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Posts Tagged ‘gaming’

Gas Powered Writing

September 13, 2017 Leave a comment

Yes, my wife did make a pot of chili the other day, but this has nothing to do with that. Or gasoline, for that matter, except in the most allegorical* of ways.

I find myself somewhat driven right now due to a few factors. The first is the delay of my Shadowrun novel for release. I hate letting so much time pass between releases, you see. The second is part of my email dilemma I recovered from – I have an opportunity to work with a roleplaying game company to write a story or stories for them. We’re in licensing talks to decide if the books would become canon or not. Exciting stuff, and the more questions I ask and the more involved I get with it, the more cool the world is becoming.

In fact, I have 3 character concepts already worked out in my head. I have to flesh them out as characters using the game system yet so I can create something that meshes with their mechanics, but I don’t foresee any problems at all with this.

A bit of a teaser on this new stuff. It’s a new world in a fantasy settings. New races unlike anything traditional fantasy has to offer. There are humans and fae, but the humans are a definite minority. Other races abound, both good, bad, and indifferent. Each fleshed out with their own unique histories and lore. All in all, it’s growing on me and offering some really fun new opportunities to torture perfectly helpless characters!

But there’s a problem… that problem is Vitalis. I’m still very much in love with the book I’m writing for it. So I’m attacking it feverishly to try and finish it the way it deserves to be finished without cutting the story short. That means it’s back to late, late night writing! In fact, I broke the 10,000 word mark last night and I’m not yet finished with the first act of the story. Good times to be had, I assure you!

Oh, and I haven’t shamelessly reminded you to pick up The Goblin Queen lately, here it is.

 

* – I expect bonus points (maybe even a triple word score) for using the word allegorical.

 

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

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Leveling the Playing Field

February 18, 2013 Leave a comment

This post has almost nothing to do with writing! I say almost because I know me and I expect that, by the time I finish writing it, I’ll have found some way to mention or pimp my books out. I’m crafty like that.

Instead I’m going to talk about computer games. I’ve been into computer games for as long as there’s been computers with games on them. I started on the Atari 800 and then the Atari 2600 game console. Yeah, I was there from the beginning but I’m still young at heart. I’m having some friends over next month for a good old fashioned LAN party. For those who don’t know, that’s when we all bring our computers together and hook them up on the same network, then proceed to eat pizza, drink beer, and scream obscenities at each other while shooting one another in computer games. Male bonding at its finest! Although, for the record, we’d happily include any female gamers into the bloodshed as well if we knew any.

So I’ve been doing a little research lately trying to find some new games to play. The preferred medium is first person shooters, and so far it’s looking like some of the vintage classics are still holding their own (the early Battlefield games, Unreal Tournament(s), counter-Strike, Half Life and HL2, etc.). But I’ve found some fun new ones as well.

Left 4 Dead 2, for example. Zombie blasting has never been so fun! The only problem is that it’s only a 4 player cooperative style game, although it can be boosted to 4 vs 4 if one team is willing to play zombies. We tend to like the coop games because while most of us are well rounded contributors to society, there’s usually one or two that have spent far too much time gaming and are unstoppable. At that point all I’m left with is threatening to make them work out with me and dropping a few hundred pounds on their chest.

Another fun one I just discovered a couple of nights ago was Borderlands 2. Pretty neat, once you get into it, but it’s another game with only 4 person cooperative play available (and no deathmatch). Since I’m expecting at least 8 guys that kind of defeats the purpose. Another complaint I have about Borderlands 2 is the same I have with any RPG game that bases survival on a player’s level. That includes most of the otherwise outstanding games from Bethesda (Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout, etc.).

Even taking suspension of disbelief into consideration there’s just no realism for having characters based on a system of leveling. Why Bethesda does a decent job in basing their levels off of skills, at least, but it still annoys me to have extra health occur because of that. There’s a role playing game out there that I used to love called Shadowrun. The characters had skills and attributes (stats that helped define their physical and mental abilities) but every character only had 100% health. Depending on how their attributes and armor played out was how they determined if they could be killed. So anybody could kill anybody, just like reality, but it ruled out flukes and ridiculously lucky die rolls (e.g. Bard shooting the dragon in The Hobbit with the legendary “Black Arrow”).

So why can’t game developers deliver a skill and attribute based game that makes sense? You want more health, pick up some weights and eat healthier (meaning improve the applicable stats in the game), don’t just magically improve because you wacked 10 frogloks in the head with a rusty spear.

