A Standard Maintenance Leaf Node, or “Norm,” is the single most common Piqha aboard a Peoples of the Cosmos Theriopliotic vessel. Their duty is to scurry around through ducts and perform general maintenance and repair. They are characterized by a no-frills, pale gray shell, and that’s that.
Maintenance nodes are by-the-book sorts. They get their marching orders, they perform tasks according to the manual encoded in their aether cores, and they plug back in for R&R.
Most feral piqha began as “Norm.” Common changes are loss of the mouthplate, and slow diffusion of color into the shell, so that a younger Norm gone feral may reach a jewel tone shell by adulthood, but most have pastel, desaturated shells.
Most wild piqha have an abundance of Norm genetics, more than any other variety.
So, today I’m going to point the Mad⳩ team (let the reader understand), to this (the logicmonkey.media) blog.
When I started writing posts entitled “Captain’s Log…” the idea was I’d make a blog post twice a week. On Monday, I would lay out what I aimed to do that week, as well as the larger, but far less committed-to plan. On Friday, I would review whether the week had gone according to my plan, so I could adjust accordingly.
In practice, this has devolved into one post once a week serving both roles. On Monday or Tuesday most weeks, I review the previous week and lay out the next one. However, if you click the Captain’s Log Link on the sidebar, sometimes I post a summary at the end of the week and sometimes I even post updates throughout the week.
Historically, this has been kept on logicmonkey.media/blog, where I blog about whatever I feel like. However, as of late October, I have been transferring my notes into an Obsidian Vault, including my weekly logs. See LBT 31 Obsidian Aside.
Monday: 12 hours poured into writing the business plan.
4 hours poured into writing the plan. At this time, I decided it was well to transfer my Kids’ Pulp Formula into my Obsidian Vault, because the plan called for weekly writings of books in accordance with the formula.
1 hour doing that.
4 hours reading and recording my notes on An Evaluation of Claims to the Charismatic Gifts by Douglas Judisch, so I could get the copy I borrowed from my pastor back to him on Wednesday.
Wednesday: 8 hours spent either worldbuilding for Last Legend, or analyzing the question: can I make reusable graphics for comics, books, and games.
In the past I have explored working in pixel art for games and printing it. And it is workable, but Piqha really cry out for a hand-drawn look.
Eventually, I settled on a pipeline for turning handmade ink drawings into vector graphics, then turning them back into raster graphics in Godot (the game engine) and coloring them in code. Here is the proof of concept, using graphics I had lying around.
Thursday: I had a nice dinner with my family because it’s Thanksgiving in my country.
I spent 2 hours on the business plan and finished all save the financial projections.
I spent 2 hours working on the worldbuilding and story for Last Legend.
Saturday was entirely consumed by work on my mother’s farm in her absence, and Sunday I rest, yo! Although somewhere in there, I did the preliminary work on the print layouts I expect to use going forward.
Today, my first and highest priority objective is finishing the financial projections for my Business Plan, and then formatting it properly to file with the appropriate agencies. I expect to be finished today. But I am willing to work on it tomorrow as well if necessary.
My intention is to hit the ground running on December 1st on producing the Last Legend Easter Egg Hunt game. I have December and January set aside for this game.
My aim is to have a hand-drawn piqha walking in a hand-drawn room in a spaceship by Saturday, December 4th. Because this is a brand new workflow for me, albeit grounded in things I’ve done before, 3 days to get that up and running is ambitious. I’m 90% sure I can pull it off, but even without life throwing curve-balls at me, as it does, I can’t be 100% sure.
What does that mean for the comic?
I am aiming to make the games in such a way that graphics from it can be repurposed to make episodes of the comic. I am also developing the stories and characters in tandem. They are meant to flow into each other.
I believe I will be ready to produce an episode a week of the Last Legend comic by January. That is my current objective. If by February I have failed to launch, I will be all in, 100% on the comic until it is ready to go because the comic and the game cross-promote.
This week’s goal, aside from hugging my kin, and thanking God for what I have, is to finish my business plan.
At this point, I am about 80% sure the plan goes like this:
Reconstruct my JRPG/Adventure engine in Godot.
