Below is the dusty compilation of all that was posted in the past. (Goes back to 2016!)
Read on if you'd like to see the nonsensical, broken-promise-filled ramblings of my years of learning how to do anything at all.
"Calling All Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft"
Nov 3, 2019
Yes, I'm still active.
Yes, I'm still alive.
Very alive! Or very not... Which is it?
I haven't been working on Junicka Valley, but my deadline of finishing the first draft is still set by the end of 2019. I'm in the second half of the last chapter. You know, the climax and such.
It's... painful to write, to say the least. I unconsciously backed away from it for a little while.
That's what I always do. I reach a good stride in a project, suddenly trip on a tiny pebble, and fall face first into a brand new dream.
But... YES, BUT!
I've learned to get back up! I'm still running!
Running! And fast!
A new project, a new dream, but the same old ones too. I can't stop chasing them now. There aren't any more races to run.
Junicka Valley is still the main focus. But Amulet has been pushed further into the future. I wanted it to be some deeply strategic, yet strongly thematic, Eurogame/Ameritrash blend. But you know what? I'm just not good enough yet to do that. (But I will be some day.) So I told myself I needed to make a card game. A simple one too.
But, it of course grew beyond that, as it always does. Because as I've learned by now that simple is much more difficult to create than complex. But at its heart it's straightforward. And I'm holding to that.
That's all you get on the game!
As far as writing goes, I put the lock down on Junicka Valley a long time ago. I CAN'T WRITE A SINGLE DAMN THING UNTIL I FINISH IT. (Even though I'd love to start my short story book.)
Now I have that law embedded into my game design. I CANNOT MAKE ANYTHING ELSE BESIDES THIS DAMN GAME.
So onward I go
"Years and Years"
July 26, 2019
I sat down today with the goal of writing a beautiful blog post. I was going to muse about the passing of time and such and such. But you know what? I hate writing blog posts. I really, really do.
Phew. I'm glad I got that out there. For years now I've been pretending to give a damn.
Even though I'm a writer, I generally hate talking about things. I'm more of a wu-wei kind of guy.
So how about I change this whole thing up and just write what I want to say and get on with my life?
(Can I apologize in advance for my brashness?)
I started Jupiter Valley Studios in 2016. I also started my novel, Junicka Valley, that same year. So what the hell happened? It's 2019 and I've got shit to show for it.
Ah! Wait! But I do!
Junicka Valley is finally nearing completion. I'm writing the last chapter. (And trying not to lose my mind.) I'm prepping for the edits. (My favorite part.) I'm planning its publication. (Oh boy, oh boy do I have a lot of work to do.). And readying myself to hold in all the vomit I'll want to spew out when facing the social media demands. (I already apologized, remember?)
Junicka Valley has been a strange book to write. To be honest, I don't remember much of it. (The process, that is.) It's just been this sort of vague companion that's been with me through thick and thin.
But I do remember the day I started. The book opens with Remy Jones.
Ah, Remy Jones. He's my twenty something self through and through. Empty. Yet full of... something. Just like every other character I wrote back then. But he's grown alongside me, and here I am staring at a character with depth and meaning.
Or characters I should say.
Remy Jones. Jasper Oaks. Lisa Swift. Nia Clark. Detective Mori.
I never knew I'd know people that don't exist so well.
[INSERT QUIRKY, WELL CRAFTED TRANSITION TO MY NEXT TOPIC]
(I already reminded you that I apologized.)
I'm going to GenCon soon. I'm pretty pumped about it. As much as I seem to hate socializing online, face to face I have a blast. (Okay.... okay... blast is a bit too strong. But I do like it.)
I'm using the whole time to (play board games) build up my business and work on getting this ball rolling. I finally feel like I'm becoming the kind of writer, creator, entrepreneur, man, and human that I want to be.
The best four days in gaming will be my turning point.
Hey! Speaking of gaming, Amulet: City In The Sky is my newest non-existent masterpiece.
As I've said before, I'm learning to prioritize. And that means that Junicka Valley is getting 100% of my time right now. But before I went into last-chapter-mode, I created and refined a board game that I really, really do have hope in. (Notice I'm as pumped about it as I am bummed about blog posts.)
Junicka Valley took so long to write because I would stop here and there to focus on my game design. Now I've got a ten-ton chest full of game ideas and half-crafted prototypes. And sitting right on top is Amulet. (Right beneath it is Crossbones, by the way.)
I think I've finally drilled it into my head that board games should be fun above all else. That sounds ridiculous, but it's not so obvious as it seems when you're crafting mechanics. It's easy to get stuck in making it all work, without even thinking about if it's fun for the players involved.
I'll write more about Amulet and Crossbones later. Junicka Valley too.
I hate blog posts, remember? So I'm done now.
But you know what? I like them a lot more when they're written like this. I think I just need to pretend I'm talking to a friend, instead of the internet at large.
-Thanks for reading!
"Keep On Keeping On"
February 22, 2019
It's been what? Five months now since my last post? Well... good riddance! I'm learning to prioritize, and what I'm learning most is that to really focus on the things that matter, you're going to have to neglect the things that don't.
That's not to say that the website doesn't matter. It's just that it doesn't matter as much as actually getting work done. (Nor as much as taking care of my four month old child!) At this point in time, and for all of time really, what Jupiter Valley Studios needs more than anything is completed projects. Blog posts aren't going to build a business.
...but they will build a brand, and it has been far too long since I last wrote. If I'm going to do this right, then I need to engage the outside world. I can't let my reclusive artist side control things. I've got to get my creations out there in the open. That's always been my biggest struggle. And as I grow nearer to the completion of my book and games (nearer... but still so far!), I'm going to have to build momentum for them. I can't expect to just complete them, then bam! they're in the hands of people. I've got to push them out there like none other. The world is saturated with books and games and music. How else can you stand out? Sure, you can build a reputation for yourself, then the works do fall into the hands of others. But at the beginning, you've got to build things from the ground up.
So, without further ado... PROJECT UPDATES!
Junicka Valley! The novel is getting closer and closer to being finished. I took a bit of time away from it recently to focus on my board game efforts, but I've now jumped back in and have my sights set on the finish line. I've got about two chapters left to write. Then holy hell I'm done with the first draft! It's only been three years in the making now!
And then after that all that comes the revisions... YES! I love revisions. It's like molding your well intentioned lump of clay into the shape you actually want it to be. And let me tell you, this lump of clay needs some shaping. It's been a chaotic ride, and I know my writing is going to need lots of refinement. But that's a good thing. What this book needed was passion. My writing often misses that mark, and instead lands into the realm of melodramatic cliches. But not this one. It's been a pure outpouring of whatever comes to my mind and heart. And boy, has that been something else. The imagery in this one has been a blast to write.
I know I've given dates in the past before, and I know I've upheld absolutely none of them. But this time it's true. (Trust me, I've learned from my mistakes.)
Junicka Valley will be published by the end of 2019.
