I wrote last year about attempting NaNoWriMo; at the time, I talked about working on one of my novels, Fall, and how I was often writing at a Socorro, New Mexico staple, El Camino Family Restaurant. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic and the general population's utter refusal to just wear a damn mask as a collective for two weeks (which really would reduce our numbers drastically and immediately), this really isn't an option this year. I must do my writing "in exile", in isolationfrom home. Even the local eatery to where I actually live, the Mayhill Café, is presently closed due to a Coronavirus case among its wait staff. (And frankly, right now, it would be highly improper of me to both impose myself on such an establishment for my own personal reasons, and to give any service staff any further stress from potential disease by my doing so.)

I've been doing the same thing essentially to finish up my undergraduate careerthis is my last semester, and given the current stresses of the world, it's in everybody's best interest that I take my classes from home. As such, I haven't been making my weekly trips up to Socorro, rather sitting in front of my television and interacting with the class that way. (If you haven't seen my YouTube videos as Schizoid Gaming, I have a full recording system in front of the TV!) This brings with it its own stressors, but in general, it's been fairly chill; I'm taking Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics, and Advanced Radio Astronomy, the latter being a graduate-level astronomy and astrophysics course I'm taking more in anticipation of acceptance to grad school, with the intent of eventually going for a Doctorate in Physics with Dissertation in Astrophysics. In other words, it's not at all essential for my bachelor's degree, but it's something I'm basically taking for fun. And it has been!

For NaNoWriMo, my overall project actually consists of two different projects, for which I'm hoping to collectively hit the 50,000 word mark. The first is the aforementioned novel, Fall; I haven't had much time to work on it this year, and last year's NaNoWriMo was fairly lacking on my part. In truth, I'm hoping to finish the book by the end of the month. The second project is actually an animated feature-length film script I've been working on, tentatively entitled Sexecution. It's an adult-oriented film about a pansexual rat trying to redeem himself in the eyes of a world that effectively abandoned him. I'm a big fan of the concept, of course, and would like to get it done by March of next year, as I (tentatively) have plans to travel to Los Angeles at that time for unrelated reasons.

Finally, Werewolf Spy has been undergoing some growing pains. I am still working on the game of course; however, at present, the game has stalled for external reasons. Once those reasons have been taken care of, which I hope to do in the next two weeks, the game's script is the next item on my platewhich might end up being part of my NaNoWriMo experience too. We'll see.

In the meantime, be careful out there, and stick to itwe'll get through this thing.

2019 has been a breakneck year for "us" (read: me) at CORAX studios, as the first year of any startup company should be. We officially organized as a Limited Liability Company through the state of New Mexico. We attained new logos, both for the company and our first-announced offering, Werewolf Spy. What I haven't shared here is, Werewolf Spy has officially been allowed as our Trademark within the United States. With this, a timeline emerges for the coming year: We hope to have at least a Kickstarter backing campaign for Werewolf Spy by the end of June 2020. As a result, feelers have been sent out for freelance 3D artists to assist in making our dream become reality. (And hey, if you know any who might be looking for work, send 'em our way! We also wouldn't mind finding some 2D / 3D animators.) We've also reached out to a number of illustrators to assist us in our vision as well, to produce further marketing materials and possibly related stuff.

Werewolf Spy is not our only concept; however, it will clearly be our first offering in the video game market. We're looking forward to sharing more progress as the year begins, and possibly even more titles to be announced before 2020 is over. Keep an eye out! We don't want any news sneaking by.

In my personal life, I'm one year away from graduating with my Bachelor of Science in Astrophysics, with minors in Mathematics, and Optical Science and Engineering. I've begun my graduate-level education already, having taken a year-long course in scientific research and communication, wherein I researched a lack of visible hydrogen within certain regions of the galaxy Messier 81, and plan to continue that education in 2021. In the first part of 2020, I'll be writing another research paper on the use and utility of a new instrument being introduced to the optics market, that I'm hoping to get published in the regular proceedings of the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers, or SPIE. (Did you know I'm also an astrophysicist?)

We hope the new year brings you great entertainment and enjoyment, and we hope to be able to provide at least some of that. Cheers!

Was reading a book at work, Indie Games: From Dream to Delivery by Don L. Daglow, talking about player churn, the overall loss of players that results in their almost certainly never coming back; the way he describes it, it's exactly what I experienced with the Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) Dark Brotherhood expansion, and I know I wasn't alone with that. VERY few games have done that to me, can count on one hand. Even Hey You, Pikachu! retained me. ESO, Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, Grand Theft Auto V, Final Fantasy XIII, and most recently Super Smash Brothers Ultimate. (Though maybe they actually fixed that one? Never went back to try it after the initial shock of JESUS this is hard.) Meanwhile, games that were balls-hard and DIDN'T lose me to "churn": The aforementioned Hey You, Pikachu!, which I came close to completing; Super Mario Sunshine, completed 100% with all Shine Sprites; Shadow the Hedgehog, completed 100% in every story path; Battletoads, which I never got past the speeder section but didn't stop trying as a child; Mega Man, qualifying as any of the series, many of which I have completed; and Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus, which I completed, just to name a few.

