Dev blog #39 – Back at it and loving it

Before I get into how my week has been, let me just advertise right up front that James and I are doing a livestream tonight at 7pm NZ time over on www.twitch.tv/skybeargames . Please join us for a live reading of the game book Ring of the Ruby Dragon which is bound to be a cringey experience of what TSR in the 80s thought would appeal to girls.

I am very happy to say that last Friday I finally managed to knuckle down and get some work done on The Nine Lives of Nim. James could see I was freaking out, so he made some arrnagements so I could focus in the evenings, and now I can say that 10 out of 12 actor’s voices are completely in the game now, all the code changes I wanted to make have been done and tested, and I am now in the process of creating the translation build. There’s some 6000+ strings or lines of dialogue to be copied into the code, so it will take a few more evenings before I have a working build ready to send to China for a first pass. And not only is it a relief to get back to all of this, but I am actually just loving the act of coding again after being far too busy to do any!

The next steps for that process are: to finish getting all of the voices in, and the few sound effects I have decided would enhance the game; finish putting in all the translations plus the Chinese font and the ability to switch languages; await feedback on the Chinese translation build because there is always changes in something like that, you never get it right first time; once all the voices and sounds are in, do a full regression test of the English version of the game, which at the very least means running through enough times that I hear every line of dialogue spoken, and through every new line of code that was added or changed; then when the Chinese team is happy with the game, a full regression test of the Chinese version, which for me means making sure I hear every line of dialogue again, since I can’t read Simplified Chinese!

And then finally after that, hopefully the multiple European and Japanese White Rabbit versions will be complete enough for me to do a full regression on them too! There is a lot on my plate for the next while! And eventually, goodness knows when, I’ll get back to Her Jentle Hi-ness! One day, I swear…

James meanwhile has reached 91,500 as of yesterday. He’s optimistic as he gets closer and closer to his target! But it is a little bit like climbing up a sand dune, as he does delete chunks out of his previous work every time he sits down to start writing. Still, he’s nearly made it!

Hope to see you at the livestream tonight, otherwise catch it later on Twitch or our Youtube channel, which has been gaining subscribers every day since we talked about Magic last week. I should have known that would happen!

The Great DRAGONLANCE Re-Read – Time of the Twins, by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

First Impressions: Hello everyone and welcome to another Dragonlance review! This fortnight I’ve been reading Time of the Twins, the first book of the Legends trilogy. I have very fond memories of the Legends trilogy. I showed Claire the covers and she was pretty positive about them this time too:

  • Original Larry Elmore cover: I actually sorta like it, Raistlin looks like a freak but that’s the point. The colour choices all work for me, it’s old school, sure, but it works.
  • Reprint Larry Elmore cover: I don’t like #2 as much with the lady looking more vulnerable. I liked her looking normal but like… oblivious? Whereas vulnerable just sort of amplifies Raistlin’s sense of evil more. Colour choices aren’t as good for me as #1, but it’s fine.
  • Penguin Books UK Keith Parkinson cover: What is even going on? Who are these people? It’s the revenge of the frickin’ UK covers again. (James – at least this one actually happens in this book!)
  • Matt Stawicki cover: #4 My line of sight goes ok, Raistlin, looking tender, that’s weird…. ok, girl looking all cheesecakey, sure…. WHO THE F IS MAN-BOOBS IN THE BACK?!

Plot Summary: It’s been two years since the War of the Lance ended, and Raistlin (since his massive and as-yet unexplained level-up at the end of the first trilogy) has decided to conquer the gods. Conquering the world is too easy and too passé, so he’s going to go into the Abyss and throw down with Takhisis, the Queen of Darkness herself. He needs the help of a good-aligned cleric to get there, so he’s started flirting with Crysania, a naïve and arrogant young priestess who isn’t sure if she wants to convert Raistlin or get her hands on his Staff of Magius. Raistlin’s sister, the Dragon Highlord Kitiara, finds out what he’s planning and vows to stop him.