I made a rough logo for the book, as you can see above. This certainly isn't what the finished cover design will look like, but its nice to have a something visual to stand for the project. I've done the same quick logo design for my other projects, as you'll see below. It really helps give a solidity to goal that isn't yet complete.
So... my other projects!
This one came out of left field, but maybe that's exactly what I needed.
Crossbones is a two-player abstract strategy game with a strong pirate theme.
Now I know abstract strategy games don't really have themes, but this one has a theme in a way unique way. Crossbones is an abstract strategy that exists within in a world of pirates. It's a game pirates themselves play. It was as a fun idea to come up with. I pretty much sat down and thought, what kind of game would pirates play? It would have to be simple, yet strategic. Something a captain could strategize over, or a drunken shipmate could bet away his life's gold on.
I'll have a post written up on it soon, along with a static page for it under the board games link. I'm not going to give any dates yet, as the game is still fairly early on.
And then there's.... Amulet!
Not the Amulet I've been working on for a while now. That game has been scrapped. It was a wonderful practice project in game design. Its mechanics were solid, and designing its components was a blast. But what I learned most was that solid mechanics don't make a fun game. It was dry as bone.
But! Its spirit lives on in its name. Amulet has been shifted into a whole new game. It's become a light role playing game with card and resource based mechanics. That's about all I want to give away at this point, as its even earlier on in production than Crossbones.
It too will have a page up under the games section, along with a post with more info sometime in the future. I'm thinking if I get on here to write my experiences with game design, it will actually help me think about my process so much more. Let's just see if I can find the time though!
So there you go! That's the direction JVS is heading right now. I'm pretty happy with it.
Time to get back to work!
Thanks for reading.
"Introducing: Lion's Tooth Design Works"
September 15, 2018
Did I really promise another post by the end of August? Sometimes I don't know what gets into me.
No more promises! I've adopted that philosophy in the rest of my life, so why not incorporate it into Jupiter Valley Studios as well? That's not to say I can't hold true to my values, beliefs, and actions. I'm just bypassing the whole promise part of things. It only mucks things up with all sorts of useless emotions and heavy ideals. (I'm looking at you, self-loathing!)
Rather than making promises, I'll just do what I need to do. For example, instead of promising to have a new post done by the end of August, loathing the idea of writing one so quickly, and then not getting around to it until halfway into September, making me look like an ass, I should have just worked hard to get it done it as soon as possible. Easy as that.
So there you go, no more promises, I promise.
But as for the blog, I really do wish I could work on it more. The problem is any free time I get is devoted to writing Junicka Valley. (I'm pretty sure I've made that excuse before, yeah?) Half the time I just don't have all that much to say either. (I know I've said that one before.)
This post is getting nowhere fast, so let me turn your attention to something worth talking about!
I've started a graphic design company called Lion's Tooth Design Works. It will be a separate entity from JVS, but the two will be intimately linked. The projects created by JVS will be designed and packaged by Lion's Tooth, while Lion's Tooth will be heavily influenced by the art and style of my work at JVS.
Lion's Tooth Design Works came about because a huge change is coming. Later this year, my wife and I are expecting our first child.
That's exactly how it feels. (In a very good way.) The explosion of love coming into my life has pushed me forward more than anything else ever has. The purpose and drive burning within me is practically catching my heart on fire. I'm writing day and night to get my book done. I'm planning future projects in a logical and goal oriented way. I'm becoming more disciplined and focused. And I'm starting a graphic design company because it's what I'm good and and dear lord will I need more money.
So, expect a few changes on the website in regards to LTDW. While it won't be the same company as Jupiter Valley, it will have a strong presence here. There will be links and contacts information available shortly.
That's all for today! Thanks for reading! Time to get back to work...
August 2, 2018
It's been far too long since my last post. Every time I dedicate the time to work on one, I end up giving the outside world a big, resounding "meh."
I spend so much time writing Junicka Valley that when the time comes to write something non-fiction my brain is totally warped and empty.
I thought about going back and reading my old posts. It'd be an interesting journey to recollect all that I've done since Jupiter Valley's beginnings. But I can pretty much sum them all up in my head as it is. Lots of lofty dreaming and vague hints at work getting done. And that's been my life for quite some time now. It's a problem, for sure. Getting work done is hard with your head in the clouds. But lately I've come to accept that I like dreaming my life away. After all, life is a dream in the first place, isn't it?
Well, maybe not. I think its somewhere in between. But that's all beside the point. If only I could get my feet on the ground long enough to turn a few of those lofty dreams into realities, then I wouldn't have to drift off into the sky every free chance I get.
But good news! That's exactly what I'm doing now. Turning nothing into something.
How about an update on Junicka Valley?
The book has gradually evolved into an all out epic. I know that can be a disaster in an author's early career, but that's just the way things are going and I can't stop the story train now. I suppose I always knew it would turn out this way. The world of Junicka Valley is massive one, despite it being about a small town. But I've never worked on something at this large of a scale before. If you've kept up with my previous posts, you'll know that project stamina is a struggle I've been facing forever. (Oh, I do enjoy those dream clouds...) I easily get distracted halfway through projects, losing steam when the going gets tough. The fact that I'm building towards something well into 500 pages is daunting.
But day by day, my work discipline gets better. And day by day, the story gets told. I'm writing Junicka Valley in an episodic manner. Almost like a television show in my head. Right now I'm nearing the final few episodes, and boy is it intense. It's like trying to organize chaos into an entertaining, thought-provoking, coalescent whole. I wish I could say it's always a pleasant experience. But truth be told, there are days when I dread returning to the psycho thriller world. How pleasant it would be to drift off into some peaceful fantasy instead...
But that's when I have to be strong. Stick to it, Sam!
I wish I could say more about the story, but that will all come in due time. What I can give is a more solidified timeline as to when it will be finished. (Just ignore all the old timelines that I've given.) The first draft of it will be completed by this October. Afterwards, there will be months of editing, and reediting, and re-reediting, and so on and so forth. After all is said and done, my publishing goal is for late spring/early summer of 2019. (That seems so far away, but as time has told me, it will be here before I know it.)
My three main hurdles will be facing those terrible days of nihilistic writer's block, holding off the millions of new ideas knocking on my door, and actually pushing the book out into the wide, terrifying, people-that-are-reading-it-aren't-me world.
But as I've said before... がんばります!
Changing the subject, I'm going to Gen Con! It's always a wonderful experience, and I'm fortunate it takes place here in Indy.
Board games play an integral part in the future of Jupiter Valley. I want to be able to pursue the world of play in addition to the world of storytelling. The problem is I've had trouble formulating just how it is I'll jump into that world. There are a lot of factors that go into the development and sale of board games, and the decisions that I make will have big effects on Jupiter Valley Studios.
Anyway, Gen Con will be a fantastic catalyst to get my ideas going.
(I just have to make sure not to lose steam with Junicka Valley!)
Bah! Back to writing....
Expect another post by the end of August. I can promise that!
