Podcast Episode 9: Back into the Looking Glass

Podcast Episode 9: Back into the Looking Glass


We had a break – what did we do? What projects are we working on? We discuss our experiences over the summer, our current digital writing projects, and the state of our practice-based research. Easing into this season, when we’ll be hosting numerous guests on the podcast!

Lyle’s hypernovel outline:

Links mentioned in this episode:

This episode’s “Pick a Card” topic:

See Lyle’s profile and work on her website, and Jordan’s research and writing musings here.

Many thanks to Bangor University’s School of Creative Studies & Media for use of their recording equipment and support of this podcast.

Produced by Lyle Skains & Jordan Glendenning. Music from Kurt James Werner.

2018 Opening Up Digital Fiction Writing Competition Winners

2018 Opening Up Digital Fiction Writing Competition Winners

Judges’ Prize Digital Fiction

Winner

Dolores and the Cave by Magda KnightDolores and the Cave by Magda Knight

COME INTO THE CAVE, DOLORES.

NOTHING BAD EVER HAPPENED IN A CAVE.

You have your team, your caving gear, your equipment. You’re all set to descend into a previously unexplored cave – the find of a lifetime. But as you abseil down you hear the rumble of a cave-in, and that’s the last thing you remember.

Then a voice starts talking to you in the dark…

***

Dolores and the Cave is a ten-minute horror game with nine different endings to explore.

Don’t worry, Dolores.

Everything will be just fine.

Honourable Mention

The Shootout by Alan Bigelow

The Shootout is an Old West adventure with an animated comic strip and the reader’s choice of ending. A narrator leads us through the story and, when he falters in his narrative, is prompted by the reader (via touch or mouse click) to continue.

An audio track is included which echoes and accentuates the action on each page.

End user interactivity in this work is a combination of swipes (or use of the space bar or arrows on a keyboard) with various opportunities for touch (on a tablet or phone) or mouse click (on a desktop or laptop). The piece includes a reader’s choice of ending which is selected through touch or mouse click.

This work is built with HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript and playable on desktop, laptop, and portable devices.

People’s Choice Digital Fiction

Winner

This is a Picture of Wind by J. R. Carpenter

This is a Picture of Wind expands upon a series of short texts written in response to the winter storms which battered South West England in early 2014, resulting in catastrophic flooding in Somerset and the destruction of the seawall and rail line at Dawlish in Devon. Following the news in the months after these storms, I was struck by the paradox presented by attempts to evoke through the materiality of language a force such as wind which we can only see indirectly through its affect. I began to explore weather in all its written forms.

Part poetic almanac, part private weather diary, and part live wind report for the South West of England, this work attempts to call attention to climate change by picturing through variations in language the disturbances and sudden absences left in the wake of wind.

This work is designed to be read on phones but also works on computers. It calls on live wind data, so it will look different every time you view it. A new text will be added for each month of 2018. A text about this work written by Johanna Drucker will be published in March 2018.

Honourable Mention

St. Ives by Storymax
Android / iOS

To teach and have fun at the same time, St. Ives introduces the traditional English poem “I was going to St. Ives”, transforming the lullaby, with cute and fun characters: one man, seven women and cats, a lot of cats!

This song is also known as a puzzle and encourages children to use logic concepts and deduction skills to discover how many people were truly going to St Ives.

Besides the music, the rhyme and the puzzle, in this app book you can find two activities:

  • A women’s band playing the theme song (the reader can choose the instruments)
  • And a quiz that brings the attention of the readers to the characters that appear in the narrative

Student Prize

Winner

War of the Worlds 2017 by Liam Philipson

War of the Worlds 2017 is an examination of the modern US political climate through the lens of the classic Wells novel. When cylinders from an alien world set up shop on a defenseless Earth, Carrie, a shy art student, must make the perilous trek across a Martian-controlled New York to try and reach her brilliant girlfriend, trapped in a bunker underneath her NYC school.

