Captain’s Log 0210416.105: It Could Be a Bit More Awesome

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.

Concept singularity

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…

Which has been under consideration

..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.

What if

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!

Captain’s Log 0210326.071

Proof is in.

Blanket Octopus : pics

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.

Ahem.

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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?

Piqha

Evolving Piqha

Piqha started as digital creatures that live inside the computer who were characters for a game I made when I was a teenager.

I later decided they were not, in fact digital, but were some kind of psychic mollusk, and noted that they had many, many advantages as a creature design:

They are basically faces with feet and stylized shells. Easy to model in 3D, easy to get a wide range of character styles while keeping to the core concept.

Piqha are my creatures. Like the muppets of Jim Henson and the Whos of Seuss. In addition to being very marketable and very personable, they feature a lot of things I like. Basic shapes. Big, expressive faces, Marvin Martian style glowing eyes in an orb of darkness. Cool armor effects. And crystals. Gotta have glowing crystals everywhere.

Continue reading “Piqha”

Captain’s Log 0210212.162: Workflow

Another reason I avoid commission work is I do not yet know what it will take to produce art on command. When I completed my first book, and especially my second, I thought I did. But I am no longer certain.

Taking a commission is making a promise. I’d rather not make it unless and until I know I’m going to keep it.

Constant good-natured advice from my wife, and the results of my own projects have taught me both that I need to be able to flit from project to project like a butterfly, and I need to be able to double down on a project with a “Hell or High Water” attitude. I can’t just adopt one approach; I have to do both. Which means every personal project needs a tinkering phase and a production phase so I can delineate which mode I’m in.

Hat Trick is going to be so much better because I didn’t begin production on it right away. I can recognize now that the climax needs work. I.E., adding a real climax would be a start. I knew it at the time I storyboarded it. But I was too burnt out and desperate to finish to pay the nagging doubt heed. I needed the emotional space that only time could provide to make that call.

So, we need 3 kinds of phase:

  1. Tinker Phase
    • Just playing around
    • Project is free to be continued or abandoned or scrapped for spare parts
  2. Draft Phase
    • Goal is to create a complete thing, from beginning to end, at lowest quality needed to get the idea across.
    • Work fast. Finish.
    • Project is not free to be continued or abandoned: the draft must be completed.
    • But, once the draft is completed, the project must be set aside for at least one month, and then evaluated. Options include:
      • Abandon
      • Additional draft
      • Produce
  3. Production Phase
    • Kickstart projects. If the Kickstarter fails, the project may be set aside and put into production later.
    • Once the Kickstarter is finished, if production continues, production receives Hell or High Water commitment.

So, what does this mean for my current mess?

I’ll get back to you.

Captain’s Log: 0201218.073

So far, we’re up to 40 pages storyboarded, and begun on the next 2. It’s not great, but it’s constant forward momentum, which is all we need to finish the job. Well, that and the grace of God.

The focus on Genesis-to-Revelation overview of history with Christ at the center means that the Gospel of Mark is basically my go-to source. He’s got the action-packed supernatural showdown emphasis I am aiming for. But obviously, I’m pulling stuff in from Luke, and from anywhere else I find useful.

Awright. Yesterday was, in general, a good day, despite a town-trip eating half the day I got most of my chores done, four pages of storyboard AND a bunch of work on my Licensed RPG. WordPress was down, so I live-tweeted the process.

Continue reading “Captain’s Log: 0201218.073”

What is the 8 Lives Left to Licensed RPG?

Breath of the Gameboy was at one point my dream game: a game that combines the open world and chemistry system sensibilities of Breath of the Wild with the tighter mechanics of Link’s Awakening.

Here’s a mockup someone did for Reddit.

Obviously, not 100% identical, and not using Nintendo’s precious properties or graphics. But a rough idea.

That’s a 10 year game or more, especially for one guy. So I pondered how to break it down into smaller pieces. The idea was, if I made each piece a game, that game could fund the next piece, and then the next, until the final product was finished.

My best plan was 8 Lives Left. It’s a good product plan. Just the combat system. You are a cat who has been murdered, and you decide to use your remaining 8 lives to get revenge. Like John Wick, only you are simultaneously John Wick and his dog.

These projects are not currently under development. I like them; I don’t like them enough to devote years of my life to them. I bring them up because a very sensible way to undertake a big project is to turn it into little projects. A great way to make a big game is to make part of that game into a small game.

So what’s the 8 Lives Left to my Licensed RPG?

Continue reading “What is the 8 Lives Left to Licensed RPG?”