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The Way of the Tiger Kickstarter (Guest post by David Walters)

The Way of the Tiger gamebooks (original covers)

I have a special guest post for you today, from David Walters who is an author of both novels and gamebooks, and something of an “oriental expert” if I may call him such… He’s also written the prequel for an iconic gamebook series from the eighties, The Way of the Tiger, that was written by Mark Smith and Jamie Thomson who were prolific gamebook authors “back in the day” and between them wrote many of the greatest gamebooks of all time (IMHO), including Duel Master series, the Falcon series, Talisman of Death and Sword of the Samurai for the Fighting Fantasy series, plus contributions to the Fabled Lands and Virtual Reality series among others… That’s seriously a lot of kudos!

 

Anyway David has enlisted my help to help promote the Kickstarter program currently underway to not only bring the The Way of the Tiger gamebooks back in full hardcover glory with all new colour art, but with the never-before-released seventh book to complete the series (and to address the cliffhanger that’s at the end of the sixth book), and with an all new prequel written by David Walters himself, who is quite a prolific and talented author in his own right (speaking from personal experience of having read some of his works!) –Not to forget, he’s also helping to write the seventh book too!

The hardcopy copies of these new The Way of the Tiger gamebooks are being produced by Megara Entertainment who also produced the Arcana Agency: The Thief of Memories Deluxe Gamebook last year (which also happened to be one of the best-produced gamebooks I’ve ever seen: the presentation and artwork was exquisite and the writing and design by Paul Gresty was nothing short of superb!)

So without further preamble, I give you David Walters:

 

The challenges in writing a prequel to an already established series:

I’m David Walters, and I was tasked with writing the prequel story to the Way of the Tiger books, a series of six ninja gamebooks set on the world of Orb. I came across a few challenges as I undertook the task, the main ones of which I’ve explored below.

Avoiding future payoffs

When writing a prequel I had to take care to avoid ‘stealing the thunder’ of significant scenes coming up in later books. For example as book 2 Assassin! ends with a dramatic one-on-one fight with a ninja, the prequel had to avoid single combat against such a foe otherwise it would devalue the later fight. This rule applied whether the reader has read the original series already or not – the series should work as a continuous whole and thus unnecessary repetition and similarity should be avoided.

Original Author preferences

Fortunately I was dealt a pretty free hand when it came to plotting the prequel, but even so I had to be absolutely true to the direction of the original series creators. I gained some freedom setting the story on the Island of Plenty which had only been partially explored in the other books. It was an area I had worked extensively on for the Way of the Tiger Role-Playing game (with Mark Smith’s oversight) so I felt confident I could write a lot of detail in that was in alignment with his view of Orb.

An issue of scale

It was important to me that the prequel should be appropriate to the scale of the other books in the series i.e. it should not introduce the overly powerful adversaries or grandiose story arcs too early in the series. If there were problems with scale it may lead to a feeling of disinterest in later books. In the prequel the reader can learn about Avenger’s earlier missions, and how Avenger’s ninja skills were honed through experience.

Limiting Crossover

Although some readers may prefer a prequel to be fully cross-referenced by the existing series, it was clear to me that series should not require any rewrites to make the prequel ‘fit’. This also meant I should limit any rules changes affecting later books (such as not granting an improved punch modifier) so as not to change the pre-existing gameplay balance of the other books. It was also important to limit interactions with characters from later books so that they still worked as originally intended.

 

EDIT: David Walters continues Part 2 of this discussion on Stuart's "Lloyd of Gamebooks" blog and Part 3 on Scott Malthouse's Trollish Delver blog.

 

 

The Way of the Tiger Kickstarter is running until 1st November. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1615043334/the-way-of-the-tiger-gamebooks-new-collectors-edit?ref=live

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Brewin
Hi Richard! A pleasure to have helped promote a good cause! And as for the links, I like to provide background and references for... Read More
Wednesday, 02 October 2013 03:50
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The Dark Horde wins Global Ebook Award for Horror

Aussie Gold!

Winners are grinners J

 

Just received the news that The Dark Horde has just won the GOLD MEDAL for Horror in Dan Poynter’s Global Ebook Awards!

 

So gotta be happy about that right? ;)

 

(Review and judges' commentary are forthcoming in the next couple of weeks or so...)

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iAuthor – A New Global Advertising Platform for Self-Published Authors

Author Categories on iAuthor
Book Service Categories on iAuthor
The Dark Horde - iAuthor

Sometime mid-2011, I sought the advice of Barbara Brabec on publishing, an expert who could refer me to someone who was trustworthy, honest and diligent in partnering with me to produce my self-published novels. The person she referred me to was Adam Kolczynski in the UK, who had founded his own publisher Polybius Books and related imprint Ignis.

In Barbara’s own words, it was a “match made in heaven” as he not only shared my passion for long emails (okay maybe that’s not a good thing haha) but went out of his way to be clear and consultative at every step of the way, to answer my queries promptly and in detail, and was able to manage the process of turning a book from manuscript to complete work ready for sale in both paperback and ebook format.

I was to publish through the Ignis Imprint early 2012 and since then, he has been hard at work putting together and testing a new promotional platform, iAuthor, which is designed to not only help self-published authors reach their audience, but readers, editors, publishers, developers… Basically anyone involved in the “writing universe” really…

Because I am so grateful to have worked with Adam over the last two years or so now, and because he has done such a sterling job in all aspects (and beyond my expectations), I certainly want to support his cause, which no doubt will help that of many others (including my own!)

 

So what do you get with the iAuthor site?

  •  FREE registration and profile creation.
  • FREE advertisement for authors (including app authors) for an unlimited number of advertisements.
  • Book service providers can choose between “Silver” (large) and “Gold” (extra-large) advertising slots, paying a fixed monthly fee in their chosen currency to advertise.
  • Advertisements can be made in one of 40+ author categories (e.g. Fantasy, Horror, General Non-fiction and Book apps for adults) and 25+ book service categories (e.g. editors, printers, designers and marketers), thus enabling targeted ads.
  • Adverts are fully customisable, updatable, visible within a single click of the home page and linked with dashboard analytics showing total and unique clicks for each ad, in addition to breakdowns by date and country.

For instance, my ad page for my horror novel, The Dark Horde, features the cover and blurb, my bio and photo, book extracts, additional images, links to various sites (such as here), the book trailer, news and awards, social media links, links to purchase across numerous different outlets (e.g. Amazon, Barnes and Noble), and social media plugins that enable viewers to interact by clicking “like” or posting comments.

 

So here's a few screen shots, showing the author categories, the book service categories and my ad page for The Dark Horde, to give you more of an idea:

 

 

 

 

 

The iAuthor site in addition allows for the creation of “Themes”, allowing for books to be grouped in ways other than simply by category. For instance here are some of the themes currently on offer: “Indie books looking for reviewers”, “Books by trade-published authors who have turned indie” and “Apps that redefine the reading experience”. –Themes can be easily followed to keep an eye on a particular area of interest and new themes can be created easily by anyone who wishes to!

So hopefully I’ve done enough to demonstrate just how useful this new platform is…

AUTHORS REMEMBER THAT YOU CAN USE THE AMAZING THINGS THAT iAUTHOR HAS TO OFFER FOR FREE!!

I’ll close now with some of Adam’s own words, exemplifying just why he’s founded this site for the benefit of all of us:

“For emerging authors, the digital revolution is a mixed blessing. The Web may have democratised the act of publishing, but it hasn’t democratised the outcome. Authors of equal talent do not have equal access to readers, and the gap between talent and opportunity is widening. iAuthor empowers authors and book service-providers to forge their own brand in a saturated market.”

 

Thank you for reading and hope to see you over on the iAuthor site! J

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Kintsugi Poets Society BlogHop - Day 8: A Parting Poem...

Kintsugi Poet Society BlogHop
Kintsugi Poets Society BlogHop - July 21st to 28th 2013

 

Broken memories. Twisted dreams.

Shattered hopes. Tortured screams.

 

These elements have given birth to a new society of dark poetry…

 

KINTSUGI POETS SOCIETY

Turning dark cracks & broken fragments into golden seams of poetry

 

So come join us…

In the darkness…

If you dare.

 

*    *    *

 

 

 

 

Today is the last day of the Kintsugi Poets Society Grand Launch Bloghop of Dark Poetry – 21st July to 28th July, where we, Kintsugi members, have posted dark poetry on our blogs and the Kintsugi Poets site

There'll be more dark poetry to come from the Kintsugi Poets of course, but I'll leave you today with a poem that hasn't really made it into my forthcoming musical story/album The Calling (which forms the back-story to my supernatural horror/thriller novel The Dark Horde). You see there's already been three versions of the album produced over the years, with different tracks and musical composers, and some tracks have seen six or more versions... But the final (i.e. released) version won't include the following words, once again those of Henry Wilcox as he records his final words and tells of what is to come... 

 

*    *    *

 

TESTIMONY

 

To know the future

Is to know the horror to come

To know what stalks us

Calling from the darkness inside

 

How do I explain

The forces that words can’t describe?

Who can believe me

And stop them before it’s too late?

 

These words I speak, these things I feel

I want you to understand, and see it is real

My will grows weary, strained is my breath

All that’s left now is to wait for…

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Kintsugi Poets Society BlogHop - Day 5: Who's Your Master?

Kintsugi Poet Society BlogHop
Kintsugi Poets Society BlogHop - July 21st to 28th 2013
Puppet

 

Broken memories. Twisted dreams.

Shattered hopes. Tortured screams.

 

These elements have given birth to a new society of dark poetry…

 

KINTSUGI POETS SOCIETY

Turning dark cracks & broken fragments into golden seams of poetry

 

So come join us…

In the darkness…

If you dare.

