Hey everyone!

At long last, On the Shoulders of Titans is out on Audible. You can find it here.

Audio Book Cover Medium

In addition, Six Sacred Swords is currently with my editor, and the cover art is almost done. I’m hoping to have it out within the next couple months.

I’ll have more updates soonish. In the meantime, I hope people enjoy the audio book!

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On the Shoulders of Titans is up for Stabby awards in two categories (Best Self-Published Novel and Best Novel)!

/r/fantasy on Reddit is my main “home” on the internet, so this contest has always been important to me.

There are a ton of other awesome books (and other categories) up for awards right now, and I’d encourage you to check them out and vote for whatever your favorites may be (my books or otherwise).

If you’re interested in voting for anything, all you have to do is upvote the relevant comment on Reddit. There’s a screenshot below for reference.

You can find the awards here.

Thanks to everyone for the support throughout the year! I can’t wait to hear what people think of the audio book and prequel. =D

voteontheshouldersoftitans

 

Hey all,

The audio book version of On the Shoulders of Titans is almost out, and preorders are finally available! You can find that here.

Here are some updates on other things I’ve been working on.

Six Sacred Swords is currently still with my beta readers. I’m making changes based on the first round of beta reader feedback – both in terms of story changes and simple things like corrections. I’m aiming to try to get the manuscript to a professional editor within the next few weeks if possible, but it will depend on the scope of feedback from my remaining beta readers.

Defying Destiny is still in progress. I’m still aiming to get it finished before the end of next year, but I’m still having difficulty with it. I’ve learned a lot from this process, however, and that’s going to influence how I work on books in the future – namely, I’m not going to commit to working on or releasing specific books in a certain sequence.

I’ve found that I work much, much better if I write what I’m currently excited about. That might mean that I end up writing multiple books in a row for the same series, for example, or it might mean that I work on multiple books at the same time. The important part for me seems to be just working on something that I’m really interested in seeing written down. This might seem intuitive, but it often conflicts with trying to release books on a set schedule, or in a specific already announced sequence.

This doesn’t mean I plan to abandon any series or any of my current obligations.

I’m still going to be working on finishing Defying Destiny, then the third Arcane Ascension book (likely at the same time as Part 2 of Six Sacred Swords).

What it does mean is that after Arcane Ascension Book 3, I’m probably going to experiment a bit more and work on whatever strikes my fancy at the time, rather than planning out a specific release order. Maybe that means I’ll jump straight into Arcane Ascension Book 4, maybe I’ll go off and finally write a pure LitRPG. Feeling obligated to finish Defying Destiny in a certain time frame is a big part of what made it a struggle, and I think my whole writing process will go more smoothly if I focus on whatever I’m passionate about at the time.

I have a number of other books I’ve wanted to write, but I’ve stopped myself from working on them because I feel like I have to be spending all my writing time on the things I’ve committed to. For example, I’m very interested in releasing a pure LitRPG, since I have a background in the gaming industry and think I’d have a unique take on the genre. I’m also interested in dabbling with urban fantasy and superhero fiction at some point, and I have a few other side-stories for Arcane Ascension and the War of Broken Mirrors that I’m interested in working on at some point (like a Sera book and a Wrynn Jaden book).

I’d like to thank all my readers for their support, and I hope you all have a fantastic new year!

Some of you already know that my career started out in the gaming industry, and I get questions about how I got in and advice on getting started there pretty often.

So, first, some background.

Around late 2002, I was in college, and I was a high-end raid leader in a MMORPG called Dark Age of Camelot. After the release of a new dungeon (Darkness Falls), we heard rumors that there was a secret boss that was tougher than the final boss, and I led a raid to try to figure out how to force it to spawn and beat it. It was a giant worm named Beliathan. It was, in fact, tougher than the final boss of the dungeon – but we beat it anyway. Unfortunately (or, fortunately for my career), it didn’t drop any items – which was both unusual and disappointing for a raid boss.

I sent in a GM ticket, thinking it was a simple bug, and that the loot got lost in the terrain or something. A GM responded telling me that killing that boss was “impossible”, because it was supposed to be unkillable. I sent in screenshots.

