All words presented in this blog are purely opinion, not fact - unless specifically stated otherwise in the post.

Monday 28 October 2013

Nanowrimo prep

So last year I wrote that story about the secret agent on the Gallidar space station, I only got about half way through it and never finished it. It was okay, but nothing spectacular. I think the problem was that I was trying all new stuff and didnt really have any idea where I was going or what I was doing. I was just coming up with ideas as I went and throwing them all in.
This time I'm not just jumping in the deep end with nothing but a computer and the internet. This time I'm going in with a plan.
So I started by putting together a spreadsheet time line with everything that happens to every relevant character between the beginning of the story and the end, but that was way too complex for the first part. I didn't even know what the main points - like the villain being at war with his father - were let alone the unimportant points - like Amelia getting bullied at school by teachers - so how was I goign to write out a full, comprehensive spreadsheet of what happens? I wasn't.
Next I moved onto writing out a simplified time line, just detailign the most relevant events, but again I stumbled when I realised I didn't really know what the story is about. All I have is 'master thief tries to steal work of art, but is beaten to it, and fingered as the suspect, she helps Hunter catch the real culprets.' its a great premise, but thats it.

Now i will try and come up with a little more.

How are you guys all doing on your nanowrimo prep? are you goign for a traditional Nano story or doing somethign a little diffrent? I know that Liz is taking the month to do some artwork instead of drawing, so what about you? what are you doing?
Comment me up, we'd love to hear about you!

- James

P.S. remember to donate for childrens hospitals, this years extra life I will be tackling the dangerous world of GTA Online!

Monday 21 October 2013

That time of year

So it's that time of year again where events converge upon one another. Nanowrimo and Extra Life exploding onto the scenes at the beginning of November.

As anyone who's been reading this blog for a significant period of time can attest Nanowrimo is the month long writing experiment 'national novel writing month' where people attempt to write a 50k word story in a month. Last year I got to 75k, and this year i'm aiming for 100k. Last year I wrote a science fiction fantasy spy novel set in the far future of my Hunter books. this year I'm going to be a little more conservative and try and write the sequel to book one of Hunter.
This will start on the first of November and end on the thirtieth, meaning that if I want to get to 100k I have to write at least 3334 words a day or 23334 words a week, its a feat that will stretch me, especially while simultaneously working and living my life, but I hope to achieve it.
I would be very interested in comments from anyone else trying to do the nanowrimo challenge.

Extra life (again as some of you may know from reading last year, or other places) is a yearly twenty-four hour gaming event to raise money for childrens hospitals. Last year was my first encounter with Extra Life, I played Borderlands 2, Audiosurf and sleeping dogs. This year I hope to play Grand Theft Auto Online for the entire length, to see just how far I can get in a single play through.
Anyone wanting to join me is welcome to do so, just comment below.
Anyone wanting to do their part and donate, click here: Donate!

- James

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Not so secret

I always find it odd when I meet another person of my age that's into the same things that I'm embarrassed to be into.
Whether its anime, or magic the gathering, or comic books, or in this case, pokemon games, it always throws me when someone asks if I like it and they aren't looking to make fun of me.
In the case of pokemon games, a new one came out on Saturday and I though it might be fun to talk about it, then Liz said we'd do a podcast about it and I couldn't do a blog post so instead I thought I'd talk about how silly it is to be insecure about liking things that you like (except my little pony, you bronies need to stop... now... okay, even the bronies can have their horses)

For years I've quietly enjoyed the things that I like but am embarrassed to like. Collected models, played games, watched movies, silently afraid that someone might find out that I have sci-fi statues or play pokemon games or watch anime films and movies.
But why do I do this? Because in our society it's frowned upon? No, people might find it odd but it's not frowned upon. Because people find it odd? maybe, but why should I care? the sorts of people who find it odd, and that it being odd matters to are not the same people that I would interact with.
But I think that's it, me, and people like me are self conscious about that sort of thing, about being considered weird.
But here's the truth: we are weird, and that's great. I'd rather be weird than identical to everyone else, so why should I care what other people think? Why should you?
Since getting this game, since starting to play it I've bumped into a surprising number of people who don't necessarily fit the games target audience, who play it anyway. They don't care, so why should I?

I guess my point is that you shouldn't hide who you are. You shouldn't pretend to be something you're not for the sake of others because if they care that little about you that something like pokemon is going to stop the friendship then it wasn't a great friendship to begin with.
Love what you love, do what you do, have fun where you can have fun. Life is too short to pretend not to love the things you love so that a few people will dislike you a little bit less.

- James

p.s. extra life is coming up, are you getting involved? - or do you just want to donate?

