Creative Journey: 15 Weeks and Counting

Creative Journal #7

I have to be honest. I’ve had this blog edit tab open for more than a week. I’ve got a lot I want to say but if I don’t post something, I think I will never publish this progress report. SO……here is a quick post and Chapter 3!

Lessons:

  • Dialogue
  • What is Meaningful?
  • Bogging Down

I’m starting to get a feel for how much dialogue I like to write and what feel appropriate for the conversation. I think the major lesson is, I need to think about how natural the conversation feels? Think about the conversation I am writing and imagine myself in that conversation. What are the words I would shorthand? Would I shorthand those words with anyone or just a friend? What do I already know and how does this affect the timing and the length? Writing dialogue is still slow, I’ve embraced that but thinking about dialogue as a conversation I’m listening too rather than a story I’m trying to tell makes it easier. I don’t know if that makes sense……

There were a few times where I was moving from one scene to another and I had to think about how to start the next scene. I know what the milestone was I needed to hit in the chapter, but the extra stuff happening on the scene needed to take root to set the backdrop. This was also a problem when I would take a step away for a day or two and needed to pick up where I left off. I would have an idea of where I wanted to go one day, and when I came back I would have a different idea. I was fighting myself on how to make the progress needed to get to the next scene. It became less of a fight when I started asking, “What is meaningful to the story?” If I had two or three competing ideas, what had the most meaning and what was going to make getting to the next step smoother. I don’t yet know if these are the right decisions, but they are decisions, which I think not letting myself get bogged down in the details will be the thing that allows me to finish this first draft.

Speaking of getting bogged down, if I was hitting a wall, I started writing mini outlines to get myself through a scene. I can’t tell you how valuable that has been for the last two chapters (as of this post I am into chapter 6). Sometimes, when you need guidance, create it for yourself with a mini outline!

Chapter 3 Below! As always, unedited and notes included. Please feel free to leave comments.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xeM2AH3Quh9v8LtiT_Glr12PfChtadUz9dG6WqjTfRE/edit?usp=sharing

Chapter 3

“I didn’t want to move your bots to the airlock until you had a chance to look them over so I had Darren set them up in here, your workshop”, Tarik said.

While the space was small, it was perfect for her needs. 10 meters below the Trade Moon surface, Sarah had a four by four meter space with a bot control panel on one side and a workbench on the other. The control panel had 4 monitors which could be tuned to any bot the controller wanted to control [##make specific camera bots]. There was the interface controls where she could work on the programming for and bots connected to this particular port.

“If you write some programming you think would be good for the whole crew, we can move it to the master panel in the main dock.” tarik said as he continued the tour

Her work bench was an L-shaped desk with a modular tool kit on one side and open space on the other.

“You can move the modules around depending on what hand you prefer” Tarik said.

Being left handed, Sarah was looking forward to moving the tools and parts from the right side to the left. Being able to play around with where each item was best located for its intended purpose and how often the item was used was oddly exciting for the new controller.

“”Most of the smaller parts you will need are here, or in the storage room down the hall” Tarik said.

While everything Tarik was saying made it to her ears, she didn’t hear any of it. She understood what she was being told and later she would weirdly remember what he had said, but in the moment, she was in her own world of possibility. “This is my space” she thought to herself.

“I know the walls are bare and I encourage the rest of the lads to decorate, but other than Darren and his [sports team] poster, the rest of my crew don’t seem to bother with the decorations.” Tarik said as he looked onto his datapad to see what was going on in the main dock. “Tell you what, I need to introduce you to the crew at some point, but I don’t want to shock them by taking you out there now for a dock tour. Get yourself situated in here. I will give you the dock portion of the tour next shift. Tomorrow’s early shift I will call the crew together and we can formally introduce you”

“I trust your judgement, but just so I know, when and who should I be careful around?” Sarah asked

“When would be now and who is everyone, I’m sorry to say. The boys who work for me are good people but who know what they will say when they are out and about. We are one of the smaller docks so the boys don’t spend a lot of time with the larger crews. Those are the guys you want to avoid. It is best you avoid the worker common areas at all cost. I’m sorry it has to be that way but there is no telling how they would react. I don’t think they would be violent on the spot but they will try to intimidate you and break your spirit. My crew has 4 people, including yourself. Darren you know, Cammo, goes by Cam, and Franklin you will meet. Get yourself settled in, next shift starts in 4 hours. I’ll let Darren cut his shift short so he can stop by, say hello and bring you up to the dock to wrap up the tour. Really happy to have you onboard” Tarik said

