Captain’s Log LB•11: the Primacy of Vidya

After several days of consideration and a day walking ’round in chilly weather with a cyborg eyepatch and a cockatiel, I have settled on some conclusions for Bunny Trail Junction and my various projects going forward. Chief of these is this:

Vidya is Prime

Vidya is my prime medium. Comics, children’s books, internet videos, and so forth are all fine ways to tell stories, and I should use them, especially when vidya is unsuited to a specific story. But most of my alternative media should be vidya first, and then derived from vidya.

LB1•11

Now, there are arguments against vidya being prime.

Vidya is Bad!

I’ve been listening to a podcast called A Brief History of Power, and it has been recommending that we disconnect as much as possible from screens in general. Your life will, it is argued, be more functional without TV, Facebook, and Mario. And I agree. I try to limit my kids’ screen time and advocate the whole family limit theirs.

But I do not believe the technology is intrinsically evil. I believe it is a usable tool that has been made into a glowing idol before which men bow and receive propaganda from their gods. Christians ought to be wary of the tool because that is its primary usage. But we can and should use it to our ends by our means.

In A Brief History of Power, especially BHOP 063, Rev Fisk and Dr. Koontz make a distinction between media intended to be integrated into life and most media, which is design to wholly absorb your attention and suck you into its world. This is regarded by Fisk and Koontz as an unhealthy thing, especially in excess.

I am a proponent of Tolkien’s Escapism.

Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!
– J.R.R. Tolkien

That is, I agree that Escapism to the extent that you run away from the real world when you could be making it better is at some point a vice, and it is a vice that is clearly endorsed especially by the Pop Cult, one of the Secular Cults of my area and era.

The Pop Cult is devoted to movies, video games, and other franchises. It is the religion of Disney, Marvel, and other forms of mass media. Men escape their sad lives into fantasy worlds. The Pop Cult is offered up to the population by the Death Cult as a narcotic, and the media therein is intentionally laced with Death Cult propaganda. However, practitioners of the Pop Cult are not necessarily conscious Death Cult Members.

However, I believe that attention absorbing, escapist media is good, right, and salutary for two purposes, hinted at by Tolkien.

  1. For Christian Rest. That is, for escape from this world, this vale of tears, with all its woe, toil, struggle, and incessant Death Cult propaganda.
  2. For escape from cults. That is, Christian men should create media that permits refuge for their fellow believers, and a doorway to freedom from evil cults for the trapped cultists.

Consumption of non-Christian-made entertainment is not wholly contraindicated here. I’m not making a law saying “don’t watch TV”. Nor are Fisk and Koontz.

Fisk and Koontz, (and I) would recommend, rather, that you consider what the media you consume is doing to you, and consciously decide whether you want that to happen.

And what is indicated is the production of media by Christians.

Reasons FOR the Primacy of Vidya

  • can make it. While the barriers of entry are lower than they ever have been, and continue to plummet, not many men can.
  • It combines all the skills in my talent stack, making it both more valuable and harder to duplicate.
  • Distribution is solved. While I can (and want to) make physical copies, I can give away a game to Kickstarter backers for 25% of the final intended cost, or as a free add-on for subscribing to my mailing list. These things are not possible for paper children’s books.
  • It is easier to derive my other media forms from vidya than vidya from the forms. I have already solved the problem of making black and white print comics from pixel art. I have not yet made motion comics for YouTube, but I suspect a game->video pipeline is simpler than a video->game pipeline.
  • It is much more likely (IMO) that I will build a game business that puts out books and comics than that I will build a book business that puts out games.

Conclusion

My new plan is to finish out December in Bunny Trail Junction, then go on indefinite hiatus while I roll up a video game business. That game business should quickly start leaking into videos, comics, and books as well. I hope in time to end the hiatus in February with a bimonthly format that carries through 2022, so that the 2021 annual and the 2022 annual are roughly the same size, but the Vidya is Prime.

Captain’s Log LA•SC: SMART Goals

As paperwork I have to do, I have to submit a business plan to various places that includes a list of SMART goals, defined thus:LA•S•4 What is a SMART Goal?

  • Specific: The goal is a single, atomic thing.
  • Measurable: You have a definite description of what finished looks like.
  • Attainable: You know you can do it.
  • Relevant: It aligns to my Values and moves towards my Objectives
  • Timed: I have a schedule. I know when to do it, and when it should be finished.