Monday 14 October 2013

Hero v1

For those of you who are yet to read my short story 'Exile' please go away and read it now, the following contains huge spoilers.

The following is the first two parts of a sidequell short story to Exile. A short story in the same universe set at the exact same time as Exile. I've been writing it in my spare time for a while and wanted to know what you guys think.

So here it is, the first two parts of 'Hero'

“Captain Charles Crowe. Identification code two-two-three-five-seven-jay.” He said, for what felt like the millionth time. His lips were sore, his throat was dry. It was starting to hurt to speak. The split lip, ringing headache and possible concussion didn’t help. Not to mention the ‘aggressive interrogation techniques’ of his captors.
“B’in sayin’ that for six hours now.” The pirate rumbled, basso voice echoing dangerously within the large empty space of the ship’s cargo hold. Six hours? it felt like longer. It felt like he’d been there for days, weeks, months even. Could it really only have been six hours? Or was that another form of interrogation? say its been an hour when it’s been a week, just to make things seem even more hopeless.
Charlie glared up at the pirate. He was tall and hugely muscled - His fists looked to be about the size of Charlie’s head. He was bald with a little stubble, though his hair line appeared to have receded. He had one dark brown eye and one white one, a scar ran straight through the white. He looked like a thug. A mindless thug with passion for naught but the most animalistic of instincts, at least that’s how he looked. His interrogation tactics seemed to prove Charlie wrong. They were subtle, sophisticated, they worked the slow game on him, knowing that he would crack eventually.
Everybody cracks eventually.
Of course there was every possibility Charlie was giving the pirate too much credit. Perhaps it truly had only been six hours and his own mind was putting subtleties where there were none. In fact, The subtleties being in his head made more sense. He wasn't playing with Wren here, after all. It was just a pirate.
"You not ge'in' bored of sayin' that? We're ge'in' bored of 'earin' it." He said.
We? Charlie mused. Who is we?
“Captain Charles Crowe. Identification code two-two-three-five-seven-jay.” He repeated. It made more sense to Charlie than asking the obvious question. He'd already given that much away, there was every chance that he'd give away more on his own.
"You know, I looked you up. Had to, to see if you're worth ransoming." A spark of hope ignited within his chest for a moment. "We offered but they don' wan' you back." And the spark was smothered.
Charlie cursed himself internally. He knew better than to hope. The decision to pay a randsom lay with the grand admiral, and he did not like Charlie. More accurately, he hated Wren's family, and as one of Wren's father's Vassals Charlie's family was just as bad, at least to the grand admiral.
There had been no chance of release, he had raised his hopes for nothing.
Subtlety or not?
“You're from Andal?” He asked. “Went to Andal once, ‘bout ten years ago.” Charlie’s eyes moved up to his captor’s. “‘bout the time you joined up, righ’? Now why was tha’?”


