The Lake – A Nick Ventner Tale

Here’s a fun short story that takes place a few years before Whiteout. If you like it, check out the first Nick Ventner Novel on Amazon. Need convincing? It’s currently holding a 4.75 on GoodReads with 15 ratings!

The Lake

It was a gorgeous morning. The sun rose over the black surface of a lake that reflected the surrounding mountains like a mirror. Nick Ventner and his apprentice James glided across the smooth water through tendrils of steam rising in the chill morning air.

“Couldn’t have asked for a better day.” Nick was positively beaming. In one hand he held a thermos that was mostly rum, splashed with a bit of hot chocolate, and in the other, a spyglass stolen from the crumbling arms of a long-deceased pirate king. In short, everything was as it should have been.

Continue reading

Coaster Addict – Haunted House

Hello, and welcome to the latest edition of Coaster Addict, a blog series where I share screenshots of my latest Planet Coaster ride and rant a bit about the story I’m trying to tell. As it is close to Halloween, and Frontier recently released the Spooky Pack, it seemed only right to try my hand at creating a haunted house ride using the new Huntsman track ride.

So, beginning at the beginning! Riders board their vehicles in a long entry room with two crackling fireplaces, a pair of lounging skeletons, and some suspect books that just won’t stay on their shelves.

20171003193322_1.jpg

Next, they are taken to the entryway, where we have a creepy rocking chair, floating candles, and some curtains that mysteeerioouuusly blow without wind. Really trying to hit all of the haunted house tropes here.

20171003193334_1

The cars curve around a winding staircase and find themselves face-to-face with the haunted library, filled with skeletons trying to manage a peevish poltergeist that just doesn’t like order.

20171003193400_1

Of course at the end of the library we have the knight’s tomb, because that’s what rich mansion owners do with their extra space right? Keep open caskets of long dead nights? It’s good feng shui.

20171003193414_1

Of course, no rich mansion is complete without a dungeon, complete with tortured skeletons and “captured spiders”

20171003193422_1

20171003193440_1

I say “captured” because the next scene I am working on is the spider room, where the mansion owner’s pets have escaped. Following that will be my next project, the graveyard. I imagine I’ll finish that up this weekend and have a full ride-through video to post next week. For now, here are two shots of the mansion exterior during the day and at night. I really enjoy the purple lighting and the gargoyles.

20171003200808_120171003200824_1

That’s all for now! If you liked what you read/saw, poke around the website a bit, leave some comments, and subscribe! Thanks for reading, and see you next time.

–Ashton

New Orleans Short Story

I know, It’s been another MIA week with no posting, but this time I’m going to use New Orleans as my excuse. I was just there for seven days taking in the sights and working a bit. Luckily, I also got some inspiration to start my sequel to A Man of the Mountain (I know, the titles are rough, but I’m sticking with them). Please enjoy the opening chapter of A Woman of the Swamp, the tale of a not-so-great necromancer in Louisiana.

A Woman of the Swamp

By Ashton Macaulay

“Alright now, repeat it back to me so I know you understand the plan.” Marie’s voice was patient, but stern; it was the only way to get through to the recently reanimated.

“I-Inside,” the man moaned through a mouthful of teeth that were attached only by decaying sinews of what used to be gums. She had broken through the bricks and plaster of his grave just days after his entombment, but moisture and heat made short work of flesh. Even the night air was thick, pooling in drops on her skin. One of the man’s eyes wandered off to the side, focusing a trombone player setting up on the corner, just below a sign that read First one’s free at the Snappin’ Turtle.

“Hey!” she snapped, waving a bejeweled hand in front of his face. “Focus. What are you going to do once you’re inside?” The street corner they stood on was dim, but it was only a matter of time before one of the passing drunks would notice. She also longed for the sanctum that was her air-conditioned loft. The dark robes she wore were hotter than Hell (she suspected anyway), but tourists tipped better when she looked legitimate.

“I,” the zombie stammered. “I… Eat brains!” His mottled mouth curled into a wide grin and he clapped his crooked hands together with a sickening squish.

Marie ran a hand through her long, dark hair, beginning to rethink the steps that had gotten her to this point. “Fuck it,” she sighed, I’ll steal it myself. You just go wait over there.” She pointed to a bench under a broken street lamp. “Spell should wear off in ten minutes and you’ll just be another John Doe curled up for his last rest in a gutter.”

“John,” repeated the zombie, mindlessly.

Screw this. Marie turned the zombie toward the bench and shoved him hard on the back. “How dare you try to touch me, pervert!”

A couple passing by looked at the stumbling man in disgust and flashed Marie a quick thumbs up. They continued without a second thought to the recently dead man eyeing them from the darkness. The trombonist had been joined by a few other band members, and together they started to play.

Satisfied that the zombie was out of the public eye, she set off with her heart racing. “Guess it’s your turn,” she whispered and pulled out a jar of spiders from her robes. Despite her fear of the wretched creatures, they were discreet when they needed to be. The walls of the French Quarter were thin, and no one would hesitate to call the cops on another crazy trying to break into the Voodoo Museum.