I still feel pretty good about that.

Long story short, that resulted in getting me a volunteer position as part of Dark Age of Camelot’s “Team Lead” program, which was a sort of hybrid between Quality Assurance* (which I’d never even heard of at the time) and a precursor to modern day “Community Manager” positions for MMOs. I helped Mythic test content – specifically raid encounters – before they were released, and also served a spokesperson to the player community. I ended up getting a lot of “world first” accomplishments with my raids, although admittedly by modern standards many of those would probably be invalidated because of the fact that I was in communication with the company.

Working as a “Team Lead” wasn’t a real job, but it did have the benefit of sending me to E3 to meet with the game developer team for next few years. At E3 in 2003 or 2004, I met with a few people from another game company that I was a fan of. They were working on a new game you’ve probably heard of – World of Warcraft.

After meeting them and seeing how great the game looked, I applied for a few positions there.

I didn’t get in right away. I applied for things like Game Design positions, which I didn’t have any prior resume credits for. I don’t think I ever even got any replies on those.

Around the same time, though, I did get some work writing for tabletop role-playing games for White Wolf. I responded to an open call for writers, and got a couple entries into a book for the Scarred Lands. Serendipitously, this led to getting asked to do some work on the tabletop RPG for World of Warcraft. I wrote for several books for that line. (Don’t look up my writing for that stuff – it’s truly – my contributions for that were embarrassingly bad. I was a teenager for most of it, and let’s just say it shows.)

Eventually, in 2005, I applied for Blizzard’s Quality Assurance department and got in. Some of the main factors that helped me were my prior experience as a raid leader and my experience writing for the World of Warcraft line of tabletop RPGs.

I really still wanted to be a Game Designer or a writer…and I tried, unsuccessfully, to move up into a position like that at Blizzard for almost four years. I did get to do some writing work — you can still find snippets of my writing in-game, like some of the books lying around in Dalaran — and on the game website. But none of it got me an actual writing positon.

In 2009, I left to try to be a professional writer. I finished a few books and submitted them to agents. No one picked any of them up.

After that, I went back to the gaming industry. I worked my way from being a Quality Assurance Lead at Cryptic into finally getting a Game Designer position there, then eventually moved to Obsidian, and finally Amazon Game Studios.

Some important takeaways:

  • I didn’t get in on my first try.
  • I didn’t get the position I wanted immediately.
  • I failed to move up into the position I wanted while I was at Blizzard, and had to leave the company and go elsewhere in order to advance in my career.
  • I also failed when I initially tried to leave the industry to be a professional writer. I kept writing for years after that, until I finally just ended up self-publishing. The first book I actually published was the sixth book that I wrote.

I mention all this because it’s very easy with both gaming applications and writing to get discouraged if you don’t have any success right away. If I’d given up at any of those early failures, I’d never have the career that I do today.

These days, it’s probably even harder, in truth.

Starting out at larger companies like Blizzard these days can be extremely challenging. There are far more interested applicants than there are positions available, especially for things like design positions. As a result, they can be tremendously picky, and for things like design spots, you’re often going to be competing with people who are already working for that company in lower level positions.

As a general rule, it’s easiest to get into smaller companies. For example, NIS America hires for contract Quality Assurance and Game Master roles fairly regularly. Other small companies are often similar. GameDevMap is a great resource for looking up game companies near you.

If you are currently taking college classes, I strongly recommend applying for an internship in the field you’re interested in. Blizzard has a ton of summer internships, for example. In my experience, this is much better resume credit toward getting the type of position you are looking for than working in a lower level department, but it’s also only available if you’re currently a student or planning to go back to school. Riot Games also offers some internships.

A good way to practice and understand some of the basics of game design is to try to build a small self-contained project yourself. RPGMaker is a great tool for building a standalone game, as well as just learning about basic game design concepts. You can also use tools sets that come with games — for example, Starcraft 2, Neverwinter Nights, etc. come with tools for building new content.