“That was a great session.” Dylan grinned, stuffing his holo-tab into his rucksack. “What’s gonn’a happen next?”
Wren frowned at the young Elf assassin player. “That would be telling.” He said. “Do you really want me to ruin it?” He opened his eyes wide and and spoke in a grave tone. “For everyone?”
“He doesn’t know yet, Dyl.” Charlie laughed, patting Dylan on the shoulder. “That’s why we do these games a week apart. He has to figure that out.”
“Oh, ok.” Dylan said, rolling his eyes.
“I’ll message you on the holo when I have some idea of what I’m going to do.” Wren promised. “You could run the next game if you want.”
Dylan smiled but shook his head. “I like enjoying the story. I’m not good at that stuff, I just like playing.”
“You sure you can’t stay the night?” The youngest of their group, Magnus, asked as he stepped around the others. “Wren’s dad doesn’t mind.”
Dylan shook his head, turning on his heel and heading towards the door. “Can’t, my Dad’s shipping out in the morning and I want to see him before then.”
The others followed Dylan, passing out of the games room, past the kitchen, through the landing.
“You getting him to find out about taking the military qualification exams early?” Charlie asked, always more aware of what was going on than any other member of their group, except maybe Wren
Wren had always been their groups leader, being from the most prestigious family, but Charlie had always felt more aware of things. He supposed that was the problem with growing up as the first son of an Earl; you didn’t need to know everything because there was always someone there to tell you. Charlie supposed that he, himself was Wren's 'someone'.
That wasn’t to say that Wren wasn’t smart, from what Charlie could tell he was incredibly smart, he’d just never had to try hard. Never had to prove himself.
Charlie wasn't a nobleman. Well, no, that wasn't true. He was of the nobility, but barely. Most of e true, old nobility saw him as nothing more than a commoner. His father was a vassal of Wren’s, Senior Admiral of the Navy, beholden to the Earls and the Emperor of the Mao-Winsor empire - though his loyalty to Wren's father always seemed to come first. Everything he had, he’d worked for. Everything he had, he’d earned. Nothing had been given to him. But that didn’t matter to Charlie. Wren was his friend, that was enough.
They followed Dylan down the stairs to the front doors and out into the late evening. Dylan walked over to his two-pad skimmer, still resting by the wall where he'd discarded it upon arrival.
He righted it and brushed off of the handle bars before securing his rucksack and climbing on. The hover craft turned on automatically, responding to his weight. Dylan stood with the skimmer between his legs and looked over at his friends.
“I’ll see you guys next week.” Dylan promised. He leaned forward and shot off down the path towards the main gate.
The three of them watched him go, seeing him to the gate and then watching it crack slightly to allow him to leave. "Little Dylan in the navy." Wren commented, smiling as they made their way back into the house proper. House was the wrong word for it, of course. Houses didn't have wings. Wren's fathers home was a mansion, elegant, sophisticated and completely pointless. Charlie used to play hide and seek in the house with Wren and there had been tens of rooms, maybe hundreds that had been empty or used for storage.
It seemed so silly to Charlie, but then he wasn't a wealthy nobleman. Maybe Wren knew exactly what each thing was for, but Charlie doubted it.
"I'm not sure whether to be proud or very worried." Wren continued.
"Worried?" Magnus repeated, confusion in his voice as wren led them into the drawing room. Charlie didnt understand why they called it that, nobody ever did any drawing in there. They just watched holo-net in there. Cartoons and stuff. Nobody else spent any time in there, just Wren and his friends.
"Were you not playing with us in there?" Wren asked, laughing. “Dyl’s fun but he’s not subtle. I’m proud of him for joining up, don’t get me wrong. takes a braver man than me to put his life on the line like that, but I’m not sure I’d want him with his finger on any triggers.”
“I don’t know.” Charlie shrugged, turning the holo-projector on. “I think he’ll do alright.”
The holo-net lit up the room with cartoons, but only for a moment. a moment later a news report took over, emergency broadcast logos cycling across the bottom and top. “We interrupt your regularly scheduled holo-net interactions to bring you breaking news; ships of unknown origin have appeared on our sensors. We advise that everyone to make their way to their nearest shelter.” The reporter said. “In other news, nude photos of teen singing sensation Mika Moore were discovered today, stay tuned for an exclusive look as we stay with you throughout this ordeal.”
“Wait, what?” Magnus asked. “ships? shelter?”
“It’s fine.” Wren said, waving aside the problem and sitting down on the sofa, a little too eager to watch the news. “Its probably just an economy personnel carrier that forgot to book a landing.” He shrugged, eyes returning to the holo as the story about Mika Moore continued.
Chalie’s eyes locked onto the news report for a few moments when the pictures were displayed, but as soon as they were taken back down he returned to the conversation. “If it was serious, my dad would come get us.”
The banging of doors and pounding of footsteps almost seemed as though it was on queue. No sooner had Wren assured them that his father would come get them had they heard the rumble of his entourage searching and the basso echo of the Earl of Andal calling for them. “Wren!” His father called.
Wren’s eyes widen and he leaps up, waving a hand towards the holo-display, shutting it down and making the naked pictures of Mika Moore disappear. “In here dad.” He called.
The foot falls thundered down the hall to the drawing room and the doors burst open to allow Wren’s father and his entourage to enter. The High Lord rushed over to his son and clutched him tight. “Thank goodness.” He sighed. “Boys.” He nodded to Charlie and Magnus. Come, we need to get to the shelter.”
“The shelter?” Wren asked, concerned. Charlie frowned, looking around at the faces of the others. Something was very wrong. “What’s happening?”
“There’s a pirate attack.” Wren’s father explained, practically dragging him from the room.
“What?” Magnus asked, fear creeping into his voice.
“How did they get here?” Wren complained. “What about the sensors? The defences?”
What about Dylan? Charlie thought, following behind and trying to keep up.
“Long range sensors registered them as trade ships, a convoy we’d been expecting for the last couple of days.” His father explained.
“What about Dylan?” Charlie said, perhaps too quietly.
“We let them in. Our defences are rebooting, until they’re done we need to get into the Shelter.” Wren’s father explained.
Charlie frowned and said a little louder. “What about Dylan?” But nobody listened. His frown deepened and he stopped. “What about Dylan?” He all but shouted. Everyone stopped and turned to look at him. “What about all the commuters? What about people in their homes? What about all the people out playing football?” He paused, looking between the people. “What about Dylan? He was on his way home.”
Wren’s father let go of his son and walked over to Charlie “He’ll be okay.” the Lord promised him, holding the shoulders of his adolescent son’s best friend. Charlie was a little taller than Wren’s father, but he still looked down on him with an air of authority. “We’ve put all the hyper-lanes into shelter mode, all of the foot traffic have been directed to shelters and all of the speeders have been locked into auto-travel and taken to the nearest shelter.”
Charlie opened his mouth to argue. What if he fell off his speeder? what if the pirates got to him first? What if he hadn’t been anywhere that would hear the shelter call?
But how could they do anything now? They didn’t know where he was to help him. They just had to hope he’d be okay. Charlie nodded. He was sure it’d be fine. Nothing bad ever happened to the people you knew, it was always other people, abstract people on the news and holo-net.
He took a breath and nodded again. “Okay, sorry.” He said as a loud explosion sounded outside the building, rattling the floor.
“Sir.” One of the guards said. “We need to get to-” the room rattled with another explosion. “Need to get to the shelter.”
“Agreed.” Mister Lian-Cheng said, motioning for everyone to go ahead of him.
There was another, teeth rattling explosion. It was so close that his ears rang. It boomed louder and louder and-
Everything went black.

