Chronicles of Craddock 2017Image Not Found.
Welcome to the 2017 edition of Chronicles of Craddock, a yearly blog in which I give a brutally honest look back at my writing year that was—good, bad, and ugly—and offer a glimpse into what I'll be working on in the year that will be.
If you want to compare my progress on 2017's various projects to the hopes and dreams I had for them as I wrote the 2016 edition of this column, click here to read other Chronicles of Craddock posts. Otherwise fix yourself a drink, sit back, and get to reading. CoC blogs are as much a writing exercise for me as they are a detailed report for you, my readers. I hope you enjoy!
The past 12 months have been my busiest period as a writer, bar none. Every year has been busier than the year before it, but that's a great problem to have as a writer. Even better, I'm extremely proud of how every single one of my projects from this year turned out. Let's break them down by category.
Shacknews remains my primary freelance gig, and I remain proud of the work I'm able to do there. While I did review a few games this year, I've made the transition to writing long-form (read as, book-sized) articles as my primary function at the website. I wrote two of those this year.
Doom: Stairway to Badass
This feature was named Doom: To Hell and Back at the time of its publication. I changed the name recently for a few reasons. First, I didn't name the feature. I was exhausted from months of interviews and writing, so Steve Watts, Shacknews' former editor-in-chief, christened it for me. I had no issue with the "To Hell and Back" title; it was appropriate for any product or media related to Doom. It was also very common, and most notably shared its name with the chapter of one of Danny O'Dwyer's own Doom retrospective videos over at Noclip.
"Stairway to Badass" was a phrase used by Doom 2016 director Hugo Martin during our interview at this year's Game Developers Conference. I loved it and latched onto it for a chapter title, but I should have been thinking bigger. As the months wore on I felt more strongly about changing the name to make my feature more distinct, so I dropped "To Hell and Back" (with no ill feelings toward Steve, who helpfully stepped up to the plate when I was too tired to think of anything better) and made "Stairway to Badass" official.
I go into more detail on the writing of Doom: STB in the book breakdown, linked above. The long and short is I was very pleased with how this feature turned out, although I had my eye on experimenting more with the form and structure of these Shacknews long-form pieces.
Rocket Jump: Quake and the Golden Age of First-Person Shooters
The experiments I began in 20 Years of Tomb Raider and evolved in Doom: Stairway to Badass evolved to their final form in Rocket Jump. I went all-out for this feature: 24 chapters, an overarching narrative detailing the good, bad, and horrifying of id Software's culture during the development of the Quake franchise; and "Pause Screen" interlude chapters that detail the making of other popular shooters from the 1990s with an emphasis on one or more features for which each was known.
I've got very exciting news to share about Rocket Jump in the new year. For now, I encourage you to visit Shacknews and read the full feature, and/or hit up the book breakdown linked above for an exhaustive behind-the-scenes account of its production.
How Final Fantasy 7 Revolutionized Videogame Marketing and Helped Sony Tackle Nintendo
Writing books as well as book-sized articles kept me busy this year, but I still found time to stretch my wings and write for a couple of other outlets. My examination of FF7's marketing campaign, written for Paste magazine, has been kicking around in my head for a couple of years. The thesis is that while FF7's gameplay and technology contributed to its popularity, its audacious and far-ranging marketing campaign was the biggest reason for the success of the game as well as Sony's PS1 console. Give it a read and let me know if you agree.
Inside the 'Prototype' vs. 'Infamous' Duel for Superhero Dominance
I love learning and writing about how external factors such as advertising campaigns and packaging can make or break a product at retail. Continuing my look into the influence of marketing on games, I pitched Waypoint editor-in-chief Austin Walker an article centered on the feud between Infamous and Prototype, two of the biggest open-world superhero games during the PS3 and Xbox 360 generation.
