like this, and it certainly pushes the clouds aside a little bit.
I love doing the _Reclaimer_ comic. At the moment I enjoy even more than writing a short story or a piece of flash fiction. _Reclaimer_ is letting me tap into several of my interests and hobbies at the same time – writing, graphical manipulation, Halo 3, web design, and more. It’s kind of like the best of all worlds bundled up in this little nutshell of yummy goodness.
I was worried initially that I wouldn’t be able to produce a comic that would grab the interest of veteran comic book readers. I’ve never really been into comics all that much, never had much access to them as a kid, other than the ones that appeared in the Sunday paper. I’ve read a comic book here and there over the years, and I do subscribe to several online comics now, but relatively speaking, I’m pretty new to the comic book genre. So you can probably imagine that it’s intensely gratifying to be producing a comic series that continues to generate positive comments. I look forward to every writing session and to setting up the scenes in Halo 3, capturing the necessary screenshots, and then manipulating them in Photoshop to produce each page. It’s a relaxing process for me, and one that I enjoy more and more every time I do it.
Have any of my readers here tuned in to the comic? I’m curious to know if the comic has been able to break the barrier past the gaming community.
A couple of items of note:
* “Apex Digest”:http://apexdigest.com is running a subscription drive. They need more subscribers in order to be able to raise the pay rate for contributing writers. If you like science fiction and horror, then I highly recommend this publication. Go order a subscription or three!
* Jason Evans at “The Clarity of Night”:http://clarityofnight.blogspot.com has opened his seventh short fiction contest. Go to his blog to see the writing prompt and rules and then send him your 250-word or less story!
As promised here’s this week’s writing prompt. I’m even going to try to find time to whip up a story for it myself. Remember to keep the story at 1000 words or less. Comment here with a link back to your story, and at the end of the week, I’ll compile all the links into a single entry.
(Source: “Boing Boing”:http://www.boingboing.net/2007/10/29/kris-kuksis-fantasti.html)
Ok, apparently, I’ve been terribly neglectful of my blog these past few days. I’ve actually got two entries in draft form that I just haven’t quite finished yet. So, in an effort to catch myself up on some of my happenings the last few days, here’s a short bullet-list:
* Remember when I posted a “visual writing prompt”:http://shamuswrites.com/2007/09/14/writing-prompt-1/? Well, at the time I didn’t have any takers and so I just never quite found the motivation to post up another. The MasterKidderMinster “wrote a bit of flash fiction”:http://masterkidderminster.net/?p=46 that he told me about a few days ago. It’s a pretty good read and a lot of fun to see the direction he took the image. He’s requested that I continue the writing prompts, so plan to see a new one show up on Friday.
* My “Dune book giveaway”:http://shamuswrites.com/2007/10/24/book-giveaway-dune/ has been met with a somewhat lukewarm response – six entries. I’d love to see at least a few more folks enter the contest to win this wonderful science fiction novel by one of SF’s greatest. The contest is open until Wednesday, so there’s still plenty of time.
* Awhile back, I read Jayne d’Arcy’s lament on her blog about needing a new custom theme but having trouble finding someone who could produce one at a reasonable cost. Well, I volunteered to build one for her for free, since I love building WordPress themes so much, so that’s part of what kept me away from here so much last week. If you want to see the final product, head over to “Jayne’s blog”:http://jaynedarcy.us and check it out.
* I’ve also started a couple of new projects, which are the other parts of what has kept me from blogging much lately. The first is called “Mendicant Bias”:http://halo3.shamuswrites.com and is a repository of Halo 3 screenshots I’ve captured. None of these shots have been modified in any way, other than to resize them down a bit. There are a lot of creative ways of taking interesting shots in Halo 3, and it’s been fun trying to find them. The other project I’m working on is a Halo-based comic built exclusively from screenshots. This project is called “Reclaimer”:http://comic.shamuswrites.com and is something I’m planning on producing on a weekly basis for the foreseeable future. We’ll see how things go on that front.