I think my biggest gripe with the games I just stopped playing was, they didn't feel fair. These games I kept playing, they were extremely difficult, but it was like, it was clearly my mistake when I failed. I missed the jump. I didn't see the solution. ESO? Dark Brotherhood questline, one of the first quests was literally impossible to complete solo, and from what I could tell, it wasn't planned to allow multiple players into the area together. Castlevania: Circle of the Moon? First enemy you encounter, you CANNOT KILL. GTAV? Wouldn't let me SAVE without dumping me into a mission. FFXIII? Aside from being Final Fantasy Hallway, there was a boss about halfway in that was just impossible. SSBU's issue was so notorious Nintendo released a patch to tone it down.

I guess the whole point of this rant is, it's good to know that I'm aware of what makes a game challenging, and what makes a game bad.

It's been a while since I made any sort of progress post here, and frankly, the reason behind that is simply that I haven't made much progress. Time has been something of a premium, a luxury commodity not afforded to me; in particular, school has been consuming an inordinate amount of the stuff, between An Introduction to Research and Scientific Communication (Part 1, of which Part 2 I completed over the spring semester), Atomic and Nuclear Physics, and Astrophysics III: Plasma Physics. On the plus side, I'm on my way to my undergraduate degree by the end of next year! (At which point I hope the school accepts me into its graduate program; I'm giving a talk about some research I'm doing here in two weeks, so, hopefully I shine.)

When my time isn't being consumed by that, the month of November is National Novel Writing Month. For those of you who don't know, the event, also known by its abbreviation "NaNoWriMo", is a month dedicated to the art of novel-writing; the idea is, you attempt to finish writing a total of 50,000 words within 30 days. I'm... WAY behind, only at a little over 2,000 words after two weeks, but the point is, I'm trying; I'm using the month as an excuse to push myself, to get anything at all written down so my books can progress.

Yes, in addition to being a game designer, I'm also an author; my first book, Journey to Fire's Keep, is presently available wherever books are sold, and the sequel, currently titled Fall, is what I'm presently working on. I don't want to get too into the nitty-gritty for fear of spoilers for the first book, sufficed to say it's a high fantasy story taking place in a world where magic is understood as a science, where many what we might consider modern amenities coexist with more medieval themes thanks to said sciences.

I've been doing the bulk of my writing in the same place I tend to do a lot of my writing, a little restaurant in Socorro, New Mexico, called El Camino. It's a 24-hour diner, a popular hangout spot for other students at New Mexico Tech; their food is decent, but really I go to get in the zone, to settle into the mindset of writing. It's almost meditative. In Socorro, during NaNoWriMo, it's a popular spot, and in fact a friend of mine has been hosting little write-ins there for that same purpose.

This week, I worked towards finishing Chapter 10: Haunt; in it, a number of characters spiral downward in their various conditions and vices, as support structures that had been in place wither away and the threat of new conflict looms ever-larger on the horizon. It's kind of a downer chapter to be honest, but as a result it's pretty fun to write!

That's not to say I haven't been doing anything related to CORAX studios; far from it. In fact, Wednesday, my first "day off" in quite some time, was spent writing several individuals on the subject of Werewolf Spy's direction, including a particular artist for whom I would love to design and illustrate the "cover" for the game. I also finally began mapping out the specific setting, giving the game someplace "real" in which to take place; Arcady goes to hang out with his friend Isaac in the Valley Peak Mall, and it is in this place that the events of the game unfold.

I essentially grew up in malls. There were three big ones when I was growing up in Cincinnati: Tri-County Mall, Forest Fair Mall, and Kenwood Towne Centre. When I was born, my mother was working at the former, at a small specialty clothing store, and continued to work there until I was about three or four years old; as my dad was an ironworker and other members of my family were often also working, it was not terribly uncommon for mom to take me with her to work. It was in this place that I learned to sew, as the store had their own tailor on-site; it also served as an early primer of what malls are like for employees of such establishments. After my dad broke his back, my mom took a different job at a relatively-new store in the relatively-new Forest Fair Mall; once again, I was often in tow, learning the ins and outs of a big anchor store in such an establishment. Finally, in my high school years, while she did not work in the mall proper, she held a job in a store across the street from the Kenwood Towne Centre, filling out my experience with the totality of the malls in the area. (There was also the Florence Mall, but that was in Kentucky.)

So, as a result of this, I've been drawing on my own experiences in building this new setting for this game of mine. I have no doubt it will come out amazing, but I hope that you folks find it fun to hang out in a virtual mall as well. And hey, good luck out there, those of you participating in NaNoWriMo!

Introducing to the world officially, CORAX studios! Developers and purveyors of phenomenal games.

We're a company based in New Mexico with some big ideas for games! And to go with our big ideas, we now have a big logo, courtesy of Sonia Kandah! We feel this logo properly portrays both our delve into the world of video game development, as well as our unbridled interest in presenting deep, interesting narratives in a heavily-visual medium. Keep watching, and we hope you look forward to our coming presentations!