Zake, The Novelist

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7/28/2015

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9/27/2022 9:34 PM

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'ello! I am Zake. Welcome to my profile.
Writing is fun, hard, and interesting.
Feel free to message me.

Some sites that may be worth a look:

Trophies Earned

Earning 100 Points Earning 500 Points Earning 1,000 Points For providing the community with many helpful posts when it comes to the aspects of writing. Said posts are acknowledged and appreciated. Given by BerkaZerka on 10/17/2021 - Cool Contributions

Storygames

The Capi's Band & the Missing Instruments
coauthor

Entry into End Master's Manifest Destiny Contest (2021).



A stand-alone sequel to: Elvis At The Beauty Contest.



Join Miz, Matt, and Mandy as Madame Coon recounts the tale of the Capi's band and their missing instruments!


Recent Posts

The 2nd Annual MHD Appreciation Week! on 7/12/2022 3:51:21 AM

Last time I went with a Bloodborne theme, so this time I'll go with Elden Ring. Beware mild spoilers ahead.

Since, as before, I like to list the references first:




And, of course, the link in the op to MHDs character sheet: https://mhd.crevado.com/work/12344322

I went with a purely digital approach this go around, so the Healing Tool was easily the MVP (tho layers are still pretty vital).



And here is all of it with an oil filter.

P.S. Oh, also used the colour of commendations for the finger ring gem, but you might need to zoom in to spot it.


Office Life: A Story Idea on 6/21/2022 1:32:50 AM
It could help, and since you brought it up you should try it. (Unless you mentioned it while dreading the thought). It is actually possible to write with no plan at all, or with a hyper detailed one. It is a spectrum, and finding where on that spectrum you work best is a good idea. Some people will dislike planning too much since then they feel they've sort of already told the story by the time they finish planning, or they'd dislike the process of 'filling out' the plan with the actual writing. Further, if you plan a lot the writing can devolve to just hitting milestones in a boring fashion, of 'this happens, then this'. Writing 'in the moment' can produce more natural character actions, while also risking a meandering plot or inconsistencies. Planning a lot can make things feel less natural but more structured, and the background setting would likely be well-defined (but whether the story needs a well-defined setting also depends). But notice the language I use, it is all 'can' and 'maybes', because editing can fix pretty much any problem, and this is all general stuff which might not apply to you (they are just general risks). It is something to think about, but it boils down to: experiment! You might even find that certain approaches work better for different kinds of stories, and depending on what you are going for / writing, you might want to plan more or less. Who knows! So, either go and start making that plan, or start writing. (But maybe you're busy, idk). Oh, proofreading is also generally a very good idea. Drafts are also powerful. But, again, for one last time, find what works for you!

Office Life: A Story Idea on 6/20/2022 11:49:34 PM
Stanly Parable is a far more evocative title than 'Office Life'. But needless critique of your title aside: what Gryphon said. I'd also suggest thinking about theme. To use Stanly Parable as an example again, and to quote Wikipedia: 'The game carries themes such as choice in video games, the relationship between a game creator and player, and predestination/fate.' Wikipedia mentions the themes in the first paragraph. It doesn't do that for Call of Duty. My point is that with a strong use of themes you can make a more meaningful experience, even while retaining a major focus on comedy. I mention this because I know you don't have to consciously think about themes to write (I know I rarely do), but doing so can really help. But I'm not good at themes nor comedy, so I'll let you decide on if this is good advice or not. (Altho I guess my other piece of advice is to start small, since you've returned after seven years, and CYOA stuff can easily spiral. Already having a objective in mind alongside a loose idea of the plot should help ensure you are always working towards finishing, and this helps keep the scope manageable. But find what works for you, since there are many ways to go about writing. Experiment!)

Looking for a beta-reader for the contest entry. on 6/18/2022 7:33:18 AM
Ah, I should've guessed the strings being cut was a reference. As for my closing remark's backstory, it's nothing interesting, I just haven't finished writing projects often, despite having had plenty of time.