* “Flashes of Speculation”:http://fs.shamuswrites.com has relaunched and there has been a pretty good response, both in stories submitted and in readers who have commented. I’m always looking for new writers, stories, and readers, so if you fall into any of those categories, head over there and find out how you can get involved.
There are a few other things going on right now, as well, but I’ll announce those as they present themselves. I’m looking forward to getting back to doing some actual writing, both blog-wise and fiction-wise. I’ve got a great dark sci-fi piece I want to start on this week and a couple of other small pieces.
Lots of good stuff happening. I can’t wait to share more of it.
“Flashes of Speculation”:http://fs.shamuswrites.com has been awake again for less than 24 hours, and already I’m very happy with things. I’ve had a handful of past contributors declare their excitement at its revival, and I’ve had three new stories posted already, accomplished through new registrations and stories submitted for review. That system already seems to work more smoothly than the previous one. I’ve also had three stories submitted in the last week or so, which spurred, in part, my own expediency at getting the site back in motion. I can only hope that things continue to progress so well a week from now and even a month from now.
I love the new theme – “Trevilian Way”:http://thedesigncanopy.com/downloads/trevilian-way/. I had originally planned to design a new theme for the site myself, but then I saw this one and decided there was no need to re-invent the wheel, so to speak. Trevilian Way already does just about everything I’d wanted, anyway, and I have this thing about designers and coders who keep re-inventing the wheel. Sure, there’s something extremely satisfying about displaying your own work, but I also have no problem using someone else’s theme when it meets my needs. And I must say – Trevilian Way _is_ pretty.
I changed some of the more subtle elements of FoS’s archiving system. For starters, I dropped all the author categories and merged them into a single Stories category. My intention is to mirror the same type of archive system I use here – use categories as the Table of Contents and tags as the index. That said, I set up Trevilian Way’s wide left sidebar with a tag cloud by going through each story and tagging it with, at minimum, the story author’s name and the genre or genres into which the story fits. Select stories were also tagged with additional terms, such as vampires, demons, etc., for common elements that readers might be interested in. Many of the stories were more difficult to classify and index and so did not receive any additional tags beyond author and genre.
Category and Archive lists have also been pushed into a drop-down dialogue in one of the sidebars. This will hopefully help prevent the sidebar area from expanding into a 3-headed hydra, about which you may have heard. I expect it will still fluff out a bit as we add more tags, so that tag cloud will likely be limited in number and an actual Site Index built from a tag cloud will be added as a Page.
I’ve had a request for a small banner graphic for FoS, as well, that contributors and fans can use on their own blogs to advertise. I’d meant to play around in Photoshop a little last night and just never quite made it that far. I hope to produce something on that front in the next day or two.
There are some as-yet ephemeral ideas in my brain about ways to make FoS more community-friendly – contests, giveaways, etc. – but nothing I’ve given much thought to yet. I also want to make more of an effort to solicit flash fiction from writers, which is going to mean my finding good speculative flash fiction writers. I’ve got a few flash fiction sites on my radar that I want to browse through again – it’s been quite some time since I gave much thought at all to such sites – so it’s just a matter of tracking those down again and catching up on what’s new.
I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed working with FoS, so it’s good to have it up and running again. I’m curious to see if I can make a better go at it than on its first tour. It will, of course, demand a fair bit of pro-action from myself, but it will also rely heavily on the excitement of the contributors, since FoS is in place largely for them as a venue to display some samples of their writing.
This is all very exciting.
John Scalzi “points out on his blog”:http://scalzi.com/whatever/?p=18 that the Writers Guild of America has created a new award for videogame writing. This brings into sharp relief again one of the elements that has me so hooked on the Halo series.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m really not an FPS gamer, at least not as a rule. There are only two FPS games that I play with any regularity – Halo (duh) and Rainbow Six: Vegas. Before Halo, I had played a little Duke Nukem multiplayer in college (and got smoked every time) and toyed a little with Wolfenstein. I quickly gave up on both. I never could quite manage the controls – using a keyboard and mouse in smooth coordination was always beyond my reach – and frankly, the games themselves never really inspired me to master them.
