The Weekly Review - Edition 13
- I decide to publish The Weekly Review a day early because I’m fey and tricky like that.
- In Newbie Central TinOz introduces himself with the great line “anyhow I exist” (Hello there fellow humans Thread).
- In the Lounge Dynamism seeks advice for important life decisions from the best of all possible sources: a bunch of complete strangers (Suffering for your dreams or security with misery Thread).
- In the Parlor Room Beardon87, who coincidentally was the only person to rate my Hunting the Ripper story 3/8, asks people to give higher ratings for his stories (Ratings Thread)
- In the Writing Workshop Sethaniel provides and rates interesting Writing Exercises (Writing Exercises Week 3)
- In the Reading Corner things remain remarkably quiet and clearly in need of some new posts…
Featured Interview - Introducing BerkaZerka
The King of Scripting, author of masterpieces Dead Man Walking, Zombie Survival and Kill Aman’s Moustache and key member of the site, BerkaZerka has evaded interviews for six months but he cracked eventually and has awarded us this great interview. Without further ado…
Q: Why do you write Choose your Own Stories?
A: I have always loved Choose Your Own Adventure stories, especially the Lone Wolf and Sagard the Barbarian series (as they also brought random rolls into the mix). Being a big fan of roleplaying games, it was cool to be able to pick up and play an adventure by yourself, when the regular group couldn’t get together. Being the designated Dungeon Master of my gaming group growing up, writing adventures was part and parcel for the territory, so bringing that into choose your own adventure stories was just the next logical step.
I found Choose Your Story dot com, while looking for free programs to write out a zombie survival game. That eventually brought Dead Man Walking to life (or unlife or whatever) ^v^.
Q: What is your preferred method and writing style?
A: I’m a technical writer, so my skills lie in explaining processes. That lends itself well to managing huge or complicated stories, but I’m still developing other writing aspects, such as narrative and pacing. Given that, I prefer creating games that are more games than story (such as Dungeon Stompage!) - as the focus can be the mechanics behind the game rather than the story itself. I’m working on improving the later though, with some of my current projects.
Q: Do you have any plans for future stories?
A: Yes, of course. I wave started a Dungeon Stompage II game, and have a Conan The Barbarian game half done, and I want to eventually finish up the Penguin fairy tale game in my Sneak Peeks. These are all on the back burner though, as life has a way of forcing you to prioritize things, but I haven’t given up on them yet.
Q: Who are your favorite authors and what are your favorite stories on this site?
A: EndMaster’s Necromancer is probably my all-time favorite (though Suzy’s Strange Saga is up there too). I really enjoyed SindriV’s Homo Perfectus Series and Briar_Rose’s Tower of Riddles. It was tsmpaul’s fun little 8 goals, 28 rolls that inspired me to try my hand at Scripting, when I played it and was like 'how the heck does he do that?!?'.
Q: Any advice for other writers?
A: When writing out some of the choice paths in your game, it can get overwhelming, due to choice adding upon choice, adding upon choice, etc. How do you keep track of it all?
I deal with that by notating in the Title of the Pages (as I write) with '>>>>>' at the front of every page that needs finished.
So, if I have a path of choices, I'll write out one path all the way to the end (or to a new scene) first, marking any additional choice pages that pop up with >>>>>. Then I'll go back to the next path and do the same (removing the >>>>> of each page as it is finished). Repeat until the entire story is done.
Basically, I'm just using notes in the titles of each page to keep track of whether the page is complete or still needs work.
The other piece of advice I’d give, is to create your own test game to learn Scripting. It will be where you can test things to see how they work; then incorporate that into your real games.
Also, when it comes to Scripting, start small and work up, as your understanding expands. No one can just jump in and write a fully immersive combat or hit point system. That’s why I wrote The King’s Logic Puzzle and Crab Arena – they were Scripting study aids to what went into Dungeon Stompage! ^v^
Featured Review –Kill Aman’s Moustache by BerkaZerka
“Inside Jokes” are surprisingly rare story games on this site and this one is the funniest of the lot. Employing BerkaZerka’s typically great writing, intimidating level of scripting and some really, very funny jokes this difficult-to-complete game is one of the relatively unknown of the 7/8 rated games on this site. Truly a story of one man’s wonderful appreciation of one remarkable moustache this is definitely a story with something for everyone and a great addition to the site.
Fantasy is a pretty popular genre on this site but whether it is due to sharp metal objects, magical spells or strange little creatures falling into volcanoes with your favorite ring the villains in Fantasy rarely enjoy a long and relaxing retirement. Feeling some sympathy with all the dark lords and murderous psychopaths out there I’m posting excerpts from an instruction guide I found for any readers who also happen to be a villain in a Fantasy world in their free time…
ADVICE FOR EVIL FANTASY GENIUSES EVERYWHERE
1: The artifact which is the source of all your power should not be kept on the Mountain of Despair beyond the River of Fire guarded by the Dragons of Eternity. Instead put it in your safe-deposit box.
