Friday, February 21, 2014

Blue Harbor: Interactive Fiction with a Dark Side

Blue Harbor is a journey into the shadows of the mind. It's the story of a young girl determined to keep secrets to protect men who didn't protect her.

A virtual simulation of the old Athen's Asylum, created by Max Neely, has been a driving force in my telling this interactive story.  When Dorthea Dix first fought the battle to get the mentally ill out of basements and chains and into medical facilities, asylums were believed to be an enlightened and innovative treatment for mental illness. This virtual hospital is a replica of the therapeutic architecture that was part of that grand design. The reality of institutional care did not live up to the dream. Mental illness, in the words of this girl, is still a puzzle we can't solve. This abandoned hospital is a monument to that.

This story takes place across the hypergrid in Opensim. The asylum scene jumps from Opensim to  Karpov region in Second Life. For those who can't  go to Second Life there is an Opensim Alternative scene. I recommend the Second Life version. The stark surroundings lend emotion to the crisis that is hard to duplicate anywhere else.

I had been going though the hospital removing the creepier things--pools of blood and skeletons. And the silly things--sheet ghosts. I thought the ruins of the hospital statement enough without the moaning zombies and the horror movie music. But during bug-testing I got to thinking that those Halloween creep-show elements served a purpose. The hospital with it's labyrinth of rooms and many levels serves as a symbol of the mind. The tentacled creature hiding under a trap door in the bathroom is just the kind of thing that leaps out at you from a dreamscape, a shadow element of the mind we don't want to look at, think about, or examine. It's rooted in the secrets we bury deep and accidentally get trapped in when emotional pressure pegs the stability meter in the wrong direction. I decided to leave the rest of the ghouls in the build, allow them to add their own level to this journey.

There have been points in the making of this story where programming bugs and virtual world quirkiness conspired to make me question my own sanity. I had objects saying things I didn't script them to say. Sometimes they said things other objects were supposed to be saying. Other times all the objects decided to taunt me, saying the same thing no matter which I clicked, like children mimicking something I said. Objects disappeared, rearranged themselves, reappeared, stalked me. Don't believe the stalking? Check out the TV in scene two. If it follows you into the yard, please push it back inside before you leave.

The main character in Blue Harbor calls herself and uncomfortable subject we want to put away. That puzzle we can't solve. She is making me live those words. Her story, these settings, make me uncomfortable. We start out by looking at ourselves in the mirror of her reality. Looking in that mirror presented plenty of puzzles. I thought I knew where the story would end but she had other ideas. I thought I knew which day we would launch but she had other ideas.

So what do you do when paranormal activity takes over your tale?  I'm going to pretend it's all buggy code. I'm going to tell myself I left the bugs there for their artistic value. I hope one or two of you will take the challenge this troubled girl is throwing down and join me in discovering what she has to teach us. Enter her mind at your own risk.

Hypergrid Address:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Taking Storytelling to the Next Level?

Taking Story Telling to the next level? Yep. Today my flash fiction, a Letter to Charlie, becomes an interactive game on OpenSim.

Story-telling is changing, and the writers of Greyville, a group of authors, who’ve banded together to tell tales in the metaverse, is launching its first interactive set of stories. Nara Malone, the mastermind behind Greyville, has spearheaded this venture, teaming up with Fred Beckhusen and Whitestar Magic for game scripting, and the authors are ready to reveal their worlds. The writers have created an interactive game, allowing readers to explore their worlds as their story unfolds on the screen.

Transmedia story telling is taking the literary world by storm, and several authors have created short-fiction, ranging from 500 to 1300 words. These stories are deposited throughout the metaverse, and as the story unfolds, readers are able to be transported to the different areas, chosen by the authors, and often constructed and decorated according to the author’s desires.

The stories launched today include “A Letter to Charlie” by Tina Glasneck; “The Twisted Circle” by Shara Lanel; "Blue Harbor" by Nara Malone; and "Incubus Dream" by Siobhan Muir. There will also be poetry and lyrics from Jeff Cuneo, Oshi Shikigami and Nara Malone.

But, Greyville is also taking things further, by including the original art and photography from Endora Twinklens.

To participate or play the game, please visit Greyville at
~Tina Glasneck
Leanr more about Tina and her books at

Monday, February 17, 2014

Hypergrid Stories Project Launches

The big launch day has finally arrived. If you've dropped by Greyville recently you probably saw authors frantically flying to and fro, slamming their avatars between pages  of giant books, and applying creatively negative and special names to prims that refused to do what they were told. We've crashed regions, deleted temples, and prims have mysteriously migrated to new locations in the night. Despite last minute nerves and bug stomping, we're finally ready to show our new babies to the world. I'll introduce each one in alphabetical order by author.