Crysania decides to seek the help of the assembled wizards in their Tower of High Sorcery, and is escorted there by two Heroes of the Lance – Raistlin’s brother Caramon and Tasslehoff, the kender. However, during the last two years, Caramon has become an obese alcoholic to cover for his severe mental health problems, and Tasslehoff is, well, Tasslehoff. Crysania gets attacked by Kitiara’s undead henchman Lord Soth and puts herself in magical time-out to survive. Caramon and Tasslehoff take her to the Tower. There, the wizards reveal that Raistlin has been possessed by an ancient wizard called Fistandantilus – this is how he managed to level up so quickly – and he’s gone back in time to learn from Fisty as the next step in his plan. Caramon and Crysania get sent back in time too, so that the ancient clerics can heal Crysania, and Tasslehoff hitches a ride with them as well.

Istar, in the days of the Kingpriest! Great holy city of Goodness and self-righteous hypocrisy, just before the Cataclysm when the gods will get sick of the Kingpriest’s nonsense and drop a nuke on him – along with everyone else in the world. Bit harsh, Gods! Caramon and Tasslehoff are immediately arrested and sold as slaves to the arena. Here, it turns out that the clerics have banned bloodshed, so the gladiators are doing Roman-themed WWE instead. Caramon sobers up and gets back into shape. Crysania is healed and decides that this is the Best. Place. Ever! 

Caramon sneaks out of the Arena at night to murder Fisty, so that he won’t be able to get his hooks into Raistlin. However, he finds that Raistlin actually beat him to the punch already, and has taken Fisty’s place as resident Evil Wizard. Awkward! Crysania’s even more thrilled, while Caramon gets upset about whether free will means that people can do stupid and/or evil things. Tasslehoff decides to use their time travel device to stop the Cataclysm. Raistlin thinks this is a great idea, and gives him pointers.

The Gods start sending mystic signs that they’re on the verge of losing their temper with the Kingpriest. Why they couldn’t just send him a firmly worded letter, I don’t know. It might have been less open to misinterpretation, maybe? Crysania gets disillusioned with Istar, and Raistlin uses this to sway her to his side. They also get the hots for each other. That’s going to be (even more) awkward! Caramon wins the grand finals of the arena and breaks out to murder Raistlin, but Crysania stops him and Raistlin teleports them all away as the Cataclysm strikes. 

Meanwhile, Tasslehoff uses the time travel artifact to stop the Cataclysm. The artifact promptly breaks. Raistlin had lied to him. And now he’s at ground zero as the sky starts raining fire…

The Good: This is so much better than Chronicles in every single way. There’s a vastly reduced cast, and far less stuff happens than the last trilogy. As a result, we have a much tighter story. We spend more time in the heads of our main characters, and get to watch them grow. In particular, Caramon gets a lot of attention. Sometimes his problems were played for laughs (especially his muffin dream), but generally, I feel like Weis and Hickman made a real shot at portraying the horrors of addiction, and the psychological wounds underlying it. It didn’t always ring true, but I credit them for trying to tell a complex story like this in the Eighties in a Dungeons & Dragons novel. Caramon’s relationship to Raistlin also gets a lot of attention, as he grapples with the realisation that his brother is irredeemable.

I also found the set-pieces and world-building more fun this time around, since the authors had a bit more time to breathe. Istar is a fun setting – it’s like going to Vesuvius just before the volcano explodes. I really enjoyed the Great Games, and how the gladiators use fake weapons and have silly costumes and backstories. Then Caramon discovers that the rich and powerful use the Games as part of their political manoeuvring, by arranging for ‘accidents’ to befall their rivals’ gladiators, and it adds a sinister and deadly undertone for the rest of the book.

Tasslehoff continues to be my favourite character. Capital-G Good characters like the Kingpriest and the elves continue to be awful, but Tasslehoff’s character development in the last book has made him compassionate, empathetic, and loyal, without taking away his sense of childish wonder at the world. I liked how much he enjoyed being teleported by Raistlin into a duck pond. 

