Welcome to Space!

kirk enemy within

Today officially kicked off a new phase in development of The Next Big Thing I’m working on along with Nick Hurwitch.

That’s right, it’s a new book, titled, Set Phasers to Stunning: The Space Hero’s Guide to Space The Space Hero’s Guide to Glory: How to Get Off Your Podunk Planet and Master the Final Frontier. A spiritual successor to So You Created a Wormhole, we’re looking to do with space travel what we did with time travel — explain it, make fun of it, reference a lot of science fiction that we love, and make fun of that, too.

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When XCOM: Enemy Within turned into ‘Aliens’

xcom site recon

Last year’s XCOM: Enemy Unknown was one of my favorite games, largely because it left so much room for play sessions to turn into their own little emergent stories.

This week, a huge expansion to the game, called Enemy Within, was launched, and I’ve delved back into the game to try out the new stuff. The other night, I suddenly found myself playing until about 3 a.m. because one mission grabbed my attention and arrested my ability to think of anything else for a good hour — the emergent narrative, about my squad of soldiers fighting to repel an alien invasion of Earth, was in many ways akin to the horror and tragedy of films like Aliens.

Since it was so tense, my favorite experience with the game so far, I ended up laying it out on Twitter across something like 30 updates. I didn’t realize it would be as long as it was until I was midway into it, but I couldn’t just stop in the middle — I still found it too compelling. Because it seems like such a great example of some of the very interesting storytelling only games can do, I thought I’d put it up here, with a little more context.

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Too busy for blog posts

colonial marines 4

Been a bit since I was able to get over here, but with good excuses!

Lots of work, that’s what. In fact, I don’t really have time to write a whole lot here, but what I can do is dump a bunch of the stuff I’ve been working on that’s keeping me from complaining about video games or discussing writing tips I make up. Here’s a big rundown of everything I’ve been writing lately.

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5 Social Media Dont’s for Writers

writing

Hey, you’re a writer now. You know what that means? It means that a big part of your job every day is social media-ing, in hopes that anyone anywhere might actually read your goddamn book, story, article or whatever. If you do your job right, you might get some traction. Most likely, no one will read it, but you might get a few “likes.”

That’s okay, I’ve decided. Having hammered away at social media for more than a year now in a more or less official capacity on behalf of So You Created a Wormhole, I feel like Nick and I have carved out an incredibly modest divot into which we fit neatly. I’ve also realized that the vast majority of this s–t is in no way worth the time, money or effort.

I can’t speak from anything but my own experience when it comes to any of this stuff. And I can’t say that I’ve been hugely successful. But I do know what things not to do when other writers on various social networking platforms do them, and if they bother me — a writer who seeks out and pays attention to other writers — I’m almost positive they bother other people too. So here’s the best I can do in terms of social networking advice: a list of s–t to avoid (mostly because I dislike it).

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‘Mama’ is a Deeper, Gentler Kind of Twisted Monster

mama

Warning: Spoilers for the film Mama herein, as well as Sinister and maybe Paranormal Activity. I might spoil nine or 10 other movies just because I’m on a role.

Mama, the recently released, Guillermo del Toro-produced horror movie about two feral kids who are rediscovered and brought back to society, certainly has a few missteps built in. The way it handles its monster, however, largely isn’t one of them.

One of the things that most bothers me about many monster movies is the lack of said creature’s ability to actually become menacing.

Much too often, ghosts, demons and other creatures are used in service of Being Ominous. You know — they pop up now and again, or a character turns and what was previously hidden turns out to be hiding something awful. And many times in horror movies, the character will cry out and then blink and the thing will be gone.

That’s dumb. What’s more, it’s irritating.

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X-Surface and the Mess That is Online Journalism

xbox 720

Today, an anonymous guy “leaked” information about Microsoft’s expected upcoming new Xbox console. He did this by writing a long, involved email, in which he made up a lot of information — namely specs and other details that would make the leak seem legitimate. It’s obvious the guy did a lot of research.

Then he sent the email to several websites, posing as an anonymous guy from Microsoft. Some sites picked up the information, and then the information began to circulate as it often does with tech and gaming news. It got picked up a fair amount (here it is on Yahoo! News), although many big gaming sites — VG247, Kotaku and (humbly included) Game Front — didn’t publish it.

You can read the full account of what the guy did and what he thinks of this industry here. He takes it as proof of a failure of games/tech journalism. In a very big way, it is that.

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Sorry, You Can’t Have a Pink Lightsaber

pink lightsaber

Something kind of remarkable happened last week in a completely not-that-big-of-a-deal way.

The video game Star Wars: The Old Republic — a giant, massively multiplayer online game (think World of Warcraft) set in the Star Wars universe — introduced “same-gender romance” options for players in its latest content expansion.

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The Rear-View Mirror on 2012, and Many Thanks

happy 2013

Whoa. It’s 2013, and it’s been a crazy year. Seems like a mistake not to take a second and look back at all the cool things that happened, and the many reasons for which I have to be thankful.

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