Captain’s Log L8·J2: Taking Stock

I’ve started half a dozen blogs, easy. The reason I’ve stuck with this one is I write whatever I feel like, instead of trying to keep it on brand, whether that brand is theology, stories, or what have you. I feel like writing a bunch of unrelated updates all together, some of them useful, some navel gazey. And so I shall.

Bunny Trail Junction

Yesterday instead of making comics, I made the above stickers, which is what I’m calling my HD sprites. Today, I drew a Hat Trick, which brings the number of unscheduled (likely to run in November) Hat Trick comics up to 14. That’s half a month, and about what I ran this month and what I’m running next month. Unfortunately, while I have more than enough comics to fill out November (I could run Drone Fu, or either of the sets of sprite comics I’ve posted the last couple of days), I do want BTJ to be 90% pure entertainment, and only 10% whatever bullshit I’m on about. I’m not there yet. But hopefully I will be there by the Ides of October.

I’m toying with the idea of making November pure Hat Trick. I didn’t want to do that for the first two monthlies simply because I want it to be very clear that Bunny Trail Junction is whatever I feel like, and not just Hat Trick. But Hat Trick is the story that is pulling eyeballs (albeit not many yet), and I feel that after two mixed monthlies and an Inktober, if I have 30 Hat Tricks by the Ides of October, I’ll run 30 Hat Tricks in November.

Speaking of which, the September Monthly was submitted last week. Usually, Amazon approves my books in a couple of days. But they haven’t approved the September Monthly yet, nor commented on it at all. I’m a bit worried/annoyed. If the September Monthly exists in limbo forever, and I never get it printed, I will live, but I’d like to have a few copies to sprinkle around, plus one to pose with my merch and various books.

Anyway, next month’s Hat Tricks are mostly Arthur working through the aftermath of the fight with the Snake. Bleh. Comic after comic of him and a turkey talking in a room. I hate drawing the same thing more than once. But part of the reason I’m looking at sprite/sticker comics is that no matter how hard you try, in every story eventually two characters are going to sit down and chat.

Ugh. Well, at least November’s set has some proper action.

In terms of general success and promotion, Bunny Trail Junction isn’t getting eyeballs yet. Not really. And that’s fine. My plan, my big idea, is to ring in the New Year by promoting the comic. By then, we’ll have five months of history, a ton of available merch, and, I hope, I’ll be four or five months ahead on drawing the comic.

Of course, that’s not soon enough to pay the bills. But I gotta play the long game if I’m going to play any game.

Paying the Bills

I’m juggling three notions for paying the bills…

Notion one is running a Kickstarter for Awesome Moments. After all, Christians are starved for media. I could ring in the New Year with a finished catechetical book in addition to Bunny Trail Junction. If I spent September pushing the Kickstarter, I might make enough money to finish out the year.

Of course, I’ve come up with very good excuses why I shouldn’t Kickstart Awesome Moments. I should just make it. After all, if I Kickstart it, people from a dozen denominations are going to be poking at my theology, and I will feel beholden to them because I took their money.

No. Better to publish it and call it good.

Meanwhile, I’ve already spent time considering the idea of making a game, then making a bigger game on top of it, and then a bigger game…

And I have two prime candidates. A platformer, and a point & click adventure tending towards a JRPG.

It’s the best plan for me making a living off my art, but at this particular moment, I’m not feeling even slightly inspired to work on it. I’ve decided that’s due to fatigue or some such nonsense, and resolved to begin taking it seriously in September.

The only thing I’m even modestly inspired to work on is Bunny Trail Junction, alas, since Bunny Trail Junction has no clear path to profit, nor is intended to. Not by itself. It’s intended to get all the nonsense I want to make out of my head, so that when I find a path to profit, I have physical booksI can point to and use as a foundation. Speaking of which…

Retarded Executive Function Disorder

26 days, 2 hours, 18 minutes until I find out whether I can get local treatment. I guess we’ll find out how that goes.

Squirrel!

Jack Dragon Writes

Was looking at an old blog the other day because I made this header for Bunny Trail Junction:

Yes, I already showed you this…

And it reminded me of this header I made back in the day.

title

This image is painful for me to look at now. “How could I ever be such a n00b?” But it does amuse me that when trying to show a representative sample of my stories, I put in Octoboy, Wren, Merlin, and a Shevlar armor, and the stickers on Bunny Trail Junction have Octoby, Wren, and Merlin. I should make a Shevlar sticker just so the circle is complete.

Well, this one has Merlin and Octoboy. We’re missing Wren. Angel is almost a Shevlar…

The old blog has older versions of therian bestiary entries, as well as an explanation of why my dream game is a Gameboy Breath of the Wild Clone…

My [ideal gamers] want three things:

  • Freedom to explore and experiment.
  • An involving story.
  • Awesome, action-packed combat.

