Dr. Stump is the foremost expert on therians. He was well prepared for this life by his extensive life making Starnet videos detailing crazy theories about peak media franchises well before he got aboard the sleeper ship headed for Theria, and he doesn’t really care who knows it.
Old Sentinels say that once upon a time, Dr. Stump was a formidable man. That he’s let himself go in the past few years. But Dr. Stump does not talk about the glory days. He talks about therians. And if there’s something you need to know about therians, he almost certainly already knows it.
Æther is measured in drams, which are also the unit of currency in many lands where the substance is harvested and used in various machinations. The units are as follows. Four drams (4ᵭ) to the nip. 3 nips (3ꬻ) to the gil (1ꬶ). 1ꬶ of aether is about a teacupfull liquid radiant. Dram coins frequently (depending on the local culture) have an aether crystal set in the coin itself, whereas larger denominations of coins are theoretically exchangeable for aether. Seximal and duodecimal denominations are normal for other currencies.
Of course, a 1 gil aether stone may be worth considerably more or considerably less depending on the intensity and nature of the radiance stored therein and on market forces.
The plan has not been panning out at all. But I have not been without progress.
I’ve begun storyboards for a pocket bestiary that meshes with my virtual pet, and gone ahead and mocked up the title page.
It’s designed for Amazon’s tiny 5×8 format, and frankly, I’m half-inclined to make it black and white, even though I’ve gone and colored the title spread.
You can see designs changing in realtime across the pages, and that’s because I added a hatchling stage before my previously existing hatchling stage, because the Digimon virtual pet convinced me that was a good idea. Frankly, my plan for this book is to go one bestiary ahead before finalizing it. That is, book 1 will be the core monsters, mostly represented by this graphic:
This set hits all your fantasy creature needs. You got your basic dragon, your basic orc, your basic rock monster, your basic wizard. It could use some tweaking, but that’s the purpose.
Set 2, and book 2, will fill out the ecosystem somewhat, with plants, bugs, birds, fish, and elementals. Each of the sets interacts with all the others — there will be common evolutions between later monsters and earlier ones. So my thought is: storyboard bestiary 1, storyboard bestiary 2, produce bestiary 1, storyboard bestiary 3, produce bestiary 2, and so forth, so that each bestiary gets a little bit of love from hindsight. And since I have Hat Trick 1 and Awesome Moments 1 storyboarded, that means I’ll likely not produce this book until next year at the earliest. But there you are.
I shall dedicate a future post to the bestiary. My thoughts on it as a product, and so on.
On Vargenstone… Eh.
I did do final quality work on the south-facing standing and walking torso and head.
I’ve discovered I need to double the size of the source graphic and use the GDQuest pencil to achieve the line quality I want. No big deal. And I can occupy myself for hours polishing the graphics up to this level if I choose. But I haven’t been able to get momentum going on it.
I haven’t followed the plan at all. I suppose I could still ‘redeem’ the plan by spending all day today and a hefty chunk of tomorrow solely on Vargenstone, but I’m not deeply interested in in trying to retrieve failed plans. I’m more interested in the question of “why did it fail, is there something I can do that wouldn’t fail, and am I willing to do that?”
Pokémon is, in general a well-tuned game. It is about collecting. It’s second biggest feature was exploring, at least until the hallway simulators starting Gen 4/5ish, and this meshes extremely well with collecting. Find new places, add to your collection. The combat system is Ultimate Rock Paper Scissors, with a complex elemental strength/weakness graph — and this also tests your collecting skills. You want a team of monsters that has good coverage of elemental strengths and situations.
I have some serious disagreements with Mr. Masuda on what makes Pokémon work; Pokémon has been letting the difficulty of its combat and the richness of its exploration wither on the vine, and at the same time has been half-assing some virtual pet functionality in. And I feel this undercuts what made a Pokémon player feel connected to his monsters, even while slapping a hasty bandaid over it. But the core of collecting is still there, and the rest of the gameplay still orbits around that core.
Digimon, on the other hand, was a virtual pet. The point was not to catch them all, but to raise them well. I’ve been test driving a Digimon 20th Anniversary pet to see what I want to steal, ditch, or improve for my V Pet, and… hm.
This week instead of taking Sunday and Wednesday off, and working on my own projects on my days off, I aim to take a different route:
Sunday day of total rest.
Monday through Wednesday, Vargenstone
Thursday through Saturday, Therian VPet.
Today, unfortunately, I’ve misspent my peak creative hours. So, rather than trying to do the theoretically optimal thing (build an orc animation), I’m going to switch over to a task that requires skill rather than creativity: creating final-quality versions of the dwarf animations that exist thus far. Tomorrow, I aim to be back on the “Minimum Viable Product” train, working to bring the Orc to life. Assuming that goes well, Wednesday’s task will be to master alternate costumes for the Dwarf.
Thursday morning or Wednesday evening, we will change gears, examining how well we did on Vargenstone, and laying out our objectives for Theria.
For the first two days of the week, we were 100% on track.
On Wednesday, I took a break to work on my own project, as is my wont…
…and then the national news became extremely distracting.
This is a poor excuse. Coups, counter-coups, and political posturing shouldn’t keep a man from his work, especially when it’s going on 1500 miles away and the man can neither affect it nor further attenuate its effect on him. But here we are.
Part of this is worry over things I need not worry about. Part of it is I refused to abandon my virtual with a feature 1/4th implemented. On the one hand, I ought to say, “well, the vpet is the lower priority, so it’ll have to be back-burnered to avoid distraction.” On the other hand, I refuse to do that. This stupid vpet is a lifelong ambition finally falling into place, and I am overly fond of it.
I’m thinking of splitting my workweek into two 3-day legs, and focusing one leg on Vargenstone, and the other on the pet from here forward. In fact, so let it be written, so let it be done.