The Neutral: This first half of the book is set in the year 355 AC, until the character travel back in time to 1 PC. It’s the first book not to be based on any existing adventures. The city of Istar will be revisited in the future in the short story collection The Reign of Istar, and the full story of the rise and fall of the Kingpriest will be told in the Kingpriest Trilogy, but I won’t be getting to read that for a few more years. There is also an excellent short story in the anthology The Dragons of Chaos which shows an alternate reality where the Cataclysm never happened and the Kingpriest successfully forced the Gods to do his bidding. It’s pretty dystopian.

The Bad: Even though I enjoyed this book very much, it’s got its share of problems – more than I remembered from when I was younger. The writing style is still not great in places. Once again, I blame Tracy Hickman, since he himself has admitted to a tendency towards purple prose. There was one section that stood out as particularly bad: a cleric reflecting on the importance of the city of Istar.

‘One might have supposed…the cleric was insensible of the fact that he was walking in the heart of the universe. But Denubis was not insensible of this fact. Lest he should, the Kingpriest reminded him of it daily in his morning call to prayers.

“We are the heart of the universe,” the Kingpriest would say…’

I get what Weis and Hickman are trying to do here; use the repetition to imply how often the Kingpriest has repeated that Istar is the heart of the universe, but it just comes across as clunky. There are also some overused adjectives. Crysania is like ivory, Raistlin is cynical and sarcastic. 

Crysania herself, I felt, was underwritten. She’s presented to use initially as a very unlikeable character. Not that there’s anything wrong with an unlikeable character – quite the opposite, it gives her considerable room to grow, and that’s a wonderful thing. However, there are frequently large gaps between her appearances, where the writers rely upon the reader’s knowledge, rather than Crysania’s knowledge, to drive her character development. When she first arrives in Istar, Crysania is enraptured at how Good (seemingly) has triumphed and is convinced that the Kingpriest cannot be to blame for the coming Cataclysm. When we next see her, six chapters later, she’s disillusioned by what she sees. In that time, we’ve seen Caramon exploring the hypocrisy of Istar, but not Crysania. 

I’ve said before that I have issues with Dragonlance’s Old Testament theology, and that continues to be the case here, as we see the Gods send the Cataclysm to kill millions of people. Good, unchecked, becomes just as awful as Evil – but doesn’t that make it not Good any more? The Good Gods seem to promote the balance of Good and Evil more than they promote Goodness, and their chosen children, the elves, are just awful – look at Quarath, the Kingpriest’s second-in-command, for another example of self-satisfied ‘Goodness.’ The true believers amongst the clergy are taken away to avoid the Cataclysm, but I cannot believe that everyone in Istar, everyone who suffers during the Cataclysm, is actually deserving of what happens. 

Conclusion: I remember this being one of the best fantasy books I read – not just for tie-in fiction, but in general – during my youth. Revisiting Time of the Twins, I can see that part of that was nostalgia talking, but it’s considerably better than it needed to be. For all that the execution could have been improved, this is an ambitious character-driven drama. I was happy to re-read it, and I’m looking forward to the next book. Four Disks of Mishakal out of five. 

Upcoming livestream: Choose your own adventure but giiiiirly

Choose your own adventure and find love because you’re a giiiiiiirl! uwu

If you didn’t already know, James loves game books and they influenced him a lot as a child. He found a set of the girly game books that TSR published back in the 80s and he is going to subject me to it on Thursday night 7pm, NZ time. I look forward to cringing a lot.

Join us on Thursday night 7pm for a livestream of the giiiiirly romance game book ‘Ring of the Ruby Dragon’ at www.twitch.tv/skybeargames

Dev blog #38 – Busy work

Did I say there was nothing doing last week? Well. Addressing you from the middle of a Level 3 lockdown in Auckland NZ, there really is nothing doing this week.

You see, unlike other people who get bored with all the time during lockdown, we have a toddler. So there’s actually less time for us during lockdown. We, the childed, go to work to get a break. So this week has been full on. Even the times that my mother has been able to help us this week have been nutso busy, with James having meetings and with me having meetings and getting as much work done for my new theatre job as we scramble to address the covid situation with audiences who missed out on the show.

