Humble Bundle Full of Books

Posted by on Feb 26, 2015 in Books, Humble Bundle | 0 comments

Hum­ble Bun­dle: A place of mad­ness, I tell ya’

Alright, for those who don’t know, Hum­ble Bun­dle does a pay-what-you-want kind of thing for assorted books and games. They bun­dle the stuff up and you get it for…well, what­ever you pay.

$1? Sure.

$100? Sure.

There are bonuses, of course, if you pay higher than the aver­age or higher than a cer­tain amount (like $15), but the bulk of the good­ies are yours at any price.

Check out what they are offer­ing here: https://www.humblebundle.com/books

$123 worth of DRM free books in three for­mats: EPUB, Mobi, and PDF, all from Sub­ter­ranean Press. Har­lan Elli­son, Joe R. Lans­dale, John Scalzi — a whole hella lot of good authors in 22 books (if you pay at least $15).

Some of the meta-data is a bit wonky on one or two of the books (poor Robert Mac­Cam­mon is “First­name Last­name” in his offer­ing, I Travel by Night) but it is a small price to pay for so many books at such an afford­able cost. Not to men­tion, a quick meta­data update via Cal­i­bre (you do use Cal­i­bre for your DRM free book col­lec­tion, right? Right? *judg­ing*) will fix that right up.

Check it out as it ends in six days.

 

*poof*

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On Being an Ass About Kickstarter

Posted by on Jan 9, 2015 in Rants, Writing | 4 comments

Be fore­warned, I feel a lit­tle snarky about this sub­ject, and it shows.

Kick­starter, seem­ingly a place for chaos and strife.

Who would have thunk it? Cer­tainly not I.

Kick­starter, for those who don’t know, is a place where cre­ators of what­ever — movies, games, zip­per masks — can crowd-fund a project. Basi­cally fund­ing an expen­sive ven­ture through a lot of smaller trans­ac­tions, and giv­ing those who sent money their way some perks like a free copy of the game, or a thank you in the cred­its, or a ninja-kick to the junk.

It’s fun.

It’s great.

And thanks to Kick­starter, we find our­selves with games and movies that would not have ever seen the light of day otherwise.

Sto­rium.

Waste­land 2.

Tor­ment: Tides of Numen­era.

This thing.

 

Yet, some­times, a Kick­starter cam­paign will blow the hell up, send­ing ner­drage shrap­nel and unin­formed bull­shit in all directions.

 

First floor: Tee-shirts, swimwear, unin­formed rage

A few days ago I came across an inter­est­ing post on The Pas­sive Voice, which I rec­om­mend you read, as there are always awe­some posts pop­ping up there. The title of said post was “Why I Can­celled the Kick­starter”.

Hmm, I mum­bled as I clicked.

Here are the basics:

An author, Stacey Jay (a pen name for the author’s YA books), had started a Kick­starter cam­paign to pub­lish the sec­ond book of a can­celled series — one that sold well, but not well enough for the pub­lisher to con­tinue with her (note: I am say­ing “her” due to the pen-name being Stacey, so this is an assump­tion, and could be wrong). So, being the brave new world, she decided, WTF let’s do this any­way, and opened a Kickstarter.

The idea: Sup­port me, includ­ing the costs I will incur by avoid­ing an hourly day-job in order to write this novel in a few months, and get a novel and perks for doing so.

I guess the brave new world ain’t so brave, and cer­tainly not as new, as it looks. The “stodgy, grumpy, enraged, filled with ass­holes” old world is still there, just wait­ing for some­one to over­step some invis­i­ble bound­ary, equipped with +1 Cud­gels of Get-Back-In-Line.

In this case, things went *poof* in her face. In her own words:

But late last night I was made aware that the writer/blogger/reader com­mu­nity was angered by my Kick­starter to fund the Princess of Thorns sequel. Space cadet that I am, I was com­pletely shocked. I never meant to make peo­ple angry. Quite the opposite–I wanted to make my Young Adult read­ers who kept ask­ing what was next from me happy.