Okay, rant over, now back to exploring games. For example, Last night I got my hands on a brand new FPS. Aliens: Colonial Marines. It takes place after the second Aliens movie (directed by James Cameron), when the Marine ship has discharged the pods due to contagion and it’s returned to orbit LV426. It shows promise, though I’ve only tried it for about 10 minutes so far. Cooperative play and deathmatch (against people playing as aliens). Cool stuff! I will say that in those first 10 minutes very early this morning the game set the mood very nicely and had me sufficiently freaked out.

The LAN party is still more than a month away so if there are any PC gamers out there with suggestions, I’d love to hear them! Until then I’ll try to sneak in a few minutes here and there exploring and expanding my recent game knowledge. Maybe blast some more aliens and feel inspired to write another Vitalis book. Some of the critters in that book have similarities to the aliens, at least as far as the gestation of young aliens inside a living host that will soon eat its way out.

See, told you I’d find a way to work my books in…

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Fictional Event Planning

January 14, 2013 Leave a comment

I love how I can almost hear readers of this blog asking, what the heck is he talking about? For most of us, dealing with the day to day events is bad enough. Why fantasize about events that may or may not exist? Or even worse, why simulate them in our heads and map them out?

More years back than I care to recall, I had a group of friends that would regularly get together for role playing games. Typically the game being played was Dungeons and Dragons, but from time to time we tried out other ones as well (including a few we made up on our own – just to prove how socially awkward many of us were). Amongst our tight knit group it fell to a couple of us to run these sessions. That made the person in charge game master (GM) or dungeon master (DM), depending upon the game.

I tried different styles of running games over the years. Sometimes I’d come up with an idea and set down to prepare all the reference materials for it. These might be maps, encounters, creatures, and outlines or it might be little more than a suggestion of things to come along with possibilities the players might encounter or do. Of course playing with real people is the ultimate experiment in Chaos Theory, so that meant I had to be ready to roll with whatever they threw at me as well. Linear progression was virtually impossible!

And that, in a nutshell, explains how I came up with fictional event planning. Every gaming session was an event filled with multiple scenarios and opportunities. Maybe it was interacting with a serving maid in a bar to find out that the tavern’s latest shipment of ale was stolen or maybe it involved fighting a group of troll bandits that had stolen the aforementioned ale. And let’s not forget how much cuter the serving maid was after the ale was returned and a the first couple of rounds offered for free as payment for the adventurer’s services!

Fictional event planning is far more far reaching than gathering a group  of imaginative people to conduct fictional events in a made up setting. It’s used in all walks of life, from writing papers in college to telling jokes to preparing business cost analysis or life cycle management. Heck, we even use it when driving down the road and predicting what traffic around us might do and how we might react to it.

There’s another group of people to have learned to become pretty good at organizing fictional events: writers. The great thing about being a writer is that as long as something looks good on paper, you’re done! Real world implementation virtually never works out the way it appears it should on paper, but this is fiction. It works the way I want it to (or the way the characters tell me it’s going to).

I sat down last night to take a break from stressing over taxes and (hopefully) overcoming this miserable respiratory ailment I picked up last week. I started brainstorming about the third book in my Blades of Leander series now that book two, Victim of Fate, is in the hands of the editors and artists. While pondering book three I realized that I had more or less become a wedding planner. Although in my case wedding = epic fantasy story and planner = guy who writes down what my characters tell me to.

I’ve made the connection in the past many times. Planning a story is very much like planning a gaming session. Sometimes the objective is out there and the trick is to create an environment and obstacles for the characters to experience and overcome to reach the obstacle. At other times I come up with a scenario and toss the characters into it so I can see what they come out with. I like to think of the latter method as the rock tumbler approach.

Oh, and about those other guys that spent significant time running the gaming sessions… one of them has a couple of books published (Food and Philosophy and Porn – Philosophy for Everyone: How to Think With Kink) and he’s a professor. Another one has done a few commercials and is working hard to achieve success as an actor by the name of James Knight. Great guys that I still consider good friends, bonds forged by gaming and other adolescent pursuits. It just goes to show that not every gamer dork is doomed to a life of living in their parent’s basement watching pirated cable and becoming addicted to World of Warcraft and Internet porn. And it let me do a little name dropping, which is always fun!

Disclaimer: Yes, I tried out World of Warcraft when it was released. I quit inside of two months, becoming disgusted with the game play and cartoonish look. There’s just no substitution, in my opinion, for pen and paper RPGs.

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.