A Letter to Charlie

A Letter to Charlie, a Spark Before Dying Flash Fiction Tale: Veronika knows what life inside the strip club means, but when a man comes offering her a chance at redemption, she can’t help but give in to his kindness. Every decision has consequences. This is flash fiction connected to the Angels Cry novella – a part of the Spark Before Dying Series.

The Twisted Circle

Star wanted the challenge and camaraderie of working magick with others, so she gave up practicing as a solitary witch and joined the Black Waters Coven. What she discovers is a history of murder and a quest to find someone who may not want to be found.


Blue Harbor

Blue is a young girl full of secrets. Determined to protect the men who failed to protect her she stops talking. When her family decides she is an uncomfortable secret that needs putting away, Blue has to find a way back to sanity and freedom. Blue Harbor is an award-winning flash fiction/poetry mash-up adapted to interactive fiction for this project.

Incubus Dream

Cassie knew dreams could come true, but she'd never expected a dream to be this real. Ivan needs a rescue, and only Cassie can do it, but dreams are tricky, the dreamer easily lost.

All of the stories above are told in-world in scenes created by the authors. Some of the stories include elements of gameplay.  Start in the park to the left of the landing area in Greyville. ( Choose a story to follow. walk into the book. Yes, I mean walk forward until you smack into it. You will be teleported to the first scene in the story. When you've discovered all the pieces of story in one scene, you'll get a landmark to the next scene. 

All the stories are short, between 500-1300 words. You'll be transported through about half a dozen scenes. While we try to make it obvious where the gameplay is contained we hope you'll explore the lovely regions the stories take you through. Grids around the metaverse have donated space to our project. While none of these stories are erotic, some are romantic. Two have sets in Redlight Hotel, the adult region of Next Reality grid.  One takes across the garden wall into Second Life. The idea here is to showcase regions and build a stronger community across the grids. I know all of the authors involved have made new friends and discovered new places to play in the metaverse as a result of this project. We hope you do too.

Poetry and Art Trail

For those a little too strapped for time to take in a whole story, we have a poetry trail featuring works of Oshi Shikigami, Jeff Cuneo, Nara Malone as well as original photography and art from Endora Twinklens. You will find blamgates to take you to those sites at the same location as the stories.

Other Participants

This wouldn't have been possible without the scripting wizardry of Fred Beckhusen and Whitestar Magic.  Mike Hart took time out to help with props and set building. Shawn K Maloney and Endora Twinklens did our bug testing.

Participating Grids

Next Reality Grid: Redlight Hotel from Mike Hart
Metropolis: Independetly Spoken from Crystal Brewton
Craft Grid:  Spirit of Arcadia: Cogtown from Virtual Christine, Pitcairn: 111shawn from Shawn K Maloney, Aquarium from Tao Quan
OS Grid: Virunga Mountains: from Debbie Edwards and Fred Beckhusen,  Transmedia Learning 1 and 4 from Nara Malone
NarasNookGrid: Greyville, Quarterz City, Siobhan Muir 1, Tina Glasneck 2, Series, Shadowling Manor, and Theria from the  Greyville Authors
Second Life: Phaze Demesnes from Debbie Edwards and Fred Beckhusen, Karpov from an anonymous donor.

Our project will be in place until St. Patrick's Day with a few bonus settings to be added before the end. Have fun, and please take time to explore the hosting grids. Feel free to share this post and promote the project in the metaverse.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Persistance of Magic

It's all code. If magic happens it's just a bit of code somewhere doing something logical that you hadn't accounted for when reasoning through the process. Maybe.

Despite the fact that it all makes sense--it doesn't. Despite the fact that it it's all completely, practically, logical--magic persists.

When you're done meditating with your NPC buddy and he levitates just like the yogi's of old, then launches out the window to go floating around the sim... Well, what do you call it?

I get mail.  "You probably know about this," the users say, "but I just thought I'd let you know--there is a tree sitting in the middle of a house in Greyville, someone's hair is floating above the counter in the cafe, an entire winter wonderland scene is floating in the air above Holodreams, there's a flying tiger in your swamp and he's frozen mid-leap."

I did know--well, not about the hair. I accidentally conjured most of it--well, not the tree. I feel like that witch on TV, the one who always got her spells jumbled up.

