Bet you thought I forgot or quit, huh? Bet you thought I wasn't going to be bringing this back up again.
Ok, first of all, I'm going to explain the absence of work on this particular project. Right from the start, I needed a special needle. "Professionals" said I needed either a ballpoint or stretch needle. I went all the way down to Walmart, a store I hate going to because they suck, in blustering summer heat, got a sunburn on my arms, picked up a ballpoint needle, it didn't work. Later I went all the way back down to Walmart, still in blistering summer heat, only to find they have no stretch needles. I've decided I'm done going shopping here. I'm tired of making the 12 mile round trip only to come home empty-handed. This place sucks.
Once I got the needle, by ordering online, it was then all matter of splitting the old, flawed seem, and removing it. Not hard to do, just time consuming. I had a foot and a half of janky, messed up seam to remove and I just didn't have the energy to put up with it.
One morning not all that long ago, my computer was having one of its long startups. It does this thing where the Starting Windows screen just kind of sits there for a long time. I usually go make breakfast and by the time I get done, it's finished, but not this time. Sometimes it takes extra long, and this was one of those times. I took the opportunity to split the seam with my seam ripper, and then set it aside for sewing, later. That took a lot of working up to, because every time I thought about going back to the sewing, I remembered sitting there, unjamming the machine over and over and over and just how frustrating it was. So I put off getting back into it.
Fast forward a little ways to today. Both a really long startup, and a really, really long update configuring process. Even though I had to do a little extra work for breakfast this morning, my computer was still in the boot-up phase. So I decided I'd install the new needle and give it a spin.
Found out my sewing machine is crap.
Not only is it made of brittle, Chinese plastic, you see that metal part in the above image that sticks way off to the right? You have to loosen that to get the needle out. There's a little screw on the end. But want to know the best part?
I was trying to get the new one in, and couldn't quite get it up in there. I thought maybe the screw was in the way a bit, so I loosened it more. Turns out, the way in which you install and remove needles, that little screw on the end, it what's holding the whole part on. Loosen it enough, and the whole thing just comes off.
Singer Brilliance.... yeah.... brilliant...
I miss the Husqvarna Viking Lilly.
Anyway, having it come off like that helped me figure out that the needle was getting caught and that's why it wasn't going in. After installing it, (and getting the piece back on without the needle falling out) that's the end of my troubles, right?
Wrong. In accordance with the laws of "Nothing Can Ever Be Easy" the stretch needle (which doesn't look even slightly different from a ballpoint, I might add) still doesn't work. It's by the same exact company and everything. It might be that the needle is just too big, and I need a smaller one, but since no one in the area sells them, and this is the only size I could find online, I'm out of luck. Unless I want to take another 39 mile walk to the big fabric store. But considering I can't be perfectly sure they'll even have what I'm looking for, I'm not going to risk it, especially not in 100 degree weather. It's been an exceptionally hot summer. That's what happens when you live where I live. If there's a super cold winter, it's followed directly by a super hot summer. Early this year, it snowed harder than it's ever snowed in my entire life, so I have a feeling it's going to be breaking 103 to 104 frequently, this summer.
39 miles in 100 degree weather, on foot? I may be tough, but I'm not invincible. That trip's going to have to wait until later this year. Or at the very least, until my mom moves back down here. (Turns out she hates where she moved to and is planning on returning. And we used to have this thing set up where I help her out with certain things in exchange for driving me places. I once loaned her $300 at the drop of a hat, because she broke down in the middle of nowhere and needed money to send her car in to the shop, and couldn't afford it.)
Anyway, there is some good news, though. I fiddled with the settings on the machine a little, and I figured out how to get it to stop slipping every other stitch. It may not have anything to do with the needle, and everything to do with how garbage this machine likely is. I want to get it replaced, but state-of-the-art machines are ball-bustingly expensive. And if I had the money to drop $3000 on a new machine, I wouldn't be having to make my own Mocap suit.
But if it turns out this thing is really as junk as it's making itself out to be, I'm going to have to replace it eventually, because I've got so many cool projects I want to do.
I've got this one Vasto Lorde Ichigo cosplay I want to do....
And I'm not going to be able to do it well if this is a trend on all fabrics with this machine.
So I got it to stop slipping as many stitches. It does still miss some, but the seam does appear to still be strong and stretchy, and that's all I need. I doubt it's going to hold for long, but that doesn't matter. All I need, for the moment, is a prototype so I know where to put the markers, and so I can start testing cameras and finding some tracking software. I just hope I'll be able to do that part, or all I've managed to do is waste a bunch of time and money.
I don't need to get into 3D right now, but I do need to be able to motion capture as cheaply as possible if I'm going to do 3D at all. I hate 2D animation, I dread 3D animation. It's just too easy to screw up, and it will look stiff and poorly made unless you're willing to spend a lot of time puppeteering. I can't spend that much time working on one thing over and over, so that's not for me.
Hence the project. Anyway, my hope is little by little to get this suit sewn up. Unless something important comes up while finishing this, (like I can't do it for whatever reason and have to suck it up and buy a unitard) I probably won't be posting another update until I get finished with that step.
That might take some time, as this is taking a back seat to my current game project.
This is a followup post from the previous one where I procrastinated doing any real work by sharing my thoughts on my long-time desire to write... draw... make... develop... whatever, I wanted to do comics.
Another thing I didn't really think about while writing last night was the fact that I can't draw humans to save my life. Not realistically, anyway. So I'd either have to do the characters as furries, which a lot of people aren't going to like, or I could knuckle down and force myself to learn to draw humans once and for all.
But then there's another issue: Social Justice Whiners, Black Lies Matter, and other race obsessed nancies and betas. If I do a comic with humans, I'd get those morons crowing and squawking about every single non-white character's every misfortune and stereotype, bawling about racism and white supremacy and whatever. "Why isn't the main character a half-black, half-hispanic, disabled, gender non-conforming, lesbian midget woman!? Racism! Sexism! Homophobia! Transphobia! Islamophobia! Dromophobia! Muh Representation!"
Frankly I'm not too worried about calls of sexism. I love making female characters. Always have. Sarkeesian would definitely complain because I'd be taking the "sexy female hero" approach, but still not too worried. The whole "women in gaming" ordeal had slammed face first into the wall that is the industry, pitched a shrieking fit, and then died away to ineffectual nothingness.
I'm not exactly afraid of being called those things. I've heard it all before a thousand times over. The question is not whether I can handle those kinds of non-criticisms. I absolutely can. The question is whether or not I want to put up with the harassment again. The answer is not really. I'm certainly not going to be pandering to them, so the only other option is to avoid that bubbling bog of noxious fluid all together.
I said a ways back that I was either going to completely avoid creating humans for a while, or that they'd be all white and straight until the rainbow-haired pacman frogs of the world calm down and stop screeching.
I could totally do that, too. I could have the first comic ever to feature an all-white group of friends/allies/whatever-they-end-up-being. It's not like groups of white people don't exist. My high school inner circle, for example. We were all white simply because there were few black, Asian, Latina, or Hispanic students. And the ones that were there had their own cliques they hung out with, too. All the Asians hung out at the anime club with their white weeb friends at lunch, the black students had their own inner circle as well, headed by the most popular black kid in school, AKA: the class president, and probably hung out with him doing whatever the hell the overachiever club did. He was always getting called to the office, so I'm sure he had important class president things he was always doing.
The Hispanics all just vanished each lunch period. You could find one or two every now and again in the computer lab, but other than that, I'm sure they spent as little free time on the campus as possible, especially considering there was a discount coffee and pastry shop literally 10 minutes away, and was massively popular among students of the middle school and the high school. Still went out of business rather recently, though...
So my group of friends and I would hang out in the library like a bunch of white nerds.
It may come as a surprise to idiots and racists, and corporates: not every group of friends is racially diverse. Hell, we were a group of all white males until senior year when a girl took partial interest in the series. (Sonic's Funnies, covered in the last post) She would sometimes hang out with us, and she was also white. My brother had a hispanic friend, but he was an unlikable piece of shit and the only time he wasn't an absolute douche was when he was with other hispanic kids. He never hung out with our group and had no interest in... seemingly anything, let alone the comic series.
And I don't know why this has to come from me, but who the hell honestly believes people need someone of their own skin color to identify with? My favorite Mortal Kombat character the first three games for example: Liu Kang. Dude's as Asian as it gets without being called Chin Pao or something, and fighting with a pair of chopsticks. (Damn badass Xiaolin Monks....)
The only reason he stopped being my favorite is because he sucked in 4, and in Deadly Alliance he was dead, so Raiden became my new favorite character because my only other most favorite character, Scorpion, was hard to get the hang of.
My brother's favorite was always Jax because he has robot arms. My brother's as white as I am.
My favorite Double Dragon 5 character is Trigger Happy not because he's my own skin color, it's because he has a big-ass gun on his arm, and his name is freakin Trigger Happy. It doesn't get much more metal than that.
He could have been any color. It wouldn't have mattered. Hell, his alternate color scheme gives him purple skin and a golden gun, and I actually prefer that version to the original, because big gun + pimpin = bonus.
My favorite Planeteer is Wheeler because he's a white kid, right? Wrong. It's because he was the only one in the show that didn't have a lame power, and on top of that, his power happened to be fire, which, of the traditional 5 elements, is my favorite. No one wanted to be Ma-Ti. Why? Because his power was totally useless. Kid got the shaft on that one.... Let's see, you can have the destructive power of fire, or you can have the gay power of 'heart'. Fire, earth, wind, water, heart. 4 of them are at least useful in some way, and I promise you this, if Wheeler had been the one with heart, I would have been mocking him, instead.
Fire, water, wind, earth, ice (sometimes metal is an element in place of ice). Of the traditional elements, fire and ice are the most powerful, because fire and ice are pure destructive. You can sit in calm water, nothing will ever happen. You can't sit in calm fire. It doesn't take a genius to know why fire is the best of the elements. I mean, of the nations, the Fire Nation is the most powerful and feared for a reason.
And my favorite Power Rangers are the Red and Green Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, because racism, right? The color scheme might have been questionable with the black dude being the Black Ranger, the blonde girl being the Pink Ranger, and the Asian chick being the Yellow Ranger, but that didn't really occur to me because I tend not to think about race that much.
Red has always been my favorite color, so that one's a no-brainer. Second, tyrannosaurus? Of all the zords, Jason Lee Scott had the Tyrannozord, are you kidding? He could have been the Pink Ranger, back when I thought pink was lame, and so long as he still piloted the Tyrannozord, he would have been my favorite. As for the Green Ranger, Tommy Oliver was my first Tv Star man-crush. ...also Dragonzord. Nuff said.
I guess that tangent went on longer than I intended it to, but I think it's pretty evident to all but the most strident racists that skin color and gender mean little when it comes to who we end up liking or identifying with.
