Friday 29 September 2017

The NEW Tedagame!

It's now late 2017. That's 20 years since my original plan to create an endless, do anything game. In that time I've made six different failed attempts at coding it (first in C++, then with SLUDGE, then AGS, then three online versions.)  On the way I also made five full size adventure games and two dozen online "choose your own adventure" type games. The current Tedagame site has the most recent eight. But these were an admission of failure: I really wanted the game to be automated, with characters walking, clicking on objects, etc.

One month ago I had a breakthrough. I think I can now code the original idea, but in a super simple way. After a month of experimenting I am further ahead than I was after six months of the previous attempt. This will actually work!!! Here are some test screenshots. The finished version will look a lot nicer, this is just testing the code.

So once again I say to my every patient imaginary readers, watch this space! It doesn't matter how long the journey takes, it's where you finish that matters. Tedagame will change the world. You just watch.

Monday 17 July 2017

3. The First Men In the Moon

The First Men in the Moon is now live.


Every time I visit this blog and there are zero views I feel happy. I guess it's my autism, and my idealism. I want this to be right, and it isn;t quite there yet. I don't want to have to apologise or explain. But I do want it online because I do think it's good. It's just not as good as I want it. But it will be.

Schedule redux

I expect to hit my stride by the end of the first year, when I hit story 16, some time around March 2018. By that point I will have a nice routine: a continuous building story with an episode on the first day of every month. Those are the nuts and bolts. After that I can focus on making the writing and story and art better. It's not about the hits. It's about the art. When the art is right the hits will come, and I don't want them until that date.


This story is quite a landmark: this joins up the first five stories: stories 2,4 and 5 have improved beginnings and endings, so it now makes a continual story.

The nest story will be the first ione where we start to see Axel, the hero, as a fleshed out person with feelings and struggles beyond the simple "save the world" and that pages problems.

This is the most colourful story yet. I try to draw everything in black and white with just a few lines, as it's quicker, but when dealing with alien creatures and landscapes I need to use more lines and colour, just so you can see what's happening. 

Blog and HTML

Let me apologise for the terrible formatting on this blog. Blogger is a wonderfully useful service, but creates horrible, bloated HTML. So these paragraphs and headings keep changing style, and there is very little I can do about it except apologise. This is why the game is entirely coded by hand. It's the only way to keep control. I want the game to do what I want, I don't want it to fight against me.

That's all for now!

Wednesday 21 June 2017

2. From The Earth To The Moon

Why I don't advertise

This latest episode illustrates why I don't believe in advertising. Informing friends, yes. Making an easy to access blog, yes. Improving the product? Heck yes!! But shouting "this is great, look at this" to strangers? No! No! No!! Because this story, on the surface, has little to offer. What matters is the stuff you can't see... yet!

The latest release might seem to be evidence of a project in decline: it's the shortest, it's the most delayed, on the surface it's the least interesting story, certainly the least popular of the classic novels, and it's the first announcement to get zero likes on Facebook. :)  So advertising this would be an uphill struggle. It would also be disastrous for the game!

Imagine if I did what Facebook keeps asking me to do, and paid them money for advertising. Let's imagine that Facebook was somehow phenomenally successful, and thousands of people got to see this installment. Most of them would never come back. Because the game is like a hotel, and right now it's still a building site. I have a wall here, a part of the roof, and I'm still digging some foundations. If I invite people to stay in this hotel you an imagine the feedback I'd get! But I can see what they cannot: I can see the bigger picture. I can see where this is going, and what it will be one day. And I am very happy with its progress.

Like I said, from the outside the game seems to be in decline. Two years ago I was still trying to make this a 3D universe where every atom could be explored. One year ago I had revised my ambitions but was still trying to create an animated universe. Six months ago the game was launched as plain text and still images, many of them drawn in ten minutes or less. And since then the gap between installments has grown larger, with more apologies, and less to show. A game in decline, right? That's how it looks from outside. But let's pull aside the curtain and see what is happening behind the scenes.

A decline in ambition?

Since 1997, when I first began planning this, the idea has been the same: an endless game, biased toward big ideas, where the user can do anything. And that is finally what we have. 

Great inventions involve numerous failed attempts before they get it right. When Swan invented the light bulb it took fifteen years of trying different ways. The final success, in 1875, depended largely on developments in technology. And so it is with TEDAgame: back in 1997 it was not practical for users to create their own stories, but now it is. And the game had to be designed for the desktop, but now it makes more sense to strip it back to basics for the busy user on the phone. I now have the game I always wanted: users can do anything. And unlike my earlier attempts, this is easy to make and share. Which means, unlike the previous attempts, this can work.

A decline in output?

When I am late with a story it's because I'm working on other projects. But these are all linked. The foundation of TEDAgame is the ideas: while I develop the stories I am also developing the underlying logic at the same time. The goal is for ideas that really make sense. This month for example I spent several weeks (of spare time) upgrading my AnswersAnswers site. I also spent time improving my Jack Kirby site, as TEDAgame is inspired by his work. It is also inspired by the game Zak McKracken. So, when I improve my Kirby Fantastic Four site, or my Zak site, this is all part of the same project. Remember: TEDAgame is not a superficial thing. It is only as strong as its underlying ideas, so sometimes I need to take time working on those.

As for being a slow month, if only you knew! (By the way, nobody has accused me of being slow, this blog post is simply my awareness that this is how it must look.)

July 2017: the busiest yet

This month I released From the Earth To The Moon. Tonight I hope to release a new, much improved front end to the game. In just ten days (the end of July) I hope to release a full length story, The First men In The Moon. At the same time I will upgrade the previously released Journey to the Center of the Earth and  Goddess of Atvatabar, so that episodes 1,2,3,4 and 5 work as a continuous cliff hanger adventure. And then I start work on episode 6, where we begin to find some answers!

You ain't seen nothin' yet.