The first – and only – FPS I ever fell in love with was Halo, which surprised me as much as it did my friends who knew how much I disliked FPS games. So what made the difference? For starters, all the controls were contained in a single controller that actually had logically placed triggers for firing weapons. It took me a little time to get used to manipulating two sticks for movement, but that was actually a small hurdle.
What _really_ gripped me with Halo, however, was the story. Here finally was an FPS that actually had a fascinating storyline that gave some reason for the madness of fighting one’s way through hordes of enemies. Duke Nukem never had than a shallow story at best, and Wolfenstein’s story – well, I never played long enough with that one to know what kind of story it had.
_Halo: Combat Evolved_ grabbed your attention right from the first cutscene and held it all the way through the game as the UNSC and Master Chief explored this huge ring-link structure and uncovered some of the most ancient mysteries of the universe. This story has caused the formation of avid fan communities that continue to push Halo to the top of the bestseller and most actively played lists in the gaming industry. The storyline that powers these games is robust and lush, providing enough material for four novels. Between the story and the community that sprang up around it, not to mention the way that Bungie continues to revolutionize gaming, it should be no wonder why Halo is one of the most successful FPS series to date.
Well, I’m afraid that my writing time has been at a bit of a minimum the last week or two. In addition, I’ve had no time as yet to develop the new WordPress theme for “Flashes of Speculation”:http://fs.shamuswrites.com in preparation for its re-launch. This is due, in part, to the fact that I’m back to work full-time. Now I’m trying to get caught up on some new projects while shouldering new responsibilities for an entire database management system that our university uses. I think it will be enjoyable work in the long-run, but the task of getting up to speed on how some of the backend processes work is, quite frankly, a little daunting.
It also doesn’t help that Halo 3 came out for the Xbox 360 last week, and I’ve been as much free time as I can playing online with friends and “clan members”:http://tiedtheleader.com as well as playing around with the new File Share capabilities and dabbling a bit in Forge. I still want to write up a review for Halo 3 but that, like so many other things, is something I haven’t found time for just yet.
I do want to get back to writing here a bit more again, just as soon as things settle down at the office enough for me to be able to fit a little blogging in around projects.
In the meantime, don’t forget to comment on “my book giveaway”:http://shamuswrites.com/2007/10/01/book-giveaway-the-gunslinger/ and check out “my tumblelog”:http://tumble.shamuswrites.com.
It’s only taken me four years to do it, but this is finally the 1000th post on this blog. Admittedly, my first two years of blogging were sporadic at best. There was something about the Xanga community that just never really inspired me to write much. I think it mostly had to do with the fact that it was so exclusive – you had to be registered there in order to interact – and most of my intended target audience were _outside_ the Xanga community. Xanga also never really let me customize my site anywhere near as much as I wanted to. You were pretty much stuck with their chosen layout – and I’m pretty sure it’s still that way.
So, stumbling across WordPress was literally the best thing that ever happened to my writing. It took me a few weeks of playing with my new hosted blog to really get a feel for how things worked, and then it took me awhile to develop a readership of any kind (a readership which, I’m sad to say, I haven’t been able to put as much time an effort into fostering as I’d like lately). But since writing on WordPress, I’ve been much more focused on my blogging and becoming a part of an active, growing community that has been very satisfying and enjoyable.
I’m thrilled to be a WordPress blogger, and I’m looking forward to getting more actively and intimately involved with both the WordPress community and the WordPress code. I’m certain the next 1000 posts will be as enjoyable, if not more so, than the first 1000.
I’d like to point out that “a writer friend of mine is back in action”:http://www.xanga.com/YOYOY008/616051806/responsible.html and churning out a story or two. The short story I just linked to, entitled “Responsible,” is dark and emotive, so of course I enjoyed it very much. I highly recommend stepping over there to read and comment. I do believe Eric would enjoy that.