Back on the Writing Train

I am finally back on track with my book. Updates on my progress and status.

Well, finally, after a long period sitting on a half-written manuscript, I am finally back on track with writing my book. I started writing it over two years ago. Originally, it was a short story that I submitted for a class assignment. Then I decided to expand it and turn it into a novella. Early last year, when I started my job, I put it on the back burner and have struggled getting back the creativity to return. I have finally reached that place and am chugging along.

When I wrote the short story that became my current project, I had little time to write it. We were given the assignment and I drew the lot of only having two weeks to complete it. The assignment was to write a Utopian (or Dystopian) Horror and thus, I knocked out “The Monsters Within” in the allotted time (extended by a snow delay by a couple days). I plan on expanding further on this in a Forward to the novella. In the end, I was surprised by what I was able to come up with and was even complemented during the peer-review on my world-building and story given such a short timeframe.

Months later, when I published my story “The Hedge Maze”, another story that I wrote for a class assignment (a different class, though), I knew that I needed something more if I wanted to get my writing career going. I was satisfied with The Hedge Maze, but being a short story, it is hard to market it by itself. I needed something that I could publish in print. I didn’t have enough short stories for an anthology, and I was intrigued by my short story “The Hedge Maze” and wanted to expand it. So, I set out doing just that.

For a while, I was on a role. I used an old program I had, called “Dramatica Pro,” to help fill in the story. I wrote an outline that went beyond what I had already written to try and further world build and make room for greater character arcs. I then began writing the novel. Then life got in the way. I started a job which left me little time for me to work on my writing. I had to shelve it for the time being. I picked up again, briefly, after the holidays of 2019 while I was transitioning to a different job. But that job, too, made things difficult.

That job was working as a Patient Transport at a local hospital. Little did I realize what was coming shortly after I started. Working at a hospital during the pandemic was stressful. My creativity took a hit. It didn’t help that my fiancée caught the thing. That was a scary time. At that time, we still knew nothing about the virus and what it would mean. Fortunately, she recovered, and we trudged through the pandemic. But I was off track.

Part of the reason for starting this blog was to help me with getting my “writing edge” back. I hazard to say that it has been working. It has ignited my creativity as I think of topics to write. And other projects have come along which has added to the fire. That said, last week I began the work of rewriting my novella. I took what I already wrote and started rewriting it, reworking bits here and there as I go along. I am nearly caught up to the point I left off at when I originally wrote it. Incidentally, much of the second half is already written as well, being a big chunk of the original short story. So, while I am still working on my first draft, I already have revisions in progress.

That said, my goal is to have it completed and ready for Beta Reading by the time my second daughter is born. She is due in the middle of October. I will begin at that time (if not earlier) to recruit beta readers. If all goes well, I should be ready to find an editor by the winter. During that later winter, I will set up my publishing house and work on the cover art (I have somebody in mind, already). That should mean I’m ready to hit the presses by spring. It seems a long way away, but I am optimistic that I can hold to the schedule. And having a new baby should help the later months go by in a breeze.

So, what does that mean for this blog? Well, I suspect that I may be a bit silent for the next couple of months, at least. I may pop in from time to time (like when the trailer for the Wheel of Time TV show… or other shows I am looking forward to… drops). But, barring any derailments, I intend to focus most of my writing on my novella. After I finish the main draft, I may begin work on my next writing project, hopefully a full-fledged fantasy novel. I have several in mind, but we will have to see how things go to see which direction I go.

Other projects on my list have been moved to the back burner for the time being. Unfortunately, my regular work schedule has not been compatible with the Amazing Tales with my daughter. I would like to get more into that again, but only time will tell when that will be feasible. The game that I was working on for my daughter in RPG Maker is also on hold. While I made a lot of progress, it has been an overwhelming experience. I am weighing out my options with it. Should I try to enlist help? If I do, I certainly want to make it a marketable product. I like the story I outlined for it and would like to see it through. Any interests in helping (artists, musicians, programmers, designers… amateur or professional alike) feel free to reach out. I would like to resume it soon. It may be my next project after my book is complete. Who knows, maybe a collaboration on the game could lead to another game collaboration of grander proportions.

phoenix clipart Unique Phoenix Free Download Clip Art Free Clip Art

Whatever the case, I am excited for the possibilities. It is time for this phoenix to rise from the ashes.

Sid Meier’s Civilization and the Future of the Franchise – Part II –

A look at the popular game franchise and my take on the next iteration of the series.

Civilization VII

What would make the next evolution of Civilization stand out? Each iteration of the series featured something that changed it from its predecessors. Yet it retained the core of what made the game. Resources, Wonders, Eras, and many more aspects have arisen and became staples in the franchise. From my following suggestions, some aspects would be removed as they are replaced by the “new” systems that I lay out. Others that I mention will naturally carry over, though possibly altered to fit with the new systems. This is NOT a design document, just a fun exercise of my own personal vision. Of course, I would be extremely happy if any of my suggestions are implemented in the next (or future) versions of Civilization.