I hope you enjoyed that! Look out for more updates on Hero, hopefully coming to Kindle before the end of the year.

Honest-Tubage - and another
- James

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Whats wrong with that? Sexism.

Like most of you I was brought up watching Disney movies, and I loved them. I still do. Lion King, Aladdin, Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, all amazing films, but with one common thread that isn't quite politically correct.
With the possibly exception of Lion King every one of these movies tell you that a woman needs a man to save her and the most important thing in life is to get married.

This isn't news, I know. Most people that are cynical enough to really think about it have realised that Cinderella needs a man to save her from serving her step mother and sisters, Snow white needed a man to come and kiss her to rescue her from the queens poison, Sleeping beauty required a prince to come along and wake her with a kiss, Little Mermaid needed a man to save her from giant Ursula. Even in the lion king the lionesses couldn't take back pride rock without Simba.

They were great films and still are, but I wonder if they didn't perpetuate the cycle of sexism that led to most women getting paid less than men, or women being less trusted in a business environment. Women don't deserve to earn as much because they need men more than the other way around. Women aren't as useful because they need a man to help them.

Perhaps if we'd had more films about a woman saving the day we'd have a more equal society. Perhaps if we had more of that today, and not just super women wearing very little or very tight clothes? (I'm looking at you resident evil movies)
Who knows?

Maybe just once we could make a game where the main character was female and looked realistic and maybe lets make her english... like the new tomb raider, that was pretty baddass. Go play that.

- James

Wednesday 2 October 2013


Yesterday two big things happened. One for me and one for America.
In America the government shut down due to a powerful and zealous section of the republican party refusing to agree to a budget unless the law (voted on and approved since 2009) dubbed 'obamacare' was repealed and cancelled.
Obviously the democrats did not cave to this demand. Not only is the law already in place, but it is already funded and its funding is not effected by the government shutdown. So from what I can understand from the news and from articles I've read, the Tea party section of the Republicans - in an awesome show of 'if we can't get the party our way nobody gets a party' - did not get their way so they threw a hissy fit and shut the government down.
I am personally at a loss for what can be done here. Dealing with people that refuse to accept facts, work with people that don't agree with them and refuse to govern responsibly is an issue that I don't think we've faced in so long I don't have any frame of reference. There's always been argument and tension between parties, but outright refusing to work with them, refusing to let them work, demonising the people trying to do their jobs, this is something that feels new.

Just so we're clear, it's not just the higher people of the government that suffer here, it's regular people. Due to the shut down more than 2million federal workers will have delayed pay checks, 800,000 of whom probably wont get paid. If the shutdown lasts longer than a few days veterans will likely not get their benefits. There will be no flu shots for anyone, despite it just coming to flu season. Some Food safety services will shut down (inspections, compliance, enforcement, monitoring and all lab research). Nutritional programs for women infants and children will be disrupted. Disability benefits will be interrupted. 200 patients will be turned away each week, regardless of illness (one thing that was highlighted was that it could include children with cancer).

Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I don't know what I'm talking about, but how can a country like America remain a super power when it's so polarised and controlled by crazies that they can't even go into work?

In personal news the company I work for, Future Games of London, was yesterday acquired by Ubisoft.
I don't know what this means for us yet, but everything seems really positive, and I imagine that it will remain so right up until the day we miss and update and are all fired.
Who knows?

 - James

P.S. is the American government just re-enacting the West Wing?