Angered, folks. Peo­ple got angry.

For real.

There are things to get angry about. A bee in your trousers. A boss that grabs your ass. The fact the high­est gross­ing app in the world is basi­cally “shop for expen­sive stuff with Kim Kardashian.”

But anger over a Kick­starter for a novel?

Why?

Well, it seems an author isn’t sup­posed to con­sider eat­ing, drink­ing, elec­tric­ity, and the feed­ing of the wee lit­tle ones as they write a book. The catch­ing point for most seemed to be that Stacey Jay needed to con­sider liv­ing expenses as she wrote the novel over the next months.

Oh man! What an ass­hole, right? I mean, she want to eat and have elec­tric­ity while writing?

Man, when I was her age, we used to etch our sto­ries into our flesh with hot knives, in the dark, while starv­ing, and only had one pair of pants which only had one leg-hole and…

Hon­estly.

Now, truth­fully, Kick­starter is not meant for cov­er­ing your food expenses, at least not directly. One can­not start a Kick­starter cam­paign called “I’m fuck­ing hun­gry, pay me $10 so I can eat” and offer absolutely no ser­vices or end-product.

But when you sup­port that videogame, or that movie, the money does go to food. The coder of that Donkey-Muffin Extreme Snow­board­ing app you sup­ported will use said money to keep the juice run­ning at home. He/she ain’t work­ing for free. He/she ain’t eat­ing the dig­i­tal bits and bytes of his/her code to sur­vive. He/she needs to feed them pesky rugrats, who need all those calo­ries and bull­shit. Damn lit­tle kids.

In this case, Stacey Jay was the provider of said ser­vices — we give $$, she eats and writes. What’s the dif­fer­ence? Where is the dis­crep­ancy here? Why should the actors in a Kick­starter movie use some por­tion of said money, paid to them for their tal­ents as actors, to live off of, and Stacey Jay be sep­a­rate and dif­fer­ent in ask­ing for money to use her tal­ent to pro­duce an end-product?

Hell, that’s the whole point. I payed InEx­ile so they could feed their coders while their coders made me my game. Sure, it also helps cover other stuff: New hard­ware, adver­tis­ing, bring­ing in new artists, etc. But in the end, I give $$, a coder eats, a coder codes, I play game, happy fun time much excite.

 

Allow me a moment of your time here for a quick logic-check

Kick­start­ing a movie. Great!

Kick­start­ing an awe­some fic­tion game plat­form. Great!

Kick­start­ing a robotic roach. Great!

Kick­start­ing a salt-shooting mini-shotgun to kill flies. Great!

Kick­start­ing a sequel to a beloved videogame. Great!

George R. R. Mar­tin get­ting a hefty advance to write a book so the man can eat and keep the lights on. Great!

Stephen King get­ting a hefty advance to write lots and lots of books while simul­ta­ne­ously pay­ing elec­tric bills and feed­ing chil­dren. Great!

A woman going to Kick­starter and say­ing, “Hey, if you want to, you can pay me $10, and I can eat, keep my house, and write the next novel in a series.” Not great! BOOOOOOOO! HISSSS! ENRAGED!

 

 

Time to reconsider

It’s time, dear reader, we take a good hard look at this sort of thing, and ask our­selves, “Why? Why? OMG why am I mad about this?”

Why shouldn’t a writer ask for liv­ing expenses, as long as said expenses are rea­son­able, and be able to use Kick­starter for such a thing? The fact is, if her fans thought it was a shit idea, they would vote by not sup­port­ing the work. Poof. Done. Gone. The Kick­starter would fail, and then the mes­sage would be clear.

Instead, a num­ber of folks went to the inter­net and rat­tled cages, flung poo, and made a lot of noise.

And now, Stacey Jay has can­celled the project, and no book gets made.

Is this a win?

Did the INTARNETZZZZ win a deci­sive bat­tle on the high hill of moral­ity here?