If you’re looking for a tool to build something specifically to show off your writing abilities, I recommend Twine. It’s a tool for building things that are basically “Choose Your Own Adventure” style games. Story heavy companies like Bioware sometimes ask for projects in Twine as a part of their writer application process.

In summary, my advice is that an internship is probably your best bet if you can swing one. If you’re not eligible, I would recommend going for some basic experience in Quality Assurance or another entry-level job (e.g. Customer Service or Tech Support) at a small company to start learning about the industry and building your resume. You should be aware that it may be necessary to move to a different company in order to get a higher level job once you have some experience on your resume.

If you have experience with code or art, you might be able to swing starting out in a position relevant to that, but it really depends on if you can demonstrate your abilities. For artists, a good portfolio is key, and I recommend including a variety of things – character concepts, environments, UI mockups, etc.

It would also be worthwhile to research the game design industry itself a bit. I would recommend watching some of the Extra Credits videos, for example. I don’t agree with them on everything, but they have some pretty good insights on some parts of the development process.

Finally, when you write your resume and cover letter for a gaming company, try to tailor them toward the specific position you are applying for. Game companies often respond well to familiarity with their own products, especially big name companies like Blizzard and Riot. If you’re applying at one of those, being familiar with their current games is almost a requirement, and being competitive may be necessary if you’re going for any kind of design position.

I hope that people find this helpful!

*If you don’t know what Quality Assurance is, I’m going to probably go into a whole post about that another time. This is something that I’d like more LitRPG authors to know about, because it’s an integral part of the game design process, but I rarely see it mentioned in books about gaming.

You can find the AMA on Reddit here.

This is a post I’ve been thinking about for a while, because I’m not actually a real-world expert in the subject matter. My perspective comes from my experience as a writer and general experience, not any sort of scientific authority – so please take this all with a grain of salt.

Ninety nine times out of  a hundred, when I hear a character in fiction described as a “genius” or a “prodigy”, the character doesn’t actually sell that to me.

There are a few main reasons for that.

The principal one, which is talked about fairly regularly, is a trope generally called “Informed Ability”. The audience is simply told this character is intelligent, or given a litany of reasons why they’re intelligent – often including eye-rolling numbers like “he has an IQ of 200!” or perhaps slightly less awkwardly “he’s proficient in 12 languages!”

The problem here is fairly straightforward – it’s easy to tell the audience someone is a genius, but it’s vastly harder to demonstrate it convincingly. When you make a statement about a character’s ability in any subject (intelligence or otherwise), and that ability does not appear to be consistent with how the character actually behaves on the page (or screen, or other medium), that makes the facet of the character we’ve been informed about unconvincing.

There are a number of factors involved in “selling” intelligence to an audience (if that’s your goal), but to me, one of the key factors is just making sure they consider options and scenarios that may be obvious to the reader (or watcher, player, etc.)

For example, in gaming, it’s extremely common to find a character that’s in the process of dying. Maybe they have time for a dying speech, but little else.

I am constantly irritated by how infrequently there’s an option to just feed the dying person a healing potion or cast a healing spell and solve the situation with tools the characters clearly have on-hand.

In gaming, this may be somewhat more understandable in that branching narratives (e.g. being able to determine if a character lives or dies) are resource intensive, and continuity for scenes like that is difficult. There has to be time put into coding for things like checking if the party has the necessary resources, adding the dialogue options, and doing any narrative work to accommodate branching paths in that situation. I would argue that in most cases, you can still explain this problem (“he’s too far gone for healing”) and at least address the subject, though.

In mediums like reading and television, if you want to sell me on a character being intelligent, you’re going to have to have them at least present options like “use the healing potion on the dying guy before he dies”. That’s a low standard, in my opinion, but I what I consider to be failures to reach that standard all the time.

(Notably, this isn’t just true for intelligence. If you tell me that Worf is a master warrior and he loses every fight virtually instantly, I’m not going to believe you. Poor Worf. At least he gets to shine a bit more in Deep Space Nine.)

The problem of informed ability in fiction has been discussed elsewhere in great detail, so I won’t go on about it too much. I do want to address a couple other points that I see more rarely, however.