Writing this article was more challenging than writing my first two Waypoint features on cheat codes and the making of AM2R. I worked with the site's newest editor, Rob Zacny, whose patience and eye for detail pushed me to chisel at this article until it was exactly the way we both wanted it to turn out. Rob taught me a lot during our back-and-forth editing sessions, and I'm grateful to him for his time; it resulted in an article I'm quite proud of.
Cheat book for Super NES Classic
A spiritual sequel to the strategy guide I wrote for last year's NES Classic, I received the opportunity to author a book of tips, strategies, and codes for the Super NES Classic. I was very excited to work on this project. Super NES remains my favorite console. On top of that, I made a few slips in the NES Classic cheat book, so I set out to right those wrongs by putting together a beautiful and error-free booklet for the SNES Classic. The guide was packaged with Emio's Super Gamepad controller for the miniature-sized SNES Classic. Reviews on the controller are mixed, but the book has been a big hit.
Unless other side projects like this one cross my plate, this book concludes my work on RETRO Videogame Magazine. Mike Kennedy sold the company to an indie developer interested in continuing the magazine. While we could have worked together, I was ready to move on. I'm busy with too many other projects to shepherd magazines to completion every month or every other month, but I wish RETRO's new owner and contributors all the best.
In no particular order, here are my books that were published during the 2017 calendar year. If a book I promised or hoped would be released this year doesn't show up in this section, I'll likely address it in the next and final section, which looks at what I'll be working on in 2018.
Break Out: How the Apple II Launched the PC Gaming Revolution
By far my biggest release this year, Break Out is my first hardcover book and my first project published by Schiffer Publishing. The book launched in September. I coordinated with a number of gaming outlets from Polygon and Kotaku to US Gamer and Retronauts to run sample chapters, which you can read for free using the links above.
Schiffer coordinated my largest book signing to date: A book signing at their booth during the first day of New York Comic-Con. I've included a few pics my wife, Amie, took during the signing. I was thrilled to take part in such a huge event, and triply excited to meet everyone who stopped by to chat and purchase a copy of Break Out.
Many readers have asked if there are plans to publish the book digitally and as an audio production. I'm in favor of both of those formats, but publishing schedules and formats are out of my hands. Schiffer is the publisher, and they focus on producing beautiful hardcover books. Break Out is no exception to that rule, though I can understand the desire for the book in formats that others find more palatable to their lifestyles.
I'll be checking in with Schiffer early next year to talk about the next phase of our marketing plan for the book, and will keep you updated on news of other editions if and when I receive word.
(Amazon Links above)
Anything But Sports and Everybody Shake! were published in 2016 as parts of Making Fun, my first anthology of articles written for my now-defunct blog, Episodic Content, and other outlets. Red to Black: The Making of Rogue Legacy was published on Episodic Content last year or the year before. This year I revised and expanded it for inclusion in a game development-themed bundle of eBooks on StoryBundle.com. All three are now available for less than a buck each. Enjoy!
Once Upon a Point and Click: The Tale of King's Quest, Gabriel Knight, and the Queens of Adventure Gaming
Another book collected in Making Fun, I spun out Once Upon a Point and Click for another of this year's Story Bundles. It's now for sale as a standalone eBook for $2.99 due to the length. I'm thinking of publishing it in paperback as well. If I do, it'll be sometime next year.
Stay Awhile and Listen: Book I in paperback
I realize this isn't the Stay Awhile and Listen news most readers were expecting. Count me among that group. However, I've received countless requests to bring the formerly-eBook-only title to print. This year, Amie and I made that happen. However, you'll notice that there are two editions. What gives?
The reason for producing two editions of the book has to do with printing costs. The SAAL series is one of my self-published projects. That means I have to price it in such a way that's affordable for you but profitable for me. The full book, which includes all side quests and bonus rounds, was large enough that I would have had to charge a lot for it in order to turn a profit on printing it.
