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I still remember the first time that I saw a Japanese Roleplaying Game (JRPG). Like many people of my generation, it was a Final Fantasy game, though not one so obvious as Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy VI (or Final Fantasy 3, if you’re familiar with the  North American naming scheme), or Final Fantasy VII. No, it was Final Fantasy Legend II in all of its monochromatic glory on the Nintendo Game Boy.

I was at a friend’s house, and his cousin was also visiting. I’d never met the cousin, but he had a Game Boy (like me), so I liked him almost instantly. But, where I was eradicating (or, more accurately, being eradicated by) the Footclan in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or dodging winged-Moai statues in Super Mario Land, he had this slow, boardgame-like game, with numbers, equipment, a map, and so many other elements that I was unfamiliar with. In particular, I remember a fight with a tiger. The one pictured here, in fact. As I think back on it, I can only assume that it’s a low level enemy, fought in one of the early game environments. At the time, however, it was something different. Something frightening.

If you do your homework, however, you’ll quickly discover that my first experience with Final Fantasy was, in fact, not with Final Fantasy at all, but with Akitoshi Kawazu’s infamous SaGa series. See, when Square the developer of the Final Fantasy series, wanted to bring over Kawazu’s zany Makai Toushi SaGa, the first in the SaGa series, to North American shores, they decided that it made more sense to release the title under a respected and successful brand, Final Fantasy, rather than attempting to sell something new. It was the right decision. Final Fantasy Legend II became Square’s first million-selling product. Read More »

As you’ve no doubt noticed, things look a little different around here today.

For the past several weeks, I’ve been hard at work designing, developing, and building a brand new look and feel for A Dribble of Ink. 2014 promises a big transitional year for me, both personally and here at A Dribble of Ink, and I felt like there was no better way to celebrate that than to apply a fresh coat of paint, introduce some features I’ve been excited about, and, generally, increase the level of the site to bring it a few steps closer to the vision I have for it moving forward.

I think this is the best, cleanest, and most professional iteration of A Dribble of Ink yet, and hope that it encourages you to visit more often, join the conversation, and spread word to your friends, families, co-workers (and anyone else you chat to about science fiction and fantasy.)

In addition to the visual overhaul, there are a couple of things that I’d like to draw attention to. Read More »

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If it wasn’t for unconventional publishing, that would have been the end of the road for Hollow World.

Publishing today is a complicated business full of many options and proponents on different sides vocalizing their path is “the right one” with full-throated conviction. For the record, I see the advantages (and disadvantages) of each. I also don’t think there is a “universal right choice,” just a choice that is going to best fit on an author by author basis.

Currently I’m a ‘hybrid author‘ because I have works available both through self-publishing and traditional routes. What’s more, my traditional routes include both big-five and small presses and there is a world of difference between them.

I think Hollow World, my latest novel, was probably produced in one of the most unconventional ways possible. First it was submitted to my publisher, Orbit. My editor loved the book, but the marketing department didn’t. They need to focus on what sells (and I don’t begrudge this mindset) and currently they think that means military science-fiction and space operas. A classic-style, social science fiction novel such as those written by Asimov or Wells just didn’t fit the bill.

If it wasn’t for unconventional publishing, that would have been the end of the road for Hollow World, and I know far too many authors who have shelved books because they couldn’t get them picked up (or were offered too little). But from past experience, I knew a closed door just means I should look around for an open window. Read More »

Hyper Light Drifter by Heart Machine

Explore a beautiful, vast and ruined world riddled with unknown dangers and lost technologies. Inspired by nightmares and dreams alike.

Every so often, a project, whether it’s a book, a film, a videogame, or whatever, crosses my path and I can’t help but stop to stare. The first time I laid eyes on Hyper Light Drifter‘s protagonist, a nameless Drifter, lounging beside a pixel-perfect fire pit, I fell in love. When I read a description of the game’s ambitions, I knew it was true love. Hyper Light Drifter is a “2D Action RPG in the vein of the best 8-bit and 16-bit classics, with modernized mechanics and designs on a much grander scale.”

“Miyazaki films have taught me that beautiful animation and design add life to a world,” described Hyper Light Drifter Lead Designer, Alex Preston in the game’s Kickstarter campaign. “From characters to background elements, everything is lovingly crafted while I hum show-tunes and squint suspiciously at the flickering pixels until they perform as intended.

“I want it all to be as beautiful as possible, forging color with the dark and eerie wastes and intimidating landscapes.”

Read More »

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I’ve made no secret of my excitement for Elizabeth Bear’s The Eternal Sky trilogy. I recently sang my praise of the trilogy in a review of the final volume, Steles of the Sky, which was released yesterday:

Bear fills Steles of the Sky, and the entire trilogy, with a masterfully crafted meld of Asian and Middle Eastern mythology, legend and history with the wholly unique and deeply considered secondary world she has created. Shedding the tried and true landscapes and politics of faux-medieval western Europe, Bear introduces readers to a diverse world and political landscape that avoids feeling like the same ol’, same ol’, despite readers a story that uses many of the genre’s most recognizable tropes—ancient magic; an exiled youth of royal blood; a journey from one side of the map to the other; evil sorcerers; dragons; clashing armies.

So, it is with no small amount of enthusiasm that I pass along news that Bear has sold a sequel trilogy, The Lotus Kingdom, to Tor Books. “While Range of Ghosts, Shattered Pillars, and Steles of the Sky comprise a complete story arc in and of themselves,” said Bear, via The Big Idea on John Scalzi’s blog, “I can now reveal that Tor will be publishing at least three more books in this world.”

The Lotus Kingdoms, will follow the adventures of two mismatched mercenaries–a metal automaton and a masterless swordsman–who become embroiled in the deadly interkingdom and interfamilial politics in a sweltering tropical land.

The first volume of The Lotus Kingdom will be released in (*gasp*) 2017. Meanwhile, if you haven’t read The Eternal Sky trilogy, you should, starting with Range of Ghosts: Book/eBook.