March 8, 2013

Damsels in Distress

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 5:17 pm
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In honor of today being the International Women’s Day and all, I give you Anita Sarkeesian’s first video in her series of discussing women in video games: Damsels in Distress part 1.

It’s interesting, it’s enjoyable, and it’s about video games. The internet doesn’t get much better than that, ladies and gents.

Happy International Women’s Day!


February 5, 2013

Out in Italian

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 4:20 pm
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In 2005, I published an article called The Collective’s Little Red Book. It was collection of thoughts and ideas on how to organize live action roleplays collectively (yes, I’m a mega-geek). This week, that article came out in the Italian Symposium Ragionando di larp. Opinioni e riflessioni sui giochi di ruolo dal vivo (Reasoning about larp. Opinions and reflections about live action role-playing) by Andrea Castellani.
Order your print versions here for a measly $8.75 or get the ebook version for free.

Now I can say that my work has been translated into Italian. How cool is that?

(Before you start thinking I’ve turned this blog into a bragging space, let me tell you that I’ve been rejected from publications 4 times this week. I’m keeping the balance right between good news and bad.)

January 30, 2013


Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 7:04 am
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It happened a while back, I was just too busy applying for jobs to notice.

Age of Conan’s latest content update, Secrets of the Dragon’s Spine, went live.
Secrets of the Dragon's Spine
With that content update, my very first dialog lines have been published. Making me an official game writer (sorta). So play, enjoy, and look for Jamila, the Tempest of Set, and dancing, half-naked women.

See you on the battlefield!

July 5, 2012

A Bit of Bragging

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 8:15 am
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I just thought you might want to see a bit more of the game I’ve been working on, so here’s the launch trailer:

And remember, once you start playing, that I coordinated the text. Isn’t it pretty?

July 2, 2012

Aaaaand we’re back!

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 7:48 pm
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That’s it. Game is launched. Regular posting should commence as soon as I’m done sleeping.

But seriously guys, I helped launch a AAA MMO. That’s pretty cool.

April 21, 2012

Pet Peeve of the Day: Gender in Gaming

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 10:37 am
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I’ve just backed my first kickstarter project: Shadowrun. Shadowrun was the first urban fantasy book series I read, I was obsessed with the RPG and it was the setting for one of my first short stories, so when they asked for backing, I was in.

Then I watched the pitch video (you know, the please-give-us-all-your-money video), and I got the distinct feeling that it wasn’t aimed at me. I haven’t analyzed all of it, but I know the sentence that alienated me completely: “I love making games and I’ve been making them for a really, really long time. You may have heard of some of them, or maybe your dad has, games like…”

1. Way to make me feel old. I’ve heard of the games he mentioned, so I must be old enough to have kids backing these projects.

2. Or maybe your dad has. Your dad. Not your parents. Not your mom. Your dad. Because girls don’t play games, right?

Now, of course, I buried these peeves and still backed the project. I love Shadowrun, and I’m not going to let the uncomfortable feeling in my tummy telling me that he’s not pitching this game to me dictate whether or not I support it. After all, I know I’ll love this game, even if its creators think that only (old? young?) men will.

Then I got update message number 8 in my email inbox. Along with other news, it said that if you back the game with $60, you get a special backer tee-shirt. Sweet, I thought. Maybe I should back for more money, after all I’m in love with this game, and how cute would I be in a backer tee-shirt. Let’s take a look at them.

You probably already know what’s coming, right? That’s right: three nicely designed tee-shirts, all of them for men. No girly tees. Now, I know there are girls working on this project. I saw them far in the background of the pitch video. Don’t you think they’d like a tee-shirt that fits? In fact, have you ever been in a position where all the participatory tee-shirts are designed for women and men just have to live with it? I didn’t think so.