 

*    *    *

 

 

 

 

Once again we are here in darkness, as the Kintsugi Poets Society continues this Grand Launch Bloghop of Dark Poetry – 21st July to 28th July, where we, Kintsugi members, will be posting dark poetry on our blogs and the Kintsugi Poets site

And once more, I reveal some of the darkness that is to come in the form of the musical story/album The Calling, the back-story to my supernatural horror/thriller novel The Dark Horde. In The Calling, Henry Wilcox records his final words that not only tell of his past but of the things to come... The return of unstoppable things of ancient evil that are beyond our comprehension. Things he calls "The Dark Horde".

What follows are their words: 

 

*    *    *

 

 

PUPPET

 

Your puppet strings I pull like reins

I suck the life that flows through your veins

I poison your mind with confusion and hate

Ever-present, I alone control your fate

 

Open your eyes and see that I am master

Running from me will only bring you faster

With lies, I drug you, deceive you and taunt you

You’ll not find truth for only I know what is true

 

You think you know me, when you don't even know yourself

You try to hide from me behind your science, religion and wealth

Yet these are my weapons, and mine alone to deploy

Using hate of race, hate of place, hate of face, I only destroy

 

For at the end of it all, at a time you will not see

 There will be nothing left, only death, only me!

 

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Kintsugi Poets Society BlogHop - Day 3: Henry's Inner Demons

Kintsugi Poet Society BlogHop
Kintsugi Poets Society BlogHop - July 21st to 28th 2013

 

Broken memories. Twisted dreams.

Shattered hopes. Tortured screams.

 

These elements have given birth to a new society of dark poetry…

 

KINTSUGI POETS SOCIETY

Turning dark cracks & broken fragments into golden seams of poetry

 

So come join us…

In the darkness…

If you dare.

 

*    *    *

 

 

 

 

So join me in darkness once more, as the Kintsugi Poets Society continues this Grand Launch Bloghop of Dark Poetry – 21st July to 28th July, where we, Kintsugi members, will be posting dark poetry on our blogs and the Kintsugi Poets site

Today, continuing the Bloghop's theme of darkness, I reveal some more "poetry" from the forthcoming musical story/album The Calling, which tells the back-story to my horror/thriller novel The Dark Horde via the final words of one of the central characters, Henry Wilcox.

Henry is haunted by inner demons... literally.

More to come soon! Enjoy!

 

*    *    *

 

VICTIM

 

It isn’t me nor what I planned

I’m victim to a force that takes command

They rule my thoughts and force my hand

Why does no one understand?

 

Save me I pray, from this fate

I did not want and did not create

My prayers go unanswered, what can I do?

They will destroy me and destroy you

 

Nobody sees, nobody knows

Where anger feeds and malice grows

Hate in my heart, fire in my brain

What is fantasy and what is sane?

 

They will destroy me and destroy you

How can I live, when this is true?

All hope is lost, I want to die

To end it all, but fear to try

 

Helpless, abandoned, victim am I

Night has fallen, dark is the sky

Darkness through which I cannot see

Darkness corrupts inside of me

 

Malignant, eternal, a hidden blight

Casting life into deepest night

Black in mind, black in heart

Slowly tearing our souls apart

 

There’s no escape that I can see

The Dark Horde are, will always be

They come for me, they come for you

 The Dark Horde are, their time is due

 

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Grand Launch Bloghop of Kintsugi Poets Society - 21st to 28th of July

Kintsugi Poet Society BlogHop
Kintsugi Poets Society BlogHop - July 21st to 28th 2013
Mask

 

Broken memories. Twisted dreams.

Shattered hopes. Tortured screams.

 

These elements have given birth to a new society of dark poetry…

 

KINTSUGI POETS SOCIETY

Turning dark cracks & broken fragments into golden seams of poetry

 

So come join us…

In the darkness…

If you dare.

 

*    *    *

 

 

 

 

To celebrate the launch of this Society we’re having a Grand Launch Bloghop of Dark Poetry – 21st July to 28th July, where we, Kintsugi members, will be posting dark poetry on our blogs and the Kintsugi Poets siteThe theme for the Bloghop is Darkness, so be sure to check the main site and our linked blogs over this week to read lots of mesmerising poetical darkness J

This Bloghop launch of Kintsugi Poets is the perfect time I think, for me to show you some of the poetry I’ve written around the theme of the Dark Horde: from the already-published book of the same name and from the forthcoming musical story/album The Calling.

The Calling tells of the story leading up to the events in the novel The Dark Horde:  a recording of Henry Wilcox’s final words where he reveals all. It’s not going to be out for a while yet, but if you basically imagine something like Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds musical, but instead a supernatural horror story and set to a “dark and epic heavy metal” soundtrack, with a narrator, guest characters and sung sections, then you’ll have the idea of what’s to come J

So here’s a taste of the madness to follow, with more to come over this week ….

 

*    *    *

 

 

MASK

 

Take my hand, render me blind

Hide from me the fear that grips my mind

I want to live, I want to be

No longer want to know nor want to see

 

For now my world's a dark void where no hope exists

And despite my efforts, only the dark persists

The Dark Horde will soon be victorious, that I clearly see

And then these words shall be all, all that's left of me

 

I wish to erase from my mind all I now know

Delude myself and forever dwell in truth's shadow

But I know it's useless, for our souls they've already won

So let these words be a warning of what's to come…

 

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Kim
Wonderful day 1 post on the Hop... I feel the loneliness and pain of The Mask and it echoes in me... Thrilled to be hopping with y... Read More
Monday, 22 July 2013 12:37
Brewin
Thanks so much guys!
Monday, 22 July 2013 13:31
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Infinite Universe gamebook now available on Android!


Infinite Universe by Brewin' (Produced by Tin Man Games)

In the fourth millennium, the Mandellian Empire of the Tau Ceti system is at war with the rebel army known as DWORF. And lucky you have been chosen for a dangerous solo mission to kill or capture the rebel leader, through mind-bending loops of time and space. But wait a minute. Just who are you anyway? And how did you even get here? Such secrets you must uncover if you are to unlock your destiny...


(Infinite Universe trailer from 2012 release on iOS platforms)

 

A newly written story by Brewin’, illustrated by Josh Wright.

An all new sci-fi epic set within an all new universe! Our largest GA title yet!  

  • Nominated for Best Game Writing – Freeplay Awards 2012
  • Includes all the interactive reading and gameplay features found in the previous Gamebook Adventures titles, including an authentic e-book experience, realistic 3D dice rolling, automatic character sheet management, bookmarks and achievements.
  • Original story by Brewin’, editor of the first four Gamebook Adventures titles and finalist of international Writers’ Digest and Indie Excellence awards, that has been specifically designed to take advantage of the Gamebook Adventures engine.
  • Beautifully illustrated in colour by Joshua Wright, with cover and menu art by Dan Maxwell.
  • An exhilarating music score by Hanny Mohamed, world-renowned musician from Black Majesty.
  • Read the story and be in charge of your destiny as you make the choices! Where to go? Who to trust? What to do? The choice is yours!
  • Travel through times past, present and future, through far-flung worlds beyond your wildest imagination, to piece together a series of events that will amaze, amuse and entertain you!
  • New battle mechanics such as ranged and vehicular combat.
  • An innovative all new points-based skill system that is influenced by your own unique narrative. Choose the skills to suit your own playing style!
  • Play as a male or female character!
  • A detailed star map with extensive annotations.
  • An expansive encyclopaedia to cover everything from stars, planets and moons, to important personalities and organisations, to technology, to tips for survival, and more!

 

* Click HERE to get the App for Android *

 

Enjoy!

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The Dark Horde... Now for just a dollar!

Do you reckon you will?

 

So in my crazy scheme to kick the number of downloads along more, I've made The Dark Horde ebook available to download on Amazon for only $0.99! This won't be forever, so if you haven't got a copy yet you may wish to...

You're already here so you can read plenty about The Dark Horde by browsing the blog or by going to the Works page, but there's great page here put together by AskDavid.com HERE which neatly summarises everything you need to know; links, trailers, reviews, awards, it's got it all! :)

...That's all I wanted to say for today. But tomorrow I think? I'll be back to share some more big news (and not to do with The Dark Horde either) !

 

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(PRELIMINARY) POST-MORTEM OF A FIVE DAY SALE



It’s over…

The five day sale of The Dark Horde that is, where I had the ebook available free on Amazon.

It really is too early to draw much in the way of any conclusions from this (so why the hell am I doing this? you may ask), but I thought I’d share some observations and thoughts… It may be of use to others considering doing a similar thing, or otherwise be of interest to others J

The thing is, for me at least, promotion/marketing/getting attention is easily the hardest aspect of the “writing journey”. Writing itself can be challenging at times, even tedious, but ultimately it’s something I enjoy doing and am driven to do (and have always done, regardless of whether I shared it or not: it becomes its own reward in that sense). Editing and polishing a work tends to be harder to push through and get done as I’ve found: by the time you’ve gone over and over something a few times, you’re really not that excited about it anymore, so much as what you’re working on next. But it has to be done. Finding a publisher (whether that be a publisher in the traditional sense, or just someone to manage your self-publication) need not be as hard as you can make it: it depends on what your goals are (if your goal is simply to “get it out there” then it’s unbelievably easy to do this these days, scoring a publishing contract with one of the big publishing houses is a much more elusive goal). Finding a distributor is easy for ebooks (Amazon, Smashwords etc), and around the time of a paperback release, it’s not sooo hard to find a small distributor either (however if the book’s been out too long, or if you’re seeking a large distributor to get you into large bookstore chains, that’s harder). But all of these challenges to me are dwarfed by the challenge of getting publicity. And ultimately, publicity (which in turn affects how many sales and how much money you make) I think is all that really counts.