My basis is a top-down adventure game with simple controls similar to Link’s Awakening. I love the elegance of the control-system: two buttons, but unlike the original Zelda where one is your sword button and the other gets an item, your sword is an item and you can map each button to whichever item you have. The freedom to mix and match is super-elegant, and having an item for running and an item for jumping makes L:A extremely active and mobile.

That’s just a framework. If we layer some simple, intuitive combos with things like parrying and different weapon types, we’ll have the first step to the dream game: a small combat game where you can pull off super-cool combos. Maybe a two-player top-down fighting game. Hmm.

Step two: a physics/chemistry world. We’re using an ‘Entity System’ (or as I like to call it, Processing-Oriented Programming), which means making flammable objects react to flame and fires react to water and wind, etcetera, will be relatively simple (simple relative to procedural, object-oriented, and functional styles, that is), so let’s go that route: make a world that’s very interactive and explorable. Not Minecraft levels of malleability, but certainly Breath of the Wild levels.

That can be its own game, too. A small action/adventure game with a tiny world that’s fun to explore and a series of bosses to defeat for a victory condition. One might call it ‘Breath of the Gameboy’, though it’s totally not Breath of the Gameboy.

Step three is to take this basic framework and start making games that have broad and epic stories. Hopefully, by this point, I’m making money off these games and can invest my time and effort into turning them into epic oldschool Action RPGs layered over this totally-not-Breath of the Gameboy-engine.

This, of course, eventually became the theory behind 8 Lives Left.

This is a solid line of reasoning, and I ought not abandon it without a reason why. Do I really want a platformer more than Breath of the Gameboy? Or a JRPG?

8 Lives Left is easily as marketable as anything I’ve devised with the sole exception of Re-Tail.

Well, I’ve got until September to pick a lane. I’m just going to leave this in the oven for now.

Japanese

I have, indeed, as I indicated, decided to return to studying Japanese.

I love linguistics. Phonology, the history of languages, theories of linguistic evolution. These are fun to me. Sometimes I consider whether I ought to try becoming a proper polyglot, and then looking for translation work. But the only languages I care about enough to actually pursue them are Japanese and Greek, so..

Previously, I have collected learning materials using two systems. The Pimsleur tapes, and the Tower of Babelfish/Fluent Forever system, which has now been replaced by a paid app. But I have become enamored of the Refold immersion method. So I’ve gone through my Fluent Forever Japanese flashcards and deleted the cards that expect output, so I can use them as focused input to learn core vocab and spelling. In the mean time, I’m watching anime in Japanese to get that exposure to the language, even though I understand at most one word out of every other sentence.

Similarly, I am abusing the Pimsleur tapes in accordance with the Refold theory: they are meant to train you to speak the language, but I am ignoring the prompts to speak, and only using them to learn to hear the language.

I’m not trying for a super-fast deep dive. My goal is not to be fluent in six months, or fluent in a year. It is to set up a system of language study that is so trivial I will continue to pursue it for the rest of my life. Baby steps. Slow and Steady is, I hear, a race-winner.

Frankly, I would like to visit Japan. But at this point I don’t have a lot of hope I’ll get my life together enough to pull it off. At one point, I wanted to live in Japan, but now that I have a family, I’m not content to raise my kid to submit to a foreign culture, even if I personally like the culture from afar (and how do I know I would still love it if I lived there?) And there’s not a lot of call for Japanese in the center of the North American continent. So 90% of why I want to know Japanese is to enjoy Anime, Manga, and Vidya in the original language.

Pushing forward to the point where I could speak fluently would be cool. Meeting a native speaker and being able to have a conversation would be cool. But setting up an eternal drip feed so that in a year or two I can consume media I wish to consume, regardless of whether I can produce a single word, is a far wiser course of action.

Greek

I plan to teach my kid Κοινή. I plan, myself, to learn Κοινή. That gives me the New Testament, the LXX, and the earliest of the fathers, and when I start reading the early fathers, I can resume my internal debate about which tradition is the truest. I expect to adapt the refold method to Greek learning, although no cartoons or audiobooks in Koine Greek really exist. But this will wait until after I have finished teaching basic English literacy at least.

I do want to start collecting Greek hardcovers of the foundations of Christianity, just so I have them on hand for my little monastery should civilization fall. I’ve already got the New Testament.

If I complete Awesome Moments, that’s a wonderful set of treasures. An experession of the faith, however mangled by a cartoonist like myself, still carries import beyond my mere drawings. But if my children go into the fall of the empire with the faith as passed on by better men, and the ability to read it, and not some translation of it, that’s even better.

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