m. c. de marco: To invent new life and new civilizations...


Click Your Poison #5, MAROONED: Will YOU Endure Treachery and Survival on the High Seas? by James Schannep, is out! I’ve loaded it up in my Kindle, though right now I’m in the middle of reading a LitRPG novel where the main character just got gored to death by a dire bear, so I haven’t insta-died of exposure on a desert island yet. But I’m looking forward to many parched deaths to come, and to reading volume #4, SUPERPOWERED, as well.

BDO Recommendations from Reddit

Via reddit again: Today’s Big Dumb Object (BDO) non-story is a thread at Reddit about favorite BDOs. Some of the BDOs aren’t (e.g., Anathem) and others I haven’t read so I can’t vouch for their being actual BDOs (yet): Blame, Marrow!, The Architects of Hyperspace, The Stars Are Legion, The Expanse, Grand Central Arena, Confluence, Vast, Rogue Moon (an oldie), Dark Orbit, ShipStar (Larry Niven and Greg Benford), and Strata (Terry Prachett).

While contemplating my forthcoming updates to PrePub and how I would make a dead-tree version of an e-gamebook, I found an old LaTeX gamebook package. It doesn’t actually do that much, but then there’s not much to do and it’s always handy when someone else has already done it for you.

Scree 3.0.3a

I’ve updated Scree3, my Scrivener 3 template for writing hyperfiction with Twine/Twee, to handle internal document links. That way you can auto-create scenes just by linking them (as in the Twine GUI), and also zip around your scenes within Scrivener by clicking the links. The new version number is 3.0.3a.

Scrivener 3 is still Mac-only at the moment, with the usual free 30-day-total trial for new and Scrivener 2 users.

Choose Your Own Idiot-Proofing

I’ve been reading more choice fiction lately, and one thing I noticed in the last two books I started (Fifty Shades of Plaid by Parody Brothers, Kindle Unlimited 2014 and How to Be Bad by Michael La Ronn, ePub 2014) was the idiot-proofing. It has moved beyond the usual blurb at the beginning telling you how to read a CYOA, to an entire page after every choice warning you that if you can see this, you forgot to make a choice. Apparently the temptation to flip pages in an eReader is irresistable, at least when compared to the minor price in wasted bits backstopping all your choices. Maybe I’ll add a per-passage warning option to PrePub

I found Killing Hitler With Praise And Fire on a list of grown-up CYOA at Goodreads and, though the ratings there were uninspiring, I followed a link to Amazon and checked out those reviews as well. Most of the positive reviews mentioned the novelty and nostalgia of finding a modern CYOA book. Other opinions ranged from “meh” to negative, with one interesting “review” in which the reviewer said nothing about the book except that it was not this “book”.

Note: it’s not available on Kindle.

Scree 3.0.3

I’ve updated Scree, my Scrivener template for writing hyperfiction with Twine/Twee, to work with Scrivener 3. Scrivener 3 is Mac-only right now, but there’s the usual free 30-day-total trial for new and Scrivener 2 users. The most notable improvement for Twine writing is that Scrivener 3 can now do automatic post-processing after compiling, plus it offers to open the resulting HTML story file for you.

You can still use the old template on Windows or in Scrivener 2 for Mac.

The Interactive Fiction Writers Conference is going on live today. You can still register and play back the earlier sessions or join the current one. We got to play some cool multiplayer choice fiction over Telegram in an earlier session, and won!

I’ve been working on updating Scree to Scrivener 3, using a trial version that’s currently at version 3.0.3. The latest Scrivener has lots of options, including one that can post-process text files on the command line (as long as you don’t have the sandboxed Mac App Store version of Scrivener) as part of the compile process, which means no more hacky UI scripting for me.

But there are bigger fish to fry in Scrivener 3, such as possibly leaving Twee/Scree altogether for a more direct hyperfiction writing process involving Scrivener internal document links or a non-Twine, pandoc-based CYOA format, or both.

I fell down an internet hole and found this Twine Garden via this Twine gardener.

I set up an Amazon author page a while back.

The Gamebook Adventurer posted yesterday about how to combine Four Against Darkness with Dungeons & Dragons: Four Against Dungeons & Dragons.

Myrmex 1.3.1

Myrmex, one of my JavaScript implementations of solitaire games for the Decktet, suffers from an iOS 11.3 scrolling bug that’s going around all the drag-and-drop libraries. I’ve done a bit of hacking around the issue for the moment and made a beta version 1.3.1 for anyone actually having issues. (You’d know it immediately if you were.)

The reason it’s only in beta is that the hack will break older browsers in the process of fixing newer ones, and there’s still some hope that Apple will fix the bug on their end.

Paloma 1.1.1

A couple of NaNoWriMos ago I mentioned that I’d made a Twine 2 replacement for the popular scrolling/stretchtext story format Jonah from Twine 1. I didn’t port Jonah itself; instead I based Paloma on Chris Klimas' minimalist Twine 2 story format Snowman. At the time I also threatened to backport Paloma to Twine 1, which I apparently did soon afterwards, as well as tossing in some special passages (versions 1.0.1 and 1.1.0).

Today’s version, 1.1.1, fixes an iPhone < 6 issue involving tiny fonts on tiny screens.

Aucteraden 1.1

My JavaScript implementation of Jack Neal’s Decktet solitaire game Aucteraden has been slightly updated.

Aucteraden 1.0

Aucteraden is yet another JavaScript implementation of a Decktet solitaire game, along with a scoresheet (for playing with actual cards) and an interactive rules summary. It features offline play, undo, variants (both intentionally created by the author as well as accidentally invented by users), rule and card stats popups, and a black moons option.

Aucteraden was devised by Jack Neal; see the credits for more links. The source code is available at BitBucket.

Boskone on the Cheap

In my previous post about Boskone 55, I forgot to mention that once again you can try the convention out for free for Friday afternoon from 2pm to 6pm, which includes a couple of the panels I’m on: “My Favorite Game” at 3pm and “Revisiting Big Dumb Objects” at 4pm. The full free schedule is online.

Magnate Roller 1.1.1

Magnate Roller has been brushed up to version 1.1.1, now with clearer rules for playing with the dice, since Peter and I are continuing our trend of getting wrong things you never thought you could get wrong with the rules right in front of you.

Boskone 55

Boskone 55 is coming up like a freight train! In about a week (February 16–18, 2018) fans will gather in Boston for New England’s longest-running science fiction and fantasy convention. You can find out more about Boskone at The Boskone Blog, Twitter, Facebook, and the Boskone website.

I’m on the schedule for Boskone, where I’ll be talking about games, Big Dumb Objects, medicine, fanfiction, and filk.

A Brief History of BDOs

Via reddit: Today’s Big Dumb Object (BDO) story is a non-fiction recap of the genre, “A Brief History of the Big Dumb Object Story in Science Fiction” by James Davis Nicoll at Tor. He thinks “the heyday of the BDO seems to be over,” because of the zeitgeist or the stock plots—I would say it’s the difficulty of fitting a human-sized story to an inhuman-sized setting—and he laments the lack of women writing BDO stories, though the commenters come up with plenty of recent examples, one of them even female.