Looking for a beta-reader for the contest entry. on 6/18/2022 4:58:56 AM
I've read through a proper path now, and things progress nicely. I don't want to nitpick, since I do think things make sense enough, and trying to find plot holes can sort of be a self fulfilling thing where I make assumptions that are not true (rather than assuming something that would explain it). But in the spirit of trying to give feedback, I will mention one thing. When in Esbern's house: 'you then search the house for some money and valuables, the task made incredibly easy by your ability to see through walls'. But previously: 'Your abilities enable you to see a faint outline of human shapes through doors and walls, and so you know which rooms are empty'. These wall hacks helping find valuables later but not the hidden letter / compartment in the desk feels a bit disconnected. I do get a small, tiny, miniscule even, vibe that a certain video game might've inspired some things, and the ability to see valuables through walls / doors but not the 'hidden' item in the desk would make sense enough there, but I do think these powers can be explained just a bit differently to feel more consistent (without changing scenes). I'd just get rid of mentioning the 'ability to see through walls' at Esbern's house. Or, instead, explicitly mention that certain types of valuables can also be detected through walls. Or maybe, because you're now focused on it, you sense valuables instead of people. Yet another alternative is to mention this in the previous mansion somehow. Maybe make it clear you can't find a letter, but you would be able to find gold or whatever. Or, maybe the office room, with all the fancy goods in there, ends up 'overwhelming' your loot detection. Lots of options. Even leaving it as is works fine. I do think having the powers be consistent is important, but I don't think you need to go overboard explaining them either. Something else that I noticed and just want to mention is that when you shoot Doppius in the head, 'like a puppet whose strings have been cut' is used as a descriptor, but the same thing was used in reference to the sleep bolts when you're breaking into his mansion: 'as she falls down unconscious, like a puppet whose strings have been cut.' Maybe you just like the imagery, maybe the sleep darts are actually lethal, or maybe it is a reference to how someone dying or being forcibly knocked unconscious are similar, or that being hit by a sleep dart signifies just how close they were to dying. I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure out what it is. Other than that I like how the wife and your boss tie back into the story, and how the couple who ran you over can also be interacted with again. One-off characters that you interact with for one scene are fine, and while interacting with someone again is a simple payoff, what I want to say is that the way it was done here seemed good to me. Those four I mentioned also end up being related to the character (one is a wife, one is a boss, and the other two literally ran you over causing Harak to offer you the pact). Similarly, Liam having backstory with the protagonist is also good. If he were just some random dude running a black market things would feel weaker (probably because finding out what happened to Maria ends up building up the antagonist and allows for a payoff before the final confrontation). Overall, it is a fun structure that makes me wonder about what I missed, and about how you'll finish things up. Looking forward to Harak judging me, since that has the potential to be neat, and my advice is to keep the focus on the characters, rather than just having Harak stand in for a philosophy professor (tho I'm sure you could make that funny). Just, while the story is dark, it isn't depressing in tone. Our hero has superpowers, and can (?) save the day! As long as the ending doesn't end up being dissonant from what came before it should be good. (But that isn't to say the ending can't be more serious or depressing, but rather to be extra deliberate if you go for something like that). But enough rambling about that, I trust you to finish this, and considering my track record, I'm probably not the best person to give advice on how to create endings (heh). edit - P.S. guess I gotta write an epic now to force you to read it.

Looking for a beta-reader for the contest entry. on 6/17/2022 10:51:01 AM

Well, trying to help you would be a better way to procrastinate, but I could've sworn the op post was different a few days ago. Suffice to say, I'll pass on the rewards.


Story/Plot

Pretty sure the old version of this post wasn't as interested in this, so I'll just say that drafts/rewriting can greatly improve work even if it takes more effort. I, of course, am a strong believer in that pretty much anything can work, so just experiment and find the approach that works for you.

Oh, and since this has a deadline, probably don't do any major rewrites, aha. Things don't strike me as needing one anyway.


Writing Style (and Grammar, I guess)


Dialogue Punctuation

Gower's Article.

Seems you're doing it the 'correct' way, but between us two, I've softened up on how important 'correct' dialogue punctuation actually is. You might notice incorrect dialogue punctuation in some highly regarded storygames, which goes to show this should not be a priority.