Perhaps I’m preaching to the converted by saying this, but the “best” written book (just like the “best” designed game, the “best” composed album or the “best” drawn artwork) really won’t do much; in terms of others experiencing it and your sales; if others don’t know about it in the first place. Conversely even mediocre works can be best-selling juggernauts with highly successful marketing: I for one, would put 50 Shades of Grey (which took years of constant marketing before it took off mind you) and Twilight in this category (although admittedly I haven’t read either of them, so I’m not really justified to say that). Meanwhile most awards (short of major international awards like the Booker prize) won’t really turn works into best-sellers. Yes they’ll help establish credibility and increase exposure, but the rest depends more on marketing/publicity than anything else I think. I tried to find a recent article I read in the Age on this about the (relatively small) impact on sales that comes from even winning the Miles Franklin award, but it’s eluded me. Suffice to say there’s plenty of articles out there about this (which I’ll skip for sake of brevity).

But to return to my own sale (yeah yeah I know that’s what this post is supposed to be about), my situation prior to this, with regards to my horror novel The Dark Horde could be summed up as thus:

  • On a whim to see what happened, I sent it off to the annual Writer’s Digest Competition for Self-Published works. The contest had over 3000 entries, and only two fiction categories: Literary Fiction and Genre Fiction. They gave my work a score of 92% and it was one of eight Honorable Mentions awarded in the Genre Fiction category. I also submitted a chapter on it to a short story competition around the same time (and then forgot I’d even entered) only to discover that it won. –After this success, I figured it was deemed good enough by others (as you never really know: your own judgements or that of friends and family is far too subjective) to merit entering in more competitions. So I entered a handful more and thus far have been a finalist in at least half of them J
  • Most reviews I’ve had commissioned (typically bloggers with no prior experience of me or my work) have raved about it, I mean like really raved about it. And even those who didn’t rave, still supported it and praised it for the quality of writing and horror.
  • Meanwhile I have boxes and boxes of the printed book sitting in a UK warehouse due to get pulped soon because they’re not selling: even after reducing the price to the lowest possible - £2.99 (with free delivery in the UK)

So I thought I’d try something else: A free sale on Amazon for five days, to see if that can make an impact. At the same time I contacted a bunch of blogger and promo sites to either do posts about the giveaway, or feature the book/me on their site. I also then spammed, I mean posted, a lot on Facebook (including various interest groups) and Twitter. Something had to work J

It’s hard to estimate exact numbers of downloads I got over the free period as a result, but my estimate (based on a tool to estimate sales based on overall Kindle rank) is somewhere in the range of 1000-1500 downloads. Within about 12 hours of the sale commencing, The Dark Horde had climbed to a rank of #6 in Horror (it might have got higher I dunno) and #17 in Thriller. It stayed in the top ten Horror for another day and a half, and got no lower than #26 in Horror (as far as I saw and I checked maybe thirty times) until the sale ended.

EDIT 18/06/2013: It turns out that I can get exact figures for the number of downloads, and not only that, I got about twice as many downloads as I'd estimated! (Not a bad mistake to make haha). The exact breakdown is as follows:

  • 2413 total downloads for the five days
  • Of these, 2224 came from Amazon.com (i.e. primarily the US, but also Australia)
  • 140 came from Amazon.co.uk (i.e. United Kingdom)
  • 26 came from Amazon.de (Germany: Wunderbar!)
  • 13 came from Amazon.ca (Canada)
  • 4 came from Amazon.co.jp (Japan)
  • 3 came from Amazon.in (India)
  • 2 came from Amazon.it (Italy)
  • 1 came from Amazon.es (Spain)

 

Is this good? Honestly I don’t really know, and I have no idea what impact will be on the longer term, but I do know that it’s gotten the work noticed by A LOT more people: aside from downloads, it’s seen it featured on a number of sites (and not just the ones I contacted), shared around Facebook and is still being constantly mentioned on Twitter right now. All that has to do something right? –And all up I maybe spent $200 total on marketing (I’ve spent thousands before for arguably less impact) and some of the best promotion I got here and here, was free or close to it.

(I should also add that there was a number of other great posts: here, here, herehereherehereherehere and here, all of which helped too of course)

So as Neil Gaiman would say, I’m really just “making this up as I go along” and seeing what works and what doesn’t… I don’t know how much my experiences will translate to someone else, as I think what works/doesn’t work for one person, doesn’t at all mean that the next person will have a similar experience: factors such as timing, the personalities of the people involved (including whether they personally like you/your work or not), your genre, “brand strategy” and luck all play a part… But I’m learning from my own experiences (and yes making mistakes) as I go along, to hopefully do better next time…

I think that’s what the “journey” is all about J

 

I’ll leave you with a “motivational speech” Neil Gaiman gave last year, that I only happened to stumble onto yesterday, that resonates very strongly with me (I made up my IT qualifications and bluffed my way through my interview to get my first job in IT fourteen years ago for instance; an industry I’ve worked in ever since), and I think serves as inspirational words of wisdom to anyone following the “creative path”:

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The Dark Horde FREE on Amazon June 10-14 2013


The Dark Horde by Brewin

It brings me great pleasure to announce that for the first time ever, my multiple award-winning horror/thriller The Dark Horde will be available FREE on Amazon for five days starting today and ending June 14th 2013!

If you’ve yet to get a copy or even hear of this book, now is the ideal time J

It’s only the ebook version that’s free during this time, but if you’re in or near the UK, you should also know that the paperback version is also currently on sale there for the ridiculously low price of £2.99! Why so cheap? Because if I can’t sell the remaining stock soon it’ll need to get pulped, so grab a copy while you still can as this madness cannot last!


 

So if you need any more reason to act now, here’s a few:

 

AWARDS

  • Indie Excellence Awards 2013 - Finalist (Horror)

 

  • Indie Excellence Awards 2013 - Finalist (Thriller)

 

  • Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards 2012 - Honorable Mention (Genre Fiction)

 

  • Coffin Hop Flash Fiction Contest 2012 – First Place

 

(Currently also finalist in the Global eBook Awards for Best Horror and Best Trailer, with winners scheduled to be announced August 2013)

 

CRITIC REVIEWS

The Dark Horde is a wild, foul-mouthed, bloody, creative, demented, scary, and hilarious thrill-ride of a horror novel.” – Writer’s Digest

 

“Horror tales often run the risk of following genre conventions too closely, but The Dark Horde has plenty of genuine surprises. Highly recommended!” – Indie Bookspot

 

“This book managed to hit me where it hurts at every single point. Not only was it just scary it was creepy and at certain points it made me feel uncomfortable ... Brewin shows extreme potential and I hope to read more of his work.” – Fiction Love

 

“The meticulous effort and detail that Brewin' has put into this book is outstanding on all fronts and is evident from start to finish.” – Metal Obsession 

 

BOOK TRAILER


 

 

AMAZON LINKS

 

Ebook 

 

Paperback (UK)

 

Paperback (US)

 

 

…And if you’d like to read an excerpt or the other reviews, it’s all listed for you HERE

 

 

Enjoy! (mwhuahahaha)

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Deconstructing Infinite Universe - Part Two

Infinite Universe Logo
Tau Ceti System
Terran (Sol Centric) Starmap
Platinum Academy - Level One
Space Gobdola
Infinite Universe Flowcharts
Behold the Platinum Medal!

 

A little later than expected, but I’m back again with Part Two of my deconstruction of my Infinite Universe gamebook, released just over a year ago now on iOS platforms through Tin Man Games, and coming soon to Android, PC and Mac platforms…

If you’ve missed Part One of this deconstruction (where I discuss things such as my objectives in writing it, my evaluation of those objectives and the feedback it has received), you can find it HERE.

This article is broken into three sections: Design, Additional Content and FAQ. So let’s talk about the design first:

 

DESIGN (Overview)

I’ve already discussed the “overall” aspects of the design (my objectives, evaluation of those objectives and how I’ll approach a sequel, etc) in my first article, but now I want to talk about specific elements.

I certainly am inclined to put a lot of effort into the design of my works, planning etc. For instance, my first novel Evermore: An Introduction becomes a “choose-your-own-adventure” for the final third and I structured the choices therein to “maximise the length of the reader’s journey” by making it such that each path has minimal potential for repetition (I could expand on this point but let’s not get side-tracked). My second novel The Dark Horde features a host of characters with distinct story-lines that I’d pre-planned and mapped out separately before blending together. In writing The Dark Horde I paid careful attention to things such as the pacing of events (including the number of deaths that increase throughout the book), the timing of events (even to having all chapter times add up to multiples of thirteen) and the detailed backstory that is to form a separate work: a “musical project” entitled The Calling, due to be completed sometime later this year or next. Most of these design aspects are hidden from the reader, but in my 2012 Windhammer submission, I designed and wrote Trial of the Battle God where the extent of my design efforts were more obvious, for there you have a gamebook that can accommodate up to six players moving independently through a dungeon, along with another seven “NPC” combatants that are also moving through the dungeon just as you are. All this culminates in a complex dungeon design where the dungeon and the state of your opponents are not static, and the paths of eight of more participants needs to be tracked and managed as the trial progresses.

Given this background, it’s probably no surprise then that there’s a hell of a lot of design that went into Infinite Universe: much of which is “under the hood” and hidden from the reader, and some of which wasn’t even included in the released version.

 

DESIGN (World)

As much as I am enamoured of the gamebooks by Herbie Brennan, Steve Jackson, Ian Livingstone etc, my approach was more similar to that of Joe Dever in terms of creating a fleshed out and consistent “universe” before even starting to write. I compiled a lot of notes on places, histories, politics, personalities and technologies that I would use to underpin the story, much of which wouldn’t be directly relevant to the story being told but would add more depth to the world as a whole.

Underpinning this approach was a series of fantastic articles that steps the creator through each aspect of world design in order to create a detailed and consistent universe. These articles, by Michael James Liljenberg, I’d recommend to other authors creating fantasy or science fiction worlds and can be found HERE.

With this resource I was able to generate the following Tau Ceti system map, which of course was used to generate the much nicer looking system map in the App itself:

Having fleshed out the Tau Ceti system in this way, I also needed to locate this system in the context of other systems, particularly the Sol “home system”, and along the way, flesh out those systems too.