##Give some details on C & F via Darren

Tarik left Sarah in the workshop with her 10 bots, each of them had been unpacked. Each hanging from the ceiling inside an adjustable mount. She wanted to get started on her workbench set up right away. She took down the last bot she had updated on planet and placed it in the open space. She went though all the updates she had made to this bot using all the same tools she had used at home. These were the baseline tools she would need for most of the work she would do on her bots. In the course of 30 min, she has the base setup for her workbench. The tools and parts she would use the most were the closest to her seat. She then laid out all the tools she was familiar with but didn’t use often or hadn’t used yet and gave them a common area in the workshop. As she integrated them into her process she would add them to her base setup, but for now, they could all live together in one are. Next were the tools she was not familiar with. She organized them at the end of her work bench and set up an open area on the table where she could work on side projects in order to get familiar with what these tools were, It was no accident the scrap pile and garbage bin were on this side of the bench. Mistake would be made on the side of the shop, fun would be had as well.

Darren arrived 3 hours later. “What up Cuz?”

“What do you think?” Sarah asked motioning to her neatly organized workshop

“Good God…..you must have had fun with this project” Darren said

She didn’t answer, she just stood and stared at the results of the last few hours.

“Are you ready for the rest of the tour?” Darren said

“Yes…….I was afraid to go outside the workshop before you or Tarik came back”

“Yeah, I get that. Tarik asked me to show you around the rest of the workshop and office area. He also wanted me to show you the living levels. It’s a nice little perk, being a smaller dock, that we have our own rooms. The larger docks will have guys sharing rooms so they don’t have to excavate so much regolith. Our rooms are small but we spend so much time in the workshops and in the dock office, it isn’t a big deal.”

“I’m ready for the next part of the tour if the coast is clear.”

“Haha, I know the rest of the guys on the Trade Moon are assholes, but I hope you are able to get comfortable here. Cam and Franklin are good guys, the not the brightest stars in sky but they are cool. Cam likes to spend a lot of time outside with his bots. He is a strong dude with a bit of an invincibility complex. He doesn’t seem to have any fear for what space can do to your body if you lose the protection of your suit. I understand how one can get that mentality when working around the docks. There are debris sweepers flying around to protect the equipment…..and us. I try telling him he should at least recognize the danger but I don’t want to fight that battle too much. It’s a losing battle. Franklin has been our main programmer. He is ok, not as good as you but he likes the construction & repair jobs. I had to help him build up his transport fleet. He got to the moon with a set of 20 constructors and  when the build job he was recruited for was completed, he needed my help to convert some of them to transport bots. We wanted to get started on some inspector bots but the programming was a little more advanced than Franklin wanted to take on and most of the inspection jobs are taken care of by Evan’s crew.”

“Who is Evans, I’ve heard his name a few times…” Sarah asked.

“He is the co-owner of the dock we work in. He isn’t here very much. Here being the Trade Moon and when he is on the moon, he is in the business center working on deals and getting the latest of the comings and goings of the Trade Moon. I’ve not had a chance to get a feel for the guy. I met him once when I was brought on but I’ve been on shift all the other times he has been here. Did Tarik say he was going to introduce you to Evan’s crew?”

“No.”

“Hmm, I’d stay clear of them until you have to interact with them. That won’t be too difficult. You will see during Tariks dock tour, Evan’s half of the dock and our half are separated. The dock office is shared, which is why they co-own, but Evan’s crew spend all their time in the main dock our out with their fleets. You can also work off shift to them and I’m sure you can set up a remote station for yourself just in case.”

“Fun….”

“Yeah……let’s go check out the parts storage and living quarters”

Darren took her on a mini tour of the storage area with parts they could use to upgrade or make new bots. A lot of the parts in storage were foreign to Sarah has her experience was based on planet based bots and out of the box Trade Moon bots. It was clear, she would have the chance to build all kinds of bots for the dock’s fleets. Between her technical knowhow and Darren’s hardware skills, this was going to be a fun job.

The living quarters were modest but as Darren had said, a space to yourself on the Trade Moon was something special. This gave Sarah a feeling of comfort as she would have a space to not only make her own, but a place to hide when the time came.

The way the docks were built in levels. The level closest to the Trade Moon’s surface was where the main docks were located. Anyone orbiting close enough to the Trade Moon would see various holes in the surface, each one being a different dock. The patterns made it look like each dock was it’s unit but there was more under the surface. SInce the Trade Moon workers would be exposed to radiation on a regular basis, their working and living areas were built underground. After the docking bay levels, the workshops, dock offices and transport tunnels were dug into the regolith. A lot of this building phase was lead by the [AA]. Which humans had no problem digging in the Trade Moon regolith, however building stable tunnels and underground rooms was a different story. The [AA] had the ability to easily make walls stable and keep progress moving on the initial building of the Trade Moon’s business sections. It was assumed the workers would sleep in their offices until they were able to build the next layer down. This is where the living quarters were going to be located. Bedrooms to start but as time and money allowed, there would be common areas and living areas to make the Trade Moon feel more like home, as much as this meant to the men on the moon.