I think not.

To me, this is a loss. I don’t know Stacey Jay. I don’t read YA romance. I would never have picked up this novel. It isn’t on my radar.

But we lost some­thing here: A novel, yes, and more.

The free­dom of an artist to ask for money — not just for their art, but to sim­ply exist as a human being while mak­ing said art — has yet again been punched in the groin.

 

More readin’

http://marnibates.com/2015/01/07/stacey-jay-veronica-mars-and-the-kickstarter-controversy/

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2015/01/07/kickstarter-tag-team-post-whats-asking-too-much/

http://staceyjayya.blogspot.com/2015/01/apology-explanation-and-why-i-cancelled.html

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Starting 2015 Right for Writers

Posted by on Jan 5, 2015 in Writing | 0 comments

It’s 2015, folks! Betcha didn’t know that. Mmmhmm, that’s why you come here — To be edumacated!

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I’m feel­ing the new-year this time. I’ve had a lot of changes in the last year, and I expect more changes to come.

I want to make it a good year. Maybe you do too. Maybe you write, and want to be bet­ter this year than you have ever been before.

Well, let’s do this together. But together, like sep­a­rate together. Please don’t drop by my house with a sleep­ing bag or any­thing, OK?

Let’s do this: A list of amaz­ing resources for you, dear reader:

1 – Read the blog of Jamie Todd Rubin

Here is a mad geek sci­en­tist if ever there was one. A writer of SF, Jamie is very open about his work­flow. He shows you what he does and how he does it, and man­aged over 400k words in a year only writ­ing an hour a day.

He writes com­pletely in Google Docs.

He’s scripted Docs to auto­mat­i­cally tally his writ­ing, in both fic­tion and non­fic­tion, and put them all into a spread­sheet for him. This way he can just write, and ignore all else. He opens a doc in Docs, scrib­bles, and closes it, let­ting his auto­mated processes count words and mail him the info.

But, besides all that nerdy mad­ness, he also writes (often) on the blog about writ­ing, read­ing, use­ful apps, etc. He’s been pub­lished in an ass­load of pro mag­a­zines, so when he talks, it behooves us to listen.

Check him out at: http://www.jamierubin.net/

If you want to see some of his writ­ing mad­ness, look at this site, which auto­mat­i­cally polls his writ­ing and makes pretty graphs… mmmmm graphs.

Also, if Google Docs is your thing, you can fol­low the instruc­tions here to set things up to count your words and track your writing.

2 – Lis­ten to the Dead Robots’ Soci­ety, the Round­table, and I Should be Writing

I’ve talked about these blokes before, but in this new and shiny 2015, allow me to remind every­one: The Dead Robot’s Soci­ety is one of the best writ­ing pod­casts out there, for a num­ber of sim­ple reasons.

First, it is a joy to lis­ten to.

Sec­ond, the hosts run the gamut of pub­lish­ing: Indie, small press, Ama­zon, not Ama­zon, folks that pants their way like mani­acs and oth­ers who lay out a bit more brick­work before lay­ing on the words.

Third, these folks are active. Really active. Patreon pages (well worth your read­ing time!), indie pub­lished SF nov­els (super good stuff), fic­tion pod­casts (oooh, ancient gods and his­tor­i­cal fic­tion!), you name it. You can learn a lot from their chats on all of it.

The Round­table Pod­cast is among the best out there, cov­er­ing all aspects of writ­ing, includ­ing inter­views with those in the trenches. Dave Robi­son is a joy to lis­ten to, and things are always lively and inter­est­ing and strange when they get going. Do your­self a favor and have episodes of The Round­table play­ing as you exer­cise (HA!) or lan­guish, depressed and dejected, on the living-room couch.