Ultimately, it doesn't matter what I do... all white, all black, or even if I pandered and represented every race and half race, completely excluding whites, they're still going to find a way to complain and virtue signal.
You might be saying "just fuck em and do what you like", to which I agree. That usually is my policy... but the problem there is that... I can't remember who said it and on what live stream, but I'm going to paraphrase what the guy said: "Any character I write is automatically going to be white. This has nothing to do with racism, but unless I'm specifically writing a native in Zimbabwe or something like that where it has to be a specific race, the character is always white by default."
For me, I don't usually think about the race of a person unless it's a specific place. Example: I have a futuristic comic idea where the characters fly out to Japan in search of a powerful gang leader. Of course, being in Japan, the new characters they meet there are all Japanese Asians, because majority-race country.
So because I don't think about the race unless I'm required to, the typical character defaults to white. Probably because its vastly more common for me to run into other white people in my day to day life than it ever has been to run into a black person, Asian person, or Latino/Latina. That's not to say that I never do, it's just more common because despite having lived in 7 different cities in my life, I've usually ended up living in a majority white neighborhood, in a majority white city, in a majority white state, in a majority white country. Except that one time where I lived in a city with more Hispanic folks per capita than the surrounding areas.There was a little Mexican convenience store right at the end of our street. Would shop there every so often. But even still, the block was majority white.
So backing up a little, the trouble with just doing whatever I want means that most characters will end up being white anyway, because it requires me to notice that there aren't other character types being created, because it requires me to focus on race rather than character. And I'm sorry, I'm just not racist enough to notice when the universal "at least one black person and one Asian person" quota isn't being met every 15 minutes.
And it's not even like I don't like other races. If I thought it was an appropriate move, I'd dump the contents of my lewd folders to prove it. You may be surprised to find it's not all furry stuff, and that I don't discriminate on race, either. But that's not something I'm going to do on this blog, so I won't be doing that.
Anyway, off race stuff and back to the start... I am still tempted to use furries instead of humans, because furries can be extremely more varied than humans can.
Great example: "You know that human that flies planes?" Yeah, how many is that? Compare that to "You know that fox that flies planes?" Off the top of my head, I can only think of two characters that fit this description: Tails and Fox McCloud.
Another fantastic example: "You know that one guy with electric powers?" Garth Ranzz, Killowat, Sheev Palpatine, Cole MacGrath, Electro, Lightning, Black Lightning, Zatch Bell, the third Raikage, Enel, Laxus Dreyar, Raiden (MK), Raiden (MGS4, though only briefly), Zeus, Thor... the list goes on and on.
"You know that mouse with electric powers?" Pikachu, Pichu, and Raichu. (It's entirely possible Plusle and Minun are mice, but they could also be rabbits or something else entirely, I'm not sure.)
There are only so many varieties of human. But I might not go with anthropomorphic animals after all, just because it would be even more alienating to potential readers *cough* normies *cough* and narrow my demographic even further. Even though a furry western would be a lot of fun to write... Fox McCoy, outlaw. Think I'd run the risk of accidentally plagiarizing Red Dead with it, some how. The western as a genre has been done to death.... I think it might actually be literally impossible, in this day and age, to write a unique western. Although, now that I think about it, there are criminally few stories written about Calamity Jane, Madam Vestal, or Laura Bullion, some of the Wild West's most famous and infamous women.
But I'm not going to be the one to do it, just to spite Anita Sarkeesian and all the feminists who whined at me about "muh representation".
I think this is as far as I can go with this subject without rambling more or crossing old ground again. Wasn't even expecting to get this much out of it. I thought it would be at most 4 paragraphs or so... and wasn't exactly necessary, but it does serve the purpose of giving creators who read my blog things to think about when designing characters, so I deem it worth the time and effort.
This is going to be at least somewhat off the blog's primary topic, so feel free to skip it if you either don't give a crap about comics, or only come here to hear game dev tips or how my games are coming along.
I'm only doing this one because I'm struggling to nail down moss as part of my game assets. So far, it's either too simplistic and doesn't look good, or too detailed and clashes with the rest of the game's esthetic... and doesn't look good... so I need an excuse to procrastinate a little. Usually the best way to figure out what's wrong with a project is to do something else and come back to it later. I'm procrastinating with the hope of coming up with a game I can use as inspiration. I lack an off-the-top-of-my-head list of 16bit, 2D pixel games that use moss in the design somewhere. (Already, taking a break is doing the trick perfectly. I've already come up with Jurassic Park and Sonic Spinball as potential candidates in the time it took just to write this paragraph.)
On to the point.
I think I'd like to do a comic series. This isn't something new for me: the desire to draw comics. It started when I was really young. I can't remember my age at the time, but it was young enough to still own a bigwheel, because I remember very vaguely that around that time I had mine stolen. Whoever stole the bigwheel from kid-me, you are a prick and I hope you have cancer now.
Anyway, a short time after that had been stolen, I remember I encountered my very first comic book. I can't say whether I was aware of them before that point, because I was a kid and of course I didn't pay attention to a damn thing... but this comic had such an impact on my life, I can still recall that moment to this day. I can't remember who showed it to me... it was another kid, much older than myself, but I can remember the series it belonged to, right down to which issue it was.
It was the Archie Adventure Series, Super Sonic vs Hyper Knuckles special. I might even go as far as to say it was a defining moment in my life. If I can remember the title some two decades later, even though I haven't seen the person who had showed it to me, and I haven't read it since then, it had to have some significance.
But yeah, anyway, the point of that tangent was to back up the claim that this is something I've always wanted to do since I was a small child. Maybe never as much as wanting to be a game developer, so this isn't something I'd drop developing games for, but it's one of those things, you know? Like trying out skydiving, or trying sushi.
And it's not like I haven't tried it, either. As a small boy, I took a sketchpad and turned it into a comic. It was called Sonic's Adventure (This was before the Sega Saturn even existed, let alone the Dreamcast, so it had nothing to do with the game Sonic Adventure.) The comic was crap. I think I recall Eggman, or Robotnik as he was called back then, had been defeated in the first one by Knuckles turning into a really ugly woman and it scaring him off.
...I was a kid, what do you expect? It lasted about 4 comics, I think, or 5, with the last one involving a vampire that just straight up ate Tails whole. All of them were destroyed because younger siblings. But the series' more funny moments spawned something I called Sonic's Funnies. It was meant to be spinoff of my Sonic Adventure comic but all comedy, like a blooper reel. But I couldn't call it Sonic's Bloopers, because even as a kid I understood that bloopers were accidental mistakes. So instead of Sonic's Bloopers, it was funny stuff, or stuff I thought was hilarious, but since it was more of a compilation of skits based off the main series, rather than an actual story, so I called it "Funnies" instead.
Sonic's Funnies lasted 4 comics before all of them were destroyed.... because younger siblings.... (Nothing's sacred.) Years later, I revived the series. And I think it went up to 26 before I graduated high school and sorta stopped doing it. I actually still have every single one of them, because I did my absolute best to keep them out of my siblings' hands. My brother, not much younger than me, would take them to school (we had different classes, because I was older), and despite being drawn specifically to look like a toddler had made them (I kept my old style when drawing them, because of the flexibility it gave me) they were actually quite popular among our friends, enough that the series became nicknamed "The Funnies" within our inner circle, and so much so that it inspired a littler kid on the bus ride home (public transport... stopped by the middle school, then the high school), and another of our friends to do their own Sonic's Funnies.
The kid didn't know what he was doing, and didn't get humor. His comic was just stick figures, and his comedy was literally just "Don't shoot me! Oh no, you did shoot me!" Probably based on the only page he heard my brother read aloud on one ride: "No refunds on Tuesdays!" "But it's Wednesday." "<Stupified expression reaction shot>"
Actually, the original Sonic's Funnies eventually adopted one of the characters from our friend's spinoff, and from there, other friends attempted to get their own characters in the series, so it's not as if people didn't love it.
I want to give it a shot again. I've been wanting to give it a shot. The only issues are that I don't know if I'm talented enough (not that it would matter much, I mean OnePunch Man and all)....
"Quit being modest, you idiot! You're not fooling anyone but yourself!"
Yeah, alright, sheesh! Once I get past my insecurities, sometimes I remember that this drawing is something I once did. Though it's not fantastic, everything in it (aside from the background) was done from scratch by me. The problem, and another of the things holding me back... or, well, I guess I can't count not being talented enough among my problems if I'm being honest with myself, but the problem is that the image above took me a month and a half of working sun up to sun down, weekends included.
I've learned to speed it up a little since then... ok, ok, jeeze... a lot since then, and I've mastered Photoshop enough to be a professional... and I've improved so much since then...
Damn, you guys are so strict in the mental representation of you in my head. Won't even let me go down my typical self-destructive path of blind self-doubt and modesty...
(I sometimes give potential critics a voice in my head and use that as a way to refine my work by trying to imagine what criticism people will have. In this case it was trying to come up with the best drawing I've ever showed you guys, where I put real heart into it, and the above is what came to mind. I then realized no one would believe I'm not a talented artist, because I've gone on multiple occasions on this very blog, proving otherwise.)
So what are my real hangups, then? Well, once I manage to stop doubting myself, there's still the fact that I'm slow. Some poses I just cannot do without a visual aid, and some I can't do even with a visual aid. A 3D pose doll would help greatly, but there are none. (None that aren't stupidly expensive, anyway.)
I could make my own, but that takes a lot of time, too, and I'd have to make a new one for each body type. I do have software for creating 3D characters, but they're a pain to pose, and only cover humans. Anything that's not perfectly humanoid would still be a struggle for me.
Part 2: What Would I Do If I Did A Do?
I've decided I like multi-part post system. It's a great way to add a substantial checkpoint to my long posts that have separate but related topics without posting two blog posts in a day and expecting people to catch and read both. That way they're both in one post and if someone just doesn't have the time, they can reach a checkpoint like this, stop, do what they gotta do, and then come back if they want to finish it, or if they decide they don't care or aren't interested, they can stop at the checkpoint and call it good.
So, what would I do if I did do a comic?
I can already imagine people might be wondering about Sonic's Funnies, and I may eventually upload that, but for right now.... nah. The art style would be a point of major contention for some people. They'd think that's the best I'm able to do, and they may not like the style. Also, just because I find something funny doesn't mean others will. I've mentioned on here before, my style of humor tends to hinge on the random, like Action Bunnies, ASDFMovie, Bobobo-Bo-Bo-Bobo, etc. Very much slapstick, very much rule-bending, very much Looney Toons type comedy, except... more raw. Not a lot of people share my childish brand of humor.
