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.
Here’s a little something that I’ve been working on this year. For those of you who are serious about your gamebook collecting, I’m now offering a Beyond the Morning Mountains Supporter Pack for Volume One, incorporating membership in the Quahnarren Adventurers’ Guild, which includes a personal members card, a signed bookplate, and a QAG sticker.
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 print (previously offered elsewhere), which was several dollars more expensive. Along with other small design and content adjustments and enhancements, this updated version of Volume One offers excellent value for all the adventuring it contains.
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.
It’s finally here – Volume One is now available to purchase as either a full-colour Trade Paperback or hyperlinked PDF. Click the ‘Beyond the Morning Mountains’ gamebook tab in the top menu to find all of the purchasing and download links, and further information about this exciting project.
An important milestone has just been reached: the layout of Volume One has now been completed, and with the guidance of the gamebook gods to help it finally emerge in finished form, the overall page count has arrived at that most significant of all numbers – 400!
Four illustrations still remain to be completed, and the links are not yet set, but the progress made recently means that it’s now in the home straight and rapidly reaching the finish line. The layout process has been quite lengthy, as I’ve reread the book again and updated a few written sections that didn’t exactly capture the moment that I had envisaged, and I’ve subsequently then picked up a few minor errors, various typos and general inconsistencies that had frustratingly avoided detection until now.
As 2015 comes to a close, progress continues on Volume One of Beyond the Morning Mountains and its upcoming release is within sight! All writing is complete, the time-consuming editing and checking process is now done, and plenty of illustrations have been finished.
Above you can see a partial preview of a few new illustrations. The total of images to feature in Volume One has continued to rise throughout the development period as I balance the book’s visual presentation, creating the level of content I believe the project demands. As of now, the book will feature a total of 45 full-page illustrations – a significant increase over my initial aim of just 25!
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 …