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My Writing Setup
Science Fiction Writing
Aaaaargh!

Right Brain Rumblings...

  • Seeing Shapes in the Cloud

    I wrote a throwaway paragraph in The Scottish UFO Casebook. Instead of UFO sightings in the future, we might start getting AI sightings. It’s something I’d been thinking about for some time, one of those high-concept Science Fiction pitches I hadn’t quite got around to turning into a story. Code Encounters of the Third Kind I whimsically thought of it.

    It was the end of a long process of wondering where the UFO phenomenon could go next. Saucers became craft on the ground, became entities, became abductions. And while writing the casebook, the idea solidified that – per Jacques Vallée – flying saucers and aliens were of a continuum with faeries and selkies. Humans are primed to see volition and intent everywhere. We see something uncanny – maybe – and culture fills in the gaps.

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  • The Scottish UFO Casebook

    Flying Saucers have always been a slightly disreputable interest of mine1. Never quite believing, never quite disbelieving. A high – or low depending on outlook – point was in the 90s. The X-Files. The Alien Autopsy video. The hitherto secret F117 stealth aircraft revealed to the public. It’s when I finally got access to the internet, and to USENET and spend hours having my brain melted by alt.paranet.ufo amongst others.

    1. Likewise, for William Gibson, so I’m in good company. 

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  • So The Guardian reviewed Lemmings: Can You Dig It? which I stumbled on via their Tweet Guardian Tweet. I read the review and, well, consider this a review of a review. In which – paranoia! – I was written out of history! Yikes!

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  • I finally got to see the Lemmings 30 Year Anniversary Documentary on the 14th Feb, which if we’re really counting is 31 years. You can watch the full 2hr (really!) on YouTube (>18,000 views as I write this) where I am pleased to report that I made the cut! Seriously, I’m paranoid about being written out of history and fretted that my contribution wouldn’t get in.

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  • Can You Dig It?

    Today sees the first public screening of Lemmings: Can You Dig It?, a documentary to celebrate 30 years of the game Lemmings. It’s on at Dundee’s DCA Cinema on the 2nd. If you’re reading this, it’s likely sometime afterwards and it’s available online. It’s charity fundraising too!

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  • Who Created GTA?

    Well, that was interesting. A quick catchup of Twitter, I saw Polygon describe Dan Houser as the creator of GTA. I objected to that and said so. Then I went back to the Playstation, finished my cup of tea, gamed for a bit then had another look.

    Retweeted a few dozen times. Almost a hundred likes. Huh, unexpected.

    Then it took off. By this morning almost 300 retweets and 4000 likes. As I write this it’s still going. I’m still bemused by it all since, swearing aside, I didn’t think it was that controversial. Most agreed with me, thankfully, but a decent-sized fraction didn’t. Most were polite, the remainder snarky and I only had to block one guy!

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  • DMA Design NET is Gone

    I’d been doing some soul-searching about the dmadesign.net website. Almost ten years ago I registered the domain, with the intention of making it all about – well – DMA Design. It never had as much content on it as I’d have liked, but it did bring in a small stream of interview offers.

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  • Windy OpSec

    During stormy weather, you might want to invest in a crosscut paper shredder. Climate change means this will only get worse. February storms meant more winds, higher speeds.

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  • Wildly Improbable

    Slightly freaked out at the moment — but only slightly — having just experienced an utter doozy of a co-incidence. Everyone has one of these at least once in their lives, and this is mine.

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  • A Warning from Proxima

    In my experimental newsletter Cyber Rebel, I’ve been trying out different ways of presenting news stories. (You can download Issue #0 from the Free Stuff section to decide how successful I’ve been.) One of the late-breaking items was the detection of a radio signal from Proxima Centauri. I’ll hopefully be following it up for Issue #1. If there’s ever an issue one.

    New Scientist describes it as unlikely to be artificial, but the best candidate for an alien signal yet. This seems fair. The likelihood of an alien intelligence being situated at the very next star over is extremely low. It would imply that space is utterly teeming with technological intelligence. In Scots — I’m Scottish, Hi! — the local neighbourhood would be hoaching.

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  • GTA Origins

    Something wonderful has happened! Your Amiga is alive!

    Well some of them are. The old guard has never given up on the best home computer ever made, including myself. A new print Amiga magazine – Amiga Addict has recently been released and they’re now on to issue 2. Editor Ravi Abbott asked me to contribute some interview questions about DMA Design and I’ve now seem the proofs. Excellent job!

