Captain’s Log 0210408.043

I am kind of sort of burned out.

Work on Awesome Moments is at present stalled out. I’ve received proofs, done some out-loud read-thru edits, which I need to translate back into the PDF, and…

This post is gonna be long and self-indulgent, so I’ll stick the fold right here, and less a progress report than me writing down thoughts on why progress is stalled in hopes that explaining the problems to random people on the internet will cause my mind to settle on a solution I actually like.

Continue reading “Captain’s Log 0210408.043”

Captain’s Log 0210322.045: Unfinished Business

I should receive my proofs in a couple of days. In the mean time, I have paperwork and unfinished business from when I moved halfway across the country that has been waiting. This week, I need to get a bunch of life stuff sorted out, and it’s literally become a roadblock in kickstarting Awesome Moments.

A part of me is tempted to just begin production on Awesome Moments without running a Kickstarter. Hope that the Good Lord blesses it. Another part of me is hoping the Good Lord doesn’t bless it, and it remains between me and my family. After all, any man who desires to teach will be judged more harshly; but teaching my offspring is my duty before God, so…

But suppose I skip Kickstarter and just produce the book the long way? I’ll still need to get that paperwork done eventually. I’ll need to get a day job until the months or years from now when my work starts earning its own way. And I’ll still want to kickstart my RPGs.

Speaking of RPGs:

I really want to spend a month or so just trying to build the Last Legend engine. But if I got Last Legend running, what would I need to do? Kickstart. I’d need to get my nonsense together anyway. May as well do it now.

Captain’s log: 0210320.054

The PDF of the Awesome Moments draft is done and can be downloaded here. Right now, I’ve just posted it to my subscribestar on a public post (so you don’t have to offer me money to get it).

Awesome Moments 1, maybe all of Awesome Moments, was always meant to be freely available to anyone. I want money, yeah, but I want people to have easy access to my religion even more. I think ultimately, the PDF of the finished book is going to be available on gumroad or something.

Yesterday I slept through my alarm and, being between tasks on the Awesome Moments project, made some half-hearted stabs at setting up the Kickstarter. There’s going to be a hiccup in the process of getting that going: despite it being several months since moving states, I still don’t have a lot of paperwork sorted out. So I guess getting my paperwork sorted is now officially working on my book!

Proofs are in the mail.

I included 4 ‘blank’ pages at the end of the proof, in case I decide I need to insert more pages to make the book work. Any more than 4, and I have to remove pages to get pages. Ideally, they remain blank, and I can use them in future prints to advertise the later books in the series.

But my brother suggested that any blank pages at the back of the book be turned into coloring pages. “Kids are going to color in books either way. Might as well have an officially sanctioned place for ’em to do it,” he reasons.

Well, it’s not a terrible. idea. In fact, I would like to make coloring books. I have avoided doing so thus far simply because I’ve yet to dig out a POD service like unto KDP in ease of use, and because everything I’ve made doesn’t naturally fit that format without extra work.

I broached the idea of making storybooks and just not coloring them on twitter and someone suggested the obvious thing I was missing:

Duh.

I’m not sure if I’m going to take that tack with Awesome Moments 1, or wait until my next book. It’s a tiny bit of bonus work, but it may be worthwhile just so I can sell a version of the book for $4 instead of $12.

I always get hung up on the price of my products. I should charge top dollar and make it worth my while, but I’m podunk, born and bred, and I want my people to be able to buy my stuff.

Continue reading “Captain’s log: 0210320.054”

Captain’s Log 0210315.061: A little bit louder and a little bit worse.

Not much to say. I left y’all on page 36. We begin this week on page 44. In addition to transcribing a handful of pages, I sculpted a face designed to look enough like Clay to be related, but distinct and different. This face will serve for Joseph and Jesse and I have named it Bo.

I’m not happy with the nose. My rough idea was take everything that was triangular and make it square, and I’m mostly okay with it. I also made this guy:

He wasn’t meant for the Awesome Moments books, but I might stick his head on a random bystander. I meant to make a political cartoon with him but then I thought better of it. His face is distinctive enough, though, that I do not regret making him.

Well! Time to transcribe until I can take it no more, at which point it is time to do something else. Preferably create art that can be used in the Kickstarter. At this rate, I should finish the PDF this week, though that may be tomorrow or Thursday, depending on how I manage to get on.

Captain’s Log 0210312.064: A critical workflow lesson.

It’s Report Day. We got the cover art made:

Created puppets for the fallen serpent, and for the floating mountain/garden/ziggurat of Eden/New Jerusalem:

We also, in what is a super tedious process, made it through page 36 of transcribing the storyboards into Scribus. I’m becoming more and more familiar with the software, finding ways to make it behave. So that’s good. But this sucks and I never want to do it again.

