Hello, and welcome to Second Look, the website of one Thomas Giles. On this website you will find any projects I'm working on. I've got my fingers in many pies — writing, programming, even a dash of illustration. So please read on below to find out more...
I've been writing for quite a while now, although I only started seriously writing a little over a year ago, when I joined the Bournemouth Writing Group. They really helped me to see my own potential, along with helping me with critiques on my stories, etc.
As my love of writing grew, I began to think about how to get published, and was met with dispair. It is seriously hard to get published with the writing industry the way it is today. It's almost completely down to luck. There are many, many great writers out there that haven't had so much as a short story published in their entire career.
Now here comes the interesting part... I'm an anime fan. An otaku, you might say. I began by watching hundreds of episodes of the early Naruto series (fansubbed, of course), but slowly became interested in manga. There is a certain manga by the name of "Bakuman" that I became particularly interested in. It chronicles the journey of two young men, highschoolers in Japan, who'd always dreamt of becoming mangaka (a professional manga or anime artist), and who decide to team up, one writing the stories, the other illustrating them. It's full of hope, along with the highs and lows of the life of a mangaka. And I thought... if only there was something like that in the west.
As someone interested in manga, and with a little flare for the art side of things, I imagined a world in which you could get your own manga published... in a "Shonen Jump" kind of way. But as I'm still quite a way off from my manga art being good enough for people to actually read, I decided to start smaller... Or at least simpler.
And so began "Words of Fiction".
Words of Fiction
The idea behind "Words of Fiction" is to have a book of short stories, monthly or quarterly depending on the success of the first issue, that is easier to get your work published in. No messing about with copyrights, ownership, or penalization for previously published work. Just a simple, straightforward compilation of short stories.
So the first step was to announce the project to the world. I've been a member of Deviant Art for some time, and they have a news system, along with "Groups", which allows the creator of said Group to collate a list of members and such. So that's what I did. I created a Group for Second Look, and announced the book was open for submissions.
And the submission period is still open. Anyone wishing to submit a piece for consideration for the first "Words of Fiction" book can be emailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Note me on Deviant Art to the Second Look group, or my personal account (links above).
Currently there are no genre restrictions, but I will be reading it through both to ensure the content is suitable and I'm happy publishing it, and also with a view to critiquing the piece to make sure it's the best and most polished ready for print.
I've got around 4 or 5 pieces so far, so I'm still a ways off from getting all the content ready for the book. So I hope you writers out there can help me out, and I'll be looking forward to reading your work.
I've had 4 or 5 years of experience coding websites (making the design work and such), and slowly made my way into the more hardcore back-end stuff, creating the functionality behind what the user actually sees. I have also tried my hand at some C# XNA coding, making little games here and there — things like that... but my main focus has been on the front-end usability- and functionality-focussed parts of a website.
And so, the "Simple" framework was born.
For example... One of the main libraries included in the Simple framework is "Simple.Canvas". It includes a host of instantiatable objects, as well as some helpful functions you can use. I've done my best to make everything as universal as possible. By that I mean you can just use individual parts of the library (ie. a "Rectangle" object), without using any other part of the library. So once you've made your "Rectangle" object, you can call it's "Fill" function, passing in a 2D Canvas Context - not just a "Simple.Canvas" object. This makes the library very flexible in the way you can use it, and doesn't tie you in to just using the library.
There are other libraries such as the "Math" library. This includes things like Angle conversion from Radians to Degreed and back again. Or figuring out a scaled rectangle to fit in another rectangle, like fitting a video into the window perfectly.
Since I played Settlers of Catan with a relative, I've been hooked on board games. I'm still relatively early in my board-gaming career, but I've become very interested in board game design, and how different mechanics can work.
Because of this, I've actually been working on a couple of my own games. They're nowhere near ready at this point, but when they are, I'll be posting them up here along with printable versions you can play with.
But of course, being a web development kinda guy, I've had a project hanging around in my brain for quite a while now... Not entirely sure what I'll be calling it, but for now, let's call it "Table-Top Gaming in the Cloud".
Table-Top Gaming in the Cloud
The basic idea stemmed from my days of playing Magic the Gathering — a card game by Wizards of the Coast. There's a free online client called Magic Workstation. It basically allows you to play using virtual cards against players around the world over the internet.
But I was thinking... what's to stop any game from being played online, over a virtual table? The main problem when trying to create such games is implementing the rules. Rules can get real complicated, and for a game like MTG, where you have so many cards with wildly differeing abilities and effects, it would take forever to code every single one, let alone figuring out how to make them all work properly.
Magic Workstation gets around this problem by simply not worrying about the rules. Any abilities, effects, and special rules are handled solely by the players involved; the software simply gives the players tools to do common actions (tapping, moving cards around, shuffling the deck, etc.), and lets the players take care of making sure all the rules are adhered to correctly.
This principal can be applied to any table-top game out there. When you play a real game, such as Catan for instance, there's no computer interface making sure you only make legal moves. The players simply read the rules and enforce them themselves.
So my idea is to create a platform on which any table-top game can be played. You can "create" a game, packaging all the pieces, dice, boards, etc. needed to play the game, have a server somewhere that connects players to games, and have the software (or web app) simply provide the tools to play a game (again, suffling, moving things around, rolling dice, etc.), and there you have it — a universal table-top platform for people to play whatever game they want, over one unified system.
Of course, this would take a lot of work, which is the main reason I've not even started on it yet, but it's possible. Watch this space for more news on this project.
I consume a lot of content. Music, movies, books... And over time, I've become more and more particular about which films etc. are good and which are bad. Unfortunately, my family aren't nearly as interested in such things as I am, and so it's hard to get them to watch or listen to the kinds of things I like, let alone discuss what I think is good or bad about them.
For this reason, I started up a blog over on SquareSpace (wthit56.squarespace.com), so I could vent and rant about things I like and dislike. Over time, I've become more and more "can't be bothered" about it, though, and the site's more or less just sat there for months, now. But I thought if I could get this "Second Look" site up and running, I could do reviews on here periodically, whilst posting updates on my projects, etc. at the same time.
So I will be slowly moving my older reviews over to this site, as well as writing new ones on things I feel particularly passionate about.
And that's me. Techie, Writer, Reviewer... and all round nerd. Bask in my nerdom!
—digitally signed: whothehellisthat