I can see how that might be useful. It strikes me as a bit corporate-speak, but as I need to fill out the information, I might as well do it.

While I have not written them in that precise format, I’ve compiled a grand list of all my plans. Doing so helped force me to come to terms with the fact that I cannot possibly pull them off, and my new plan is to sit down and make a new plan.

For your edification, here is the current list:

Continue reading “Captain’s Log LA•SC: SMART Goals”

Captain’s Log LA•Q3: One Thing At A Time

Let’s review — shall we?– the plans for some previous months.

July

August

  • Continue making comics for Bunny Trail Junction. Hit Inktober in the last week.

September

  • Finish Inktober as comics for Bunny Trail Junction, and continue making comics.
  • Start working on the first minigame in a series of progressively larger games.

October

  • Continue making comics for Bunny Trail Junction.
  • Finish the minigame
  • Kickstart Awesome Moments
  • Prepare some YouTube stories for launch in November.
  • BONUS ROUND: Grow my Twitter Reach!
  • SECOND BONUS ROUND: Start making a wearable computer for myself!

Can we see the issue?

I went from doing one thing a month to doing two things a month to doing four things a month. And then to make matters worse, I lost last weekend to hyperfocusing on a project that I should rather have noted and moved on from.

Smart Notes work well with ADHD because impulses can be boiled to a note. The Chaos Elf can then discard the impulse and re-center on what he’s supposed to be doing, as a normal person would, confident that his shiny notion will be saved and grow over time. The Smart Trees that grow also play into his strengths, as his random explorations eventually ripen into large projects that nevertheless, can be completed with minimal work and, therefore, discipline.

LA•Q•1•2 Smart Notes and ADHD

It’s no good. I can’t maintain it. I haven’t maintained it. Neither of the things I did in September received half the attention it deserved, let alone October.

In October, I tried to do four things at once. Instead, I did one thing at once. I spent a week working almost solely on the Kickstarter. I spent a week working almost solely on the game. And I spent a week working on various other projects of varying importance and unimportance. Some days, I spent endlessly scrolling Twitter in an attempt to say something good and link it back to my work. And that publicity work did pay off with steady Twitter growth… but steady Twitter growth was not on my priority list!

It seems that even when I’m doing two things at once, I’m really only doing one thing at once.

If I do two things at once, I will accomplish neither. I must do one thing at a time.

LA•Q•3•1 Single Project Principle

The thing is, I thought I’d be more effective once medicated for ADHD. And I am. But my increased effectiveness isn’t the ability to do twice as many things (or worse: five times as many things).

My increased effectiveness is the same amount of productivity over the same amount of time, but I can choose where it goes.

And by choosing 6 things, I am throwing that away.

The Dark Moment

Every story has a dark moment before the climax. For me, I became obsessed with the idea of assembling a wearable computer using a Raspberry Pi. One that would put data on a display over my eye. I could look through the ocular window and see the world. But also see what time it is. See what project is scheduled for this particular moment. Press a button and run a Pomodoro timer.

My first prototype is useless as a display, but it will serve nicely when I take my kid trick-or-treating.

Of course, with the shipping crisis ongoing right now (October 2021), the soonest I can have a Pi is November or December. I have built a working mockup of the display out of sculpey and junk I have floating around. But the parts to make a good eyepiece won’t arrive ’til November or December.

But the real irony is that a thing invented to keep me on task took me off task. For three days straight.

Sunday night, as I put down the third eyepiece prototype, with 4 projects on deck only two of which had received appreciable work, and they only a week apiece, and a bunch of money poured into eyepiece parts in the mail, I realized I’d screwed up big time.

I also realized that losing only three days and a hundred dollars or so was a grace.

I will do this again any time if I do not take steps to prevent it.

The Break in the Clouds

Sunday Night I did some quick research into choosing tasks and staying on task for Chaos Elves[1]. I resolved by the time I went to sleep to begin the next morning two short-term correctives, and a long term corrective.

The short term correctives are as follows:

  • Schedule each day out in advance and keep the schedule before my eyes. This would be done with Google Calendar and an app that reduces Google Calendar to a friendly clock face with wedges for the scheduled events. For this, I chose Sectograph.
  • Begin to assemble a digital ZettelKasten with checklists that can be synced between my phone and computer. Transfer my work into the ZettelKasten. This will empower the long-term corrective..

