Captain’s Log 21·5 | 24·A: The Random Adventures of Wren Valen the Wanderer

So, for context, I’m going to tell you roughly how I’m beginning to organize my life.

I keep a deck of blank, poker sized playing cards, on which I take notes. Both to-do lists, but also anything I need to remember for whatever reason.

The numbering format is WW·X | YY·Z where WW is the two digit year, X is the one digit month (A=10, B=11, C=12), YY is the two-digit day, and Z is the note. When notes follow up on each other, a series of numbers goes underneath the note ID.

At times of my choosing, I go through these notes, and rewrite them to put in my Zettelkasten. This is my permanent external memory. Cards that get copied from my journal to my Zettelkasten get cross-referenced so I can go to my monthly archive and see the context of the thought.

Well enough, but what if I need more illustration and room to write? Well, I take the comic format I developed for Bunny Trail Junction…

… and decided was too intense, and bean-ified it..

And I simply index it the same way.

So here’s a gif of the game as it sits so far:

And here are the Wren Beans I’ve collected, making this post the official stop for the Wren Valen RPG

Today’s big projects are contemplative, though I may do physical work as well. By integrating bullet journaling but on playing cards with the Zettelkasten, I have brought together a collection of lessons that have changed how I approach the question of what I should create and how, and I’m going to navel gaze about it below the fold.

One lesson is to finish and love a project, I need to approach it with intrinsic motivators and a high potential for random extrinsic motivators. That is to say, I shouldn’t choose my game to try and make money. Instead, I should choose it because I very intensely want to make it for its own sake, and then put myself in a position as I work on it where my work has a good chance of eliciting kudos and perhaps coin. Streaming development on Twitch is a good idea.

This is why I’ve turned on my heel and begun work on a Wren Valen RPG. I’m constantly trying to make books and games that are smart. I’ve decided to renounce this as a focus. It’s still useful ancillary data, but

Getting an unrelated day job is also a good idea, as it disconnects my project with the need to provide. Right now I’m angling for a position as a cashier at a hardware store, but ideally I can find something that pays a little more, has a little structure to the hours, and is primarily physical.

I think, ultimately, the best career arc for me is an artistic career arc funded by neopatronage systems. I make games and release them for cheap or even free, but people are willing to send me funds to keep going. But I want to grow that organically and steadily. I want a small, tight system that is good at something and doesn’t bite off more than it can chew.

I am also considering whether I want to make the game HD or not.

The thing is I have a deep and abiding love for both pixel art and HD art. HD art is more marketable. But HD is also more labor intensive and more prone to decay over time. Because technology has moved so far beyond the need for pixel art, pixel art is basically guaranteed to look just as good in ten years as it does now.

I just love the amount of animation I’ve poured into this sprite. I’d need to edit or redo it because of Wren’s gingerwashing. But I don’t want less life in the final art. And not only would it be easier to ensure the right amount of life in a pixel art game, but I could still be re-using the same assets in games 10, 15, 30 years later, where HD assets would be considered too low res.

HD and pixel work can be reasonably combined. Celeste does HD dialogue over pixel gameplay. It looks fine.

Celeste Screenshots Image #13656 - XboxOne-HQ.COM

Stardew Valley mixes different pixel scales too, but unlike Celeste, it looks horrible. Nobody cares, though. All anyone cares about is the gameplay and the world.

If I do pixel art, though, I have to up the resolution. I worked on my piqha engine at 160×90 and that’s too small to get in all the interface bits I want for the RPG, the heart and AP orbs and so forth. It’s great for a webcomic I’m not ultimately interested in producing, but I think I’m going to want to back the camera out to 320×180 or even 640×360.

But here’s the thing: a part of me will always want to make hand-drawn games, and a part of me will always want to make pixel art games.

They both have their advantages, but I dunno, I think I prefer that I can breathe more life into pixel games and the notion that they will be available sooner.

Things are early enough in development that right now I can freely make the call. But once I get too far down that road, I’m pretty well locked in.

I miss the days when I believed I could hot swap graphics of differing resolutions in Unity and have it work, thus having my cake and eating it too. But alas, it was not to be.

I’ve laid out my arguments. Now I’m going to take a walk and ponder my path.


For my consideration:

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