It’s not so much the fact that I want everything to be catered to me (although I’d love it if mainstream cinema was), it’s the fact that I feel like they haven’t given my demographic a thought at all. The girl gamer is expected to suck it up and wear menswear, ignore problematic gender issues in the games they play and accept that their entertainment will be aimed at others. And I don’t think that’s fair.

This is not a call to arms for fluffy bunnies and more interactive versions of playing house, I love shooting zombies as much as the next person. What this is, is a call for gaming companies to realize that they already have a whole group of people willing to back their projects, but they’re not pitching to them.

I could go into an even longer rant about this, but Bob from the escapist has covered the subject really well in five minutes, so I highly suggest you watch that.

April 18, 2012

Writer Wednesday with Karl Andre Bertheussen

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 11:35 am
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Today, I’m pleased to present Karl Andre Bertheussen, senior narrative designer for Funcom‘s game Age of Conan. Karl Andre’s job is to make sure the story told in AoC is compelling enough for people to keep playing the game. So who better to share some insights on designing narratives for games with us? I’ll leave the floor to this master story designer.

Narration in Games
What is game narration?

Most people associate “narration” with books or movies, but most games today rely on storytelling as well, just not in the conventional way of the traditional mediums. The key difference being audience interaction. A game involves the player actively in the story, whereas the audience of a movie or the readers of a book merely observe it.

However different, writing a game narrative has some similarities to that of a novel or screenplay. The degree of difference often depends on what sort of game the studio is developing. For example, a story in an first person shooter (FPS) will most likely be told in a very different way than the story of a single-player role-playing game (RPG). In this blog post I will focus on massively multiplayer online games (MMO’s), and the challenges of making good game narration for these types of games.

In a novel, the writer takes the reader down a strict and narrow path, much like a screenwriter does with the audience of a movie. From beginning to end, the reader is presented with plot, characters, and inciting incidents in the order the writer intended. The audience knows and accepts these rules, because breaking them (by fast forwarding or skipping a chapter) would ruin the experience of the medium.

In a game we don’t have the luxury of guiding the player down that same path, because if we do, we take away the freedom of choice which is a key part to why we have an audience in the first place. That presents us with the following challenges: How do we go about telling the story? How do we make the narrative work if the player has complete freedom of what he wants to do when, or even skips entire areas of the game? And on top of that: With games being so much more than narration, how do we make the players invested in the story?

The last question isn’t a big mystery: Players get invested in game narration for the same reasons they get invested in a good book. Plot, setting, characters, and drama – but unlike books, the game medium presents another important element: the possibility for the player to choose the outcome of the story, that the choices they make in its course has consequences and can change the world they interact with. However not impossible, these are difficult elements to incorporate in an MMO, because the game world must be constant to all players. If you rescue the farmer’s daughter, another player can do the same five minutes later. Even though you’ve made an impact on the world, the farmer’s daughter will still be captured for all those who didn’t rescue her yet. For some players this can take away from the story immersion, but as with skipping a chapter in a book, most players accept this rule of perpetuity in an MMO, and sees the story as something being told to them personally, rather than to everyone at once. Clever design can also help with this. As long as the captive farmer’s daughter is kept away from your future adventures, it becomes easier to accept that your action had an impact.

Making narration work in a game which offers freedom of choice in what to do when and where, is not an easy task. Having the player do quests is one solution. A quest is basically a small task, sending the player into an area with a specific purpose in mind. For example: rescuing the farmer’s daughter. If the main story of the play area is that brigands have taken control, you weave that information into the quest at hand, for example by placing the captive daughter in the brigand’s HQ. In this way, we can add a visual component to the narrative. Adding an HQ and placing out hostile brigands for the player to encounter on his way, is narration by gameplay, and an important way of telling the story. When the player returns to the farmer (with the freed daughter) he will know that the brigands are antagonists, whether he read the written narrative or not.