CIVILIZATIONS

Dynamic Civilizations

The first major change is to have dynamic civilizations. What that means is that the traits that are usually associated with civilizations are no longer so. Instead, they are general traits that can be selected. As the player progresses and reaches certain milestones, new traits can be selected that are context sensitive to the situation. For example, if the player begins in a desert region, one of the possible traits could be “Desert Folk” which would give them bonuses to that environment. However, civilizations not in the desert would be unable to select the trait. Also, once a civilization has selected a specific trait, that trait would no longer be available for other civilizations. This is how the player defines their civilization’s identity.            

Clearly, this is inspired by how religions have worked in both Civilization V and VI. It develops a more natural flow of development as the civilization progresses through the ages. But what would this mean for selecting Civilizations? Wouldn’t this mean that whether you choose Rome, Egypt or Japan would be irrelevant? Well, these civilizations could have one basic trait that goes along with their civilization. Unique Units, buildings, improvements, etc. could also be associated with the civilizations allowing for some variety between civilizations, along with likelihood of civilizations spawning in certain areas. Also, the traits are permanent, even if the civilization is downgraded in level. Though new traits can be selected should the civilization reach a level upgrade threshold again.

Civilization Levels

That leads to the next big change. Gone are City-States and Barbarians. Yes, you heard that right. However, they are not truly gone, just integrated into a “level” system of civilization growth. Each civilization begins at a basic level that could even predate the traditional start of past games. As they develop, they can be “upgraded” to greater levels that expand their capabilities and interactions. Depending on map size, limits can be inposed as to how many civilizations can be of a certain level. That said, the levels are:

  • Tribal – A nomadic civilization that essentially take the place of barbarians. There is minimal diplomacy available with tribal civilizations and often war with them carries no penalties. The player can play a Civ in this state (or even be reduced to this) as per the “Prehistory Mode” to be discussed later. After a certain threshold, the civilization can found a settlement which lays the foundation of the next level.
  • City-State – This is the foundation of Civilizations. It is the earliest stage with increased diplomatic ability. They can send out colonists to form settlements that are independent yet subservient to the founding City-State. Two or more Colonies or allied City-states leads to a Pact.
  • Pact – Formed through early alliances of City-States, some increased diplomacy with Civilizations that are part of the pact. When a particular civilization becomes dominant in the pact, they gain full control and become a State.
  • State – This is the level where a civilization can truly begin to establish themselves on the world stage. Formed when a civilization becomes dominant of a Pact and is chosen as leader (or through conquest) the State level allows for greater diplomatic options.
  • Empire – An Empire is a more powerful form of the State. It encompasses a large area but starts accruing penalties that could cripple the empire if left unchecked. However, there will be tools that can be used to counter these penalties and maintain stability.
  • Superpower – The ultimate level of civilization. Superpowers are at the top of nearly all lists. A Superpower typically won’t be achieved until late game. They may receive special benefits; however, lesser civilizations may admire or fear the superpower, causing problems with diplomacy and politics.

These 6 levels are milestones of achievements. However, they are not necessarily secure once you reach them. What goes up can certainly come down and civilizations are no exception. And since the starting map is removed of city-states (in the V and VI incarnations) and barbarians, there is room for more civilizations overall. This gives way to a feature that had somewhat been implemented in IV, related Civs.

Related Civilizations

As stated, this was seen before to a certain degree in the franchise. However, I look deeper at the various civilizations big and small throughout history that could be included. Civ VI includes Athens and Sparta both as versions of Greece. In this version, Athens, Sparta, Troy, and many others can be “civilizations” at the start of the game. Tribes that roam the world looking for a place to prosper. When they settle, similar “tribes” may settle nearby. These form the basis of later civilizations like Greece.            

This could also lead to variety of gameplay. In one game, you could come across the Civilization of Rome. In another playthrough, you could meet the civilization of “Etruscia.” Both are the same basic civilizations but depending on which related civ came to dominate the area. Later civilizations could be shattered and form smaller states, city-states, or tribes. This will lead to another topic which I had alluded to earlier.

Prehistory Mode

This mode is a sort of “prologue” to the main game. It could be an optional mode that leads into a full game where the player starts out a Tribe (as opposed to a City-State). You wander around the map establishing “camps” that serve as your base for a few turns as you gather supplies from surrounding areas. Wild Animals could make their return in this mode and be part of the quest find a suitable location. Oh, and fog of war clouds over any area out of sight range. In other words, you cannot see where you have been, only where you are. Ultimately, you must settle your first settlement, and this is where the main game begins.

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This is just the beginning of my examination into the future of the franchise. Tomorrow, I will take a look at Leaders and their new role in this hypothetical version of Civilization. A small look at the only graphical change I would implement (at least that is relevant to the rest of this examination). Until then, let me know what you think so far.

Links

Sid Meier’s Civilization and the Future of the Franchise – Introduction

Sid Meier’s Civilization and the Future of the Franchise – Part 1

Sid Meier’s Civilization and the Future of the Franchise – Part 3

Sid Meier’s Civilization and the Future of the Franchise – Part 4

Sid Meier’s Civilization and the Future of the Franchise – Part 5

Sid Meier’s Civilization and the Future of the Franchise – Part 6