Tuesday 2 May 2017

The purpose of life

The latest update is an expanded "after death" section for War of The Worlds. After that I plan for a new episode on the first day of every month.

I had intended to just add a couple of extra scenes. But it's all about mind expansion, so a tiny edit ended up much, much bigger than planned. It deals with the biggest questions of all:
  1. What are the limits to the idea of "endless, do anything"?
  2. What are aliens really like?
  3. What is the final end to the Martian saga? If they come back in greater numbers, what then?
  4. What is the purpose of life? (Inspired by reading about Luigi Fantappiè's theory of synergy versus entropy)
I think most books and movies get these topics wrong:
  1. Eternity should be infinitely bigger and more interesting than now. It should not be just an extension of what we currently think.
  2. Aliens are not like us!!! They would not have human level intelligence and technology. I am weary of stories where aliens are just stand-ins for humans. I'm looking at you, Star Wars, Independence Day, Star Trek (though to be fair, Star Trek does have some good ideas), the Marvel Universe, etc, etc. And if they are like us then watch out! I think Jack Kirby had it right. His aliens were big. before other writers shrunk them down to human level.
  3. I do not want Martians to be defeated then disappear, and I definitely don't want them to just come back again and again like in a bad comic. I want this to mean something, and mean something BIG.
  4. I want satisfying answers: can we really expand forever? Would we want to? What would we do? Does perfection mean no more change? No freedom? no conflict of any kind?
I like the idea that, in many years' time, when people have explored years of TEDAgame developing its ideas, they will go back and see the very first story in a completely new light. They will see that the Martians were the opposite of what they thought.

The answers were always staring us in the face, always available from the very start, just like in real life.

I am not trying to hide anything. I am trying to show ideas, no artificially keep secrets as a trick to make you read. That is probably why I will never be rich in the current economy. I do not believe in artificial scarcity.

Oh, and what is the purpose of life? To create order forever. This can only happen based on complete freedom for all, because conflict wastes resources, which makes you weaker, so you eventually fail. Order creates freedom creates harmony, beauty, and everything we could possibly want.

And this can only happen because the universe, being made of numbers, is infinite in all directions. There will always be interesting conflicts at the edges, and the edges expand forever.

Monday 10 April 2017

The next 15 stories: my tribute to Jack Kirby

A few years ago (circa 2005 I think?) I posted on the Fantastic Four message board about my plans to create a homage to Jack Kirby's FF using classic novels. This is that homage. I think it is safe to talk about now, because there is nothing here that Marvel can sue me for:
  • I do not use any of the names or other details from the FF. 
  • I do not copy anything from the FF, 
  • I just use the public domain that inspired the FF. Going back to the public domain roots!
For example, Reed Richards is the classic scientist-adventurer as seen in many Victorian science fiction novels, such as "From the Earth To The Moon". Dr Doom is the "evil" scientist such as in Guy Boothby's "Dr Nikola" or Jules Verne's "Master of the World".

The next year in TEDAgame

Period 1: outer space and underground (precursors to Fantastic Four issue 1)

Issue 1: War of the Worlds: this is like the 1950s monster comics, where the word is currently in danger of invasion.Issues planned for the next year:

Issue 2: From the Earth to the Moon. Our heroes realise they need to invent space travel in order to defeat the Martians. This is like the start of Fantastic Four issue 1, where they race to get into space.

Issue 3: The First Men In The Moon. They reach the moon and discover that the real action takes place underground. This is like the Mole Man story.

Issue 4: Journey to the Centre of the Earth. This continues the Mole Man story. I already finished this story, but will need to edit it to fit as a continuation of issue 3.

Issue 5: The Goddess of Atvatabar. I was always intrigued by underground stories, so I go deeper! This is my homage to Kirby's "Kala, Queen of the Netherworld" who incidentally later appeared in the soft reboot of the FF after Kirby and Lee left (FF 126).

Period 2: shape changing and reality (precursors to FF 2-3)

Issue 6: The Germ Growers (1892, Robert Potter): why can't we find the aliens, even underground? Because they are shape changers. This also explains the germs from issue 1, and  neatly links to the moon and subspace.

Issue 7: William Wilson (based on the short story by Edgar Allan Poe). This is about doppelgangers, and follows from the idea of a parallel society living underground (in the previous issue). This is my homage to FF 2. I add the alien angle because, ever since the War of the Worlds, I hint that god-like aliens are watching us, and in that context none of these stories are accidental.

Issue 8: The Realm of the Unreal (based on a short story by Ambrose Bierce, he of Devils Dictionary fame): about a stage hypnotist who can make you think you do and see things. This builds on the "we are being watched and controlled" paranoia, and is my homage to FF 3.

Issue 9: Life Is A Dream (based on a play about a king who is persuaded that something he really did, did not happen). This builds on the hypnosis theme, and also explains why historians ignore the War of the Worlds and the hollow Earth, even though (in my stories) they are real.

Period 3: Captain Nemo and Dr Nikola (precursors to FF 4-5)

Issue 10: 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea: this links to the Goddess of Atvatabar (which began at sea) and the general search for the illuminati. It is of course my homage to FF 4. I may or may not add Verne's sequels at this point (In Search of the Castaways and Mysterious Island): 

Issue 11: Dr Nikola: my homage to FF 5.

Period 5: time travel (precursors to FF 5)

Issue 12: The Clock That Went Backwards (short story by Edward Page Mitchell: if anybody here likes H.G.Wells, Mitchell did it all first, and better, in my opinion) This is the natural join between the earlier themes (scientists who know more than you and me, stuff going on in history that we don't notice, and hypnosis) and the next theme of time travel.

Issue 13: The Time Machine: this is another story I already finished, but I think it fits best (With a little adapting) here.

Issue 14: Gilgamesh. I think this can follow from the Time Machine: because after visiting the future you want to visit the past.