2: When the rebel leader challengesyou to fight one-on-one and asks, "Or are you afraid without your armies to back you up?” reply, "No, just sensible."
3: After you the beautiful princess, get married immediately in a quiet civil ceremony, not a lavish spectacle in three weeks' time during which the final phase of your plan will be carried out.
4: Do not order my trusted lieutenant to kill the infant who is destined to overthrow you – do it yourself.
5: Make it clear that you do know the meaning of the word "mercy"; you simply choose not show any.
6: Make one of my advisors an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in your plan that they are able to spot will be corrected before implementation.
7: When you employ people as advisors, you should occasionally listen to their advice.
8: Despite it’s proven stress-relieving effect, do not indulge in maniacal laughter. When so occupied, it's too easy to miss unexpected developments that a more attentive individual could adjust to accordingly.
9: Hire a talented fashion designer to create original uniforms for your legions of terror, as opposed to some cheap knock-offs that make them look like Nazi storm troopers, Roman foot soldiers, or savage Mongol hordes. All were eventually defeated and you want my troops to have a more positive mind-set.
10: No matter how attractive certain members of the rebellion are, there is probably someone just as attractive who is not desperate to kill you. Therefore, think twice before ordering a prisoner sent to your bed chamber.
11: Keep your pet monster in a secure cage from which it cannot escape and into which you could not accidentally stumble.
12: Try dressing in bright and cheery colors so as to throw your enemies into confusion.
13: All naive, busty tavern wenches in your realm should be replaced with surly, alcoholic waitresses who will provide no unexpected reinforcement and/or romantic subplot for the hero or his sidekick.
14: Do not fly into a rage and kill a messenger who brings you bad news just to illustrate how evil you really am. Good messengers are expensive.
15: Make sure that some plucky young lads/lasses in strange clothes and with the accent of an outlander shall REGULARLY climb some monument in the main square of your capital to denounce you, claim to know the secret of your power, rally the masses to rebellion, etc. That way, the citizens will be jaded in case the real thing ever comes along.
16: Don’t turn into a snake. It never helps.
17: If an enemy you have just killed has a younger sibling or offspring anywhere, find them and have them killed immediately, instead of waiting for them to grow up harboring feelings of vengeance towards you in your old age.
18: Offer oracles the choice of working exclusively for you or being executed. Those that take more than two seconds to respond will be killed either way.
19: When you capture the hero, make sure you also get his dog, monkey, ferret, or whatever sickeningly cute little animal capable of untying ropes and filching keys happens to follow him around. Also don’t give the key to the lowest ranking guard in your organization who earned his qualifications for the job at the Guild of Village Idiots.
20: Try to have a clear understanding of who is responsible for what in your organization. For example, if a general screws up do not draw your weapon, point it at him, say "And here is the price for failure," then suddenly turn and kill some random soldier who’s doing a good job of standing still and looking ready.
21: If an advisor says "My liege, he is but one man. What can one man possibly do?” reply "This." and kill the advisor.
22: If you learn that a callow youth has begun a quest to destroy you, it is better to slay him while he is still a callow youth instead of waiting for him to mature.
23: Treat any beast which you control through magic or technology with love and kindness. Thus if the control is ever broken, it will not immediately eat you in revenge.
24: If you learn the whereabouts of the one artifact which can destroy you, do not send all your best troops out to seize it. Instead send them out to seize something else and quietly put a Want-Ad in the local paper.
25: Consider making the entrance to your fortress standard-sized. While elaborate 60-foot high double-doors definitely impress the masses, they are hard to close quickly in an emergency.
26: Try hiring a team of board-certified architects and surveyors to examine your castle and inform you of any secret passages and abandoned tunnels that you might not know about.
27: If the beautiful princess that you captured says "I'll never marry you! Never, do you hear me, NEVER!!!" say, "Oh well'' and kill her.
28: Finally, to keep your subjects permanently locked in a mindless trance, consider providing each of them with free unlimited Internet access.
Quiz of the Week
Ah humans… invented by Leonardo Da Vinci in 1542, sent to Mars in exchange for Smurfs the following year and brought back after the Beatles went out of fashion there is little about them I don’t know. Because I’m kind and altruistic I’ve decided to share my vast knowledge with you fine people to help you find the right personality so you can date them, trick them into signing a legally binding contract that promises marriage, financial support and an activity of some kind (note, research this further) that produces a new child at the rate of 1.2 every year for the next fifty years and ends with a highly publicized and enthusiastically tweeted-about murder trial… here is my quiz that will tell you just which personality is the perfect match for you!