“Three levels, that was the plan for the pre-government expansion,” Tarik said. “I don’t know if this will be meaningful to you for at least a while, but that there is where you can hook up to the Hook Travel Net, we call this HTN.”

While the [AA] wanted to have the humans build as much of the Moon Base on their own. The [AA] built the HTN to connect the different parts of the Trade Moon as is grew. The HTN was made of billions of carbon nanobots that could make themselves into any structure. In this case, they created towers with wires made of the same nan-bots that workers could hook up to and travel anywhere the network would take them. While the [AA] could set the nanobots to power themselves, they didn’t want to make things too easy for the humans, so they sent the nanobots to be limited to how well the humans could build their power infrastructure. The humans decided they would grown the power grid for the nanobots to match the edge of dock operations.

“I will let one of the boys show you how the specifics work, but the short of it is, extend the hook in your backpack, type in your destination and you will be taken to the main wires. The mains move faster than the local dock wires. It’s the best way to get around if you don’t want to take the underground passages.” Tarik said.

It was decided they would all meet first shift in the next cycle. Sarah had seen all the there was to see in the Dock and the workshop. She was tired and wanted to get some sleep in preparation for her first day. There would be a staff meeting first shift tomorrow where Sarah would meet C&F and Tarik would set the expectations now that Sarah was on board.

Sarah fell asleep that night to the visions of bot fleets working as a group and lines of code running through an interpreter.

 

 

Creative Journey: Chapter 1 Draft 1 is Done!

Creative Journal #4 Chapter 1 wasn’t so bad

As the title of the post and the sub title spoil, Chapter 1 is now done. 1800 words later, I think we are off to a good start. I have a question for you…….do you want to read this as we go along? I mean……it’s an unedited rough draft but I believe in sharing what you’re making as you make it and I would be re-missed if I didn’t at least ask if you were interested in getting “early access”. Leave a comment if you’d want to see chapters as part of these posts, or as their own posts?

What I’ve learned so far……

  1. Getting 1000 words into a story is a lot easier than I was expecting. My goal was to hit 1200-1300 words per chapter and I got to 1800 with ease.
  2. I’ve had to learn how to make notes as I go and be okay with coming back later. In prep for starting this project, I was reading Scott King’s “How to Write a Novel in 5 Days” and the excerpts he was sharing, there were some notes where he would come back to the details later. I totally get that even after < 2000 words. There are times when the next 4 or 5 steps are clear to me, I need to get them down on the page. I can’t get bogged down by the details.
  3. Along with getting bogged down by the details, write now, edit later. I’m not good at proofreading nor am I good at writing cleanly, I’m too lazy to care about that as I go….BUT……I found myself going back in the text (when I was mentally wandering) and I would start to edit. I had to tell myself, if I am in a space to write words on paper, write new words and don’t bother with the old stuff. I’m going to have to go back later regardless…..deal with it then.
  4. This is fun

I think this is most important lesson. I’m actually enjoying this now that I’m in the writing process. I have no idea if it is any good and I still don’t know yet if I care for it to be any good. Right now, the audience for this consists of me and you. I have not selling, marketing, outreach goals so I am doing this from a care free state of mind. I hope it stays like this as long as I am writing.

What I need to be careful of is letting this be the only thing I am doing in my free time. Today was special as it was a holiday so I let myself spend most of the day writing. Confession: when I say “all day” I had the file open and when I was at the computer, it was the main thing I wanted to work on but I did play some video gates (Heros of the Storm) and had YouTube running on my other monitor. I was plenty distracted but this is the way I creatively work.

Being that I can write one chapter in the course of 2-3 hours a day. I think I can get the first draft done by the end of August……IF……I make this a regular task and I get some extra writing in on the weekends. We shall see 🙂

Thanks again for reading through this. Let me know you feel about reading the story as we go along. Have a great rest of your week and see you next time!

Creative Journey: Luxe System Outline Done-ish

Creative Journal #3 Stick around, I’m sharing some story line this evening 🙂

This week was mostly about getting the first Luxe System book from an idea to an outline and possibly start writing?????

I can tell you that as of an hour ago, the outline is done-ish. Why the -ish?

