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Glass Wave by KSchnee Glass Wave :iconkschnee:KSchnee 5 2
Literature
The Queen of Nowhere (2)
The hotel room was ordinary considering where and what she was. The bed had a mint on it, the wall had a poster from her favorite anime series (Revolution Wrench, about a colonial American gadgeteer) and the desk held a sheaf of tourist pamphlets. She leafed through these. Ultimate water park. Dinosaur adventures. Earn your degree! Robot operators wanted. Kinky's Brothel. Pip thought back to the time she went to Disneyland in Toyko, where there were all kinds of ridiculous Western culture compressed into a sort of cartoon singularity. It was awesome.
So this was a virtual world, huh? She studied her hands and looked in the bathroom mirror. Nothing had changed that she could see. Then she noticed that the bathroom literally just had a shower, sink and towels. That was jarring; if she was a digital ghost then presumably this world didn't model normal biology. She blushed and stripped off her clothes to find that she still had everything.
Pip dressed again and went to
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Winds of Calamus - Dungeon Playtest by KSchnee Winds of Calamus - Dungeon Playtest :iconkschnee:KSchnee 0 0 Winds of Calamus - Playtest by KSchnee Winds of Calamus - Playtest :iconkschnee:KSchnee 0 0 Poke' Island by KSchnee Poke' Island :iconkschnee:KSchnee 3 0
Literature
Liberation Game Excerpt - School Duel
Robin went to the school. The village had outgrown its one-room schoolhouse. Instead of building a larger structure next to the clinic as planned, they'd picked out a low hilltop, poured a new concrete slab, and had the kids help lay the dirt bricks of the walls. The new structure was bigger than it had to be, and strangely laid out. Instead of classrooms where Misses Grindle, Grendel and Grumble would run students through the assembly line of History and Math and Science, Grades One through Twelve, there was a giant square tent ringed by small rooms for music, quiet discussion or storage. The corners had reinforced walls and a second-story balcony each, giving the school the look of a castle.
This was not entirely for whimsical reasons.
When Robin arrived, most of the students were in the main room under the weatherproof canvas that let a hint of the sunlight through. On a big screen, a flotilla of boats was approaching an island with a gently-sloping beach.
A boy was standing in fron
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Taur TF CYOA by KSchnee Taur TF CYOA :iconkschnee:KSchnee 9 12 Game Demo - Islands of Calamus by KSchnee Game Demo - Islands of Calamus :iconkschnee:KSchnee 0 4 Tales of Kitsune - Cover Art by KSchnee Tales of Kitsune - Cover Art :iconkschnee:KSchnee 2 1 Ethos Game Demo 4 by KSchnee Ethos Game Demo 4 :iconkschnee:KSchnee 2 0
Literature
Reasonable Workplace Accommodations
Calvin got a call way too early on Monday morning. He sat up groggily in bed and fumbled for his phone.
"Calvin?" said his boss Irene. "There's a situation, so you should probably stay home today."
"A... situation." Did she always have to be so obscure?
"An office furniture situation. We're rearranging so much stuff that it's going to be tough to accomplish much. So just work remotely today, okay?"
Calvin didn't mind that. It was nice not to have the commute. He slept in for a little while and logged into his work computer, which let him start working even before getting dressed. There was a new circuit design that a customer had come up with, that worked perfectly in his lab. Unfortunately the inventor didn't understand that mass production was not the same as throwing together something in your garage, and that the circuit needed rethinking to make it practical. Calvin poked at the blueprints and hammered away at the problem all day.
#
The next morning he came into the office and sto
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Unity Game Experiment - Ethos 2 by KSchnee Unity Game Experiment - Ethos 2 :iconkschnee:KSchnee 1 1 Doe Morph by KSchnee Doe Morph :iconkschnee:KSchnee 0 3 Smithing Tools by KSchnee Smithing Tools :iconkschnee:KSchnee 3 10 Knife Forging by KSchnee Knife Forging :iconkschnee:KSchnee 2 1 Falcon Heavy Landing by KSchnee Falcon Heavy Landing :iconkschnee:KSchnee 1 0

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Activity


Book draft complete at 57,521 words! I will now put it aside for a little while, then come back to it for editing. There are several short stories that need attention too.
"Angels With Scaly Wings" is a visual novel about dragons, which sounds promising at first. But it also tries to be a murder mystery, which doesn't lend itself well to the VN format. Even the clumsy point-and-click investigation segments of the "Phoenix Wright" games had more flexibility in the ability to look around instead of linearly being asked "what does Wound X mean". Since the gameplay isn't compelling, does the story capture my attention?

