Longest way round is the shortest way home

Feb 22, 2013

No one else can do the things you do…

Apologies for the odd title (it’s from James Joyce’s Ulysses if you want to know), but it allows me to segue into my update this week in a rather elegant fashion.Last week I brought you up to date with the position with respect to sign off on my plot with the folks at Frontier.

First up, the bad news. We’re still not there.

The good news is that we’ve definitely moved closer.

I got my second draft of the synopsis and plan back from Frontier yesterday with no less than 20 comments straight from the keyboard of David himself. Many of these were complementary of the plot with the odd “Yes” and “I like this” added in. Some required clarification and some were challenging aspects of the plot. The challenges are appropriate and I need to close them up with a bit of homework. That’s already in progress.

Frankly I’m quite impressed by the level of attention that’s being paid to the synopsis, it’s far more attention than I expected to get and it’s very clear to me now that David is carefully scrutinising all the detail across all the Elite : Dangerous  books. That bodes well for the quality of the final game too, though keeping that attention to detail and delivering on time will be a major challenge.

So what can I tell you?

The plot is being subtly revised primarily based on a document that David penned himself, which is a guide to how politics works in the Elite : Dangerous universe. This not only fleshes out the character, style and behaviour of each faction in the universe (the aforementioned Federation, Empire and Alliance) but also describes their structure, ranks, social order and so on. My plot had made assumptions about how these structures looked (particularly in the case of the Empire) and, since I was guessing, it’s currently slightly adrift.

Each faction is very different indeed, and right now I can’t give away much about them other than that they exist. There should be an official opportunity to see some of that detail in the not too distant future however.

My target to start writing remains the 4th of March, and there is still quite a lot to resolve in advance of that. I’m hopeful that I can still stick to my timeline. Frontier is very busy right now, and the writers are only a small part of that, so we are encountering some turnaround time delays.

With the demise of the Wolf 630 system from my story’s perspective, my focus in the last week has been on figuring out the dynamics of a workable location. This is also a work in progress, but I’ve found out how to model customised starsystems within SpaceEngine, so have ‘created’ a solar system of my very own.

For the technical amongst you, here’s the code that generates a frozen rocky world on the edge of the solar system for instance.

Planet                   "Amphithea"
                ParentBody     "Drew’s Test Star"
                Class          "Iceworld"
                Mass            0.02
                Radius          1000
                RotationPeriod  1407.509405
                RotationOffset  291.2
                Obliquity       7.01
                EqAscendNode    48.42
                Albedo          0.8
                NoAtmosphere    true

                                SemiMajorAxis  6.2
                                Eccentricity   0.02
                                Inclination    0.12
                                AscendingNode  147.899288
                                ArgOfPericen   293.0924
                                MeanAnomaly    315.726316

And this is what that piece of code generates, clever, eh? In this fashion I can create an entire solar system for exploring and taking future imagery.

A new world is born...

A new world is born…

Once I’ve got this locked with Frontier I’ll give a tour of the system. To whet your appetite, and loosely tie back to the title of this blog, the planets and moons in this system are named after Greek myth characters.

My primary location will be a moon called ‘Chione’, orbiting another planet called ‘Daedalion’. The system itself is still to be confirmed.

Other issues I’m dealing with are involved with aligning terminology across the story and game. Some of this exists, some has yet to be decided. Technology is another fuzzy area right now, particularly in respect to hyperspace – which will be a key point for many plots I would imagine.

I mentioned before that I need the plot nailed and signed off before I commence writing. That position hasn’t changed, so the longest way round is really the shortest way home and, infact, is the only way home. 😉

On a different but related note, here’s another little treat. A few months ago I was commissioned to write a short story for Chris Brind, who is putting together a board game called ‘Trade Frontiers’ based on the premise of exploration, trading and combat. A kickstarter is due before too long and I’ll let you know when it’s up. The story has been turned into an audio graphic novel which will be used to promote the game when it’s available. This is the first time I’ve had my work turned into an audiobook, so it was a new experience for me. Enjoy…

See you next week.

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