WoTW2017 explores the all-too-familiar feeling of a news cycle out of control and the pressing concern that the people who have, against all odds, planted themselves in charge of world affairs might be both malevolent and unprepared for their responsibility. It also tries to be compelling science fiction on its own, adapting and modernizing Wells’ work where necessary while keeping true to the spirit and the imagery of the original.

Honourable Mention

Lysdexia by Matthew Kramer

This web comic works to explain dyslexia while attempting, to re-create the feeling of experiencing it.

Children’s Digital Fiction Prize

Winner

Storymax App by Storymax
Android / iOS

To read with pleasure and for those who enjoy reading. With this motto, the awarded publisher StoryMax launches this app that brings together all their stories already published (for free and paid) and starts a new journey.

StoryMax’s app books retell classics, popular narratives and poems with original texts and adaptations, sound effects, narration and interactivity in the right amount to engage children and young people who love to be immersed in experiences that start at their favorite devices: tablets and smartphones.

Honourable Mention

Inanimate Alice: Perpetual Nomads by Mez Breeze Design & Bradfield Narrative Designs

Inanimate Alice tells the story of a girl growing up dreaming of becoming a game designer one day. Uniquely, it is a tale of progressive complexity, each episode reflecting Alice’s age and digital competency as she grows up.

In Perpetual Nomads, Alice is stuck on a broken down Autobus and finding herself alone in the middle of the desert with a rapidly dying phone battery, what’s Alice supposed to do? Who can Alice trust to help her charge her phone, fix the AutoBus and get her on her way back home?

Writing Digital Fiction, Part 1: Why Write Digital Fiction?

Writing Digital Fiction, Part 1: Why Write Digital Fiction?

I recently received an email from a colleague asking me about digital fiction workshops. (FYI, while I don’t have workshops scheduled at the moment, Dreaming Methods does.) While I do think in-person workshops are ideal, let’s face it: writing retreats aren’t offering courses in DF yet, and the few of us who write and teach it can’t be everywhere! A quick Google search showed me that the only articles written on the topic were written by yours truly, and never in sufficient how-to depth.

So here goes.

This is Part 1 of what will be a planned 9-part series on how to write digital fiction.

Read More Read More

Podcast Episode 8: In Search of Completionism

Podcast Episode 8: In Search of Completionism


In this last episode of the season, we revisit some topics to explore them further, including: digital fiction museums, locative transmedia works, publishing digital fiction, walking sims, and the future. BONUS: Blooper reel!

Links mentioned in this episode:

See Lyle’s profile and work on her website, and Jordan’s research and writing musings here.
Many thanks to Bangor University’s School of Creative Studies & Media for use of their recording equipment and support of this podcast.Produced by Lyle Skains & Jordan Glendenning. Music from Kurt James Werner.

The 2018 Opening Up Digital Fiction Shortlist Is Open for Voting!

The 2018 Opening Up Digital Fiction Shortlist Is Open for Voting!

The shortlist has been posted, and the voting is open until 30 July 2018 for the People’s Choice award for the 2018 Opening Up Digital Fiction Writing Competition. Go have a read of some great digital fiction, then let us know which one you think deserves the top spot.

Share far and wide – everyone deserves good digital fiction!

Podcast Episode 7: Publishing Digital Fiction

Podcast Episode 7: Publishing Digital Fiction


Why isn’t digital fiction everywhere? Part of the reason we don’t see it in stores is because it doesn’t have an established publishing stream. We look at some of the publishing efforts in the history of digital fiction in this episode.

Links mentioned in this episode:

See Lyle’s profile and work on her website, and Jordan’s research and writing musings here.
Many thanks to Bangor University’s School of Creative Studies & Media for use of their recording equipment and support of this podcast.Produced by Lyle Skains & Jordan Glendenning. Music from Kurt James Werner.

Normal Deviation is in Print!

Normal Deviation is in Print!

Normal Deviation Cover

Buy it on Amazon now!

It’s here! We launched Normal Deviation this past Saturday (write-up to follow on the Normal Deviation blog; visit our Facebook page for a video of the livestream), to much applause. It’s been a fantastic learning curve, but we’re so happy to have the book out on time, with 24 absolutely fantastically weird stories.

