Captain’s Log LB•T3: Fabrege Eggs

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.

My primary responsibility as of last week was to finish my Business Plan for various agencies. I noted that I expected to end up on a plan of creating a series of Piqha games and deriving books and comics from them.

Here’s how the week went:

  • Monday: 12 hours poured into writing the business plan.
  • Tuesday:
    • 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.
  • Friday:
    • I spent 2 hours on the business plan and finished all save the financial projections.
    • I spent 2 hours updating my logs, as they had not been kept up to date since my mother went to the hospital.
    • 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.

This Week

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.

Obsidian Aside

Obsidian was created for smart-noting. It’s a program that manages a folder of markdown files (which are just text marked up in a way that an interpreter can quickly turn into html, but a human can read, e.g. **surrounding text with two stars** makes it bold). I have a paper ZettelKasten on playing cards, which I am slowly transferring into Obsidian. But the nice thing, then, about Smart Noting in a folder of text files, is the links between notes are links. I can click on them and go to the note. I can embed a series of notes in a note to create a larger document.

I have been trying to decide how best to make my notes, on the Piqha especially, available to the Mad⳩ team. I copy and paste my log entries out of my Obsidian vault and onto the blog every week, so I’ve tried doing that. It works, but it’s cumbersome in high-context, low-data-per-note setting like my regular smart notes. A note about a character or setting may be a single paragraph, and half the words are links to other files. I can expand them out by making articles, and then de-linking the copied text in the blog. But it’s effort that does not move the ball forward, it only makes the ball visible to outsiders.

What I could do is upload the vault as a whole, either as a zip-file, or as a git repository of some sort. Any member of the team could read the files as plain text. Or, with a browser plugin, with the markdown formatting. The links and embeds wouldn’t look right unless said team-member actually installs Obsidian, but for those who actually want to try the program, they can, and for those who don’t, all of the information is still present and readable.

Since git hosts like GitHub and GitLab use Markdown, it would even potentially be mostly readable on the online representation of the repo.

There are two issues here. First is that I intermingle personal notes with my creative notes. People who are not my pastor don’t need to know about every spiritual struggle I face. People who are not my accountant don’t need to know my budget. And while being open about my sins and finances may be useful for building trust, broadcasting them to the whole internet still strikes me as unwise.

There are a few available solutions. They all amount to separating my personal notes from my creative notes.

The easiest is to just put my personal notes in a different folder and not copy that folder into the public-facing edition. And I have already started working on this solution. However, it’s not a polished solution. The notes are still crowded with random asides, half-finished bits, and other things not immediately relevant to the Mad⳩ crew. And making nice entry pages to the content has not been a priority, which leads to my second issue:

Because Obsidian is built for smart notes, Obsidian’s flavor of Markdown has unique linking and embedding syntax. Bold Text I compose in Obsidian will display as bold in any markdown viewer. A link to an external website in Obsidian will display correctly in any markdown viewer. But a link to a random smart note in my vault will not. And it is precisely the links between notes that make this workflow valuable.

So, either I force people who want to explore my vault to download Obsidian (which is free, but while I love Obsidian and recommend its use, I do not love the idea of forcing anyone to use it to read my notes), or I translate the links by hand (which is what I was already doing, uploading stuff to my blog), or I flatten my tree of notes out: create articles that embed the notes and export them as blog posts or what-have you.

And given, even if I were to export an Obsidian vault and make everyone use Obsidian to read it, I would want to create a “Main menu” with links to the key concept notes, lists of characters, etcetera, and that is more than halfway to building an article anyway, It may be best for me to just bite the bullet and create and maintain reference articles out of my notes.

Faith and ADHD

There’s a guy in my circles on the interwebs, name of Jeff Hendricks. He’s got the ADHD. So do I. He’s got the religion. So do I. He’s got the article about it.

Well, now so do I.

My experience is almost completely different, so being as arrogant as anyone, I’m going to use him as a springboard to talk about myself. Perhaps between the two angles, you’ll find something of value.

Buckle in my friends. I am about to hold forth at length. And I suspect my fellow Chaos-monkeys are unlikely to make it all the way to the end.