Contrary to what Dungeons and Dragons might tell us, Intelligence is not a single attribute.

There are numerous different things that could be called “intelligence” by different people. Experts have their own ways of breaking this down, but from a non-expert perspective, I see several categories of intelligence as being both important and distinct from one another.

These include things like:
* Processing speed (e.g. being able to do arithmetic quickly).
* Linguistic flexibility (e.g. clever use of existing language).
* Linguistic learning rate (e..g being able to learn languages quickly).
* General reasoning (ability to parse information and come to a reasonable, if not necessarily accurate, conclusion based on the data available).
* Problem solving (figuring out how to use the tools at your disposal to resolve a problem).
* Short-term memory.
* Long-term memory.
* Verbal social intelligence (being able to parse information from word usage, tone, etc.)
* Non-verbal social intelligence (being able to read non-verbal cues).
* Spacial reasoning.
* Etc.

These are just some examples from off the top of my head.

I’m not listing these because an intelligent character needs to demonstrate all of them – my point is actually quite the opposite.

It is perfectly reasonable for some people to be “intelligent” in some of the discussed categories (or others) and not in all of them. Just because someone is a brilliant physicist doesn’t mean they’re automatically going to be able to learn an alien language quickly – and when people assume that things work like that in a story, I tend to find it frustrating and difficult to believe.

(I can believe that a character is both a physicist and good at learning languages – I can’t believe they’re good at learning languages just because they’re a “genius physicist” and therefore super smart.)

As a result of the above, when reading (or watching, etc.) fiction that purportedly has intelligent characters in it, I tend to prefer to see characters that are strong in a specialty (see: Ocean’s 11) rather than simply hyper intelligent in all areas like your typical Sherlock-esque archetype. Notably, I tend to like balanced group dynamics more in other categories as well, rather than relying on a single exemplar protagonist who is simply good at everything. Having multiple experts play off of each other is, in my opinion, both more realistic and more engaging than simply having someone solve all the problems.

Finally, “intelligent” characters can still make bad decisions, even in their own areas of expertise. This can happen due to any number of factors – maybe they’re acting on bad information, or willingly taking a risk…or maybe they’re just having an off day. That happens to the best of us.

I think the archetype of the “perfect” intelligent character (or perfect warrior, or thief, or anything) can be great – some of those characters are among my favorites. But I also think it’s acceptable (and, at times, more interesting) to write characters that have strengths and weaknesses even in their own areas of expertise.

When I write characters, I like to give them strengths and weaknesses in their own fields. I consider needing to overcome a difficulty to be more compelling than being instantly good at everything. This is an element of personal preference that I don’t expect every other writer to agree with, but I think it’s worth mentioning that this is an option.

For example, Taelien in the War of Broken Mirrors books has a magic sword that he can’t use properly (and that comes with all sorts of disadvantages). And so he trains, he researches, and he searches for solutions. I find that more compelling than simply having a magic weapon, or even just being an excellent fighter – he has something directly related to his skill set that inhibits his ability to perform at his maximum ability.

Corin in Sufficiently Advanced Magic is an even more obvious example, because he’s behind on the school curriculum and he has fears that inhibit his ability to optimally use his magic early on. That’s something he has to work to overcome, and it’s not going to be an instant “fix”. I don’t believe every character problem has to be solved in a single book, and I wouldn’t have found it realistic for Corin to overcome his fears in less than a year.

Anyway, I’ve digressed quite a bit here, but the key takeaways are a few bullet points:
* Demonstrating intelligence is more important than telling the audience a character is intelligent.
* There are different types of intelligence, and some characters can be better at certain types than others.
* Intelligent characters can have weaknesses and make mistakes, even in their areas of expertise.

All of this simply reflects my opinions; other writers may feel differently.

Thanks for reading this little rant – hope you enjoyed it.

I finally have a release date for the audio book version of On the Shoulders of Titans – it’s January 15th!

Not sure if we’ll have preorders or not yet. Will update if I learn more!

Audio Book Cover Medium.jpg

Hey everyone,

Some quick updates.