Rather than force people to buy an edition that may have been too pricey, I thought of rolling the story and all extra content into one version, the Legendary Edition. The Narrative Edition is what I call the "just the facts, ma'am" version: all story, no bonus content. It's $10 cheaper than the LE and a perfectly acceptable substitute, but if you love Diablo and/or want even more behind-the-scenes stuff, I recommend the Legendary Edition.
Also, the Legendary Edition is linked on Amazon to the Audible and eBook editions. If you're big on consistency and cohesion, consider that another reason to go with that version.
Next year looks to follow my continuing trend of being even more swamped in writing projects. Not that I'm complaining. Here's what's on deck for next year.
Point of Fate: Book Two of the Gairden Chronicles
There are two books that I hoped/expected to be released this year, but that didn't make it, and I owe anyone who was looking forward to reading one or both of them a huge apology. Point of Fate is the first. So: I'm very sorry this book slipped from 2017.
The abridged sequence of events, which I'll flesh out at a later date, is that I (finally) submitted Point's manuscript in January. At that time, Margaret Curelas, my editor and the co-founder of Tyche Books, believed we were on track for a late summer/early fall publication date. Obviously that didn't happen, and the reason is the size of Margaret's editing queue. I didn't expect her to drop everything when my book finally arrived in her inbox, and she wasn't in a position to do that. Tyche Book is growing by leaps and bounds. I'm so proud of her, but it meant that she had a lot of other books in line ahead of Point of Fate.
Our tentative plan is for her to edit the book in January. She'll send editing notes later that month or possibly in February, because if you haven't heard, Point is a pleasingly plump read. We'll go back and forth on edits a few times, and by summer or fall, Point should be available.
Stay Awhile and Listen: Book II
The David Apologizes Tour rolls on. SAAL 2 is more or less finished, but I wasn't able to publish it this year because I'm taking a different approach from the first book. Instead of just putting it out there, I'm going to try my hand at crowdfunding. This is one of those events I'll have to expand on later, but we've got a great campaign planned; I'm just waiting on a few more pieces to fall into place.
I feel terrible that it's taken so long for this book to come to fruition. All I can say is I have had a game plan in mind, and I fully expected it to take a while to bear fruit. Bear with me. I promise SAAL 2 will make for one hell of a read (pun intended). In the meantime, https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DJNQdpEXcAEMM6M.jpg#mce_temp_url#, which I released a few months ago.
Shovel Knight (Boss Fight Books)
One of the secret projects I mentioned in last year's Chronicles of Craddock can finally be revealed! Writing a book for Boss Fight has been one of my dreams for years. Technically that dream has already come true since I spent several months this year writing and revising it. If you hit up the Amazon link above, you'll note that Shovel Knight is on track for a March release. When it's available, I'll post a book breakdown that delves into how the book came about and the process of writing it.
War of the Elementalists: Book 1 - Firebug
I'll write more about WOTE in the next few days. Suffice it to say that this marks my long-awaited (by me, at least!) return to writing fiction. I needed something to do in between Gairden books and a few other irons I've got over the proverbial fire. Stay tuned for more news about this one next week.
Top Secret projects
I've got several other fiction and nonfiction books in various stages of completion, and I don't plan to go into detail until they've been picked up. I'm only mentioning them here because the completionist in me twitches at the thought of publishing a Chronicles blog without at least alluding to the surprises I've got up my sleeve.
I wrapped up last year's Chronicles blog by reminding my readers and myself that I do get writing wanderlust. Rather than run from it or deny it, I've chosen to embrace it. I no longer shy away from taking on multiple projects. On the contrary, I prefer to be working on more than one book at once. When I lose enthusiasm for one project, I can keep my spirits up by switching gears to the other one. Then, more properly motivated and jazzed about writing, I can flow back to the one that had me stumped and power through any brick walls in my path.
I hope you'll enjoy those end results as much as I'm enjoying the peaks and valleys of writing them. That's writing: ups and downs. That's life, too.
Thanks for reading, and happy new year,