(Apropos of writing a post on Bullet journalling…)

The sum total of my life can be measured in the volume of notes I’ve made over the years. I’ve generated reams and reams of notes about every aspect of life, both in analogue and digital form. All of it is ephemera: important in the moment, inconsequential in the long run.

This isn’t counting my novels in various states of completion, the “meta” notes and outlines surrounding those novels, my world-building encyclopaedias, and a decade of private hand-written journals.

The digital ephemera alone makes a memoir. It’s a totalizing record of my personal life. Someone can look through all of this, and know me so intimately. I’m glad none of this is online or accessible to anyone else.

There’s a scripture in the Bible that goes:

And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which, if they were written one by one, I suppose not even the world itself could contain the books that would be written.

Book of John, chapter 21, verse 25

Boy I get it now. Jesus isn’t the only one doing that many things. The written records of my life are filling books already. And I’m still in my prime years.

The world cannot contain the fullness of a single human life.

From Bullet Journal and female authors, to Anthem and Hugo.

At the end of last year, I experimented with Bullet Journal, and jumped in more fully this year. It has been a resounding success. (This may see a follow-up post in future.)


Been reading lots of female authors lately. Marilynne Robinson – Lila, and then re-read Gilead. Finished an exciting romp through N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance trilogy (beginning with The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms). Now working through Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn Chronicles, though I’ll have to interrupt it to race through The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon, which is in such demand from the library that I won’t get to renew my borrowed copy, and who knows when I’ll get to re-borrow it?

Let’s see if I can’t fill the rest of the year with female authors.


I’ve been playing a lot of Bioware’s Anthem, amongst other games. Anthem is my first multiplayer game, and naturally, I’ve been sucked into the community, and found some friendly servers on Discord to game and chat with. Which has been a kind of blessing: amongst other things, it revived my writing spirit (which flagged for a while) and got me writing fan fiction.

It has occurred to me that I’m still on social media — except I engage in “topical”, focused, and (semi-)private spaces. I quit Facebook years ago, barely check Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram (the latter two remain on death row limbo), and am apathetic about Micro.blog. A re-subscription offer prompted me to log in to Micro.blog for a look-see; I think the last time I dropped by was in February. It’s thriving, and nice to watch. But it’s already become too noisy and amorphous for my tastes, just as Twitter et al have become.

But Discord? Discord is my jam. The first servers I joined were writing groups; the gaming groups came much later.

Discord communities tend to revolve around a primary topic, with detours into generalized chat, and are always private groups (sometimes large, but still gated). It suits the way I organize my online life: focused on specific ideas.## I think I will stop trying to fit myself into a generalized social-media shape. It has never worked for me anyway.

##This paragraph was originally longer, but turned into an idea I should explore some more. This may see a follow-up post in future. UPDATE: The post is here.


My novels are still at the back of my mind. Between Anthem fan fiction and my currently-active novel, A Dirge for the Amphiptere, I have to find a balance to progress in both. I missed April’s Camp NaNoWriMo, but July is still coming up. Best use that to resume novelling.

Also, never underestimate the power of a deadline. I’m part of a writer’s workshop, and they give me enough kick in the pants (and encouragement and feedback) to keep moving forward. Many thanks, fellow writers.


I recently switched from Resilio Sync to Syncthing, and from Microsoft OneNote to Standard Notes. Continuing the march towards open-source and private, one program at a time. Standard Notes, in particular, was the ace-in-the-hole. It has everything I want. Something worth subscribing to!

Google remains the biggest obstacle in this march. I’m about 75% decoupled from it, with the remaining 25% being Google Play Store for my Android phone. Flashing a custom ROM is somewhat beyond me right now.


The best way to learn a skill is to have problems that require that skill to fix. I (finally) have stuff to put on my website, so I’m taking another stab at producing a website through Hugo.

Projects in order of importance: A repository for my Anthem fanfic, proper landing pages for Hierofalco.net. If those go well, porting my Tumblr to a static site on my domain (and finally, administer the death sentence to another social media account).

The hope is to create a “set-and-forget” website production pipeline. Sweat over the infrastructure now, so I can leave it running on its own in perpetuity, just pop in to feed it more content. For someone who has a love/hate relationship with webdesign and coding (building infrastructure is exponentially less fun than creating content for it), this is going to be torture. But I want to do things my way, Indieweb-style.

If I can get these projects and pipelines in place, I may even be able to leave WordPress (which I’m growing to abhor more and more) and close this blog, perhaps transform it. This blog has always been a miscellaneous catch-all. Too generalized. I’ve never been satisfied with it. Disseminating it into specific projects would be the ultimate goal. Then, perhaps, Hierofalco.net would start looking like what I’ve always envisioned it to be: a village of my thoughts.

🎮 I made a Twine game. Or: It is illegal to serve Hot Sauce to a Dragon in Granada.

