Monday, April 18, 2011

Writer's Best Friend

In my previous post you might remember that I mentioned one of my two principles of writing, Observation. I also mentioned that a way to "observe" was reading. I will apologize because I kind of undersold the importance of reading. So let me extrapolate on what I was talking about. Whether you believe in evolution or creation certainly you can agree that animals and humans learn by mimicry. Toddlers learn to talk by being exposed to people that are having conversations. For instance, my 1 year old niece has a set of French grandparents, a spanish babysitter, and my English speaking family. For a while we couldn't figure out what she was saying when she wanted something. She would make these sounds that we assumed were gibberish, but two days ago we found out that it was actually the French word for give. You see, babies absorb knowledge by observing people around them. The same applies to writers. Writers in short are like babies, they need to read because that is how they learn how to write. They take pieces of the authors style and writing and make it their own. That is how writers improve and develop their style. So naturally you can see how reading is important to the writing craft. I try to read as much as possible in what little spare time I have so that I can improve as well. I am a good writer, not great, but good; but I can always get better and that is what reading is for.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Character Policy

I am dedicating this post to my good friend Diane. She is a dedicated cliche buster and if I didn't have her, my writing would be terrible. Ok, not really; but she helps.

My policy on creating characters is very strict and divergence from it is strictly forbidden. When I create a character I create an actual persona that I have to don every time I am writing a scene featuring them. I have to make them an actual living breathing person before I can begin to think about including them in a story. My character creating process is based on two principles: Research and Observation.

I say research because writing does indeed involve a lot of research. If you want your character to have an interest in something that you don't know about, then research it because you damn well better bring up their passions and interests in the story so you can come across as a total knucklehead when you write about it. If you want to give your character a specific ailment then you better be sure you know about its symptoms and causes if you want to incorporate it in your story. For instance the main character of Circus Circus, Ethan Hawke also known as The White Whisperer (we will get into that in another post), suffers from a genetic defect called Albinism. The gist of the defect is that you have no dark pigment in your skin, hair, and eyes. This can lead to increased risks of skin cancer and increased sensitivity to sunlight. That is the short version. I will expand on this aspect of Ethan's life in another post. Anyways, I needed to know if the genetic defect is expressed at birth or does it happen over time. It might sound like a silly question, but I want to make sure I represent the realistic facts in my story. Needless to say I still haven't found the answer I am looking for and I won't continue writing the scene until I find it. That is the kind of dedication you have to apply to your craft. People mocked Stephanie Meyer because she painted an unrealisitc view of vampires and werewolves. It was clear that she did no research and it showed in her writing. This is why research is important.

 Next is Observation. This one involves some field research. One of the first rules of writing is write what you know and that is what makes Observation important. A writer is always observign his/her surroundings making note of the people around him; their personalities, the way they hold the salad fork, everything is important. It is important because we draw from our observations of those around us to create the personalities and mannerisms of our characters. Even if you are writing about aliens you still put humanity in them becuase that is all you know. Observation also applies to worldbuilding, but let's stay on topic here. Now you don't have to observe people in person. Just watching a movie or reading a book counts as Observation. When I hear writers say they don't understand the "write what you know" rule I cringe. Throughout your life you have so many experiences and encounters so if you can't apply taking a walk through dense undergrowth to your characters fight for survival in the jungle then you should not be a writer. Everything in your life can be used as a reference, everything.

So by following these two rules I create dynamic and real characters that bring readers in and makes them thirst for more. And if you keep these two things in mind, you can create awesome characters too.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Welcome!

Welcome to the Timekeepers Continuum, the new website devoted to our indie game developing group! Our team is small right now, but we hope to grow into a dynamic development group that pumps out great games for your enjoyment. We currently have only two people on our team: my fantastic artist and friend, Rebecca, and the lead programmer and story designer...wait a minute that is me right? Sometimes I forget...

We are working on several projects right now. The biggest is our RPG release, Outbreak, a Strategy RPG of epic proportions. The game is one of our best kept secrets right now, but if you check up on us you can get a sneak peak at some of the ideas and art going into this great game.

Our other main project is Circus Circus. This one is my brainchild and it will probably be the first this team releases. Circus Circus is a dating sim set in the United States amidst the back drop of a circus that has fallen on hard times. This Visual Novel will challenge your perceptions on love and friendship. It has great characters and a great story. Screenshots and updates will be coming for this game as well.

Edit by WolfenAmphithere: We actually have a potential third project, but I have yet to fully discuss it with Andrew, and either way it would be on the back-burner for quite awhile. I'll give you a hint, though: I started working on the concept before high school.

Edit by Timekeeper: Rebecca stop hijacking my post

Another aspect of this site will be to share some of the techniques and strategies that Rebecca and I use to develop games. We will include tips on art, story design, and programming to spur would be readers to go forth and make their own games.

Our games are currently being developed with a python variant known as Ren'Py. Ren'Py is a language that enables you to make Visual Novels easily without the headaches and complexity it would take to do it from scratch code. Our team will be stretching this language to it's limits in Outbreak because much of the game has to be written and integrated into Ren'Py code. So hopefully we might also be able to release a small framework set for some would be programmers.

Some might say two people isn't enough to tackle this many projects, but Rebecca and I have been working together for several years and I assure you that we are more than a match for the mound of work that sits on our desk. But first let me give you a little bio on the team:

WolfenAmphithere is studying the artistic aspect of Game Design at George Mason University and damn is she good at it. She has been drawing since she could string a sentence together. You name it, she can draw it. I have known her since we were in 2nd grade. When we first met we were bitter enemies, but then when we reconnected in our senior year of high school we became fast friends. She is an avid video game player, die hard Legend of Zelda fan, and she will defend Nintendo to the death so watch out. All and all she is the perfect lead artist of our partnership.

Timekeeper(myself) is studying Network Security at George Mason University and working as a full time Hardware Technician for U.S Customs. I started reading and writing stories when I was in Kindergarden and I have never stopped. I have a knack for marketing and business, but only use it for things I am passionate about (I have never met a salesman that I don't dislike). I have only been programming for a couple of years now, but I quickly became a master at it. In the short span of two years I am now proficient in 9 languages and I don't plan to stop there. My current favorite is the language we will be programming most of our games in, Ren'Py.

So we lift our glasses to you for a bright future. Hope you keep following us!