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

Boskone 56

Boskone, New England’s longest-running science fiction and fantasy convention, begins tomorrow afternoon at 2pm, with an afternoon slate of free programming and gaming. As usual, you can find out more about Boskone at The Boskone Blog, Twitter, Facebook, and the Boskone website.

I’m on the schedule again this Boskone, where I’ll be talking about games, interactive fiction, free will, and Star Trek.

Correlation Causation

Because it’s intimately linked to BoardGameGeek data, yet another blog post appears only in my BGG blog, 40 Graphs. Post #2 is about a BGG correlation tool.

Pnut Botter Talks Back

Yesterday I made a little bot (Twiki) with a glitch back end (pnut-botter); today he learned to reply to mentions.

pnut botter

I made a little bot (Twiki) with a glitch back end (pnut-botter) for the most recent pnut.io hackathon:

40 Graphs

Because it’s intimately linked to BoardGameGeek data, my latest blog post is in my BGG blog, 40 Graphs. It is an inaugural post about counting the games I played in 2018.

I have a little G. K. Chesterton page with quotes that I first put online back before many of the people his quotes apply to today were even born. But then, he said them long before I was born, so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at his staying power. I just didn’t expect him to become more relevant, and to find myself quoting him even more frequently:

I’m still a liberal. It’s those people who aren’t liberals.

Clan Correction

During NaNoWriMo 2013, I wrote a Random Family Tree Generator in order to auto-generate characters, and later expanded it in 2014. I opened it up this NaNoWriMo and immediately noticed a bug involving the clan dropdowns (for those humans and fantasy species with clans), which I never noticed before because I either go straight to my custom species or I use random clans—and which would never have happened if I had just started fresh on it with a framework rather than basing it on even older code. The bug is now fixed.

Kids' Choice

Publishers Weekly reports on a recent increase in Choose Your Own Adventure-style books, including some interactive graphic novels, on the market: Kids in Charge: Choose-Your-Fate Fiction Kicks into High Gear


I’m using Scrivener 3 with Scree this NaNoWriMo (and yes, I’m behind already), but I’ve always dreamed of a Scrivener with a plain-text backend. There are ways to work around Scrivener’s RTF file format, and it has features I can’t give up (yet), but I’m still taking a longing look at Manuskript, a Linux-first open source Scrivener-style editor that uses a plain-text file format.

Gentlemen, start your novels!

Horizontal Paloma

In response to a request on Discord, I’ve provided some user CSS and JavaScript for my Twine story format Paloma, a non-drop-in replacement for the popular Twine 1 stretchtext story format Jonah, to make it imitate Leon Arnott’s horizontally-scrolling Jonah variant Journal. (I also added Journal to the story format catalog.) I found the scrolling a bit too slow for my tastes, but dealing with that would probably mean some internal changes to the story format, or going the way Leon went with a separate story format (which, of course, I would have to name Palomar).

In any event, the fiddling uncovered some Twine 1 bugs in Paloma, probably having to do with the initial refactoring to make the same codebase handle Twine 1 and 2, and hence to a newly repaired version of Paloma: 1.1.2. Twine 2 users should be unaffected either way.

Sub-Q's Interactive Flash Love Jam

The announcement from Sub-Q includes two options, the actual game jam at itch.io, or a proposal option similar to their usual proposal submission process. The theme is love of any sort, and there’s a word limit: the interactive stories can present only 1000 words of content to the user.

I’m thinking of it as a flash fiction market on that account, and I’m hoping it also means that the usual structural requirements (or heavy-handed suggestions, if you prefer) one finds in hypertext markets like Sub-Q and Choice of Games won’t apply—so I may even submit. If you’re new to interactive fiction, they sound quite supportive and you should probably try it, too.

A Twine Story Format Catalog

Once again I underestimated the scope of work and created a catalog of Twine story formats that a wiser or more prescient me never would have.

Magnate Roller 1.3

I don’t think I announced the addition of Magnate Empire and other multiplayer Magnate rules to Magnate Roller (now backversioned to 1.2) when it happened. In further progress, Magnate Roller 1.3 also includes a dice deck option for fairer dice rolls.


Click Your Poison #5, MAROONED: Will YOU Endure Treachery and Survival on the High Seas? by James Schannep, is out! I’ve loaded it up in my Kindle, though right now I’m in the middle of reading a LitRPG novel where the main character just got gored to death by a dire bear, so I haven’t insta-died of exposure on a desert island yet. But I’m looking forward to many parched deaths to come, and to reading volume #4, SUPERPOWERED, as well.

BDO Recommendations from Reddit

Via reddit again: Today’s Big Dumb Object (BDO) non-story is a thread at Reddit about favorite BDOs. Some of the BDOs aren’t (e.g., Anathem) and others I haven’t read so I can’t vouch for their being actual BDOs (yet): Blame, Marrow!, The Architects of Hyperspace, The Stars Are Legion, The Expanse, Grand Central Arena, Confluence, Vast, Rogue Moon (an oldie), Dark Orbit, ShipStar (Larry Niven and Greg Benford), and Strata (Terry Prachett).

While contemplating my forthcoming updates to PrePub and how I would make a dead-tree version of an e-gamebook, I found an old LaTeX gamebook package. It doesn’t actually do that much, but then there’s not much to do and it’s always handy when someone else has already done it for you.

Scree 3.0.3a

I’ve updated Scree3, my Scrivener 3 template for writing hyperfiction with Twine/Twee, to handle internal document links. That way you can auto-create scenes just by linking them (as in the Twine GUI), and also zip around your scenes within Scrivener by clicking the links. The new version number is 3.0.3a.

Scrivener 3 is still Mac-only at the moment, with the usual free 30-day-total trial for new and Scrivener 2 users.

Choose Your Own Idiot-Proofing

I’ve been reading more choice fiction lately, and one thing I noticed in the last two books I started (Fifty Shades of Plaid by Parody Brothers, Kindle Unlimited 2014 and How to Be Bad by Michael La Ronn, ePub 2014) was the idiot-proofing. It has moved beyond the usual blurb at the beginning telling you how to read a CYOA, to an entire page after every choice warning you that if you can see this, you forgot to make a choice. Apparently the temptation to flip pages in an eReader is irresistable, at least when compared to the minor price in wasted bits backstopping all your choices. Maybe I’ll add a per-passage warning option to PrePub

I found Killing Hitler With Praise And Fire on a list of grown-up CYOA at Goodreads and, though the ratings there were uninspiring, I followed a link to Amazon and checked out those reviews as well. Most of the positive reviews mentioned the novelty and nostalgia of finding a modern CYOA book. Other opinions ranged from “meh” to negative, with one interesting “review” in which the reviewer said nothing about the book except that it was not this “book”.

Note: it’s not available on Kindle.