It is illegal to serve Hot Sauce to a Dragon in Granada | mirrored on Philome.la | hosted on my site

This is my first time using Twine, and the first interactive fiction (IF) game I’ve ever made. So I welcome any and all feedback and opinions on Project Dragonsauce! (Because that title is a mouthful.)

Inspiration.

It all began with this writing challenge on Chuck Wendig’s blog, where everyone commented with a title for another commenter to “adopt” for a flash-fiction piece. Someone had posted this exact title, “It is illegal to serve hot sauce to a dragon in Grenada [sic]”, and my imagination instantly latched onto it. I originally wanted to write flash-fiction/short story as per Wendig’s challenge, but after a few abortive attempts, gave up, filed the title away, and didn’t do anything with it for a couple years. But a few months ago, when I was examining Twine and idly contemplating a foray into IF game creation, this title prompt came instantly to mind, and the entire storytelling/game structure resolved itself in that moment of inspiration.

And there: I had a story all ready to create in Twine. So I did. It took roughly 2-3 months of dabbling, in total probably less than a week of real-time work, to make a 5-minute IF game.

Process.

It took an afternoon to storyboard and write the text for Dragonsauce, and get accustomed to the Twine interface, which was very user-friendly. This was the easy part. After that, I spent several months on-and-off learning the basics of Harlowe (the scripting language beneath the Twine interface) and then scripting it to do what I wanted. I solely used the Harlowe manual to learn; somehow it never crossed my mind to look for YouTube tutorials, but reading instructions and then doing them has always been my default way of learning.

Lots of referencing the manual and trial-and-error: circling back and forth between things I knew how to script, and things I wanted to script but hadn’t reached that level of mastery yet. Rather tedious, but I’m glad I persevered through beginner’s frustration. At the end of this game, I think I’ve mastered enough of Twine scripting to know which references to look up, but will need to keep experimenting and iterating to get a real handle on Twine’s full capabilities. Solidly beginner, starting to move into the intermediate levels.

Being a gamer, particularly an avid player of text-based games, helped a lot with Dragonsauce’s design. I’ve played enough of Fallen London, Open Sorcery, Choice of Games games, and MU*s (the progenitor of both parser IF and MMOs) over time, to have internalized the infrastructure of interactive storytelling. The structure of Dragonsauce literally crystallized out of this melting pot. I knew what story I wanted to tell, and immediately knew how to organize it. I didn’t have to consciously “figure it out”.

Gameplay and story presentation.

Having written only novellas before, interactivity is the aspect of IF that I find most intriguing. How does one present stats to a reader and give them a way of tracking progress and change, while maintaining the integrity of a narrative? How to avoiding making this too explicitly game-y?

Dragonsauce was a particularly good story for learning Twine because it had a modular structure, and each module allowed me to experiment with different ways for a reader/player to progress through the story, and how I might present it narratively. There were only two fundamental stats for me (and the player) to manage, which made it easy to keep track of in the scripting, but still interesting as I got a taste of what additional variables can spin out from two stats (answer: a LOT if you don’t keep yourself in check), and what “balancing gameplay” means and involves. I think the three game endings are well balanced and hope they satisfy the player.

I got sucked into playing around with the scripting, to the point where I had to pull back and ask myself how this served the narrative, and how I can effectively present this as a story, and use storytelling to elegantly cover up the bones of gameplay mechanics. (And how much time I wanted to spend just dickering with an unfinished project!) All this experimentation meant that the narrative of Dragonsauce supports a core gameplay style, instead of vice versa. More game-y and less story-esque than I’d hoped, but I was using this story to learn Twine and its capabilities.

I’m pleased with what I’ve made, and like to think I succeeded with keeping the storytelling vibe while also effectively communicating game/stat changes through narrative. But I wonder what players think. (I would appreciate your feedback very much!)

What’s next?

IF and text-based games are the convergence of reading and gaming, two activities I enjoy, and any place of boundary crossing and convergence that stimulates creativity, tension and new ideas attracts me. I thoroughly enjoyed making Dragonsauce, and found balancing this tension between game and story very engaging. This is my first IF game, but I’m confident it won’t be the last.

Now that I’ve gotten a handle on Twine scripting, I would like to focus more on narrative and less on mechanics. So the next project is to develop a story and keep narrative as the main objective, and see how the Twine medium can support it.

I already have an idea kicking in my head, but it’ll have to incubate a bit longer as other writing projects are taking priority. (NaNoWriMo cometh!)  This will surely be a major project for 2019.

“What is my responsibility as a creator to the thing I create?”

Whether that’s a child, or a book, or an album, or a painting. I think if I create something, it’s my responsibility to love it and give it its best chance in the world. And if I don’t do that, not only am I betraying it, but I’m betraying my gift. And […] if you begin to hate the thing you’ve created, it can indeed become monstrous.

—A.S. Peterson, on his play Frankenstein (interview)