Build a 1-month adventure game therein, probably using Piqha. Probably an Easter Egg hunt, to publish in time for Easter 2022. Put it up for sale for $2. Let’s call it Last Legend Zero. Say the story is set before the crash of the ship, one Piqha suspects that something is wrong, and is exploring the conduits of his ship to figure it out. I want, somehow, the Word of God to be available to post-crash colony, so perhaps this easter egg hunt is the story of how it gets there.
Develop within/alongside the game the sets and characters for the Last Legend comic.
On the completion of the adventure game, I should be set for Last Legend comics for 1 or 2 months.
And/or 8×9 storybooks.
Bunny Trail Junction will reboot as a comic in like format, or storybook pages in the 8×9 storybook format, in due course.
I may spend a portion of November or December assembling a post-hoc December wrapup of the current format, and perhaps the 2021 Annual. Just tie up the first year in a bow.
Work on other projects with the Illusive Man as they come up.
Pour 2 months building a JRPG, Last Legend I. This is our business launch. Our “two-month, $5 game that makes 4K per month of work.” Our 1K wishlists on Steam.
By this time, presuming all goes well, we should be far enough along on the Illusive Man’s manga project, that taking a month or two off to produce something here is a good idea.
Pour 2-4 months into producing Last Legend II.
Get us our party mechanics.
Finish the challenge I undertook on behalf of my swordsmanship master.
Be a solid game that secures the Last Legend/Piqha brand, universe, and assets for use in the comics.
Be a solid showcase of what my micro JRPGs look like. Which leads us to:
Licensed JRPG. Say to the Illusive One, to Brometheus, to Niemeier, to my other homies, “Behold: here is a small game I have made that is designed to present a story. You have stories and an audience. Let us therefore run a Kickstarter together and produce a grand thing.” And do so. Choose the best fit. Run a crowdfund. Make a game. Lather, rinse, repeat, to raise everyone’s boats, while taking appropriate breaks to produce my own stories.
The only thing I would add is I want to produce a kid’s book every now and again. Keep my library of kids’ books growing. I feel the itch even now; it has been too long. So, keeping my format notes in mind, I think I may aim to produce a 8×9 Last LegendKids’Pulp Formula book next, and try and put one in every other month. Maybe break Awesome Moments into that format length as well.
Maybe do a Jump the Shark story before years’ end so I keep my pattern of one per year rolling.
As of Captain’s Log LB•11: The Primacy of Vidya, I have decided that henceforth instead of making comics, games, videos, or books as the fit takes me, I will be making games and then deriving comics, books, and videos from the games as much as possible.
It’s no good for some things, like Awesome Moments, obviously. In that specific case, I am content. Awesome Moments is a record for my own children, and I feel a little odd about making it a product. But I do need to make a product.
I’m working using a concept/business model I am calling the Game Tower.
A Game Tower is a game development technique wherein you make a miniature game that is a Complete Game that implements a core mechanic of some larger game you would like to make. Then you release and sell that game. Then, on top of that miniature game, you build a larger miniature game that has an additional component. In this way, you build a tower that grows towards the dream game you wish to make, while also increasingly funding that game and expanding your track record.
I have discussed before how I find dismal projections of how little money indie game developers make to be encouraging. Partly because I’m old poor, so a coder’s “I could never live on this” is easily 50% more than I can hope for as a Lowes Greeter. But partly because of the way Game Towers work. The projections in question assume you are marketing from square one each time, but every brick in a Game Tower helps sell the brick below and the brick above.
I have two Game Towers in the running. A JRPG Tower, which we’ve spoken of and…
The one I’ve chosen, Game Tower Awakening, is building a foundation with my favorite games in mind, especially The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for the Gameboy, with later influences from Megaman and Megaman X.
The first brick in that tower is familiarize myself with the Godot engine, try out some graphical and gameplay ideas, and see how that goes. And so I have done. Hat Trick: Prelude to Nightmare was made in Godot, tested the ideas, and is technically a Complete Game, even though it is not a good game.
