m. c. de marco: To invent new life and new civilizations...

Boskone on the Cheap

In my previous post about Boskone 55, I forgot to mention that once again you can try the convention out for free for Friday afternoon from 2pm to 6pm, which includes a couple of the panels I’m on: “My Favorite Game” at 3pm and “Revisiting Big Dumb Objects” at 4pm. The full free schedule is online.

Magnate Roller 1.1.1

Magnate Roller has been brushed up to version 1.1.1, now with clearer rules for playing with the dice, since Peter and I are continuing our trend of getting wrong things you never thought you could get wrong with the rules right in front of you.

Boskone 55

Boskone 55 is coming up like a freight train! In about a week (February 16–18, 2018) fans will gather in Boston for New England’s longest-running science fiction and fantasy convention. You can find out more about Boskone at The Boskone Blog, Twitter, Facebook, and the Boskone website.

I’m on the schedule for Boskone, where I’ll be talking about games, Big Dumb Objects, medicine, fanfiction, and filk.

A Brief History of BDOs

Via reddit: Today’s Big Dumb Object (BDO) story is a non-fiction recap of the genre, “A Brief History of the Big Dumb Object Story in Science Fiction” by James Davis Nicoll at Tor. He thinks “the heyday of the BDO seems to be over,” because of the zeitgeist or the stock plots—I would say it’s the difficulty of fitting a human-sized story to an inhuman-sized setting—and he laments the lack of women writing BDO stories, though the commenters come up with plenty of recent examples, one of them even female.

Myrmex 1.3

Happy new year!

Myrmex is one of my JavaScript implementations of solitaire games for the Decktet. The latest version, 1.3, now autosaves and has some additional options you can check out in the settings. Myrmex is set up to play offline and/or save to your iDevice home screen.

Many thanks to Myrmex’s devisor, both for Myrmex itself and for beta testing version 1.3.

Magnate Roller 1.1

Magnate Roller has been updated to version 1.1, now with a rules cheat-sheet, since in our first game Peter and I managed to get wrong almost every possible thing you could get wrong, despite the rules being open right in front of me. (It didn’t help that I’d found both an old version of the rules and a new one, and it was apparently the old version that I still had open.)

Magnate Roller 1.0

I got some stacking counters to use for suit chips for Decktet games, but when I went to play Magnate, I couldn’t find my old D&D dice. So I made a little tool to roll for me: Magnate Roller. I used Vue.js just in case I ever decide to expand it into the full game.

Peter and I tied our first game (including tying on the tie-breaker).

Myrmex 1.2

Myrmex is one of my JavaScript implementations of Decktet games. The new version, 1.2, is slightly less buggy than the previous, unannounced versions, so you should just be able to play without obvious bugs. (If you do experience a bug, the solution is to save the game with the Save button, then restore it immediately with the Resume button.) Myrmex is also set up so you can play it offline and/or save it to your iDevice home screen.

DotGraph 2.1.0

I used DotGraph during this NaNoWriMo, and besides my intermittent minor updates (to 2.0.5 and 2.0.6), I made some semi-major changes now dubbed DotGraph 2.1.0. The new version lets you trace a word or phrase though your story, and also lets you pass your desired DotGraph settings in using the StorySettings special passage.

DotGraph 2.0.6

DotGraph got another little version bump today, to fix some node-miscounting behavior that My Assiduous User may or may not have experienced, but that I did while NaNoing. More importantly, this version adds display macro support for Harlowe stories.

The Wheel, Reinvented

Many thanks to Thomas Wolmer for corrections to my history of choice mapping post that push the first choicemap online back by about six months or so (to January 2001). If you don’t want to reread the whole thing, here is just the update:

The oldest documented choicemap of the internet era was created automatically by Ingo Klöcker using GraphViz (of course) in January 2001, as an aside in a discussion of link-checking HTML gamebooks using shell scripts for Project Aon. Thomas Wolmer continued working in this automated vein in 2002 and 2003 using Perl to create clickable GraphViz choicemaps like those described in the 2006–2007 section below. These early choicemaps don’t appear to have survived online, though Thomas Wolmer, who prompted this correction, has also kindly provided links to the software and a 2003-style graph.

