Sunday, November 28, 2010

... on hold, on pause, on ice

I hope all of you that had been following/reading this blog have been keeping your eye on my other blog, Just Five Words of Wisdom. Otherwise you may just have wondered what became of me. I suspect most of you have also noticed the de-Thiefing of this writing blog. Well, it's not just your imagination. I'm moving away from Thief writing and, for the time being, writing in general.  It's bad news, but for good reasons.

My job at Arkane Studios as a level designer has been fantastic.  But things as fantastic as these come at a price, and right now that price is I had no desire to write.  Beyond that, my contract with Arkane's parent company would limit my ability to distribute anything I do write to purely unofficial channels, such as posting them on my blog or some other website or forum.  Let's not get into an argument here over if this is fair or not.  It's a standard for many types of jobs in many industries that when you hire a full time designer you get dibs on all of his or her creativity and you don't like them throwing said creativity around willy-nilly.  You also don't like them doing things that could wind up getting everyone sued.  So, my distancing myself from the intellectual property owned by Square Enix Corporation should start to make sense now.   

As it stands now, the print edition of COT-R is effectively canceled.  COT2 is also canceled, though my plan is to somehow use the characters and plot at some point in the future for some non-Thief based work.  My storybook projects with my sister can proceed, but will have to be done totally in her name.  (I'm fine with this.)  My other writing projects such as a continuation of the characters/plot introduced in Morden Wakes up are all going on the backburner with the speculative COT2 "reboot". 

I'm going to be keeping this blog up (and semi-active) because I would like to see the work my sister and I did on the fairy-tale storybook "The Adventures of Clifton Thrift" come to something, though it will be a slow process. 

So, that's that.  As I mentioned before, my other blog is pretty active and I usually update it on the weekends with either a week-in-review style post or something bigger, like I did this weekend with the pro game design Q&A.  Thanks for reading.  I'll be around.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

... the first Chronicle

Some of you may remember this post from around this time last year. (Shocking that it's been that long...) In it I talked about the first 'story' of Contravention of Thieves. Those who have been reading the blog since then know that alot has changed since then, but among them has not been my interest in doing that project.

Some very enthusiastic reviews of COT have prompted me to dust off my ideas for COT2 and take a serious look at what I wanted to do with the project. Readers of this blog know that I was considering doing COT2 as a series of short stories. That idea has evolved, just a bit.

There's going to be three different phases of COT2. The first I am going to do, and am already doing. The second I will probably do. The third I might or might not do.

The first phase is the novellas. I have five of these planned, though I may not do all of them. Each will probably run around 100 to 200 pages long, and would be fairly stand alone, able to be read in any order, and without having read COT beforehand. While two of these will be rather fanficcy and delve head-first into Thief-Universe canon, three of them will be Thief-light, bearing little to no connection to the Thief games, though closely related to COT and even CoSaS. I am even considering doing with these what I decided not to do for COT - create additional versions of all five with no copyrighted Thief material in them at all, (replacing names of things, etc.) making them each stand alone, publishable novels.

The second phase will be the short stories that act as direct sequels to COT. In fact, fans of COT could probably even skip the novellas completely and just treat these as COT's sequel.

The third phase, which is still sketchy, would be a project more like COT itself. I could possibly write a short novel linking together the plots of the novellas and the short stories, laying the ground work for the probably-never-to-be-written COT3 which I nonetheless have fun thinking about.

Or none of this could happen! (Only it already has begun... I'm 50 pages into the first of the novellas now...)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

... a lighter look

It took a few days to grow on me, but I think I like the current design alot better than the last. The last was just too... dark and busy? I think that's what was wrong.

(I'm working on COT2.)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

... 22 weeks later, complete

Twenty four chapters, twenty two weeks. That's a rap (wrap?) on the online edition of COT-R.

It's great to have it all online finally, but I won't feel super-great until I've heard from some readers who have actually finished the whole thing. I know at least two are at chapters 19 or 20 or so, but I imagine most aren't nearly that far. I have one new reader who has been devouring the novel at two to four chapters a day (she started less than a week ago) so I have a feeling she'll be the first to make it to the end. (Maybe I can even talk her into writing a little review of it! Ooo.)