As part of this process, it was important to me to ensure that everything, from the makeup of systems to the layout of stars, was based on actual astronomical understanding. Hence you have the Tau Ceti system having less planets and heavy metals than our system, but considerably more dust and asteroids, and you also have the star map of our local neighbourhood, which is actually derived from 3D modelling of exactly what is around us and where (as generated and made available by Winchell Chung HERE):


-Again a much nicer-looking version of this map is available in the App itself, along with the Bloggopedia that provides details on numerous systems, planets, moons, organisations, personalities and technologies. (Note that the player only gains access to the Bloggopedia and the system and star maps after completing Part One of the gamebook).

 

DESIGN (Locations)

In addition to mapping and detailing the neighbouring region of our galaxy and the systems therein, I also mapped and compiled notes for some of the locations in the gamebook. You may recognise some of these layouts (and they may even help you orientate yourself in the book):

Platinum Academy – Level One.


 

Space Gondola.

 

 

DESIGN (Plot)

Aside perhaps from Trial of the Battle God, I’ve yet to write a story that is “self-contained” and Infinite Universe certainly falls into the category of a story which is but part of a “bigger picture”. You may have noticed therein that there are a number of references to events past and present, which are due to be fleshed out in more detail in forthcoming works. Here’s a short list of some of the things I’m referring to here that give some insight into what’s to come:

  • The post-apocalyptic near future of Earth and the future some thousand years later.
  • The main character’s future selves and their involvement in future events.
  • Krusher Kane, the Oracle and your former lover; and their relationship to you and the plot in general.
  • A few other locales and events hinted at in the first book which are the subject of future ones (that I won’t detail further here just yet).

 

ADDITIONAL CONTENT (Text)

As discussed in Part One of my deconstruction, Infinite Universe was written “backwards” in that Parts Four to Six were written before Parts One to Three. Parts Four to Six are set before the events of Parts One to Three and are how the story was initially intended to start. Initially, what you now read as “Part Six” was “Parts Three to Five”, before I restructured the order of Parts and cut out most of the material that was then used: some 250 odd sections worth and over 40,000 words.

The flowcharts for final design span sixteen A4 pages as can be seen in the (blurry) photo below. In addition, on the right are two A4 pages containing the flowcharts for the removed sections, and the Tau System chart that you’ve already seen.

 

I won’t go into detail here about just what was in the removed content, but let’s just say that it won’t be going to waste… It’ll probably be used as something of a “side adventure” in the sequel… Probably J

 

ADDITIONAL CONTENT (Music)

The “main” Infinite Universe track (that is the track you hear playing when reading the book) started out quite differently from what you hear now. It has electric guitar for a start, a lot more melody and originally went to three and a half minutes in length as an instrumental track. But following feedback from the play-testers, the track was considered too disruptive to reading, and so it was dramatically pared back to not be so intrusive… But I’m quite proud of the track in its original form(s), which my good friend Hanny Mohamed of Black Majesty put together (with my input / direction I guess). It’ll come as no surprise that I prefer the two versions I’ve linked below (especially the full-blown “power metal” version), but then I’m used to reading and writing with heavy metal playing non-stop… You’ll hear that influence in the tracks below, and even a bit of “Manowar-esque / Conan the Barbarian” kind of stuff J

 

Infinite Universe - Main Track (Unreleased Alternative Version) 

 

 

 

Infinite Universe - Main Track (Unreleased EXTENDED Alternative Version) 

 

 

 

FAQ (Includes Spoilers!)

So the last aspect of this “deconstruction” is to answer some of the questions that readers have asked… Some of these are game solutions or detail plot devices used or to be used, so I’d suggest you stop here if you haven’t read the book yet and don’t want to have any “secrets spoiled” J

 

Q: Does every skill have a medal?

A: Yes.

 

Q: Can I earn more than one gold medal?

A: No. Like all medals, you either have earned it or you haven't. It isn't possible to get medals multiple times.

 

Q: How can I learn new skills after the first time I choose at start of Part Two?

A: At the moment you can't... But yes you’ll learn new skills at the start of the next gamebook ;)

 

Q: What do I do with the medals I earned after the start of Part Two?

A: These medals, including the Platinum medal if you’re lucky enough to earn it, affect the sequel and you gain their benefits there.

 

Q: Can you list how each and every medal is gained?

A: Below is a semi-detailed (but full) list of where to get each medal:

 

FIRST AID

* Part 1: Heal Kane.

* Part 1: Lose to Kane in melee combat.

* Part 2: Successfully treat your snakebite.

 

BLUFF

* Part 1: Successfully bluff the cloaked alien (when it confronts you).

* Part 2: Successfully bluff Betty.

* Part 2: Successfully dispute the fare with the taxi-driver.

* Part 2: Present wrong identification to the guards and then successfully bluff them to accept your own identification instead.

 

SPRINT

* Part 1: Evade the cloaked alien by running into the grand chamber.

* Part 1: Evade the Greycloaks firing at you in the grand chamber.

* Part 1: Run past the Battle Bot to outside the Academy.

* Part 1: Evade the laser fire when escaping with Dan.

* Part 2: Outrun Judas when he goes to attack you.

* Part 3: Run out of the Sky Gondola Bay before the steel shutters close.

 

JUMP

* Part 1: Successfully dive through the closing exit door, after choosing to leave Kane as the Bluecloaks approach.

* Part 1: Successfully jump from the crawl space into the control room, after choosing to let Kane enter the crawl space second.

* Part 1: Successfully jump from the pillar to the balcony when escaping with Dan.

* Part 3: Leap clear of the explosion of the rocket fired into the Geostation by the rebel spacecraft.

 

CLIMB

* Part 1: Successfully haul yourself into the crawl space, after choosing to let Kane enter first.

* Part 1: Successfully climb the pillar in the grand chamber when escaping with Dan.

* Part 3: Successfully climb the wing of the Hungry Raven when entering the craft from out in space.

 

STEALTH

* Part 1: Successfully hide amongst the bodies when discovered in the second chamber by other (hostile) Greycloaks.

* Part 1: Hide from the Greycloaks firing at you in the grand chamber.

* Part 1: Sneak past the Battle Bot to outside the Academy.

* Part 2: Sneak out of Betty's house without her noticing.

 

UNARMED COMBAT

* Parts 1-3: Fight any enemy in melee combat where you have NO melee weapon.

* Part 2: Defeat Judas in melee combat (you must defeat him rather than just fight him, even though you have no melee weapon for this fight).

 

MELEE TECHNIQUE

* Parts 1-3: Defeat any enemy in melee combat where you have a melee weapon.

* Part 1: Defeat Bluecloaks in melee combat (even if you have NO melee weapon).

 

SHARP SHOOTER

* Parts 1-3: Defeat any enemy in ranged combat.

* Parts 1-3: Successfully shoot any enemy.

 

DODGE

* Parts 1-3: Defeat any enemy in ranged combat.

* Parts 1-3: Dodge laser fire from any attacker.

 

PILOT

* Part 3: Defeat the Mandellian Lancer in ship-to-ship combat.

* Part 3: Evade the Mandellian Lancer.

 

GUNNERY

* Part 3: Defeat the Mandellian Lancer in ship-to-ship combat.

 

GOLD

* Part 1: Stay alive with Kane until the conclusion of his plans in Part 1.

* Part 1: Escape the Academy.

 

PLATINUM

* Part 3: Get all of the above thirteen possible medals in a single play-through. There's a few different ways to do this, but it requires a lot of planning and a bit of luck to figure out how to do it ;)

It is possible though, look here’s proof:

 

 

Q: Is there a sequel?

A: A sequel is in the works… But it’s still a least a year away from being completed. (At the start of this sequel you’ll have the items, skills and medals you earned in Parts One to Three, and choices you made in Parts One to Six will affect what happens in “Part Seven” and beyond. It’ll also be possible to play the sequel without having read the original).

 

Q: There’s a lot of loose leads left unresolved at the end of the first book. Will those be addressed in the sequel and which ones?

A: By design, the story of the first book is but a fraction of the larger story. I won’t give too much away about some of the leads addressed in the sequel (and those beyond that) but I’ll give you three words as hints on what’s to come in Bloggs’ near future:

Nanobase. Clone. Oracle.

 

…So that concludes my deconstruction, which hopefully addresses anything you wanted to know about Infinite Universe but didn’t yet (let me know if not!)

And whilst I get the sequel and numerous other projects sorted, there’s plenty of other gamebook goodness out there as apps, including Zach Weinersmith’s sci-fi comedy gamebook Trial of the Clone that’s just come out on iOS and Android J

 

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Deconstructing Infinite Universe - Part One

Infinite Universe Logo
Illustration by Joshua Wright
The Platinum Academy - Illustration by Joshua Wright
Illustration by Joshua Wright
Gamebook Adventures 8: Infinite Universe on the App Store
Illustration by Joshua Wright

                                          

 

 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 AD.

It seemed like a good idea at the time...

Road trip to the red centre of Australia. From your home city of Melbourne in the south-east corner of the continent, west along the coast to the church city of Adelaide and then inland north to Uluru, otherwise known as Ayer's Rock. It is known as the dusty heart of Australia and just to make it there, you had to travel some two and a half thousand kilometres. Once you arrived, well you'd figure out where to next. The journey itself was to be as epic and exciting as the destination.

Trouble was, most of the journey was through the vast Australian desert, otherwise known as 'The Outback'. Perhaps the most desolate and uninhabited expanse of land outside of Antarctica on the planet, stretching across the belly of the continent for millions of square kilometres.

If it wasn't the oppressive heat that beat down on you relentlessly during the day when 45 degrees Celsius was normal, it was the constant presence of swarms of harassing flies. If it wasn't the boredom of the endless red and ochre sands, punctuated by clumps of spinifex grass and the occasional defiant saltbush, it was the sense of isolation that came from being on the road alone for days, uninhabited land stretching to the horizon in all directions. And to top it all off, you've lost your wallet somewhere along the road hundreds of kilometres back...

