Archive for 'worldbuilding' Category

2008.06.15

Just a Couple Things

Several random links. I’m going to watch the Czech Republic take on Turkey in the Euro Cup in just a few minutes. Speaking of Turkey, I was just telling a friend a couple days ago about how Turkey is such a mystery to me. I know a lot about its history but not much about modern Turkey, especially its politics and how it fits (or doesn’t fit) into Europe (it is trying to join the European Union) or entirely in the Muslim world, either. This article, which I think was written to clarify, actually just confuses me more. I will have to look into this unique country’s situation more.

In the more nerdy world, I was alerted to a new independent film being produced about constructed languages. It’s not a topic you’d think would be made into a comedy but as you can see if you mix in awkward high school crushes anything can be pretty funny. More information on this film here.

Meanwhile, I want to build these goggles. Pretty freaking cool, and surprisingly simple.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

UPDATE: Czech Republic lost in a very dramatic second half. *sigh*

1 Comment | Catergorized: games  geek  prague  worldbuilding

2006.10.26

Medieval Demographics

Quite a while ago I ran across S. John Ross’ Medieval Demographics Made Easy. It’s a brilliant demographics study of the medieval ages. If you were ever wondering how many taverns there would be in a town of 5,000 people this is the site for you. It’s got loads of interesting information, too, on how to figure the data out. Brandon Blackmoor even took the basic data from the site and turned it into an online calculator called The Domesday Book, which I’ve used a couple times.

Well, this whole concept was taken to another level with Populations for Low Fantasy. They’ve included all sorts of extra information into their calculator for city and town living. Best of all you can download it for offline use. Very handy!

If you’re into RPGs or writing fantasy or period novels this is a must have utility to use.

Comments Off on Medieval Demographics | Catergorized: worldbuilding  writing

2006.04.30

Republique De Estadalla

I am going to make up a country and give it a quick history just because I’ve got some ideas brewing in my head. Welcome to the Republique De Estadalla. Despite its cheap ripoff name combining French and pseudo-Spanish the people of Estadalla speak English because that’s what I know.

Colonists came from Europe in the late 1500s. The indigenous peoples they didn’t kill off eventually branched into two groups; those that learned and merged with the colonist’s European culture and benefitted called the Sturique, and those that tried keeping their native culture but were subjugated called the Qoxelles.

In the mid-19th century the colony rebelled and formed its own country, the Republique De Estadalla. The European country fought against the rebellion out of form but didn’t really care much because at this point the colony had been stripped of most resources.

Estadalla was still divided clearly among haves and have-nots. While initially in the heady days of liberation the Sturiques and Qoxelles tried to remediate the bad situation, the Sturiques were reluctant to give up power. The few resources remaining after colonial days were in their hands. It was during this time that corruption became the norm and over the years it became accepted as a part of life. The Estadallan economy never recovered after colonial liberation. Even those in power were poor by their own neighbor’s standards.

The situation could not last and the separation between the Sturiques and Qoxelles became blurrier as wealth leeched from the nation and lawlessness seemed to reign. Many people inside and outside the country questioned whether Estadalla could ever create a functional society and culture with rule of law, economic opportunity and cultural identity. In the 1970s a spectacular coup was made. It was led by a group of friends who could not stand the plight of their nation. Jean-Claude Guerrero, thier leader, was made absolute dictator of the troubled nation. Giving himself an announced annual income of exactly the median income of the country, he set out to reform the country.

The first thing Guerrero did was to crack down on the corruption that plagued his nation. He knew there could be no rule of law when his government was bribable. He appointed his coup friends to be judges and head the police forces. When cases of corruption were brought out they were tried and when individuals were found guilty punishment was severe. For small things on a short time scale, it might mean immediate dismissal. As the degree of corruption increased the punishment was ramped up to public flogging and cutting off of hands. Prison was mandatory.

In one spectacular case a judge, one of the coup-friends of Guerrero’s, was found guilty of corruption himself. On public television Guerrero took the judge and pronounced the sentence and the punishment: death. “Filip Hastengo, the crimes you commited and the office you defiled are not above the law.” The nation was stunned as Guerrero carried out the verdict and shot Hastengo. Though other countries vilified Guerrero and his actions, the rule of law was enforced and corruption diminished dramatically. People began to have faith that the law applied to everyone regardless of station.

Guerrero’s other concern was his economy. The Sturique administrations he replaced had made laws where foreign investment was almost impossible. He changed this. Foreign companies, attracted by the growing stability, cheap labor and other incentives started moving into the country. Guerrero also entered into various trade treaties with his immidiate neighbors, invested in ports, transportation and other critical infrastructure. Very slowly he started turning Estadalla’s economy around. He reinvested collected taxes into the country.