The Long Term Corrective

I am dedicated to creating a fountain of entertainment for children. Stories you will not regret giving your kids. Books, comics, videos, and games. I am dedicated to finishing the story of Hat Trick. To creating Awesome Moments. To releasing more Jump the Shark.

I need to consider how I am going to fulfill that goal. To create a system that will pay for itself and continuously get my stories out. Bunny Trail Junction was a fantastic first draft of that system. But it does not pay for itself, it does not find the fans, it spends too much time indulging in navel gazing (which should instead be reserved for my blog), and not enough time telling stories. I need more stories, better stories, faster stories, but!

Most of all, I need to do only one thing at a time.

If I do two things at once, I will accomplish neither. I must do one thing at a time.

LA•Q•3•1 Single Project Principle

I do not know how I am going to accomplish this. And so, for the rest of this month, barring a day or two to upload November’s comics to the site, I am going to hammer that out. I am willing to even go a week or two into November to do this. Options on the table include:

  • Reducing Bunny Trail Junction the Comic to 2 or 3 episodes a week, starting January
  • Making January a Hiatus for the Comic
  • Devising actual Sprite Comic Stories so that more story can be produced more quickly
  • Canceling the Awesome Moments Kickstarter and redoing it when I can devote a whole month to nothing else.
  • Making everything into vidya so I can build a profitable business, then extracting comics and videos and storybooks from games.

By working in the ZettelKasten, and by loading my story ideas into the ZettelKasten, I am confident that eventually, I will have the operation I need to succeed.

Denoument

Right now, everything is up in the air.

I haven’t been on Twitter except for one or two brief posts since Thursday. Several Inktobers haven’t been posted to Twitter (they have gone up automatically on the comic site, of course) as I’ve been A) building eye pieces and B) wrestling with the fallout of my bad choices.

This blog post was built in the ZettelKasten as well, and if it copies into WordPress reasonably well, future blog entries will as well. Ideally, one day, I’d publish the ZettelKasten as my blog, with the personal bits redacted, so that readers would get the full connectivity.

But I’ve spent the last two days going over my business and plans, and I don’t like what I see. I need to make something new.

I need to make a system I can promise to follow.


  1. LA•Q•2•1•1 Chaos Elf: A Chaos Elf is a man with ADHD. The name was chosen to reflect the stunted self-control more accurately called Executive Function Retardation that typifies the disorder. Since nobody but me is willing to call me and those like me Executive Retards, a different rectification of names was selected.

Captain’s Log LA·K1: I need to do one thing.

So, here’s the updates I should have done on Monday, except I was pushing the game to completion, and yesterday, except I was power-recovering from a head-cold.

Awesome Moments

I promised to upload the third draft by last weekend. I have failed because I don’t yet have my pastor’s notes. I will be getting them today, inserting (I think) two more pages into the story to really hammer home the centerpiece of the plot, and keeping my promise.

The Kickstarter is 1/3rd funded! Right now, I’m not pleased with the options I have available for people to back it. This weekend, I hope to tweak it a bit so people can get, e.g. coloring books, or something else that I can price relatively low and have the book itself have a large enough markup I can actually use the funds for more than production and shipping.

I have mixed feelings about Awesome Moments. I am 100% on board with making it, and it being the greatest thing I’ve ever created, for the sake of my children. But as a product I offer the world, I am hesitant. So I am praying that it funds or not based on God’s blessing the project as a whole.

I am not hesitant to share the project with the world, however. I love it. I believe you should love it too. I am excited about it. And I am going to be putting up posters, arranging to speak at churches, and so forth. The trick is, how do I balance that with what I said I’d do in October and November before I decided to try

Bunny Trail Junction: The Comic

November has been assembled all month. So according to my normal process, I should have it uploaded to Amazon, right?

Wrong. I’ve been tearing my hair out all month trying to simultaneously do the Awesome Moments Kickstarter and get the game that also launches in November done. I haven’t even kept up on producing comics.

Technically I have, as the pixel art comics…

… are so easy to produce that I have 24 comics already done this month. The problem is, that’s not what I want to run. I don’t want to offer my Bunny Trail Junction readers me blathering about what I should do or not do. That’s what this blog is for! I want to offer the readers stories!