(Illustration by Joshua Wright)

 

Thus was how the story of my gamebook Infinite Universe began, that was released as part of the Gamebook Adventures series through Tin Man Games almost exactly a year ago. So to mark the anniversary, and to pay homage to the journey Captain Comet began around this time in a parallel universe, it’s probably about time that I did a blog post about it. (Been a hectic last three months for me with the demands of the “day job” mostly, but I’m back to more regular posts now). I have split this article into two parts: the first part (this post) is about my design objectives with regards to the work, my evaluation of those objectives following feedback and how I’ll be approaching a sequel. The second post will go into the design elements in more detail, FAQ and additional content that wasn't used.

 

SOME PRELIMINARY COMMENTS

If you’ve read any of the books or gamebooks I’ve written, you may notice that they tend to be quite different from not only each other, but also from the “established norms of the genre(s)” they’re in. This isn’t accidental. At risk of sounding like a complete wanker by saying this, I am driven to create works that “would not have been created had I not created them”. In other words, I go out of my way to do things differently and forge new paths. Such an approach carries significant “risks”. -By straying away from what readers would typically expect from the genre, there is a tendency to get a greater polarisation of views than would otherwise be the case if you stuck to the “established norms of the genre”. Some people love your work for how different it is from what they’ve read before… And others, well let’s just say that some can be quite vocal in their condemnation ;)

Not that I am easily deterred, in fact I’m quite renowned for being stubborn and having conviction in my own abilities and ideas, regardless of criticism. Sometimes that’s a good thing (certainly you need a lot of self-belief to follow projects through to their conclusion and release to the world), but yes it can also mean that you are prone to self-indulgence at times and can misjudge your audience… And I think I may be guilty of that.

But really, any creative work, regardless of how good or bad it is, will be loved by some, treated indifferently by others, and disliked by others. The degree to which this occurs depends on a lot of things, only some of which are to do with the work itself. Other factors include publicity, timing and preconceptions/expectations of the work.

But enough with the vague preamble, it’s time to talk about specifics!

   

(The Platinum Academy - Illustration by Joshua Wright)

 

MY OBJECTIVES

Having been “in the right place at the right time” to become involved with what you might now call the “Gamebook Adventures juggernaut” (a story I’ll skip for now for the sake of brevity), I pitched my idea for a gamebook (actually a series) which had the original working title Space Saga. The idea was approved, (for the first title anyway) but really it was another year or so before I had a chance to work much on it. The reason for this delay was that apart from anything else, I was editing, designing, re-balancing and writing for the first four Gamebook Adventures titles. But I’ll get to that point somewhere later on in this article, as it puts an “interesting spin” on some of the comments made about Infinite Universe

Basically, my objectives in designing and writing Infinite Universe were as follows:

·     It would be science fiction. Not “gritty” science fiction however, but “zany” science fiction. I.e. more like Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy type sci-fi, than 2001: A Space Odyssey type sci-fi. It’s a gamebook right? I didn’t want to be bogged down by the impracticality of interstellar travel (light speed is a bugger) and scientific things of that nature. Nope, just lasers, space ships and star gates that let you easily traverse the galaxy and time.

 

·         It would be epic in nature. “Epic” is a bit of a vague term really that could mean a lot of things, but what I mean by this is that I wanted it to have an epic story that took a lot longer than a single gamebook to tell (but is largely “set-up” in the first book). And epic in terms of the word count too; more novel-like in length and time to read than is typical for a gamebook.

 

·     It would be comical. Some of my favourite genre works (for instance the Grailquest gamebook series, the Red Dwarf television series, and movies like Shaun of the Dead) have a comical take on an established genre… And this includes parody and poking fun at it - and this is what I did too in writing Infinite Universe - sarcasm and self-depreciation were to be part of the approach taken.

  

·         It would be set in a fleshed-out and consistent “universe”. The setting details are based on actual astronomical data and many more places are detailed in the “Bloggopedia” that accompanies the gamebook, than in the gamebook itself. And then there are the significant figures and organisations that form part of the story, each with their own personalities and agendas. Not to mention world-specific technology as well.

 

·         I wanted the hero of the story to have a detailed history. This differs from most gamebooks, where the reader can easily “imagine themselves as the hero” as the hero’s background and personality is so vague. But no, I wanted the hero to have a strong sense of their own identity, background and personality (even if they have to discover what this is over the course of the story).

 

·        wanted the story to be underpinned by a system based on the Gamebook Adventures system, but with enhancements (namely skills and stat purchases, ranged and vehicular combat) that enabled the reader to customise their hero according to their own play style. And in addition to this, cater for both male and female readers, rather than simply assuming that the main character is male for example.

 

·    I wanted the difficulty to be calibrated towards the “easy” end of the spectrum, to minimise the frustration caused by death after reading many pages and having to start over again. And also to facilitate the reader reading to the end, and subsequently a sequel if there was one (the sequel or sequels even, would then progressively get harder).

 

·    And yet I wanted the work to have a high degree of replayability. For instance, whilst you may get successfully get through the gamebook to the ending, you may not have acquired many medals and therefore skills in the process. You may find yourself replaying through Part 1 in order to acquire more skills for later on. And because Part 1 is the Part most read (especially because it is free!), it is also the most open and has the highest number of distinct paths: spanning some 250 odd sections. Beyond this, there’s a number of items that you can accumulate in later Parts and events that occur, that will affect sequels, but I’ll talk about this more at a later point.

 

·      Giving reward to those that achieve more than just getting through the gamebook. For instance, it is quite difficult to get through the gamebook and have a jetpack at the end of it for the sequel. It is significantly harder to obtain the Platinum Medal. The reward for achieving these things however is more something you get in the sequel, rather than this one (I’ll talk about this point in more detail later). 

 

·     Making it such that with maximum stats it was still quite easy to “fail” and yet even with minimum stats it was possible to succeed without toooo much difficulty. It is my personal belief that not enough gamebooks achieve this: too often gamebooks are virtually impossible without maximum stats and I sought to avoid this.

 

·    And finally, to loosely base the work on a gamebook series called Space Fighter that I wrote over twenty-five years ago as a childhood fan of things such as Fighting Fantasy, He-Man and Star Wars.

 

(Illustration by Joshua Wright)

 

A PERSONAL EVALUATION OF WHETHER I ACHIEVED MY OBJECTIVES

·    It’s true that some readers were hoping for sci-fi that was “grittier” or more “serious” than Infinite Universe. For instance, some lamented that it wasn’t more like the excellent gamebook Star Breed – Episode 1, or more like Warhammer 40K or something, but this wasn’t the sort of work I set out to write. But really, you can’t please everyone can you? -Not that I can’t do “serious” if I want to, and in fact I already have (well sort of)… My novel The Dark Horde for instance is “supernatural horror”, complete with intense and shocking R-rated horror, violence and sex. -The few I’ve spoken to that have read both works, have commented on how widely different these two works are and that they would never have picked that they were written by the same person…

 

·   Infinite Universe certainly turned out to be “epic” in length. The overall word count is about 170,000 words, not including the encyclopaedia. And then consider that over 200 written sections were removed from the final version (maybe another 40,000 words worth or so). However, this length and the wordiness of some of the sections irked some, even whilst others said that they preferred that the sections were longer and more detailed, rather than just a paragraph or two per Section. If I were to rewrite the work though (a hypothetical that is unlikely to ever actually happen as I’d rather create new works than revisit old ones), I’d probably only cut the length slightly. In fact, it’s really only the section at the start of Part 4 that I would cut significantly. That particular section (really it’s two sections; one version for when the hero is male and the other for when they’re female) was actually how the gamebook initially began. -This partly explains its length, as it “sets the story” by detailing your character, their background and the current situation. If you’ve read the gamebook, you’ll know how I still managed to use this section halfway through the story, but still I think it wouldn’t have hurt much to cut it down a bit; even if it is all about defining who you are and what your motivations are so that the subsequent story has context beyond being a “generic hero”. –And yes, I’ve certainly set the story up for a sequel: perhaps if you finished Infinite Universe you have already suspected what that’s about ;)

 

·      On the comedy aspect, well it certainly did include elements of parody, sarcasm and self-depreciation, but this is difficult to do in a way that “satisfies all markets” (and Stuart Lloyd wrote an excellent article discussing some of the challenges of doing this in a gamebook here). Of particular interest to me is the observation that the North American markets (and I’m generalising here) have a different appreciation of comedy than the Australian and UK markets for instance: sarcasm and self-depreciation (at least as the Australian/UK markets understand them) are less prevalent in North American comedies, and thus this style of comedy doesn’t tend to translate so well. (Consider for example that most? Australian and UK comedies are re-written and re-cast for the US market, presumably to broaden their appeal there, whilst that rarely seems to happen the other way around, in Australia at least).

 

·      The setting of Infinite Universe was certainly detailed, and scientifically accurate: underpinning the story and those to follow… Not much to evaluate there really, but I’ll talk more about the design of the setting more in my follow-up post to this one.

 

·     The character’s history and personality are certainly quite detailed with much more depth than is typical for a gamebook, which is what I set out to achieve, but I recognise that this is a liability to some: especially if (as some have reported) they didn’t “like” the main character. By having a more “generic” hero (and typically one that is more sure of themselves and less cynical), the reader is more able to imagine themselves in the role. There’s a reason why the Fighting Fantasy mantra “YOU ARE THE HERO” has such resonance…

 

·     The ability to play as either a male or female character seemed to go down well though, and I know of a few female readers that appreciated being able to play a main character of their gender for a change, rather than having to accept that “male leads have more interesting stories” or something like that, as there’s no reason at all why female leads can’t be just as interesting. That there isn’t more gamebooks with female leads is more to do with the fact that most authors are male, and that the target market is viewed as being predominantly male than anything else I think, and I’m happy to have contributed to changing that (as I also did with Trial of the Battle God).

