Captain’s Log 0210215.081

Put together a forest tileset in one day, added a couple of refinements to the platforming controller. Candy Raid: Side Story is still in the tinkering phase. However, I decided to stick to one shot type (the star), and one small “world” (Just the forest). When I switch to “draft” mode, the goal is to create a series of puzzles that reward you with candy, and a victory condition that requires some (but not all) of the candy. I feel like I’m done tinkering with this for now, though.

Yesterday, I had a small epiphany.

When I make a ‘screen’ for my Dragon Egg graphics, it consists of two parts: a background that I just draw full size, and a foreground I assemble from tiles. You can kind of see how it works in this gallery:

Making “fullscreen” backgrounds in 160×90 with only four colors is… very doable. I get a lot of fun out of coming up with interesting forms and arrangements, ‘Seussian’ proportions, etcetera. And this reduced level of details keeps me from getting bogged down.

Which got me thinking. I made static, painted backgrounds for my JRPG demo a while back…

What if I made my JRPG as a dragon egg game? What if the reason I never got anywhere with the prototype was I got too bogged down in the graphics, both the creation of HD graphics, and the busywork of making them behave in Unity?

Today, I tried recreating my RPG background in 160×90 with the Rainboy palette, and dropped some Cache Miss/Crossover Arcade characters on it to see if it would work as a comic backdrop, and…

You know what? I think I’m going to make Cache Miss settings just like this, unless I specifically need a tileset for a platformer like Candy Raid: Side Story. And I think this week’s objective is to tinker a prototype of a Dragon Egg JRPG.

I’m also gonna scope back. We’ll make the first Last Legend not a Final Fantasy sendup, but a Dragon Quest sendup, with only one protagonist, the Dragon Warrior.

If the engine works and is fun, we’ll do an Itch release, and then think about Kickstarting HD editions with hand-drawn art.

This week, my main objective is to push towards getting a day job. My secondary objective is to tinker, presumably with a Dragon Egg RPG, and my tertiary objective is to build up Cache Miss backgrounds, sprites, and strips, so that I can launch the comic in the next few months.

Vargenstone Devlog 5. Really? Only 5? Damn…

Devlog the previous.

Today, I’m updating more of the placeholder art to HD. Sadly, I’m not keeping the proportions precise with the 3D models. But that’s almost necessary. To get the project done, I have to abandon speed bumps and do the absolute best I can within the following constraint: only the best I can do and still actually finish the project. “Second best and finished” is better than “first best but only in my head.”

Anyway, I need to get my momentum back. As an artist, there’s two kinds of work I can do: creative work, and busy work. Updating the art to the HD is busy work: all the creative decisions have been made, I merely need to execute on them.

When my momentum is dead, busy work is the best way to get it back. I can do it in the evening when I’m tired. I can do it when my brain has stopped working. I get a peak of maybe one or two hours a day of creativity, but once the creativity has happened, I can spend hours and hours executing on it if necessary. One of the reasons I avoid commissions is I resent selling my single hour of creativity for someone else’s use. I’m no Tolkien or even Lewis. My creative genius is nothing to write home about. But it’s mine, dammit.

My priority is to get an orc up and running, as I have now all the animations needed for the dwarf. I’m hoping to hit the ground running on that Thursday. Any time I have left today for Vargenstone, though is going to be making HD versions of placeholder art, because I can do that.

Captain’s Log, 0210208.060

Well, the week of my nativity is over.

Time to actually get serious.

This last week I did what I wanted, when I wanted, and nothing else (except what was required to keep my family and their animals alive, of course). And what I wanted turned out to be the basis of a platforming sequel to my hit game Candy Raid: the factory.

This gif has a lot of little things worth talking about, but let’s get back to it.

I need to either search for a day job, or else gear up to pay my bills with my projects quickly. Option 2 means running a successful crowdfund ASAP. The only project I have that is close to ready for that is Awesome Moments, my Bible Story book.

Because of my social media fast, the earliest I can run the Kickstarter in question effectively is March. If I choose to work my butt off on Hat Trick, or my bestiary, or on this little Candy Raid platformer, I can hypothetically have either of these projects Kickstarter ready by then. But I have to be 100% committed to the project. And my history of underestimating time to completion on projects leads me to believe I’d need at least two months to get either of those ready. And even a successful Kickstarter wouldn’t disburse funds until April.

Which means I need to hunt for a day job.

Sucks to be me, but I’ve been employed at dead-end day jobs for 15 years, and I’ve done the starving artist thing for 6 months. Being jobless definitely helps my projects, but not by giving me more time, but rather by giving me consistent time. If I can get something with regular hours, I should be able to keep my productivity close to the same.

If not, such is life. So let’s talk about how we are going to change our approaches to Vargenstone and Everything Else as a result.

Continue reading “Captain’s Log, 0210208.060”

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.

Status Report 0210118.053

Vargenstone

Vargenstone remains where it was last time I last time I spoke…

…and while I am going to try and get some serious work on it done this week, I’m not going to stress over it while I’m the only guy changing anything.

Theria

Meanwhile, I feel like I’m done with the virtual pet for now. Not permanently, but I was doing it to scratch an itch and the itch is scratched. I will probably continue adding pages to the book storyboard at a rate of one or two per week so that I’ve have a huge head start when the project gets the limelight.

Hat Trick

Continue reading “Status Report 0210118.053”

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.