I’ve finished my beta version of Six Sacred Swords and sent copies out to a limited selection of beta readers. I apologize to any of my usual beta readers that I didn’t approach about this one – I’m keeping this real small to try to decrease the turnaround time on it.

Defying Destiny still isn’t finished. As such, I’m currently contemplating if I should just release Six Sacred Swords first, even though it has some vague references to things in Defying Destiny. I’m going to wait until I hear what beta readers think before I make a decision on this.

I have heard from my audio publisher that the audio book version of On the Shoulders of Titans will be released in January. I will provide more information when I have a confirmed release date. I do not know if there will be preorders available.

Thanks for your patience, everyone!

-Andrew

I love reading about and writing interesting systems. I also love playing games with well-designed systems. Unfortunately, I very frequently find that the systems that I encounter don’t make sense to me as a designer and/or as a writer.

This is true both in fiction (e.g. reading LitRPGs) and in reading or playing game systems.

This isn’t to say that having strong systems is necessary for a book to be a good experience, or even for a video game to be amazing. Simple can be best in cases where the systems side isn’t the focus.

I also acknowledge that people design systems with different goals in mind, and things that don’t make sense to me may work perfectly well for other designers, players, readers, etc.

That being said, I’d like to talk about some things that I *like* seeing as a reader/player, and that I try to take into account with my own writing.

When designing the components of a system, one of the first things I like to think about is how it can be interesting for whoever is interacting with it – that is, the reader (if it’s a book) or the player (if it’s a game). I suppose I can add the audience for things like TV, movies, etc.

When I’m talking about systems components here, I’m referring to things like:

  • Spells/Skills
  • Items
  • Monsters
  • Character Classes
  • Methods of Advancement
  • Etc.

For example, let’s say I’m working on figuring out the abilities of a character that’s meant to be a physical fighter. This can be in the context of a book, a video game, or anything else.

When determining the abilities that I’m going to give to a character, I think about what the core fantasy of the character is supposed to be, and the role that they’re supposed to play in the game – both mechanically and in terms of narrative.

A “fighter” can mean a lot of different things to different people, so I’ll narrow the context a bit to a fighter in a traditional fantasy setting.

What are some things that are core function of a fighter in that context?

I’d lay out some things like:

  • General combat ability
  • Protecting other people
  • Being able to endure a lot of damage

These are some foundation points that can be broken down into sub-categories and handled in a lot of different ways, and each of my main fighter characters has different ways of handling these things.

Let’s compare some of them, for example.

Taelien:

  • Taelien is a talented swordsman, but it’s his use of metal sorcery to augment his fighting that makes him unique. By shifting the weight, composition, or dimensions of his weapon (or other metal he comes in contact with), he can make himself an unpredictable opponent.
  • His primary method of “protecting” other people is by deliberately limiting the use of his full strength to avoid killing his opponents outright and to avoid collateral damage. He also can use his metal sorcery to dull or break enemy weapons to prevent them from doing harm.
  • He has above average physical durability (largely from years of using stone and metal sorcery).

 

Velas:

  • Velas is proficient with a wide variety of weapons, but generally prefers the reach of spears. This has excellent synergy with her use of motion sorcery, which allows her to move rapidly around the battlefield.
  • This same motion sorcery makes her excellent at being able to get in the way of attacks aimed at her allies.
  • She often wears heavy armor, giving her high general physical damage resistance.

Marissa:

  • Marissa has a combination of unarmed and armed combat training, including some unusual techniques that are outside of the scope of her academy education.
  • Her Attunement increases her movement speed, allowing her to put herself in harm’s way. Her martial arts also allow her to grapple and disable opponents.
  • Her Attunement also gives her a powerful shroud, deflecting weak attacks entirely and diminishing the strength of stronger ones.

These three characters all have abilities that are completely different, but still allow them to serve the core functions of their roles. Some are better at certain elements than others; Taelien is more of a damage-dealer, Velas focused on mobility, and Marissa is better suited to defensive combat. But they all represent elements of the “fantasy” of a fighter, and they all have room to grow further, both within and outside of their specializations.