Period 6: world conquest (precursors to FF6)

Issues 15 and 16: Robur the Conqueror and Master of the World (Jules' Verne's story about a man who invents a world beating flying machine). This is my homage to FF 6. I will probably combine Dr Nikola and Robur into one. Captain Nemo is of course my homage to to the Sub-Mariner. The superhero aspects come in later as we move to the cosmic god stories. 

This covers the first year: a story a month, plus the four stories I have already done that just need to be edited to fit. This timing is another homage to the FF, as the first six issues were bi-monthly, so they also took a year.

Period 7: the galaxy (precursors to FF7)

Issue 17: Voltaire's Micromegas (1752): we begin to learn about the wider universe. This is the start of my homage to FF 7.

Issue 18: Station X, by G. McLeod Winsor: more about the invasion and telepathy.

Issue 19: "Wireless" by Kipling: how this wireless telepathy connects people. 

Coming next: travelling to worlds beyond the solar system

All of these plans are constantly under revision. \:\)  The first year is me finding my feet. The second year will be looking for feedback. Rome was not built in a day!

So now you know.

Thursday 6 April 2017

1: The War of The Worlds

This is the first issue! The origin story! It all starts here! From now on, TEDAgame will be a continuous story, with a cliffhanger ending each month.

Over the next few months the existing stories will be adapted slightly so they fit into the continuous story. E.g. Journey to the Center of the Earth" will probably become episode 5. Gilgamesh will probably fit somewhere around episode 15.

Monthly episodes

I'm still developing the idea, but by this summer (June or so) each new story should come out reliably on the first of each month. This is basically a monthly comic, except you decide what happens, and you can add whatever you want. This is how all comics should be, in my opinion.

Saturday 18 March 2017

The Goddess of Atvatabar

The Goddess of Atvatabar is now live!

It's a few days late as usual, so from now on all dates will say "estimated". Atvatabar is a milestone story for several reasons:
  1. The first joined-up story:
    I've added new pages to Journey to the Centre of the Earth so that the stories now join up. At the end of Joueny, where Jules Verne's book returns to the surface, you can now go deeper and discover Atvatabar. And vice versa.
  2. The first joined-up character:
    In Goddess the hero needs to make a decision about his girlfriend. This is the first step toward a single character story that moves forward between episodes (see next post).
  3. The last un-numbered story:
    the next story will be the origin story, "issue 1". From that point, each story will be numbered, Eventually the first four stories will be edited and re-numbered to they form a consistent story that moves forward.
Enjoy. :)

Monday 13 March 2017

My free toolbox

For the record, here are the programs and services I can't do without. And they're all free!

  • Smoothdraw - the most responsive art program out there.
  • Crimson Editor - still my favourite editor. 
  • Microspell - spell checker. Very quick and flexible, 
  • fnr - find and replace multi-line blocks of text across multiple documents 
  • pngquant - for compressing web graphics: gives beautiful results
  • Filezilla - for uploading the results

And web sites:

And now you know!

A last! Spell checking!

My built in spell checker stinks. As you may have noticed. Each page is spell checked at least three times yet typos are everywhere!  Aaaaaargh!

This is because

  1. I need to type so quickly
  2. the spell checker doesn't know the difference between HTML and ordinary words, so every second word is underlined - I can't see the real mistakes from the false ones.
  3. There is no way to tell it "next time ignore this word, OK?"
But today all that changes! I discovered "Microspell". It's wonderful! I just told it to check my entire site, and was able to fix about a hundred typos that I missed before. Hooray!! I can't guarantee that the site is typo free - after all, this is me we are talking about - but it's getting better.

Saturday 4 March 2017

New: Theology 101

Bonus track!  A whole new mini book is added today.

A lot of stories deal with weird stuff like time travel, aliens, gods, etc. Not everyone is interested in the details, and it take ages to explain it every time, so I decided to put all the heavy explanations in one place.

So if you want the secrets of the universe, they're all here:

I call it... Theology 101!  It isn't the kind of theology they teach at church. But it should be.

Thursday 2 March 2017

Progress update

I just added "The Time Machine", the first story since the game launched. No players yet - or else maybe they play but stay very quiet - but I'm happy with that. I'm still finding my way, improving the game all the time. Here are the latest improvements:

Faster art

At first the art was averaging over half an hour per picture. This picture for example ended up taking over an hour. I'm happy with the result, but an hour is far too long when every story has over  a hundred pictures!

By the end of story two (Gilgamesh) I'd got that down to fifteen minutes. Here's a typical 15 minute picture from near the beginning of The Time Machine: 
I'm still not happy with that. I feel pressured for time, and the result is not great. it does the job but as an artist I could tear it apart. Here's the new, improved art style:
The people in the foreground still use the old style. but the hero in the back uses far fewer lines. This enabkles me to just focus on the parts that matter, finish a picture in ten minutes, and not feel rushed. And I can spend longer on each line, so the result should look more professional. Heres a fully "new style" picture:
I like that style. I just draw the parts that matter to the story, and enough extra lines so the reader isn't totally lost, and I'm done!!! Perfect. Of course, I can't change the art style half way through a story, so I added some more lines, like so:
This fits in better, but as you can see, the new lines do not add anything to the story. In fact, they more than double the time it takes to make the picture. Look at the adult's forward arm: in the simplified art I could be free. But when I added more detail it looked wrong, and I had to erase it and re-draw it. Also the body looks worse now: look at the top of the front leg! Urgh! 

The beauty of the simpler art is that your mind will fill in the details in the right place, so I don't have to. Ten minute pictures are the way to go!

Faster stories

The first two stories took six days to write. Meaning six days if working on the game full time. But I have a day job so a six day story usually takes twelve days or more. That isn't acceptable. I have now got that time down to three days. My goal is to reduce that to two days (if I have to read a story for the first time) or even one (if I'm already familiar with the story).