And, the one and only I Should be Writ­ing, hosted by Camp­bell award-winning Mur Laf­ferty. This is a must-listen pod­cast. Inter­views, the tra­vails of pub­lish­ing, years worth of pre­vi­ous pod­casts… You can also sup­port her via Patreon and get all the back cat­a­logue — years worth — of episodes. Trust me, I’ve lis­tened to most of the shows, and you will learn a lot — both about writ­ing, and about your­self (you ain’t the only one with doubts, dear reader, join the club) — through the podcast.

 

3 – Get your SF & F mags, fill your brain

Noth­ing helps writ­ing more than read­ing. It sucks. You stop read­ing for a few days due to hol­i­days and the like, and Ye Olde gray mat­ter starts to get stiff. The words stop flow­ing as easy. The ideas don’t beat down the doors anymore.

Sign up to one (or all) of the old-school pro mag­a­zines. Do it via Kin­dle (way cheaper) or via actual, mailed mag­a­zines (cooler, more expensive).

Hon­estly. I know we aren’t all aim­ing to be pub­lished for short sto­ries, or even SF and fan­tasy, but the con­tent in these mag­a­zines is mind-blowing. You can feel the sto­ries stretch­ing your brain-meat, and expand­ing what you con­sider pos­si­ble in fiction.

Asimov’s Sci­ence Fic­tion for $2.99 a month.

F&SF for .99 a month.

Ana­log for $2.99.

Every month you get a bunch of pro sto­ries writ­ten by seri­ous SF and fan­tasy peo­ple, edited by pros at the mag­a­zines, and chock full of crazy ideas.

It really helps keep the juices flow­ing, and it’s a lot eas­ier to read a short story than a novel when time is tight. And a lot cheaper than a cup of Star­bucks coffee.

 

4 – Fig­ure out your workflow

It’s time, folks, it’s time. Stop muck­ing around with your tools (you’ll go blind that way!).

Fig­ure out what you need: Do you need to write on the go? Can you even write on the go?

Iron some­thing out, and stick with it. Don’t worry about the other bull­shit. Like Scrivener? Use it. Like iA Writer? Use it.

Ignore the other good­ies whis­per­ing your name, singing their siren songs. You don’t need it. Pick the tools you are com­fort­able in, marry them, and move on.

Did the folks behind iA Writer release a new writ­ing app? Sure they did. Do you need it? Depends: If you are happy with iA Writer/Scrivener/Google Docs/chiseling your sto­ries into stone, then don’t even bother with it.

Make 2015 a year of words, not a year of try­ing out all the new, shiny, tools.

 

5 – Write

Eas­ier said than done, some­times, am I right?

I mean, who the hell are you to think you can stand next to the Asi­movs and Brad­burys of the world?

And all that time! You have to dust, clean, watch football…

Yeah. 2015. We should just give up.

Or no. Instead, just write. The more you do it, the eas­ier it gets, the bet­ter you feel, etc. It’s a cycle.

Every­one says it. So often, in fact, it sounds hack­neyed. “Suu­u­ure, duh, of course it helps” you may think, yet still not do it.

Yet, when put into prac­tice, it can really help.

When I write daily, I feel good. Moti­vated. Happy. Like I can do this shit, maaaaaaaaan. Dig it?

When I let it slide, play some games, watch some movies,  I feel stag­nant the next time I write. The words are more slug­gish, atro­phied lit­tle word-legs twitch­ing. I sit to write and it’s like I am look­ing through a fog.

Make it a game. Join a Face­book group and post about how many words you wrote that day. Use the Magic Spread­sheet to earn points for every day you write. Track your progress in a spread­sheet, or with what­ever floats your goat.

 

Happy 2015, folks. Let’s make it a good year.

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The Cycle of Crapolla: Dealing with Drafts and Crits

Posted by on Sep 23, 2014 in Writing | 0 comments

Writ­ing is a thing, right? Peo­ple do it, peo­ple think about it, peo­ple write about it, peo­ple write about peo­ple writ­ing about it.

All sorts of myths swirl around about this thing — it’s a great gift by super­nat­ural beings, your god or God or their god or God instilled the desire/skill to write in your brain-meat at a young age, it’s untouch­able art and peo­ple need to under­stand it…

But all that is wrong, and it’s all shit, and it’s all bad for you.

