Book 1 Mapped, taking a breath

I’ve got the first book of John Michael Jones storyboarded in its entirety. Now…

Now I’m going to take a break.

If I wanted, I could begin production proper on the first book and produce it, but with John Michael Jones, I’ve decided I want to map out the whole series before I produce the first book, so I know the end while I’m producing the beginning.

I’m trying to summon up the will to work on book II, and it’s not coming. No big deal. Why not produce another Jump the Shark book, or my numbers book, or something else entirely?

Hat Trick was an error. I’m still proud of what I made, but I should not have cut it in half. I should have done the whole story as a single book, or planned out a series and then produce the series once it is already planned. I’m not making the same error with John Michael Jones. We make new errors in these parts, not old errors.

John Michael Jones: The Comic

I have begun production on a series of comic books. John Michael Jones Gets A Life.

This is an experiment on many levels. It will be my first comic book. It will be my attempt at LitRPG, as John Michael Jones gets sucked into a video game.

John Michael Jones is a flat-arc character, like Solomon Kane, or Goku. So this story will be testing out many of the ideas I’ve been absorbing from the Pulp Revolution, and seeing whether I have the chops to execute them.

Finally,

Here’s the storyboard of the first few pages. This is all very much subject to change.

How to Fight Back

Allexander Hellene is one of my favorite dudes on the internet, and I endorse everything he’s written in this blog post.

But especially:

Enjoy the battle. This fight will never end. There will be losses, but there will also be victories. Celebrate the wins and keep going. Morale is important, so don’t spread despair. Blackpilling does nobody any good.

One of the things I enjoy (yes! enjoy!) about living in Corona times is that it has stripped away the illusion that we do not live in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. I came to terms with this reality a year or two ago, and it sucks to realize that this world will always be a battlefield and Satan will have the upper hand more and more right up to the moment that Christ comes back…

But once you embrace it, it’s freeing. You start to put your hope in the world to come. You start to really understand how trivial and light is death.

It’s the paradox of Ecclesiastes. Everything is dust in the wind. But once you realize you’re building castles out of soap bubbles, the proper joy of building castles out of soap bubbles is revealed.

When you cannot win, you are free to do as you like. When you cannot lose, you are free to do as you like. And the Christian gets to live under both of these realities at once. This is how the martyrs go singing to their own executions. And when we win (and we have won from time to time), it is how we win.

Lessons from Mario Maker

I’ve been trying with various levels of success to make video games for forever. I’ve settled on kids’ books as the ideal match of my talents to the world’s needs, but my love of coding hasn’t gone away, nor have I given up on the concept.

So I spent some money I shouldn’t have on Mario Maker 2 to see what I thought of building levels for an existing game.

And I have learned something. I can kind of get into level design, but not really.

I have a notion of game design that video games have three legitimate foci:

  • The Toy: The mechanics, the physics engine, the RPG elemental rock/paper/scissors, the deck of cards. What many call the mechanics.
  • The Challenge: The win and loss conditions. The levels, and their differences. If a game has a boss rush mode, what you have is different challenges with the same toy.
  • The Experience: The art, the music, the story. What the creators are trying to make you think or feel as a result of playing the game.

I maintain that a game may legitimately be focused around either the toy, or the mechanics, or the experience. You should when making a game try to make all three as good as possible, but one of these three must be prime, and the other two exist to serve its needs.

go on

And so what we have learned applies to our lives today…

Jump the Shark and the Pirate Princess is out!

Get it on Amazon!

Each book is an experiment. I am building and refining my hypothesis of how to make fun awesome stuff every day, and testing that hypothesis with each release. So let’s find out what I’ve learned so far, eh?

Continue reading “And so what we have learned applies to our lives today…”

How to make a living as a kids’ book author?

My custom, every year, is to take the week of my birthday, the first of February, off, and to spend that vacation, after a couple of days sleeping and playing vidya, analyzing how the previous year went and deciding what I want to try with the next year.

My version of New Years resolutions, as it were.