I like stories with strong world-building, so I figured a dragon world could be pretty interesting. Through the dimensional portal I saw... a world where the furniture and architecture look exactly normal for modern humans, the cafe sells bacon and eggs, the locals explicitly use "the English language", names are plausible human ones, the sheriff wears a star, there's casual mention of a list of phone numbers, the kitchen has Earth fruits, and so on. What really stood out was a background detail: a hallway with a sign for a womens' room. The standard Earth "woman" icon, although the artists had just enough energy to write "FEMALES" under it. I get the strong impression that the developers just bought a large pack of generic VN background images and made no effort to develop a unique or interesting world. So this is not world-building at all, and the characters have to do 100% of the job of making this setting and story seem interesting.

Do they? Eh, I guess a few could catch my attention with enough time (Anna, maybe?) though I'm actually not very interested in the romance element and my own character is barely defined. I can't actually have a freely structured conversation with any of them because this is a VN and I must go through a small set of choose-your-own-adventure branches at designated plot moments, so the friend-making part is kind of like a series of prison visits: "all right, you can have one scene with one of these 5 people and then it's back to the crime plot; pick one." So, the characters haven't managed to sell me on the game yet and the setting isn't doing its job.

In its defense, the game's human characters do briefly remark that it's a little bit odd how familiar the dragon world looks. (A little bit!?) I suspect that this ties in with the larger plot by the end, but I just haven't seen enough to make me want to find out.
  • Reading: Wicked River (Mississippi R. History)
I just finished playing "Sunless Sea" and tried a game made in Twine, and I beta-tested "The Pirate's Fate". They have me thinking about the design of different types of Interactive Fiction.

The first type of IF was based on "rooms", with a notion of creatures and objects in them. (Eg. "Zork".) That's a good structure if your focus is on moving between locations, but it's hard to work with if you want to have a lot of events happen there. That is, if you want something complex to happen in a certain place, you might have to build that event implicitly into the items/creatures with a rule like "if the player uses X item in Y room, this happens".

Then there's an event-focused system as in Twine games. There, a game is divided into "passages" that may or may not be linked to physical locations. In my Twine game "Dragon Fate", the focus is on moving around in a dungeon, but there are often multiple passages used to represent one physical room. A section with a booby-trapped door was especially hard to set up because the room could exist in three states, and the game had to track which one existed and send you to the right version. If I'd built that with a Zork-style game engine, the trap probably would've been easier to program.

What a Zork-style engine doesn't do well is time. There aren't really scenes or time periods, unless you treat them as like parallel universes that happen to have similar-looking room layouts. I noticed this with the Inform engine, too. Twine can handle time passing just by not letting you backtrack, and treating the passages as events rather than locations.

"Sunless Sea" uses a system closely related to their freeware game "Fallen London". The basic mechanic is that you collect event flags everywhere and they're explicitly shown, with pictures. Event flags are normally hidden trigger information like "you've beaten the dragon", which a game can check to do something like changing an NPC's dialog. This game makes everything into an event flag, possibly with a number, and indicates what you need to unlock certain choices. A certain event for instance requires "40x Supplies For the Passage, 0x Horizon Codex, 1+ Searing Enigma", where the first one is the product of a long quest chain, the second is the reward for completing this event, and the third is a sort of rare treasure. These flags can also be linked to a stat that's handled the same way, by some mechanic like "you can click this, but whether you're taken to a success or failure result depends on whether your Iron stat + 1d100 > X". That system brings chance into the outcome. Because the choices in any one situation are all visible, along with their requirements, there's some innate spoiler activity. On the other hand, the player is aware of what other opporunities exist, even if it's not clear what you have to do to earn a flag like "Unaccountably Peckish". (Don't.) These flags have to all be given unique names to link them to specific quests, as with the "Supplies For the Passage" which are unrelated to "Supplies For the Work" and "Supplies". "Morrowind" shows signs of similar naming oddities, because a phrase like "help with a certain problem" has to be unique to one quest if it's not to interfere with others.

