Steam Highwayman – In progress

It’s been a good morning.  I’ve been teaching the locals at the Sign of the Spyglass to gossip – as well as to keep track of your visits there.  Should they tell you of the wicked Squire Lynch, you should find a new quest opening up, in which you dole out some justice to an overbearing landlord.

Most of my recent writing has been coding systems that keep track of various story variables, so it’s nice to be starting on writing a mini-story within the tale.  However, though I’m sketching dialogue and event options there are a few things I need to complete before you’re able to to stop Squire Lynch’s speedy chariaeoli, defeat him in a duel, humiliate and rob him.

  • The high-level code that decides, when you visit a location, what variable-generated information to give you.  These are pieces like descriptions of the weather and scenery, designed to be wrapped into the particular writing of any specific passage.  I want every visit to every major to be unique, tailored to the time of day, state of the sky, and the various random chances of other traffic on the road.
  • I need to complete my engine allowing you to fire a gun.
  • I need to complete my guilt engine – the tracker that will remember every sin and misdeed committed in the name of your own wealth or even for the good of the poor…  It will all be significant later.

These are what I’ll be working on for the next week or two.  Using variable text to create interesting and significant passages is really my aim.  Many interactive fictions dispense with description because a reader skips them naturally, hurrying to the action.  I’m trying to embed important information and other options within text.  If it rains, that will effect your ability to chase a high-speed steam wagon.  If you’re in a wood, you may have simple sub-quest options related to objects you carry – such as cutting wood or finding a particular mushroom.  I hope to give the reader the ability to complete actions in any reasonable place, rather than at a specific quest location.

Steam Highwayman – Intro Narration

I was just mucking around with sound editing software and an intro for Steam Highwayman that came out of my head.  So here’s a little taster I made last week.

That’s Brahms’ 3rd Symphony in the background – a very quick choice – inspired by the old Ladybird story cassettes we had with classical soundtracks to excellent stories like Around the World in Eighty Days and Tom Sawyer.

Steam Highwayman – Wounds Process

I’m spending a lot of my writing time working on an interactive fiction project, Steam Highwayman, written using Harlowe 1.2.2 on Twine 2.

This morning I has mostly been building a process by which the protagonist can suffer, bandage and heal wounds. This should slot into my story so that the reactive text remembers if and where you were wounded, editing your options in seamless prose.

And a scar on the eye may unlock the option of an eyepatch. Oooh, Intimidation+1, eyepatch,

First forgive anyone

Mark 11:25 But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your father in heaven will forgive you your sins too.

This is Jesus’ answer to the disciples’ desire to work miracles. It is straightforward for him – grudges and dissatisfaction are obstacles to the expression of God’s power. However deeply buried, unforgiveness will always work out in lack of faith, because unforgiveness is rooted in a selfish world-view. Releasing others and ourselves from grudges is absolutely necessary for a continuing Christian walk, as well as the only way to see God’s power work through our lives.

In fact, it is so much the prioriry that Jesus has changed the conversation here from one about miracles in the world to being about the greatest miracle we can experience: forgiveness of our own sins and justification with God. It’s not in keeping with Jesus’ lessons of a good father or the Hebrew scriptures to launch from this verse into a validation theology – that our salvation is dependent upon our forgiveness of others – but it is fairly observable that unforgiveness presents an experiential obstacle to appreciating our salvation!

Taking Jesus at his simplest here and in the previous verses, all I can see is that he links our ability -or desire – to really believe in God with the degree of intimacy we have with him, and unforgiveness and grudges, regrets and other unhealthy emotions obstruct that intimacy, not because He is unable to surpass them but because we become preoccupied with them! How wonderful that one promised day, we will no longer have to fight to keep our attention on God – and that every believer is in the process of being changed into this place by God’s sanctifying Spirit.

It is our job while here on earth, through God’s Holy Spirit, to present ourselves as living sacrifices, blameless and acceptable – to work out our salvation by engaging with the process by which the Spirit of God changes us to resemble Jesus. So be free of anger and hold no grudges and see God’s power work through you.

Next Up…

The ground shakes… A season begins… Not obviously, since autumn always slips out from beneath summer’s train. Seasons are never well defined.

But in the few months since I’ve last written on here, a lot has changed. And now I’m about to take a new journey.

My friends know a quick way to get me excited is to ask me about IF – interactive fiction – or CYOA – Choose Your Own Adventure – the genre defining series. And over the summer I got very excited and spent about 15 full writing days learning to use an IF software tool called Twine, writing a non – linear Steampunk time – sensitive role playing interactive novel, simply called Steam Highwayman.

I’ll write a lot more about it soon, but the key to my excitement with using Twine is that it provides me with a very natural writing environment, meaning that my productivity and fluency were as great during those 15 days as at any time in my life. And the finished result published in html format, meaning that it can be read easily in a Web browser.

I’ve learned a small amount of html and css from the work I had earlier this and at the end of last year editing a website for Mary’s and then building my own. But if I can up my game, the prospect of downloadable CYOA apps that combine my love of writing with modern technology awaits me.

I mean then to be spending time learning more CSS skills to create a good looking page, learning how to use android studio to create an app that will use one of my finished-ish IFs, and then  to release it here.

Will I succeed? God knows. How long will it take? I don’t mind. Because whether or not I’m posting a downloadable free IF within the year, entirely written and produced by me, I know I’m learning a lot. And that feels great.

In Psalm 119 it says “Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.” There’s nothing to blame in my desire to explore and create and I know that anything done for the glory of God can be an act of deep worship, so I’m looking forward to meeting Him and walking with Him along His road this season.