I want to give big news on the print version, but all I have are excuses. I want the fellow who is doing the fancy format job to get a chance to finish, but he's not the type that has a ton of free time. Lists of errors continue to flow in, so even after I have everything nice and formatted there's still going to be some time/work to see all of those edits done. Only two of the six covers are totally finished, with a third very nearly done and a forth started. So, as you can see, it's still going to be some time. It will happen, though.

Monday, June 14, 2010

... first major edits in a while

A big goof was pointed out in Chapter 11. It seems a rather important plot element was just... forgotten. Rather important, not very important, which is probably why everyone else missed it, and why I was able to fix it in less than a page of work. At any rate, almost half the story is online now, but I don't think there's many people who have read very far past book 1. I think they're all waiting for the printed versions... I hope.

Other updates... The formatter has been busy. I was sent another WIP of cover 2, which looks amazing. I've seen some concept designs for cover 3, which also looks promising. News when there's news!

How do you like the new design?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

... formaty formatter

I don't think either of those are real words. So! I've content-locked Book 1. No more edits. People can still send 'em but all I'll be able to say is, oh, bummer! Book 1 should be getting formatted soon, and then it's all print-time. Finally!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

... ghosting Sheam

I recently did some work on Chapter 2 which might fall into the "minor surgery" category. It all started when I was sent some feedback on the section in chapter 2 when Ghost and Sheam first meet. My reader (who is a CoSaS team member) felt that Ghost didn't seem quite himself. I read over it, tried to justify the reader's concerns, and felt that that-was-that. But it nagged at me, so I asked another reader, (one of the original COT authors) to take a look at that scene and see if it felt right to her. She responded saying that it did not seem right, and that Sheam didn't seem to be really acting in character, and gave specific examples of sentences and paragraphs that seemed off, and why they seemed off. At this point I was growing quite concerned, so I asked a third reader (someone who I hadn't known prior to COT's release and who has never heard of Thief) what she thought... and she liked the scene. She didn't want me to change it.

But by then I had made up my mind. I realized how important the scene was, and that it wasn't really doing the job I needed for it to do. So I dug in, deleting large portions of it and rewriting them. In the end, it was very easy to separate Sheam and Ghost from the existing text and completely rework the scene so that they were much more themselves. Once that draft was done, I showed it to my two critics. They felt it was much better! However the reader who liked it before was unhappy. She felt that it lacked what had made her enjoy the scene in the first place. So I slept on it.

The next day I tackled it again. With a few tweaks and edits, some additions and deletions, I sent it to all three of my helpful readers. I was finally happy with it, myself. The two critics though that the additional tweaks made it much better, and the original supporter now liked it again. Who says you can't please everyone? :P

Of course the work didn't end there. I had to edit three other sections to bring them up to date with the changes to that one (like I said, it was an important scene) which I think, all in all, improved those sections too. So, it was a win, win, win!

For those who already have read Chapter 2, the section in question is "Customer Service". I hope you'll take a peek at it to see what I've done with it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

... revised disembodiment

The ends now, and this should be no surprise, return to chapter 1, for a small cleanup and tweak to Nightfall's opening section, thanks to input from none other than Jyre herself (her author, anyway). A weakness in the presentation was pointed out, one that effects the entire plot, and so the situation was rectified with the deletion of two paragraphs and the addition of two totally different ones. For those who have read it, the changes are centered at the very end of that section.

Moving along...

Monday, April 26, 2010

... Lytha's complete story

In the Q.A. "About" page for the rewrite, I say this...

I am also taking an approach to the rewrite that does not demand a sequel. Nothing is being saved, or held back, because I will “get to it in the next book”.
And now, that's true. I ended up peppering in the last few points and details I felt I needed to make into four areas in four different chapters, so there's no big info-dump of Lytha backstory just injected somewhere. It's presented when it's relevant, so it flows with the rest of the content. In the end not even 500 words were needed to get across everything I wanted. It doesn't tie up everything into a neat bow, of course. But it gives the answers to some burning questions that, in all fairness, the reader shouldn't have to wait for COT2 to have answered. They're relevant to this story, not the next one.