Continue reading “Faith and ADHD”

Captain’s Log LB•M1: Piqhing a Fight

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:

  1. Reconstruct my JRPG/Adventure engine in Godot.
    image
  2. 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.
    image2
    • Develop within/alongside the game the sets and characters for the Last Legend comic.
    • Last Legend as a story about Piqha rebuilding their lives is designed to be a 4x8x9 comic, as laid out in Formats for Print and Screen.
      • 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.
  3. Work on other projects with the Illusive Man as they come up.
  4. 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.
    image
  5. 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.
  6. Pour 2-4 months into producing Last Legend II.
    image
    This should
    • 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:
  7. 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 Legend Kids’ 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.

A Hagiography of St. Kyle

The phrase “St. Kyle” is ironic. I don’t know if Kyle is or will be a Saint. I find icons of him just as “cringe” as icons of Bernie.

My position with regard to his legal standing is this: I was on Twitter the nights of the Kenosha riots. I saw the videos of the events minutes or hours after they happened. I thought at the time it was clear-cut self-defense. But even if there is some fact that has surfaced in the last months that makes Rittenhouse legally culpable for some infraction, which was presented at the trial, I still hold to “Innocent until Proven Guilty,” and therefore hold the jury adjudicated rightly.

I was not there for the riot. Neither was I there for the trial. God will judge all things correctly on the Last Day. My judgment is nothing.

So. If my position is so cold, to a man beloved to so many on my side, then why have I chosen the title “A Hagiography of St. Kyle”?

Many who are on or near my side have been criticizing Rittenhouse as follows: “He should’t have even been there.”

He lived there part time. His father and grandmother lived there. He worked there. It was as much his home as his mother’s house 25 miles away.

Now, for those who say he was “looking for trouble,” I have scorn. The Scriptures instruct us not to slander a man. He says he was there to render aid and not to fight, and his actions are the actions of a man who was there to render aid and not to fight. To go beyond his word in assessing his motivation is to break the 8th Commandment. Shame on you. Repent in dust and ashes.

For those who say he was a child, he should have stayed away from riots, in fact, everyone in that town should have fled for the hills, let alone people who legitimately had a hearth in another town, I will be more gentle.

Standing up for your neighbor when the authorities have abandoned you is the American way.

The Struggle of the American Christian

But is the American way the Christian way?

Romans 13 tells us to be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God. It was written under a tyrant no less opposed to Christ than our current regime.

Nevertheless, when Peter disobeyed the Sanhedrin, he said, “We must obey God rather than men.” And the church has long recognized this line as authoritative, even though it is descriptive and Romans 13 is prescriptive. If Caesar tells you to go to jail, you go to jail. If Caesar tells you to murder an innocent, you refuse. If Caesar tells you to deny Christ, you deny Caesar instead.

This is the Christian way.

David is commended, in part, because Saul was delivered into his hand, and knowing that he, too, was anointed to be king, yet he did not strike down the Lord’s anointed.

But the American way is that if a tyrant gives you an illegal command, you ignore him. If he presses the matter, you shoot him.

Well, I am American. But my primary citizenship is the Kingdom of Heaven. If my culture commands one thing and my religion another, I must choose my religion. Simple, right?

But here’s the rub: the Americans have made the American way the law of the land.

Lex Rex or Not?

The Second Amendment exists not for hunting nor for self-defense, but precisely so Americans can shoot illegitimate governing authorities. The assumption of the Constitution is that any law written by Congress, any order given by the President or by any Judge, if it violates the Constitutions, will be ignored or set aside by the other branches of government and by the American People. And Sheriffs and Congressmen and Judges and Military Men are sworn to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign or domestic.

The Militia mentioned in the Second Amendment is intended to be every able-bodied male at or above the age of (if I recall correctly) 17. In modern English, the amendment might read: “We are not free unless every 17 year-old boy is well-armed and well-trained. Therefore the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

This is part of America’s heritage, it’s culture and its laws. The Saxon is called a Saxon because he is unclothed without his short-sword, his saex.

Now, in practice, this is not reality any more. If you fail to send in your income taxes because it is unconstitutional, you may find yourself accidentally shot by federal marshals. Every 17-year-old boy isn’t well armed and well trained.

Fourscore and seven years after the republic was founded, we decided it wasn’t even a republic, but an empire.