Moreover, Hat Trick is picking up traction at least as much as Awesome Moments, thanks to all the work I’ve been putting into the game. Although neither is getting the kind of traction I need to make a living yet.

Currently, I have a couple of ideas for the comic. All of my ideas involve finishing out December strong, then maybe changing it up.

These ideas can be mixed, matched, and stacked.

  1. Cut Back Next Year: The current favored plan is to reduce the comic to 3 strips a week instead of seven, and release bimonthlies instead of monthlies. This frees up enough time for me to work on games and videos while keeping the comic on life support.
  2. January Sabbatical: No comic in January while I focus on retooling everything. This would be really helpful because even if I cut back to a bimonthly, I still have to have January and February both done at the beginning of January. Unless I take a one-month sabbatical. And then, if I do the full 31 comics for Inktober next year, with every other issue being every/other month, the 2022 annual will be roughly the size of the 2021 annual.
  3. A Story In Pixel Art: This is my favorite plan, but it’s also the newest, and I haven’t let it marinate as long. If I can devise a story that works as a sprite comic, in the style that I’m doing for the games, I can generate enough comics to cover the gap between months where I draw and months where I work on games or books.
  4. Story Books As Web Comics: And finally, if I just do a two-page spread of the 5×8 as a single day, like the prayers I’m going to be including in December, that totally counts, and it fits certain story beats better.

3 and 4 are the newest, but most awesome notions. Sprite comics allow for awesome animations. The title screen I’ve got for my game has already convinced me that I want to do comics that look like this. And if I can make storybooks for Bunny Trail Junction that later lead to larger, illustrated books, so much the better.

Just look at that title menu! Comics that look like that would kick ass! And the more I weave my comics and games together, the better for each of them.

November will have two or three comics that straight up have animations in them on the website. And that rocks. Putting that stuff in stories will be super cool.

Anyhow, today I’m going to try and polish off the last edits to November and get that submitted to KDP today.

Hat Trick: Prelude to Nightmare

I spent Saturday and Monday neglecting all my other responsibilities to make Hat Trick: Prelude to Nightmare a complete game. And it is done.

That doesn’t mean it’s a good game, or even the game I wanted to make. To get close to what I want, I need to add:

  • Enemies that fight back.
  • Health and health drops
  • More combat options like dashing and parrying.
  • More world to explore and waves of foes to fight.
  • Nice sound effects to menus and the like.
  • Spawn animations of goblins bursting from the ground.
  • Music changes when exploring Vs. Fighting.
  • Arthur’s portrait changing based on the situation.

But, it has a win condition, a lose condition, an options menu, and a controls menu. If I get only partway through the things I want to add by November, and then have to cut it off, at least I will cut it off a finished, if sub-standard, product.

I want to make a whole blog post about what I’ve learned from making the game, and how I’d like to tweak things moving into the next one. So stay tuned for that.

Going Where My Audience Is

I have rebranded my Jump the Shark YouTube Channel as a Bunny Trail Junction Youtube Channel.

I have observed before my audience is kids. To reach kids, I need to go where kids are. Which is not twitter, or bunny-trail.com. It may be YouTube.

My current idea is to take my Kids’ Pulp Formula, write a bunch of stories, and upload one or two a week to YouTube. I’d draw one or two pictures for the story, record myself reading it, and thus build the audience for my books, my comics, and my games. For the same purpose, I’ve created a branded SubscribeStar.

My intention is to create a family-supporting setting and cast using my Piqha for the majority of the stories, although doing my existing books and comics is also fine. But Piqha, man, they’re so cool, and so far none of my finished work is strongly counter to modern propaganda pieces. I want a Berenstain Bears but with a respectable Papa. And the Piqha can do that.

But I haven’t put a single penstroke down for this project yet. Fulfilling my comic promises and advertising Awesome Moments has eaten all of my time! And right now, I’m not even feeling it. I’m feeling my game.

Man, getting my comic to look like this would be so cool. Heck, using bits like this rendered in-engine for videos would be so cool.

I’ve never edited videos before. I’ll need to record myself reading stories and edit the audio as well, and I’m not sure how I’ll find the silence necessary to pull it off on this farm. Right now, as I write this, my sister’s dogs are barking, and there are baby chickens chirping directly under my window.

