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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
I’ve got a bunch of ideas whirling about right now. They’re not organized, and I’m blogging them because it’s better to have them out than in. This is going to take into account many of my recent adventures.
For general blog readability, I’m tucking this beneath a fold, but the conclusion came to me the next day.Continue reading “Captain’s Log 21.6 | 21.A: Concept Singularity 2”
So, on a lark, I decided to try printing out templates to just draw twitter/KDP formatted comics on. And the idea, then, was I would just draw whatever I felt like. Hopefully, with the constraint that I am just scribbling ideas down, I can generate 2 or more per day, and after a month or two, show up with the best 30.
After my visit with my man, Greg, last weekend, I decided that trying to make things cheaply and quick needed to take a back seat to considering why a thing is awesome and looking for the awesomeness. My man, Greg, said, of spending more time and effort on a project, “is that effort worthwhile?”
While I mulled it over, I tinkered with making an HD hand drawn game.
After debating it for a while, I realized that hand drawing a black and white, three panel comic is not bad. I just need to be focusing on creating the best thing I can rather than being as efficient as I can. So I jumped back on the train of trying to crank out 2+ comics a day. And this time, I just jumped into trying to make Jump the Shark / Crossover Arcade.
The art is getting nicer and nicer. There are some really good moments. I’m starting to be actually proud of some of the stuff I’m cranking out.
But the thing is, I’m not just alpha-testing my kids’ books as a comic. I’m dumping anything I think of on the page. I’m using this format to exorcise my inventions. Then I can further develop any that I consider worthwhile. So, interspersed with me laying down the start of a Jump the Shark story, this happens:
Cute V-Knights Game Concept
It’s getting added to the list of projects.
So, for the next few weeks, my plan is to keep cranking out comics, keep praying and considering my next move. When I’m active on producing a project, such as when I do the Kickstarter for Awesome Moments, I will aim at a maintenance pace of one comic per day. Otherwise I’ll try to alternate months of building up backlog (2+ per day) and months of maintaining. But today, I may, may work on creating an animated mini knight sprite instead.
Because I can’t find my pens. Which is pretty serious. And will be the focus of an intense search once the house is roused, but I’ve gone as far as I can without rousing the house, and I need to tap my creative hours while I still got ’em.
So, the first step in building a part-swap based character is what I call the Solar Guard. The Solar Guard is low resolution, and has as many spikes sticking out as far as possible, so that future characters drawn over the top of the solar guard have plenty of room for crests, ornamentation, and the like. That’s this guy:
And the solar guard for my robots?
I figured a spear and a shield would be a good way to get maximum size and make sure enough space was reserved in the picture, and this certainly looks cool but… I’m rethinking that. I’m starting to think I want to approach the arms differently. Create something more universal and less dedicated for the base arm, and have shields, spears, etcetera, fold out when used.
Cache Miss? Crossover Arcade? Alpha Test?
To be honest, I’m thinking of naming the comic Brain Dump, or else, ADHD On Purpose. My one guiding principle is I have no guiding principles. If I have a thought and my pens, down goes a 3-panel comic. My hope is that if I produce fast enough and many enough, eventually I will be able to curate quality stories out of a mountain of mostly trash drawings.
Thanks to a retreat last weekend with my best friend, I realized that I’ve been focusing heavily on what is pragmatic in my constant quest for a golden workflow road.
No project is worth doing unless it’s full of awesome. Now, all of my projects have that potential, but I have not been specifically seeking that potential out. I’ve been looking for a way to do cheap and easy, instead of investing time.
I’m not sure how this revelation (which I need to rediscover from time to time) is going to shape projects in the immediate future. Awesome Moments itself may resume being my focus on the other side of the Weekend. However, we shall see.
In the mean time, here’s a workflow for making HD animations using Spriter & Krita:
Step 1: create prototype graphics at half size. Be careful about form and posture, and sloppy about everything else. The initial version of a character, especially if I intend to use character maps, should have out-jutty things designed to ensure each part takes up as much space as it ever likely will.
Here’s the Solar Guard, created for that exact purpose:
Step 2: Export at 4X size (that is, 2x the intended size; 4x the ‘sketch’ size) and animate in Spriter. Here, I am intending to shrink the graphic in Unity. By going to 4X size, I can allow for an amount of zooming without losing detail.
Step 3: Open the generated graphics in Krita and save them as *.kra files. Double the size once more, draw final quality art on new layers, then export it to a new skin folder at half size as png.
Apply skin in Spriter and see how it looks.
I may abandon shading on characters, in line with old cartoons where the backdrops were carefully painted and shaded, but the characters had flat coloring except in extreme situations. But I am content with this workflow and this art style.
I think after I’m done with Awesome Moments and in between books, I’m going to work on making a hand drawn game with Piqha. Maybe it’ll be an RPG. Maybe a platformer. Maybe I’ll work on both and see what happens. Maybe I’ll backburner Awesome Moments until my heart is in it again.
We’ll see what happens. But I need to feed my kid and the farm aminals.
26 projects currently listed in Yet Another List of Projects.
John Michael Jones is on the verge of being added to the Alpha Test/Demake not as a skit playing out within the demake…
..but as a focal point of the conceit.
So, we are taking Alpha Test, and merging it with AV@TAR, Crossover Arcade, Jump the Shark, Piqha, Stardogs, Star Knights, AND Theria… and we’re almost at a functioning gestalt.
I just need to cook this stone soup a few minutes longer.
Cache Miss, the story about game sprites swapping between living in a ghost town and re-enacting stories…
Was also Piqha, the cast of colorful shelled bird-man gremlins and…
Was also Stardogs/Starlancer, my answer to the Berenstain Bears and Star Trek?
What if the handheld game console on which the sprites lived was a spaceship. Or more accurately, a ship designed to navigate the Dream, where stories have substance. And a piqha family uses that ship to rescue story characters who are being jettisoned by a mind virus that is ravaging the fictional worlds of the Dream.
It’s Wreck it Ralph meets Kingdom Hearts. Except politically too on the nose.
But the on-the-noseness will abate as the concept sees development. As I work out the rules of the reality and the motivations of the characters.
I think this is it. I think I’ve solved my story equation.
Only problem is this thing. This thing ain’t no spaceship.
Let me fix that for ya.
Now that’s a spaceship!
Proof is in.
Oops. That’s not my proof. That’s a blanket octopus. The females fly through the sea with superhero capes. The males went undiscovered until very recently because they max out at an inch long.
Work on getting my paperwork squared away for the Kickstarter proceeds slowly. My first read through of the book as already identified multiple grievous errors.
And I feel this close to figuring out my ‘golden path’.wait, what?
I like it. I like the solidity of the flour sack body. I like the general design. We are christening this the official way piqha work, visually, moving forward.
Now the question is what “moving forward” means.