March 29, 2018
I've beaten my writer's block. The story moves onward.
But the path is still uphill. In fact, it's steeper than it ever was before. It feels like Junicka Valley could slip out of my hands at any moment. I can see it tumbling down the mountainside and shattering to bits; all because I wasn't strong enough.
Yes, I'm still learning Japanese. It's turning my head upside down, and I love it. I've come to find how complacent and routine my means of expression and understanding are. Learning a new language is opening up all sorts of new ways of thinking about the world. And the routine of study itself has been a wonderful return of structured growth to my life.
Speaking of growth, Amulet is reaching a really good stage in development. I've chiseled away at it's problems, and now it's all about playtesting! That's admittedly going to be a hurdle for me. I've got no community in place. It's going to take a lot of self-motivation to get out there and socialize.
I've just got to remember...
February 22, 2018
I've got writer's block, and it feels terrible.
I need a good daydream. Those seem to do the trick.
Or sometimes it's all about willpower.
(You've got to be your own doctor in these kinds of situations.)
Whatever the means, I'll find my way.
"End Of Year Update"
November 27, 2017
Yes, I'm still here. I know it's been quite a while since my last post.
I've gone into full novel-writing mode, which means I hardly get anything else done. It's a difficult, rewarding, time-consuming, joyous, chaotic, serene thing to do. (Yup. All those things.)
I started my book, Junicka Valley, almost two years ago. Though I haven't been writing on it that entire time. I wrote for about half a year, then for some reason or other I left it in the dust. A year or so ago I picked it back up again, though not very seriously. It wasn't until recently that I kicked myself into gear and got to working on it with full force.
It's taught me a few things about my less than perfect working habits. Most noticeably that I look for distractions. It's not easy for me to get into the zone and stay there. I'm always drifting around on the breeze of my thoughts. But I'm trying harder to focus. I have to if I want to succeed.
The book is coming along at a great pace. I feel like I'm actually making progress, even though I've still got a long way to go. It's not something I'm going to get done overnight, which is difficult for me to accept. I've got so many ideas in my head that it hurts to stay working on a single one for so long. But these things time, a lot of it. I've got to dedicate myself to them fully, or else I'll never get anything done.
In the past I've put out work that should have been edited a million times over. I was in such a rush to get them out the door that I accepted the imperfect state that they were in. That's not going to happen this time around. Junicka Valley is turning into quite the amazing story, and I want to give it the time and attention that it needs.
I originally said that I was going to finish the first draft of it by the end of this year. While I'm making good progress on it, I don't think that's going to happen. It's looking more like the beginning of next year, with publishing happening by the end of that year. I'm not too upset about the delay. The leaps and bounds that I've made in my work ethic have given me the encouragement to continue on.
As for the story itself.... I don't want to give away too much. It's a psychological, modern, fantasy, thriller, I suppose you could say. It's all centered around the town of Junicka Valley and the strange things that happen there.
...that's all you get for now!
My biggest conceptual struggle with it is trying to balance the mood. I'm having trouble keeping the story from sliding too deep into a dark, horror-filled tale. That's not what I'm going for.
Sure, I do want a serious, gloomy, terrifying edge to it. But ultimately its not a horror novel. I want the absurd (and not-so-absurd) beauty of the story to bring a lightness to the reader. There needs to be an uplifting theme to the story, along with a decent dash of humor. That's a difficult thing for me to do. I've always had a hard time keeping away from the melancholy.
Anyway, the book coming along. I never know what to say about works in progress. I suppose I've got to change that if I'm going to keep this blog up to date. I really do want to post on here more often. It's just that my projects take the lead compared to my social output. But maybe I'm just making excuses. I think the key with posting often will be simply write naturally. The bulk of what I do is for my novels, so I'm used to that medium. It's a long, detailed process. But for a blog, I just need to get across what I have to say. It doesn't need to be a masterpiece each and every time.
As for Amulet, my card game, it's still in development. It's taken a back seat to Junicka Valley, but its certainly not going away. Play testing needs to be continued, and game mechanics need to be fleshed out. Not to mention the design! (I love design. I have to force myself to not let it get in the way of what really matters, the meat of the project.)
I'm still learning Japanese. I'm proud of myself for that. It's not always easy to self-teach, especially a new language. It's coming along at a slow, yet consistent stride. My brain is filling up with a new way of communicating. I can't wait for the day when I can actually speak, listen, write, and read in fluency. It's a beautiful language, and a beautiful culture. I'd recommend to anyone that they learn a new language if possible. It opens up all new ways of thinking.
Lately I've been discovering two unfulfilled paths in my life that I'm going to pursue again. First off is drawing. Growing up, I loved to draw. I did it all the time, up through my teenage years. Then it disappear in the melange of twenty-somethign life. I'm practicing it again whenever I get the chance. Having the skills to illustrate my own projects would be amazing. It's something that I think will greatly benefit JVS.
Secondly, I've rediscovered my love of video game design. It too was something I did when younger, but it fell away when I hit my stage of dreading anything on a computer. Recently, though, I started playing a game that's really inspired me. Stardew Valley. It's a top-down 2D farming/social life sim, and it's an addictive blast to play. It's got amazing pixel art, amazing music, and amazing mechanics and a style. But the most inspiring part of it all was that it was entirely created by one person. Eric Barone (ConcernedApe, as if calls himself) worked on the game for four years. It was a labor of love, thats for certain, and it's inspired me to push forward on all of my goals, including a new one, which is video game design.
I know that I often pile on goals without ever reaching them, but I feel like that's changing. Yes, I've got countless projects planned out, but each one of them has an important part to play in JVS. There are so many beautiful mediums to express yourself, and I want Jupiter Valley to be a well-rounded studio that can facilitate that. The success of my goals boils down to my day-to-day willpower to get things done. I've got to climb my mountain of dreams! Video game design, my newest endeavor, will take a long, long time to accomplish. But I know someday that I will.
Oh, also, music is floating around in my head like a sailor lost at sea. Someday he'll find land, or at least a cozy little island to be stranded upon.
So.... to boil it all down....
I'm writing novels, making board games, learning to draw, designing video games, learning Japanese, and trying to continue making music. (On top of family life, social life, personal life, and work life!)
I'm trying harder than ever to be the best that I can be. Mindfulness is necessary for that, and every day I try to focus on being genuinely in the present moment. (But I've also got to take the time to do nothing at all, or else I get burnt out.)
...well, time to get to work.
See you in 2018!
Thanks for reading.
July 26, 2017
Amulet is a card game that I've been working on for quite some time.
The idea for it started a few years back with series of images in my head. A circle, a triangle, and a square. This triad of simple shapes, for some reason, wouldn't leave me alone. Every time I tried to create something, they were where I ended up.
So I decided to just go with it and see what I could do.