Joined up stories

I now start on The Goddess of Atvatabar, the first story to join up with an existing story! Soon, when you explore the caves in Journey to the Center of the Earth you'll be able to go deeper, deeper, and come out on the other side! That is a big step to making this more interactive: making a joined up world!

Sunday 26 February 2017

Let's add a million stories

The 20 year road map

I call this a game for a reason. I am painfully aware that right now it's just a couple of mediocre "choose your own adventure" books. But think ahead.

One day this will have so many stories, and so many links between stories, and editing them will be so easy, that it will feel more interactive than Call of Duty. because you can do anything you can imagine: if it can be expressed in words and/or pictures, you can do it.

This is how we will get there:

It's all about scale. 

I just added a page entitled "Help Us Add A Million Stories"  That's right. A million.

Right now the game has two stories. This week I will add a third. Next week I will add a fourth. I expect to average one story every three weeks - more if I do very simple stories, like Aesop's Fables for example. So on my own I will add around 17 stories per year. In two years that's 34 stories. Still not much, but enough so other people start to notice. I then expect others to add ideas. Remember, a story can be very simple - maybe just three pages. I expect to have 50 stories by the middle of 2019.

With more people contributing regularly, growth should be exponential. 100 stories by the end of 2020. By then I expect to have regular contributors, and moderators to help me handle the load.

I would also expect a medium size news site to mention it favourably. The focus then will be on getting user comfortable about adding stuff. I want people to add a story in the same way that they'd add a thread to Reddit. And drawing will not be a problem. This site is about the story, not the art. Anybody can go to and draw something (their HTML5 tool is really easy and responsive), then save it, upload it to Reddit, and add the URL.


The bottleneck will be human editing: checking that the stuff works and is above a minimum quality threshold. Nothing beats the human touch for stories. My feeling is that every moderator should have their own web space. They are then responsible for uploading game files to there. There is no javascript in this game, so there's nothing to stop it being spread over as many domains as you like. As long as each moderator is trusted. Those mods can then have their own section of the main site, and their own fans. Maybe specialise by genre? Or have their own picks? Make their name as editors, and monetise accordingly. Have ads, their own Patreon accounts, whatever they want.

Automated tools

At some point, maybe in 2022, we'll need to let people draw directly into the game.

That shouldn't be too hard for some tech minded mod to figure out. Heck, I even did it myself in a  previous game - using HTML5 canvas you can get people to draw onto the screen, then use forms to upload the results. Personally, I don't want to touch code any more. My view is that moderators would create their own code, run it at their own risk on their own domains. Their domains would scale, with hundreds then thousands then tens of thousands of stories, manages using wikis, wordpress, whatever. My own central hub would be for my own hand made stuff, and would only grow at one story per month. Let each moderator do things his own way, and reap the rewards.

How big can TEDAgame get?

Automated tools remove any barriers to growth. How big could we grow? The closest thing I know to TEDAgame is They began in 1998 and in under 20 years they had well over six million uploaded stories. So a goal of one million TEDAgame stories in a similar time (20 years) seems realistic.

The results of scale

With massive scale we can increase quality by having the best stories rise to the top. We can also have more and more links between stories, creating a fabulously rich single game world. Although it will be static pages, with so many choice it be just as interactive as anu computation-based game. More so because, as the name says, this is endless and you can literally do anything you can imagine. Though whether some mod sub-domains are allowed to be "R rated" is a question for another day. My own hub will always be family friendly. Or as family friendly as classic novels will allow.


Saturday 25 February 2017

Adding science to the stories

Most of my changes are to make stories more scientific. But you might think this is pseudo-science. So let me explain.

Science or pseudo-science?

Science is a method: observe in a repeatable way, and think logically. Science is not a collection of facts. A collection of facts is an appeal to authority: "it's true because the sacred fact book says so!" Of course, the fact book could be right. Authorities are often right, that is how they become authorities. But it is still an appeal to authority.

"But wait, the fact book can be tested, so that makes it science!" Not true. Religious texts can also be tested: do you get a spiritual experience? Can you dig up the walls of Jerusalem? Being testable does not make thing scientific. The test itself is the science.

Good science is science because it is easy to test. Bad religion is bad because it is not easy to test: "what exactly do you mean by a 'spiritual experience'?" But you can also get bad science (claims that are poorly defined) and good religion (e.g. "accept these metaphors, and a nation will have greater economic growth and better indicators of happiness" - OK, fine, I can test that.)

Good science is easy to test. My stories are easy to test. That is why I call them scientific.

Example 1: the underground sea

Journey to the Center of the Earth has a big underground sea, It is usually imagined as a vast cavern, several miles high and many miles wide, and mostly empty. As Jules Verne wrote, we cannot say it its not there until we go and test it. That's science.

In Verne's day, scientists could not be sure how giant caves would behave. Jules Verne took advantage of that fact. Today scientists have a better idea. So in my story the caverns are relatively near the surface and have multiple supports. I have tested scientists and found them to be generally reliable, but also open to new possibilities.. And I present a story that can be tested: go underground and see!

Science and scientists

If science is a method, what use is peer reviewed data? The clue is in the name: the science is the peers, not the data. You can test these scientists. You might not have your own large hadron collider, but you do have direct experience of people who claim to be scientific,. You, the reader, can judge their reputation. These people then become your tools. They look at the data and say the data is good. You, the reader, are not judging the data (though you can judge ts logical presentation). You are judging the judges.

Example 2: the race of gods

In my version of Gilgamesh I suggest that "the gods" are a distinct tribe of elites. Now probably the reality was messier than this: just as today there would be a tangled mess of priests and traditions and land usage rights. Bt my repeatable, direct experience of life - my scientific observation - tells me that all humans societies create elites based on land ownership. And my direct, repeatable experience tells me that data has to be greatly simplified in order to communicate useful information.

