In Beta

A 275-page video-games book by Prescott Harvey
366 copies sold
250 readers made this book possible
24 Super Readers
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Two friends discover they’re NPCs in a video game, so they hack reality to make their lives awesome and wind up targeted for deletion.
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Prescott is one brilliant dude, and I cannot wait to see what he cooks up, in any medium!
– JJ Abrams
This looks super polished, authentic, and like a great deal of fun, definitely want a copy when it's done!!!!
– Felicia Day
About In Beta


Back Cover Copy

Jay and Buddy are losers. Senior year is almost over and they’re as unpopular as ever.

Everything changes when, in a dusty corner of the high-school’s AV room, they discover The Build, a pixel-perfect computer simulation that appears to be a replica of their hometown. When the boys start tweaking the game’s code, they notice that their changes affect their real world. They’re living, they realize, inside a video game. With godlike power suddenly in their hands, they react as any high schooler would, and hack reality to make their senior year awesome.

But someone--or something--is watching. When The Build’s creator finds his NPCs tinkering with his game, he targets Jay and Buddy for deletion. Thus begins a surreal battle, where Jay and Buddy must rely on their gaming knowledge to save themselves--and the very fabric of existence.

Author Bio

I write ad copy by day, stuff like Simple Bank’s masthead video, PUMA football’s 2017 global campaign, and (being in Portland, OR) plenty of Nike material.

But if you’ve heard my name before, it’s probably because I’m that guy that made a viral video that a million and a half people saw, an open letter to JJ Abrams with some ideas on how to make Star Wars great again. To my surprise and delight, he listened, called me to express his approval, and then incorporated my four story rules into The Force Awakens. If nothing else, the experience taught me to trust my instincts as a storyteller.

In 2010, I wrote The World of Warcraft’s Guide to Winning at Life for Chronicle Books, a satirical self help guide on how to level-up your real life game by deploying your WoW skillz. With In Beta, I’m returning to video games, humor, and longer form narrative. A long-time gamer, I’ve been tinkering with this idea for years. Thank you Inkshares and Nerdist for inspiring me to get it out there.

Why You’ll Love This Story

I’m a fan of absurdist humor. The Metamorphosis. Catch-22. A Confederacy of Dunces. Pineapple Express. I’m interested in stories that start small and human (two lovestruck high school losers) and then go bigger, crazier and completely over-the-top.

This is a story about the myth of the american dream. We live in an age when a majority of the population feels disgusted by our political, economic, and environmental systems. I’ve written this story to put the power in the hands of the underdogs. It’s a story where geeky teenagers get to fight off an army of AI bots with pulse rifles, laser swords, and rocket launchers. This book is for anyone who’s dreamt of being Duke Nukem, Lara Croft, or Serious Sam.

Read part of In Beta
Prologue
a 9 minute read



HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER VACATION

By Jay Banksman

I apologize in advance. The assignment was to turn in a twelve page essay. I’ve greatly exceeded the assignment.

I’ve tried not to be long-winded. The problem is that, while the events of this essay really happened, they’re also unbelievable. And thoughI’ve exceeded the assignment’s length, I’ve done so in service of the truth. Hopefully that’s worthsome extra points. But if I do wind up with an “F", I won’t blame you. Had I not lived throughthis ordeal, I wouldn’t believe it myself.

I do have one advantage: You know who I am. No doubt the moment you saw my name on this page, you realized what this essay was about. You probably have heard some of what I’m going to sayrepeated ad nauseum in news cycle, soundbites, and across scientific journals. I don’t think I’m being immodest saying that this story was THE story last year, and is known to the entire country, if not the world. So I have the benefit of your familiarity.

But you don’t know the whole story. If you’re anxious to read about my summer vacation and hear my own take on thisnowfamiliar narrative, jump to page two hundred twelve. But spoiler alert: Do that, and you’ll miss the good bits. The most incredible part of this story is not How I Spent My Summer Vacation. It’s the weeks leading up to graduation. It’s the final days of my senior year. The events that lead to what some have called The Most Pivotal Moment In Human History.

Those events, I believe, warrant an extra two hundred fifty pages beyond this assignment’s scope. Those events are the real story, and I promise to relay them faithfully.

I also promise to stop saying“events.”

THE CASE FOR ME

Humble much? Yes, this chapter is about me, but it’s not ABOUT me, in a broad, egotistical sense. And really, it’s less a “chapter”, and more an extension of the prologue. Specifically, this is where I grovel on my knees to convince you I’m not full of it.

See, I’m about to lay down some heavy stuff. If you don’t trust me, you won’t make it through this essay. So I mean to gain your trust using the only method I know how: The Mock Trial method. In Mock Trial we called this “establishing one’s ethos, or moral character.” If English class taught me anything, it’s that there are two kinds of narrators: Reliable and unreliable. This is where I make the case that I’m one of the good guys and not some shifty, postmodern swindler.

I happen to have my college application handy, so let me introduce the facts supporting my case:

  • EXHIBIT A: Jay Banksman’s final high school GPA was 3.67
  • EXHIBIT B: His SAT score was 1260 (Full disclosure: He took the SATs twice. His original score, which we’ll call exhibit F, will not be presented)
  • EXHIBIT C: Jay participated in multiple extracurriculars associated with men of good standing. These include, but are not limited to: Band, National Honor Society, Natural Helpers, Cross Country, and, as mentioned, Mock Trial. (Full disclosure: Jay was not an attorney. He was the...
Discuss In Beta with the Author.
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Hey all,

Been awhile. Sorry for the, uh, "conservative" backer updates.

