Creating a small settlement

One of the most enjoyable aspects of creating a detailed fantasy setting for interactive fiction is devising intriguing urban locations where the player can interact with various individuals, becoming involved in encounters both mundane and meaningful, and unlike those experienced out in the wild. As the map of Quahnarren only features cities and towns, smaller settlements such as the village of Rafhalon (map section previewed below) wait to be discovered when adventuring in my world. These are places of possibility where storylines can be enhanced, usable items bought and sold, advantageous knowledge gained, and additional world-building details can easily be provided to expand the player’s understanding of how people live and work in organised communities.

Rafhalon is also the first settlement in BtMM to use a hub-style game structure for players to access exploration options. Each numbered location is linked to a text section – simply select that option and you’ll be transported there without the usual travel text, ready to meet characters, explore, provide assistance, or sell/buy items. Additionally, I’ve also incorporated a time allocation to limit the duration of your stay; this leads to player-determined choices as to which available options are most important or interesting, and adds extra replay value for future journeys, ensuring that even those following the same path will still experience much that is new. Several of the choices in Rafhalon are directly linked to knowledge unearthed during your adventure, associated with information previously given or TASKS currently incomplete, or are connected to specific items worn or carried, further increasing the range of gameplay opportunities I like to incorporate in my books.

Volume Two currently consists of 196,500 words, with plenty more still to be written. I’m expecting the finished book to contain roughly 50% more content than Volume One – a rather substantial increase that partly explains the ongoing delay in its completion.

Volume Two, and Quahnarren, continue to grow

Good progress continues to be made with the writing of Beyond the Morning Mountains, Volume Two: the book currently consists of 164,000 words / 930 sections, and contains many challenging events and encounters, providing ample interactive opportunities to create a very personal journey.

Updated map of Quahnarren

‘Premium’ print edition withdrawn

DriveThruRPG have unfortunately had to sharply increase their pricing for ‘Premium’ colour books by 40-50%, so that version of BtMM has now been withdrawn from sale. The price of a ‘Standard’ colour book thankfully remains the same.

BtMM Volume Two progress

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.

BtMM Volume One Supporter Pack

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.

PRINT EDITIONS NOW AVAILABLE AGAIN!

This updated 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.

Update on Volume Two of Beyond the Morning Mountains

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.

Tulland_strip

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.

Print

Volume One of ‘Beyond the Morning Mountains’ turns to 400

ToQ_BtMMv1_400

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 I’m now 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.