The first idea that came to life was a system of advantages and disadvantages. It's an oft-used staple of game design. Rock, paper, scissors, is the most basic example. But this concept, I soon found out, was far too simple for anything serious to be made of it. The closed circle of strengths and weaknesses creates a perfectly balanced system, and it does this to a fault, removing any sense of meaning behind the choices you make. I would have to add something to the mix that would give a purpose to the player's decisions. Having a reason behind your choices is one of the most fundamental elements of game design.
So, I pushed forward and began to develop the system further. At first I began to develop an RPG that used the triad of strengths and weaknesses in its battle system. This bloomed into something much larger than it was ever planned to be. It became an epic story, an all-out adventure, and one hell of a project. It was a momentous task, one that I felt I wasn't yet able to fully handle. So I gave it up (temporarily!), both for the previously mentioned reason and because it was so drastically off target from what I originally intended to make. (I have a soft spot for RPGs, and I too easily get enthralled by the idea of them.) Originally I wanted to create something simple, yet skillfully complex. I wanted to make a game that was in its essence refined to being nothing more than a game in and of itself. Elegant, strategic, and natural.
So I moved on to the next idea.
I found myself stumbling upon yet another theme-heavy project. This time I would at least try to keep the complexity of the rules down. Thus, Lock & Spell was born. It was, and is, a game in which rival thieves attempt to use enchanted keys, lock picking skills, and powerful spells to get into magical chests of fortune. The creation of it was a period of growth for me. I learned a lot through the success and failure of my designs.
It's in the nature of game development to want to create an enthralling story and style to go along without your mechanics. (Or, sometimes, it's the other way around.) I think that's for good reason, too. Themes are half the fun. They're our key into another world. It's a huge part of what inspires me to make board games. It ties closely to with my desire to write stories, though in a more tangible way. But, I wanted to make something without an identity seperate from the actual game itself. The theme would come when the players played it. Their actions, their decisions, their strategies would tell the tale.
And so, yet again, I changed direction.
It was this third iteration of the project that led me to what it is today.
A card game for 2 players
There they are, those damn shapes. They've faced life and death many times before ending up like they are now. But I've already talked all about all that, so let me cut to the chase.
Just what is Amulet?
Let me give you a quick, basic overview. (I hope it does the game justice)
Players are dealt cards, like the ones above, which they must use to outscore their opponent. Points are awarded for winning face-offs. A starting player chooses a position to play their card upon facedown. The opposing player then plays their card facedown upon the opposite position. The turn then goes back to the starting player, who places an amount of strike tokens ranging from 1 to 5. (Strike tokens are a limited resource throughout the game.) The other player then follows by placing their strike tokens. Once both players are done with the turn, the cards are revealed and a winner is determined. This is done by adding together the card's face value, any strike tokens placed, and any advantage/disadvantage tokens earned. (More on that in a bit.) The winner is the player who has a higher score. (In the case of a tie, the win goes to the advantaged card.) After the face-off is complete, scores are marked, and it is the opponent's turn to choose which position to play upon next. The game continues in this manner until all 5 positions in the first row are complete. Afterwards tokens are returned and a new row is played beneath the first one.
A basic win upon a position gives the player 1 point, while the loser gets 0. There are ways to gain more points, however they come with a risk. A set is three adjacent cards of the same value but with different suits. If a player wins the final position in a set, they gain 3 points. If they lose, however, they take a loss of -1 point. Runs are another way to raise your score. They can be even more profitable than a set, though their risk climbs as well. A run is two or more adjacent cards of the same suit that form a sequence of numbers. A win upon a position in a run scores +1 point to all cards within that run, including itself. A loss, however, punishes the player with -1 point to all cards in the run aside from the one just played.
It's within this system of card placement and risky point rewards that Amulet finds it's core mechanic. During a face-off, if a card has an advantage over the other, that player gains advantage strike tokens. Meanwhile, the disadvantaged card gains disadvantage tokens. These tokens add to and subtract from, respectively, the total strike value of a player's move. This begins to take a heavy toll on player actions when placing cards. It can be a risk to going for a run or set, since your opponent may be planning to block your attempt with a card that would have an advantage against you. But, for all you know, they could have their own agenda going on, setting up a future move while ignoring your current move. Hell, they could even lack the right card to stop you from scoring. So, do you go for it? Or play it safe? And once you place your card, just how many strike tokens should you play?
Once both rows are completed, the round is finished. After a certain amount of rounds, the player with a higher score wins.
That pretty much sums up the basics of the Amulet. There are other rules here and there that keep the game running smoothly, but it's too early in production for me to get into many details. As I've learned from playtesting before, everything that you thought was perfect could actually be entirely flawed. I suppose I'll discover just what needs fixed, since I'm moving into the playtest stage now.
I'll be sure to post as much content of the game as possible. I want to keep everyone up-to-date with it, and when the time comes to publish, I'll be hitting the internet with all that I've got.
This is it. This is what I've been working for.
"Three Two One Let's Jam"
June 29, 2017
Alright! I (just barely) got a post in this month.
I have to admit the website has fallen a bit short of what I had planned. Any free time that I get is spent working on my main projects. Junicka Valley is coming along great. And so are the few games that I'm working on. It's my online presence that's lagging behind.
I really want to make this website a place to share my writing and artwork. I want to create something that people stop by to read every once in awhile, not just for updates about what I'm doing, but for the content that I publish.
But how can I find the time to get so much work done? Should I let the website get in the way of my projects? I'm pretty sure the answer there is no. Those are my real focus here. So that means I'll have to invest time found elsewhere.
But elsewhere is just as busy, if not more so. Real life things like family, and work, and taking the time to do nothing at all. (One of the most important things to do in life.)
I'm still learning Japanese, which takes a lot of time and effort. I'm also trying to get this body, mind, and soul of mine into tip-top shape. (Which, despite the large amount of doing that this entails, it ties rather closely into the whole doing nothing thing as well. Our sanity and well-being, I believe, both depend upon a recurrent stillness in our lives.)
Just when am I supposed to find the time to write about Japanese cinema? Or European literature? Or an artist who's work I just discovered last week? I've got books to write. Games to develop. A family to love, a life to live, and a universe to explore.
I don't really have an answer. I guess that's why I wrote this post. I just have to do it, is all.
May 19, 2017
Thanks for stopping by.
Today's post will be a brief project update.
First and foremost, Junicka Valley.
The book is coming along at a pace just as strange as the story itself. Some days the pages flow easily, while others I'm lucky to finish a single paragraph. The hardest part of it all is dealing with my own bad habits. My most productive days are the days that I've gotten out of my own way. I've got to focus, I've got to let the creativity flow, and I've got to persevere.
(Yes, I'm still learning Japanese.)
I've always been the kind of writer that went into projects with a strong theme and goal in mind. While those facets can be a good pillar in designing a story, it puts a serious damper on your writing when you let them take control. Instead of letting the story go where it needs to go, you force it into an awkward direction. This time around I'm trying to write with a much larger mindset. I'm viewing everything from multiple directions, especially the reader's point of view. I want the pacing to be natural, the action to be elegant, and the story to be mesmerizing.