Look, it’s not all doom and gloom. I’ve actually really appreciated the time with my toddler. After seven weeks of rehearsals and performances, my son was actually really missing our nightly routine being stable. He’s really appreciated having me at home, and I have been appreciating his joyfulness at simple things. We’ve had time at the beach, we’ve had music time. He loves to sing Credence Clearwater Revival to himself while happily eating blueberries. He is obsessed with the skull symbols of the Nine Houses in the Locked Tomb Trilogy, which James and I are obsessed with right now, though for more literary reasons than our son (by the way read Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, it is the best thing ever). I miss his face even now when writing this while he’s sleeping.

But Sky Bear Games has been suffering. I simply can’t wait to get back to work in the daytime so that my nights can be reserved for the mad hustle of getting the translation builds done. I hope the translation companies are not getting upset with me. I would be getting upset with me if I were them! Last time around, I managed to get Wonderland Nights back to China in about two days I think it was? Then there were a few more weeks of fine tuning. This time it’s been three and a half weeks and Nine Lives hasn’t even begun properly as I’ve stalled on getting the voice work in, let alone putting all the translation work in.

At least James has gotten over 90,000 words and just has 10,000 to go until he hits his target! And we did our first podcast recording in two months (sorry if you thought you were listening to fresh podcasts! We actually pre-taped all our February content in January!). That should hopefully be up on Monday.

There’s something really exciting for Sky Bear on the horizon which I will be allowed to announce soon, but I have been sworn to secrecy. But I feel like in order to do the announcement justice, I want to clean my act up and actually get Nine Lives done! I feel so terrible about it all.

And all through this, honestly, is just the constant reminder not to be too hard on myself. I’m only one person. I don’t have a time turner, but man I wish I did!

Dev blog #37 – Nothing doing

Hey all, so not much news on my front this week. Starting my new job has kept me super busy. The European and Japanese translation team are working hard away. The Chinese team are waiting on me to hurry up, but I have been so busy. I feel really bad about that, but I am barely doing anything outside of working and mothering. There just isn’t enough time in the day! Is this the end for Claire’s development career? Well, I hope not, and I will tell you more later but I am hoping to program some web games to do with my new job! But more on that when I have something concrete to talk about.

James meanwhile has met the challenging goal of 90,000 words on the Dragons of Tirenia. As you can see in posts before this one, he continues on his mad quest to work through all of the Dragonlance canon. He’s getting his game on tonight with a bunch of friends playing a D&D session set in Auromia, the counterpart to Rome in Tirenia. I’d say that plot is squarely in Act Three territory now, and hopefully one day he’ll turn it into an adventure module.

Anyway, the show I am in is almost over! So hopefully I get more time to wrap up the translation builds in good time for my translation partners. We banked an episode on Dark Sun last month and just released it, but we’re back to fresh recordings next week, with another session with the Bundle Buddies (this time for their podcast, not ours) and the first new episode of ours in over a month. We were thinking about doing an episode on Magic the Gathering since we play it all the time, but there has been new Ravenloft news as well! And uh…. yeah, I am super excited about that!! So we’ll see what we come up with next recording sesh. James also reckons its time for me to finally do a video game spotlight episode. I guess I should, but I have a bit of impostor syndrome, because honestly it comes so naturally to me to just let James talk and talk, since he holds onto information much better than I do. Well, we’ll see!

Catch ya later!

The Great DRAGONLANCE Re-Read – Super Endless Quest / Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Gamebooks

Who remembers Choose Your Own Adventure? Pick-a-path books were a huge part of my childhood. Dungeons & Dragons decided to get in on that bandwagon with Endless Quest. This was the spinoff series, proper gamebooks with character sheets and dice and rules and everything. They were called Super Endless Quest, but fortunately someone realised that was a terrible name and it got changed pretty quickly. Four of them were Dragonlance tie-ins, so that’s what I’m reading this fortnight!