1: When you go to a house party who do you hang out with?
A) Pick this answer if you are not sure what a house party is.
B) Your friends
C) The hottest person in the room.
2: How would you describe your appearance?
A) Cuddly. Sometimes people say you have “a nice personality” and are “a good friend”.
B) So-so, you know.
C) Too sexy for clothes (which can lead to difficulties when you go paintballing).
3: What is your most distinctive physical feature?
A) Your baboon-like appearence.
B) Your wandering eyes.
C) The massive bulge(s?)in your clothes where you keep your… money.
4: If somebody gave you their phone number what would you do?
A) Hope this dream lasts forever.
B) Stalk all their Facebook photos and Twitter accounts before calling them.
C) Thank them for their attention then give their number to someone who cares.
5: What are your dating preferences?
A) Anything with a pulse and under eighty preferable
B) I’m just waiting for the right person… or any person.
C) Read through a celebrity magazine, most of the offers I’d accept are in there.
If you answered mostly A’s…you are blessed with what people might call a “homely” appearance. There is someone out there for everyone and if that someone for you happens to be a giant inflatable Jar Jar Binks so be it.
If you answered mostly B’s… ah much like me the mysteries of the opposite sex are no mystery to you. We move unnoticed and unheard through a busy world just waiting for the right moment… sometimes the waiting can take a surprisingly long time.
If you answered mostly C’s… thank you for taking the time to do my little, semi-literate quiz. This truly is the proudest moment of my life since I saw Lady Gaga nearly trip over coming out of a gig in Sheffield (true story), please continue being fantastic!
A Big Thank You to BerkaZerka for his interview this week.
Random Section – The Not Terribly Great Club
A long time ago in a galaxy far far away (basically London in the early 80’s) a guy called Stephen Pile started The Not Terribly Great Club which celebrated the people who were the worst at doing a particular something (which btw is a very English thing to do) and wrote a pretty funny book of the same name. Some of the outstanding highlights include:
- The Worst Poet in History is without doubt the fantastic William McGonagall, a man so oblivious to criticism that he mistook thrown eggs and vegetables at his poetry recitals as gifts. Almost everything he wrote was wonderfully free of rhythm or consistency or reason and to give you an idea of his style here is an extract from his poem The Tay Bridge Disaster:
“I must now conclude my lay,
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
That your central girders would not have given way,
At least many sensible men do say,
Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,
At least many sensible men confesses,
For the stronger we our houses do build,
The less chance we have of being killed.”
- The Worst General in History is a very competitive category but in American History at least Ambrose Burnside (he of the amazing facial hair) wins the prize. At the Battle of Antietam he vastly outnumbered his opponent across a creek, to overcome this advantage and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory he had his men march single file over a bridge even though the creek was shallow and could have been crossed at any point. His most brilliant moment came at the Battle of the Crater when having blown a massive hole in the Confederate siege lines with a mine he had his soldiers march directly into a crater, from which they couldn’t climb out, giving the surprised Virginians a situation they likened to “shooting five thousand rats in a giant barrel”.
- The Worst Film Maker in History was probably the uniquely talented Ed Wood who produced such masterpieces as Glen or Glenda, The Sinister Urge and Orgy of the Dead. Famous for usually only shooting one shot of a scene, regardless of any mistakes, Wood’s art reached it’s peak in Plan 9 from Outer Space which contained such lines as “future events such as these will affect you in the future” and not even the death of the film’s main star Bela Lugosi stood in Wood’s way (he used a much taller and completely dissimilar actor as a stand-in); the film has been justly described as “so famous for it’s badness it’s beyond criticism”.
If you happen to find Piles’s book anywhere (he got kicked out of The Not Terribly Great Club for being a successful author) I strongly recommend you read it, it’s one of the funniest books I’ve read in a while and also as a hardback it makes a good coaster as well when entertaining guests.
Thanks for reading this Review and have a great week :D
*chuckles* ... Well, we already know what I had to say about Beardon's post, so I don't feel the need to elaborate on the subject other than the fact that yes, I find that amusing. As for the reading corner, well, we'll see if my just posted topic gives you something to talk about next time.
A review of a great game and an interview of a great game creator. Lovely.
I love the villain advice, that list has made me laugh many times--though I've seen it in multiple places before.
The last bit was entertainingly educational... something you seem to excel at. ^^
Sweet Issue Will! Lucky Number 13 haha! ^v^
I lost it at 21 on the Evil Fantasy Geniuses part XD I think I'm really starting to like these.
Voldemort tried the whole "killing the chosen one himself" thing; it didn't work out to well.
Haha, this edition was really quite amusing. Keep up the great job