The fact is, at the end of the cow, when the day comes home, when the road meets the grind­stone (and assorted other butchered plat­i­tudes), it isn’t about magic and mys­ti­cal space beings and myth­i­cal feel­ings. It’s work, and work for hours and days and weeks and months. And it just gets started when you “fin­ish” a manuscript.

Because that’s when oth­ers *gasp* see it.

 

Writ­ing it is the easy stuff. Get­ting it chopped up in lit­tle pieces by beta-readers so you can sew it back together bet­ter is the hard part.

This blog has been neglected lately — some of this is due to pro­cras­ti­na­tion. I spend seri­ous time on each post and end up push­ing it aside until later when I, sup­pos­edly, will have more time. But, also, in part because of a large project I’ve been writing.

A sci-fi ser­ial — space opera good­ness in ten parts — filled with ancient ruins and mys­te­ri­ous relics. It’s fun stuff, and I can’t wait to get it out there.

It’s all mapped out — as in I spent days map­ping star sys­tems, research­ing the effects of red dwarf stars on hab­it­abil­ity, and whip­ping together a basic map to keep my shit straight when jump­ing from sys­tem to system.

And it was plot­ted and worked out in a 10k+ world bible. I didn’t go too crazy here, it’s a big world with the oppor­tu­nity for a lot of sto­ries, and 10k isn’t a bat-shit crazy as it sounds. But it took some time, have no doubt about that.

Then I wrapped up the first “episode” of 10k words in a cou­ple of days. I thought it was pretty good — in need of work, no doubt, but the basics were cov­ered at least.

But, alas, it sucked a lot harder than I expected.

 

The truth is out there, and it hurts like a bat to the head.

This is the part oh-so-many writ­ers never make it past. Maybe they quit since get­ting your work cri­tiqued sucks like a Dyson stuck to your thigh. Maybe they never show any­one their work, fear of bad news cramp­ing them up like an old bur­rito. Or, maybe they do get it beta-read, but lash out at the reac­tion since they are artists and these other peo­ple just don’t get it.

But, in the end, this is where it’s at maaaaan *peace sign*. This is where the writ­ers get sep­a­rated from the they just don’t get it crowd.

This is when you find out what works, and what doesn’t work.

This is where your char­ac­ters get tested like a mon­key in a genet­ics lab.

And this is where my story got broke.

Facts about episode 1:

  • My wife didn’t com­plete it. Always a bad sign, since sig­nif­i­cant oth­ers tend to slog through your crap bet­ter than most due, in part, to you know­ing where they sleep and what they fear most.
  • No one liked any of the char­ac­ters except for the vil­lain. No. One. Holy shit.
  • More than one reader men­tioned dis­ap­point­ment in the first part, where I promised one thing but deliv­ered another.
  • My sar­cas­tic robot char­ac­ter may be a lit­tle too close to a cer­tain other ass­hole robot in a cer­tain guide to the galaxy.
  • The end result: Tech­ni­cally, there was noth­ing wrong with the writ­ing, but the story was as enter­tain­ing as a cold plate of broc­coli sit­ting in a field.

Do you know what I didn’t know?

Any of that.

And if I didn’t risk my sen­si­tive lit­tle writerly feel­ings by get­ting some hard-nosed read­ers to tell me what they really thought, I still wouldn’t know any of it. I’d be hap­pily bang­ing away at another 10k words of dri­vel in episode 2, con­tent in my mediocrity.

 

But how to deal with the beat­down to your manuscript?

It’s no secret: Hav­ing your work cri­tiqued is hard. Every­thing sings so clearly in your head, every­thing went from your brain to your fin­gers to your key­board to your doc­u­ment and damn it all why can’t peo­ple see what was in my thoughts *shakes fist at sky*

But, it isn’t this way at all. When you are knee deep in writ­ing, you are miss­ing all sorts of stuff.