A change of format for this one: since I’m reviewing a number of short books, I’ll do a section on each one of them, where I’ll look at them holistically, rather than breaking each one down into good, bad and neutral. I’ll do the same thing when I reach the short story anthologies. 

Also, this is the first time that I’ll be skipping a book! Alas, I don’t have a copy of The Soulforge by Terry Phillips. This book is about Raistlin’s backstory, written by the man who was instrumental in shaping the character during the early playtest sessions. However, since the same story is covered in a short story in The Magic of Krynn, and then expanded out into a full novel, The Soulforge, I don’t feel too bad about missing the gamebook version. If I ever find a copy, I’ll come back and do a review of it.

Prisoners of Pax Tharkas, by Morris Simon: This is the first book in the entire series. I’m not sure if they wanted to use this to get people into Dragonlance, or if they wanted to use Dragonlance to get people into this series. The cover is by Keith Parkinson, who’s usually pretty good, but… oof! I guess everyone has an off day. Awkward poses, cheesecake art, and that moustache! Claire says: “HAHAHAHAHAHA wow, this is beyond 80s! This is some He-Man stuff. It is everything.”

In this book, you are Bern Vallenshield, a ranger, and no one will let you forget it – seriously, everyone uses your full name at every opportunity. It is set just between the two parts of Dragons of Autumn Twilight, in the town of Solace. Somehow, you don’t seem to know about the Heroes of the Lance, even though they’re all adventurers of the same age as you from the same small village. They get mentioned in passing at one point as having just left town. Anyway, you return to Solace one day to find it burnt down by the Dragonarmies, and your kid brother Kegan has been captured and taken to the iron mines at Pax Tharkas! The first time I played, I caught up with the prison wagon and rescued him without too much trouble before they ever reached Pax Tharkas, but the book hinted that this was not the ‘ideal’ ending, so I tried again. The second time, I got captured too, escaped inside Pax Tharkas, met Willow Lighthand the kender and Essa the elf, and then did a little dungeon crawl through the fortress and the elvish secret entrance, ending by finding the secret tomb of the elf-king Kith-Kanan.

This book is not great, guys! Bern Vallenshield is an extremely dull character. That’s pretty standard for a pick-a-path protagonist, since the reader has to be able to project on to them. The supporting cast are equally dull. Your brother has no personality either, and the other two NPCs that you meet are ‘a kender’ and ‘beautiful’ – that’s the extent of their characterisation! The mechanics of the book are clunky too. You roll one die and add your skill to resolve a task, but in combat you roll two dice. In addition, if you fail a combat roll you can reroll until you succeed, taking damage until you succeed, but the book does not make this clear in each paragraph. The book fits awkwardly into continuity with Dragons of Autumn Twilight too. You visit many of the same locations as the main characters do, but are unable to enact any sort of change, since it’s up to them to defeat the Dragon Highlords and rescue the rest of the prisoners. Nothing very exciting or dramatic happens. I did see that you can fight the Dragon Highlord Verminaard and his dragon, but that you’re destined to lose, no matter what, if you do. The worst example of this railroaded lack of agency is when you find the magic sword Wyrmslayer. Even though your companion came here specifically to find it and use it against the dragons, you all decide to leave it behind, so that the Heroes of the Lance can find it. 

I also wonder who this book is meant for. The earlier Endless Quest books were definitely aimed at children, just like the Dungeons & Dragons TV show (anyone remember that?). However, the Dragonlance series, with its more mature subject matter and Tolkienesque tone, is definitely for young adults. I can’t help but feel that anyone who enjoyed this would find Dragons of Autumn Twilight boring, and vice versa. Also, because it covers so much of the same ground as the novel and the adventure novel that it’s based on, I can’t help but feel that it’s just giving a whole lot of spoilers for them. 

I also noticed a small continuity error: the dragon Matafleur is consistently referred to as ‘Mataflure.’ 

All in all, one Disk of Mishakal out of five. It’s not actively offensive, but it’s about as exciting as a dry piece of toast. 