So, I state boldly that my idea of gods is scientific. I have tested it directly. I also acknowledge that as I test more things my views will no doubt evolve. That is also a fact that I and others have tested. So that is also science.


Scientific means tested, or testable. These stories are both tested and testable.

Caves really do exist. I hypothesise that really big caves can exist, if close enough to the surface and with enough internal supports. And you can climb down caves and test that claim. That's science.

Elites really do exist. I hypothesise that ancient elites existed in a certain way. And you can dig up sites like Gobekli Tepe and test that claim. That's science.

In future stories I will explore travel to parallel realities. I will try to interpret the ideas in ways that are both tested, and testable. So it will be science, dude!

Can I write a story in a single day?

Today I try a new writing method. Until now I designed a story in three stages:
  1. Take a book, and edit it down to just the choices the hero has to make
  2. Convert these choices into game pages, so I know what pictures to draw
  3. After drawing the pictures, produce the finished web pages.
Today I try a new, faster method:

1. Read the book and produce the finished web pages as I go (with gaps for pictures)

My goal is to convert a book in the same time it takes to read the book!  Which might seem impossible, but remember that I'm only looking for choices, so I can skim read large sections before slowing down for the decisions. 

Let's see if it works. Today I read H. G. Wells' The Time Machine. Can I have a finished story by tonight? And then draw all the pictures over the next two days? Probably not, but the previous method took six days to write a story, and I hope I can get it down to two. We shall see!

Typos, grammar, spelling mistakes

You know that feeling, when you write something, spell check it, spell check it AGAIN, and upload it, then spell check it again, upload it again, and the next day you find the SECOND WORD is spelled wrong?  ("I justy dug up a clay tablet...")

Help me, Internet, you're my only hope!  I need you to tell me what's bad, because I can't spot it!

When I say this game is "designed by you" I really mean it. My brain is exploding with ideas and pictures, but it comes out - like an explosion! Help me tidy it up! Please!

Friday 24 February 2017

This is a game, not a book

This game is very new. It's like an alpha version: it only just works. But imagine what it will be one day: the world's biggest sandbox. Where you can explore forever, or build anything you want. My goal is to add simple requests within two days. So this becomes like Minecraft, or lego, except that what grows is stories, and the world is shared by everyone.

This is how it will work:

  1. Speedy creation: I need to add stories fast enough, that the game always feels alive. 
  2. Speedy reaction: I need to respond to users fast enough that they feel in control
  3. Connecting stories: I need so many connections between stories that, wherever you are, you feel like anything could happen, and you won't just be pulled back to a linear narrative.
  4. Growth: after five years or so I want enough people to be adding stories that the game grows faster and faster,

This will take time. But every month the game will be more like a game and less like a book. Watch and see!

Being faithful to the original books

This is the "do anything" game, so you can completely ignore the original story and go in any direction! If you think it would be cool if Gilgamesh met an alien and left on a flying saucer,then tell me what to write!

However, the core story does stick close to the original.

Look for pages ending with "00"

Pages that end in two zeroes (100.html, 200.html. 300.html. etc) are my version of the original text. Other pages (101.html., 102.html. etc.) are stuff I added.

Do I change the original story?

I try to get to the choices in a story. Often I fill in gaps, and interpret, but I try not to change the story. Every time a book is adapted for a different medium it has to be interpreted. Let's say you are making  a movie. Even if you convert the book word for word, you add pictures. They might not be the pictures another reader imagines. And I often add scientific explanations, because I want to believe in these stories. Here are some examples:

Example 1: Journey to the Center of the Earth

Journey is pretty much as in the book. Except when the character faces a choice, I try to add what would happen if they made the other choice. Probably the biggest thing I interpret is the underground sea. The book says the cave is enormously and goes on for thousands of miles. I agree, but I take these as maximum numbers. In my pictures I add frequent pillars supporting the roof, that the book just forgot to mention. Because in real life a cave that big would need a lot of support or else it would collapse. I like to imagine it as real, so my cave must have pillars!

Example 2: Gilgamesh

In my story the gods are human. The original text does not say they are human, but I think it works best if they are. In another example, in the original text, Shamhat is a temple prostitute (the word "samhat" meant "courtesan". People often focus on the prostitute part. But I think it makes more sense if we focus on the temple part., So I add several pages on what went on in ancient temples. I think this links very interestingly with Genesis, so I have a page on that as well. I don't change the story, but I give it a very particular interpretation.

"But scholars say"

Many scholars will have a different interpretation. But the bottom line is, this is a game, and it's about ideas. If I think an idea is interesting then I'll add it, and I don't worry too much if it isn't accurate in this world. It could be accurate if a few other things were discovered, and who knows, maybe they will be! This game is a "what if" world of possibilities, and that's what fiction is all about.

About realism

I need all the stories to fit together somehow. The easiest way to do that is to create scientific explanations for everything. They don't have to be detailed, but I just need to somehow connect everything to the physical world. That way I can connect every story without contradictions.

For example, I said that Anu (the sky god) was a human who was just an expert on the skies. Now you might want him to be a supernatural being. That's fine, I'm OK with that! But another story might have a totally different god as creator of the skies. I want as many connections as possible, so I will want them to be the same person. And I want to know exactly how Anu created the skies, so I can see how other stories could link to it.

Just saying "God did it" is not a story, it's a statement. But saying how he did it, and the struggles and conflicts he faced, and how how overcame his limitations, that is a story!

I hope my approach to a story is OK with you.. If it isn't, tell me how to do it better!

How to identify pages

When you add a story idea you'll need to say where it goes. To identify an existing page, just use the URL. For example, "journey-to-center/200.html"

Stories that link other stories together
Linking stories is my absolute favourite thing. Because it makes the game world feel rich: you are not stuck on rails, forced to read in straight line. For example, "Journey to the Center of the Earth" connects to "Goddess of Atvatabar" as they both feature underground worlds.