Because this text-adventure system is built into a game where you're basically steering a boat around, the core of the interaction is that a menu of choices pops up whenever you reach a port, and there are triggers at sea based on randomness or factors like running out of food. As I recall, "Fallen London" works more by dealing you a random set of "cards" triggering events, where the possible card draws are based on what flags you currently have, then letting you pick the order to resolve them in.

This system also is odd in how it handles time. There are multiple time variables linked to specific places or events, and a master time variable whose purpose is to hand you a "Something Awaits You" flag every so often while sailing, causing special once-per-port-visit events to happen. For instance, visiting the Melting Isles lets you spend Something Awaits You either to dine with the locals or to forage for supplies, but then you have to leave and wait before you can do either again. Quest chains are handled, as in "The Elder Scrolls", by tracking a number from 0 to 100 to represent every possible status of the quest. But they're also tracked in the form of what other items/flags you possess, so for instance a Nephrite Ring represents that you've done X and can be used as a trigger for another event.

I beta-tested "The Pirate's Fate" and thought the design of that was interesting. Because it's a visual novel, the focus is on conversation scenes that happen in a scripted order. I auditioned to help with that by writing a segment for the game, but the writers correctly pointed out that what they wanted was very different from the mindset I brought to the table based on "Dragon Fate". DF is non-linear and uses stats and randomness, and focuses on being a long explorer. TPF is focused on character interaction, with physical location used almost entirely as a backdrop for those conversations. At no point, for instance, are you set free in a town to decide to dawdle and explore until you're ready to move on.

I noticed some hidden variables that are vestigial in the finished game. Eg. you can discuss a poker game by saying "I'm morally against gambling" versus "I'll teach you how to cheat" or another option. As I understand it, the game was going to track your replies to such things and trigger a key plot event based on a rule like "if Moralist > Pragmatist do X". But the designers decided to drop that idea and instead have the big plot twists be shaped entirely by your choices in the key scenes. That's good because the player has agency at that moment, but bad because there's less sense of making meaningful decisions at other times. I also felt like the heroine's personality became strongly scripted and out of the player's control once one or two key decisions were made, which again can be good or bad.

Having played all of these games I can't say that one system is best for all kinds of interactive stories. However, it's important to pick an engine that supports the kind of gameplay you want. In particular, what other gameplay is linked to the Interactive Fiction element: nothing outside it, or something simplistic like Sunless Sea's "sail around and try not to run out of supplies" system, or even a complex game like "Morrowind"? Do you want to show a complex location at one point in time, or a series of events where free movement and backtracking don't exist?

My own inclination is toward having movement between locations, with backtracking, relying on event flags to handle plot development. But I'd also want to see some actual gameplay outside of making choices in conversation, and to have that feel well integrated with the storytelling.
  • Reading: Wicked River (Mississippi R. History)
A difficult PC game with memorable storytelling and a lot of atmosphere, most of it dark and terrifying. Recommended for the excellent writing. That one south port isn't "the place with cheap fuel"; it's a rebel colony of Hell with an ever-changing market exempt from the laws of nature, and fond of "romantic literature".

FOR NEWCOMERS: I was frustrated by the cost of just maintaining my ship and supplies. The key to early game progression is to do tons of port reports for the London Admiralty, which gets you money and fuel, and to ask about intel-gathering missions which are worth substantially more. Especially if you convert two Strategic Information to Vital Intelligence; right-click on the info in your hold, though the V.I. has other effects. (You can also spend the Admiralty favor for cheap repairs and fuel.) And see the wiki. Good low-risk trade routes include coffee or Parabola-Linen from Iron Republic to London, or London mushroom wine north to Venderbight. Coffee also trades at 1:1 for linen in Irem. But... yeesh, it's tough to make money trading luxury goods across *this* sea, compared to the profits from historical spice trading!

