Drams Æther

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.

Progress Report 0210115.065

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?”

Whatta Monster Do

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.

Here’s some groob animations while I ponder.

Continue reading “Whatta Monster Do”

Status Report 0210111.054: Trying something new

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.

Status Report 0210101.071: A hiccup

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.

Progress Report 0200101.044: A long list of animations

Morning, Internet.

Yesterday, being the Lord’s day, and therefore a day on which I do as I like, I made progress on my virtual pet. Said progress report can be found at the bottom of this post, but I’m quite enthused with it so far. Can’t wait ’til Wednesday to work on it again.

For my new readers, “Captain’s Log” posts are regular project update posts. They occur at four times: the first day I work on a new project, the day I finish the current leg of a project, and every Monday and Friday for the duration. On Monday, I call my shot for the week, and on Friday I analyze whether I made my shot and try to adjust my plans and expectations accordingly.

Krag Vargenstone marks the first time since I formed this blog that I couldn’t reasonably be described as the ‘captain’. Which is fine — I have neither need nor want to be “in charge” of this project — but I titled the category without considering I might work on a team at some point. I may, therefore goof around with the titles.

The first ‘week’ of January had only two days. In order, I re-acquainted myself with the Vargenstone project on day one, and got four-directional walking with placeholder sprites on day two.

I’m unsatisfied with the “HD” graphics used for the upper body in the south-facing walk. For one, his nose grows two sizes when he starts walking. For another, the linework is kind of terrible. But the time for me to perfect my process for the final artwork is after I deliver useable art for my programmer.

My days off are Sunday and Wednesday. Here are my plans for the remaining five days in order:

  • Northeast and Southeast idle and walking animations.
  • Aiming and shooting animations
  • Orc 8-direction move and idle
  • Orc attack
  • Dwarf alternate costumes (cloaked and armored)

If I get ahead of the curve, I can go in and figure out the art quality.

I also got a recurring weekly art commission from my church, and I intend to do that Monday of each week. But I providentially have the option to set aside a separate block of time for that.

Onward!

Continue reading “Progress Report 0200101.044: A long list of animations”
  • Northeast and Southeast idle and walking animations.
  • Aiming and shooting animations
  • Orc 8-direction move and idle
  • Orc attack
  • Dwarf alternate costumes (cloaked and armored)

If I get ahead of the curve, I can go in and figure out the art quality.

I also got a recurring weekly art commission from my church, and I intend to do that Monday of each week. But I providentially have the option to set aside a separate block of time for that.

Onward!

Continue reading “Progress Report 0200101.044: A long list of animations”

Captain’s Log 0210101.073: Old Dogs and New Tricks

Lad’s and lasses, it is time to begin again!

Downloaded the repo for the first time in four years, and I’m looking it over. At the moment I haven’t touched Unity, as the Unity version in use is really old, and if we upgrade (and I hope we upgrade!) I want that to be the decision (and problem) of the team’s code monkey.

He did not give me a time frame other than January, which has a whole month’s worth of days, so I don’t know if work on the project is going to start on the other end today, or in one month. But there’s a bunch of stuff I can do in the mean time. I’ve improved significantly as both an artist and an animator in the last 4 years. I have better, more potent tools now than I did then.

At the moment I’m just going through the art, figuring out what the heck I was doing, reorganizing it, and tidying it up. I also need to re-learn Spriter.

Krag Vargenstone is an interesting sort of a thing for me. It’s a fantastic opportunity to make friends with people who want to make un-woke games. The last time I made it, it fell at a particularly unfortuitous time of my life: I was dealing with some nasty medication side effects, and I was preparing to leave my home state to help with some drama with my in-laws. Now, I no-longer need the medication that was causing the side-effects, and I am back among my own family.

Meanwhile, in my own projects…

Continue reading “Captain’s Log 0210101.073: Old Dogs and New Tricks”