You aren’t fill­ing in info oth­ers need because it is obvi­ous to you.

You are dump­ing too much data in parts since it just needs an expla­na­tion or no one is going to get it, right?

Not to men­tion, when you are in the weeds, you go astray. Maybe you know all the lit­tle rules that make a good story — intro­duce char­ac­ters over time, avoid data dumps, give a lit­tle phys­i­cal descrip­tion for read­ers to grasp but not too much — you sim­ply don’t do them.

I mean, maybe some of the pros do 90% of the right thing 90% of the time, but that’s what makes them pros.

Every­one else is drop­ping the ball every sen­tence or two.

The eas­i­est way to deal with the stresses of real­iz­ing your baby is a lit­tle ugly, maybe some­what dys­func­tional, and in need of seri­ous work: Under­stand that every­one else is mak­ing the same mistakes.

You ain’t spe­cial, no mat­ter what your mother told you. Just as you aren’t the next Hem­ing­way, you also aren’t some­how at max suck­atude because your story needs to be kicked over and reworked.

If you get insulted, you are doing it wrong. You should be ecsta­tic the flaws came out at this stage, rather than later.

If you are sad, you are doing it wrong. You should be over­joyed since you are at the precipice so many oth­ers fail to cross, ready to leap over to the other side.

If you get depressed, you are doing it wrong. Sure, take a day to feel a lit­tle knocked back by the set­back. That’s nor­mal. But dwelling on the exact same types of prob­lems Stephen King, Chuck Wendig, and Bran­don Sander­son deal with as part of their daily job is silly bor­der­ing on crazy.

If you get aroused, well, I guess good for you. Writ­ing aught to be a blast then.

 

Here is what I plan to do with the information:

Fact: I intro­duce too many char­ac­ters too quickly, and many of them remain face­less and unimportant.

Action: Rework the ros­ter of char­ac­ters. Cut some out, give their jobs to the impor­tant char­ac­ters. This gives more “screen time” to each remain­ing char­ac­ter, and less to juggle.

 

Fact: The antag­o­nist is very inter­est­ing, so much so she over­shad­ows who we are sup­posed to be root­ing for.

Action: Don’t change her much, since she kicks ass. But intro­duce her early — even in the first scene. Bait that hook, damn it!

 

Fact: I promise one thing with early scenes in a ruin, but don’t deliver any real trea­sure hunting/Indiana Jones stuff — what some­one expects when they read about peo­ple delv­ing the depths of million-year old ruins.

Action: Deliver like a boss. Time to cut out some of the space travel and spend more time plan­et­side. My job is to enter­tain, and peo­ple want to see what these ruins are all about.

 

Fact: The robot com­pan­ion of one char­ac­ter seems a lit­tle too sim­i­lar to cer­tain other sar­cas­tic robots of lit­er­ary history.

Action: Since, in my head, this char­ac­ter was noth­ing like other past robots, I must have failed to put a unique spin and voice on him. I need either change him, or flesh him out bet­ter for the reader.

 

It’s not so hard or over­whelm­ing when you put it like this, and I would rec­om­mend you do the same. Take those com­ments — most espe­cially repeat com­ments since if more than one reader sees the same issue, you can be sure oth­ers will as well — and write them each out in your own words. Then solve them, one by one, like you would any other problem.

Because, in the end, that’s all they are: Prob­lems to be solved. Miss­ing parts in an engine. Wrong num­bers in a sudoku puz­zle. Rocket mel­ons in the fruit salad.

Col­late, cog­i­tate, conquer.

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Starflight: Freeform Game for the Win

Posted by on Aug 28, 2014 in Fun Stuff, Gaming | 0 comments

Today we talk video games, dear reader!

As you may know, I’m far from a stranger to the car­nal plea­sures of…um…playing video games. Right, that’s what I meant to say, honest.