I can’t actually do that this time round. See, I’ve worked at the same retail establishment for 15 years, so for the last several years, I acquired Paid Time Off at a frightening rate. But last year, I quit, and was unemployed for several months. Then I applied for my old job back and got it — but not with my 15 years of accumulated raises and benefits.

I did get three days off in a row this week, which was intended to be spent recording audio for a digital pop-up book. But life circumstances in the month between when I requested the time off, and when the time off occurred meant I was not ready to record. Indeed, I did not accomplish anything on the pop-up book really at all. So I’ve rested and prayed and pondered, and I’ve decided I’ve given up on paper kids’ books too soon. This year, minus January, but plus January of next year (as though the year started February), I’m going to produce a new kids’ book each month. And while I do that, the question I’ll explore is: is there a way for me to make a living producing illustrated children’s books?

Continue reading “How to make a living as a kids’ book author?”

Building Castles out of Soap Bubbles

I recently ran across a take by C.S. Lewis on eschatology. His concept of the end times is that the point of end times passages is not so that we can play Pin the Tail on the Antichrist, but to put our actions in perspective. Christ might return in a thousand years. We’d better make long-term plans and brace ourselves for the long haul. Christ might return tomorrow. We’d better not neglect our neighbor today.

His point was that it is good to plant oaks in whose shade you will never rest. But if you prioritize the long game to the point of actively harming those around you, and Christ decides to end the show tomorrow, that would be pretty embarrassing, wouldn’t it?

Lewis was writing before Eugenics was a dirty word. When everyone thought “if we only let science do whatever it wishes, we shall cure death and suffering in a few years,” instead of having the general distrust for boffins in white coats which the technocrats have earned for themselves in the intervening years. At the time, the idea of breaking a few eggs to make a civilizational omelette was in vogue in a way it isn’t now (though sadly, as a culture, we’ve rejected it not because it is wrong, but because of the teh feelz).

His take, however, ties in quite well to thoughts I’ve been entertaining of late.

Continue reading “Building Castles out of Soap Bubbles”

A Brief History of My Faith

I mentioned once on Twitter that I am a conversion risk to Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy, but I hesitate because I am convinced of Sola Scriptura.

My Catholic brethren did not hesitate to offer up many arguments against Sola Scriptura that, while interesting, have no use against what I believe. I have refrained, so far, from offering a vigorous answer to their arguments because it would take a lot of time and effort.

In fact, in my drafts folder are two long, meandering blog posts attempting to do just that. This is my third attempt.

Let me explain where I am coming from, and perhaps you will see why each time you act on your God-given mandate to preach the truth, instead of converting or else rebutting, I merely shake my head and move on.

Continue reading “A Brief History of My Faith”

I’ll Die Well

A song sung by a fictional Celtic Metal band in a book I may one day write. Also sung by me before doing hard things because it puts me in a mood to give my all.

I’m lost and alone
Outgunned and surrounded
The hammer is falling
I can’t see around it,
And I’ll die well.

Death crawls from beneath me
Death falls from the sky
I’ve lived by the sword, now
The sword bids me die
And I’ll die well.

I’ve picked out a hill; drawn a line in the sand
And there will I fall because there will I stand
So come for my blood all ye forces of Hell,
And I’ll die well!

I push through my weakness and laugh at my pain
The strength of my foe shows the worth of my name
So try and unshackle me from this life’s fetter,
And I’ll die well!

But first you’ll die better.

8 Lives Left and Gameboy Evolutions

I’ve implemented giving and taking damage, and released a gif to that effect on the Twitter.

To which I got the following response:

Yeah, about that…

This month’s objective is to make an ugly prototype. The point is any time spent making it look “sharp” is time wasted.

Which is not to say these are ugly graphics and the final graphics will blow them away (though maybe. One can ponder.) Rather, these were graphics I had already lying around and used rather than make new ones.

Will they end up in the final game? Time will tell. The Scratch (hero) sprite was intended for use in 8 Lives Left. The Zelda-esque tiles were not, but they certainly fit the bill.

But even if the Zelda-esque field doesn’t make it into the final set, there’s a strong chance the final set will have a similar appearance.

Continue reading “8 Lives Left and Gameboy Evolutions”