So, that's good.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

... just some lose ends?

Work continues on COT Draft 5 as the first three chapters sit in public and feedback slowly trickles in. Last night I was sent a list of grammar oddities from none other than Alex, the author for the original Jyre. (She's really enjoying it!) She seems to have a knack for spotting sentences which could be structured a bit less awkwardly. More work!

I've been doing more than that, though. I mentioned previously that I was doing some additional work on later chapters, focused so far mostly on Chapter 8, and dealing with Sheam. Without giving too much away, the events in the original which were reformed into the events of Chapter 8 were truncated quite a bit, and one thing that never made it into the rewrite was any kind of information about Sheam's past, even how she was hired to work for Nightfall only several months ago. My reason? It wasn't very interesting! It wasn't important to the plot! It didn't drive the story forward! And so it never made it in, and Sheam became something of a mystery, the every-day person in the story, and yet with no past or background, whereas every other character has a great deal of past/background information given.

My inspiration to change that was twofold. On the one had, when thinking up stories I want to tell in COT2: Chronicles of Thieves (just wait, I'll change that title again...) the idea of Sheam's past came to mind. But the problem was the same - it's not very interesting. She's led a very normal, comfortable life, without much drama or strife. (Didn't know I was a poet, did you?) That, actually, furthered the argument for putting that information into COT-R.

Each character in COT-R goes through a particular kind of hell, and faces challenges greater than they've ever faced in their life. That's no less true for Sheam, and in many ways it's the most true for her. All of the other characters are used to danger and mortal peril and having to make life-or-death choices. It's normal for them. For Sheam, it's totally new. So with that realization, I knew that I had to present just how much of a contrast this is in her life. I knew I had to explain where she came from, not because it's important to the plot (it still isn't) but because it's a very important part of her character arc.

So I did it. Chapter 8 was ripe for it, not only because it was already highly Sheam-focused, but it ran rather short, and it already featured another several-pages-long flashback scene for another character. Thus, it fit. In the end, I think it adds a great deal of understanding for the challenges Sheam is facing.

I have another task though, which is more deeply rooted in something I don't want to put into COT2 than something I feel is missing from COT-R. It's a much bigger spoiler though, so I have to be a bit more vague here. It basically deals with a pivotal moment in Lytha's past which is hinted to a great deal but never enough so that the reader has enough information to understand exactly what happened. (If they figure it out, they're far, far smarter than the author!) I, again, was planning to turn this into one of the short stories for COT2, (one of the Chronicles, as it were) but it wasn't right to do so. Even though each story in COT2 will stand alone, I don't want any of them to be simply background information for COT-R and have nothing to contribute to Contravention of Thieves. There's really nothing about this bit of history that will have anything to do with anything in Contravention (still hesitant to call it COT3, I guess) so it really doesn't have any place in Chronicles, which will be subtitled as "From Correspondence to Contravention". It's quite, completely, and utterly part of Correspondence.

So now I am pondering how to work it in. It could either be a simple paragraph, or it could be an entire section. It depends on where I think it would fit best and how much it breaks up the flow and momentum of the story. As always, I will blog about it when I've done it!

Monday, April 19, 2010

... week two, feels like ages

It's only been a little over a week since COT-R began to go live, but last week seemed to go on forever. I lost count of the number of times I uploaded fresh versions of both chapters. It wasn't always due to feedback, either. Some things... I just wanted to change. I'm talking about grammar, of course, and sentence structure, and paragraph flow. I didn't go adding whole new paragraphs and making chapter 1 two pages longer. No, I didn't. Okay, that's a lie...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

... a new site to be seen

Lookit ^

Here's the old one ...

See what I did, there? Also, in the new design, when you click on the PDF it opens it in a javascript window that allows users to easily go between the chapters without having to hit the back button and then picking the next in the list. Cool!