On top of that, fans of Sonic the Hedgehog would be outraged, because though the characters have the same names and same basic appearance, their personalities are nothing like canon. Sonic is the avatar of logic, interacting with a world that makes no sense, but he's kind of dumb, Knuckles is an idiot, even more so than canon, and Tails.... well everyone's kind of dumb, frankly.
Don't get me wrong, it's something I've thought about putting up at points in the past, but I'm still dragging my feet.
Get to the point!
Right, had to address Sonic's Funnies first, because I felt like I'd get people wondering...
So what would I do if I decided I'd do a did? (Maybe I should stop talking like Markiplier, now...) Well, seeing as Marvel and DC are absolutely rolling in their own poison, I've felt a strong urge to do a superhero comic. But I think I'd do more of a gritty one instead of a overly kid-friendly one. "What, Superman died? Oh don't worry, he'll be back.... again.... duh." Really can't help but think of College Humor's Realistic Superhero Funeral video on Youtube.
I know, I know. The gritty superhero thing has been done before... a lot. There's nothing original under the sun. It's all been done. I get that. But I hate Slice of Life. I won't do it. I just couldn't enjoy Everybody Loves Raymond, Two and a Half Men, Hey Arnold, etc. Don't get me wrong! ELR had some brilliant comedy, and Hey Arnold was undeniably one of the best cartoons ever made, but I just don't like Slice of Life. I actually developed my own catch-all saying for the genre. "Life is boring enough as it is. Why would I want to watch someone else's boring life when I could just as easily live my own boring life?"
So I'd want to do something with a fictional twist, and superhero stuff is already something I've wanted to do for over a decade. Hell, there was a Create Your Own Superhero contest I almost entered ages ago. My mom discouraged me from entering because my super hero wasn't original enough. She was right, though... my hero was literally just Sabertooth from X-Men, minus the healing, and a hero instead of a villain. I was woefully unoriginal when I was younger...
But to quote one of the greatest mottos I've ever come across: "Don't try to be original, try to be good." Something I live by now. I'd never straight up plagiarize something, but I'm not going to try to do something never ever done before ever. It would be a colossal waste of my time.
I'm well aware that a gritty comic will alienate a huge portion of potential audience, but one thing I really hate is a hero whose moral compass lies somewhere between #FFFFFF and #F5F5F5. (For those of you who aren't familiar with color code, that's pure white and indistinguishably less white.) And I extra hate villains whose character boils down to the living essence of the element "Muahahaha", on the periodic table...
I totally didn't make that up. It's an element on the periodic table, so shut up...
Sadly, children, preteens, and the early post-pubescents can't comprehend more than #FFFFFF and #000000 morality. (Pure white, and total black). Hell, I couldn't either, until Dragon Ball Z came along and turned my understanding of story upside down. That shit blew my freakin mind. "What, the good guy can lose? The villain can win!?"
Dragon Ball Z is another one of those influences I had as a young kid that totally changed the way I think. I discovered Dragon Ball Z through a friend of mine when I was still back in grade school. He would talk about it all the time. Then one day I finally caught it on tv by chance, and started watching it. To say it left a mark on me is an understatement.
Violence, real violence. They weren't just comedically hitting each other with cartoonish sound effects, they were actually beating the ever-loving hell out of each other for no other purpose than to kill each other. And characters weren't completely fine again from one scene to the next. Their damage actually mattered. And then, episodes would end, but the story wasn't over. Things stung together, outcomes had weight. Dragon Ball Z single-handedly killed my interest in shows like the Flintsones, the Jetsons, Dexter's Lab, etc, where nothing mattered from one episode to the next. One example I use all the time is Dexter's Lab. There's one episode where Dexter and Mandark spend so much time arguing and fighting that the Earth is destroyed by meteors. The episode ends with them stuck in space, blaming each other. The very next episode, everything is back to normal again.
I love anti-heroes who have a grey morality, I love villains who are deep and complex, and I hate the candy-coated endings where nothing really matters because Superman can never really die even if he really dies.
Among my favorite heroes are actually villains. Vegeta, totally self-serving, arrogant, uncaring. Goes from trying to destroy Earth and gain immortality to protecting it. Shadow the Hedgehog, though poorly written, he's a do-it-his-own-way character who lives by his own rules. Venom, hell bent on killing Spiderman, makes a great unlikely hero. (Ok, honestly I don't know that much about Venom. I just know he's bad and sometimes saves the world. Despite my love of comics, I've read tragically few.)
I enjoy exploring the darker elements of good characters, and intricacies of villains too much to write for-kids crap.
Also, I've noticed that my best characters usually end up being ones with the best defined sexuality and sex life. I don't know why...
My two greatest characters are the ones I've put most thought into their sexual aspects, and are the ones that are the least restrained of all my characters when it comes to having sex. One's bisexual, and the other is strictly straight. They've both developed into really good characters. How I know it's specifically sex is because one of the two tries to be very Christian about sex, but eventually is broken of his purity. I like to have my characters develop naturally, and this one went places I really liked once I allowed him, within the story, to open up to being deviant.
The kinds of characters I enjoy writing, most kids under 17 won't be able to understand. So I'd either have to learn to boil characters down to black and white, or stick to a limited audience.
The Real Concerns
My biggest, real concerns with this is ability: Comics have a specific range of styles, none of which I've ever tried before. My style is plastic to my needs so I don't really have a style, but I don't think anything in the range I've tried thus far would work for a comic like this, so I'd have to develop a new style. Or rather, I'd have to add a new style to the style-toolbelt that is my own artistic talent.
Speed: I'm slow as hell when drawing.
Planning: Ironic coming from someone who has "writer" in the upper right of this very blog, but I'm not a very good writer. I tend to not have a story in mind while I work. It's kind of a problem of mine, where I just start writing, not really knowing where I'm going, and allow the story to be flexible and improvise as I go. That kind of thing comes through in Sonic's Funnies as well, and was also how I wrote Sonic's Adventure. It has the benefit of the story coming out feeling a little more natural because I can throw something in and it will flow perfectly from point to point, and it allows characters to come in or events to happen that were never there before.
Example: I was writing this book where a character was supposed to be the only one of his kind. But as I wrote, I got inspired to add another character similar to the first, and then another, and soon I decided that the character could no longer be the odd one out in a world full of normal people. Since this was all in writing, it was easy enough to go back and change a few key points. Hell, his race didn't even have a name until chapter 4-ish.
However, that wouldn't work in a comic. At least, not without retroactively changing the continuity like Marvel and DC always do by constantly rebooting their same stories and re-imagining the characters over and over.
Another huge problem with the complete improv style is more complex stories. I can't have there-all-along elements or major plot twists or important mcguffins without some measure of planning. I've also had a very hard time writing stories that have a longer, more complex run.
For example: A murder mystery. I'd never be able to write one in full improv. Or, let's take an episode of House as a model. A patient comes in at the hospital, the patient has complications, they have no idea what it is and have to solve it before their patient dies. They believe it's <issue X> because <A and B> symptoms. Treatment isn't working. Suddenly a new symptom arises that shows them they were very wrong, and it's worse than they imagined. They eventually figure it out in the nick of time and it's explained that symptoms A and B make is seem like issue X, but symptoms A and B, as well as the new symptom C means it's really issue Y.
That can't really be done without some planning ahead. "No, it wasn't as we suspected. The patient really has arthritis!" "But doctor, earlier the patient was vomiting blood..." "Arthritis!" "But the patient's skin is yellow..." "Yes, it's a rare form of super arthritis!"
And the last major issue is... In a world where the concept of superheroes and supervillains has been so overly done that you get villains like Polkadot Man, Calendar Man, and Ant Man, I'd have a back-breaking time developing heroes and villains that aren't clear Marvel or DC rip-offs.
And believe me, it takes a lot of thought.... as Static Shock was unfortunate enough to find out the hard way.
My best friend put it best regarding Static Shock: "Lame heroes need lame villains."
Static Shock is a super hero cartoon with some of the worst writing I've ever seen. The series' arch-nemesis character is Ebon, a villain made of shadow, with powers of darkness. Naturally, as you can imagine he's weak to bright light. What's the protagonist's power? Electricity.... which generates bright light. Brilliant....
That's as stupid as making the Human Torch the arch-nemesis of Aquaman, or putting Sir Kibble from Kirby up against Woodman from Megaman. Or putting the Wonder Twin, Zan, up against.... Spongebob or something.
At least Superman's weakness is hard to get a hold of. With Ebon, literally all you need is a bright LED flashlight. You wouldn't even have to be a superhero to beat him. Actually, the Wonder Twins are another great example of needing to be careful how you design your heroes. Any environment that's hostile to liquids would render Zan powerless. Maybe even dead. I watched a lot of their show, not sure if Zan was ever shown to be able to survive being boiled into vapor, or what would happen if he evaporated. I'm sure he'd be screwed if evaporation got him. He'd be rained back down from the clouds in little drops all over the land. It would be over for him.
Anyway, I think I've rambled enough and burned enough time. Not sure I'll end up going with superheroes in the end. I might try a Cowboys and Americans era comic, like Green Blood (someone needs to start correcting Columbus' idiot mistake. Can't go on calling them Indians hundreds of years later), or maybe cyberpunk instead. Or maybe a Bronze Age Game of Thrones type thing. That could potentially fail, though, because I don't know a lot about the Bronze Age. I know it's not too terribly different from the Iron Age, but there's still a big difference. Still could be interesting to do a Roman-style Game of Thrones....
Somewhere in my last post, I made a rather large show of complaining my ass off about how stupid it is to try and challenge yourself to only use a specific set of colors, or to use few colors, etc.
Frankly, I find it to be a waste of time. I'm pretty sure you can get the same effect with Photoshop filters. I don't need to prove to myself I can limit colors for a project and still do well.
To me, limited colors are a weak excuse to feel like you did something tough. "Yeah, I conquered a challenge! I pretended like I didn't have a full box of crayons!" Outside once or twice, or really crippling color limits, like making an image with a hard limit of just 3 colors total, selected totally at random via a computer randomizer, it's pointless to me, and I don't consider it an accomplishment.
In the post, I mentioned that I prefer to set challenges that actually make things tough. Limited colors don't leave me wondering "How will I do it? Can I even do it?" With limited colors, that answer is "Yes, I can. It's not even question at this point." It doesn't even take creativity to do it. Just skill and experience.
But I figured I'd put my money where my mouth is and show how I tend to challenge myself in ways I deem to be worthy.
For my slightly ego-stroking game about a character who was once me, I've set the following challenges:
1. No Spikes
Ever since Sonic the Hedgehog, spikes have been a go to for game developers wanting environmental hazards in their game, both indie and AAA. I'm not exaggerating when I say there are likely thousands of games out there, maybe even tens of thousands, in which the most common environmental hazard is a spike of some kind. Sure, Sonic didn't invent it, but I guarantee you he was the one who cemented it as the gaming industry's biggest cliche.