Lords of Doom by Douglas Niles: This is the tenth book in the series, but the second one that is (a) based on Dragonlance and (b) in my possession. In Dragons of Spring Dawning, an important plot point – the secret of the Draconians, the dragon-man foot soldiers of the bad guys – is glossed over quickly. This is the full story of how Gilthanas and Silvara infiltrated the stronghold of the Dragon Highlords, the volcano city of Sanction, discovered the origin of the Draconians, and won the aid of the good dragons for the war. It’s a pretty straight adaptation of Dragons of Deceit, the D&D adventure module, and even by the same author! The cover to this one, by Larry Elmore, is much better than the cover of the previous book, with an exciting action shot of our heroes on the deck of a ship, watching flying draconians heading their way from an enemy ship. Claire and I agreed: there’s just one problem… “Uggggggggggh that is too much cheesecake. I quite like the action poses of the ship, the enemies, the people except for Silvara. She’s in a stupid boob/butt pose, though it’s the less common sideboob pose…”

This is a definite improvement over the previous book. It tells an important part of the story, and your actions actually have consequences for the greater narrative. I criticised Prisoners of Pax Tharkas for not knowing who its audience was – this one is solidly aimed at Dragonlance fans who want to discover the missing piece of the story. It’s still not great at characterisation – few gamebooks are. Gilthanas and Silvara have an unrequited love for one another but this is just a narrow slice of the story that plays out in the other books, and has no pay off or development here. However, Fizban the Fabulous is a lot more fun than any of the companions from the last book. There’s also a choice about which route to take to get to Sanction, which is a classic gamebook strategy to enable replayability. The sea route is the more enjoyable of the two. The land route is dull as heck.

That said, this book felt extremely easy. I rolled very, very badly, and I was absolutely convinced I was done for, but I still made it through to the end without a problem. Apart from the decision of which way to travel at the beginning, there seemed to be fewer branching paths this time around, and I didn’t see any insta-deaths. Not that I want insta-deaths, but this book just felt like it wanted to be a novel, rather than a gamebook. It’s slightly strange that, to the best of my knowledge, this story never got re-visited later, as so many of the other deleted scenes were. 

The dialogue isn’t wonderful – but then, what gamebook has good dialogue? – and there’s a few continuity errors: Gilthanas fights at the High Clerist’s Tower, while in the novels, he’s already departed when that battle starts; in the novels, he refers to a secret female ally in Sanction, while here, it’s a male. By the standards of some of the continuity errors later on, these ones aren’t that big.

Overall ranking: One and a half Disks of Mishakal out of five. A better book than Prisoners of Pax Tharkas, but a worse game.

Shadows Over Nordmaar by Dezra Despain: We’ve saved the best for last! This is the sixteenth book in the series, but it’s the first Dragonlance tie-in with a completely original story. I wish I could say that much about the cover: it continues the classic trend of recycling art completely out of context. It’s a good picture of Kitiara and Lord Soth in a scene from the Legends trilogy.  Claire found it a bit much in its 80s-ness: “It took me a while to get what was happening, mostly because that outfit is too much. It took me a while to look around the figure.”

Shadows Over Nordmaar is set 25 years after the Chronicles trilogy, in 377 A.C. I think that makes it the furthest ahead in the timeline we’ll be going for quite a while!  You are ‘Jonn’, who’s been beaten up and left for dead on the moors of Nordmaar. Lorina, a cleric of Mishakal (goddess of healing), rescues you and lets you know that the remnants of the Dragonarmies have invaded Nordmaar. However, your attack has left you amnesiac, and the only clues that you have to your identity are a ring, a feather and a pouch of herbs. Can you save Nordmaar?

The first thing I noticed once I started reading this book is that the font size is considerably smaller than the other books! As a result, Shadows is much more descriptive, with better prose, than either of the other two books. All three books feature a romantic relationship between the main character and a supporting character; this felt like the only one that showed that relationship occurring, rather than just telling me that it was happening. Lorina, your companion, also gets more detail than any of the other sidekick characters.