But it is a matter of communication and reader expectations. As long as you have a consistent approach, the reader can (probably) adapt, so you wouldn't miss out on the potential to control their experience in some pretty interesting ways.

I'm not really at the stage where I can make good use of these tiny variations available when portraying speech, but one thing I find really good to remember is that readers can be creative. A sentence of dialogue might imply trailing off even without anything to indicate it, beyond context and flow (or whatever you call it).

To try and use an example:

"Ughh....guhhddd...juhst finnisshhh me offf..." You barely manage to get the words out, blood pouring from your mouth.

Could also be:

"Ughh....guhhddd...juhst finnisshhh me offf..." Blood pours from your mouth.

I think readers will figure out that you'd barely managed to get those words out. But I don't think your version is wrong, or even worse, just different. Thinking about this sort of thing to find the version that'll work best for you can be useful (which is funny, considering I just pointed out you don't necessarily get something better), but I advise against overthinking all lines of dialogue.

If a scene drags too much, do it, and you might find stuff to cut. If a scene is some pivotal resolution, do it, so it can (hopefully) be improved (or to just confirm it is already great).

Just remember, the dialogue tag / attribution / whatever-its-called, when after the dialogue, will start with a lowercase letter if it is a part of the sentence containing the dialogue.

i.e.,

"Ughh....guhhddd...juhst finnisshhh me offf..." you barely manage to get the words out, blood pouring from your mouth. -- Altho I think this technically could be two sentences as well.

"Yeagh....nooo shhhit it hasss man. Could you *cough* *cough* let me have that gun, I'm tryuughhhing to kill myself heeere..." You cough out some more blood. -- You don't speak when coughing (even tho you can use it in place of 'saying' something, but that is a bit of a creative blemish. Like when people 'spit' a sentence, they don't actually spit it - maybe you spit after it tho - but enough of this tangent).

However, those are just my most recent thoughts. Think for yourself, and feel free to disagree with me.


...Ellipses...

And I do feel compelled to mention, ellipses (alongside exclamation marks) can become annoying/less-effective if overused. I know I'm drawn to using ellipses all the time, since I gotta portray that gap in speech, or leaving something unsaid, but, as with many things in writing, there are other ways to do this.

Replace them with a comma, reword the sentence, mention a pause outside of the literal dialogue. Sometimes an ellipses is the best choice too!

However, I do feel you use them well, and they fit the overall tone/style (at least to my amateur's eye).

Just be more careful with their use in the more tense / important scenes where you are going for a more serious tone, since overusing them then can mess with the reader's perception by making stuff feel less concrete. (But sometimes you might want this, but even then, ellipses might not be the best choice).

This is probably something I should check on when I got more time. Let me know if interested.


All Caps

I think using all caps is technically incorrect (maybe?), but even if it isn't, it is at least more...amateur?

Anyway, consider the overall tone of the work and what you are going for, since the dialogue of the woman screaming doesn't HAVE to be capitalised. But it can be. I didn't HAVE to capitalise HAVE, but I did.

But while I felt compelled to mention this, I think it works fine for the scenes you use it in, so def don't just change it for my sake (since I don't actually dislike the use). In fact, I think where Harak tells you to say 'HARAK! I ACCEPT YOUR PACT!' would lose something if it weren't capitalised, but I'm no expert on this.

I might be overthinking this a bit since I do really like the way you handle dialogue for a number of characters, things felt distinct and I was never confused about who was speaking or what-have-you ('boring' dialogue might be a flaw in my writing, so I'm trying to look out for it here, but I didn't notice it).

Evolution

Finally, I feel compelled to mention that language evolves over time, so if you like doing something 'technically' incorrect, just do it, and maybe that'll become the new 'correct'. I'm sure this take of mine is perfectly reasonable.


Conclusion

It is looking good! If you want more feedback, I could read more, since I didn't get through too much (I should've done this earlier in the day), but my advice tends to be generic stuff like this, so you probably won't get anything of more value from me.

All in all, things didn't stand out in any negative way, and overall it was good (or at least what I read was, but I doubt the quality will randomly dip...but maybe I should check. I clicked through one path somewhat quickly and stuff seemed good, but without all the context I might not notice something).