 

·         Having crunched the numbers, I already knew that the gamebook was quite “easy” in comparison to other gamebooks (and possible to complete with minimum stats). My emphasis here (and in stark contrast to Trial of the Battle God which is opposite in many ways) was on “story” over “game”, and this meant keeping the reader in the story. But I also wanted to provide incentive to replay via achievements such as the hard-to-get Platinum Medal and the different skills that can be acquired. But I actually think that there’s some things there that I could have done better: in particular to address the perception that “whatever you do in the first three Parts becomes irrelevant for the subsequent three Parts” but I’ll get to this point in more detail below.

 

             

 

MY THOUGHTS ON FEEDBACK

The reviews to-date on Infinite Universe have mostly been very good, but also they’ve been quite polarised in some quarters, and arguably more so than with any other of the Gamebook Adventures titles. Quite a few rated it the best of the series to-date, whilst quite a few also rated it the worst, and considered that it had poor writing among other issues. I have already made the point above that I set out to do something quite different with Infinite Universe, and that this in itself generates a greater polarisation of views, but there’s more to this story… I knew (as Tin Man Games knew in taking a gamble with me to let me do this) that taking a different approach would go down well with some and not with others, but you don’t capture the interest of new markets by doing things the same way do you?

 

I will admit that I was surprised by some of the negative comments though, in particular the ones that cast negative judgement on my own ability (as opposed to the delivery chosen for this work), and yet were fans of the other Gamebook Adventures titles… Sure there was plenty of praise too, don’t get me wrong, but I’m inclined to focus on negative feedback as that’s where I see the greatest potential to learn from is, and those passionate enough to write a bad review are often among the most passionate fans that you can potentially win over, so let’s see if I can:

 

·     The first point I want to make to put this into context, is that as “editor” for the first four Gamebook Adventures titles, you may be surprised to learn just how much of the content of those titles was actually written or designed by me.

  • For An Assassin in Orlandes I only did essential editing (it’d already been released for a start) and restructuring to ensure the reader was likely to get a specific needed item (at Neil’s direction based on feedback), some rebalancing of stats, and ensuring that readers had the option to explore all areas at a given location before being moved onwards by the narration (something I’m always seeking to address in gamebooks as I outlined in my take on gamebook design here).
  • For The Siege of the Necromancer I didn’t do much more than what I did for the first GA title… I wrote a handful of the deaths and rewrote some of the passages a little, like the Goblyn Trickster’s speech and his illusionary forest. To put a number on it, I maybe wrote 5-10% of the final text…
  • For Slaves of Rema, well I probably ended up writing about 50% of it. This includes the beginning (basically up to you entering the arena), the ending, the deaths, the political elements, some of the scenes, the rebalancing and bits like the “Big 60” dice game that was from a game I had in my D&D campaigns twenty years ago (Gaetano’s original design for the gambling game wasn’t feasible at the time). In saying this I don’t want to take any credit away from Gaetano Abbondanza, the author of the work who wrote and designed such a fantastic work in the first place. -I just built on it, introducing the political details after brainstorming them with Neil Rennison (where we decided on where to take the story). As part of this process, and with Neil’s input, I also drew up the political boundaries of the differing nations and city-states that make up the Reman continent, named them and wrote up their histories.
  • For Revenant Rising, I ended up expanding a lot of the descriptive or dialogue passages in that too, and Neil rewrote the beginning, such that I’d estimate I probably wrote a quarter to a third of that too. Again I’m not trying to take credit away from Kieran Coghlan’s great work here, just point out that my contribution to that too was substantial…

 

·     It’s taken me a long time to make the above points publically, as the trouble with defending yourself is that, well you come off as defensive. But I felt I had to point out my contribution to the previous Gamebook Adventures titles sooner or later, as I think it helps put criticism of Infinite Universe into context, given that many of those who were critical of the writing in Infinite Universe, loved the writing in Slaves of Rema or Revenant Rising, and they may actually be comparing “apples and apples” and not have known it J

 

·         The other point on that is that were it not for the writing accolades I received last year, for both The Dark Horde and Infinite Universe (see here), I would have had more cause to give weight to those negative reviews, as they may have been right. But having won international awards now, I’m encouraged that at least some think I’m doing things right…

 

·         But all this raises the question then, which I’ve asked myself many times, and have some answers for, but haven’t fully resolved: If it’s not the writing, then why the negative reviews? Whilst I do go out of my way to “do things differently” (Trial of the Battle God being another good example, as is the genre-bending Evermore: An Introduction), I am in the game of trying to write for the broadest market. So it’s important for me to understand the reasons for the negative reviews, and to consider what I can do next time to address those perceptions, whilst staying true to my own vision and recognising that “whatever you do, not everyone is going to like it anyway”. In short, I think the main reasons for the negative reactions are as follows:

  • Free to download. This was the one that was expected. You make a title free to download and you get a lot more downloads. But as a result you get a lot more negative reviews as a result by those who wouldn’t have liked it (or paid for a full version) anyway… Mind you I think the average rating for Infinite Universe is on par with the other Gamebook Adventures titles anyway, so if anything this effect was less than expected.
  • Humour. As discussed above, the sarcasm / self-depreciation thing is more akin to Aussie and UK markets (at least as they understand it), than the North American ones.
  • A main character with a strong personality. As discussed above, this was one of my objectives, but this approach can be off-putting to some readers if they don’t “like” the main character and/or cannot identify with them.
  • Linearity of the story at times, and word length. Consistent with my objectives, I wanted to emphasise the story elements over the game elements: something halfway between a novel and an interactive gamebook if you like. This appealed to some, but not so others. Yes I could have allowed more choice in certain parts, but this would have further increased the word count of a work that was already 170,000 words…
  • The way in which the story flowed. A slight spoiler (nothing too drastic if you haven’t read it though) is that Parts 4-6 of the gamebook are actually set before Parts 1-3, such that you do not have any of the items or skills that you gained in Parts 1-3, in Parts 4-6. In designing the gamebook I hadn’t initially meant for this to be the case (and actually I’d written almost all of Parts 4-6 before I started writing Parts 1-3), but since Part 4 is set in 2013, when it’s meant to be a “sci-fi gamebook”, the decision was made to start in the sci-fi future setting, and return to the past only once the reader had invested in the story. If the free download of Part 1 had been mostly set in our time, some would have questioned whether it was sci-fi or not and may not have bothered to read on… But the whole “lose everything you had in Parts 1-3” thing irked some. Sure they get it all back after Parts 4-6 (on the final section of Part 6 basically), but Parts 7 and beyond haven’t been released yet, so the point of all that is currently less appreciated than it will be later… But I’ll talk more about the details of these designs later in the follow-up blog post.

 

(Illustration by Joshua Wright)

 

MY THOUGHTS ON THE SEQUEL

·         So where does this leave me now? Well I can certainly cite a few things that will be tackled different in the sequel (which is at least a year off with nothing concrete confirmed, and I’ve got plenty of projects to complete in the meantime anyway). The summary of these things as they float around in my head, are as follows:

  • Less humour and a less “defined” character. Given how the first book ends (which I won’t spoil for you if you haven’t read it), it’s actually pretty easy to set up the character of the sequel being quite different. This character won’t have the same personality as the original in the sense that I won't include their often cynical/dismissive mental thoughts. Instead, their personality will tend to be only expressed through the character's actions, which are decided by the player. Basically this is accentuating what I do in the first book, the idea being that if the player wants to play the "brash bold hero who saves the universe" they can, but equally they can still play "the fool" like in the first book too. Everyone wins J
  • A faster more concise delivery. Rather than the long story-building narrative style of the first, there’ll be more emphasis on action and crazy events and places. This was always intended by the way (Parts 1-6 in many ways simply set the scene for the “actual story” to follow) and I think this will further broaden the appeal.
  • A more open design. Consistent with the emphasis being taken away from the “story” elements, there’ll be greater opportunities to explore the world than in the first, where the reader will be encouraged to find their own “side-missions” and their own way to ultimate victory. (This too was always intended).
  • Continuity. And of course all those items and skills earned in the first book will carry over into the sequel. The impact of various choices in the first will also have repercussions in the sequel: consider yourself warned!

 

Well I think over 4000 words is more than enough for one blog post, so I’ll finish here. The follow-up post (sometime soon!) will give a more detailed examination of the design aspects of Infinite Universe: including some maps not revealed before, additional content, music tracks that weren’t used, and some of the FAQs (such as how does one get the Platinum Medal)… Thanks for reading!

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Brewin
Hi David, Thank you for your comments and I'm glad that you appreciate the approach I took with Infinite Universe -As I was disc... Read More
Tuesday, 09 July 2013 04:35
Brewin
Thanks for letting me know about that bug you experienced on your Samsung Galaxy 2 David... I suspect I know what the cause of thi... Read More
Thursday, 11 July 2013 04:44
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My Next Big Thing(s)...

The Dark Horde - The Calling
Grail Quest by J.H.Brennan
My Grail Quest collection!
(Some of) my Fighting Fantasy collection!
Sagas of the Demonspawn by J.H.Brennan
Illustration by Joshua Wright





“The Next Big Thing” is a chain-blogging event where authors and artists write about their “next big thing” before tagging another five people to do the same thing the following week or so.

My exceptionally talented writer friend Anita Bell (author of numerous best-selling and award-winning books) tagged me (and four others) and wrote up her blog HERE, so now it’s my turn!

There’s been a few things happening in “the land of Brewin” lately, and although I’m not in the habit of talking about things I’m doing (or even have done!) yet, I’ll try to give you a taste of what’s to come… Oh and whilst this is meant to be done in question and answer format (five questions I think it is), I’ve kinda just done this my own way…

         

 Photography by Jake Lowe, Dodgy MS Paint mock-up cover by Brewin’ …And yes, these are actually Manna Gums.