(Oh, and I want all of it to be absurd.)
My other project, Lock & Spell, is still in it's early testing phase. In fact, I've been away from it for the past few weeks in order to focus more on Junicka Valley. (I've been away from all board games here recently.) While I've let it simmer in my mind, I've come to realize exactly what I want to create. I want it to be a game that can be played without a tremendous amount of investment. I don't want overly complex rules and mechanics. I want simpicty. I want the players to be able to sit down one evening on a whim and play the game naturally.
But that's not to say I want something shallow. My favorite analogy is in the video game legend Tetris. Everyone knows it as the game thats easy to learn, but difficult to master. Many of the best games are that way. Rules that wont bog you down for hours, gameplay that flows naturally, and a compelling, strategic depth that reveals itself with time.
As for the website, I plan on continuing my blog posts featuring other people's art. (I'm not sure what to call them. Reviews? Analysis? Features? It's all of those and none of them.) I've got a couple movies to write about, and perhaps a game and book in the near future. It's a fantastic outlet for me to write without some huge, daunting project hovering above. Plus I love sharing the amazing things I experience in life. So much good stuff out there!
I also want to develop the website more. The publications, board games, and music pages are all still empty. That needs to change! Even if I don't have any solid projects to put there yet. I've finally settled upon a design for the website, so now that that's in place, I can focus on content.
That's about all for today! Keep an eye out for more!
"Pancakes, Bicycles, and the Absurdity of Death: The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien"
April 13, 2017
"I am completely half afraid to think," says the nameless narrator in The Third Policeman, as he gazes at an infinite series of intricate boxes containing smaller, exact copies of themselves. And in that one short remark the entire theme of Flann O'Brien's absurd novel is held. It's a tale that is at once thoroughly comedic, thanks to the fantastic wordplay, ridiculous scenarios, and almost-slapstick style of dialogue, yet at at any given moment also devilishly frightening.
After all, it opens with the following...
"Not everybody knows how I killed old Phillip Mathers, smashing his jaw in with my spade..."
A murder, right from the get-go. And by the narrator nonetheless. Yet the story doesn't linger on the macabre for very long, nor do its most terrifying facets present themselves so easily. Instead it pushes you forward into a bizarre world of dark, surrealist humor. (Think of it as Kurt Vonnegut, Gabriel García Márquez, and James Joyce all rolled into one.) After talking with a dead man about the color of the wind, and running into a one-legged thief while hiking the Irish countryside, the narrator discovers a not-so-normal, two-dimensional house. Inside, the bulk of the story unfolds as a few very odd policemen besiege the protagonist with overbearingly eccentric, yet bafflingly witty, dialogue. Both the reader and the narrator are thrown into a sort of dazed confusion as to what's going on. You find yourself reading simply out of curiosity at this point. For the most part that's no problem, but there were times I felt eager for the whole thing to get moving on. And while the strangeness of the characters and their ridiculous interactions can be a riot, I couldn't help but feeling relieved when I was left alone with the narrator's thoughts. It's in his mind that the story's unspoken theme is held, and I continually wanted to dig my way past the surreal, outer world in order to find the true meaning of what was going on.
This isn't simply a story of weird things happening to weird people. It's about the grand joke of it all. The sad punchline to life. The main character is a murderer, which is easy to forget. You get so caught up in the craziness of what's going on that you lose sight of what's really happened. It's not until the very end that it all begins to coalesce into a frightening reality.
Death is absurd, and life is an insoluble pancake.
Also, most people are at least half bicycle.
The Third Policeman is a wonderful book, and it's a shame its not more well known. It was rejected as being too fantastic when O'Brien first submitted it. (Did I mention the many footnotes dedicated to the bizarre life of an insane savant named De Selby?) And it sadly remained unpublished until after the his death. Even now it gets mostly pushed aside. (At least here in the States.) I definitely recommend giving it a try, especially if dark, absurd humor is your thing. I won't say you'll leave feeling uplifted, or even much the wiser, but you'll at least learn to laugh at the jokes that haunt us the most.
"Sniper In The Brain"
March 14, 2017
How about an update?
I've been under the weather for the last few weeks, which put a damper on a lot that I wanted to get done. I was rather sick, more so than I have been in a long time. But I must admit I've got a tendency to let any mishap in my fleshy machinery to fully get the best of me. I'm a melodramatic hypochondriac that falls into a fevered state of nihilism as soon as something goes wrong with my body. Which means when I got an agonizing throat infection I shut down completely.
Junicka Valley took the biggest hit in the last few weeks. My writing seemed to flow like rotten molasses, and I got absolutely nowhere. However, since I've grown quite familiar with the strange ways my mind goes about doing things, I quickly adjusted my focus upon game design. It came a lot easier to me when I was feeling down, and I think that's due to the escapism I feel when burying myself in mechanics and design. Writing is most certainly an escape, that's true, but it requires a unique endeavor to reach that point of immersion. I've got to create the world I'm escaping into before I can escape into it. With game mechanics, I'm falling into a world that already exists. A world of rules and logic and mathematics. I'm exploring more than I am creating, and I suppose when I'm sick my mind is more apt to roam about than it is to stop and build a world.
So, whilst in my sorry state, I was able to make quite a bit of progress on Lock & Spell. The game has finally reached a point where its theme is synchronizing with its mechanics. For the longest time it just felt like a card game. Match the rights suits and numbers, then voilah! You're done. But now it's finally starting to feel like what it's supposed to be portraying, which is unlocking treasure chests with keys imbued with magical spells. Now I just have to PLAYTEST PLAYTEST PLAYTEST! The spells need balanced, the cards need refined, and most importantly the player's fun factor needs to be put into the forefront.
With all that said, I'm finally feeling well, which means the blank pages of Junicka Valley are back in front of my eyes. It'll be a struggle to get my writing up off the ground, but as soon as the writing clicks back into place I'll be drifting along with that wonderfully strange story once again.
On top of the many JVS projects I'm handling, I've got a mountain of personal goals to accomplish. I've taken up learning Japanese, which is both satisfying and tedious. I've always been captivated with Japanese culture, and learning to experience that culture more intimately is incredibly rewarding. But I'd be lying if I said that I went into each study session with a head full of enthusiasm. Learning a new language can be tiresome, especially after a long day's work (the 9 to 5, money-making kind), and before a long night of work (the 24/7 life-goal kind). Yet despite all that effort, I continue to want more. I've become enthralled with the idea of becoming fluent in another language. Discovering a brand new way of communicating has kindled a peculiar flame within me. As the years have passed by, I've felt myself solidifying into a certain way of being. And while that's not entirely bad, there are quite a few things about myself that could certainly stand to be changed. Learning Japanese has helped me break that mould. It's a way for me to think outside my usual self, and a way for me to grow.
(Not to mention all the rad benefits.)
(Hello, video game imports!)
(Hello, samuai flicks!)
(Hello, incredibly unique art and culture!)