Now, this is not the first game in the tower to be ‘financially viable’. Nor can I follow the proper methodology with this game, as making it has taught me several things I want to change on the ground floor. So after concluding I should focus on vidya, I debated two options:
Release the Proof of Concept with no real gameplay to the world and immediately begin working on the second brick.
Spend up to a week polishing the Proof of Concept so that it can be reasonably considered a real minigame.
The advantage of 1 is that it does a better job as a marketing tool. Hat Trick: Prelude to Nightmare was not meant to be a mere proof of concept. It was meant to market the Hat Trick comics on Bunny Trail Junction And it was meant to market the second brick. Right now, it’s not a good game. All it can really do is prove I can make certain things.
To make it a good minigame, I have a week or more of work ahead of me. Animating goblins, developing rudimentary AI, filling out the levels, changing the music at dramatically relevant times, and adding a bunch of satisfying beeps and swooshes to the menuing. This puts me a week or more further away from making the second brick. No big deal?
It would be good to do. I have learned a lot of stuff about Godot making this first game in the engine. There’s a bunch of things I want to do completely different now. And I know from experience that game dev will always be like this. If I start over, build a new foundation, by the time I get a game out of that, I will have a ton of stuff I’ll wish I’d done differently. Pushing forward to make the minigame a proper minigame would mean I begin work on it with even more notions of how I can do better.
But some of the changes I intend to make are fairly drastic.
For instance, I want to build my animation system differently so I can compartmentalize animations and reuse them between multiple characters. Oh, and here’s a big one.
I’m going to ditch 2D for 3D.
Not entirely. I still intend to use the same sprites and tiles. But I will do so in a manner reminiscent of Paper Mario or Octopath Traveler, albeit with an overhead perspective instead of a side-on perspective. So more of a Pokémon Black & White kind of look.
See, one of the things I love about Link’s Awakening is all the jumping. To add top-down platforming in 2D would be complex. I’d have to carefully consider how to emulate the third dimension. How to alter and sort the graphics as they get higher or lower. How to track which parts of the map are at which height.
If I just shift that gameplay into Godot’s 3D engine, I get all that stuff automatically.
And I can take a Link’s Awakening style adventure and make Megaman or Sonic levels by tipping the camera on its side a little.
And I suspect (I do not know, but I suspect) that Godot may succeed for me where Unity failed, allowing me to prototype gaming in pixel art, and then slip HD art with the same proportions in if I decide to make the game more ambitious.
The Choice Revisited
Now, let’s take a quick look at Option 2: cut off my proof of concept where it is and begin building the second brick now.
If I am correct, I should hit a stage in developing the second game where I can take a couple of days, build out the first brick’s world and situation in the game in progress, and simply publish it in place of the proof of concept. That is, a month (hopefully less) into making the second brick, I can paint the second brick to look like the first brick, and get all the advantages of finishing the first brick first, as well as the advantages of cutting directly to the second brick.
So that’s my choice. Today or tomorrow, the Proof of Concept will be available for download on bunnytrail.itch.io/hattrick0 and then, later, when I can recreate it and more in the second brick engine, it will be swapped out.
The Second Brick
The Second Brick is a ninja stealth combat game where you play a snow leopard ninja my wife uses as her online avatar, sneaking around and killing therians. Tenchu Z in the Link’s Awakening engine. Aside from the meager marketing I manage on Twitter by my lonesome, this has the advantage that I can have her run betas on her Twitch streams, and enlist her fanbase in spreading the word.
The Third Brick…
I have many, many friends online who are writing excellent books and comics and drawing attention. Releasing the second brick is all the proof I need that I can turn one of these into a still bigger game. I have lots of ideas for several properties, but we will see who is amenable. With our audiences combined, the Third Brick will have an even greater reach.
That JRPG Tower I was working on? The one that’s more marketable, has better storytelling potential and so forth than the Tower I’ve chosen to build just because I happen to like it more?
It may have very different gameplay than this Tower. But I might be able to take the work I do on graphics and dialogue and world representation, and use the same foundation for a second Game Tower.
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.
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.
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.
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
I 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.
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.
Continue making comics for Bunny Trail Junction. Hit Inktober in the last week.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.