Friday, April 16, 2010

.. an ongoing 5th draft

After another load of feedback the tweaks to chapter 1 continue. Though I got far more criticism than I can do anything about (some of which because I disagree with) I saw a few spots where there was room for improvement without changing anything in the scene. Basically, just a few words here and there of clarification and additional description. Again, the provider of this great list of criticisms was rewarded with a copy of the whole story, and hopes that he'll be able to offer more useful insights for improvement before future chapters go online.

Alas, still no word on the other five covers.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

... work continues

I've already posted one update of the two released chapters with a number of grammatical and content fixes. Some of these fixes include changing "back in forth" to "back and forth" and correcting an instance where a character "went" rather than "said". Both of these mistakes made me do the LOL thing.

Other fixes were a bit bigger, and involved adding a bit more information when I assumed people knew what I was talking about. In the end I had a full page of notes of things to fix for these two chapters. Let's see how much I need to fix on the next one!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

... I've Done It

Go here:

I don't think I need to explain much more. I hope everyone enjoys the first two chapters. :)

Friday, April 9, 2010

... fifth draft ahead

The doc's in hand. Full speed ahead.

Edit 1: The minor edits (mostly minor consistency edits which involved either changing one word or deleting a sentence or short paragraph) are all done. I've already begun doing the larger fixes, some of which have had some slightly surprising results. The scene where Jyre and Daelus meet for the first time in Chapter 1 got a very gentle but rather complete overhaul, mostly focusing on the priority of observations to seem more natural and less story-tellish. Chapter 2 is getting some much heavier edits, much of which is focused on the tone of some of Ghost's middle sections, where I think I strayed too far into the absurd rather than the dark comedy that he came to represent. For example, this is a paragraph that was cut.

The room seemed to be as I left it; the sink, tub, and can were all filthy, but didn’t seem to have body parts in them. That was stupid anyway; why would a zombie put its body parts into bathroom fixtures? I had this absurd thought in my mind of it trying to wash its hands, take a bath, or take a dump, and parts of itself falling off, and then realized I was probably crazier than most people told me.

While amusing, this sort of segue into maddness really didn't help move the scene forward, nor did it really add anything to Ghost's character other than that he's slightly nuts. Okay... TOO nuts. He's not really as nuts at that paragraph makes him out to be. The entire section that paragraph called home was scrapped and rewritten to, as I already said, move it from an absurd satire to more the realm of dark comedy.

Edit 2: Can you deal with more Lytha? I sure could. A 1000 word give or take addition to Chapter 2 gives us a few bits of highly concentrated totally new Lytha.

More to come!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

... anticipation

I think it won't be long now. The next draft should get here any day. After that, with just a little more work, the novel will be ready to release online.

I know I keep saying it, but the anticipation is making me a bit crazy. I haven't been working on COT-R for as long as I was on Mission X when that was released, but that still makes this my second-longest running project. Of course this project won't be finished until all of the books have been printed and bound, but publishing it online is certainly a good "beginning of the end" to mark.

Any day now... any day now.

Monday, March 15, 2010

... engineers and linguists?

To make a long story short, there's a chapter in the novel where a group of Hammerites engineers do something a bit inventive in order to solve a nasty problem. My editor has urged me over and over to consult an actual structural or mechanical engineer about the entire section to see if it will actually work, and to find a way to change the description so that it actually makes sense, since she can't visualize what it is I am describing. (It's not something I can do... I can't understand how it's difficult to understand, it makes perfect sense to me, so it's not easy for me to fix it.)

So anyone wants to try and lend me a hand, drop me an email.

Actually while I am at it, if there's any self professed experts on British accents and dialects and the various ways to put into text the unique ways things are pronounced, I'd appreciate some assistance in that area too.

... he paid so you won't

I have some splendid news. A kind person has decided to donate a premium createspace account to me, which means that the printed COT books will be much cheapter for everyone. At $3 and change per book the total will come to around $18 - $20 for the whole set, which is much nicer than the previously estimated $50!

Always nice when that happens.

I hope to have more news on the covers soon.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

... proof positive

What if I had the fourth draft in my hands by the end of the month? Wouldn't that be something! It's possible, from what I learned today. And from there, after just a few tweaks, the story will be ready to start publishing online.

Of course, the book version is still a bit off...