Update: I shouldn’t blog at midnight; I overlooked a significant detail now appended to 2006–2007 (that some of the choice maps are clickable):

See the update to 2001 above for the early software, or inquire at Project Aon for the current version. Note also that the nodes are linked to gamebook pages for their hosted gamebooks, e.g., the Lone Wolf example above.

DotGraph 2.0.5

DotGraph got another little bug fix today, for some mysterious loss-of-start-node behavior that My Assiduous User may or may not have experienced, and that I discovered while mapping a CYOA book for fun.

Version 2.0.5 was actually intended to allow use of the last tag rather than the first tag for coloration, as mentioned in my previous point release post, and it does that, too, though my NaNoWriMo story hasn’t gotten quite out of hand enough yet for that feature to have gotten a thorough testing. YMMV.

Let's NaNo!

Gentlemen, start your novels!

I usually start the NaNoWriMo month at midnight, but last night I decided to read a bit instead and start fresh in the morning. Now I’m trying to remember my Scrivener shortcuts, since I’ve only been editing my hyperfiction stories lately, not starting a fresh one where I need to command-K frequently.

Since I work in plain text, I disabled the ruler shortcuts (command-R and shift-command-R) by overwriting them with shortcuts to some no-op commands (Bring All to Front and Arrange in Front), under System Preferences | Keyboard. I still needed to swap around Paste and Match Style with Paste to keep it looking like plain text, since Scrivener’s underlying format is actually RTF.

DotGraph 2.0.4

DotGraph got a little bug fix today. I found a subtle issue with tag display while de-scripting my Twine hyperfiction novel, which turned out to be one old (and therefore undefined) variable that I’d missed in the big refactor.

I was using temporary tags to mark where story variables got set and used, to see whether they were necessary at all (some weren’t), and if so, what the simplest way would be to break up the tree based on the possible values (mostly booleans). Normally I use tags for the current setting/chunk of the story, so it was easy to switch the tag back based on context after I’d used it; it didn’t occur to me to use (Scrivener) labels statuses, but that could have worked even better with some tweaking. I feel a version 2.0.5 coming on…

PrePub 1.0.1

PrePub is a new Twine “proofing” format I’ve been working on; it’s for converting a purely choice-based Twine story to a hyperlinked ePub book (with help from pandoc).

Eventually I will add support (or a second format) for making a dead tree book out of the same source file, so I’m not planning to add scripting support to this process. In fact, I’ve been de-scripting my Twine hyperfiction novel in order to turn it into an ePub; fortunately the scripting was minimal.

BDO of the Day: Alderson Disk

Today’s Big Dumb Object (BDO) is an Alderson Disk, a finite plane with a sun in a hole at its center. The invention of Dan Alderson, it was popularized in Larry Niven’s classic megastructures essay, where he also mentions bobbing the sun up and down to replace the perpetual twilight with actual night and day, and the necessity of a wall to retain the atmosphere at the inner edge.

Emily Short posted a while back about paying markets for hyperfiction.

My Fiction Online

If you were here yesterday, you already know that Choose Your Own Writing Career is up; today I did some bookkeeping by creating an IFDB entry for it and a page for my fiction online.

Scree 1.0.2 and DotGraph 2.0.3

Scree, my Scrivener template for writing hyperfiction with Twine/Twee, and DotGraph, my Twine proofing format for graphing stories in the style of the classic Chimney Rock map, have had minor version bumps: Scree to handle tags and improve layout when importing to Twine 2, and DotGraph to identify unreachable passages.

Note that Scrivener is having its annual free trial for NaNoWriMo again this November. If you try it and like it, NaNo participants get a discount, with a bigger discount for winners.

Visions is both a new science fiction magazine and a new font.