What are you working on, Morroque?

I’m currently at a position where a lot of interesting things recently intersected at completion. One was project involvement with Studio Aduge and their first major release, Qasir al-Wasat: A Night Inbetween. My own role on the project was not very substantial, but it was still interesting to see how a small media project slowly took form over an entire year — what changed, what stayed the same, and why. It was also a wonder to watch Ingrid Skare hold her place as the lead writer, even when English wasn’t her native tongue. It’s great to know that the structure of narrative and story need not be limited to the tradition of one language or another.

Another recent thing happened when The Incongruous Quarterly went live with a video game of my own. Signal Mosaic is a literary game that generates word art and poetry when played. I intended the it as a ludological criticism of a few trends in recent poetry I felt unsatisfied with. (Though, perhaps the method is a bit subtle…) It is also, as a game, probably the only work of its kind to be pushed by a Canadian literary magazine. IQ prides itself on publishing only the most “unpublishable” of poetry or fiction, and Signal Mosaic is most certainly that. Yet, even for the adventurous, there were still many delays between the final product and installation-turn-publication, as they slowly learned what the Internet looks like outside of the comfortable confines of a WordPress.

Signal Mosaic is notable for me as my first game that wasn’t based to an engine and written entirely from scratch using HTML5 and Javascript. Using a canvas context, it’s quite easy to make a pseudo-OpenGL animation loop. It wasn’t that long ago Javascript was a simple and uncomplicated little scriptor only used to add unnecessary flourish to web design – described by other programmers I knew not just as a ‘joke’, but ‘an entire comedy routine’. (This fervour is usually reserved for PHP, nowadays.) However, more functions in HTML5 improved Javascript’s usefulness extensively. The winds tell me that, soon, full applications in HTML5/Javascript can be made for Windows 8 computers, though I’m unsure how powerful they’ll be.
But I still wonder how long it will last… Computing is an evanescent media. My last attempted game failed tragically when it was so close to a gold candidate with working netplay and everything. It was developed on the 32-bit Windows XP, but couldn’t make the jump over to the 64-bit Windows 7 without all the graphics melting. The world decided to pull the rug out from under it. That’s why, even with all the excitement of video gaming to reach new audiences, I’m still pulled towards writing traditionally. The work there has a much smoother relationship with time.

With these things finished, I’m again getting my bearings to begin new projects. The “big” things that claimed my attention include one novelette and one video game. While not directly related, the two of them share similar themes. The novelette approaches the subject from a semi-serious and mostly realistic vantage, while the game approaches it as a comedy and exaggerates everything to impossible extremes. I’m actually a bit worried about the novelette. I can cover all the needed ground in only a few short chapters, but it is too much for a short story and requires a lot of padding to upgrade to a novel or novella. As such, finding publication for it somewhere will be difficult due to standard size constraints.

Yet even then, the novelette holds that possibility above the game, which is almost a fruitless venture entirely. It will need to be released as freeware due to asset limitations, the team choice in engine with editor, and also the numerous possible violations of the EULA we did in order hack in added functionality. Strange as this sounds, I find this remarkably freeing. We’re under no pressure, so we can test out any number of ridiculous ideas. With trigonometry, the right parabola and a very selective regard for physics, we can fire a person from a cannon, only to have them land in the barrel of another cannon to fire them back. We’re doing it for the science! That’s what counts, ar?

Morroque (Short: MW) is a computer programmer and training media producer from a nondescript location in rural Canada, currently working as an iOS developer. He is the webmaster of the Rêvasser Network.

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