I’m constantly dreaming up new ideas for side gigs and hobby projects. Anyone who read my posts before April 2021 knows that all too well. Lately, as my current job has begun to wind down and my relationship seems to be nearing a plateau, my brain has decided to kick back into high gear on this front. So here are some of the things I’m thinking about with my spare mental cycles. Some of them I’ll get to eventually. Some I’m already planning out. A few will likely never see the light of day.
I haven’t done much with conlangs in the past couple of years. A few months back, I had another aborted start on an "engineered" language, this one based on a ternary number system. (The idea was to make something philosophical but also easily representable without words. I’m weird.)
Now, I’m doing serious work on what is my first real attempt at an auxiliary language. There are plenty of auxlangs already out there, of course: Esperanto, Lojban, and so on. Mine is slightly different, however. Instead of drawing on Latin as the primary source of vocabulary—or being some sort of amalgam of the world’s major languages—I’m developing a conlang intended as a pan-Germanic interlingua.
The core vocabulary is derived from actual Proto-Germanic roots, most of which are shared by at least two of the six major Germanic languages spoken today. Those are English, German, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish, for those of you keeping score at home. Icelandic, Frisian, and the other "minor" Germanic tongues also get their due, mostly as additional confirmation of a meaning that has drifted over the past 2500 years or so. (Gothic has been extinct basically forever, so I exclude it from consideration.)
In terms of grammar, "Borealic" (the external name; it calls itself "Altidisk") mostly follows the general pattern of West Germanic and North Germanic languages. Where these differ, I look for common ground, and I try going back to a common ancestor for inspiration. The basic word order, for example, is V2: verbs always try to fill the second slot in a sentence if possible. That’s a common theme throughout the Germanic world. So is a two-way tense distinction between past and non-past, with the future tense instead being indicated by an auxiliary verb.
My goal isn’t necessarily to create a conlang for everybody to use. No, this one is explicitly intended for purposes best described as nationalistic. Borealic is for the Germanic peoples of the world. It’s a way to connect with our shared culture, a culture that is increasingly under attack these days.
Borealic is what I’m working on as I write this post, so it’s the one I’ll probably be sharing soonest.
I still want to be a game developer, and I’m still working towards that goal. I have two concepts I’ve been fleshing out in my head, and I’m getting ready to start making something more concrete out of them.
First is "Fourwords". At its core, this is going to be a simple little fill-in word puzzle. Instead of a crossword, however, you get a chain of four different words. The last letter of one word is the first letter of the next, and all the words in a chain are connected by a theme which the player will see while working the puzzle. You get points based on the length of each word (they aren’t fixed, but are variable between 4-12 letters) and the perceived difficulty of the chain: more generic categories are considered harder, as are those for very specific niches.
I envision Fourwords as a mobile-first game. In other words (no pun intended), there will be sets of puzzles that unlock as the player progresses. I’ll have plenty of gamification elements thrown in there, and—as much as I hate it—probably some kind of builtin ad or IAP support. I’ll build it using the new 4.x version of the Godot Engine, which will be my first real foray into its new features. I imagine also needing a server to store player data and all that. Lucky for me, my "real" job requires me to learn AWS.
The second word game is much simpler, yet also much more complex. This one doesn’t have a name yet, and it’s little more than a Wordle clone at heart. It’s a Mastermind-like game using words of five or six letters; I haven’t decided which would work best. You have a secret word, and you have to try to guess what it is. If you’re right, you win! If you’re wrong, you get to see which letters are correct, and which ones are in the wrong places. Scoring is based on how many guesses you make and how long it takes you to get to the right word.
Since there are only so many words in the English language, this one necessarily has a well-defined endpoint. But I figure I can add in a timed mode with randomization to keep things a little fresh. Beyond that, the format doesn’t have much else going for it.
But here’s the kicker. This one isn’t going to come out on mobile. It’s not going to be on desktop, either. No, I want to make this game for a console. And not just any console, but a retro one. I must be getting crazy in my old age, because I am seriously considering making a game for the NES. That means 6502 assembly, low-res tile graphics, music that is more code than notes, and all those arcane incantations that game devs used to do. It’ll be a monumental undertaking, but what if I can pull it off?
I’ve started writing again in recent weeks. Time is short, but I’ve been able to find an hour here and there to get back to On the Stellar Sea. Those poor kids have had to stay on that planet too long!
Writing on Orphans of the Stars has made me want to go back to the project I had originally imagined would accompany it. This one is almost another game dev project, but of a different sort. The Anitra Incident is technically a prequel to the novel series, but it’s one I plan to write as interactive fiction. In other words, you are the protagonist. The setting is about 200 years in the future, when humanity’s lunar and Mars colonies are up and running, and we now turn our eyes outward. A strange Main Belt asteroid catches our eye, and a manned mission is sent to explore it. What they—you—find will shock everyone.
That’s the gist of it. It’s kind of a CYOA game, kind of an exercise in descriptive writing, and hopefully a lot of fun. And the books have already referenced this particular era of the setting’s history, so part of me feels I have to write it. I’ll need to relearn Sugarcube, I suppose. Graphics should be a lot easier now, thanks to Stable Diffusion. I may even be able to do character portraits, something I never imagined I would be capable of. (That’s no joke. I’ve had great success generating portraits of some of the Innocence kids, and they make good writing references.)
There are plenty of other things my brain has decided to focus on. Pixeme, my community-based language learning web platform idea, is starting to take shape. Concerto is another one I want to play around with some more; it’s a microkernel OS written in Nim, a language I’ve found that I really enjoy. Another one I just named yesterday is Stave: the goal with this one is to create a long-term stable virtual machine. As in really long term. I want to make a VM that will stand the test of time.
But I’ll get to that later. Right now, there’s so much to do, and nowhere near enough time to do it all.