But, part of America’s heritage is that every man is a lesser magistrate. Part of his duty is to protect his neighbor not only from hunger and robbery, but even from the authorities above him. The sheriff, the congressman, the president.

And sometimes, the judges still rule that way. Sometimes, when a church remains open after a state orders it closed, the courts say, “no, the church was in the right.”

After all, those who violate the Constitution above us do so under an authority they are granted by an oath to defend the Constitution.

And, of course, the whole moral of Nuremburg is that our current pluto-theocracy has publicly said that you must not do evil even if given a lawful order to do so.

Where do I come down on this?

The argument I have presented is not a slam-dunk case.

In American jurisprudence, the Constitution is neither wholly dead nor wholly alive.

The Romans 13 text is talking about people, not laws. But our hierarchy of people swears fealty to the laws and even sometimes upholds them.

And in 2020 and 2021, this churning pot of acid has been boiling in the gut of every American Christian who was not already long since wholly convinced of one side or the other.

I know men who believe they have a duty to obey the tyrant’s every command, so long as he does not command apostasy.

My church is full of Germans. Germans have a long history of loving authority.

I know men who believe they have a duty to resist even tiny tyrannies, for such is our duty as citizens.

My family is full of Anglo-Americans. We don’t cotton to authority when it’s just, let alone when it’s plainly not.

My council is Conscience and Grace. Let every man study the Scriptures and be convinced. Let no man violate his conscience.

And when you see Christians going the other way, whether it be submitting to tyrants or resisting them, my council is to understand this is a hard call, and we all have to stand alone before Christ and account for ourselves.

And the good account is not “I submitted,” nor “I resisted,” but, “Christ have mercy on me, a sinner!”

Likewise, I commend Kyle Rittenhouse to your grace, even if you think that towns should lie down and let the current tyrannies roll over them.

But as for me

But I do not think this.

I have decided for the sake of my neighbor, I cannot follow Romans 13 in a manner inconsistent with American culture and governance, even though I’m living and going to church with a bunch of German immigrants who don’t understand the systems they inherited from my ancestors.

God help me.

God help us all.