No spikes. Instead, I have to be creative with my environmental hazards.
2. No Inexplicable Floating Platforms
This one may not seem very tough at a glance, really all I have to do is show how they attach to the environment somehow, or give them a means by which they are suspended in open air, but it will require some tricky level design to make sure there are zero platforms that float in the air without some reason or method.
I'm also not allowed to take the easy way out by putting magic levitating platforms in all over the place. The platforms have to fit the level's themes. So, for example, no crystal powered floating platforms in the streets of downtown, modern LA, and no jet/propeller powered floating platforms in medieval Europe.
3. No Bottomless Pits
I think the bottomless pit trap is a cop out. Character doesn't die of fall damage, but will die if you fall down a bottomless pit trap. Sonic: no fall damage, but several levels from first all the way up to modern all have bottomless pits to die in. Mario: Only game he suffers fall damage in is in Super Mario 64, and yet the bottomless pit has been a staple from the start. Crash Bandicoot, Super Smash Bros, Castlevania, Megaman, Earthworm Jim... all these games have the character jump from any height they like, and it doesn't kill them, but fall down a pit trap and you die instantly. It makes no sense, and it's kind of lazy.
4. Complete Avoidance Of The Water Level Cliche
That's right, I have set myself a challenge to do without an industry golden staple: the water level. It wouldn't be much of a difficult anyway, because my character's semi-aquatic and can actually breathe underwater. It would be more of a chore. Unless you're going to be Sonic the Hedgehog about it and make it so drowning is a thing, water levels just get really frustrating. I think the classic Sonic games and Mario Bros 3 are the only games that ever did water levels right. Sonic, because part of the challenge is drowning (the drowning alarm sound still haunts me...), and Mario 3 because not all of it is under water.
5. No Weird Levels
The video game industry is full of weird environments. I'm going to pick on a few of my favorites here, so keep in mind these are all games I actually really like. First off Mario Bros 3 and Pipe Land. What purpose does Pipe Land serve? Who built a sprawling landscape of pipes, and why?
Earthworm Jim 2 and Iso 9000. It's a level built entirely on piles of paper. I know the game's not exactly known for making a lot of sense, most of the rest of the game is at least grounded in reality, so why a world made of paper piles?
Zelda Ocarina of Time and Jabu Jabu's Belly. Frankly, this game's water level is a perfect example of why I'm taking challenge 4, but I think the inside Jabu Jabu stage of the game is far too perfect an example of "Weird Levels". Why is the digestive track of poor Jabu shaped that way? And who thought a level inside a giant fish was a good idea? (I'm well aware that Turtle Land from Mario Land 2 is even worse. You go inside a giant turtle, and then inside the giant turtle is a giant whale, which you also go into.)
I'm not allowed to do anything that doesn't make at least a little sense. Any level in the game has to be something you'd go "Ok, I can see why this place exists."
6. No Cliche Enemies
This means no zombies, no skeletons, no sine wave enemies, no goblins, no ninjas, no spiders, no bats, no dragons (but that's mostly something I do out of principle, due to being one of the most cliche), no spoopy ghosts, and no Russians.
7. No Cut Scenes
The entire game has to be conveyed without the use of a single major cut scene. Maybe a cinematic at the beginning, and a cinematic at the end just to establish and close the story, but I want the middle to be pristine.
8. NO HANDHOLDING
The entire game has to be totally hands-off. Players must be allowed to make mistakes, and solve puzzles and make it through the game without a tutorial and without a single line of text. You want challenge? It doesn't get much more difficult than the combination of 7 and 8.
Yeah, I could take the weak approach and limit the colors I'm allowed to use, or instead I could challenge myself with a real test of creativity and ability. Some of these, especially 1 and 2, I don't know if I'll even be able to live up to. And that's what makes these challenges worthy of me taking them. There has to be some level of doubt in my mind, and it takes a lot more effort to avoid using a specific element than just avoiding some colors.
I hope other game developers and pixel artists see this and learn something. A challenge has to take effort, otherwise it's a waste of time. The tougher the challenge, the more recognition you'll get for even attempting it, first of all, and even more so for completing it.
Everyone in the world is familiar with the man who jumped the Grand Canyon, but no one has ever heard of the guy who drew a picture without the use of the color blue, or wrote a book without using the letter 'E'. (The second one is a real thing. Look it up.)
Ok, let me preface this with an explanation. I felt like I hadn't been fair in my post The Limited Palette, Death Of A Tyrant. What I did was try to apply their palettes to my sprite to show their palette style is flawed and mine is superior. I've decided I need to revisit the matter and be as far as possible.
This time, I've taken a drawing from one of them. In this case, Kaiseto, because his style is closest to mine. I'll be putting my palette style to the test on his pixel art. The following image is not my art.
Shared without permission, because I don't need permission. If Kaiseto wants to put it on the internet, then he has to live with reposts. At the very least, I told you who it was, and credited the source, so I don't want to hear whining from those artists who love to whine.
Now, check that pixel art out. It looks amazing, right? I'm not going to lie, it's a gorgeous piece..... when you first look at it, and when you don't understand pixel art the way I do.
If you've been fooled by these pixel artists, and their army of browbeating sheep, you'll think that pixel art is beautiful, next level, divine, top-shelf. You'd quack along with the other ducks in the pond, praising it as the best pixel art you've ever seen.
But I'm not so easily fooled. Watch what happens after I apply my style to it.
On the left is my edit. All I did was adjust a few of the colors and add a few more, plus one darker shade to define areas that were weak. On the right, completely unedited original.
Doesn't look so good anymore, side by side with my palette adjustment, does it? The original now looks muddy and dull, making mine appear to be the original.
Now, the piece was called Jade Guardian, so I left a lot of green in there to give him a foresty kind of look, so that's why some areas, like his claws and the insides of his ears, remained mostly untouched.
My edit isn't perfect. Probably made some mistakes as a result of too much of the image being the same color and hard to pick out what is what. I'd definitely work on it more if it were my piece. But most notable among the improvements are that he looks better defined and his eyes are greatly more expressive.
I'm going to stop picking on Kaiseto now and focus on one that's a little more egregious. Kaiseto isn't the worst of these idolized pixel artists I've seen. He's actually among the best of them.
This one's also not my art. I actually have no idea who did this one. It's been on my computer for years. And I don't care to look it up, so..... suffer.
Yeah, because color just disappears in the shadow, doesn't it? Why does he turn purple and blue? And why does all the detail seem to vanish in the darkest regions of his body?
This is why I think professionals are just idiots who know nothing. "The world is washed out and color all fades away in the shade! I know what I'm talking about because I'm a professional!" If it were just professional pixel artists who have no idea what they're doing, I might be more lenient with the rest of the world's professionals, but it seems to be writing professionals who give terrible advice as well.
I'm afraid "professionals" have it wrong. Colors aren't faded and dull like that. The world is a vibrant, colorful place. Plus, there's a such thing as shadows within shadows. You'd still be able to make out details in the dark blue crevasses of his body. Light doesn't just hit a surface and die. It scatters all over. Objects reflect light which is why, even when sitting in the shade, shapes still have darker shadows.
This is best demonstrated when you're in your room in the middle of the night. You know how your closet looks extra dark inside? There's still light in your room, but less of that light is reaching your closet, making it extra dark. Full black, #000000 exists in real life, people. Light doesn't stop existing where something casts a shadow, otherwise your eyes wouldn't be able to adjust to dark environments and still make out shapes and details. If the above image were how things really worked, we'd be totally blind in low light conditions.
I saw one person claim some pixel artist understood color more than anyone else. We'll call them AssKisser and KnowNothing respectively, for fairly obvious reasons.
AssKisser claimed KnowNothing had some kind of profound knowledge of colors that few other people know, and attempted to prove it by posting some quote from him.
KnowNothing claimed verbatim: "The important thing about neutralizing colors is that the added color should be the exact opposite hue as the color it is meant to kill. If you only use gray to neutralize, you won't ever achieve gray unless the piece is 100% gray. Neutralizing colors must be far enough away that they balance TO gray. If your second color is exactly opposite from the other, it should occupy 50% of the space (equal parts) because neutral gray will be exactly halfway." AssKisser then showed this example from KnowNothing.
Ok, KnowNothing, cute illusion. You figured out a neat parlor trick. Am I meant to be impressed? Here's something that will blow your mind.
See, you can painstakingly checker together two perfectly opposite colors, or... here's the crazy part... you can just use grey and achieve the exact same result in less time, using less colors. Seriously, I don't know what KnowNothing is talking about. "If you only use gray to neutralize, you won't ever achieve gray"
What the hell kind of hipster-ass bullcrap is that?
I went to KnowNothing's gallery. I had to know what kind of artwork the supposed god of color was capable of.
I'm not impressed...
First of all, that black outline looks too messy.
Second, anyone notice the major issue with this one?
That's with the yellow on the skin?
Left are the colors of the character's skin pulled straight from sprite.
Right, real life billiard balls.
Here's a rubber ball with less gloss. I still don't see yellow.
Now you understand why they got their nicknames. KnowNothing, you're hopelessly, hopelessly ignorant. AssKisser, you're so blind, you wouldn't know a good pixel artist if you were forced to watch one bang your mom in 2D.
Here's another common one I see that really pisses me off.
This one frustrates me because it's how "professionals" justify their dull, lifeless pixel drawings. "You gotta connect the colors! That way everything has the same shades and it looks bland and muddy! Because that's how it looks the best!" It even says "To be like the professionals, you must use the connected palette like on the right" underneath this graphic in the tutorial.
Well, do you know what style of palette this sprite uses?
Oh! It's the bad one! I used the bad everybody! I did the wrong!
All except the one single color are completely independent from each other. Why did I bother connecting those two ramps? Because the two colors were so close to each other that having them separate would have been pointless. And why do I make them individual? Because like I said above, colors don't just vanish in the shadow, and I can't bring myself to pretend like they do.
These people.... no, I'm not going to be nice. If they're going to walk around and act like thugs so they can be the grand gatekeepers of pixel art, they don't deserve my respect.
These idiots don't seem to understand how color and light work.
No, that's not very fair. I said I was going to be as fair as possible this time. It's not entirely their fault they were mislead, so I can't call them idiots. It's like a cult. I bet ya this started with some crap pixel artist who somehow got it in his head that colors just fade blue in the shadow, but rather than face criticism and learn to improve, he decided to fool people into believing he's was good at pixel art. Maybe his images didn't look so bad, so it was easy for him to fool more gullible, less talented, aspiring pixel artists, and eventually as more people who loved his pixel art started to adopt his style, it spread like the plague.
That's just speculation I pulled out of my ass, whole cloth, though.