I’m mentioning this because in many games I’ve played and books I’ve read, a fighter character basically swings their sword and doesn’t do anything else. Single classed old school D&D fighters often fell into this category, for example, and characters written in that style often reflect that. This is simple for gameplay and writing, but to me, it’s far less engaging than characters who have abilities that synergize with their story role in interesting ways.

This type of thing is possible for any character type. I mentioned fighters because they tend to be the least interesting fantasy character archetypes when used in literature, at least in my experience. It’s much easier to make a wizard or cleric interesting, since they tend to have more utility (depending on the setting and systems used, of course).

When designing items, I try to think about how those items can have interesting synergy with characters.

In a game, the most entertaining items (in my experience) are the ones that change the way you play the game.

Some great examples of items that change gameplay go all the way back to Super Mario Bros.

  • The Mushroom lets you take two hits instead of one. This is something of a gameplay change, because it means you won’t die if you take a hit, but it’s not something you’re probably going to make too many decisions around – because you don’t want to get hit anyway (in most cases, barring things like exploits, glitches, etc.) This is still a pretty good item, but less interesting than the others.
  • The Star makes you temporarily invincible, and it also makes you deal damage to enemies that you run into (rather than them hurting you). This significantly changes the way you can play, and notably, it also changes your appearance and the music while it’s active. This gives using a star a frenetic style that *feels* great.
  • The Fire Flower lets you throw fireballs by pressing a button you do not ordinarily use. This was always my favorite item, because it gave me something new I could do that I couldn’t do previously. Much like the Star, it’s exciting to get one, but requiring a button press makes it even more engaging.

These types of gameplay changes can appear in modern games, but oftentimes they are (in my opinion) neglected in genres like RPGs in favor of things like raw stat increases. This is not to say that there’s no role for a sword that deals extra damage, but having some variety can make gameplay vastly more interesting.

For a good example of this, I’d recommend taking a look at the weapons in Dungreed or Dead Cells. In these games, each broad category of weapon you use plays completely differently. Using a sword feels different from using an axe or a whip or a bow, and there are whole sub-categories of each (e.g. multiple sword types) that feel distinct as well.

There are still varying quality levels of each that have different raw stats, but you might switch to a lower quality axe instead of a higher quality bow just because you prefer the playstyle – or because the axe has advantages against a specific type of opponent. That, in my opinion, is far more interesting item design than just raw stat increases.

(If you’re wondering what I’m contrasting this to, consider classic D&D weapons that are just “Longsword +1”, “Longsword +2”, “Longsword +3”, etc. Even a lot of the cooler ones, like Vorpal Swords, are more passive – they don’t change the way you play much, they just add a chance that something awesome happens when you choose the same action that you always do.

This type of thing is super common in MMORPG weapons, which often just have higher damage per second and maybe some stat increases, like +Strength and +Stamina or whatever. Sure, that 3% extra damage might make you an inch higher on the damage meters, but it doesn’t offer any meaningful or interesting gameplay change.)

In a novel, an item that opens up new options is similarly more interesting to me than something that simply gives an incremental improvement to the character’s existing capabilities. This is especially important for genres that overlap do have a lot of explicit statistics, like GameLit and LitRPG books often do.

For example, I’ve got a lot of magic swords in my books. I like magic swords.

Each of them has a very distinct function.

 

(Some minor spoilers for people who haven’t read On the Shoulders of Titans yet – you may want to skip this part or stop reading here.)

 

There are three “main” swords in On the Shoulders of Titans so far. Each of them is written to be fundamentally different in function.

  • Selys-Lyann has an ice aura, which can be used for both freezing enemies solid on contact, and for utility functions (e.g. freezing water or protecting the wielder from fire). Once Corin learns to manipulate its aura, he can also use it to attack at range.
  • Ceris absorbs magic. This can be used both defensively (e.g. to prevent an enemy from hurting you) or offensively (to store an attack within to provide extra punch).
  • Bright Reflection can reflect spells. This is, much like Ceris, both defensive and offensive in nature. It’s similar, but has the advantage of knocking the spell back instantly (rather than having to absorb it and redirect it), and the disadvantage of lower flexibility. It also presumably has other abilities; we haven’t seen all the functions yet.