You can branch off at any time. For example, 
at the start of the book, instead of looking at the piece of paper that falls out of the book (the paper with she secret code), you could maybe jump right into the book he is reading, "The Chronicle of The Kings of Norway" and join the saga of gods and monsters. And later when the professor reads books about code breaking, maybe one of them is a famous book about real code breaking and spies? 

Can you think of ways to link existing stories? Create your own mini-story and I'll add it! 

Tedagame is now live!

From small beginnings mighty acorns grow. Or something like that.

Tuesday 21 February 2017


The latest small changes, due to player suggestions
(big changes, e.g. whole books, get their own posts):
(No changes yet!)

Monday 20 February 2017

Goodbye Photoshop, hello Smoothdraw

For over ten years I have used Photoshop as my main drawing program. That ended yesterday. from now on I use Smoothdraw! You'll see the different about a third of the way into Gilgamesh: more art, less edit.

Photoshop is for editing, not drawing

Photoshop is an editing program, not a drawing one. Yes, you can draw with it as well (and I did) but it is too tempting to polish, nudge, enhance, rearrange, push, tint, etc. This is also true of vector drawing programs: anything that says "fully featured" is all about he polish, not the initial sketch.

With all that polishing, Photoshop, drawings take too long. And that is fatal to this game. Worse, this creates stiff images. May natural style is cartoon-ish. but Photoshop let me draw realistic images  by starting with photos. That was great if I have a nice source photo to work from. Or if I have plenty of time. But for this game I need to spend just ten minutes per picture. So I would often end up using an imperfect photo for reference, and then reusing the resulting image again and again. You'll see that a lot with the muscular characters and gods at the start of Gilgamesh. it looks nice, in one way, but is stiff and I don't like it.

The final straw
The final straw with Photoshop was the endless bugs. Nothing major, just really annoying little things. For example, I planned to launch Tedagame on Saturday, but Photoshop stopped working with the tablet, so I had to postpone the launch. After years of grumbling I decided "enough is enough". No more Photoshop!

Full disclosure: I use Photoshop elements. Maybe the full version is better, but it costs £17 per month: that's over £200 ($250) every single year! No thanks!!

I just want to draw. I don't want Photoshop's little annoyances and distractions. I just want to draw!!! So I tried various other choices: The Gimp, Mypaint,, Pinta, etc, and then discovered Smoothdraw, the program used by Kahn Academy. I love it! So here are...

Ten reasons why Smoothdraw is better than Photoshop

  1. Smoothdraw is more responsive. When you draw with Photoshop, there is a tiny delay between clicking and seeing anything. but Smoothdraw responds more quickly.
  2. Smoothdraw is more creative. Photoshop is a photo editing program. It's designed to edit EXISTING art and photos. But Smoothdraw forces you to create NEW drawings.
  3. Smoothdraw is more efficient. With Photoshop you spend a lot of time polishing an image. That is time you could be spending on the raw idea instead. A simple line drawing will get the message cross equally well. Smoothdraw is all about the idea.
  4. Smoothdraw loads faster. If you have an idea for something, Smoothdraw lets you draw it quickly, while Photoshop is still loading.
  5. Smoothdraw is easier to learn. Photoshop takes hours to begin using, and years to master.  Smoothdraw takes seconds.
  6. Smoothdraw is faster to use. it's stripped down to the minimum necessary tools. So your hand and your mind focus on drawing, not on menus and shortcuts and disalog boxes.
  7. Smoothdraw is more stable (less buggy). Photoshop has some pretty annoying bugs (I can give examples). But Smoothdraw feels solid.
  8. Smoothdraw cooperates with my computer. My Wacom Bamboo tablet sometimes does not work with Photoshop. But it works perfectly with Smoothdraw. When I want to draw something, Smoothdraw just works. 
  9. Smoothdraw works on your computer. Photoshop has heavy requirements. Not every computer can handle it. Smoothdraw is light, so just works.
  10. Smoothdraw is free!! 

PS. the new art style

I mentioned that my natural art style is cartoony. That is how I will draw from now on. Will that cause problems for the more serious stories? I don't think so. The central philosophy of Tedagame is that death is that life is endless. The fun comes from exploring, not struggling. With endless life, death and frustration are no longer a problem. So it's impossible to be too serious about a particular story. To be clear, I'm deadly serious about the ideas. But the ideas are positive: they transcend death. So they are best expressed with a smile. :)

Wednesday 15 February 2017

Gilgamesh map

Parts of this map are seen at various times in the Gilgamesh story. So here's the full thing.
Note that in 2500 BC the climate in Anatolia (the northern part of the map) was much wetter. The forests of the Annunaki were far more impressive than they are today. And note that the northern part of the Persian Gulf extended much farther. but the drying of the region (and diverting the rivers for irrigation, draining marshes, etc.) means the sea no longer comes as far north.

And if you think I am making this up, here is a more detailed map of the middle section. From the excellent "Study of Mesopotamia" blog.

This illustrates why I chose Gilgamesh as the second story in the game. It has everything: real history, important mythology (a major source for Genesis!), the meaning of life, and a fun adventure with superheroes, sex, violence, epic quests, gods and monsters. All wrapped up in what is probably the most important book ever written. (Because it is the first major book, and the most influential one for the formative first two thousand years that mankind had writing. It makes the Bible look like late fan fiction.) 

And of course Journey to the Center f the Earth was first because it's my favourite book, about the most important theme of all: amazing scientific possibilities might be just round the corner. 

Why I love making Tedagame

This game is my excuse to delve into what I love: ideas. Endless possibilities. Alternative scenarios for life, the universe and everything. In the hope that the best ones can come true. That is what fiction is for, and I hope to bring players along with me for the rise.

To illustrate, here is something I just posted on Facebook.

I love old books

I love old books. So Tedagame will be full of old books. They are amazing! For example, today I learned that The Epic of Gilgamesh is reliable history.

