Wednesday, September 24, 2008

recent happenings

Good morning, everyone. It's a little after ten o'clock and I figured it was past time I got another entry up seeing as I've actually gotten around to moving to Blogspot recently. Quite a bit has happened over the last while. My father celebrated his sixtieth birthday last week. It was basically split over two days. On his birthday, we had a nice dinner with a couple who have been excellent neighbours for well over a decade. Afterwards, another family arrived to share in some cake and add to the fun. Last Sunday, it was all about family. Janene joined us for a splendid dinner. My brother and his family were also present. It was good to see Ava and Amya, my two nieces. Over the past months, I've spent most weekends with Janene and been busy writing so I hadn't seen them for a stretch. They're getting very active and love to explore everything. They're getting more comfortable with Janene as well and Ava knows that we're a couple. Dan's sounding healthy and in excellent spirits despite the busy life he leads. I can't help thinking of what a paradoxical change he's gone through from when we were growing up. We get along splendidly now. It certainly wasn't always that way.

Janene and I have enjoyed a splendid evening with a good friend on his way out of province to start his life fresh. Despite the sad circumstances surrounding this, we had an excellent dinner of chicken wings. With some people, you can just tell that they're going to be good and true friends for life. I wish him every success in starting over down east. He's one of two good friends in relationship difficulties. I haven't heard from the other in a while and don't know if he's moved back to Oakville yet. I know he'll give me a shout when he's ready. He's got a lot of good friends and family backing him up and it's nice to know he's in good hands.

Work on the design document for Enchantment's Twilight continues slowly and sporadically. I'd pay real money for the character summarries and plot outlines that were thrown out on that CD back when I first came home after separating from Rebecca a year and a half ago. Constructing everything all over again is proving to be more frustrating than I ever could have expected. It does provide more mental opportunity for considering different courses to take with the overall story. I've resolved that board-game versus story-game crux and am going with story-game. The board-game element will still be felt mainly when exploring ancient ruins and other more randomly generated locales. Overall, the game will feel like a glorrified gamebook with some strategy, board-game and risk/resource management thrown in. I know the overarching story. The real trick is planting the seeds in the forms of characters and places which will grow as easily as possible into that garden. I hope to be done with the design document by Christmas.

Spoonbill Software has announced the release of a new accessible Chess game. I've put in a request for a copy and am looking forward to giving it a spin. Chess has never been a strong point with me. I know how all the pieces move but have never played the game seriously. If Ian has done his usual splendid job with implementation and ease of use, it ought to be fun to dabble with from time to time. He's going to get flooded with requests this time as people have to email him for a copy. Everyone will want one as it's such a universally known game. Another new game called Entombed is being worked on which sounds very promising indeed. It's apparently a sound-based roguelike game. That ought to be quite nifty. Not too much is known about it just yet. I'll be watching for those details. A while ago, I emailed the developer of Windowsfrotz with a request to make his interactive fiction game interpreter accessible to people using screen readers. Winfrotztts just doesn't cut the mustard as you can't properly review built-in hints and help among other things. I've long hoped that somebody would create an interpreter for Windows which was as easy to access as those for Dos used to be. Having text-based games harder to play now thanks to sighted peoples' desire for more esthetically pleasing eye experience is very frustrating. You'd think they'd stick to graphical adventures if they felt the need to gawk. That genre isn't dead I don't think but doesn't seem as robust as far as I can gather.

The latest incarnation of Jaws for Windows appears to have absolutely no new features I'm actually keen to try. It's stunning actually. They've released a couple of very nice podcasts detailing the major changes and new features. None of them appeal at all to my usually enthusiastic mind. I'm hoping I can get at least a couple more years out of my equipment before I have to upgrade anything. I'm quite happy with XP and Jaws version 9 at present. Even with my 400-gb backup drive, I don't relish the thought of installing everything on a new system any time soon. Janene seems to be enjoying her Vista system and it hasn't been giving her any grief lately.

Sherlock Holmes rounds out the current crop of news. I've been listening to a series on the BBC where they've dramatised the complete set of Holmes stories. I found it just in time to hear The Final Problem where Holmes confronts Professor Morriarty. It's definitely going to be a collection I'd like to own eventually but it's quite large and expensive. Sixty-four CDs apparently. It must be a pretty big box. I believe the BBC is going to continue with the series and there's still quite a lot to hear before everything comes to a close presumeably with "His Last Bow". I've never been a tremendous fan of misteries but have always enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes stories. Well, I guess that pretty much covers everything. I'll be working more exclusively on the game design document this afternoon.

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