The better I get at sprite art, the more I start to realize "professional" and "the best" aren't synonymous. I used to think professionals were the greatest. I looked up to them until I became an expert and realized I was no longer looking up to masters, but now down at a bunch of journeymen who believe they're masters. It's a vicious cycle: Journeymen praising other journeymen, reinforcing the lie that they have the greatest talent. Beginners then see them praising each other and calling themselves the masters, and the beginners start to aim for their level, to be a "master" too. You end up with more and more blind ducks perpetuating the delusion that they see more than normal pixel artists, when in reality, they see less.
And when I look back up from where I've gotten, I realize so few actually reach expert status that there never really were any masters.
These are Earth's mightiest pixel artists?
"But Bastendorf, it's a challenging style!"
Is it? Any pixel artists reading this, I want you to ask yourselves this: Is it a challenge, or is "it's challenging" just an excuse/lie you tell yourself and others?
Now let me ask you a question. What's more challenging? Restricting the number of colors you're allowed to use and staying exactly as you are, or pushing what you can do and what you know, and questioning your abilities and methods, to see what new heights you can reach?
And what's more rewarding? Doing the same thing over and over because it's what you know and what gets you praise, or striving for better, even though it may mean you're no longer able to call yourself the best there is?
Take another look.
Keep in mind, I was never afraid to question my skill and change my style. I questioned everything that came my way, including the style on the right. I think it's better to not get stuck to one style too firmly. It makes you stagnate. My style is always evolving, always improving, always under the most intense self-scrutiny. I'm not willing do consider myself a master pixel artist, yet.
I might not ever.
I can never know if there's nothing above a certain skill level. And deciding that a skill level is the best means I'll stop trying to improve.
For any pixel artists that come my way who have never been to my blog before, I want to share this image again.
For those unfamiliar with this image, it's one of my favorites. It's all sprite art I did, and all of the same character. I show this one a lot, but I think this post in particular justifies showing it off again.
First of all, it shows I never adopted the style everyone approved of, and second it shows my point perfectly. Each step of the way, I thought I was such a good pixel artist. If I had convinced myself to stop trying to improve at any point on this scale, I would never have reached where I am now.
Actually, I recently noticed that my image may be wrong. The way the color pattern of the character has evolved suggests that the first and second ones are probably in the wrong order. The rest is accurate, though.
But that's besides the point. ...Actually, I forgot my point. It's late at the time of writing this. I've been working on this one for hours, trying to make sure I explained myself well and gave Earth's Mightiest Pixel Artists™ a fair shake this time.
Wait, now I remember! Good thing I stopped to do some proofreading. Jogged my memory. I never wasted my time trying to challenge myself with dumb limits. It's pointless. "Oh boy gais, look what I did! I drewed a pitchur with only a few colors! Gibs me cookie!"
It's not exactly something I consider worth being proud of. At least not something worth being proud of more than on occasion. I know I'm able to take the challenge and complete the challenge. It's why I don't do it. It's like the bronze trophies on PS3, or the PC game achievements you get for doing something that takes little effort.
To me, the real challenge is challenging my style. Like I said above, I question everything. If the point of a challenge is for it to be tough and make you think and show your ability, then what could be more tough and thought-provoking than constantly calling into question your own style?
Maybe it is all just a challenge to them. In which case, they challenged themselves to copy another style and limit their own ability and stay that way. I challenged myself to build my own style my own way, different from the pre-approved style Earth's Mightiest Pixel Artists™ all base theirs on.
I know that this all probably seems petty. But there are two things in this world I'm hardcore passionate about. 1) Dragons. 2) Pixel Art. It's bugged me for years that these people hold tyrannical control over the art form, and have gone totally uncontested for who-knows-how-long. I've been waiting a long time for someone to come and show them that they're wrong, to prove that there's another way, that you don't need to bow to their style to be a great pixel artist. But no one ever did.
Now that my ability has grown quite a bit and I've refined my style, I've decided I'll be the one to stand up to them. I'll be the one to prove that their style isn't the only way, and certainly isn't the best way.
And besides, I did learn a few things while recoloring Kaiseto's art. Some just from the practice, and some from Kaiseto's style. So thanks, Kai. And hopefully aspiring pixel artists among my readers have learned something from this long rant.
Remember, just because a bunch of people agree that someone's the best, that doesn't always mean its true. Maybe one day I'll do a tutorial... when I'm not feeling so lazy. I've actually been meaning to do this one for weeks now. Almost ended up putting it off longer.
Before I go into it.... somehow I got almost 400 page views yesterday, but only 8 unique visitors.
Either I got 1 person visiting nearly 400 times, 8 people visiting roughly 50 times, a bot landed on my blog and spazzed out, or something else happened.
I thought it was because the critic I mentioned previously had done that LP. Nope. In fact, I swung by her Twitch to see. Turns out she lied through her teeth about being a game critic and wussed out of LPing my game. She has a grand total of.... <drum roll here> two whole videos, neither of which are games I've even played, let alone worked on. So it couldn't have been related to her.
Not a clue in hell what to make of the page view to unique visitor ratio on the 29th. Just found it interesting.
Anyway, enough suspense. Here it is.
The newer one (above) is a little too slow for the beat. Instead it has a certain unintended bravado that is best accompanied by the Title Screen/Stage 09 music from Cho Aniki Legend of the Holy Protein.
Yes, "Holy Protein" is a euphemism... The game is a softcore homoerotic, side-scrolling shooter. And when I say "homoerotic", I mean what the scouter says about its homoerotic level is that it's well over 9000. It's about two scantily dressed, heavily muscular men who gyrate their hips until they fire "holy protein" out of holes in their skulls at other muscular men with little clothing.
Japan is weird.
I'm sorry this one took so long. As I've mentioned multiple times on this blog: I hate animating. I'm just not able to work on the same thing over and over. So I'd do maybe a frame, or half a frame, and then do something else, and maybe come back later and do a negligible amount of work. In essence, I did about half a frame a day, except for the last two. Those I did in full on the same day.
Another large part of why it took so long was his tail... which I'm only just noticing is actually really cute the way he flip-flops it as he walks. At first, I just had it kind of bounce up and down while he walked. It didn't look good. Then I tried having it straighten and curl a little as he walked, and that looked even worse. Finally, I took a page from an old Guilmon sprite sheet I had. When Guilmon ran in Digimon Battle Spirit, his tail would swing from side to side following his contacting leg. (Basically, his tail would swing back and forth to avoid kicking his own tail as he walked.)
I really liked how it looked, and at first I emulated it as closely as my character's tail would allow me to. (His name is Bastendorf, which is why I don't refer to him by name. I may go into why this character and I have the same name at the bottom of this post, but for now....)
The animation just didn't look right, though. Guilmon's Digimon Battle Spirit sprite is old to say the least. The swing of his tail is stiff and didn't look good on my character. I had to fiddle with the sway of the tail until it looked more natural and graceful. I did this by adding easing to his tail sway motion. And it took so god damn long to manage a perfect loop with easing in only 8 frames. Pretty sure it took at least two hours. Long enough to get through 4 videos, each 30 minutes long. (I listen to podcasts while I work, sometimes)
For those who aren't familiar with the jargon of animation, essentially what I did was make it so that there's a brief frame on either end where the bulkier area of his tail changes direction, and the less heavy, less dense, last few inches of his tail gets momentarily left behind in the motion. It'd be like allowing your wrist to hang limp while waving your arm. Your arm will move normally, but your hand will struggle to keep up, as it's still subject to momentum, even though the direction has changed. In a nutshell: An object in motion stays in motion. He would swing his tail the other way, and the latter portion of his tail would briefly remain in motion.
Pixel art, an animation lesson, and physics lesson all in the same post. I'm actually kind of proud I managed that.
Doing the walking animation a piece at a time it actually how I did the older one. It seems to work really well for me. Because it allows me to animate without sitting there working for hours, doing much the same thing over and over.
I've decided I'm going to split this post in to two parts. Maybe even 3 if I remember to explain why I have a character with my same name. I've done this because this part is a little unrelated to the above. You can quit here if you only care about the sprite. The rest will be about the prospect of Kickstarting the game.
Onto the meat.
I've been thinking quite a bit about what I'd offer if I did a Kickstarter/GoFundMe/Patreon. Is it only Kickstarter that has the donation reward tier system? Now I have to check.
Ok, I knew Patreon is a constant donation thing already. So rather than a pool, it's more like a port you pump funds into. You're a patron, rather than a donor. GoFundMe doesn't seem to allow a reward system, so fuck that. I may end up using Kickstarter or Patreon, because I might be able to do a donation tier reward thing with Patreon. I'm sure as hell not going to use one where I ask for money without giving out thank you gifts.
Anyway, I've been thinking about that. This is what I've come up with so far, in terms of rewards. (Red text is my commentary.)
$1 – Take pride in knowing you contributed, however small, to something.
It's a dollar. What do you expect? Not sure if Kickstarter even allows 1 dollar donations, but in case it does, I do want to at least acknowledge the 1 dollar donations in some way.
$5 – Officially consider yourself pretty rad, plus get a generalized, impersonal credit in the game's credits.
Ok, I realize these first two aren't exactly rewards. But why should people expect something special for donating the bare minimum? A five spot is what you give to those bell-ringing Santas around Christmas time so you can feel like you at least made a difference. It's hardly worth more than a thanks.
$20 – One random desktop wallpaper related to the game, plus your name in the credits.
Honestly, I don't know if people really care about desktop wallpapers, but $20 is starting to approach a point where it's no longer fair to not give out actual rewards. I've seen Let's Play channels where they have a wallpaper of their favorite game. I figured that if people are willing to put Minecraft on their desktop, then maybe potential fans of my game will want to do the same.
$50 – All desktop wallpapers related to the game, and instead of a lame entry in the credits screen, a 32x32 pixel-art portrait of you will appear somewhere in the game.
When you're poor like me, $50 is a lot of money. Donators of this tier deserve more recognition than previous. 50 is one of those amounts of money you put on something big like a bet between friends, or a lottery ticket. It's not enough money to help much on its own, but it's worth more than a text-credit and the equivalent of a gift card. (Let's face it. A gift card is something you give someone when you feel obligated to get them a gift, but don't give enough of a shit about them to give them something meaningful. And that's kind of what the desktop wallpaper represents. I mean, at least I'm not pretending like it's a big deal, right?)
$100 – An exclusive desktop wallpaper reserved only for $100+ donors, with your name on it. Plus all previous rewards.
A hundred is something you put on a more serious bet, or a dare. It's also a universally recognized number milestone. So it deserves something a little more special. Since I don't run any special VIP Accessible forums or anything, all I can really offer is a more special desktop background at this tier. But don't worry, from here on out, the lame prizes die off pretty quick. It's not simply images you put on your desktop all the way down the list.
$250 – Be part of the beta testing phase, get an official poster related to the game, and an optional 250+ donor t-shirt, plus previous tier rewards, and the game is completely free to you, including all potential future expansion packs, etc.