These are all rather niggling excuses. I can overcome them. But that leads me to the one all-encompassing problem that I have with my projects.

I Should Only Do One Thing At A Time

I am able to do a great job getting funding for Awesome Moments, telling people how great it’s going to be, doing updates for the Kickstarter, and tweaking the rewards to generate interest.

As long as I do nothing else.

I am able to do a great job inking beautiful comics with intriguing stories to run on Bunny Trail Junction every single day for months ahead of time.

As long as I do nothing else.

I am able to build a retro game that looks super fun and exciting and slowly build up hype for it as I put in more and more cool features.

As long as I do nothing else.

I suspect the same is true of the YoutTube videos. The reason my mind is coming up with a slew of excuses is right now I am in game-development mode, and my mind doesn’t want to switch to advertising mode or to video mode or to drawing mode. But somehow, I’ve developed a plan of action where this month I’m doing all four at the same time.

That has to stop.

I can present all four at the same time. I’m presenting Inktober right now, although it’s certainly not getting me the eyeballs I had hoped for. But I’m not doing Inktober right now. I did Inktober last month.

I have to be doing one thing at a time. If I am making videos and games and comics and childrens’ books and funding, I have to be working on only one of these at a time for multiple days at a time. I may do one per month. I may do one per week. But I can’t do two per anything ever, ever again. I am making it work half-ass right now because I promised a game in November, and I promised the comic would come out every day this year and I’m doing the Kickstarter right now and I owe it a fair shot.

Tomorrow I have an appointment to work on a business plan. My business plan has to be to make one thing at a time. And it has to be something that gets my work to my audience and starts up a cash flow.

So today, I figured I had better sort my ducks out. Here they are. Now it’s time to ponder on how to line ’em up.

Captain’s Log LA·B3: Biting off a lot

So, I have launched the Awesome Moments Kickstarter:

Tell your friends. Tell your enemies.

If Awesome Moments funds, it will be the main focus from then until it is done. And every day until then, I will post something about it on Twitter. I will seek out opportunities to speak in churches or otherwise. I’m going to give this thing the best possible chance I can to fund.

That said, I have no idea if it will, and I’m not married to either outcome.

I am going to try and get a couple of story videos made in time for November, because I see a useful lining-up with Thanksgiving.

If Awesome Moments doesn’t fund, I will double down hard on making videos in November. We will try to prime the algorithm with a glut of good stories.

December’s Bunny Trail Junction will be at least partially a prayer book, so I can keep the prayers I want to pray every day in my pocket. It will be the last Bunny Trail Junction monthly for a while.

After December, I will release bimonthlies instead. Bunny Trail Junction will drop from 7 comics a week to 3 comics a week, plus a video each week on YouTube/other media outlets. I hope to one day go back to daily comics, but my commitment is to reaching my audience — little kids — where they are first, and keeping the comic going second.

This week, my primary goal is to turn Prelude to Nightmare into a finished game, however short, stupid, or terrible it may be.

Then improve it each day, while keeping it a finished game, until November, when it is released as is. My ultimate business strategy is to build an audience on YouTube and use them to crowdfund books, and seed the demand for games. My videogame strategy is to proceed as previously outlined, making a 1-month game, making a 2-month game that is advertised , and then Kickstarting a year game for a year’s salary. The timeline for these events varies based on whether I am making Awesome Moments or not. If not, I’ll aim to begin work on Game 2 in December, and release it as an Anniversary gift for my wife. Otherwise, if Awesome Moments does fund, I will spend a month spinning up the YouTube channel before launching into Game 2.

Captain’s Log L9·R1

Three days left in September. I’ve got my plan.

I work on the Awesome Moments Kickstarter as my primary project every day until it’s good to go. Target Launch Date for the Kickstarter is October 9th.

Let’s GOOOO!

Once it’s ready to go, I return to Hat Trick: Prelude to Nightmare. At this time, I might start streaming my development on Twitch or YouTube.

Yesterday I made a brush holder so I could ink vertically.

Image
Image

And inked a Hat Trick with it. End result: good idea, didn’t actually make things easier overall.

Image

ONWARD!

L9·O2: Too many things

Progress progresses nicely. Sometime in the next handful of days I shall upload some new Hat Trick comics, and we will do another compare and contrast between the different drawing techniques.

