Friday, 25 December 2015

Happy Christmas

2015 is fading fast - it's honestly been a bit of a blur here. From revamping several of my iOS apps to bring them in line with the new style and guidelines for the iPad, to also applying a bit of polish to my older Mac apps, it's sometimes felt more like treading water than actually swimming forward.

I did however release a novel this year: Spark of Humanity, the follow-up to 2012's novella, Life Support, and I'm working on a couple of things at the moment too: -

Intertwined - a new novel set in the present, but with a hint of a sci-fi twist.

And I've officially started planning the development of my first game. There's nothing to reveal yet, and it's an awful lot of work, but it's going to be something that's very close to my heart.

Favourite things of the year: -

Movie: Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It's been so great to see the world get excited again for Star Wars. Congratulations to the whole cast and crew on bringing a galaxy far, far away back home.

Game: Life Is Strange. I've already done a post outlining why this became, in a very short space of time, one of my favourite games of all time. As someone who loves strong storylines and characters, as well as time travel, this was basically catnip for me - made all the more potent because it was so good. I honestly didn't want it to end.

UK TV: Humans. It's so great to see sci-fi on British TV, especially sci-fi that remembers that the technology and trappings alone are not enough - you have to have the story at the core of it all to give it meaning.

And a special mention to Doctor Who, which films in my home city, Cardiff, in Wales. This year saw the departure of the wonderful Jenna Coleman, so the next companion has an awful lot to live up to.

US TV: The Flash goes from strength to strength, and we actually have a Supergirl TV show.

As much as I love the DC and Marvel universes, I think it's time to tone down the oversaturation a bit. It's something Disney really need to think about for Star Wars as well - a movie a year for the next six years at least, is only going to dilute the appetite for the franchise. And honestly, as much as I love Yoda as a character, 2 hours plus of him talking backwards is not something I want to sit through...

Book: I can't finish without mentioning the book I've enjoyed most this year, (not least because I write them, and I literally, also have an app for that - or at least one to help me remember what I've read!) I'm thoroughly enjoying Brandon Sanderson's Steelheart series - so FireFight, Book 2 of The Reckoners series is one of the most enjoyable reads this year. I guess that's a little ironic in that I'm suggesting there's too many superhero movies and tv shows - but in actual non-comic-book written form, they're few and far between.

Anyway, 2016 is looming, I wish you all a happy, safe, and creative Christmas and new year. I've got plenty of writing and designing to keep me out of trouble.

Happy writing!

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Life is Strange

For those who don't know, I've been a gamer for far too many years to count. In fact, adventure games from the 8-bit era were my first introduction to gaming, and brought forth my interest in role-playing games as well as writing.

This year, Life is Strange was released, in 5 separate episodes. I was intrigued at first, but didn't bite, as I kind of wanted to play the whole thing through without waiting. This last week, that's what I did.

Wow. Most games, particularly the sort of RPG's that I love, from Knights of the Old Republic, to the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series give you branching dialog and options, and you'll generally have either an indication of the sort of effect your decision will have, or the game will out and out tell you whether it was good or bad.

Life is Strange just gives you the choices, and the consequences may not be felt until the subsequent episodes.

The choices themselves range from the seemingly mundane, to the absolute soul-crushing.

It's superbly voiced, the soundtrack is terrific, and while I don't want to spoil a moment of it, the whole living, breathing world of Arcadia Bay came to life over the course of my 20 hours with the game.

As a writer, and a software developer with an eye on building my own games, I have to say that Life is Strange has inspired me and spurred me on with my own plans and designs.

Games have been a huge part of my life, but I can't think of any title that has affected me as much as Life is Strange. Whether you are a game player or a game writer, a writer or a reader, I have to say: play this game.

Hands-down my favourite game of 2015, Life is Strange is at turns beautiful, haunting, funny, heart-breaking, and horrifying, and overall, glorious.

We all have the same eventual fate - we're all mortal, our brief time on Earth is guaranteed to end at some point  - it's the choices we make along the way that define us. Life is Strange may be "just a game", but it demonstrates perfectly that "it's not where you're going, it's how you get there."