The Tears of a Machine S.C. is on its way. The full text of the book is written and in editing. The fancy new logo is ready, courtesy of Nathan Paoletta, and cover and interior art is already in progress with Jennifer Rodgers and Rashad Malik Davis. We’re on track to bring the game to Kickstarter, but there’s a lot more going on here than just a book. When I first created Robot Claw Design for my first edition of Tears of a Machine, I made a commitment to better accessibility for role-playing games. I will continue that intent by creating a human-voiced audiobook of the new edition, and even taking that a few steps further. ePub and rich-media books have developed and grown in the years since I released Tears, and with Tears S.C. I can take further advantage of that to include video demonstrations, as well as audio narration, and even embed the book into a Robot Claw website, allowing it to be its own standard reference document release. And it can continue to grow from that. We have the ability to include interactive features that could even become learning tools for teaching people to play!
Get ready for The Tears of a Machine S.C. Kickstarter campaign July, 2021!
Been a while since my last full update but that’s because we’ve been busy, busy, busy.
Cards and Badges
The “feelies” (physical rewards) are set! I got the box of CRC ID cards this past week and they look and feel as good as I had hoped. The Preservation Forces patch has been drafted and approved and is in production now. He’s a peek at the studio’s proof:
This image is slightly lower res, but I was surprised at the scale and detail that we were able to get for our budget; 4 1/2 inches tall by 3 inches wide. Everyone of our SAInt tier and higher backers will receive one of these with their physical copy of the book. Thank you, once more, to our Angel tier backer, Athrun Nailo. Continue reading →
Sorry that I’ve gone dark for so long and deprived you of updates! J. R. Blackwell returned the text to me with her editorial remarks and I’ve been making my way through, tweaking, adjusting, correcting, and polishing with her excellent guidance. This is the “how the sausage is made” part of the process, with lots of minutiae so there’s just not much to share. Nothing exciting at least. So while I continue to trawl my way through all these words, let’s enjoy some pleasant distractions.
Pilot Launch Suit Design
Jennifer Rodgers, our esteemed illustrator has been working on more designs for the illustrations of Tears and here’s her first draft of the pilot’s Launch Suits.
The astute viewer will notice a few references to religious iconography in the patterns. It will be more obvious once the pilots have their neural exchange halos attached. Continue reading →
The Tears of a Machine kickstarter campaign has been a success! We’re fully funded to get the game through editing, art, layout, and printing. Here’s the last update of the funding drive.
Offering the book in accessible format did a lot to help me find the support I needed. I’m going to make every effort to keep the level of quality just as high in creating the synchronized audio version of the text.
Thank you once more, to all my backers and supporters.
It’s time for the next scene. We’ll fill in the story with some of Klaus’ ruminations, explaining more about who he is and where he comes from.
Klaus went to physical training after lunch. He had been sheltered as a child, his mother terrified of the open sky overhead that had snatched away her husband. She worked two jobs to afford an apartment only three blocks from an emergency shelter. Klaus was left with little more than his books.
The months of training since he had joined the Preservation Force were toughening him up and he noticed the flab of inactivity fading but he was still short and nervous and never did very well in sports.
Today was worse than usual. No matter what he did his thoughts drifted back to George with mixture of anger and fear. What do I do now?
“Klaus!” He jerked back to reality just in time to reach up and bat a ball away from his head.
“Good reflexes. But this is soccer, not volleyball.” Trainer Levinson picked up the ball and handed it over to the opposing team. Bettina from Fortress Company rolled her eyes at him and smirked to her teammates. Continue reading →
Things are never cut and dried for a pilot, or any teenager for that matter. Add in the responsibilities of becoming the hope of humanity and even the simplest situations become charged. Over the next few updates I’ll be posting some scenes from one pilot’s life. Each of these posts could be a separate scene in an episode of Tears. Enjoy!
Klaus swallowed hard and stepped back. The metal rails along the lunch counter stopped him by jabbing his kidney. George stared down at him, still shocked at the runny mess of beef stroganoff and whipped potatoes dripping down the neat creases of his cadet uniform. Klaus pawed at his pockets and tried to find a napkin or tissue to hand over but as he fumbled George’s eyes snapped into a brute’s scowl and he balled up his fists.
Klaus stammered out a lame apology while George reached out and grabbed his lapel. Franz and Jackson, George’s toadies closed in around them but not fast enough to block out the security officer.
“Cadets!” Her shout echoed off the high ceiling of the cafeteria. Other diners turned to watch and their voices dropped to whispers.Continue reading →
Some more world-building today. Get to know the most mysterious super-geniuses of the world of Tears of a Machine.
A shadowy organization of cutting-edge researchers and scientists, the Cloistered Research Council are responsible for the robotic SAInts, the floating Citadels of Earth’s Preservation Forces and the MetaTron telepathic communications system that ties them all together. Their knowledge demands respect because it is the best chance humanity has to survive the alien attacks and strike back.Continue reading →
You’ve seen it in the Tears of a Machine kickstarter project write-up and in the stretch goals, but I’m going to say a little more about the subject of an accessible game manual.
For 13 years I’ve worked at Learning Ally, a non-profit organization that serves students with print disabilities. I’ve gone through dyslexia simulation exercises and teaching sessions about the way that the brain develops to handle written language, all so that I could better understand the challenges that a student with learning differences must face. The simplest way for me to explain it is to imagine that you’re learning algebra but your book is written in a foreign language. You can understand the concepts and the symbols but have to puzzle them out from among the surrounding words, slowly. Bit by bit.
Now, go to your bookshelf or the folder of PDFs on your computer and open up an RPG manual (preferably one of those big 200+ page ones that cost you 50 bucks) and drink in the wall of text. That’s what it is for many people. A wall. Mild dyslexia is almost commonplace; as many as 1 in 5 students could benefit from having access to their school books in alternative formats. There are imaginative and intelligent people who are held back by how information is delivered and by the stigma of “disability.” With the same information presented in a different format they are just as quick to learn as many others. I want to give them the opportunity to enjoy my game without barriers.
How will I make Tears of a Machine accessible? The DAISY Consortium is an international organization devoted to the same goals of Learning Ally, to remove the barriers of print comprehension from information. They provide an assortment of free and open source tools for the creation of accessible books and audio. Because I have access to the raw text I can use many of these tools to convert it into these formats: Continue reading →