Today I start drawing the graphics for Gilgamesh. It reads like history that is written as propaganda (as history often is): the only really unbelievable part is the battle with the monster Humbaba, but a recently discovered fragment of the epic reveals that Humbaba was a human king, and describing him as a monster was just normal hyperbole. So let's have a closer look at the most famous part of Gilgamesh, the flood story.

The Great Flood

As you may know, Gilgamesh contains the earliest account of Noah's flood. Gilgamesh shows how the gods (or rather, their representatives) were human. In Gilgamesh, the flood was a deliberate breaking of dams in the city of Shurrupak, and not anything supernatural. Gilgamesh also refers to burning of houses: the gods made doubly sure that nobody survived (except Utnapishtim/ Noah, who was warned of their plans). So the flood probably refers to the burning of Shurrupak, which archeologists date to circa 2500 BC. Gilgamesh was king of Uruk at around the same time, so his story was almost contemporary.

Gilgamesh implies that the ark floated down the Gulf Coast and stopped on a  sand bank just out of sight of Dilmun (modern Bahrain). So I checked. Yes, sure enough, there is a large sand bank just north of Bahrain (the light part at the top of the picture)!

The sand bank

I checked the distances, and everything fits. The closest part of the sand bank is 11 miles away from Bahrain, so you would need to be 20 metres above sea level to see Bahrain on the horizon. Of course, Bahrain has some high ground, and a boat would have some kind of mast or lookout tower. But also, the ark would have rested on the northern part of the sand bank. So Bahrain is exactly the right distance away: far enough so that Noah thinks there is no land anywhere.

The dove

At first, Utnapishtim/Noah sends a dove out (a homing pigeon?). It either does not want to make a 40 mile round trip, or does so, but comes back because the ark is his home and he always gets fed. But sooner or later a bird does not come back. Or it brings back a twig. So Noah knows land is not too far.

Once Noah knows land is not too far, the obvious thing is to pull some planks of wood off the ark and build an extra high lookout post. Twenty metres above sea level shoud do it (5 metre ark plus 5 metre normal look out plus an extra ten metres?). Then it's a matter of ferrying the contents of the ark across the shallow eleven miles to the coast. it's exactly the right distance. Any closer, and Noah would see the land. Any farther, and Noah could not ferry his animals there.

The lost ark

Where is the ark now? Perhaps without the weight of the contents, Noah managed to free the ark from the sand and sail it to the mainland. Or maybe he dismantled it there. Over the next four and a half thousand years any remaining wood would float away, but who knows, maybe the odd plank is still buried in the sand? But the chances are that plenty of other boats ran aground there as well, so I don't know if it would be worth planning an expedition to find the ark.


As for the Genesis claim that the Ark rested on the mountains of Ararat, that is easily explained. "Ararat" sounds like the Hebrew "har" "arad" meaning "hill of descent". It refers to any hill where you descend from.

Mankind first developed agriculture and settled in towns in the mountains of Turkey. See Gobekli Tepe, Catal Huyuk, etc.) So Turkey's mountains are the the most famous "hills of descent". But Genesis refers to hills covered by water (Genesis 7:19-20), so they are what we could call sandbanks. Genesis describes how Noah rested on one of these sandbanks.

Gilgamesh was practically a contemporary of Noah, around 25000 BC. But Genesis was probably edited (from Gilgamesh and other sources) around 600 BC. That's almost 2000 years later! So it is understandable that when they read "hills of descent" they thought of the more famous "hills of descent". So they assumed the flood must have been much, much deeper than it was. But the earlier people knew another place of descent, the legendary gardens of Dilmun.

The Annunaki

It seems to me that the gods (the Annunaki) were the rulers from ancient times, and lived in the cedar forests of Turkey, just as Gilgamesh said. But when some farmers moved down the fertile crescent and invented writing, they gained their power base. This period when cities expanded is called the Uruk period because it centered on Uruk, and Gilgamesh was its most famous king. So the gods would have followed the farmers and continued their influence. Gods (elites) always grab the best land, so they would have settled in Dilmun, the beautiful region of gardens described by Gilgamesh at the end of hs epic.

Adam and Eve

All of this lets us identify the "lord" in genesis (JHWH), It would be a memory of Gilgamesh, the land lord of the area. But the "gods" (elohim) would refer to the more senior group. "Eden" was the sumerian word for the plains where Uruk's farmers worked, and the forbidden tree would be the cedars in the gods' forests. Adam would be Enkidu, brought in to do the work of Uruk's farmers and hunters. Eve was Shamhat, who made Adam realise he was naked and wanted clothes. I wonder if the serpent was the priest of Marduk, the oe who challenged the gods in the Enuma Elish, as the serpent is the symbol of Marduk. I'm not sure but I will definitely be looking at the Enuma Elish in Tedagame!

Why stories matter

Of course, this is not proof. But novels and a pics are not about proof: they are about possibilities. We are free to write anything as long as it is possible. And the ark resting on this sandbank is a  definite possibility!

Goodbye Facebook, hello again Blogger

I will soon move all updates to this blog, and stop using Facebook as much. Facebook is fine for memes and fun, but not good for depth of any kind. It's much easier to organise and find ideas on a blog.

Plus, blogs don't nag me for money every day. Facebook is always trying to make me "Boost this post" for money, and obsess over how many people read. No thanks. Not interested. If this blog is any good, people will find it. I don't want to spam anybody, thank you.

If people like this game, they will tell friends, If they don't like it they won't. Simple. And if it grows very slowly, that's best of all. Rome was not built in a day. And if Facebook had been invented in 753 BC, Rome would not have been built at all. Romulus and Remus would have been far too busy posting cute wolf videos instead.