I’ve talked in the past about freeform gam­ing and sto­ry­telling in your head while doing so (some call this role­play­ing, oth­ers hav­ing fun, still oth­ers skulk away and call the nice peo­ple down at the funny farm for you).

But facts are facts — games are more fun when they let you do the telling.

I have a fancy-pants com­puter, self built for POWAAAAAAA. My video card alone pulls in more juice than your TV. No joke, the thing is almost as long as a loaf of bread, and it is all sim­ply for graph­ics in games. That’s it.

Yet I find myself play­ing older games as often as the newest, shini­est good­ies on the mar­ket today.

And games like this are why.

 

Starflight: Fly in the stars and stuff!

Let’s talk uni­verses here for a minute. Game uni­verses, fic­tion uni­verses, uni­verse uni­verses, etc. etc.

Some games talk about how big their worlds are. “ZOMG WE HAZ LIEK A MILE OF LIEK STUFF AND STUFF!”

Or about how ‘freeform’ they are. “ZOMG LIEK YOU CAN BE EVIL OR LIEK NICE AND STUFF!”

F. U. C. K. that.

Staflight lets you blow up plan­ets. Home plan­ets. Or make ene­mies of ALL THE THINGS and make it nearly impos­si­ble to com­plete the game. Or jack around while the uni­verse lit­er­ally burns in solar flares.

Strip mine plan­ets, flag them for habi­ta­tion and col­o­niza­tion, bully weak aliens, or trash talk the big bad­dies (who will eat your face).

There are 270 star sys­tems in the game, each with 0 to 8 plan­ets spin­ning around their respec­tive star. Each planet has its own grav­ity, atmos­phere, weather, etc. Some are gas giants, and you ain’t land­ing on any gas giant, but the rest are all fully explorable. That’s seven or eight hun­dred plan­ets, wait­ing for you to come visit!

Starflight Starmap

‘dems a lot o’ stars

And by fully explorable, I mean a whole lot of open land, moun­tains, crit­ters try­ing to eat your land­ing vehi­cle, and ancient ruins of long for­got­ten peoples.

There is a sto­ry­line, but you have to uncover it your­self. No open­ing video shows you what is going on, no scrolling text to hold your wee lit­tle hand. Nope, just plop into the space sta­tion and start read­ing your mail and fol­low­ing clues. The whole thing opens up to you as you play space sleuth.

 

BYONB: Bring your own notebook

To get full enjoy­ment of this open world — to even beat the game and save ALL THE THINGS — you need to be writ­ing stuff down.

Pen and paper, quill and the tanned flesh of slain ene­mies, a per­sonal wiki like Wikid­Pad, what­ever floats your goat.

But, like any good game, the story and the things you need to do are given to you in small bits here and there, often in con­ver­sa­tion with alien species. Rough up the right alien and he might tell you about some ancient doohickie on the sec­ond planet of 124,124. But­ter up a dif­fer­ent alien, and they might tell you of a magic device that can do some­thing way cooler than your toaster.

Earth


Look…familiar?

But if you don’t keep track of this stuff, you will be in for a sad, short run in space fol­lowed by the who uni­verse blow­ing up. And we are going to blame you for it. And you’ll deserve it, damn it!

It is very reward­ing, how­ever, when you group a bunch of your seem­ing unre­lated notes together and get that AHA! moment. “Oh,” you’ll say, “I bet there is some­thing in that sys­tem I need, since the strange bug men told me their fancy holy relic thingy is there…”

 

The legacy…

Starflight had a wider impact than you might think. In fact, you may find your­self sur­prised at what games you’ve played or heard of that owe some of their exis­tence to Starflight.

Mass Effect, for exam­ple. Casey Hud­son, one of the peo­ple involved in the cre­ation of the Mass Effect fran­chise, tweeted, “Starflight was a key inspi­ra­tion for the ME series.”

Also, Star Con­trol II, another famous (in nerd sci-fi gam­ing cul­ture at least) space explo­ration game takes its share of cues from Starflight — no doubt in part because one of the Starflight devel­op­ers worked on it.