I'm also starting to get into some hobby electronics, notably retro gaming modification. My first endeavor is to modify a Gameboy Pocket. (I've always had a soft spot for that monochrome legend.) My plan is to install a backlit screen and a bivert module, whilst hopefully not destroying my beloved handheld in the process. I'm going to do some practice projects beforehand, in order to fine tune my skill. Perhaps I'll post a few of them on here.
That's about all I have for today.
If only there were more time to get things done.
Oh well, that's life.
Thank for reading!
January 19, 2017
Hello, and thanks for stopping by.
Today will be the beginning of something entirely new for both myself and the JVS blog.
Up to now I've only posted about various topics related to Jupiter Valley. (Books, board games, and my never-ending, semi-neurotic artistic volatility.) But moving forward, I'm going to use the website as a constructive outlet for my writing.
Artwork by Hirō Isono
For someone that considers themselves to be a writer, I sure don't write very much. The only time my words ever meet the page is when I'm working on one of my novels. Otherwise, I keep everything locked up inside my head.
The same could be said about my life as a whole. Just ask anyone that knows me personally. I hardly delve into a discussion much longer than a few sentences. I'm even apt to keep quiet on things that I would consider myself passionate about.
"I've just never felt the need to share what goes on in my mind," is what I was going to write next, but after reading it over and over again, I realized that it wasn't quite true. Sure, for the most part I prefer keeping my thoughts confined. In fact, it feels somewhat low brow and self-centered to share myself with others. (Especially in regards to our modern outlets of communication.) There's a sacredness to playing it cool, to keeping a respectable detachment from the world. But its an outright lie to say that I don't feel the need to share my life with others.
The real reason I'm reserved is multifaceted. For starters, there's my above mentioned desire to be the lone wolf in a crowd of babble. But there's also a fundamental difference between my mind and its means of communication. I don't have the words to say what I want to say. Nor am I sure such words even exist. Does this imply a fault in my way of thinking? Am I simply being ignorant? Is my mind out of tune with the world? Or is the limited nature of language itself to blame?
The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle. (As with most things.) My lack of frequent writing and communication certainly puts a damper on my ability to convey myself well. Yet at the core of existence I can clearly sense an evident valley between experience and description.
(I don't have the time to write about the philosophy of language, nor do you want to hear my somewhat uneducated viewpoint upon it. So I'll leave it be with a quote from Wittgenstein. "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.")
Apathy is another source of my reclusiveness. It's easy for me to simply not care, even if I really do. What's the point in getting involved? Why tangle myself up in something frivolous? Especially if the outcome could be less than pleasing...
Fear. A large, yet hidden, facet to my solitude. What if what I say is wrong? Or even worse, what if what I say is ignored? My thoughts are like seeds, frail husks that encapsulate everything that I hold true. And I've always been afraid that if they were to leave my mind and grow, they would become nothing more than withered, old weeds in an old, withered world.
What then would be left of my mind?
Nothing would be left of it. That's what.
But wasn't it nothing from the get go? Isn't that why words can't explain how I feel?
It's high time I squeeze out all these thoughts of mine and see if I can't get them to grow. Who cares if they wither up and die? At least they'll get to see the sun.
So, just how will I sow my mind?
Perceptions. Retrospections. Articles. Essays. Poetry. Prose. Analysis. Expositions. Puns.
Whatever it takes to say what I need to say.
To begin with, I'm going to delve into a topic that is sure to frequent this blog. The review and analysis of other people's artwork. There are so many amazing artists out there in countless different mediums, and it's through their creations that I find inspiration for my own endeavors.
I've never seemed to have an able voice to express what I feel in regards to art. If I like something, then it's good. If I don't, its bad. And that's about as far as my analysis ever goes.
It's not to say that I don't understand the subtleties behind the books and movies and music and imagery that I take in. It's just that I quickly arrive at the wide valley between experience and description that prohibits me from saying what I truly want to say. And often times I feel it's better left unsaid anyway.
But I think, perhaps, that if I work my creative muscles a bit, I might be able to jump the gap and find that there's a world of expression just waiting to be discovered. The benefit to my ability as a writer would be enormous. (And I'm sure my social life wouldn't be for the worse, either.)
With all that said, I'm in the midst of writing a handful of articles that will soon be posted here. It's hard to find the time to get things done at a steady pace, but I hope that my recent momentum continues to build and I find a way to accomplish everything that I've set out to do. I've got lots of plans for myself this year. (Which will someday surely be a topic for your reading pleasure.)
Before I leave, let me get into some details regarding the current JVS projects.
Junicka Valley is coming along well. I've jumped back into the novel with a good stride. (Not to say that there hasn't been the expected hiccup or two.) It's a fun story to write, and I hope that it will be even more so to read. There's quite an eccentric side to the writing, so working on it alongside the more down-to-earth blog should be beneficial.
Lock & Spell has had a small amount of playtesting done, and from what I can tell this early on there's definitely a solid game hiding in it's framework. So far the main critique that I've felt myself is that it's missing the intuitiveness that I was aiming for. If I could just discover a way to make it run more smoothly, then the true fun of the game could come out.
Amulet has taken the rearmost seat compared to my other projects, but that's not to say it's completly neglected. I have to keep in mind that I'm just one person, and learning to properly allocate my time is incredibly important. With that said, I plan on working more into its multiplayer mechanic sometime soon.
Keep an eye out for my next post. It should be up sometime in the relatively near future. I'm going to try to become more active on social media as well, so you might just find me posting on Facebook and Twitter. (Which, for me, will most likely be the most difficult thing of all. I've got a strong aversion to social media, so it's going to take a bit of effort to keep it going.) I'll be sure to post more frequent updates on my projects there, since it's hard to dedicate a whole blog entry to the progress that I make day to day. If you're on either of them, any shares and likes are always well appreciated.
Once again, thank you for reading.
December 20, 2016
Things are moving forward. (But when are they not?)
I've finished up the first prototypes of both of my games. All of the components and rules have been refined through solo playtesting. Now it's time to get them into the hands of others, which is one of the most important stages of game development.
Just what are the games? Before I reveal them, let me get sidetracked and ramble on about something-or-other.
In my last post I stated that I was going to begin work on a rewrite of my previous book And The Young Gods Killed Themselves. In an unsurprising twist, I've changed direction and will not be working on the story. While it is something I would like to do (and perhaps through an entirely different medium other than the novel), now is simply not the time. I was merely creating a diversion for myself. It was an easy way to avoid writing something new. But something new is what I need, so I'm jumping back onto my most recent project. It's one of the three books I've started but never finished.
Junicka Valley. A surreal story about an in-between town and an in-between time. It's going to be fairly absurd, but I hope that its cast of characters can bring a genuine human sentiment to the tale.
(On a side note, the naming of that novel played a big part in the naming of Jupiter Valley Studios.)
I won't reveal much more about the book as of yet, but I will say this.
Junicka Valley will be published by the end of 2017.