The mid-game experience: After 17 hours and 2 dead captains, I have some working capital, a house, a few ship upgrades, and paid massive bribes for access to an exclusive market where I also have spies. I feel that there's little point in trading up my ship because fuel supplies are already a major problem, but might try it. I've turned to save-scumming to get past many "ha ha random doom" events. I was unpleasantly surprised to find that having a home lets me create certain special items but not to store them, so now I have weird widgets I can't use, cluttering my inventory forever because WE ARE CLAY. (Er, I have another item equipped to that slot.) I've started getting involved in my officers' plots. Winning my "famous explorer" ambition at this point is going to require tedious farming of Zee-Stories, Secrets and so on, so I might try for one of the secret victory conditions.

Overall, I've been having fun with it so far after figuring out how to get started. Worth the price!
  • Reading: Wicked River (Mississippi R. History)
At dinner a restaurant TV was playing CNN. It's been a non-stop litany of Trump bashing, on literally no other subject except... a piece about how Fox is a propaganda network. As I was leaving they were discussing McCain a little, focusing on how somebody who insulted him may get a job in the Trump administration. I get that there's room for legitimate criticism on a lot of things, but dude, I have watched children's cartoons with more sophisticated and subtle messaging.
"Angels With Scaly Wings" is a visual novel about dragons, which sounds promising at first. But it also tries to be a murder mystery, which doesn't lend itself well to the VN format. Even the clumsy point-and-click investigation segments of the "Phoenix Wright" games had more flexibility in the ability to look around instead of linearly being asked "what does Wound X mean". Since the gameplay isn't compelling, does the story capture my attention?

I like stories with strong world-building, so I figured a dragon world could be pretty interesting. Through the dimensional portal I saw... a world where the furniture and architecture look exactly normal for modern humans, the cafe sells bacon and eggs, the locals explicitly use "the English language", names are plausible human ones, the sheriff wears a star, there's casual mention of a list of phone numbers, the kitchen has Earth fruits, and so on. What really stood out was a background detail: a hallway with a sign for a womens' room. The standard Earth "woman" icon, although the artists had just enough energy to write "FEMALES" under it. I get the strong impression that the developers just bought a large pack of generic VN background images and made no effort to develop a unique or interesting world. So this is not world-building at all, and the characters have to do 100% of the job of making this setting and story seem interesting.

Do they? Eh, I guess a few could catch my attention with enough time (Anna, maybe?) though I'm actually not very interested in the romance element and my own character is barely defined. I can't actually have a freely structured conversation with any of them because this is a VN and I must go through a small set of choose-your-own-adventure branches at designated plot moments, so the friend-making part is kind of like a series of prison visits: "all right, you can have one scene with one of these 5 people and then it's back to the crime plot; pick one." So, the characters haven't managed to sell me on the game yet and the setting isn't doing its job.

In its defense, the game's human characters do briefly remark that it's a little bit odd how familiar the dragon world looks. (A little bit!?) I suspect that this ties in with the larger plot by the end, but I just haven't seen enough to make me want to find out.
  • Reading: Wicked River (Mississippi R. History)

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KSchnee
Kris Schnee
Artist | Student | Literature
United States
I'm a writer, studying computer science and with a background in many other things. Currently at work on writing and polishing short stories. Check out my novels "Everyone's Island" and "Striking the Root" on Amazon!
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:iconoboroten:
oboroten Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2018
Happy birthday.
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:iconkschnee:
KSchnee Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2018  Student Writer
Thanks!
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:icondrake-starfire:
Drake-Starfire Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2018
Hey, happy Birthday! :thumbsup:
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:iconkschnee:
KSchnee Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2018  Student Writer
Thank you!
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:iconsnowcrasher:
SnowCrasher Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the :+fav:!
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:iconnekosune:
nekosune Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2018
I love your books! Bought every thousand tales ones so far!
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:iconkschnee:
KSchnee Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2018  Student Writer
By the way, a new one is out: "Liberation Game".
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:iconkschnee:
KSchnee Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2018  Student Writer
Thank you! A preview of "Crafter's Passion" is up on kindlescout.amazon.com/ right now (probably published in a month or so) and I'm just about to publish a short one called "Fairwind's Fortune" in the next day or two!
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:iconmightyraptor:
MightyRaptor Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2017  Student Digital Artist
hiMr. Rawr greetings gif 
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