Monday 30 January 2017

The first three stories

When the game goes live on the 18th of February, the first two stories will be:
  1. Journey to the Centre of the Earth
  2. Gilgamesh
Then I start work on "The Time Machine"

A story takes about two weeks to create. Plus I'll take time out to add player suggestions: I'm relying on you to make this game good!

The endless do anything game is... real life

It's no great secret that "the endless do anything game" is life itself. That's the secret. And it will stay a secret because most people find it either incomprehensible or not worth their attention. :)

My hero embodies my belief that real life is the life of the mind. That your identity, what makes you YOU, is not really your memories (those are constantly changing) but your underlying values.

Imaginary people embody real values. Your values are based in one physical body, and theirs are shared across MANY physical bodies. So which of you is more real?

My theory of consciousness

I argue that consciousness is ideas and feelings: that is, information. Therefore YOU are information, and your physical body is merely a carrier. And since information can easily spread, so YOU spread out. So death is no barrier. So life is endless and you can (eventually) do anything. Hence life is the endless do anything game. And real life is the life of the mind. 

Good stories are a guide to real values, and real possibilities. So they are real. But a more compressed, high speed version of reality.

What I expect from wizards

I remember as a child, I loved reading about very clever people in books. Until one day I realised that they were not really clever, the wizards and wise men in books usually just mumble platitudes and hocus pocus. So I decided that if I ever wrote a book with thinkers, my thinkers would have something genuinely deep to say.

Of course all my theories could be nonsense. But they are all optional. You don't have to click on any of that stuff. It's up to you. Most of the game will just be fun adventures. Or whatever else you want me to add.

Sunday 29 January 2017

How to get YOUR idea into the game

I hope to add at least two user-added pages (that is, two pictures with accompanying text) every day. But a single suggestion might require ten pages. So clearly I can't to add everything. But do not despair! This is how to make sure I add your brilliant idea, and not those dumb ideas from other people.

I'm more likely to use your idea if it's...
  1. Fully scripted:
    Thinking is hard for me! If you say "why not do X" then I have to think about how to do it, what to draw, what to write, what choices to add, what do do on those pages, and so on. That takes time and makes my brain hurt! But if you tell me exactly what to draw and what words to write, and I like it, that's quick and easy for me, plus you get exactly what you wanted.
  2. With choices:
    Every page should have at least two choices at the end (unless the hero dies!) Those choices mean either MORE new pages, or they should link to slightly later in the same story, or the start of a different story. Or if you design your idea carefully you could add a loop back to one of your previous new pages, but it has to make sense (or be funny). Thinking of choices is hard,! So if you do it for me I am more likely to use your idea.
  3. Fun.
    I want people to feel rewarded for clicking! Don't be afraid to be silly, or random.
  4. Mind expanding.
    It's all about the ideas!
  5. Fixing a bug.
    Found a spelling mistake? A line that doesn't make sense? A link that obviously goes to the wrong place? Please let me know! I always fix those first.
And now you know the secret. Happy scripting! 

P.S. Let me know if you want your name on the pages you suggest.

About TEDAgame and this blog

This blog is where:

  1. I tell you what's new in TEDAgame
  2. You tell me what to add

TEDAgame will be updated constantly. Hopefully every day, or at the very least every week. All the news will be here! And as you play the game, you will often find a page that's a dead end, waiting for somebody to tell me what to do. This blog is where you tell me! And where others can say "that's a good idea" or "what about changing it so..?"

The idea behind TEDAgame

I love books, But I hate it when a good book ends: I want to stay in that world and go further. And sometimes I want to stop half way through the book and go in a different direction. And that, in a nutshell, is TEDAgame.

How TEDAgame evolved

Years ago I started making adventure games based on books. But it didn't really work how I hoped. First, even the best technology is very restrictive: you can't really do "anything", you can only do what the programming allows. Second, I spent most of my time designing and programming, so there was less time available for the story. Third, and worst, it takes so long to make a game that you can't be responsive. If a player wants a change then tough luck. And if the player wants more of the same they can just hope for a sequel a year or two later. Even if it happens it might not be what they want.

So I thought, what if a game was so simple that it could update every day? And if a player wanted something different they could ask for it, and a couple of days later it's there! A nice side effect is that the game would get bigger, and bigger, and bigger, until after a few years it would be a huge, rich place where you could get lost for hours! And so, The Endless Do Anything game was born.

At first I was worried that the game is so simple that people will get bored. But people can get bored in cutting edge games too. (Endless forests, endless grinding to level up, or games that all try to be the same). What matters is the story. And that's where you come in.

Tell me what to do!

If you're playing this game and think it should be different, tell me on the blog! If the change is easy to make then I'll make it! And all those changes will add up. It might not become the best written game in the world, but at least SOMEBODY should like every part of it. And it will certainly be unusual.

After a few months I hope to add between five and twenty pages every day. Most of those will be adapting books that I find interesting, or that others have asked for, But some will be extra pages suggested by users. This is YOUR game. it's only as good as the enjoyment YOU get out of it. And if it isn't enjoyable, tell me what to change!

My long term plan

I expect to do this for at least another 20 years, whether other people like it or not. I've been planning this for 20 years already, and I want to leave something substantial behind when I die. (I first began thinking about how I would code a "do anything" game in 1997, and it took 20 years to realise it should have no coding at all.)

I hope to add the equivalent of  a short book - maybe 50 to 100 finished pages - every week or two. I want this game to include all 54 of Jules Verne's "Extraordinary Voyages" books, many of the 1001 Arabian Knights, all of Shakespeare's plays and much more. Plus Jane Austen, some non-fiction, and more. If there is anything that stimulates the mind, I want it here. And when I'm too old or tired to add more I hope others will be making their own stories that I can add.

These are still early days. I think it will be a couple of years before the game is good enough and big enough and I am experienced enough and my art improves. But we have to start somewhere!

Thanks for reading. And if the game does become a big hit one day, remember that you were here from the start and I couldn't do it without you!