There. It's in bold, so it must be true.
If you haven't gathered by now from my previous posts (and this one), I can be extremely capricious when choosing what to work on. It's something I've been trying to fix for a while now. (Though I must admit, my whimsical ideas aren't without their benefit.) And it's also something that's weighed heavily on my intentions for this website. I want to be able to post regularly and often, but I don't want to post shallow goals and fleeting ideas. I've got to find the perfect balance between a solid business front and a captivating personal blog. There's a rhythm to be found somewhere, a measured swaying between lofty conceptions and solid goals. I haven't quite found the right beat yet, but hopefully as time moves on I will.
With that said, it's a weighty thing for me to reveal a project. You know my faults by now. You know that I can easily abandon my ideas. If I were to start and quit something yet again... well, it would be another self-loathing nail in the coffin, so to speak. But that's exactly why I need to post my projects here. I need your help to get them done.
So, on to the games then!
Lock & Spell is a two-player card game that I developed with the goal of creating something simple, yet in-depth. I was aiming at along the lines of say, Tetris. Incredibly easy to understand, yet very difficult to master. The game itself revolves around the notion of using keys and spells to unlock chests. The theme will be minimal, however. (There's no epic spell cards being thrown around! Just different suits and numbers in a deck.) I wanted something that was approachable to everyone, yet has a subtle flavor that makes it unique. Hopefully the balance between luck and strategy will be pretty even. I'm sure playtesting it will reveal its scattered flaws, but that's exactly what why it needs to be done. If the game is going to work, it's rules have to be seamless.
Amulet is a one to two player tile-placement puzzle game. I don't have many details to share about the multiplayer variant, as its still in heavy development, but I can explain a little about the the single player mode. Turns are spent placing numbered, colored gemstones down in rows. The player must observe a small handful of placement rules. (Which I wont get into here.) The end goal is to have that row's total equal a specific number. Shorter rows of gemstones are worth more points than longer ones, so the player is aiming to make each placement useful. It sounds simple, and by design, it is. As is the case with Lock & Spell, Amulet was meant to be uncomplicated.
In the next few weeks I'll have posts dedicated to each of the games. I'll go into more gameplay details, as well as publishing goals. I'm excited to have the two projects up and running, and I look forward to sharing their development with you. I have tons if things I want to write about on this website, and having actual, working projects on-hand is one of them. It can lead into a variety of topics that are directly, and indirectly, related to their design.
That's all for now! Once again, thank you for reading, and stay tuned for more updates.
October 19, 2016
Three books and two albums. That's what I've made in the last six years.
Most of it was created over two years ago, with my last project being completed in December of 2014. Since then I've been erratically doing nothing at all. Days and weeks and months and years of searching for my next creation, yet only ever finding half-finished ideas that fade away.
(I was about to say, "That is until now." But if I'm being genuine, I've got to admit I've yet to make anything at all.)
(...that is, if you don't consider my past.)
From There To Here To There (2010). My first album. It was a enormous thing in my life. (It deserves a better eloquence, yet that's exactly what it was. A thing.) It was the first heavy step up my mountain of dreams, and it brought immense joy to see it through. From then on I knew that I had to make more things if I were to be happy.
Broken Forward (2011) was my second endeavor at music, and the entire process felt like standing below an avalanche of glass. Nothing came out right. I was too lost in life to focus, and it showed. Something was missing from it all. Something important. But, I finished the album nonetheless, which is an accomplishment I now truly understand.
The Endless Drift. (2012) Oh, what an incredibly first-book kind of book. I tried to write every single idea I had into the story, killing the whole thing in the process. There's not much else to say about it, other than that it had some decent attempts at beauty, and some terrible attempts at everything else.
I'll skip my next completed project and come back to it in a moment. For now, it's Unfantastic (2014), the most recent book I've written, and the last thing I've made. All in all I'm pretty satisfied with how it turned out. While it certainly has its faults, I know that I'll forever look back on it with amazement. It brought together everything I wanted to express in life. It was genuine, through and through.
So, there you have it. All that I've slaved over for countless days and nights can fit nicely in a few shoddy paragraphs.
But that's okay.
I'm moving on.
I'm packing it all up and stowing it away.
Except for one thing. A book by the name of And The Young Gods Killed Themselves. I wrote it in 2013. To this day I consider it to be the best thing I've made. I worked hard on that book. Night after night, sitting at my kitchen table, as greedy mice ran around my cheap apartment, I read and I planned and I wrote, wrote, wrote.
What came out of that time was a strangely dark creation. The fruit of all my labors was bittersweet. And I watched as it rotted away, leaving behind an odd seed that's been sitting in the mud of my mind for some time.
Now, it's ready to grow. Which is why the first publication by Jupiter Valley will be a rewrite of ATYGKT. In its long, strange pages of half-poetic prose lies one hell of a story to be told. So I'm remolding it from head to toe, with my end goal being to shape it into what it deserves to be. It's a (re)project that I'm incredibly excited for, and one that I believe will be an important production for JVS.
There you have it. Two games, one book. The first heavy steps up the mountain of my dreams. (Every step's the first, I found out.) Expect to have more updates soon.
If you'd like to delve further into my past, check out www.townstowns.com.
I didn't mention any future projects in regards to music, since I've got to keep my focus on what's at hand. With that said, it's certainly in the works for Jupiter Valley. (Towns isn't going away forever.) Also neglected in the post was my visual art. It's never been the center of my focus, so in terms of being a major project it's sitting on the backburner. But it most definitely plays an important role in everything I make, especially game design.
Once again, thank you for reading. See you soon.
October 11, 2016
So, just what is it that I'm hard at work on?
As I mentioned in my previous post, the largest creative difficulty I have is my lack of a sustained focus. (I suppose you could say that it's one of the greatest difficulties I face in life as a whole.) I'll start out strong on a project, living and breathing it day in and day out as if it were the single greatest that I could ever create. Then suddenly, slowly it dies.
(Yes. Suddenly, slowly. Crack! Pop! Fizzzzzzzz.)
What was once a work of beauty is now a drab and dull task. An exciting idea becomes naked and mundane. My creation becomes a burden. Then, I see something gleaming in the distance.
"Now that's where I belong," I say, dropping everything and marching off towards the future. I turn around one last time to catch a fading glimpse of what was just held tight within my hands. It lies there alone upon the ground, and I gladly leave it that way. "I'll return when the time is right," I tell myself. (I've got a forest of abandoned ideas in my head just waiting for me to come back.)
"Yes, this is it," I smile, finding my newfound creation. It feels exactly right within my hands. "This is what I should have been doing on all along." (Crack! Pop! Fizzzzzzzz.)
So, wouldn't it be unwise for me to focus on multiple projects at the same time?
The answer used to be yes.