I'm not perfectly sure if I can do official posters and t-shirts, I'm just an indie dev, but I thought it would be cool to try out. I'd definitely look into it before launching the Kickstarter, but if not, the rest of this donor tier should make up for it.
Some people like to beta test games. I don't know why, but that seems to be a fairly popular reward. But more than that, I think if you donate this much money, you've earned the game. Why make people who donate this much also buy the game? It hardly seems fair to me.
I don't like DLC, but I do like expansion packs. They usually add to the game and make it better. Those, if I do make them for this game, would also be free for this level of contribution.
$500 – All previous rewards, but instead of a 2D portrait of yourself, a large, 100px, stone statue of yourself will appear in the game, you'll receive an exclusive desktop wallpaper reserved only for $500+ donors, and physical copy of Bastendorf's (the character) jacket, hand sewn by me, along with a physical sketch of one of the characters of your choosing, drawn by me.
Unless you're middle class and above, this kind of money isn't a joke. You don't just casually say "Oh yeah, I lost $500. No big deal. You catch last night's game?" People who donate this much money deserve cool prizes. This is like the upper tier prizes on those school fundraisers when you were a kid.
I know I'm not someone important or special. I absolutely get that. I don't want you to think the "drawn by me" part is ego related. It's more that I think it would be more meaningful if I did it myself, rather than getting someone else to do it. I'm multi-talented, so I think at this level, I could put some of my other skills to use as a reward. So I'm offering a drawing as well as making use of my fiber arts skill.
$1000 – An exclusive, completely unique wallpaper that no one, not even other similar-tier donors can have, plus all previous rewards, except instead of a statue of stone, you get one of gold that will appear in the game. You can also receive in the mail a 6 inch main character figurine hand made by me, along with a flash drive full of assets that don't quite make it to the game that would otherwise go completely unseen, and exclusive video time-lapses of me working on in-game assets, and instead of just 1 sketch, you'll receive 3 greyscale drawings related to the game.
A thousand dollars is something I've only had a total of three times in my life. This is why the reward scales so much between this tier and the last. Each 1000+ donor gets their wallpaper, completely unique from not only lower tier backgrounds, but also from each other. No image will be alike, at this level.
One of my many talents is sculpting. I happen to have special model-maker's clay, and some experience die casting and mold making. For this tier, most of the rewards are optional, but at this point you deserve a fairly big show of my gratitude. That's why I would make an effort to hand craft a figure of the game's main character for you to have.
I also think at a thousand dollars, you deserve something most people never get to see regarding games: failed, removed, discarded, and beta assets. Some games come with commentary on the development, as well. Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance had that kind of thing in there. But rather than just blither pointlessly about the game, and the process behind it, my goal would be to show you some of the design phase in full.
$2000 – All previous rewards, except instead of a statue of gold, you get one of diamond that will appear in the game, that will be larger than the others. In addition to the 6 inch figure, you also get a life-sized Bastendorf decorative figure, also hand made by me, and the jacket will have your name (or other words) embroidered onto it. Plus, included in the flashdrive will be a video time-lapse of the creation process involved in making your totally unique diamond statue credit. All 3 greyscale drawings will be your choice of image (within limitations), and will be inked.
Yeah, 2000 isn't exactly a milestone level above the previous tier, but I'm a nobody so I didn't exactly aim for the kind of reward targets Mighty Number 9 had up. However, I still think that if you're insane enough to donate this much money to help me, a total nobody, out with this project, you deserve something truly cool. Something that would really show my gratitude. But I'm not special enough to do a "dinner with Keiji Inafune" type reward. "Oh boy, you get to spend $2000 dollars to have lunch with a total loser/nobody! #Excite!"
Yeah, I can't get away with doing that. But what I can do is do something no other indie dev would do. Bear in mind that the character of the game is only 7 years old, so life-sized would only be couple feet tall. Maybe 3 and a half feet to 4 feet. I've honestly never bothered to calculate his height.
$5000 – All previous rewards, except instead of a statue of diamond, you get an entire section of the game dedicated to you, your own Chris Houlihan room. Your 6 inch figure could be unique from the previous versions, and in addition to the life-sized figure and the embroidered jacket, you can also receive a life-sized, cosplay replica of whichever one of Bastendorf's main swords you wish to have, also handcrafted by me. Plus, included in the flashdrive will be a time-lapse of the creation process involved in making your in-game credit reward and step-by-step progressive photos of your sword as it's being made. You will also get a large, hand-drawn, colored image in addition to the 3 greyscale ones.
I can already hear my readers: "You actually think anyone will contribute this much to someone who has never really published a game before now?" No, I don't. I fully expect the top 4 reward tiers will go entirely untouched. Realistically, I think all but the first 3 will go totally unclaimed.
This isn't done expecting people will contribute five thousand dollars. This is done because I want to have the opportunity to do something genuinely cool for anyone with the testicular fortitude to spend this much money to help out. Is it likely to happen? Hell no. Could it still happen? Absolutely. And on the off chance that it does, I want to be able to show my love and appreciation to that person in a way no one else would for their supporters.
Years ago, Atari held a contest related to their games called SwordQuest. The prize was real life treasure. It was never confirmed if it was genuine stuff, but among the treasures were a sword and a crown made of real gems and real gold. This was the contest all other contests hoped to live up to. Sadly, it fell apart and the treasure is rumored to have been kept by someone from Atari.
That's the kind of developer I am. Er, not the kind that promises fantastic rewards only to renege on them later. "Hey, thanks for the million dollars! Here's a half finished game! Fuck you, I'm off to live like a god!" Rather, I'm the kind of dev who would absolutely love doing grandiose things for his fans and supporters.
Like for example, let's say I were the developer behind Twisted Metal. I would start a massive tournament and commission an auto company to build maybe Sweet Tooth's van or something like that, and offer that as the grand prize.
Or Halo. I'd rent out a large building and host a Halo-themed laser tag tournament. Or even a just-for-fun laser tag arena.
The larger reward tiers aren't blind arrogance, but more like the 200,000 ticket prizes at an arcade. There's every reasonable expectation no one will ever get them, but they're there.
I want to do cool things for people, but I'm not going to do it for peanuts. Especially considering how much time and effort that it would take to make something like a life-sized statue of my character. So I wouldn't be willing to push the reward down to a lower tier. If you want the show of gratitude, you'd have to earn that gratitude. Plus, knowing there's a chance, however slim, that I might get to do something cool like that for someone is exhilarating.
Anyway, the reason I chose to share the rewards I thought up when I'm not even sure if I can finish this game enough to go to a Kickstarter or not, is to leave it open for suggestions. I'm fully aware some of the lower tier rewards are kind of shit, and that's why I'm open to suggestion.
Still here? Damn you are dedicated if you read up til now.
Well, as promised, here it is: Why the character and I share the same. It gets a little more NSFW beyond this point, and kind of TMI. I'm going to explain it fully.
It's not something I make obvious, but also not something I make much of an effort to hide: I'm a furry degenerate. I've been a furry degenerate between 11 to 14 years.
Good fucking god I've been at this a long time...
Anyway, I was a horny, teenage furfag trying to define himself and his fursona. I heard there was porn on SecondLife, so I decided I'd sign up. While I was still a frequent player, I learned to build, and built my own avatar. SecondLife allows for players to build virtual skins to wear over the top of the default avatar. Naturally, furries figured out how to make themselves into anthropomorphic animals by making skins and accessories for their avatars. I picked up that skill.
Ever since I was a small boy, I've felt a love for dragons that went beyond that of any other animal. If there was one creature I adored most of all, it was dragons by orders of magnitude. Naturally, when I grew up, that adoration only grew stronger and stronger. When I became a furry, naturally the animal I loved more than any other animal, real or mythical, became the foundation for my fursona. For the normies, "fursona" is a portmanteau of "furry" and "persona".
After years of work, I finally defined my fursona. I was a blue dragon. The more I started to build the details of this creature that I played, the more invested in it I became. Eventually my fursona started getting a story. I was developing an interest in weapons at the time, and I played with giving my avatar weapons as a kind of accessory. Eventually I settled on a sword. I think that was the first trait about my fursona that was totally separate from the real life me.
There were now 3 Bastendorfs. The irl Bastendorf, the fursona played by the irl Bastendorf, and a character who was starting to develop. I started to try to explain and rationalize why my fursona was a swordsman even though I myself love blunt weapons more. Slowly, a story began to form. I would toy with this story in my head when I was slacking off in class. Eventually, as I worked out the story, Bastendorf the character started to develop a different personality to my own.
The more his personality developed, the more invested in him and his story I became, and the more I developed him. Over time, there became a very big difference in the furry who is Bastendorf and the character who is Bastendorf, though he still has my name, and I still use his appearance as my fursona. Or rather, he still has my name and takes the physical appearance of my fursona. It's a little complicated, and tough to explain.
You can kind of think of it like Tim Allen and Tim Taylor. Tim Allen clearly plays Tim Taylor, but Tim the actor is different from Tim the character. One runs a tool show, the other is a comedian. And that's how it is with me. Same name, but one's an evil-slaying swordsman, the other is a computer nerd. This is why I tend not to refer to him by name despite the fact that he has a name. It's to keep down the confusion. As can be easily seen, the blog is also named after me. New visitors would get really mixed up.
It would be like if Zelda Williams became the voice actor for Princess Zelda and someone walked in on a conversation about both the character of Zelda, and her hypothetical VA, Zelda Williams.
There's a reason the character is two decades younger than me, though. I wanted to begin at the beginning of his adventures, and his adventures begin when he's 7. There is significance to that age, but this post is long enough, and it will be revealed in the game, so I might as well not go into it here.
I think that about wraps up a post that's going to take way too long to proofread. If you want to see the evolution of my fursona's appearance and the story behind it, that's all here: The Evolution of a Fursona And Character.
I removed my Donate button.
First of all, it was ugly, and annoyed the crap out of me having to look at it.
Second, I only added one because people kept asking me how they could support me, and I figured that putting it there would get people to stop asking, as well as giving them a way to support me without needing to have game development skills of their own to lend.
And third, no one used it, not even the people who were interested in supporting me.
The RSS Feed button is staying, though. Ever since I stuck it there, my weekly traffic has practically tripled, and my page views have stayed around 200 consistently, so I can only imagine that people have been using it and enjoying that it's been there.
I still really hate my background. It's really ugly and I hate having to look at that damn... whatever the hell it is off to the right, there. That claw thing...
This. Whatever the hell this is, I hate it being there. It's so stupid-looking.
And whatever the hell is on the left side, it looks like sewage... or mud, or something. Whatever it is, it's really unattractive.
Like I said before, the background images that Weebly has by default are pretty trash. This one is the only one that wouldn't have been so wildly off topic that it caused confusion.