 

To know the future, is to know the horror to come

To know what stalks us, calling from the darkness inside…

 

“The Calling”, otherwise known as “The Dark Horde album”, is an album-length musical that tells of the events leading up to the beginning of my associated horror novel The Dark Horde. The story is told through both narration and sung lyrics, and is set to atmospheric music. The idea is that you can sit back and listen to the whole album and absorb the story: regardless of whether you have read the book or not. Making the album possible are a number of expert vocalists and musicians, including Liam “Wagener” who did the music and video for The Dark Horde book trailer, and Hanny Mohamed who did the music for the Infinite Universe gamebook. “The Calling” is a project that’s been around at least 13 years, and like the The Dark Horde novel, has already gone through many iterations, but has yet to be released. I’ll refrain from showing you old versions for now, but you’ll get to hear some of the new stuff (i.e. the stuff we are aiming to release) soon enough… In the meantime just imagine it’s something like Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds musical, but more horror-based and with an atmospheric “metal” soundtrack.

“The Calling” is just one of the many things I’ll be doing in 2013 though… In fact I’m involved in a lot bigger goings at Tin Man Games, and some of this work I can say a little about, starting with the biggest ever news to rock the land of the Brewin:

                                                    

 Grail Quest is without a doubt, my favourite gamebook series of all time…

 As you probably know by now, gamebooks were a HUGE part of my childhood and along with role-playing games (particularly Dungeons and Dragons and Call of Cthulhu) have influenced my life ever since… Fighting Fantasy may have been the most well-known of “dice-based gamebooks”, but as soon as I discovered Grail Quest in what year was it? 1985 perhaps? they quickly became my all-time favourites… I proudly own the whole series to this day, and from the looks of the Imprint details, I have the original UK printings too:

                                       

Neil tells me that these are worth quite a bit now… Not that that matters since I’ll never be selling them ;)

I remember I used to spend quite a lot of time reading these in grade six (1986 was the year), including in class. My grade six teacher became quite intrigued by these gamebooks that I was reading, so much so that he began to use them to set class exercises. He’d take pictures from them (mostly the first two as I recall) and have a whole class write stories using one of the pictures as a prompt.

Anyway so where I’m going with this, is that Tin Man Games (that I’ve worked with since just after their first gamebook by S.P. Osbourne, An Assassin in Orlandes, was released) is now bringing the series to a digital platform, and Neil Rennison, director of Tin Man Games, knowing my love for the Grail Quest series, and my background in statistics, editing and game design, has put me in charge of figuring out the conversion: i.e. suggesting how it can be implemented (it remains to be seen how much of the actual implementation I do owing to my own time constraints). To be in such a position now, working on the conversion of a series and author I idolised, along with the works of Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone’s Fighting Fantasy series from the same era, is surreal to say the least! You can read all about the announcement, including some special words from the author, J.H. “Herbie” Brennan, himself HERE.

                                                      

A few of my friends take pride in their rare vinyls from the eighties… But I have gamebooks which are way cooler!

Yes I still have the first versions of the Fighting Fantasy books too, with their original covers before the green spines came in (which I must admit, I’ve never really been a fan of though they did certainly reinforce “the brand” which I guess was the point). –By 1987 I’d collected over a hundred gamebooks, before stupidly selling off most of my collection save for the Fighting Fantasies, Grail Quests and Lone Wolfs, plus a handful of others like Duel Master and Falcon. (Choose-your-own Adventure, Endless Quest and Tunnels and Trolls were just some of those that got sold off: but the ones I miss the most are my Interplanetary Spy gamebooks – I had the whole series dammit!)

But back to Tin Man Games again, they certainly seem to have established themselves as the “go to place for gamebooks” in the current era, and have been announcing an incredible line-up of gamebook releases HERE, concluding with the “grand daddy” of them all: Fighting Fantasy. It was a strange twist of circumstance (you could even say “fate”) that I became involved with Tin Man Games in the first place, and having now edited, rebalanced (and to a significant degree rewritten) the first four titles, plus written one of my own, Infinite Universe, I take some credit in the success that Gamebook Adventures have had, and for what they’ve done to “bring gamebooks back” J

But that’s not all I’m working on… In fact far from it:

                                                 

I was lazy and just grabbed this from Tin Man Games blog post on the same topic…

Among other things, Tin Man Games have also announced that they’ll be bringing Herbie Brennan's other classic gamebook series, Sagas of the Demonspawn, to digital format. Like the Grail Quest series, these were exceptionally well-written epic fantasy stories that were targeted towards the “older reader” owing to their adult content at times (which was quite unusual for the era). One thing that (IMHO) they didn’t succeed with so much was the combat system used. I notice I’m not alone in the opinion that not only was the system unnecessarily convoluted but the combats are nigh impossible at times. And having compiled my own gamebook simulator which you can download HERE, I have the stats to back these perceptions up (note that the simulator I’ve made available for download only includes the Fighting Fantasy and Gamebook Adventures systems at this point).

So like Grail Quest, I’ll be working on the conversion of Sagas of the Demonspawn to a digital format, and I’m almost as excited about this as I am about Grail Quest. In many ways I imagine that this conversion will make Sagas of the Demonspawn better than it ever was: You keep the fantastic world and story, but streamline the system and ensure it is properly balanced, to end up with one of the greatest gamebook experiences you can have! Everyone wins! J (And to be honest, it doesn’t actually take many tweaks to achieve this: but you’ll see that for yourself soon enough!) Anyway, Neil of Tin Man Games talks more about this release HERE.

                                                                                     

Amin al Joddah, “the jewel of the desert”, capital of the United Emirates of Akbir

Those Tin Men have certainly been keeping me busy lately, as I’ve also been working on the editing/implementation of another two Gamebook Adventures titles: Sultans of Rema (an illustration from which can be seen above by Joshua Wright) and Shadow over Rema.

Sultans of Rema (which Neil announced HERE) is written by Gaetano Abbondanza, and is the sequel to his first Gamebook Adventures title Slaves of Rema. This title, together with Ashton Saylor’s Shadow over Rema, will form the “Rema trilogy” if you will. Sultans of Rema is an "Arabian Nights" style of adventure, whereas Shadow over Rema has more of a dark fantasy flavour... I guess I was best placed to take on the implementation of these since I not only created (most of) the map and history for the Reman continent (with Neil’s direction of course: being the world he created for his Dungeons and Dragons campaign from childhood), but I wrote much of the content in Slaves of Rema too, in order to fill it out with world details etc. Anyway Sultans of Rema isn’t far from release, with Shadow over Rema to follow sometime later… Sultans also contains a handful of references to things in Shadow over Rema, but you’ll probably only be able to spot those once both are out ;)

I also get asked about sequels to my other works: Infinite Universe, The Dark Hordeand Evermore: An Introduction. The short answer is yes there will be sequels at some point, but no I cannot say when. I work a “day job” as an analyst/programmer for the market research company Nielsen as well (my hours varying from one to five days a week depending on demand) and somewhere around that try to maintain a semblance of a social life too… Time is ever the enemy! Hmm I’d like to do a movie-adaption of The Dark Horde too, but such things are well beyond my current focus.

Then there’s the other things I’d like to do (given time, I’m not making any promises yet): An expanded version of Trial of the Battle God, something for the Adventurer solo roleplaying system, and other collaborative works such as Operation: Time Bomb. But the biggest (and greatest I think) of all these by a long way is a game system known to many of my friends as Creator. Creator fills over four drawers in my room, comprises many thousands of pages, close to thirty years of work and the collected input of about a hundred playtesters over the years… I haven’t come back to this for a while (Trial of the Battle God includes some elements though), but is certainly something I aim to get to sooner or later: It’s my “life work” if you will, and still to this day, there’s nothing out there like it (at least to my knowledge). Time will tell when I can start to talk about that more as it becomes a more concrete release reality.

Okay so enough about me, it’s time to pass the baton to those up next. (And apologies if I’ve made it seem like a hard act to follow: I had a lot to cover haha).

I’ve tagged the following eclectic bunch of individuals from around the globe, whose exceptional talents range across vastly different creative disciplines:

 

                                        David Walters - Book/Gamebook Author and Eastern expert, hailing from Scotland.

                                        Kevin Powe - Villainous voice over artist and gamer, hailing from Australia.

                                        Kimberly Kinrade - Novelist and Publicity/Marketing guru, hailing from the US.

                                        Joshua Wright - Illustrator and Designer, hailing from Australia.

                                        Stuart Lloyd - Gamebook guru and Designer, hailing from England.

 

 

And finally, given the day it is now (I meant to have posted this earlier but oh well):

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

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Brewin
Here's some of the follow-ups to the above post, by those I tagged: Kevin Powe - http://kevinpowe.voiceoverartist.com.au/2013/my-n... Read More
Sunday, 13 January 2013 05:56
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Kickstart My Heart!

Kickstarter - Arcana Agency: The Thief of Memories
Goblin's Bounty: A Gamebook with Collectable Cards


I must admit I've never been a big fan of "glam metal" (I was more a fan of "thrash metal" growing up in the 80's and 90's) but I did like this song. I used to play Kickstart my Heart by Motley Crue (with the "metal-dots" that is) before going to school...

Not that any of that has anything to do with this blog post! No, this is meant to be a post on some of the great Kickstarter campaigns around at the moment, and why you should back them if you're into gamebooks or role-playing games. Like anything creative I guess, the success of these things depends on publicity more than anything else, so here's my effort to help others out there... Not that I can say I'm very good at publicity: I think I've won more awards and nominations for my novels in the last month or two than I've actually sold haha, but hey let's stay on topic for the moment:

 

Arcana Agency: The Thief of Memories

This is the Kickstarter campaign that comes to mind most at the moment, as not only does it look awesome, but it's currently short of its target with only a couple of days left to find funding. So here's why you should fund it:

  • It's to be a two hundred page gamebook printed in hardback in full colour!
  • Story features a team of paranormal investigators in New York in the 1930's! The same setting as featured in classic "Lovecraftian / Cthulhu Mythos" fiction if you like (I certainly do!) in the dark times of The Depression and under brooding clouds leading up to the second World War. 
  • The way the narrative is structured, you actually play the whole investigative team, actively solving a mystery and making decisions with repercussions for the rest of the story. 
  • It's written by Paul Gresty, who also wrote Ookle of the Broken Finger, which was IMHO the best written entry in the recent Windhammer Prize for short Gamebook Fiction.
  • I've read the free demo, and it's awesome. I can definitely see how fully fleshed out, this would be an intriguing detective adventure where you actually come to know and love the characters you play. You can get the demo as a free PDF file (some 13.7 MB due to the abundance of pictures!) HERE
  • It's being produced by Megara Entertainment who've previously produced iOS adaptions of the classic Fabled Lands gamebooks among other great things.
  • If it doesn't get enough money pledged in the next two or so days, it won't happen, so it needs your help to succeed!