The plot itself in this book is also far more interesting than the other two. I’m always a sucker for a mystery, but this one has not one, but two! At the beginning of the book, you’re given a choice about going north or west. Depending on which way you go, you get a completely different story! You’re a different person, with a different quest, different payoffs for the three items, a different villain, and a different resolution to the love story. I also appreciate a few less-common D&D monsters getting used: I can’t think of another thing that features lammasu so prominently!

There are problems, of course, and I’m not sure that the book wouldn’t have been better served having only one story and fleshing it out more. Once you’ve decided which of the two plots you’re going to follow, there are very few decision points. Most paragraphs end with dice rolls instead, so you’re locked on a railroad once you get going. I also felt like the difficulty was pretty high. It seemed like most of the dice rolls had less than a 50% chance of success, and to succeed at the final challenge, you need to have succeeded at all the rolls that let you regain your lost memories. 

Overall ranking: Two and a half Disks of Mishakal out of five. The extremely linear nature of the two stories keeps it from getting a higher score, but I did enjoy this one. 

That’s it for gamebooks, everyone! I’ve got a treat ahead of me next time: it’s the Time of the Twins, the first book of the Legends Trilogy. I remember this trilogy being the absolute best that Dragonlance had to offer. Will it still hold up? Let’s find out!

Dev blog #36 – So, about those changes

Correction to this blog post: I have subsequently left the Classic and returned to my old job for my health, and as the commute and the time commitment expected of me was too much for me as a mother

As I have been saying for the last few weeks, things have been changing in my life. The big change I have been hinting at is a change of job. Actually a complete change of industry and profession! I am no longer going to be a software tester, but am going back to my first love, theatre. I am going to be the Operations Manager at the Classic Theatre Company in Auckland, New Zealand.

What does this mean for Sky Bear Games? Well actually, hopefully it’s going to be a good thing, because my new boss wants me to create games to promote the upcoming programme on the website. Sometimes they might just be little quiz like games, like the game for Sherlock Holmes coming later this year. But the next production after the current one is Alice in Wonderland. Obvious crossover there, right? I am going to be creating a new free chapter for Wonderland Nights. The concept artist for the show is going to be Rose, so the style will be continuous there.

I am also hoping that it will give me greater access to voice actors, and perhaps give James an opportunity to develop the roleplaying webseries he’s been thinking about for years. But more about that later.

Life continues as normal behind all the huge changes. I’m making improvements to the translation builds for Wonderland Nights, putting in the voice work and code changes for Nine Lives and getting ready for the translations there, and James is plugging away at Dragons of Tirenia, reaching 88,000 words now! Coming this week we’ve got the next Dragonlance review and the next podcast episode going up. So don’t worry, we’re going to keep going 🙂

Dev blog #35: Wunderland-Nächte: Tagebuch des weißen Kaninchens

Why yes, that is a German title you are reading up there ^_^

Just after writing to you last week, the German translation for Wonderland Nights arrived, and over the weekend I put that into the game. It’s really quick now that this is the fourth translation I have put in.

Then I got straight back to Nine Lives. I have finally crested a major hill in editing the voice files, and now I am importing many of the finished files and making the code changes I have been so desperately keen to get to. Today I finally felt confident enough in a release within a month that I asked my actors for their headshots and biographies for the publicity campaign. Once all of these things are in, I need to get a crack on with the Chinese translation! Having done it once before, it should be fairly easy for me to set up the translation infrastructure, but I should probably focus on getting any art translated that needs it (or just getting empty versions is probably easiest!).

James meanwhile has been getting back to some fun basics, playing Link’s Awakening on the switch, and board games with friends while I’m busy rehearsing this awesome show I am in. I came in to find them playing Battlestar Galactica last night. I was so jealous! But I might get to play with them next week. Maybe we can play Mysterium, since there will be seven of us!

We’ve also been geeking out over the new Magic set, Kaldheim, and I have been geeking out over Pokemon lots lately. Maybe a pokemon related post is needed soon.