Anyway, anyhow, however, but, whatever, yet, also, and, now, I shall stop typing.


Quite new. on 2/10/2022 4:39:25 AM

Hard rules aren't really a thing here; we are beholden to the whims of the gods, but they're not whimsical, so it works out.

To answer your question, check out this article: Guide Lines article link. The answer is: there are limits.


Text-Based Combat System on 2/10/2022 4:21:50 AM
Edgar cutting my head for 60 damage would save me a click to know what he done (stat wise). It would also shift the focus towards pure combat more than the surrounding combat narrative. So I think it could work, in letting you focus on other things. (But when adding complexity and choice, do it with purpose!). Randomly generated encounters can be neat, but I'd say just having like five prebuilt encounters and having one randomly happen would be more than enough. Although you should ask yourself if the player should be able to influence what encounter they get in such a system, and if yes, then you have to wonder if it even should be random. (Altho this isn't the best route for randomness since making 5 encounters is still a lot of work, but it depends on the scale). I don't know how exactly you're handling the random text, but using it to create immersive stuff would be difficult from my perspective. So, rather than rambling with my limited knowledge on that, I'll add this: Consider finding ways to make the player care about their character, since by getting emotionally invested they'll care more about what happens in combat even if the opponent isn't someone who tortured them for years (or whatever). This is a way to make the combat more jaw-clenching since I'd be invested in the outcome, without actually needing some insane levels of variation and logic behind the descriptions. Building up the fights themselves would also probably help, but just caring about the protagonist could be enough. (Do whatever makes the most sense for your storygame).

Text-Based Combat System on 2/9/2022 3:01:01 AM

Step 1: Download Unity.
Step 2: Do Unity tutorial.
Step 3: Make a video game.

Anyway, the question is, why is the gameplay boring?

Because you just click a button and get samey text (because of how many times you have to click fight before getting anything to 0%)?

Make blows more impactful. Make it shorter. If I hit his head either have it cut off immediately or go to like 50%.



But it'd still be boring, since I'm still not making meaningful decisions. Distance doesn't matter, checking condition means I have to click an extra time to see the impact of my action (beyond the text description which doesn't seem to reflect the %, although I admittedly didn't read too closely), and the focus seems to be for targeting which doesn't matter.

Adding complexity might improve things since then I'd have more choices, such as targeting mattering, but is this a correct assumption?

If armour covers the whole body it doesn't really change anything, if it covers 1 or 2 sections then I just change focus once before spam clicking fight. Or would it work differently to what I'm imaging?



Ask yourself what the purpose of this gameplay is. Will there be a lot of fights? You don't want to spend ages on something that barely matters for the end storygame. Can you lose fights? Does it matter?

I probably lean towards 'anti-combat scripting', since I'd say the build-up to the fight is what actually matters, but it isn't like they can't work. Dungeon Stompage! is pretty good, and that uses stats/heavy-scripting.



Suggestions

Think about how others handle this. Could take inspiration from Dungeon Stompage's style, or look at turn based games.

The managing of stats before combat could play a big part and be what is actually engaging, and the combat is a test where you see if you prepared properly. Alternatively, the stats could guide how you play the combat out.

Or, if you want meaningful choices in combat, then the stats could be impacted by the options, such as distance, focus, etc. But how does the player figure out the distance to stand at? How do they know what focus to use?

You could also considering making more of the background stuff visible, that way players see the awesome stuff.

Probably don't need to tell you, but be careful of scope creep. Adding weapons that you have to switch between to break armour would, theoretically, add depth, but would it make things more engaging? Be stingy with the systems you add, to ensure it all fits together nicely.

My last piece of advice is to prototype quickly, since allegedly that helps with game systems. Coding everything every time could be tedious, so maybe try doing it with paper (where you're the computer), board game style.


Need permission on 1/31/2022 3:24:07 AM
Ah, cool. You did mention virtual reality, and not augmented (which is what the one I found was), so I should've figured from that. Anyway, good to see more detail on what this actually is. It seems neat.