Category: Tears of a Machine

Making the DAISY Format Book – Part 1

In this series of posts I’ll be posting the step-by-step process of creating the DAISY Digital Talking Book version of Tears of a Machine. Once it’s done I’ll have DAISY compatible versions of the raw text for Text-To-Speech reader software, an ePub book, and a fully narrated audio-book for DAISY and ePub 3.0 rich media playback.

If you want to know more about the basics of DAISY formats and initiatives, visit the homepage of the DAISY Consortium: http://www.daisy.org.

For this first entry I’ll explain getting the book text from Word DOC to DAISY friendly XML. Continue reading “Making the DAISY Format Book – Part 1”

Turning the Corner to Production

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:

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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 “Turning the Corner to Production”

Tears Progress and Metatopia

Tears is in Layout

Nathan Paoletta’s work continues and it’s really gratifying to see the text laid out. It looks like a real book!

Sample pages

There’s still work to be done in tweaking the layout and settling in some elements. I’m on another hunt for typos as I review. In the meantime, Nathan is working on translating my Excel spreadsheet character sheets from the demo package into real character sheets. Once all of the page numbers are settled, I can begin setting up the files for the accessible text versions and soon start the audio recording for the digital talking book.

Nathan recently joined the crowd-patronage support network Patreon. If you enjoy his work then consider making yourself an ongoing backer of his future projects.

CRC Cards On the Way

CRC ID cards have been ordered so I’ll have them to pack in with books for the SAInt and higher tier backers. Take a look at the digital proof: Continue reading “Tears Progress and Metatopia”

70,000 Sure is a Lot of Words!

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.

pilots

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 “70,000 Sure is a Lot of Words!”

Our Work Continues

Preservation Forces Patch

As editing proceeds, we’re working on getting the other rewards prepared and ordered. Thanks to the generosity of our Angel, those of you donating at the $30 and higher level will receive a patch declaring your enrollment in the future forces that will save humanity from the Mayzor scourge.

When Jennifer Rodgers asked me what the patch should look like, I sent her this:

Preservation Force Logo

She, being an actual illustrator took a few hours to tinker with it and then sent me this rough draft:

coat.wip1

Yep.

How about I distract you from that embarrassing comparison by telling you more about Preservation Force tech? Continue reading “Our Work Continues”

Editing Begins!

It feels very official to be getting contracts signed and payments underway for Tears of a Machine. The draft is in J. R. Blackwell’s care, Jennifer Rodgers and I are reviewing my notes on illustrations and planning the sketches. We’re also turning my crayon draft of the Preservation Force’s emblem into a patch, as per the Angel backer reward. I’ll be able to share more about that with you soon. But how about some background on the Preservation Force . . .

Defenders of Humanity

The Preservation Force was formed on the order of the Cloistered Research Council. When they revealed themselves as the authority on alien technology they insisted that it should not belong to any national power. The world was in dire straits already and their representative said it would be too easy for a still-powerful nation to abuse the new weapons, taking needed resources from a neighboring country or “walling” themselves in and leaving others to fend for themselves. If they would use this science, it would be a world-wide effort and the weapons would belong to no one group.

Beginning with UN forces, the CRC oversaw the organization of an international military force. Soldiers were uprooted and shuffled and their commanders complained about loss of combat effectiveness but the CRC were adamant. Organizing these armies into a collective was difficult but the need for a defense from the aliens drove the world to put aside differences and cooperate however they could.  Meanwhile the CRC was pulling together resources to construct bases of operation for the new army. The Arx.

Virtuacon ’13

Jacob Wood has planned a presentation on accessible games for Virtuacon this October. He has invited me to join him and share my thoughts and plans on accessible text and audio books. If you’d like to see the presentation, you don’t have to go anywhere! Virtuacon is a weekend of gaming through Google Hangouts, organized by RPGGeek. You’ll be able to join and play or run games and attend panels all from the comfort of your internet connection. You can find the schedule of international time slots and a list of planned events on the RPG Geek site. And I’ll try to get some more Tears demos on that calendar too!

Thank you and May the SAInts preserve us.

Letting the Dust Settle

Messages have slowed down, payments have been made, and we’re ready to proceed. Before the text goes to the editor, I will make one last solo pass to look for any omissions or typos and to pluck out a few more needless words. The less work J. R. has to do, the faster the book turns around and it’s just poor manners to ask a professional to deal with my misspellings.

Reading Aloud

J. R. taught me an editing trick that I think everyone should know. In truth, it’s something I already knew myself, but didn’t think to apply before J. R. pointed it out to me. Read it aloud. Out loud. Mutter if you want to but don’t just silently mouth the words. You will be more focused when you engage your ears as well as your eyes and your attention is less likely to wander. Once you start using your voice you’ll quickly find passages with awkward wording or misspellings. That one-two punch of visual and auditory learning is the reason that having an audio-book format to accompany the text makes it easier to read, process, and internalize.

Presentation at Metatopia

On that subject; because of the impact that the accessibility plans had on funding Tears of a Machine, I’m preparing a presentation on the importance of accessibility for other designers. I’m planning to make the presentation at Metatopia in October. Metatopia is gaming convention focused on the designer with panels and mini-seminars about games of all types and a schedule of demos and playtests designed to find players for your game in progress. I highly recommend attending!

Social Media Sorting

Many of you have added me to your social media groups and I’ve done the same but in a haphazard way. I’m sorting out the Facebook groups and Google circles now. If you’d rather only receive information about Gaming in general, or Tears specifically, please let me know through their messaging channels and I’ll spare you my posts about the “really great pizza I had.”

There will be more progress reports ahead and I’ll be organizing more online chats and demos soon too. I expect that they will be on Wednesday evenings and weekends to fit my schedule but I also hope to get more of you involved, perhaps as early GMs for your own groups.

Thank you and may the SAInts preserve us.

Campaign Success!

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.

The Cloistered Research Council

Some more world-building today. Get to know the most mysterious super-geniuses of the world of Tears of a Machine.

Image

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 “The Cloistered Research Council”

If you can read this, help someone else to read it too.

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 “If you can read this, help someone else to read it too.”