The game prototype is also coming along. I went from not having enemies:

…to having enemies you can attack and kill in a single day.

I’m still stumbling along slowly because I don’t know the language or the engine, and yet it would take me as much time or more to do this in Unity, and I do know the language and the engine.

Over the next day or so I want to generalize the character physics. Next week, we’ll add some enemy AI.

I have a pretty good plan to roll up an indie game business, and I’m fairly confident in it. Problem is, it won’t pay me before November, and it won’t be self-sustaining before February assuming I do nothing else. But I’m aiming to do other things. Maintain and get ahead on Bunny Trail Junction, which after all, ties into Bunny Trail Junction. Oh, and launch a crowdfund for Awesome Moments.

I’ve made zero progress on that front.

I’m confident. I’m energized. I’m more productive and focused than I’ve ever been. (I’m medicated). But… I’m trying to do too many things. I don’t think I can launch the crowdfund if I work on the game at all next week. I don’t think I can get the game done in time if I work on the crowdfund at all.

And my family is hard up for cash, me having lost my job. If the crowdfund works, I’ll get money in mid-November. If the game makes any money, I’ll see that in mid-November. If I get a day job, it’ll be all I can do to keep the comic running.

I think I’m going to prioritize the crowdfund, try to launch by October, and as soon as it’s launched, go back to working on the game.

Hard choices. Pray for wisdom.

I’ve been considering how to get ahold of my audience. The six-year-olds. The people who want to read Jump the Shark and Hat Trick.

The easiest way is YouTube. Launch a new channel. Dramatic readings of my books complete with illustrations on the screen. I could produce weekly content if I went back to the Kids’ Pulp system I’ve previously outlined. Of course, that one extra ball in the air would definitely cause all the others to fall. But maybe it’s something I can bring into fruition once I’ve safely landed Awesome Moments 1 or Hat Trick: Prelude to Nightmare or both. Anyway, I wanted to get the notion written down before it escaped me. Write one bedtime story a week. Make one illustration for it. Read it out loud for YouTube. They can’t all be stinkers.

Each of those stories becomes a seed that can turn into Bunny-Trail comics, children’s books, games.. It’s a great idea. But I need to decide if it’s the great idea I’m going to go for.

Got a lot of compliments the other day for my piqha. I miss my piqha. I want to do something with them.

Captain’s Log L9·J1: Requiem for Selling Jam

My mother has a 40 acre farm which, with her blessing, I aim to turn into some kind of dynastic residence where my children and grandchildren can stand against the encroaching darkness.

Bit of a tall call for a man with bad ADHD where it’s all he can do to promise to draw one three panel comic per day and maybe try to get a job. Where is epic scheme to make vidya is predicated on getting medicated.

Now, my mom has bills to pay, and has never had a proper day job in her life. What she does is she cans jams and jellies and pickles and takes them to craft shows and somehow manages to make just enough to cover everything. I’ve been able to ease the pressure since my return — at least when I was employed. But that’s still her thing.

And I always end up going along as muscle, to lift crates of jelly jars and set up the tables. So I had a thought the last time I was lounging around at a farm show, hawking my mother’s jam: what if I brought along some of my own products and tried to sell them too?

The result was both illuminating and unsurprising. The crowd that shows up at craft shows to buy jam and pickles doesn’t overlap greatly with the crowd that buys pictures of wizard bunnies and piqha riding therians. in 2 days of showing my art I had 3 customers, for a gross profit of $22 and a negative net — spent more than that on gas, food, and supplies to set up.

My mother, contrawise, made hundreds of dollars each day. This crowd is her customer base.

Nevertheless, it’s not a terrible idea moving forward. I’m going to be at these craft shows helping my mother until she decides to stop doing them. I may as well have the potential to pocket an extra $5 for myself while I’m there.

Now, I didn’t have time to make new pictures for this craft show. I wanted to. I wanted to make a funny cartoon about mosquitos, or maybe a rural scene of cows driving tractors. The sort of thing that would actually appeal to the local crowd. But I was wrapping up the October Monthly until five minutes before the show started, so I only had a chance to print pictures I’ve already made. And if the urge strikes to make such pictures, I for sure am going to indulge in it and thereby furnish myself with a higher chance of pocketing beer money while helping my mother. But…

The tiny slice of overlap between her customers and my customers changed my whole attitude.