This book is not the first book I’ve storyboarded, nor the last. Fortunately, most of the others are comic books, which wouldn’t use this process to begin with, and the exception is my Bestiary, which is still in tinker mode.

I settled on this method after my previous books.

Jump the Shark 1 was storyboarded on paper. Alphabeasts had no storyboard at all, just concept sketches for the characters. Death of Arthur was storyboarded on index cards. And Pirate Princess was written, with no illustrations, to test the Kids’ Pulp Formula.

The result was that for three books, I wrote to illustrations, and for the fourth, I illustrated to the writing. I was dissatisfied with both approaches. I felt I ought to write and illustrate at the same time, so that the words and pictures could be designed to support each other and edited at the same time. And thus I have done. In each case, I create a template with margin lines and some sample text at the target point size in Inkscape, then import this template into Krita:

Then I draw and write what I intend to draw and write in Krita. Krita’s text tools are not nearly so accurate or useful, though, so I do it with the knowledge that I’m just composing and positioning the text to get a rough idea of where it’s gonna go…

With the idea that for the first draft, I’ll import the storyboard image minus the text into Scribus, and type the text in. This is the step I’m on now in Awesome Moments 1.

Now, Scribus isn’t embedding the image data in the .sla document. It’s pulling it from disk. Which means when I finish the final quality image, I should be able to just save it over the storyboard image, and it will magically update in Scribus. Nice!

Problem is I can’t just copy and paste the text over from Krita to Scribus, and retyping everything is tedious as heck. I want to tear my hear out after two or three pages.

I think, henceforth, I shall be composing my storyboards IN Scribus. I’ll add the pages in the appropriate place, save a “storyboard image” that is nothing more or less than the template in the appropriate folder, then I’ll type the text into Scribus, and draw the art in Krita, saving over the template image as I go.

It is, alas, too late to do this for Awesome Moments 1. I am committed to see the drudgery through. But the pain will serve to strengthen the lesson.

Anyway, I become increasingly doubtful I’ll be ready to Kickstart even by the Equinox. I’m moving the target to April.

Tomorrow I have to do farmhand stuff during my normal creative block, and Sunday is for the Lord. I’ll try and make headway on the PDF draft today, and burn off my aggravation by sculpting things that will actually be useful for the campaign. But I have to allow that this may be the end of the progress for this week, and if I have more to show when I start up again on Monday, it’s a gift from God to me.

Frankly, the realization that I find this process tedious, and I could have composed the storyboards in Scribus from the very start is a gift.

Captain’s Log 0210309.073: Cover Me

The correct time to make this update was yesterday, but I was unfortunately hijacked by dogsitting.

The original intended launch date for my crowdfund is the Ides of March, a week from yesterday. In that time, I aim to:

  • Create a 3D mockup of the book.
  • Create the PDF of the first draft and send it to Amazon for a print test
  • Create the trailer for the fund.
  • Pick one of the more spectacular pages or 2-page spreads and produce it as an example of the finished project.

I strongly doubt I can accomplish all of this in that time. It’s just barely possible, but I’d have to devote a lot more time to work on it per day. So my new plan is to have it ready for launch on the Ides, but to actually launch it on the Equinox.

Captain’s Log 0210301.063

This is Clay. It’s his job to model for characters who, in my books, are going to be or resemble Christ (that is, in addition to Our Lord, Adam, David, probably Judah). Assuming I decide to go with this model. I may scratch it and start over, try and get proportions I would like better. I think I did okay with the face though.

May God forgive me for the caricature.

Work on Clay and other 3D sculpts will resume later, though. First thing’s first. I need to go through my storyboard, add a couple pages, and produce the test PDF.

The test PDF will have my storyboard low-res graphics, and my initial text. It’ll get sent off to the Amazon printer, so I can edit the book in physical form, as well as make sure the color choices “work”. Once I make a PDF for the test print, changing the length of the book is a Big Deal, so I need to add some bonus pages to give the document room to expand if it needs to.

That’s today’s big project. I should also get a new brush pen in the mail in the next couple of days, and a new paint brush, and I’ll need to pick a page to produce as a finished illustration both to test the pens, and have art for the crowdfund. The illustration producing process ideally also starts today, but is more likely to start tomorrow or later.

When I get a chance, I need to finish Clay. Give him hands, hair, an armature, and a wife.

Well, lads, this is it. Project of the moment is to fund Awesome Moments 1.

