Brian Douglas Moakley: Wild World of Jezner

Writer, Developer and Aspirational Daydreamer

Review: Cell by Stephen King

This is an old audiobook review that I wrote for Cell. I originally published it on this site in 2014. And hey, what is old is new again so enjoy!

A long time ago in a college far away, I sat down with a group of other beginning writers and started my first creative writing class. After the instructor went through all the necessary business, he asked the class a very easy question. “What writer has had the greatest influence in your life?”

My answer was Stephen King. The room went silent like I had farted the national anthem.

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Alien: Into Charybdis Review

When the movie Alien was made in 1979, it sent shockwaves throughout the public. Whereas Star Wars featured a universe teeming with adventure for every daydreaming farmboy, Alien was a cold icy void where a horrible death was all but inevitable.

Had Hollywood moved on, I think Alien would have been thought of as one of those revered cult favorites that surf just over the crest of obscurity. But as we know, that’s not what happened.

Rather, one of the best and worst things happened to it. It acquired a sequel and because of that sequel, the legacy of Alien lives on. In this case, by a book written by Alex White, author of what I consider the best Alien book of all time, The Cold Forge. (I’ve read a few of them). Does this book hold up? Keep reading to find out in my Alien: Into Charybdis review.

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Twine 2 Tutorial: Branching Your Narrative With the If Macro

In this tutorial series, you defined some passages, created some variables and you even developed a simple inventory system. Unfortunately, your story doesn’t react to player choice.

For example, when the player starts your story, they choose the difficulty level of the story. In easy mode, the story places objects in fixed locations. In hard mode, the story places objects in random locations.

That’s just one choice and your story has lots of other choices to consider. Thankfully, there’s a macro for that; the (if: ) macro.

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DM Advice: Story Trumps Dice

Being a dungeon master is difficult. I want my players to have fun. I want them to feel like pulp genre heroes. Yet, I also want to be fair from a ruling perspective.

The other day, I ran into a conundrum. One player is a Goliath Barbarian aptly named Rocksmasher. His strength is pretty high and he runs Totem of the Bear, making him a muscle powerhouse.

So when he told me he wanted to tear a door I had no idea what to do. I mean, what does a DM do in that situation?

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Rest in Peace, Yaphet Kotto

When I was five years old, I bought two packs of movie trading cards. I loved movies as a kid and movie trading cards were my substitute for baseball cards. One package was the recently released Superman movie, starring Christopher Reeve. The other was for the sci-fi horror film, Alien.

In the resulting years, I’ve grown to be a huge fan of the series so, by extension, Yaphet Kotto (technician Dennis Parker) has always been apart of my life.

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Twine 2 Tutorial: Creating a Basic Inventory

A common question for many new Twine authors is creating an inventory system. There are many different ways to create inventory, but for this story, you’re going to start easy and later, scale up to advanced.

In this story, players need to collect certain items. First, they need to find Bernie’s chili recipe to turn it over to the authorities. Next they need to find pickup keys and the gasoline to escape. Optionally, they can try to find a flashlight to pass through a dark area in the campground.

On easy mode, the objects start in the same location every time. On hard mode, the locations are randomized. You’ll get started by adding objects in easy mode.

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Twine 2 Tutorial: Getting the Player’s Name

I’ve been playing around with Twine for a number of years and the number one question I get from new story authors is, “how do I get the player’s name?”

In older versions of Harlowe, you needed to write some Javascript that created a browser input box. It was a rough solution that wasn’t very mobile-friendly. My advice to the question was always, “just don’t do it”.

Thankfully, Leon Arnott (the author of the Harlowe story format) provided a solution but in order to understand how to use it, you need to dive deeper into macros.

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Review: Lord Foul’s Bane

After a difficult loss, a close friend of mine recommended that I read a high fantasy book called Lord Foul’s Bane by Stephen R. Donaldson.

My friend understands loss and suffering, having recently lost his mother to hospital negligence to almost losing his daughter to a rare stomach disorder.

He said, “Thomas Covenant is a bitter angry protagonist that spits in the face of loss. He may speak to you now.”

In a way, Covenant did speak to me, but not in the way my friend imagined.

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Twine 2 Tutorial: Coding with Twine Variables

Here it comes. The part of this tutorial series that some of you have been dreading: coding.

This is the part where we type obscure symbols that only a few select people can ever understand. Or so, some people tend to think. Believe it or not, coding isn’t that hard. You will get started on this journey by creating some Twine variables.

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Quiet Please: The Thing on the Fourble Board

This is an awesome story from one of the better old time radio shows. The show was called Quiet Please and all of the episodes were written and directed by Wyllis Cooper. While there are a few turkeys in the mix, for the most part, Quiet Please is a quality production.

From the slow hypnotic introduction of each episode to the many fantastic stories, once you start listening to an episode of Quiet Please, you probably won’t stop (or do anything else, for that matter) until that episode has come to the end.

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