Since I’ve taken the “standard” three act approach, I was trying to break the story up into three pieces. The first 13 chapters are are Act I, the next 14 chapters are Act II and the rest of the book is Act III. Did you catch that? I have no idea how long the final act is going to be. BUT I do know what is going to happen.

On Friday night, I was having a hard time sitting down and writing chapter specifics for the outline. After sitting at the computer for 30 min and making no progress, I decided to stop looking at this specifically and write up the basic story arc for each act. I moved the main character from the trade hub to an outpost construction site. I got half way through Act III and I realized I had no good climax for the story. I scrapped what I had in Act III up to then and reconstructed the story.

The similarities between story building and board game building make story writing feel like home.

Saturday I took the day off from creative projects and today, Sunday, I wanted to start writing the book, which meant writing the outline. I was able to get Act II written, yay! What I noticed was the level of detail started to drop as the chapters went by. By the time I got to Act III, I did not know enough about where the details of the story were going for me to put Act III into an outline. SO……once Act II was done, I decided to put the major plot points into the outline for Act III and I will get to it later.

What this means is……..it’s time for some actual writing of this book!

So what is this first Luxe System novel about? Well……the name of the book is, The Trade Moon of Luxe. The main character is named Sarah and she wants to work on the trade moon. Working in a little different on the moon as people are in charge of  a fleet of bots. The bots are used to move goods, inspect ships, make repairs and build structures. There are jobs which need to be performed by people but for the most part, jobs are meant to be done by the bots.

Sarah is able to get a job on the Trade Moon. She needs to figure out how to work in a place where women are not welcome but she is skilled enough to run circles around the other bot fleets in the moon. She is looking for new technologies she can apply to her bots and she is constantly customizing what her bots are capable of. The thing with these bots is that, the connectors and ports are standard, what the workers do with the bots themselves is up to them. The bots being used on the trade moon are as unique as the people who run them.

After spending some time working on the docks of the trade hub, the story moves to an outpost where Sarah and a small group of workers are tasked with building the first mining outpost on the moon. The trouble is, there are other people who are interested in mining the moon and this is still space, there are dangers abound when humans leave the relative safety of Luxe. While Sarah and crew are away from the main hub, there is a new government building/module being added to the trade moon. A trade moon which was run by the men who owned the docks, is getting a new governing body, what could possibly go wrong?

I think that is enough for now. I don’t know how much I want to say before I give away a spoiler or say more than I want to commit to in the story.

Have a great week and when I make more progress on this or other creative projects I’m working on, I will place that update here!

Keep Making!!!! -Chris

PS I did spend some time today watching YouTube videos on what it would be like to live on the moon and what asteroid mining would entail. I like to use these kinds of videos and reason-ability checks for what I am thinking when I write these scenarios.

Creative Journey: Luxe System Act II, Unfocused but Outlining

Creative Journal #2

I think the bad night of sleep on Sunday has really set me back. I’m double tired today compared to yesterday BUT I made progress on Luxe so rather than going on about my bad sleep, lets talk about the story.

I’ve made it through the outline for act one and have started act II.

I didn’t want to get stuck in one region of the trade moon so I’m moving the story to a different area. I am also going to introduce the concept that corporations are going to be exploring the solar system. Actually……as I write this…..I have yet to define who the people are on the trade moon, at least as far as who they are working for. I guess the rough idea is they are paying the different gov’ts of the Planet Luxe to give them space and working with the aliens are who are moving goods and tourists in and out of the trade hub.

I don’t actually know what the volume of stuff and people that moves through the hub, but I don’t think that matters just yet.

I guess I am not too concerned about questions of that detail as I will answer them once I get to the writing portion.

That’s it for tonight, I’m having a hard time focusing on anything for more than 5 min. I feel like I know where I want this first Luxe story to go and I just don’t have the energy tonight to get the outline farther than I already have. Time to make some super short bullet point reminders and put this one down for the night.

Note of personal improvement: I did get to my French lessons today for the first time in 5 days. No coding which is bad but I have to be realistic about the energy levels I have when I get home.

Til next time!

Creative Journey: Outlining & Sleep & The Luxe System

Creative Journal #1

Kept going on the outline of the first Luxe System novel. I’m not sure how much is out there about what The Luxe System is. I will get into that more in another post, but for now….it is the story about a human planet who has started to get into reliable space travel and they are noticed by an Alien race who wants to help them move forward in their pursuit of exploration as a species.

They also want to help build up the Luxe System as a trade port in this region of the galaxy. A lot of the stories I want to look at first are the stories of the planet Luxe coming to grips with expanded space travel and sorting out how each nation will fit into this changing world.