Laughing, wait until yogi Rob goes whipping past someone. Or imagine the mail I'll get when someone drops into Shadowling where my ghost kitten follows visitors, meowing and purring until the opportunity arises to push them off a porch. Which she does. Unfortunately she follows them over the ledge. I'm always finding her in the moat. How do I find her? It's one of those magical things, I'm the only one who can see her.

I might be the only one who sees the bald NPC who occasionally appears in the Crate and Barrel. He's dressed in camo boxers and is standing with his with his nose in the corner.

Magic persists in more practical but equally mystifying ways. Poor Siobhan works hard all afternoon to learn how to make prims she can manage from the game controller. That evening I get an IM from her. Frustration shimmers in the text. "The game prims have vanished from my account! They're all gone! Gone!"

I check her account. The prims are gone!  Panic! Please don't let mine be gone too.

I check my account. What to my wondering eyes should appear? Yep, all Siobhan's prims snuggled up to mine. Way more preferable to having all the prims just vanish into the mist. But why?

As the other strumpets learn to make game prims their  prims sneak out the window every night. By the next morning my prim count has grown. It's like I am the cool prim mom and all the game prims want to live with me. So I moved the other mothers into my house. I think today we will see an exodus of all prims back to where they belong.

I won't torment your logic-loving minds with the tale of the floating text generated by script with no floating text component to it. Your brains are already frantically listing all the reasons why and how such and such probably happened. Mine does that too.

Some of this can be explained by operator errors. Some by code being pushed to do new things. Some by collision of one scripter's code with another scripter's code. Some by...?????

Maybe one day we can explain all magic away. But for now, frustrations aside, it's nice to find a corner of the universe where magic persists.

~~Nara Malone

You can learn more about Nara and her books at

Monday, February 3, 2014

Hypregrid Stories Project: Building Community Across Virtual Worlds

Our Magic Books donated by Whitestar Magic

Hypergrid Stories is a project we've been cooking up at Greyville Writer's colony for a couple of months now.

The overall goal is to build community across the borders of our hypergrid worlds while we are building stories to entertain the citizens of the metaverse.

Yes, we are even sneaking across the garden wall into SL and back with a scene from one of the stories. More on that on release day.

We've been quietly working with some grid and region owners already. We're amazed by the welcome and support our project has gotten. Whitestar Magic donated magical prim books. Fred Beckhusen contributed the brilliant game controller scripts. Mike Hart of Next Reality Grid has gone out of his way to help us.

Beautiful dressing room set Mike built for Tina
Peek in window at room he and Siobhan are working on.
Siobhan and Grizz slaving away over story plot in Redlight Spa
Dancer Martin in leopard thong inspiration.
Future home of bookstore for hypergrid authors at Redlight Hotel

Crystal Brewton, indie author extraordinaire and owner of Independently Spoken, was gracious about all our newb mistakes like forgetting to wear or group tags  and wondering why our prims disappeared.

 She's generously allowed us to take over cabins at her colony and build sets inside. She even parked her boat out on Nara's Nook grid in the Quarterz City region. I may have to put a poem in her boat.

Crystal Brewton's boat at Quarterz City.

Poem you ask?

Yes in addition to stories, Jeff Cuneo and I are putting together poems and song lyrics to set out along  a poetry trail. If any of you poets out there have a poem or two you'd like to add, let me know. We're also still looking for places to plant our poetry prims. If you have areas in your region you want to highlight we just need a spot to plant  the book we place the poem in and another prim to hold the script that goes to our game controller to deliver clues to the next scene.

Merrie Schonback, owner of the lovely new Pilliars of Mist world, agreed to host some of our poetry prims at some of her intriguing builds.

Amid the pillars in ruins on Pillars of Mist
Mine Entrance on Pillars of Mist
When the work is all done you will be able to step into one of the story books we will set out in Greyville Park and be teleported into a scene on another grid or region. Then the adventure begins with clues to find the hidden bits of story in each scene. When you finish a scene you will be transported to the next scene.

Yes, we do have plenty of interesting settings around Greyville and the Nook that we'll include too. But the point here is to to show off some other beautiful builds out on the hypergrid.

Good Karma Shop in Greyville

Tarot fortune-telling deck inside Good Karma

Author Shara Lanel's house in Greyville.

We're still looking for settings to put poetry. If you have areas on specific regions you want to draw traffic to we'll happily drop some poetry prims there. We also need a good spot for a Wicca based scene and a harbor of  blue water where you won't mind having a greenhouse floating for a few weeks. Project will be on display Feb 14 thru March 17.

If you'd like to be involved contact Nara: +Nara Malone on G+,  Nara Malone on Facebook , or email nara_malone [at]