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  • Sam Kennedy



How about some updates?


The first draft of Junicka Valley is mostly done. I say mostly because there are some rather large, loose threads that need tied up. And by loose threads I mean the ending . . .

You see, it's like this. Five years ago the book started out as an attempt to create something purely driven by plot. I had a tendency to focus on theme, motif, imagery, etc. But if I was to be a successful author, I needed to make something that people would actually want to read. You know, a story. So I built this big narrative in my head full of crazy ideas and epic happenings. I plotted it out and dove right in.

It went well at first, writing day after day. I was really loving the action of it all. But about a year into it something dried up. And it wasn't a problem with the book. It was me. Looking back on it, it was the beginning of my spiritual and artistic drought. I kinda lost all meaning for awhile. Regardless, a year or so after that hiatus I decided to give Junicka Valley a try again. While I was even deeper into my drought, I somehow started making progress on the book. I guess there was still a thread there tying me to what mattered.

I wrote halfheartedly for a few years, the story slowly taking shape. Then I had a child.

You'd think that would end it all right there. But nope. I wrote more than ever! I lived on quite literally zero sleep. Yet I had all this amazing energy. Physically, mentally, and spiritually. The book was really coming to life at that point. It was great! But, it didn't last. Not because I ran out of energy. It was because of what I was working with. The last chapter . . . it was like trying to do pottery with a knotted up ball of yarn. It just wasn't going to work.

The problem with writing something for 5 years is you tend to lose your way. That's especially an issue when the core of the book was supposed to be plot. So there I was, face to face with a real mess of a story. A beautiful mess, but a mess nonetheless. I decided, after a lot of deliberation, that I would let the ending go for now and instead go back to the beginning to bring it all together. I had lost the essence of Junicka Valley. I had 800 pages of some intense storytelling, but with no intimate connection to its roots. How could I possibly write a satisfying ending?

So, I'm going back to the start. I'm editing each page to completion. I'm absorbing everything. Readying myself for the finish line. When I get there, I'll have the essence of it all fresh in my head.

My plan is to have the book completly finished this year. As for physically publishing it, that may or may not happen in 2021. But the book will be done this year!

(And then I'll start the next one.)


Introducing Lock & Spell: A Game Of Fortunes.

It's a solo card game of luck, tactics, and fortune telling!

I read a really helpful game design article a bit back. (Like a fool I lost where I read it!) But the point that hit most with me was to keep your first games simple. I've always tried to make some crazy epic euro-style things, and that's just not going to happen. For one, I don't yet have the resources to actually produce such a work. And secondly, though more importantly, I don't have the skill set. While my design abilities have grown quite a bit through the years, I'm still very new at this. I need to start simple, elegant, and fun.

So with that said, Lock & Spell is a game based around luck. Though that luck can be managed by your riskiness and tactics. You're attempting to unlock 3 chests of fortunes. To unlock a chest, you must gain the three keys shown on on it. And to gain keys, you must play certain hands of cards (spells). These hands are fairly reminiscent of traditional poker ones, with some strong enough differences to shake things up. You draw a hand of five cards, and can choose to use that hand to gain a key if able. If not, you may place a token upon one of the keys, discard any amount of cards, and draw your hand back up to five. The problem is, if you gain a hand shown upon one of the keys that you've placed a token on, then you lose one token. Run out of tokens, and you lose the game!

There are a lot more game details I could go into, but this isn't the time or place. Just know that I'm hard at work refining the rules and, as I said before, making sure it stays simple, elegant, and fun.

Speaking of fun, if you unlock three chests, you get your fortune told! It's a cool way to add interest and replayabilty to the game. Not to mention a little bit artistic depth.

The game should be done this year, but like Junicka Valley, I can't guarantee when a publication date will be.


So there you have it. That's what I'm working on. (Alongside a billion other things in life that I won't mention here.)

I planned on writing more about the business and essence of what Jupiter Valley Studios is all about, but this post has gone on long enough. So expect that in the near future!



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