And I can't just do a collage of classic games like other people do, because I'm a dev.
I don't want to give the false impression that I worked on any of the classic titles by putting them in the background. It's too dishonest.
I may have an opportunity to change it, though. The return to my current project gives me an excuse to do environment pixel art. So I should have something to replace it with soon enough.
I was actually just about to say "I'll let you know when I change it." but come to think of it, I'm pretty sure it's an instant update, and that kind of change would be pretty self-evident. It would be a waste of my time to alert you on the same blog...
So I made fun of some kids who are probably going to grow up to be worthless due to "progressive" environments being their teaching place. I called them useless on Twitter and the person I tweeted it at responded back calling me useless.
I corrected by saying I'm a talented game developer, so am therefore not useless. Turns out, she's a game critic... an oh-so useful position, but this isn't about sniping, so I'm not going to be mean. She demanded I show her how successful I am, but sadly, I only have 4 absolutely trash games out. She wants to Let's Play them.
This post is going to be mostly addressing her for the sake of her and anyone her LP sends my way, so bear with me.
Look, critic girl (to cover my ass and protect your identity), I've made little effort to hide the fact that I used to be terrible.
Here They Are. Go ahead and click the link. I'm not afraid to admit those are my creations, and I'm perfectly comfortable with people playing them. (My readers, please don't play my games. You're not going to have a good time... You don't deserve to suffer that way.)
Frankly, if it bothered me, I wouldn't have left them up for 6 years. Hell, one has over 900 plays... those poor, unfortunate souls... That's a lot of plays for something you think I'm afraid of people discovering.
The issue, here, is that I didn't say SUCCESSFUL like you seem to think I said... like you admitted you think I said. I told you I'm TALENTED. Talent and success are not synonyms, and playing my old games isn't going to prove I'm not talented.
The one I gave you directly, Savage, is an RPG I started in 2004. You do realize that's almost a decade and a half old, right? I didn't finish it until 2008, and I didn't upload it until 2011. Not a single one of those games are good, current, or even serious for that matter. One of them is a joke for a joke challenge I was part of (Drake's Nightmare), and judge for. (My game didn't get an opportunity to win. All three judges submitted a game for the challenge for fun.) And another is made mostly out of graphics I didn't even make. (Savage) And Slaughter House was done literally in weeks because I wanted to make a game about stickmen and senseless murder jsut to be a game about stickmen and sensless murder.
To try to use any of those games, from all that time ago, as proof I have no talent is extremely disingenuous, because I've made it patently clear, to you and to everyone who follows me, that absolutely am a talented developer. My inability to release a game in a while has little to do with a lack of talent, but let me put my skills where my mouth is.
"Is 2D all you're good for? Get with the times!" Actually, no. I can do 3D, too. And I'm pretty damn good, there, as well.
Here's a WIP canine character I sometimes show off.
Wow, is that it? I'm all out?
Huh, yep. If I go back any further than 2012, it all becomes pretty much shit not worth seeing.
So, critic girl, go right ahead. Play my games, berate them into the ground, insult me until you're blue in the face, then link me your LP/review. I'll watch it. I really will. I look forward to it.
You can say what you want, do your worst. My own fans can even tell me how they really feel about them. It's not going to bother me. The games are between a half decade to a decade and a half old. Yeah, big shock: I struggled back then. I'm pretty much self-taught. I sure as hell didn't go to college, so I didn't take any game development classes, or design classes.
You're not going to prove to me, or your fans, or my readers that I'm useless by showing off my old games. All you're going to show is that the road I traveled was steep and rocky. You're going to reveal the uphill battle I fought to get to where I am now. Go back over my sprites in this post. I think I've thoroughly proved I'm a talented developer. (Or, at the very least a talented graphic designer... I've done jack shit to show I can develop games.)
My inability to maintain enough interest to finish a game in years has nothing to do with my skill as an artist or game developer, and everything to do with there being a lot wrong with my brain.
When I stop being interested in finishing a project, I have to dump it. It doesn't mean it's gone, but it means I've stopped working on it for the time being. I have to stop when I lose interest, because if I kept trying to force myself to finish the game, I don't think it would have the heart and soul put into it that I want to put into it. If I don't have the passion I once held, the game could be lackluster and rushed.
I've lost interest in every single project I've ever worked on since 2011, with exception to my last one. That one was actually going very well, I just hit the mother of all energy slumps, and it's left me very forgetful and extremely easily mixed up, and very dumb. The kind of engine that game needs requires my mind to be sharp and quick, otherwise I'll be screwing up, frustrating myself, and exhausting myself trying to simulate code in my head.
Any programmers reading will know all too well what I'm talking about.
As a result of my current state, I've willingly put the project off, as much as it pains me, simply because I know I'm not fit for the game's demands right now.
However, I was struck by sudden inspiration and have returned to a previous project shown early on in this blog. It's where the animated sprite at the top of this post comes from. That game, I'm hoping, will be the project that I finish, simply because of how long I've been trying to develop it (9 years) and because it's sprites are looking really nice.
Then we'll see who is mocking who.
Oh yeah, I'm also a talented writer, too. I wrote and published a pretty good novel. And no, I'm not telling you what it is because you'd never read it, because I'm not giving it to you, you'd have to buy it like everyone else, and I know it would kill you to know your money ends up in my pocket, so you'd never do it. And to answer your question, no, it's not successful, because I don't shill it, ever, and I haven't bought much advertising space, so it has few sales right now.
One character from the list above actually comes from that book, though.
(I really hope this post comes out ok. I've had to rewrite so much of this damn thing because it kept glitching up and erasing blocks of what I wrote. Weebly is never usually this bad... I'm tired now and just want to go to bed.)
Edit: Yeah, I knew it would fuck up... Good thing I copied everything over to a word document, otherwise I would have lost this final block of text. Now I have to check to make sure I haven't lost any of my fucking proofreading...
Update: Yep, all of my proofreading had been undone. I've (hopefully) fixed it all now.
All that movement, all that energy, all that character, just 4 frames.
It's really too bad I absolutely hate animating. Avo only knows what untapped potential I could have if I could get over the fact that animating is so dull and tiresome...
I may post one of his locomotive animations if I end up particularly proud of how they turn out, so either this, his walking, or running animation will be all you get until I have an environment set up at the least.
See, the plan is to hopefully set up a GoFundMe or Patreon page for the game, that way I can crowd fund an animator at my skill level to help me out some on the animating, if it gets to the point of needing to split the burden, and I need something appealing for people to see. I'd totally fund the animator myself, if I could afford one. Last time I hired a budget animator, it went terribly.
Animator: "What do you need?"
Me: "Nothing special. Here are all the character elements, just give him some ambient movement. I'm not too picky on this one, just as long as it looks good"
Animator: "Sure, no problem. $90, and I want all of it up front. I do offer unlimited free adjustments, though."
(I of course paid him in full, because he had a fantastic portfolio. 2 days later, he comes back with the finished product.)
Me: "That looks great! Only issue with it is that you left out his hoodie strings. You didn't even put them in the file."
Animator: "Oh, sorry. No one will notice, so they're not that important."
Me: "Well, the only issue is that he's a 400px-tall sprite, and you can clearly see the holes the strings were meant to come out of. I included them with his assets, I'd like for them to be used, please."
Animator: "Well, they're an insignificant detail, what do you expect me to do with them?"
Me: "Just make em sway like loose strings would... that'll be fine. They don't even need to move much. I'm not too picky about it, I'd just like for them to be there."
(Next was the walking animation, and again there was nothing specific I was looking for. I just told him to make the character walk. Again, $90 up front, and again 2 days to complete.)
Me: "I like it, but he's sort of just swinging his legs. He needs to pick up his knees just a little more. Also one arm hyper extends while swinging, but not by much, so it's nothing more than a small tweak. Other than that, it's perfect, and I love it!"
Animator: "All the time with these adjustments! Why don't you just tell me exactly what you want ahead of time so I don't have to waste time fixing it making adjustments later!?"
Yeah, he just exploded on me for taking advantage of his unlimited free adjustments to fix mistakes in his animations, and seemed to expect me to have a list of details to things such as subtly moving in an idle animation, and a universal walking animation, all things his portfolio covered as well, so it's not like he'd never done it before.
I met his demands for the proceeding animation, made a list of what I wanted, paid for it, and I got screwed. He posted a partially finished jumping animation something he explained was pre-emptive of having to adjust the full animation if I had changes to make. I asked if he could do it over, because I didn't like it, and even offered to pay extra and give examples. He completely stopped responding. I even gave him two months in case he was busy with something else or just needed more time, checking in every so often. Nothing. He ran off with my money.
I'm not exactly wealthy. In fact, I'm practically living in poverty. I have little in the way of furniture because even something like a $300 couch would be all I'd be able to buy for the whole month. (I did mention it would look like I'm squatting here.)
My only options are A: do it myself. Or B: hire someone who probably charges a lot of money.
If I do it myself, it will take a long time, and run the risk of killing my interest in the project.
If I hire someone else, I'll need help funding it, otherwise I'll either be buying one animation from them per month, or I just flat won't be able to afford someone who can match the ability shown above. The funding money will also go into things like music, because I can't compose worth a damn, and musicians also usually charge around $200-$500 per track. And believe me when I say I've been screwed by budget musicians, too.
I even had one composer agree to do a free trial because he had no portfolio. He was recommended to me by another guy who was quite talented and who I'd worked with a few times at that point. My regular had been mentoring this new guy, so he talking him into a free test trial with me. The agreement was, if I liked the music, I'd pay for them and hire him, and he charged as little as $30 per track. If I didn't like it, it was free. He asked what I wanted, I told him I wanted something heroic sounding, with trumpets. When he asked what I meant, I linked him this: 3D Dot Game Heroes - Advancing Along The Coast as it was the best example I could think of, and this guy didn't speak English.
I had to translate to and from French just to communicate with him, and I had no idea how to explain the concept in a way he'd understand, and wouldn't be broken through translation software. So I linked him the track as an example and he assured me he understood what I meant and that he could pull it off, and offered 2 tracks that fell under the "free trial" agreement.
What I got back sounded like a computer ate up sheet music, got violently ill, and vomited back the notes, and this guy looked at the notes on the floor, and used that arrangement to produce midi files which he then sent to me. A friend of mine, who was beside me when I opened the files for the first time, made the best comment: "That's supposed to be music? It sounds like little more than noise."
There was no melody. It was just notes. 'Noise' was an apt description. But it gets better. When I politely told him I couldn't use them and wasn't interested in working with him, not only did he renege on the free trial agreement, he also demanded the same asking price of his professional mentor: $120 for 2 minutes of music. He wanted the same amount that a talented musician asked for, for 40 seconds of ear-bleeding noise, explaining that he wanted to be compensated for his "hard work", and completely ignored the fact that he agreed that if I didn't like them, we'd part ways and I'd suffer no costs. I honestly wish I'd hung on to those files to show you just how bad they were... They had to be witnessed to be believed.