Education was a big focus for Guerrero. He felt that people who work do not commit crime, and to have a job one must have education and skills. He established certain standards for public school education. 9 years (K-9) were devoted to early education. At that point students could choose to go into vocational schools or higher public education for another three years, or enter the workforce as unskilled labor right away. There were also universities established.

It would be a very long list to mark all the improvements Guerrero made to Estadalla. Though he had his share of scandals (he was a notorious womanizer who never married) he was generally loved -or at least respected- by all. He always emphasized that he was trying to improve the lives of everyone in the country, from farm hands to business owners to school teachers to parents and their children. In particular he showed the Sturiques and Qoxelles that when it came to Estadalla they were the same people and helped them to find common ground and work together.

In the mid-1990s Guerrero started certain governmental reforms. He freed the press, which was relatively open already, from the control of the government. He established a Parlaiment and held national elections to fill the seats. Anyone could run using either their own money or limited use funds from the government. There were no party affiliations and candidates were not allowed to accept any money from anyone else. To common Estadallans, many of whom remembered the corruption of yesteryear or who only knew the rule of Guerrero it was freedom unknown.

In 2000 Guerrero announced to the nation and the world that Estadalla would be creating a new Republic with a new Constitution. Work would begin immediately on the Constitution. The shock announcement was Guerrero declaring when the process was completed and the new government ready he would be stepping down from power.

In 2006 the Constitution, created by a panel of judges, members of Parlaiment, representatives from various legal areas in Estadalla and Guerrero himself, was ratified by a 3/4ths majority of the population. Elections for Parlaiment and the seat of President are scheduled for the summer. Guerrero was asked by many to run for a position the new government but he has declined.

What the future holds for Estadalla no one knows. Jean-Claude Guerrero has already purchased his retirement home near the ocean in his hometown of Porto Liber. He has quipped that now he has fixed the nation he might think about marrying and having children.

Comments Off on Republique De Estadalla | Catergorized: worldbuilding  writing

2006.04.25

Worldbuilding Resources

I found a great site that has a database backend so regular people can contribute that is dedicated to worldbuilding resources. Empireans has a section for links, useful books, and a link exchange. Some of the links are a bit out of date but there’s a lot there I didn’t know about.

I also found a nice online substitute for Langmaker, the language making helper application I was lamenting the loss of recently. PHPWordGen has many of the same features as the word generator. It doesn’t seem to have the flexibility of Langmaker, but it is a good start.

Comments Off on Worldbuilding Resources | Catergorized: worldbuilding

2006.04.23

1st Language Creation Conference

Today, despite my exhaustion from several days of late nights with NHK, I managed to haul myself out of bed at 8AM to attend the 1st Language Creation Conference over in Berkeley (previously mentioned here). First off, let me congratulate Sai Emrys for putting this together and pulling it off. It was quite a unique and extraordinairy conference. I wish I was more awake so I could participate effectively.

Though a few of the lectures were well over my head (I am interested in language, but I am not a linguist!) I did learn quite a bit and have some fresh perspective on how to approach my own projects. I’ll have to write more about them when I’ve got a chance.

As well, I’ll give some of my thoughts on some of the lectures. Some of them were, like I said, quite good and even if you’re not interested in language would be of interest, particularly the cognitive science lecture.

Meanwhile, though, I’ve got to get some sleep. I’m about to keel over.

Fiat lingua!

2 Comments | Catergorized: geek  worldbuilding

2006.04.16

Republic -> Oligarchy -> Dictatorship

I’m always scouring the web for new and intersting stories and articles on world building. Tonight I was reading this one on governments and noted this interesting passage about Republics. It notes a relationship between republics turning into oligarchies turning into Dictatorships.

The nation will begin as a Republic, but because of the great inequities in wealth and opportunity, certain families will wield great power, always electing whom they choose, turning the nation into an Oligarchy, run by these families. As the Oligarchy becomes corrupt, the military will intervene, overthrow the Oligarchy, and create a Dictatorship. At first, the Dictator may do well, but inevitably, he, too, becomes corrupt, and is overthrown in a great popular movement that recreates the Republic, beginning the cycle all over again.

I can’t help but think of the Bush family, the Kennedy family, the Tafts, and many more.

While America hasn’t turned into an oligarchy, I can’t help but wonder if it could. My instincts say no, but it would make for an interesting story (should someone choose to write it). Much food for thought…

3 Comments | Catergorized: political  worldbuilding  writing

2006.04.05

1st Language Creation Conference

1st Language Creation ConferenceIn my searching for tools to use for worldbuilding recently I stumbled upon this announcement: “The Conference is a set of talks and panel discussions about various issues related to language creation, from several different perspectives.”

Wow. There are other people that do this that actually want to meet? Too freaking cool!