It’s available in all Amazon stores in paperback and ebook. Get your copy, leave us a review, and let us know how you like it!

Review: Mez Breeze Design & Bradfield Narrative Designs’ Inanimate Alice: Perpetual Nomads

Review: Mez Breeze Design & Bradfield Narrative Designs’ Inanimate Alice: Perpetual Nomads

Perpetual Nomads Screenshot

Inanimate Alice: Perpetual Nomads
by Mez Breeze Design and Bradfield Narrative Designs
2018
Virtual Reality Game


Inanimate Alice is a series of narrative shorts, originally starting as works of hypertext fiction but having since put a foot in the world of video games – not too unlike Alice herself. Starting in 2005, each episode of the series tends to revolve around Alice having a mildly unsettling adventure, and new instalment Perpetual Nomads is no deviation from this pattern.

Having woken up on a bus that immediately breaks down, Alice Field is tasked with finding a port to charge her phone from whilst being bothered by two new online “friends”. The main dialogue of the game is delivered by these “friends” persistently arguing over a conspiracy theory inside Alice’s phone, despite a potential player choice to refuse their friend requests.

The game is designed to be experienced in VR (although it’s also possible to play it on a regular PC) and having played both versions I recommend setting it up for VR if you have the means to do it. Even something as simple as waking up on the bus and hearing the sounds of the world emerging around you feels more real whilst wearing a VR headset, increasing immersion and as such making for a more enjoyable playthrough. However, if you’re only able to play a desktop version (or prone to motion sickness) then don’t be discouraged; it’s still an interesting narrative to explore.

In some previous instalments of the Inanimate Alice series, the narrative tended to be accompanied by a game element (such as collecting the Russian dolls in episode three); in Perpetual Nomads your main interaction is examining litter and graffiti to learn more about the world around you. You could potentially travel through the game without looking at any of the posters and other aspects of the environment, but you’d be missing out on the most interesting parts of the experience.

My only real qualm with Perpetual Nomads is Alice’s involvement in the Whispurring Nomads chat. More than half the time that Alice responds to a message from the other two characters, she types out an ENTIRE message only to erase it then type and send a completely different message. On some occasions she types out two whole messages and deletes both of them in turn before settling on something to say.

It’s obviously important to the narrative to explore Alice’s inner thoughts on the situation, and this is sassy dialogue that perhaps she wouldn’t necessarily say to another character, but when Alice’s inner thoughts are already portrayed through blue speech bubbles that pop up on screen there’s no reason these bubbles couldn’t be utilized alongside the narrow chat box, in my opinion. In turn, if Alice was to type out and erase maybe only one or two messages instead, that would make the temptation to be rude to her new “friends” in those instances seem more effective overall.

Otherwise, Inanimate Alice: Perpetual Nomads offers a unique storytelling experience, not only as a learning tool to teach children about the use of video games to convey narrative, but also as a narrative itself. Perpetual Nomads is a sub-adventure taking place between episode six and the as-yet unreleased episode seven, padding out a conspiracy around the use of oil in this world and those who control it. The open end and small twist taking place after the credits will increase your intrigued in the overarching narrative of Alice’s life and whet your appetite until episode seven arrives.

VR was viewed on the Oculus Rift System.

Podcast Episode 6: Putting the ‘Cyber’ in Writing

Podcast Episode 6: Putting the ‘Cyber’ in Writing


We finally get to talk about our favorite topic: writing digital fiction! What are the most frequent questions we get as digital writers? How is it different from prose writing? How is it the same? Since we’re practice-based researchers in creative writing, these are just the sorts of questions we are looking to answer in our creative work.

Links mentioned in this episode:

See Lyle’s profile and work on her website, and Jordan’s research and writing musings here.
Many thanks to Bangor University’s School of Creative Studies & Media for use of their recording equipment and support of this podcast.Produced by Lyle Skains & Jordan Glendenning. Music from Kurt James Werner.