There was one nerdy couple that literally came out for my mother’s jam, sidestepped into my booth, and gushed for twenty minutes over my art before walking away with one of my framed prints. And that single compliment session gave me enough positive vibes to last a week.

But besides that, every time a family with children pulled up, the kids were drawn like magnets to my booth. Man, if only I had some more of my books, or some toys of my characters, instead of cards and prints! Ah, but it doesn’t matter. Kids don’t have cash, do they.

But my audience is 10 year old boys. And girls, but mostly boys. And other ages, including a handful of adults if they love what 10 year old boys love.

They aren’t going to turn up in large numbers at craft shows, farm displays, or farmer’s markets. That’s not where my audience is. But they are mine, I appeal to them effortlessly, and I love them and I love having them for an audience.

I spent the first day of the jam sale fretting over whether or not I could find a spare minute to make product for my mom’s audience. After all, I can’t make money doing this unless I do. And that’s true. It’s a true fact that unless I appeal to the people who are there, I won’t make any money.

But I don’t care any more. It doesn’t worry me. Because like I said, I appeal effortlessly to the people I want to serve. The question isn’t how to change up my art. The question is how to get to my actual customers. My customers, and not my mom’s.

10 year old boys don’t care about business cards.

Or authentic home-canned preserves, for that matter.

I’m going to consider that over the next few days. Maybe write up a blog post or two. This is a Captain’s Log at the end of a week, though, and beginning of another, so I’ll finish up the after action report with a few takeaways, and then I’ll make another post examining my plans.

  1. My current plans are fine: That is, keep Bunny Trail Junction alive. Make a small video game followed by a larger video game followed by a larger video game. Kickstart Awesome Moments in October. I should note that I feel there may have been a bit of Providence in the fact that I finished the Awesome Moments draft long ago, but didn’t feel up to Crowdfunding it until after I spent a month learning to use, and then love, the brush.
  2. My Colored Ink Drawings Print beautifully, my Paintings do Not. I’ve discovered I prefer my cartoons to my paintings on a screen, but that effect is magnified tenfold in print. A painting I kind of like on a screen looks hideous on paper. A cartoon I was okay with but not thrilled about, on screen looks pretty good on paper. I think painting is a discipline now reserved for practicing my art as opposed to making products.
  3. Children’s Books are Great, Actually. Even though I’m focusing now on comics and vidya, there’s nothing wrong with deciding to pair illustrations and text in a non-panel-dependent methodology. In fact, I might prefer it to comics. I’ll get to spend fewer illustrations on conversations. In fact, I may consider formatting Bunny Trail Junction less like a comic and more like a children’s book in the future.
  4. Saving the Beauty is a Matter of Principle, not Gonads. Over the last few decades I’ve looked for excuses to get attractive females into my stories because I like to draw attractive females. But at the end of the day it doesn’t matter to my audience and it doesn’t matter to me whether I can get a space princess in a bikini. I need to stop trying to force it just so I can draw space princesses, and instead let it happen when it is right to do so. Shocking SJW prudes with teh sexy is already well handled by Kamen America team; my audience is 10.
    Which is not to say we eschew Space Princesses, just that we focus fare that will entertain and uplift 10 year olds.
  5. I Need to Bring my Products Where the Audience Can Get Them. Scholastic came back from the dead by using pulp writing techniques to produce series like Goosebumps and Animorphs, and by holding book fares at public schools. I’m perhaps not likely to be the most welcome at public schools. But my marketing efforts need to be similarly inspired. This is an important consideration: for Awesome Moments to fund, I have to be better at marketing than I have ever before been. And I have been planning a marketing push for Bunny Trail Junction to coincide with the New Year. Going on podcasts and mentioning my merch on Twitter is nice and all. But what I really need to do is make more things the ten year olds want and get them to the ten year olds.
  6. I Think I Need a Short Term Way to Make a buck and selling pictures at a craft show isn’t it. I’m on leave of absence from my day job right now, meaning I’m not making money, because I refused to wear the mask for a second bout. Now that our Fearless Leader has mandated companies with 100+ employees get the experimental gene therapy for their workers, all chance of me going back — or going back to a similar company — has dried up. The soonest I get funds from my current plans is November, a week or two in, if Awesome Moments funds.
  7. I Should Consider Pixel Art for Comics, and HD Art for games. 10 Year Olds aren’t nostalgic for the Game Boy days. But they aren’t 100% graphics snobs either: they like Minecraft just fine. They’d get a kick out of a pixelart comic that goes with an HD game that goes with a pixelart comic.

