Monday, April 7, 2014

My Writing Process - Part of the BlogTour!

There's this thing going around on the bloggosphere, a chain letter of sorts, where bloggers who write describe what they're working on and their writing process. Last week, Robin Triggs wrote his entry as part of the Blogtour, and forwarded writing duties on to me. I've known Robin for many years from the old "reading group" I used to run at Ottakar's Bookstore, where instead of reading a book and then talking about it each month, we'd try a different roleplaying game. He later joined a short lived game I was in where he experienced my usual tactic in playing Call of Cthulhu first hand, which involved getting as many flammable items together and rolling them into the cultists' headquarters and running away. Sorry guys! Anyway, thanks Robin for linking to me. Let's look at the questions shall we?

What Am I Working On?

Regular readers of my blog and my angsty updates on Twitter and Facebook will know that I'm still working on WILD, roleplaying in shared dreaming. Best described as "Inception meets Sucker Punch" it is about dreamshare technology allowing people to join together in their wildest fantasies for recreation, for therapy, for investigation and espionage. The core rulebook is still underway, and every day I think of new and weirder ideas for the game. I worry sometimes that it may be a little too odd, but if you understood movies like Paprika, or Dreamscape, then you'll be fine. I have very definite ideas for page layouts and illustration, which is frustrating as I just can't seem to get the ideas in my head down onto the paper.

When I'm not fretting over game rules for WILD, I'm working on a tie in novel for the game, the first of a trilogy, which tells the story of Carter Henderson's creation of the dreamshare technology to try to wake his daughter from a coma. I did the first draft as part of NaNoWriMo in 2012, and I left it alone for a bit while I concentrated on the game. Now I'm working on a new draft to try to get it to a readable state for public consumption.

When I'm not working on those, I sometimes have game writing work for other games I've worked on for publishers, rather than WILD which is purely my pet project.

How does my work differ from others in my genre?

My work is not as good as others in my genre? Is that a sufficient answer? When it comes to game design I suffer terribly from imposter syndrome. The fact that I've line developed a game series and designed the game system for one of the longest running SF TV show's tie in RPG, which in turn is being used for multiple other games, means nothing to me. I'm just a guy who works in retail too many days a week to pay the bills, so this game design stuff is all a fantastic dream that occurs every now and then. 

When it comes to WILD, the game is incredibly personal to me, and I'm convinced that I'm the only person on the planet who would be interested in playing it.

As for the fiction, I've been told a write a bit like Chuck Palahniuk (which is a massive compliment). As the tie in novel is really teen fiction, the concept of Chuck Palahniuk writing teen fiction is highly amusing, and a bit different, so I hope that kinda answers that one.

Why do I write what I do?

When it comes to games, I've always loved roleplaying games. They defined who I am though many stages of my life, and without them I'd be a very different person. As for WILD? I really wanted to so something a bit different from the usual "go find the bad thing and kill it" type of game.  I wanted to do something that would work in any genre, any time period, and be as grounded in reality as the dreams of the characters in Inception, or as extreme as the fantasy realms of Babydoll in Sucker Punch. Do anything, be anything. If you can dream it, you can be it.

The fiction started as a simple backstory to the game, and it quickly built into a very personal exploration of dreams, loss, regret and frustration. Getting some of the scenes in the book onto paper has been very therapeutic, getting them out of my head and into the wild (so to speak).

In both cases I just wanted to so something that wasn't about people trying to kill each other. 

How does your writing process work?

Very, very slowly. One of the disadvantages of (a) working full time in a mundane dayjob, and (b) doubting everything you put on paper is that every word is a struggle to get out. The novel stuff seems to be squeezed out in my work lunchhours, while if there's a particular gaming deadline I'll try to take a few days off from the dayjob to really concentrate on what I'm doing.

When it comes to game design, for me it's all about game system, and making sure it's as invisible as possible. When the game system does come to the fore, it should reflect the theme of the game as much as possible. 

Fiction is a whole different case. For the WILD novel I knew what I wanted to tell, but had no structure, but the wonders of the time pressures of NaNoWriMo meant I just hammered it out and everything started falling into place. The rewrite means I can correct bits I didn't like in readthrough, and pick up on elements I'd missed, elaborating and making things clearer.

However, writing with a cat sat upon you is a true test of concentration and agility.

Coming Next...

Part of this "Blogtour" thing is that I pass the duties on to at least one more writer/blogger for them to take up the task of continuing the "chain". Sorry guys! Next week will be the turn of...

