Some time away…

I’ve not posted for nearly a year, seem to find it hard to have anything to say that isn’t contained within 140 chars or a general Facebook status update, and I feel that’s a shame. I’ve just returned from a week away travelling around Cornwall with my family, and I feel a little more energised, so I am going to attempt to do a little more… a little more writing, a little more coding, and a little more blogging.

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It’s been a while…

I haven’t spent much time on my personal blog lately. Mostly I’ve been writing on The Lords of Midnight Blog.

I’ve managed to release two games in the last 18 months, something I need to be mindful of. I have to remind myself that that is no small feat in itself, even if the financial rewards don’t back it up, the personal satisfaction does. Although, it can become quite frustrating when you are a single developer and in direct contact with your customers. Every negative comment cuts like a knife. Every problem is amplified. I find myself rushing around trying to release fixes and updates.

I’m also working about four different contracts. That can be difficult when you are juggling your time. I spend a lot of time with my laptop in hotel lobbies, bars, and restaurants, so much of my evenings are filled with work and not pleasure.

When both worlds collide you get a perfect storm, and I end up mentally exhausted and lost.

If I was writing a Novel or a Film, I would say it is difficult to find the scenes that drive the plot forward, but some of them do in an ever so small way. Maybe I just have to question the plot. I miss the family terribly. And even though I know that I wouldn’t spend that much more time with them if I was at home, their social lives being what they are, and me still being busy, but still, that fleeting amount of contact makes a big difference.

As I transition away from The Lords of Midnight and Doomdark’s Revenge, I am trying to move over to working on my Novel, The Lily Wood Trail. I spent some time working on it  last night, and realised that my writing is now so rusty that I think I might need to get a Tetanus jab. I’ve committed myself to getting a first draft written by the end of the year so I need to get myself up to speed very quickly. It could just be that if it’s tedious to write, then it is likely boring to read…

It’s also difficult to not think about new game ideas, but I really must try hard to park them. I have Timbles to finish first…

 

 

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The Moonstar hovered bright and clear in a deep dark sky

Upon the forest hung a sparkling frost. The air was cold and thick. If a twig snapped it would crackle for miles around but only the muted whisper of the trees could be heard. Above, the Moonstar hovered bright and clear in a deep dark sky. The Moon itself was not even a sliver, just a deeper darkness blotting out the glistening haze of the Roads of Light.

As he watched, his fears seemed to drift away as though they were just brief clouds that had enshrouded him and were now passing into the far, far distance. The skulkrin edged forwards into the glade. He felt a beautiful, glowing glory shiver through him. He was completely bewildered; never, not even as a young skulkling, had he been happy like this. Unaccountably, he felt good and kind and gentle.

c_midwinterhTwelve months ago tonight I received a Direct message on Twitter from Fergus McNeill that came very much out of the blue. Four words that shook my foundations. It succinctly asked, “Did Mike Singleton Die?”

I hadn’t spoken with Mike for about a week. The last words he’d said to me were, “Ok, I am going out for my morning coffee now, so I will be in touch later, with the alpha tower…. nearly done, just the twiddly bits round the foliage.”

It wasn’t unusual for us to not speak for many days after being apparently in mid sentence. During Mike’s recovery he might go for a number of days without being able to sit at a computer. So, obviously I never thought any think of it. He’d been getting better. He seemed to have turned a corner, as was making great strides forward with his health.

After receiving the tweet from Ferg, I immediately sent a text message to Mike and then later one to his son Jules. I waited a while before sending the text to Jules because obviously how do you approach such a subject.

I did a search online a found a piece posted by Wibby on Giant Bomb announcing his death. I didn’t know who Wibby was and so didn’t know how accurate his information could be. While I waited for news from either Mike pronouncing the news of his death to be premature, or his family, I found myself locked numbly at my desk. The minutes slowly ticked by. Almost desperately, I sent a Skype message to Mike that read, “Mike, please tell me you’re there…”

I wrote a post, ‘This parting has come too soon’ as I found myself reflecting, yet lost in the unknown. The text grabbed from The Lords of Midnight Novella, very much resonated with how I was feeling at that moment.