Development of conlangs (constructed languages) has quite a history. My interest, like many others in the past 40 years or so, started after I read JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings with its various languages for elves, dwarves, and men. Tolkien was a linguist and loved language. I’ve heard it said that he wrote his stories simply to house the languages he created. Another perhaps generally more famous language is Esperanto. It hasn’t garnered the use and reputation that was it’s goal, but Esperanto is still a popular auxiliary language.

Writers of science fiction and fantasy often develop, if only in rudimentary forms, languages for the cultures their characters are from or interact with. Some of them are amazingly complex and have others studying them for their intrinsic qualities.

The process of creating a language is intellectually stimulating and challenging. I’ve learned more about phonetics, grammar and perspective of cultural influences on language by working on my own conlang. There’s no right or wrong way to go about it (though some are definitely easier than others!). I’ve been idly working on my conlang for years now and I’ve only developed a general framework; phonetics (and meanings for sounds), some basic grammar and a few words. I’m hoping this conference helps to inspire me to further the language along.

If you’re interested in attending the Conference, here is the registration page. If you have questions there’s a contact page as well. Hope to see you there!

1 Comment | Catergorized: geek  worldbuilding

2006.04.03

Where is the World Building Mac Software?

I’m in a sad state. I want to get working again on my world building projects but there just isn’t anything out there that satisfies my needs. It’s not like there isn’t some great software out there by companies like ProFantasy Software or NBOS Software. They have packages that will generate fractal planets and then bring it into a mapmaking/cartography application. The problem is their packages are for Windows only and neither publisher seems interested in tapping into the Mac market.

There are bits and bobs of software out there that work on MacOS X but then fall short for a variety of reasons. Fracplanet is a great application for creating random fractal planets. It falls short in many ways, though. For example you can’t save or export your world as anything but POV-Ray format yet every export I tried had errors.

There’s a map making program called Dundjinni that looks half decent. It looks better for local maps, though, and not large scale maps that you can zoom in and out off. Besides it’s not integrated with any other systems and is clearly designed for RPGs. There’s nothing wrong with that, and in fact any software I’m looking for would have to be geared towards game players to be viable (unless open source?). I just wish it were more flexible.

Further absent tools are packages like the old Langmaker language manipulation software (now only a website about conlangs). This is even missing from the Windows world now, but it was a great bit of software that helped you either create a basic random language from a few parameters, or took an existing language and logically modify it (language evolution).

Does anyone know of any good world building software packages for the Macintosh? They would have to be for OSX to be viable; there are still a few lingering OS9 apps floating around out there and are depricated.

I think if I were an amateur programmer I would build out an entire package of programs austensibly geared towards RPGs but more than useful to world builders like myself (genre writers, for example). A fractal planet builder, an astronomical mapping tool (with system charts), surface mapping (land, cities, buildings, ships, etc, possibly with a 3D component), language creator, modules for building out the world (cultures, mythologies, etc), and a master module that would contain everything. I actually have a roadmap (a rudimentary business plan) and just need some mad programming skillz to get it all done. Anyone interested?

Alas, I am not a programmer. Nor likely to become one at this point in the game. I just wish some of this stuff existed already so I could get stuff done instead of using my crappy VPC Windows emulator (the only Microsoft software I run at home).

2 Comments | Catergorized: apple  geek  worldbuilding

2005.11.14

NaNoWriMo Speculative World Building

Though I found this a bit late to start this month, the exercises could be done at any time. Basically it is 30 individual exercises you can do day by day to help flesh out a world and start the world building process of speculative fiction. I would suggest starting this process next year during October and then taking the 31st off for some fun before NaNoWriMo starts up again…

Comments Off on NaNoWriMo Speculative World Building | Catergorized: worldbuilding  writing

2005.06.20

Writing Writing Writing

At some point I hope to set aside time to start writing a project I’ve been doing research on for a long time. Too long, actually, and it’s driving me crazy. Probably in the fall I’ll have that time provided I discipline myself enough to sit down and do the work involved.

Anyways, I found a ton of links while perusing M.C. De Marco’s webpage which I wanted to keep for reference. Here they are in no particular order.

One: Writing advice from Chris Moriarty. Covers a lot of the basics. Has a great list of recommended reading.

Two: Here are two methods (not answers) on how some people write short stories (the Bubble Method) and novels (the Snowflake Method). Both look interesting. I’ll have to read these again and see how they will help.

Three: Finally, two links on world building, which addresses specific issues around the project I’m working on. The first is a general guide to world building. It is not entirely comprehensive, but it is a great start. I’ve actually seen this list before, but I’ve never seen it fleshed out so much. The second link is a short guide to constructed languages, which is something I’ve been interested in since I first read The Lord of the Rings when I was a wee lad. Short and concise.

OK, back to your regularly scheduled life.

Comments Off on Writing Writing Writing | Catergorized: worldbuilding  writing
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