Stoo Goff Stoo Goff is a writer, musician and programmer hailing from Norwich and now living in Glasgow. When not buried beneath a mountain of programming code or torturing guitars he can be found creating strange new lands and conjuring dreams from nothing. He regularly promises himself that he will finish the next novel and album.

He is heavily influenced by a number of writers and musicians, including: Tom Waits, Ursula Le Guin, Trent Reznor, Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, Gene Wolfe, Frank Miller and a host of Finnish Folk Metal.

Follow him on Twitter @stoogoff.


Tim Maytom - Tim Maytom is a writer and game developer from Norwich who is always promising to stop messing around on the Internet and actually do some work. He is currently working on a sword-and-sorcery fantasy game of ever-growing scope, and a light-hearted modern fantasy game in the vein of Scott Pilgrim and Adventure Time.

When not working on games, he compulsively comes up with concepts for superheroes and works in retail. He will dance given the slightest opportunity.

Follow him on Twitter @trivia_lad and on Tumblr at
Do check out these guys' work, they're both awesome people and you'd do yourself a great favour looking at their creations. You can also follow the many other entries in the blogtour by checkout out the #mywritingtour tag on Twitter. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

PITCH - KA-TET: Adventures in the Worlds of Stephen King's "The Dark Tower"

"First come smiles, then lies. The last is gunfire." 

Our world is connected to many others, and at the centre is the Dark Tower - a nexus point of time and space, the heart of all worlds - a tower under threat from an ancient evil. A group of mismatched "heroes" are thrown together from across space and time to embark on an epic journey across wastelands, facing horrors, to reach the Tower to restore the Beams and to save reality itself.

However, Roland, Eddie, Susannah and Jake, along with their billy-bumbler, Oy, were not the only Ka-Tet travelling through the realities to the Tower. Now players of Ka-Tet can form their own group of characters to battle the forces of evil through the many worlds of Stephen King's imagination. 

Ka-Tet: Adventures in the Worlds of Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" is a 304pg core rulebook. Within its pages you will find:

  • The complete game system, utilising the Rapid Die Movement system from Autocratik's game "WILD", adapted to use D19s (available separately)
  • Character creation system that allows the creation of player characters from across multiple realities, from the gunslingers of Mid-World, to the darker side of our world.
  • Pregenerated characters for Roland, Eddie, Susannah, and Jake, along with stats for the many villains and helpers they will meet on their epic quest.
  • Introductory adventure "The Drawing" to bring the characters together, to form their own Ka-Tet, and to launch them on their quest to the Dark Tower.

304page hardcover
Written and Designed by: David F. Chapman
Cover art: Michael Welan 

An Autocratik Publication

This isn't a real RPG, like The Beatles RPG - but again, there's a level of hope there. 

But, there's a little tale to tell here. As you'll probably know from my many blog posts, especially this one about Carrie, I've always been a massive fan of Stephen King. Meeting him during his Lisey's Story tour in London was easily one of the highlights of my time working in the book trade, and it was reading IT that really got me reading books for pleasure. Without Stephen King, I don't know if I'd have been much of a reader, which probably would have meant I'd have never worked in book stores, and I may never have read Harry Potter, and... oh, it's all too horrific to consider.

About four years ago I was thinking about how cool Steven King's universe was, how it all tied together across multiple books and worlds, all connected to the Dark Tower, and I thought how cool it would be to have a roleplaying game with the Dark Tower as its heart. Sure you could play the Gunslinger and other awesome characters from the Dark Tower series, but they travel across the world of The Stand, and just about every King novel has some connection, albeit in a minor way...

It would mean that your Dark Tower RPG could have supplements to play Salem's Lot, The Stand, Insomnia, Eyes of the Dragon, IT, Black House, Desperation, Hearts in Atlantis, The Talisman, and even The Shining. Just how cool would it be to play in Steven King's universe?

I still had contacts at King's UK publishers, and dropped them an email about it, and they kindly forwarded my query to Stephen King's lawyers. After many days of waiting, the verdict was a no - understandable really, I was a little fish in a big pond, especially as the Dark Tower was in the middle of various changing plans for TV series / movies / TV movies / movie series or something... the talks are still going on. Maybe someday in the future they'll sort it all out and we'll get to see Roland on the big and small screens.

A game set in King's worlds would have been cool, and it hasn't put me off revisiting the many dark settings of the master of horror. Far from it. As long as Stephen King keeps writing, I'll certainly be reading them.