Captain’s Log, 0210225.54: Of Battle Systems, Music, and Cartoon Kings

Normally, I would put off the Captain’s Log post for Friday, but I’ve only got three workdays left in this month, and that means I have to make a decision as to what I’m doing next month. And I’m almost 100% sure I’m going to Kickstart Awesome Moments starting halfway through the month. Which means I need to swiftly decide whether I’m retooling the art style, and I need to produce some good art for the Kickstarter itself, including the first draft of the PDF, and a couple of pages of finished illustrations.

The Last Legend engine has basic movement, dialogue, and context-sensitive radial menus:

There are two or three possible next steps:

Continue reading “Captain’s Log, 0210225.54: Of Battle Systems, Music, and Cartoon Kings”

Captain’s Log, 0210222.062

We are going to tinker for the remainder of February. At this point, I am 90% sure I want to launch a Kickstarter for Awesome Moments on March 15th, and spend March 1st throught he 15th building up to that.

In the mean time, today’s task is to implement radial menus in my RPG/Adventure game unity framework.

I spent yesterday relaxing, trying to avoid working on the game, even in my head, but I could not avoid the conclusion that I still hate adventure games, and unless I am suddenly struck by lightning and come up with a new way of approaching them, I’m just going to go ahead and start implementing battles as soon as my radial menu is up and running.

Let me try and give you a quick idea of my damage.

Suppose in your game, you have a puzzle. Collect the 7 shards of the Pearl of McGuffin. One of the shards is in a vending machine. It costs 25 cents.

You can see a quarter in a drain. So you stick a piece of chewing gum on a stick, and use it to fish the quarter out.

The glory and the failing of adventure games is this: That is a cool, clever way to solve the problem. But it is also highly specific. Most games won’t allow you to do that, because it cannot be generalized to the game’s built in mechanics. But adventure games have the opposite problem: they will allow you to do that, and nothing else.

My favorite thing about videogames is player expression. Adventure games have, by nature, zero player expression. Every puzzle solution is not the player applying his creativity and skill to the problem before him, but rather, the player thinking the game designer’s thoughts after him. I would rather there be a set of consistent mechanics, from which the player can derive the intended solution, but also create his own solutions.

One of the reasons I seldom discuss Candy Raid, a game I worked on as the artist, is it is a puzzle game. There is one and only one intended solution to each problem. I hate that in games. I hate games that do that. They are a legitimate genre, and some people love them, but not me.

My favorite game these days is Breath of the Wild, and the reason is simply this: The game has puzzles. The puzzles have intended solutions. But the game not only doesn’t prevent you from thinking outside the box and applying your own solutions, the designers kind of wink and nod and hint that they approve of you breaking out of their boxes.

The point and click adventure genre is a celebration of the box. Therefore, I cannot in good conscious make one unless I figure out a way to change that. Therefore, even though I could stop building my RPG framework a third of way in, and produce an adventure game with that third, and even though I should, simply because doing so will force me to find the fun in the non-battle parts of the engine and because it will mean I have more games to my name, at this present moment the plan is to not do that very thing.

I do not serve my customers well by trying to produce a game I will hate. Although…

Here’s a notion. I’m not committing to it. But let’s throw it out there and let if vibrate in the aether. If I make a stealth game with an RPG/adventure game interface, then I will go into my RPG with sneaking baked in.

Hm.

Anyway, radial menus.

Captain’s Log 0210219.142: Now Let Them Fight…

This represents a framework for basic navigation and dialogue that works equally well with keyboard and mouse, gamepad, and touch screen.

I’ve said it before, but the JRPG genre is well suited to touchscreens. People make JRPGs that use arrow keys or gamepads or wasd, and then port them to phones with virtual dpads that clutter up the screen, instead of just using “poke to go there; prod to open chest, touch to talk,” etc.

I know why. In a game engine, you get one input system out of the box; to make the others play nice, you have to do stuff yourself. Well, my JRPG design takes enough cues from outliers like Mario RPG, etcetera, that I can’t use RPGMaker anyway. So, as I’m rolling my own framework, I’m rolling my own input system (more or less). May as well make it work both sides of the aisle.

It was harder than I thought, though not super hard. Basically, there’s two cursors on screen at all times. One jumps to the location of your mouse/touch, the other floats in front of the player character’s eyes. You click/tap and the mouse cursor triggers stuff. You press A, and the eye cursor triggers stuff.

Movement has to be handled different. There’s an invisible DPad on your character, sending the ground the same events that the mouse would. At the edges of the screen are zones that count as both ground and interactables, ushering you to the next screen.

Badda bing, badda boom. Special thanks to my cockatiel, who served tirelessly in the role of rubber duck.

So what’s the plan, stan?