Although I’m still slowed by frequent periods of ill health, steady progress continues to be made on Volume Two of Beyond the Morning Mountains. I’ve currently written just over 122,000 words, and anticipate that this concluding book will likely feature 200k+ words / 1200+ sections when complete.
This is a sizeable increase over Volume One, partly due to my desire to expand the amount of available content for any single playthrough, and partly because the first book ends before the full adventure has reached its halfway point. The city of Balquis was simply a natural stopping point during the journey, as not long after travelling south from there players will have multiple directions to choose from, making it impossible to neatly break the complete adventure anywhere substantially closer to an even divide in travel distance.
The above image shows part of a flowchart for an encounter sequence in Volume Two. I create these diagrams for sections that contain a lot of choices linked to items, prior knowledge or other character-specific conditions. If I don’t sketch such sequences out carefully I can’t ensure that everything is correct once such complexity is involved.
Doing this also helps me to identify where efficiencies can be made regarding the total use of sections, and to note where it’s necessary to detail specific information for players who’ve triggered a situational variation. They look a little like an electrical diagram, as they often flow oddly across the page, especially when sections need to link to others not nearby, so I use either indirect lines or many different symbols.
The books are also offered in two print qualities: ‘Standard’ and ‘Premium’ (superior premium paper with high-quality colour), which will hopefully provide better presentation options and price points for purchasers to choose from. Note that although ‘Premium’ colour is a visibly better product, featuring improved colour depth and vibrancy on better stock, the ‘Standard’ quality is still decent, being equivalent to other Print-on-Demand products such as the original printed version of BtMM.
Additionally, this Second Edition features a few extra pages for the included RARE items, yet the softcover is now cheaper than the original printed book (previously offered elsewhere), which was several dollars more expensive. Along with other small design and content adjustments and enhancements, I think this updated version of Volume One is excellent value for all the adventuring it contains.
Work continues on Volume Two of Beyond the Morning Mountains, with some very pleasing progress being made to finalise all of my newly created creatures, monsters & spirits, developing and finishing numerous full-page illustrations, and writing an exciting, challenging gamebook for all lovers of interactive fiction.
Volume Two features a revised and expanded version of the Creature Compendium, which is now 50% larger in content, and features 8 new Creatures (including the highly dangerous ARGOROHR seen above) and 3 new Monsters & Spirits. This means that your chosen path will likely be populated with even greater dangers from the natural and unnatural worlds! Also, the second new illustration previewed here shows what can happen to those who disobey the local authorities – act with good sense on your journey or the noose may be around your own neck!
I’ve plotted an individual scenario from Volume Two to illustrate my preference for choice and consequence (above), showing how the various sections open up new opportunities, directly alter the progress of the narrative, and deliver rewards or penalties depending on the choices you make. This particular event is a forest encounter that features a few tricks and traps, possible combat and a key moral decision.
The creation of content for Volume Two of Beyond the Morning Mountains continues, although my current progress isn’t as advanced as I would wish it to be at this time. Despite this frustration, I’m really happy with the quality of the new material – both written and visual – and feel that I’m producing a lot of entertaining gamebook content.
There are two exciting additions to Volume Two. I’ve now increased the frequency and significance of the RARE items – both existing and new items created for the second volume, offering even more player options and adding extra replay value for the keen adventurer. I’ve also added TASKS. These are single or multi-part activities requiring you to search for hidden items, travel to a particular location or perform a series of actions to trigger a favourable event. Successfully completed TASKS offer a range of bonuses and add increased purpose to your journey.
Above is a preview of a completed illustration of a peculiar middle-aged man named Tulland, and below is a small preview of the map created for the village of Baylorn, which may be the first settlement you visit after leaving Balquis. There will be plenty of new maps in the second book – each one drawn with a different technique to maintain the diverse visual style of my artwork in this series.
My first Tales of Quahnarren gamebook has now been written. Volume One of Beyond the Morning Mountains consists of 1000 sections and over 145,000 words, growing from what was originally planned as a ‘large’ project to an absolute behemoth – and it’s only half of the full adventure!
From the initial conception for a gamebook series, I was always prepared to simply write what I wanted, without technical or creative constraints hampering my ideas or plot lines. Volume One has steadfastly refused to be hobbled or simplified, repeatedly increasing in scope and detail as the writing process continued to evolve naturally. I’m really pleased with the construction of the finished text, as the opportunities for exploring this ancient land of Quahnarren are plentiful, engaging and often brutally dangerous.
Now I just have to complete the proofreading, editing and play testing; illustrate the remaining colour images; renumber all the sections; finish setting the page layout; create the hyperlinks for the pdf version; and check, check, check again. So, only a few more tasks before completion …
Volume One of Beyond the Morning Mountains has recently passed 100,000 words! There’s been plenty of good progress as this first part of your journey to Liust nears completion; including a few new illustrations (preview of the dangerous Bathouk shown above) and the creation of a new wrap-around cover design for this ongoing gamebook series. My revised word count of 110,000 is also likely to be exceeded before the adventure is finished, so there really is a wealth of included content – and therefore gameplay options – for all Quahnarren adventurers to discover.
A preview teaser showing some of the recently completed illustrations for Volume One of my Beyond the Morning Mountains gamebook. I’ve decided to increase the amount of full-page images in the book (hopefully around 35), so there’s many more scenes still to capture.
Due to a not entirely unexpected excess of written content (currently at around 80,000 words) I’ve decided to split the Beyond the Morning Mountains adventure into two books. Volume One will take you from your home north-west of Ustahm down to Balquis, where you can extensively explore this large major city, meeting many of the beggars, thiefs, tradespersons and fellow travellers that this unique city has to offer. Volume Two will then continue your journey over the Morning Mountains to your final destination of Liust; a tough four-day journey across some of the most spectacular scenery available in Quahnarren.
Each book is expected to consist of approximately 800 sections (100,000+ words), with the first book scheduled for release in late 2015, and the second to follow in 2016.