A Pile Up of News

Hmm, haven't posted in 3 months. Is that right? When people don't post, it's either because there's nothing to talk about or too much going on that they don't have time to post. Mostly it's the latter.

Between now and the last time I've posted, I've given a talk at American River College and at the Sacramento Wizard's World Whatever It's Called Comic Con. Yeah, I know. It's not the real Comic Con even if they call it that. We hit a professional recording studio and recorded voice actors for Elemental Lords. I've also finished the first draft of my Dawnshine novel called "The Dawncaster." We've massively overhauled Raygun Rocketship (as in, we're throwing away everything we did before--code, art assets, story lines, protagonist, and concepts), and we've had a mega huge company out source work to us starting with a big check that I got in the mail yesterday. I'll go through these one at a time.

Giving a talk at American River College was fun. I attended ARC myself starting in 1996 until 2005, usually attending full time and once talking 20 units, two of which being honors classes. I studied nearly every subject because I found it all fascinating. I transferred to Sac State in 2005, got a BA in Anthropology in 2009, then went back to ARC to study more for a few more years. I do really well at Jeopardy. Sorry. Anyways, so I was asked to talk for 30 mins and I took a couple hours and still didn't cover everything. So about a month ago when I was contacted by Genese Davis (www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdzwDZZNCFY) about being part of a panel on the same subject "How to break into the Game Industry," at Wizard's World, I thought about how I would cram a 2 hour speech(where I still didn't cover everything) into 45 mins and share that time with three other people.

I felt it went well. We gave out a lot of great advice. My sister recorded it. To save power, she mostly just recorded when I spoke. I'll post it to youtube after I edit it down. It was also recorded by a film crew. If I find a link to it uploaded anywhere, I'll post that too. One of the guys on the panel, Eric Kieron Davis, was a cinematic producer for Blizzard, working on nearly all of their products. He's now a producer on Star Citizen.www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIZPFt57KCw Another person on the panel, Susan O'Connor, has worked as a writer for several game companies. I just googled her and found a Ted Talk she gave www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEzNrjTzC-s. Everybody was really nice. You'd expect that though. The industry is so competitive, that only the nice people. those you'd actually want to work with, get hired.

Recording voice actors went well. I think it was a good learning experience for me. We'll be better prepared for a larger project like Raygun Rocketship. I mentioned the overhaul. Not much more to say about it. It's going to be a far, far less ambitious game story wise, but I think cutting down the amount of content to a sliver of what we'd originally planned will improve the over all quality of what the game ships with. Ultimately, it was the right decision even if we're no longer planning on shattering the world record with number of endings.

I first started working on the fiction for the Dawnshine series in 1998 while sitting in a calculus class not wanting to take notes and writing a story about a city called Sawkara and a soldier priest named Hanoki. Hanoki was based on a Lawful Evil cleric named Maxwell, for a D&D campaign that I loved to play. He was convinced he was a powerful, Lawful Good paladin who viciously and brutally assaulted anyone he thought was evil. Maybe Maxwell was more of an anti hero who was convinced that real Paladins were not zealous enough in fighting evil and their kindness and reluctance to harm innocents got in the way of ridding the world of darkness and corruption. Hanoki got mellowed out a little from the Maxwell influence, was given a tortured back story, and a bad attitude. In the original high fantasy version, he fought against elemental lords, giants, and golems. No dragons though. Am I the only one who likes fantasy, but hates dragons? They're comically implausible and overdone to the point of stupidity. Yeah, I just went anti nerd right there. I finished the high fantasy draft of nearly 100,000 words in a few years after 2000, but I can't remember when exactly. I started a second book with completely different characters, but only got a third of the way through. I love the character, Iris, behind the second book and will likely start on a new version of it the second The Dawncaster is finished.

In 2008, I decided that the main characters of the high fantasy version were really boring, and the only interesting characters in the novel were Hanoki and Elaeria(and their antagonists--Lovina and Felix), though their paths shouldn't have crossed like they did. I also decided that I wrote in a high fantasy genre because I felt like I was forced to, like there was no other viable sub genres of fantasy. I was also concerned that every path I envisioned took me away from the formulaic good versus evil. The more I realized that I loved fantasy, but hate overdone fantasy villain stereotypes, the more lost I felt at trying to fit some kind of mold that I got increasingly unhappy with. I mean, Sauron wants to conquer and enslave the world... why? Orcs are willing to fight and die for him, why? "Because they're evil," just sounds so stupid. I became more and more obsessed with modern day culture and why two rational and sane people will try and kill each other based on things that are likely not even true. This drew me to getting a degree in Social Studies and a BA in Anthropology.

Ok, this might get me in trouble. I watched a propaganda video put out by those bad people currently beheading people. I'm going to avoid typing keywords so I don't get put on some list. But these horrible, awful people are going around murdering people, and talking about how it's ordained by God. And when they win battles, they cry and they cheer. They hug their children and tell them that their years of suffering are over and that finally they are another step closer to making the world into something decent. I didn't think about it at the time, but it's like my Lawful Evil cleric Maxwell. He did horrible, despicable things, but he was convinced he was the good guy. Imagine Maxwell looking down at his little girl with the blood of unicorns staining his hands and saying to her, "I made the world a little safer for you today, pumpkin."

When villains have families and weaknesses, they feel more real. When a villain is so real we understand what motivates them and even understand their side to the point we're drawn into their perversion with them, then you affect a person. That's what draws me to hard fantasy and why I just can't be a conventional high fantasy writer.

Anyways, the first draft of The Dawncaster is done. It's at 63,000 words. It needs to be at 100,000+ to be marketable. Luckily, I won't need to pad it. There are major loose ends that I never really resolve and back story that I really wish I'd spent time exploring. I also spend too much time info dumping when I could show scenes demonstrating those concepts in more jarring ways. I'll keep plugging away at that and hopefully start submitting it to major publishers. Most writers I know spent a couple years getting their first novel published.

Mega company, yes. I don't want to say who at this point until the contract is finished. It does mean there's now money available. Do we use it to pay for labor, marketing, buying equipment / software, etc? It's not enough to hire anyone full time. Well, not for very long. I've talked about this with the team before--that awkward moment when there's some money, but not enough for everyone. Still, it's weird. We need to finish off Elemental Lords and ship it. Yeah, why is that not done? We're really waiting on the character models. We've had a weird relationship with 3d modelers. We rarely need 3d modelers, so when I recruit one, we don't have much for them to do, until we do, and don't have one.

We might try and do a better job sharing updates with all of you in the future. I have some ideas. We'll see.

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