I am not, for the record, lying dead in a gutter, presidential protests trampling my lifeless body, hand still clutching the rain and blood soaked pages of IN BETA. Nor am I in Tijuana, peeling off green leaves of Inkshare backer money to buy another round for the Los Locos biker gang.

I am working diligently on IN BETA, every day, and I’ve finally crossed the halfway point! As I mentioned forever ago, I originally wrote IN BETA as a feature film. I found early on, though, that the comedy and action from the script didn’t feel right for a novel. It reminded me of that novelization of Terminator 2 I read in back in fourth grade, which I didn’t enjoy even as a fourth grader, and would be embarrassed to hand over to you.

So there have been a few radical departures in the story to make it work. For instance, instead of Seattle, I moved the setting to a rural high school in the Cascade Mountains. This works better for a number of reasons, primarily because I can better draw on my own high school experience (fun times), and because a microcosm seems to help ground things and make the premise a little more believable. Gives it kind of a Truman Show-vibe. I’m watching Westworld, and yeah there are some similarities there, too (though much lighter in tone).

Thanks again for your patience everyone, and your support. This has been a lot of work, and a lot of fun, and I think you’ll get a kick out of it, once it’s ready.

TLDR; Good book. Coming along. Promise me be better re: updates.

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Riki Medina · Author · added 6 months ago
In Beta is gonna be the perfect book for those who’ve always wanted to drastically change their world. I can’t wait to read it.
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Prescott Harvey · Author · added 6 months ago
Awesome, thanks Bryn. I’ll definitely take another crack at the intro and I’ll take a close look at those paragraphs.
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Bryn Hagan · Author · added 6 months ago
hey, I think this prologue generally works, but the first two paragraphs could be a bit more interesting.  Just my thoughts, but otherwise I love this book, and once I get some spare money at the end of the month, am going to make this my 2nd ever purchase at inshares.
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I’ve revised the prologue of IN BETA to align with the deeper rewrite I’ve been doing. I think it’s better, but I’d love to hear feedback. You can find it here:

https://www.inkshares.com/books/in-beta/book_segments/prologue-012c6e

I’ll continue to post content that I’m marginally happy with :)

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Okay, whew. I ran out last Friday to pick up my son, and then we left for a camping trip. I didn’t get the chance to do proper thank yous, so here it goes:

A huge, huge thank you to my supporters. It was amazing on Friday at 11:30 am to have people come out of the woodwork and push me into 2nd place. I absolutely could not have done it without you all. Thanks to my wife for finding this contest and encouraging me to enter. And thanks to all the Harveys and the Clearys and the Mills who bit their nails alongside us. Thank you to Simon Winchester, Brian Baldwin, Sean Garcia, Hannah Davis, and Ryan Weilert. In the end, it was your willpower that won me 2nd place. I’m in awe of all of you.

Great work to everyone else in the competition. There was some serious talent I was competing against. Alisa King ran a fierce campaign. Congrats to Peter Ryan, who really does seem like a genuinely nice guy. I can’t wait to read Too Many Controllers. And as I’ve said before, Andrew Fantasia is a great writer. I hope his novel Sidescroller gets funded so we can all give it a read. I also want to give a shout-out to G.A. Finocchiaro and his book Knightmares. He helped me a ton, and his book looks awesome. 

So what’s next? Sweeping changes. I’ll soon be deleting the prologue that’s up on Inkshares. Years ago, I had written IN BETA as a feature film. At the start of this contest, I was simply adapting the film into novel form. The farther I went down that path, the more I realized I wasn’t excited about a book that followed the rigid formula of a Hollywood comedy. So during this contest, I made significant revisions to IN BETA’s setting and plot. The concept and the characters are the same, but I’ve moved the locale from Seattle, WA to a rural town in the Cascades. The setting works better for a number of reasons. If anyone is interested in the mechanics of "why", ask and I’ll happily distract myself from writing by geeking out over my decisions. Otherwise, just satisfy yourself with the knowledge that I’m not content to deliver a shit novel.

I’m very excited about IN BETA, and I can’t wait to share the new prologue with the world. Thanks everyone for this amazing opportunity. I’ll try to be regular with my updates, and I’ll let you know the timeline of this process once I figure that out.

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Jamison Stone · Author · edited 6 months ago · 1 like
Congrats, @Prescott! Super stoked to read In Beta!
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Matthew Poat · Author · added 6 months ago
Well done Prescott!
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Guys! Insane support in the zero hour. 

That was an incredible finish for the number two spot. I’m bouncing off the walls right now. I could not have done it without you guys, thank you all SO SO much. I will keep you all posted on what happens next. 

But right now, I have to throw pants on, do a celebratory tequila shot, and then go pick up my son from school!

CHEERS!!!

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Last call! Order IN BETA now or, uh, pick it up in bookstores later (hopefully). The Nerdist video game contest ends tomorrow, and it’s been a helluva ride. I’ll be glad to quit hustling and return to churning out the video game-themed hilarity.