    I said I was most known as the Retro Gaming guy, and this kind of proves it. Even decades later, people still want to hear about Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto. But in those pages something caught my eye.

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  • The Retro Gaming Guy

    I’m trying to become an established science fiction author. You may have guessed from the title of the site. In some darker moods I imagine the ideal moment for that was twenty five years ago. After all, I was young, had ambitions to be a novelist, and was working as a writer (an actual writer!) in the computer games industry. I’m even famous, if your definition of fame is fairly flexible. Not even what used to be disparagingly called ‘internet famous’, but over the years I’ve been in maybe a dozen or so local newspaper articles.

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  • Intrepid: Echoes

    I list moviemaking as one of my hobbies, under the assumption that almost anything I do is a hobby to one degree or another. In practise a huge chunk of it is Starship Intrepid, a Star Trek fan film series of which I’ve done directing, acting and (usually) camera. We’ve been going since 2003 which I recently learned makes us the longest-running Trek fan film series in the world. Normally I’d describe us as the UK’s first, so that’s another little claim to fame.

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  • Cyberpunk 2020

    My new year’s resolution is to blog more. This is not likely to last long, based on previous experience. However…

    I’ve started doing the housekeeping stuff expected of a new year – swapping over the keyboards from the two computers for example, and tidying up files – in my own little 5S. This is a holdover from when I used to work in a factory, the 5S being a management fad from Japan and standing for… well I forget. Sort, Store, Sustain, that kind of thing. Or as I used to think of it, Shovel Shit Sideways. Just a normal first day of a new year.

    However this isn’t a normal new year1. Just look at that date! We’re now into the Cyberpunk 2020 decade, a roleplaying game I used to play from the 90s.

    1. Hogmanay as we say here. 

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  • Lockdown

    Every creative type on the planet probably has one of these posts by now. So I guess this is mine. I’m writing it so that I can write something. I’m supposed to be working on material for a game right now. Can’t tell you much about it, other than it’s comedic.

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  • Lemmings Post-Mortem

    Mike Dailly’s talk at GDC in San Francisco, March 2019, where he talks about the development of Lemmings. I’m in the audience, giggling along with other ex-DMA staff. Many apologies to the guy sitting in front of us for making a noise. (But when Mike put up a picture of us, how could we not react just a little?)

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  • GDC 2019

    I will be going to GDC 2019 in a week’s time, in a development I still find quite surprising. Mike Dailly will be giving an hour long talk deconstructing Lemmings1, and has spent the previous month agonizing (I assume) over writing the content. He tells me this will be his biggest audience ever and, in part because I just turned 50 and to consider this a birthday gift, he wanted me to be there too. It’ll be a fascinating hour and you should definitely make time to come along.

    If you fancy catching up with me, I’m sure I can talk about Hired Guns for a few hours.

    1. Wednesday 20th March 2019, from 5pm to 6pm. 

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  • Grand Theft Auto Begins

    It’s been 20 years since the release of the original Grand Theft Auto.

    Theoretically I’m currently writing a “complete”” history of DMA Design, a task which gets trickier as the timeline progresses. More and more I wasn’t physically present, because how could I be in two buildings at once? But I wrote the internal newsletter at the time, in between my games-related work. And re-reading them has proved to be intriguing.

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  • User Interface

    Now, I’m not saying that Shreya was a bot, but it’s possible. Our broadband speed had been dropping out and fluctuating in speed for a couple of months. It had stabilised for the last two weeks on 1.5mb/s. We pay for 70mb/s, are advised to expect an average of 46mb/sec and usually get 20mb/s. And so I clicked the chat button on the support website. A panel popped up. Right. Here we go.

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  • 16 Psyche

    When Geoff Pell approached me back in August last year to ask if I would like to write the story for Inviolate, I was given a lot of leeway to change things around if I thought it was an improvement. Originally the game was set on the surface of a planet, which came with its own issues to resolve. Was it around another star system, how would the space travel work in the context of the game and so on. Given the distinct air of cyberpunk surrounding the project — not least that it’s a retro-style game circa 1995 or so — a distant planet felt to me like a different flavour of SF.

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  • Proof Mode

    It’s every Science Fiction writer’s dream to have successfully predicted the future.

    I did that once. But there’s a wee caveat.

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