I started getting into the idea of making a game last spring. (Well, really, I've been thinking about it all my life.) I was at the time in the middle of writing my next book. (Which is now growing quite tall within my forest of forgotten dreams.) The game was to be based upon that same book. I had the whole thing planned out. They would launch at the same time, and of course both would be wildly successful. But as I worked on the game, the book slowly disappeared from my thoughts. Every time I sat down to write, nothing came out. All I wanted to do was work on the game. So that's what I did. I worked and I worked and I worked, and in the end the game fell apart, and I was left with nothing.
So, yes, two projects was unwise. Why then would it work now?
Because this isn't just me anymore. This is Jupiter Valley. This is an endeavor beyond myself. I've got to think like Jupiter Valley would think. I've got to plan like Jupiter Valley would plan. That's why I created JVS from the start. To change myself, to alter how I create, and to form an outlet for all that I make.
With that said, the very first project for JVS was a rather large one. I don't quite want to unveil it yet, but I can say that its has heavy role playing elements and is... *gulp* single player.
At first I thought it was exactly what I needed to be making. Something unique! Something bold! But then I started thinking outside myself. I started thinking like a production company. Would the best first project be an in-depth role playing game that supports only one player? (Just typing it out gives me goosebumps, proof that it's not going to end up as a wilted plant in the woods of my mind.)
No, it wouldn't be the wisest project to begin with. Which is why the first game that JVS makes will be much more player-friendly. It's an adaption of a game thats been bouncing around in my head for some time. I plan on unveiling it very soon, so keep an eye out. All that I can say right now is that it's a two-player card game that involves bluffing and keys. (You know, the kind that unlock stuff.)
So, I'm working hard every day at both the primary project (the two-player card game) and the secondary (the solo role-playing game). I'm balancing the two in correct proportions, knowing when to focus on what. (And not letting myself jump into another, new project.) When things become a mess, I step outside myself and slip on those Jupiter Valley shoes. (They're pretty snazzy too. Let's say sunset-colored suede.)
This is where I apologize for rambling on, but this time I'm not going to. You wouldn't be reading this is you didn't want to. (Though do bear with me. I'm not especially used to writing non-fiction for a crowd. I may very well amble about aimlessly until I get the hang of it.)
Once again, thanks for reading. As I said before, keep an eye out soon for the unveil of my first project. Not to mention the rebirth of an old one...
"And So The Sun Rises On Jupiter Valley" Sept 20, 2016
Hello there! And welcome to Jupiter Valley Studios, a brand-new existence as of today.
(If you don't count the time it's been floating around in my head.)
Just what is Jupiter Valley Studios? For now it's merely a humble beginning. (Which I thank you for being a part of.) But beyond that, it's a fulfillment of the dreams that follow me every single day and night. It's an endeavor to create. (That pretty much sums it up perfectly.)
I suppose I should jump back a bit and explain who I am.
(I'm terrible at self-introductions, so let me slip into character...)
"The name's Sam," I say, before taking a long drag from my cigarette. I let the hot smoke drift inside my lungs, as I ask myself just who this Sam person is. Turns out, I can't quite answer the question. "Sam Kennedy," I finally add, exhaling a cloud of frail gray. "But you can call me..."
And there you have it. That's pretty much me. (If I were in a film noir... Or was it western?)
I've been working at creating things all my life. For a little while now, I've been working on books and music under the pseudonym Towns. And while that name certainly has prospects in the near future, it's time I stepped up to bat myself. And that goes hand in hand with the creation of Jupiter Valley. (More on that name in a bit.)
Jupiter Valley Studios (let's call is JVS from here out) came into being as I worked towards a new goal in life—board games! When I say it out loud, it sounds a little underwhelming. Board games? Really? But these strange little activities are so much more than what they seem. When we play them, we escape into a world of thoughtful imagination, yet at the same time we bond with ourselves and with others and with the world here and now. (I'm starting to ramble, so let me bring it back down.) What I'm trying to say is, board games are marvelous. We all need to play, both with our hands and our minds, and board games give us the opportunity to do just that.
So, as the prospect of making a board game became a possibility, I realized I would need a way to actually publish it. I read up on just what it takes to get a game made, and after reading blog upon blog of depressing advice, I decided that I would go about this my own way. For those of you familiar with the books and music of Towns, this will sound quite familiar. I've always taken the self-published route. At first I ridiculed myself for doing so. It seemed like an easy out. But as time moved on, I realized it was because I didn't just want to design something. I wanted to make it. I wanted to craft it into exactly what I wanted it to be. And as I thought about this peculiarity of mine one evening, the idea of JVS hit me. If I'm so into making things, why not start a company that does just that? (I can give you a million reasons why not to.) (But also a million and one reason I should.)
From then on it was settled. I was starting a board game company.
But, as much as I loved the idea of producing games, I knew that deep down I would need so much more. One day, out of the blue, I'll obsess over a book that I'll have to write. Then before you know it, a song will be born in my head that will have to come out. And by the next day I'll be chiseling away at some new game mechanism, or painting an image that's stuck in my mind. It's the way I've alway been, and the way I'll always be. So, instead of being a publisher of one specific thing, I'm going to turn all of these obsessions of mine into a single cohesive group.
A company that simply creates.
So, there you have it. Jupiter Valley Studios, maker of things and stuff.
Okay, maybe not everything. Focus, Sam!
A strong focus is something I've lacked in the past, and its' something I've been... focusing on for a while now. And thus arose the other reason for Jupiter Valley's existence. It's a means to organize my goals and guide my projects. When I'm just fiddling about, making whatever I want, nothing ever gets done. But now, with a cohesive idea to guide my creations, and a public awareness of what it is that I'm doing, I hope to keep in line and complete what I begin. (Scratch that. Not hope. I know that I'll complete what I begin.)
With all that said, the first endeavor of JVS will indeed be a board game. It's what brought me here, and it's what I'll begin with. The idea of it has been stirring like mad within me, and every night that I sit down to work is a night that I feel right in what I'm doing. There's something mesmerizing about melding strict rules and mechanics with pure, fun play. Not to mention I get to throw in a handful of storytelling and a mountain of imagination.
Be sure to stay tuned for more info on just what it is that I'm developing. It's not quite at the stage that I feel comfortable sharing. But that time will come soon enough. (I've got a whole post brewing in my head about the process of actually sharing my creations to others.)
So, let me backtrack yet again, this time to explain the name. (Not Sam, mind you, but Jupiter Valley.)
Jupiter Valley Studios. Just what does it mean? In a way, it means nothing at all. But in another way, perhaps it does. It's place outside of normal life. (Or is it even deeper into it?) You could say it's fun. Or you could say it's serious. You could say that it's anything at all. (Or nothing, depending.) I even had a grand entrance prepared, a descriptive vista of magic and sunshine. But I decided to skip all that and just go ahead and get on with it. I'll let my creations do the magic.
Well, that's that then. I've rambled on for long enough. Thank you for reading, truly. Be sure to follow, for there'll be lots coming in the near future! I've got a tremendous amount of plans for the website, exciting projects to announce, and countless posts for you to enjoy.
See you again soon.