I was getting messages by email, twitter, and phone, asking me the same question that Ferg had posed a few hours earlier. The minutes turned into hours before I had confirmation. Wibby wrote the following comment…

I am in tears….. I just looked in my gaming cupboard and I actually have Mike’s own copy of Lords of Midnight sat there that he gave me, I opened it up and it has his Bachelor of Science degree in it from years ago when he was in university as a young adult.

I will be passing them back to his kids… also spoke to one of his sons tonight and we are taking his ashes to our local for a last pint….

Wibby turned out to be Bruce Butterfield who I knew, knew Mike, and knew Mike’s family. Therefore, my worst fears were confirmed.

I tried to go to bed at Midnight, but didn’t sleep. I finally gave up and dragged myself out of bed and down to my study and started to write the bog post ‘Night has fallen…’ I found myself just pouring words onto the electronic page.

The following few days were crazy. I spoke with Bruce, and Mike’s son Jules. And I watched the internet explode with an outpouring of love for Mike.

Mike Singleton – 1951 – 2012
A genius, taken well before his time.

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Are we there yet…?

lordsofmidnight_avatarI should be working, but today has been a nice day, and I’ve been a little distracted. I’m at the end of week 5 for Timbles, and on the whole, everything is coming along fine with that.

However, I can’t help myself but think about the last 7 months. During that time I have managed to release The Lords of Midnight for iOS ( iPad, iPhone, iPod touch ), Android, Blackberry Playbook, Blackberry Z10, Mac OSX, Microsoft Windows, and Kindle Fire. I find it odd, that I often berate myself for not having brought all the versions to market as quickly as I had intended, however I need to remind myself that there is only me for the majority of the time, and support from Jure for the graphics, and I am only working on it part time.

With the release today of the Windows version, I feel close to wrapping up this little chapter that started… well it’s hard to say when it started. 30 years ago with the release of the original game, 24 years ago with my work on the DOS version, 14 years ago with my Windows version, 5 years ago with the opening of the Apple App Store and approaching Mike about releasing it for iOS, 2 Years ago when Mike finally said yes, or 9 months ago upon his death.

On Monday I intend to try and build a beta Windows 8 Phone version that will allow me to get a Windows 8 Phone through a Microsoft/Marmalade promo programme. This is how I approached the Blackberry versions. With full acceptance from Microsoft after that, the Windows 8 Phone version should be available in their store later this year. Not before the end of August I suspect, mainly because I have a 3 week holiday coming up. Once that is done, I don’t think I will be looking at any other platforms, although I must admit, I would love to see it on a console in some fashion…

There is still a lot I would like to do with LoM, but that will have to wait. I intend to push out a couple of updates this year, there are some new features for the mobile versions, and no doubt some bugs in the desktop versions. But my main focus will be Doomdark’s Revenge now. Only after that is released can I really take stock of the games and come up with some major grand plan. I would like to release one major update every year, and I do have the ideas that would fit into that category.

The last seven months have been more hectic than I imagined, the next seven months I suspect will be much more so. I must remember to take more time to think…

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The Timbles are coming…

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A few weeks ago I made a decision to allow my current contract with IBM to come to and end. They had offered me another six month extension but I decided not take it.

Toward the end of July, I am taking the family to Florida for three weeks, and I had already decided that I would take the whole of August off. It’s been a long time since I had a long vacation. I originally wanted to only work the winter months when I started contracting. 🙂

The issue was that there was only seven weeks between the end of my contract and going on holiday. IBM had agreed to factor in August as part of my contract, but ideally I only wanted to work up to the holiday. I could have taken a new contract to cover the next seven weeks, but short contracts have a habit of turning into longer contracts, and I really didn’t want to commit to anything new.

So, I made the decision to finish my contract and not look for a new one. This means being out of contract, and therefore not earning money, for the next 3 months!

I ended up thinking about a project that I started in 2008, Timbles. It was a prototype game that I wrote, to help my children with their Times Tables. Unfortunately many things got in the way of me developing it, not to mention the plan for it started getting more and more grandiose, and therefore harder and harder to complete.

Continue reading “The Timbles are coming…”

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