Well. Today is the Lord’s day. The 8th day of Creation. Time to reflect on what came before, but also to begin anew.

Tomorrow we put the petal to the metal.

Captain’s Log L9·F1: All Vidya, All the time?

A long time ago, I tried to ink a drawing with a brush like a real cartoonist. A Windsor and Newton #7, the favored tool of greats like Bill Watterson. It did not go so well.

Well, my challenge for ynk-topia, my terrible corruption of Inktober, was to ink with a brush from start to finish. And I have. I just now finished my 31st picture, which means once I get them all scanned and processed, the October Monthly should be ready to publish.

I’m not going to show you the ultimate picture, mostly because it isn’t scanned yet, but partly because I want to save it for the 31st, but here’s a picture from near the end:

Inked with a brush.

And this picture I made for my wife for her birthday:

Inked with a brush.

I’m at the point where I almost love the brush as much as my tombows. Almost. I can produce far more expressive linework with it, going from finer than the tombows can produce to thicker than they can produce. But it’s a fight. I need to focus. I need to pay careful attention to what I’m doing. Meanwhile, the tombows produce close to what I want with very little effort on my part.

Anyhow, starting tomorrow, I’m going to do one comic a day, to tread water, and focus all the rest of my creative energies on my game.

However, I am starting to get the feeling that the time is right to Kickstart Awesome Moments. I think I’ll run a campaign in October and work my way, bit by bit, towards having it ready, again, starting tomorrow. I’m not 100% committed to this yet, but it feels like it’s time, so I’m pretty sure I will be.

Captain’s Log L9·A1: The Dismal Science

Yesterday, after doing my Inktober stuff, I put together an interface mockup and (therefore) the interface graphics for the game I’m making over the next couple of months. I’m pretty proud of this, though it doesn’t run in-engine yet:

Couple of worldbuilding notes: I’ve decided in my game engine/game world that magic/stamina/special attacks use Star Points and life uses Heart Points (nothing too extreme here). Heart Points can be split into quarters and Star Points into 5ths for finer-grained HP/SP applications while keeping the interface readable at a glance.

Money is measured in chips. Which, in universe, each contain one dram aether, with a direct conversion of 12 chips/gil if I want to measure things in a game via gil. It’s a nice way to unify my various fantasy settings. A chip is just a 1 dram coin in the game world.

There are some pleasing coincidences. In my comic, I’ve been bopping back and forth between 320×180 and 160×90 for screen resolutions. The first is the obvious 16×9 retro resolution, the second I did half-size (and with the initial Rainboy palette) and called it the handheld version because I felt production was taking too long.

Anyways, I felt 320p was too big and 160p was too small, so I threw a dart at a resolution splitting the difference. I was aiming for 240p, but I hit 256p by accident.

You’ll notice in this gallery (at least on desktop) that the middle picture is shorter than the other two. That’s because the mockups were done in my tile editor, and assuming 16×16 tiles (which is most convenient for this style), 320×180 and 160×90 are vertically 11.25 and 5.625 tiles respectively.

But 256×144 is 16×9 tiles. Nice. In fact, I’m kicking myself for never thinking, “I wonder what would happen if I multiplied my tile size by the aspect ratio” before today.

Another nice coincidence is I made the interface panel the size that “felt right”. I was originally aiming to make the playable area a square, but that meant the interface would take up almost half the screen, and that was unacceptable.

I landed on doing 4 tiles wide of interface, which reduced the play field to 12×9.

12×9 is one off in each direction from 11×8, which are Fibonacci numbers. Which means the playing field vaguely in the ballpark of a golden rectangle.

Okay, to be honest, I’d want 14×9 to get as close to a golden rectangle as possible. But you know what? I like this rectangle. I find it aesthetically pleasing. I’m going to pretend that’s because it’s in a golden rectangle ballpark.

So here’s some sword animations before I get to the economic bit for which this post is named:

Continue reading “Captain’s Log L9·A1: The Dismal Science”