Formats for Print and Screen

Social Media and Screens

  • The average computer screen or TV has a ratio of 16×9
  • Phones range all over, however, well over 1/3rd of them use some variant on 9×16, with the exceptions typically being longer.
  • However, 4×3 or 3×4 is also very common because tablets work better with a more square ratio. This is what iPad uses.
  • Twitter will not crop, but will display fully:
    • 1 16×9 picture
    • 2 8×9 pictures
    • 1 8×9 picture followed by 2 16×9 pictures
    • 4 (2×2) 16×9 pictures
  • 3 16×9 pictures stacked vertically fits neatly on:
    • The average phone screen
    • Facebook, if contained within a single larger image
    • A 5×8 print book with generous margins
  • 16×9 panels with 12-point text in a 5×8 book results in text that is still large enough to read clearly in a 2×2 grid of images on Twitter on mobile.
  • Therefore, Bunny Trail Junction is formatted as 3 16×9 panels, the first two of which may be joined into a single 8×9 panel (absorbing the gutter between them to make up the difference). Any of these two or three panels may be split vertically into two ‘sub-panels’ wherever I like. Although the format is so small, it seldom makes sense to do so anywhere but the center.
    • This is posted on Twitter as individual images plus an additional “Title Card” posted at the beginning of a 3-image set, or the end of a 2-image set.
    • This is posted as just the individual images on bunny-trail.com which, thanks to the webcomic WordPress theme I’m using, arranges the panels horizontally on desktop and vertically on mobile.
    • On Facebook, I found that uploading the pages meant for the print book had some irritating cropping, but was readable.
      • Ideally, I would export a separate, lower-resolution image that was less tall, to control the cropping myself, but at the time I judged the extra work was not enough benefit for the time.
      • Just prior to launching Bunny Trail Junction, I deleted my Facebook because they were getting extra-specially Stasi.
    • None of these formats works well for Gab. I think assembling the 2×2 grid I post on Twitter, but as a single image, might work for Gab, but as I rarely go there, I have not yet tested it.
    • Instagram is supposed to be the place for images, but every time I consider starting an account, I have turned away for some reason.
  • My first print book was 8.5×11 because that’s as big as Amazon KDP lets me go.
    • I stopped making them that big because it felt wrong that my books were larger than Dr. Seuss’s.
      • However, reading a biography of Seuss killed my reverence for him. I may not yet be on his level, but I no longer care if my books are bigger than his.
    • Big books with big illustrations are great. Why wouldn’t I want kids to have bigger pictures?
    • However, ideally, I would create my drawings even larger than the final pages
      • Consumer tools are not well-suited to going larger than 8.5×11
        • I do have a printer that prints and scans 11×17
        • The paper types available at that size are either poorly suited to take ink drawings, or else too heavy for my printer to process well.
        • My standard workflow of sketching digitally at low-res, printing the sketch big, refining by hand and inking, and then scanning in, is still poorly suited to available equipment.
        • But I do have a light table that might fill the gaps once I clear out the Den.
        • More testing is required.
      • KDP’s Hardcover formats have one that is physically 8.5×11, but the pages inside are slightly narrower.
  • Amazon KDP is geared towards 6×9 and tries to push you towards it.
    • Most of my books are 6×9
    • My 11×17 scanner/printer makes my workflow quite well optimized for 6×9 work.
    • Bigger pictures would be nicer, but 6×9 isn’t bad
  • 5×8 is the smallest KDP will go
    • 5×8 does, just barely, fit into my pockets, but calling it a pocket book is a terrible stretch.
    • 5×8 it well-suited to holding 3 16×9 images on a single page.
    • KDP has a dedicated 5×8 hardcover format.
  • 8×9 is one half of 16×9, and therefore a single two-page spread of an 8×9 book would be one ‘screen’ in size or one ‘panel’ in the Bunny Trail Junction 3-Panel format.
    • 8×9 is a weird size. Some printers won’t do it.
      • This is an important consideration. If a publisher I want to work with is doing print runs instead of POD, 8×9 is not impossible, but may complicate matters.
      • KDP certainly won’t do it hardcover.
      • But they will do it paperback.
      • The first bulk POD comic printer I’ve looked at will do 8×9! And hardcover! We’re looking at $4.50 a book perfect-bound softcover, full color, or $11.52 per book hardcover, assuming my usual 30-ish pages. That’s assuming a small bulk order, unlike the single-issue POD of KDP (these will be intrinsically more expensive).
    • Prototyping a 2-page spread of 8×9, a prototype for a portion of a kids’ book, would work as an episode of Bunny Trail Junction. Or as a “Hit for the Eye-buds”
    • A 2-page spread of 8×9 would fit on 11×17 paper, albeit only just. If I want to work bigger than my final size, I still have the tech hurdles I have with 8.5×11 books.
    • You could fit 4 16×9 panels on two pages, though the read order would be unclear, and the panels would be hyuuuge.
      • Conversely, you could fit one 8×9 four-panel comic per page, the read-order would be fine, and the panels would be a more traditional newspaper comic ratio
        • This would post fine on Twitter as a second image with an 8×9 title card.
        • This would probably post fine on Gab by itself.
        • This would probably post fine on Facebook by itself.
        • I have no data for Instagram.
        • Ideally, the panels would display 4×1 on Desktop and 2×2 on mobile, but I can’t yet predict that.
        • Actually, yes I can. I can do a makeshift comic using my Inktobers. BRB.
          • Toocheke likes to do 3 panels in one row, and 1 in the last in Desktop mode, but on Mobile it stacks them vertical, and you can see 1 whole panel and most of the second on my phone (which is taller than 16×9) Not optimal, but I can live with it.
    • For projects with people making comic books and manga, I will probably favor comic book and manga sizes, in accordance with the sort of thing that is being created. However, I need to make at least one 8×9 book, and I suspect that will be my format of choice going forward.

Captain’s Log LB•33: Moving on to the next game

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.

Game Towers

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.

Note LA•S9

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.

Today’s Choice

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:

  1. Release the Proof of Concept with no real gameplay to the world and immediately begin working on the second brick.
  2. 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.

Some Changes

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.

Unity, I had such high hopes for you!

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.

And Beyond?

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.

Captain’s Log LB•11: the Primacy of Vidya

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.

LB1•11

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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

  • 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.

Conclusion

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.

Captain’s Log LA·K1: I need to do one thing.

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.

Awesome Moments

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.