Oh, and that devel­oper? His name is Greg John­son and he also worked on the Toe­Jam and Earl games on the Gen­e­sis. Any­one remem­ber those?

 

Sounds good. How do I get to play it?

The orig­i­nal Starflight was made in the 80’s. It was quite the achieve­ment at the time. Since then a few other ver­sions have been made.

Here are your options:

1 – The orig­i­nal PC ver­sions. Not too pretty, but fully func­tional. The one issue I have with the PC ver­sion is it actu­ally saves the game back to its own exe­cutable. Back in those days of yore, all you had were floppy dri­ves, and this kind of thing was not abnor­mal back then. This can cause prob­lems, though, if it crashes in mid play or you quit with­out saving…

Starflight DOS


The DOS ver­sion. It ain’t pretty, but it has that old game charm as far as I’m concerned.

The best place to get this ver­sion is GOG.com – Good Old Games. The best part of GOG is the thing will come ready to play, all set up with Dos­Box, which lets you play old DOS games. And the GOG ver­sion auto­mat­i­cally backs up your saves for you, help­ing to mit­i­gate the crappy save system.

Get it here, or read on.

 

2 – The Sega Gen­e­sis ver­sion. Sadly, only the first Starflight was ported to the Gen­e­sis, but what a port it was! In my opin­ion, this is the best ver­sion of Starflight you can play. The screen­shots in this post have all been from this version.

The graph­ics are revamped to a totally accept­able level even today, the min­ing of min­er­als (the best way to make $$ in this game) was improved and made a lit­tle more inter­est­ing, and the menus and save game sys­tem are up to par with 16 bit games.

Starflight Genesis

To play this you will need a Gen­e­sis and the game car­tridge, or a Gen­e­sis emu­la­tor and the game ROM.

The best Gen­e­sis emu­la­tor for Win­dows and Mac is Kega Fusion, and the best emu­la­tor for Android devices (a great way to play this game, BTW) is MD.emu. The legal­ity of emu­la­tion and the down­load of game ROMs is all over the place, but be at peace, young padawan. No one in the his­tory of the world has ever got­ten in trou­ble for down­load­ing a Sega Gen­e­sis game from 20 years ago. To find the ROM, Google “Cool­ROM”, and search for it there.

 

3 – The Amiga ver­sion. Another great port of this game (and its sequel) was to the Com­modore Amiga. This one sticks real close to the orig­i­nal, and is really the PC game with minor tweaks to graph­ics and mouse sup­port, plus a good save system.

Like I said, the save sys­tem is a real stick­ing point for me in the PC ver­sion, and the Amiga ver­sion has 5 save slots and no issues.

Starflight Amiga


The Amiga ver­sion is basi­cally a reskin and slight improve­ment over the orig­i­nal PC version.

This takes a lit­tle more setup, to be sure. If you’ve never used an Amiga before, under­stand they are a dif­fer­ent type of com­puter entirely.

Get your­self a copy of the best Amiga emu­la­tor out there, Win­UAE for Win­dows, and var­i­ous other UAE ver­sions for Mac and Linux. Then you need the kick­start ROMs, and the Starflight disk images (easy to get, just Google Starflight Amiga ADF).

Like I said, this one is tech­ni­cal, but if you want to play it this way it is worth it.

 

Go forth and play!

Let me know if you give this game a whirl, or if you have fond mem­o­ries of it yourself!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Another Story for Your Reading Pleasure!

Posted by on Aug 22, 2014 in Flash Fiction, Patreon | 0 comments

Another flash fic­tion story lives in its happy place at http://www.patreon.com/KLNeidecker! This one is called Ques­tion Day, and I think it is quite inter­est­ing. It’ll only take a minute of your time, so please swing by and take a look! Question Day cover     And if you missed it, feast your eye­balls on the other sto­ries there: Late to the Party covermarscarpatreon.jpg                 kthanxbai!

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