 

 Goblin's Bounty: Gamebook / Collectable Card Game

 

A gamebook crossed with a CCG game. Brilliant! Here's another project that's short of its target and with only a few more days to go. Here's why you should back it:

  • It's a collectable card game: a genre made famous with the Magic: The Gathering card game, mixed with the story and decision-making of a gamebook. Being a big fan of Magic: The Gathering (I still have stacks of the cards, and though I haven't played for a while, I've been collecting those cards since the week they arrived in Australia) and quest-based PC adaptions of CCG games such as the PC version of MTG Duels of the Planeswalkers from 1997 and the 2003 PC game Etherlords II which was a more recent adaption (and better so I thought), Goblin's Bounty has to be good!
  • It's being written by Stuart Lloyd with assistance by Ashton Saylor, both well-known active gamebook writers and bloggers, not to mention great blokes, and who are also both writing forthcoming gamebook titles for Gamebook Adventures (and in fact I'm working with Ashton on his title).
  • You play as a goblin. Fighting for goblin glory against those "do-good" humans with their knights, mages and castles. (I do like atypical stories where you play the underdog!)
  • Strategic elements of card collecting, deck building and card playing, plus choices you make in the narrative itself, make for a highly playable (and replayable) awesome adventure!
  • It'll be all digital as an Android release, so you play it for a few minutes here and there on public transport or wherever and whenever you have time. (I look forward to the iOS version!)
  • It's being put together and released by Attic Squad Games who previously released Warlock's Bounty (which was a similar gamebook/CCG hybrid written by legendary Fighting Fantasy author Jonathan Green).
  • It too needs your help to make it happen in the next few days!

 

 YOU ARE THE HERO

If you know anything about gamebooks, you'll what Fighting Fantasy is. Fighting Fantasy catalysed the gamebook genre more than any other, and filled many a childhood throughout the eighties including mine. Without Fighting Fantasy you may not have had most other gamebooks, you wouldn't have had Games Workshop (therefore the Warhammer games including Blood Bowl that I still play), and even role-playing games themselves (such as Dungeons and Dragons) wouldn't have been successful: in the UK, Europe and Australia at least where gamebooks were often "the gateway drug" to role-playing games.

So I basically this Kickstarter is for a "coffee table" thirty year anniversary book of Fighting Fantasy, written by the Legendary Jonathan Green who's not only written a number of Fighting Fantasy titles but a Gamebook Adventures title and at least another 30 books as well (and many of these award-winning). It too needs your support if it's to happen!

There's been some other great Kickstarter projects lately, some of which have been successful, such as the epic gamebook Maelorum, and others such as Turn to 400 - The Fighting Fantasy Documentary and Cthulhu World Combat by the iconic Sandy Petersen, which haven't. Sadly dreams can only be realised with time, money and publicity (and I personally don't have much of any of those!)

I'd like to fund my own dreams through something like Kickstarter one day too, but I consider I need a much better publicity platform than I have now for that to succeed (I'm getting there, but have a long way to go!) -But there's one more campaign I'd like to draw your attention to, that doesn't even need funding to make it happen, cos it already has:

 

 THE DARK HORDE

 

I need to flog this some more for a few reasons. Aside from it being my own self-financed work, and it just having received an Honorable Mention in the Genre Fiction category for the Writer's Digest Annual Self Published Awards, I currently have about 1000 paperback copies sitting in a UK warehouse that'll get pulped soon if I don't start selling them. So if you're in the UK you can pick a copy, mailed to you FREE for only £2.99 which is about as cheap as I can sell them for and pretty much for less than it cost me to even produce them. (And if you're in Europe, you can probably order cheap paperback copies through your nearest Amazon store for about the same cost).

Sometimes I indulge myself in the fantasy of one day being able to make a living from writing, and of even being able to make a movie based on The Dark Horde (there's at least an album in the works) but for now, I just have to sell these bloody books... Who knows? Maybe this limited edition print-run will be worth something one day as a collector's item haha

Aside from this, there's been many other exciting things happening in the Land of Brewin, but I'll have to tell you some more about that another day :)

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Brewin
Thanks to both of you for being awesome and promoting the "gamebook cause". Here's hoping both of you get the green light to proce... Read More
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 06:04
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Brewin's Gamebook Combat Simulator!

Brewin's Gamebook Combat Simulator Screenshot

Well this is something I put together for another gamebook system EDIT: which I can now announce is none other than J.H.Brennan's classic Sagas of the Demonspawn series, that is to be digitally released through Tin Man Games as announced HERE. An experience that is quite surreal for me since J.H. "Herbie" Brennan is my favourite gamebook author and a childhood idol: to say it's an honour is a massive understatement! ...So having done this work, it was a "relatively" simple thing to adapt it to other gamebook systems that I know others are/have writing/written for: namely the Fighting Fantasy and Gamebook Adventures systems. (The GA system involves quite a lot more calculation though, although from a player point of view, it's only slightly more complicated than the FF system).

So if you're ever writing for either of these systems, and want a tool to help you determine how hard a particular combat is, how long it will last for etc, then this is what you need... Or maybe you're just curious to know what your chances are of surviving a particular combat or series of them in XYZ gamebook. This tool will give you a pretty definitive answer... And yes, it also demonstrates points I've made before about how well balanced (or unbalanced) these gamebook systems can be.

I'll spare you the detailed analysis, as you're now able to crunch out the numbers yourself. With this tool, you can set Player and Enemy stats yourself, or use Max/Min/Average/Random Player stats, set a number of other variables for the combat, and then run 10, 100, 1000 or whatever number of trials you want and get a stats summary that can also be written out to a report as well if you wish.

Hopefully you can figure out how to use it (I've tried to make it a simple as possible). All you need is Excel 97 or later (maybe Open Office will work too, I haven't tried) and to enable macros...

Let me know what you think (and if you'd like additions)

Happy number crunching :)

Download Brewin's Combat Simulator - Ver 1-0

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Somethin's Brewin'!


...Actually over on another blog, rather than here ;)

Laura Thomas has been kind enough to interview me over at her fuonlyknew blog and host a giveaway! It may well be my biggest interview yet, and I talk about all sorts of things such as the history behind the writing of The Dark Horde (spanning over twenty years), the forthcoming musical based on it, and hints at some of the other things I've been working on. The contest (to win signed paperback copies of my award-winning horror novel) ends December 14th.

You can read the full article HERE.

                                                      

 

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Deconstruction of Trial of the Battle God

Final Layout (well almost final!)

Otherwise known as “Thoughts on the 2012 Windhammer Prize entries - Part 3”

So to wrap up my Windhammer analysis, I’ll talk a little about my own entry: Trial of the Battle God. -Its design, my thoughts on it and those of others (and not in that order).

If you’ve played Trial of the Battle God, then this may make some sense to you ;)

 

So I’m actually going to start with what others thought, and then work back from there (we’ll see how this pans out - I’m not actually sure myself):

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Brewin
Many thanks for your kind words Torallion! I certainly agree that the design demonstrates a whole range of multi-player possibilit... Read More
Tuesday, 13 November 2012 10:46
Brewin
Hi Ivailo! Thanks for your comments: this Bulgarian gamebook series sounds very interesting, and I'd be interested to have a look!... Read More
Saturday, 17 November 2012 10:00
Brewin
Thanks Ivailo, however I can't access the links you posted (think I need to create an account and login for that?) Anyway you can ... Read More
Sunday, 18 November 2012 11:04
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Thoughts on the 2012 Windhammer Prize entries - Part 2

So I’m back again with my top 11 Windhammer Prize entries. If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, I’d suggest reading that first as otherwise some of this may be out of context (in particular that this is just a single opinion which can be given more weight than is fair: especially considering not many have shared their thoughts on each entry yet) :)

Sigil-Beasts (Karalynn Lee)


DESIGN - 7

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Brewin
Thank you Stuart for your valuable comments on this, however I feel that perhaps you are a little too harsh on yourself (even thou... Read More
Sunday, 11 November 2012 01:21
Brewin
Take your point on this Stuart, but I'd still argue it seemed counter-intuitive (to me). -I reckon I could scoop up two amulets in... Read More
Sunday, 11 November 2012 01:29
Brewin
Thanks Karalynn! As I'd indicated above, you're obviously a very talented author, and I suspect that your next gamebook will be mu... Read More
Sunday, 11 November 2012 08:16
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(Brewin’s) Wrap-up of the Freeplay, Windhammer, Writer’s Digest and Coffin Hop Awards

Writer's Digest 20th Annual Self-Published Book Awards
Freeplay 2012 Independent Game Awards
2012 Windhammer Prize for Short Gamebook Fiction
Wrestling the Muse Horror Flash Fiction contest
You Know What ;)

I really should start entering more competitions: sometimes you win! Haha. I’ve only entered my writing into four competitions this year, and in the last week I’ve received the results for three of them and got the result of the fourth about six weeks ago… Winning awards in three out of four isn’t bad hey?

So whilst each of these could be a blog article in themselves (and for some already have) I’m going to try to pull it all together as concisely as possible so that I can quickly communicate a lot of things at once… Cos I’m kinda firing on a lot of guns at the moment and time’s not exactly in abundance ;)



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