There are nations who are interested in technology and others who want to get back to want nature means. There are no more wars as there was a major war in the past which was so bad, all the nations……at the time……agreed to disarm themselves and not travel the road of war ever again. Everyone had lost so much, the motivation to change as a species was strong.

Anyways….as I said…..more detail on that later.

I’ve been outlining a story about a girl named Sarah who wants to work on the trade moon. Jobs on the trade moon are more about managing a crew of bots who do the work for you. Some people are good at automating all their bots, others want to work side by side with their bots. When a dock owner hires you on, you need to show them what your bot crew is like and what they are able to do.

I’m up to 12 chapters of the outline and I think I am through the first act. I figure I will go with the act system for my first novel as trying to do anything fancy is probably doomed to failure. Not to mention I have ZERO novel….er…..writing experience at all so lets play by the rules for a while.

I am proud of myself that I sat down and worked on this tonight. I got a really bad night’s sleep last night and I took a nap when I got home from work. I know that when I get to the point where I am writing I need to be able to focus for longer periods of time and forcing myself to work on the outline tonight and write this post is a good start. I have to decide if I will work on programming or French this evening as it is almost 9 and I really am tired.

That’s all for this evening…..

Re-purpose the Blog……Creative Exploration

Hi There……it’s been a while…..

We spent a few years making games and it was quite the ride. We did a lot of learning and got to the point where we ran a Kickstarter campaign, funded and sent the game out to our backers.

Unfortunately, we did not have the time or energy it requires to turn what is an awesome hobby into regular gig. Whatever “regular” was intended to mean, as the demands of real life started to mount, we have to take a step away from the podcast, designing and pretty much the industry as a whole.

Where I am at now, I am a hobby free agent who is ready to get back into making games, but not as aggressively as I was before. I am also writing a novel….er…..novels? I am also working on a personal process improvement. The goal is to make myself better at the things which will advance my career and will also provide me with the creative outlet I know I need.

What this all means is I will be re-purposing the blog to be a story about creative growth and personal improvement. For now, I don’t think I will be changing the name as everything I do I think can be turned into a game. I’m learning to program so I can grow at work and maybe make games. I write so I can tell better stories to go with the games I want to make. I will get back into game design because at the end of the day, I think I am a game designer first and everything else creative second.

The reality is that I need to have these other projects going so when I hit road blocks in on place I can jump to a different project and make progress there. I hope to have interesting stories to share and lessons learned over the course of the next creative chapter. I don’t yet know all the different things I will be producing but I am ready to start producing content again and I hope you will come along for the ride.

Chris

Bringing the Blog Back!

Hi There–

Its been a while since I’v written anything on this blog with the intent to follow it up with regular written content. I wanted to jump on here and let you know the blog will be coming back! I have a few writing projects in the works and its about time I get around to sharing them with you.

The Projects

  • How to Build a Game 2.0
    • Yes, I am bringing back How to Build a Game. The plan is to go through all the posts and update what was written the first time around. A lot has changed since the first go around with H2BaG and I wanted to re-read the posts and see how I felt with what I said then vs how I feel about the subject now. Once I get to the end of the original run, if there is more to say, or if you would like me to talk about specific topics, I will keep going and add newer content to the series
  • The Luxe System
    • I have been working on a world build…..I guess you could call it? Basically I have been working on a creative side project that is mostly story telling with the idea of using a pre-made world to generate other kinds of content. It is called The Luxe System and I am looking forward to sharing the world with you as it grows and develops into a real thing. What I can tell you now is that it is an economic based story that has a main planet with 2 moons, one of which has been turned into a local trade port for the entire region of space. The main planet has several nations that have their own way of looking at the world and have to deal with the idea of their home system being a trade hub to the many species and races travelling in to, out of and through their travel hubs.
  • Random Releases
    • There are topics I come across that have to do with games directly, and sometime indirectly that I believe can help designers and gamers. Sometimes that is inspirational, sometimes it is a new look at an old thing and sometimes it is a powerful thought I feel like sharing. Now….because almost all my non-family free time is game related, these writings will be centered around the subject. But I think there are times when we all need a little jolt out of our head space and pointed at a different star, if only for a moment.

I’m really looking forward to getting back into a blog routine. Right now, I plan to release new content on Fridays. The should keep the content fresh for a while until I build the back log even deeper. I hope you enjoy the ride on the new blog, I hope you get something from the freshened up H2BaG pieces and I hope to get your feedback on what will help you be a better designer or gamer.

Also, I will still be linking the podcast (when I remember to) so you will see those flash by every now and then too.

Thanks again for being a reader/listener and I hope you have a great day.