Carefully, she unscrewed the lid on the jar, making sure to keep her hand firmly pressed against the top. She cringed as she brought her lips close to the edge and began to whisper. “Scuttle under the door, find a key, but don’t touch anything.” Despite wanting to break in, Marie still held a great respect for the craft. In fact, had she not been kicked out for trying to study the darker arts, her path might have led her to a practitioner’s position. Revenge was a fickle beast.

Pretending to stumble slightly, Marie dropped the glass onto the cracked concrete. The shattering sound would garner no notice from the neighbors. People only called the cops for break-ins or assaults, everything else was thought to just be the remnants of Bourbon street. From the remains of the jar, four jet black spiders smoldered into existence and scrambled toward the Voodoo Museum.

After the last had slipped through the door, Marie moved aside and waited under the flickering light of a gas lantern. There was an audible click, and the door swung open. “Return to me,” whispered Marie to the spiders. The four creatures skittered from the darkness and into the street. “Damnit, return to me.” She reached her hand out and muttered a brief incantation.

The largest spider gazed at her with its beady eyes for a moment as if considering the proposition, and then scuttled away with an angry chitter. The others were quick to follow, heading toward the moaning corpse of the zombie in the opposite gutter.

Marie sighed. The spiders had taken her months to acquire and hours of pouring through dusty old books. Replacing them would be no easy feat. Brushing her hair aside, she stepped through the now open door and into the gloom of the museum.

Coaster Addict – Back to the Future

When Planet Coaster released the Back to the Future DLC, I knew there was only one thing I could build: a Back to the Future coaster like the one almost constructed at Universal Studios all those years back. Big thanks to jorgpot for his Town Hall scenery piece, it’s the only part of my facade that doesn’t look ugly!

2017-08-16 (9)

The ride starts with a quick journey through Doc Brown’s Hall of Innovation, filled currently with vats of plutonium and older versions of the new time machine that riders are currently in.

2017-08-16 (1)

After this brief trip down memory lane, the real ride starts. Guests are invited to try the doctor’s new time machine for a test run, right now!

2017-08-16 (13)2017-08-16 (2)

Guests rocket away at 88 miles per hour and into the space time vortex!

2017-08-16 (3)

After careening briefly through space, riders find themselves in the old west, escaping a gang of bandits.

2017-08-16 (4)

Unfortunately, they take a wrong turn through a tunnel and end-up head on with a train. The only escape is to once more travel through time, cutting their journey short.

2017-08-16 (16)2017-08-16 (6)

Guests emerge back at the institute, but the vehicle malfunctions, jumping through time once  more.

2017-08-16 (7)2017-08-16 (17)2017-08-16 (10)

The time machine continues to travel at random, taking guests briefly back to the old west, before returning to the future, and finally back to the institute.

2017-08-16 (19)2017-08-16 (20)

That’s my dark ride, almost finished, video soon to come. If you liked the gallery, subscribe to my blog, follow me on Twitter/ Facebook, and upvote this post, or you can do none of those things and smile to yourself at my slowly deflating ego 🙂 Your choice.

Check out the previous installments of Coaster Addict:

Dueling Mountain Coaster

Volcano Dark Ride

Crystal Caverns Log Flume

Coaster Addict – The Dueling Mountain

2017-07-19 (12).pngHello and welcome to another edition of Coaster Addict, the blog where I post pictures from my latest bout of shameless Planet Coaster binge. With the arrival of the summer update, I once again started a new park, sadly leaving the Crystal Caverns Log Flume behind (video of finished ride), and striking out for a new park where I could mix terrain. I knew from the very first path placement that the first ride of this park was going to be a dueling coaster inside a mountain, inspired by Disneyland’s Matterhorn.

2017-07-19 (13).png

As you pass through the main gates, the mountain is immediately visible

2017-07-17 (1).jpg

Terrain sculpting takes time, but I think it’s starting to look good

2017-07-19.png

WIP shot of the queue building

For the storyline behind my mountain I wanted to keep it simple: Mountaineers climb to the top, are attacked by monstrous snowmen (because my 3d modeling skills aren’t good enough for a yeti), and then escape to the bottom on bobsleds. As a result, I have themed the queue as a sort of a mountaineering hub, with climbing gear, maps, and a few blurry photos of the yeti!

2017-07-19 (10).png2017-07-19 (11).png

Throughout the mountain, riders have various encounters with the mighty (more derpy than anything) snow beasts, as the coaster careens down to safety.

2017-07-19 (3).png

You can’t see him now, but there’s a snow monster hiding in that darkness…

2017-07-19 (5).png

Caught on camera finally…

2017-07-17 (3).png

The train is just resting right?

2017-07-19 (2).png

One of the final encounters with the snow beast

That’s it for now! The mountain is almost finished, just need to fix the lighting on a few more areas and add some details. I’ll have a video up soon! If you like these blogs and want to feed my ego, subscribe, share, like, etc. Thanks for reading and see you next time!