In all cases, these items give the wielder new options in battle, and even options outside of combat situations. They also all have enough going on that they have a learning curve where a character can use them to some degree immediately, but they can potentially have more options if the wielder practices with them and learns to use them more effectively.

I’m not going to claim that these items are perfect (nor will I claim that my character designs for the fighters above are). But they’re examples of the general type of thing that I personally enjoy seeing as a reader.

The core philosophy here also applies to other things, like monster (and other antagonist) design. Not every monster has to have higher raw power than the last ones the heroes faced – they can simply be functionally different.

Sometimes a weaker enemy that is specialized in a way that the protagonists aren’t good at handling can be more effective than a raw powerhouse. (Surprisingly, Dragon Ball Super actually did a good job of this with the introduction of Frost, who was much weaker than the heroes but used tactics that most of them weren’t able to counter.)

Now that I’ve managed to digress into Dragon Ball, I’ll say one thing relevant to that particular series that’s related to this general discussion: character progression doesn’t have to increase every element of a character equally, or all at once.

One of the things I feel like Dragon Ball missed as an opportunity is that during the Cell Saga, they showcased a character utilizing a form that sacrificed speed for raw strength. This was quickly abandoned (and considered a useless form), with most future forms following a linear progression of being just faster, stronger, and better at virtually everything.

I think Dragon Ball would have been a much more interesting series if different characters continued to focus on developing and improving more specialized forms and techniques, rather than just getting better at everything – and the same is true for character progression in books, games, etc.

Sometimes having to choose a specialization can make a character much more interesting, especially in settings with teamwork. I’d like to see more series exploring that style in the future.

This post was just a bit more long-winded than I planned. If you’ve made it this far, I hope you enjoyed the post.

Here are some recent status updates.

The audio book version of On the Shoulders of Titans is currently being recorded, to the best of my understanding. I still don’t have a release date, but since it’s in progress, I’m hoping it should be done soon.

Next, project updates.

Defying Destiny continues to be a significant challenge for me to work on. I’m just not as engaged in that particular writing style as I used to be, but I’m not giving up on it, either. I’d put my progress at somewhere around 55% to 60% on the first draft, but the length could vary significantly depending on if I choose to include or exclude certain scenes.

I’ve been working on Six Sacred Swords, the Keras spin-off for Arcane Ascension, on days where I’m having trouble focusing on Defying Destiny. This is going much, much more smoothly. I’m also leaning toward ending this book earlier than I’d originally expected and splitting the content I’d planned for it into two or three books, each of which will be much shorter than a standard Arcane Ascension novel (more like the length of one of Will Wight’s books or Forging Divinity). If I choose to go that route, I expect this book will be done relatively quickly after Defying Destiny, or possibly even sooner. If I do end up finishing it first, I’m going to hold off on releasing it until after Defying Destiny to avoid making some story spoilers, but there’s a chance they could end up coming out pretty close together (e.g. within a month or two of each other).

Ideally, I’d love to get both of these books out in the first few months of next year, but it’s highly probable they could end up being pushed back a couple more months for editing time.

I’ve also started my prep work on Arcane Ascension Book 3 in earnest. I’ve been making notes for quite a while, but I’ve actually started writing the first few scenes now, as well as working on more detailed outlining.

My current plan is to write AA book 3 directly after I finish with Defying Destiny and Six Sacred Swords. I’ve been finding it very useful to work on two books at the same time, so there’s a good chance I’ll either work on a second Keras spin-off or another book simultaneously with AA Book 3.

I have several other books to work on, including a few LitRPGs, as well as some books to explore other parts of the Arcane Ascension/Broken Mirrors universe (e.g. more continents, other time periods, etc.) I might throw a superhero novel into the schedule at some point as well.

That’s it for book updates, but I’m planning to make another post of a completely different style soon. I’m going to try to start getting back into writing posts with more design and writing commentary, rather than just updates, because they’re more fun for me to write and (hopefully) more interesting to readers.

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