Quests are an important element of game narration. The way they are structured is very important, and the narration can easily falter if the story designer doesn’t know his job. How the quests are arranged, in which order they appear and where, and what bits of information the they give the player at which time, needs to be carefully planned to tell a story successfully. Sometimes quests are tied together, thus making sure the player is told the story in the order the designers want; sometimes quests stand alone, just supporting the main story by introducing characters or locations that are important to the narrative. The key to success is to find the right balance. As with a novelist, a game narrator doesn’t want to confuse his audience with too much information at once, give away the plot too quickly, or bore them with tedious details. He simply want the audience to enjoy themselves.

Game narration is a huge canvas to paint, but since I have greatly exhausted my suggested word count of 300, I believe I should end on this note. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments.

With a humble bow to all you dreamers out there,
Karl Andre Bertheussen,
Narrative Designer, Age of Conan (Funcom)

January 1, 2012

Happy new year!

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 2:10 pm
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Thank you to all my wonderful friends for sharing 2011 with me. I have a feeling 2012 will be an excellent year.

I don’t really have any resolutions for this year. I have training goals, and writing plans, but no set improvements that I wish to make upon my life. But I know that 2012 will be exciting. You see, I have exciting news. On Tuesday Jan 3rd I’ll become a Text Coordinator, proofreading and editing text for computer games, and coordinating the collaboration between the localizations team and the writers of games to make sure everything is running smoothly. I couldn’t be more excited (unless someone wanted to publish my latest novel, of course. Oh gods of the publishing world, hear me). Anyways, that means 2012 will be a different year no matter what I do. I’ll be a full-time employee in a writing community and doing writingesque stuff. Life couldn’t be much better.

Other plans for the new year include a fresh training program, and a second go at the 30 day Paleo challenge after I read this inspiring blog post by Sarah Fragoso. The only person holding me back is myself. So this year I’m going to kick-start my new job with a fresh start at healthy, natural living and exciting changes to my training. Stay tuned for more info on that.

I have a good feeling about this year people.

How about you? Any resolutions? Any goals? Any premonitions about 2012?

December 23, 2011

Christmas in the house

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 10:10 pm
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Hi all!

We’re almost ready for Christmas here in the nascent novelist household.

This year is a year of firsts. First time I’ve planned a Christmas for me and my man (if we ignore last year’s unfortunate, unplanned Christmas), first time I’ll be having people over for Christmas eve, first time I’ve gotten the least presents in a household. I’m excited about the first two points, and a little bummed about the third, but that’s what I get for being adult and asking for nothing, I guess.

Anyways, the presents are bought and the house is filled with red stuff. We’re gorging ourselves on clementines and minecraft, and I’m just about to pop open the wine (or chocolate, I’ve yet to decide which). Tonight, before bedtime, I’ll fill the stockings, and we’ll be all set. 3-2-1 Christmas!

Happy holidays everyone!

December 20, 2011

To My Someday Daughter: a great article about gaming culture

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 11:55 am
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Geordie Tait‘s article To My Someday Daughter is well worth a read. Tait examines the prejudices and double standards of male gamers using the community’s reaction to Alyssa Bereznak’s piece about dating a MTG champion. He’s honest and funny, and that helps the medicine go down. If you’re still considering clicking the link to his piece, I invite you to read this quote:

“Feminism is an actual field of study. As with any field of study, it should be entered with an absence of preconceptions. If a woman has strong feelings about women’s issues, it doesn’t mean she spends all of her time sharpening her castration tools. Talk to women about what’s important to them. As you learn more, you’ll understand more, in the same way that a budding engineer might gradually grow to understand a complex blueprint. If your first instinct when you hear the word “feminist” is to say “those man-haters want equality, but they still want me to pay for everything, hurf durf!” then you currently have as accurate an understanding of feminism as a confectioner would have of a Titan II missile schematic. You know those congressmen who say that Grand Theft Auto IV is a “crime simulator” that is “training new felons?” That’s you, and feminism.”


Now go read the rest of the article.

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