Thoughts on games, literature, and more...
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Introducing: narrative news!
Happy to announce I've just launched a monthly round-up of useful events, resources, opportunities, and more for narrative designers!
It features everything that I think could be helpful in landing you your first job, or deepening your skillset at a mid-career level.
I know this game writing thing isn't easy -- I'm a few years into my career in narrative design and still have to work hard to find footholds in the industry. Ultimately, I've found that the most helpful thing is mutual support from peers, mentors, and friends (and, to that end, my DMs are open!)
But what is the second most helpful thing, you ask? Why, regularly updated collections of links, of course! 😁
If that sounds good to you, check it out and subscribe here.
Had a lot of fun creating pixel art in Aseprite for an adventure game jam recently! The game isn't ready yet, but here's a preview of the art.
INK JAm 2021: SAFESPACE & More
I participated in a fun itch.io jam focused on the Ink interactive fiction tool this weekend. My game, SafeSpace, is inspired by the online mental health assessments I take before I visit my therapist but if they were... heightened. It's a little unsettling, but also took a wholesome turn that not even I was expecting when I wrote it. You can play it here, and find some other fantastic entries like Branch Away and TOTALLY NORMAL WIZARD APPRENTICE at this link.
Debuted at the 2021 International Conference on Games and Narrative, this video essay dissects the predatory perspectives used in Little Misfortune (2019) and Molly's Story in What Remains of Edith Finch (2017).
One of the main reasons that LucasArts’ Grim Fandango remains a cult classic is its brilliant use of dialogue. As with any well-written piece of fiction, every word works hard. The theme and plot are reinforced with every line, but not in a way that feels heavy-handed. Conversely, most lines are amusing, but not so crammed with jokes that they’re obnoxious.
It’s a very subtle balance, and one that many point-and-click adventure games tend to get wrong by providing an excess of one-liners (possibly in an attempt to mimic Grim Fandango’s effortlessly cool style).
Take this series of lines from Don Copal, protagonist Manny’s boss, from the opening of the game:
“All right you boneheads, thank your lucky stars and get to your freakin’ cars! We have a mass poisoning on our hands! Too many dead to assign specific cases, so all clients are FIRST COME FIRST SERVE! So as you sow, so shall you reap, and as you reap, so shall you receive your commission!”
This dialogue provides the player with so much. We’re informed of the entire conceit: Manny is a reaper who works for commission. Boneheads is a reference to how Manny and his fellow characters look -- they’re all calaca-like skeleton figures – and it’s also a light-hearted dig that conveys the brusque personality of Copal. Further, it suggests the era; ‘bonehead’ is a term more commonly used between the twenties and fifties than today. This matches with the game’s film noir style.
Then there’s the humour in the lines. Absurdity is the basis of most comedy, and it’s absurd to hear someone so giddy about a mass poisoning. It’s a serious matter, and yet for these characters it’s an exciting opportunity that makes them happy. That contrast is innately funny.
To be able to convey so much in only four short lines is an immensely impressive feat. As the game continues, the dialogue remains one the game’s central joys, which is important considering how frustrating it can be when you’re stuck in a point-and-click game. Keeping the player amused even while they curse the game maker’s twisted mind isn’t easy, but it’s just another example of why Grim Fandango’s dialogue is second to none.
My new home: MobileSyrup
Today caps off a full month at MobileSyrup, and what a month it's been! I'm still amazed at how lucky I am to have secured a full-time job writing about mobile technology. Getting a full-time job writing about anything would've been cool, but mobile tech is especially fascinating to me. My interest was sparked when I started working on the other side of the fence in Canada's telecomm industry a year or so ago, and has only grown since. I don't think it's possible to be uninterested in mobile technology once you've been introduced to the subject. It's the future, pure and simple.
MobileSyrup also just happens to be a fantastic, supportive environment. Having been through the ringer a few times, I know what a toxic workplace feels like. There's generally a lot of gossip, apathy, uncertainty, unfriendly competition and bullying. MobileSyrup feels like the polar opposite. I have supportive co-workers who give constructive criticism and genuine praise and a boss who is a strong, unwavering leader and truly caring human being.
It's a fast-paced work environment, too-- this month alone I've written 86 articles, and I'm nowhere near the production speeds of my more experienced colleagues. At first I wondered if I'd be overwhelmed, but so far I've loved the challenge and I can't wait to write eight stories a day with the best of them.
Here are some of the highlights of what I've written so far (and by highlights I mean what I've enjoyed writing best):
LongStory: A high school relationship simulator that's healthy for the soul (my first feature for the site!)
10 things you should know about the HTC 10 (co-authored with Patrick O'Rourke and Igor Bonifacic)
Privacy commissioner will investigate whether RCMP uses mobile surveillance devices
New court documents reveal 'Stingray' surveillance devices have been used by RCMP since 2005, could impede 9-1-1 calls (follow-up to the previous article)
Study shows Canadians want more wireless competition but had no idea about MVNO battle
TD Canada Trust rolls out first-of-its-kind financial management app MySpend
"Acorn Cryotech, a cryogenic storage business and one of four startups that won $25,000 in the Velocity Fund Finals last fall, has set a tentative launch date of winter 2016-2017.
The early-stage company’s plan is to preserve their customers’ young, healthy cells for potential future use in life-changing medical treatments. These treatments could include things such as gene therapy or rebuilding organs, both still being researched and developed."
Read more on the Entrevestor website.
"Jobber, an Edmonton startup that streamlines operational tasks for small, mobile businesses, had an explosive 2015: it doubled in employees, completed an $8 million Series A round of funding and achieved triple-digit year revenue growth from the previous year."
Read more on the Techvibes website.
techvibes article: massive growth, employee satisfaction at axonify starts with good leadership
"Waterloo-based Axonify, an e-learning platform that uses games and incentives to make corporate learning fun, ended 2015 with a staggering $10 millin in annual recurring revenue, doubling that number from the beginning of the year and growing from a team of around 30 to 60."
Read more on the Techvibes website.
"Cambridge, Ont.-based cybersecurity company eSentire has raised US$19.5 million (C$26.8 million) in a round of funding co-led by eastern U.S. fund Edison Partners and Toronto-based Georgian Partners."
Read more on the Entrevestor website.