But this guy bugged me for a month afterwards, looking for the cash he demanded. Honest to god that was the only time I've refused to pay for something I asked for. I make a point to pay in full for the time that goes into work done for me, even if I don't like what I get, or can't use it. It takes a high level of unusable crap for me to refuse compensation, even beyond the agreement we had.
As you can see, this is my dilemma: expense. I have run into some talented budget musicians, and they've gotten every penny I've ever owed (some even just taking my money and giving me nothing in return) but none of them really understood the concept of a "memorable, strong melody" despite numerous examples. I'm never not equipped with examples...
That is why I need help. To afford to hire people with the skill I'm looking for, and ones with work ethics. Tired of dickbags running off with my money...
So to make sure I get the funding required, I need to have something tangible. However, at the same time, I can't accept money and then cancel the project. And that's the part that makes me hesitate to go forward with this. I don't want to take money if I can't commit.
Yes, I know... I don't need to be reminded that people donated to me on Patreon for a game I promised, and it got nowhere. I'm not trying to hide that fact. I'll be open and honest about it.
But that's how I'm different from every other failed developer who took money from people, failed, and didn't refund them: I haven't touched that money. Every last dime is still sitting in my Patreon account, waiting for me to return to that game.
(It may end up going to this game, but this game will be better than that one was turning out by a long shot, so I'm sure no one will mind. It's not like it was a large sum of money anyway. It was, like, $14 from 7 people total. I've forbidden myself from spending much time looking at it, so it could be $14, or $17, I can't remember. I haven't seen it in over a year. I could check, but looking at it makes me feel guilty, so I tend to avoid it. I've also spoken to each of them and they said they wouldn't be mad if I used their money on a different game, so long as I'm not pocketing it.)
Anyway, I'm doing too much rambling, now, and not enough working, so... I'm going to end it here. I could go on and on about things I often think about when a project is on my workbench, but my game isn't going to develop itself, and the more time I spend ranting and expressing concerns for it, the less time I have in the day, today, to actually make any real progress.
Since it was part of my last post, it's been on my mind since yesterday.
he(Right click on it and click View Image to see the full view.)
This is now one of my most favorite images for a lot of reasons, but primarily because it shows both the evolution of a character and an artist together. However, when I showed this to a friend just now, he picked out the ones he liked the most, and it made me realize there's even more to this image than I thought.
Not only does it paint a picture of growth, it also paints one of struggle.
When I first started game development in 2003, I had been under the impression that I was waiting for everything to become clear to me. By way of reinforcement, I was mislead by teachers to believe that I'd suddenly see the light and start drawing and developing games like a pro as soon as I got to college. I was waiting for that day to come instead of working towards that goal. "Just take it when you get to college. You'll learn so much more there." I believed the lie...
It wasn't until high school that I started to realize I was wasting my time and college was no different from any other grade level, just harder, and that's when I dug in for myself.
The first few years, the character above didn't exist. I didn't have access to the internet at home, hell, no one did. I had no idea how it worked. My first introduction to the internet was only three years prior, in middle school, and my first time getting totally unsupervised use was a year after, for some dumb school assignment. And that's when I accidentally discovered there was porn on the internet. That was the greatest half hour of my 12 year old life....
Ahem... as I was saying... I didn't have internet, and I didn't know how to use it as well as I do now. So what I did was grab images from a bunch of NES classics off fan sites that had them posted. Namely Super Mario 1 and 3, and Kirby's Adventure, put them on some 3.5 Floppy disks (yes, I had 3.5 floppies in 2003, and I had a computer that still took them, and so did my school) and saved them to take home. For the first year of high school, I practiced at home on Game Maker 6, badly imitating NES sprites as best I could... on MS Paint... the old one... with only 3 undos. I eventually moved on to Sega Genesis sprites. In my Junior year, I had a laptop and was told about RPG Maker 2003 and iDraw, which was a step up from MS Paint.
At about 2008, the character above was starting to take form for the first time, and I had learned to shade by practicing drawing with a mouse in GIMP.
I didn't have much of a style, and the character was still mostly under development at the time, so when next I drew him, I went back into a fully black outline, (as was how I drew back then), and used a lot more color, sticking more to his actual design and to less how I wanted him to look.
Actually, the drawing above comes sometime between the second and third sprites, but I still had more on an idea of how I wanted him. You can tell because his earlier design didn't have a green jaw. The green, after it was added, stopped just at the end of his neck.
In 2009, I went back to his old palette, because I liked it better. I was still struggling with how to do away with the outline back then. But I was learning how to make it stand out much less.
Half way through making the sprite sheet for the 4th one, the character underwent a massive physical change. There actually exists a previous version of that one.
Towards the end of 2009, you can actually see that I started to dabble with ways of getting rid of the outline. The sprite, however, was ugly, and after doing quite a few frames of animation for it, I eventually ditched it. Surprisingly, that was one of my more ambitious projects at the time.
2010 was when I explored the possibility of doing an RPG with the character instead of a platformer, which all but the first sprite on the list would have been. As you can see, I lapsed back into my old ways with the outline. I was stuck in this mindset that the way I was doing things was the only way to do things, but I was never able to figure out why other, better sprite artists were able to do so much better than me. It was a really brutal position to be in.
2011 was a step forward for me. I was going to get the game done. I'd even won a concept contest and was set to collab with someone. But in the middle of the project, he vanished, his Youtube channel when completely dormant, and he stopped responding to me. He posted one more video after that, and was never seen nor heard from again.
The latter 2011 one was an attempt at doing my character in more HD than ever before. It's clear just by looking at it that I was kind of starting to get the hang of spriting, but still had no real idea of how to utilize shading properly.
2012, the big one, was just for fun. It was my attempt at doing a super detailed sprite, and also to practice pixel art in GIMP so I could stop relying on iDraw. He was never meant to be so muscular. But I started with his chest, and just started adding details where I thought it would look the best. When the torso was done, he looked really toned and muscular, and really hot, so I ran with it and made the rest of him muscular to match his torso. That was once my magnum opus... It's has an enormous impact on not only his my skill, but also on his design.
Surprisingly, I still didn't get it at the time. I didn't understand why the 2012 giant sprite looked so good, and I lapsed back into the style of the second one from 2011. I wish I could show you the transition, but I didn't draw him in that time, so it happened with other sprites, some of which I don't have any more. I deleted them due to being inferior or unnecessary.
2013 was the first version of him done in Photoshop, and was based heavily on the giant one that came before it. Shocker, I still didn't really get why it looked good. I had managed to break free of the rigid ideas I had of doing sprites, but I still wasn't quite there, yet. But I proved to myself that I could easily do it again if I wanted to, so there had at least been progress.
In 2015, I took the same design and condensed it down further, probably because he just didn't look young enough, still. By then I had a handle on my new style, but still had more growth to under go, even though I didn't realize it.
After cancelling work on the project for an 11th time, I started to get things I hadn't gotten before. I started to understand things that I had been blind to for 9 years.
The last sprite in the image, finished literally just today, is a result of everything just sort of suddenly clicking all at once while listening to Mountain King from the Atari game by the same name. It's still kind of a work in progress, because issues with shading makes him look kind of fat, when he's really just puffing his chest out like the giant sprite, but it's an order of magnitude better than all previous attempts, and all previous sprites, including ones that aren't just this character.
That's a little better. Consider this the first teaser and only a small taste of what's hopefully to come.
I still have a long way to go, but not bad for some nobody with no college-level education though, huh?
Holy shit, you know what I just noticed?
Despite the countless changes I've made to his design, his outfit has remained unchanged for 9 years. Blue jacket, orange collar, no sleeves, no zipper or buttons, and too short for him.
His eyes have always been the same, as well. No matter how I changed his colors, his eyes have always been yellow.
It's really cool to see.
The remake of Savage isn't going even remotely well. Why? I can't work with my original premise.
As I whined about in my Pointless Ramble Thing, I need to redo it satisfactorily. And I tried, and I failed straight out of the gate. I'm still going to do it. I have to, otherwise it will continue to eat at me. But I need inspiration and ideas. Those are easy for me to come by, but when it comes to really difficult things like the demanding and specific RPG remake I've got cut out for me, that kind of ideamancy takes a lot of time. Days, weeks, months... years...
I'm dropping my RPG Remake already. I know, I know! I'm hyper aware of my pattern of starting and stopping game projects. I don't need to be reminded. I depress myself enough with that fact on all on my own.
I'm like Leonardo da Vinci: quite possibly the greatest game developer to ever live, if I could ever get anything done. It's believed da Vinci had procrastination problems and had a hard time finishing projects before losing interest in them, just like me.
But like I mentioned before, it doesn't all just get sucked into a black hole and vanish. I'm like da Vinci, but I'm also kind of like a saiyan: Each time a project defeats me, I get a zenkai boost from it. (I'm getting better and better at lots of things related to game development as time goes on, is what that translates to.)
And though I stop working on a project, I never stop thinking about them. I still think about shit I was trying to make back in 2003, when I first started game development. Case in point: A lot of you newer readers may not be familiar with it, but way back when I started this blog, when I was slightly less shit at life, I was doing really well on a project of mine. Some screenshots can be viewed in the following posts:
It doesn't look that bad, honestly, and it controlled really well. So what happened to it? Tedium happened. If you don't want to read another blog for context, it's fine, I'm about to sum it up.
I didn't realize it at the time, but I had started digging the project's grave right from the very start. It's meant to be along the lines of a Metroidvania, and takes place mostly inside a castle, save for the first few screens where you're outside. When I got down to level design, it got so old, so quick, just doing the same thing over and over, that I could not continue. I got so sick and tired of it, I think I only got 8 rooms of the castle done before completely loathing having to do any more.
It's nothing new... I'm pretty sure I started attempts on this particular game in 2005 at the earliest. It's where this comes from:
This is an image I compiled. Each sprite in this image is a snapshot, in chronological order, from different attempts at doing this particular game. It's all the same character just stretched over a long-ass time. You can even see how his design changed over the years, and you can even see where I advanced my style stage by stage, starting with kicking my black outline habit. And these are just the ones I was still able to find. I'm sure there are at least 5 that got erased along the way. I was hard on myself, and if I didn't like the way a game was going, it was common for me to delete it along with all the assets, in a fit of rage and depression.
Being a teenager sucked...
Recently (April at the furthest), I was listening to an old game's music... can't remember if it was one of the classic Sonic games, Kirby's Adventure, Jazz Jackrabbit, or what, but I was struck by this feeling of disappointment. On retrospect, I think it was Jazz Jackrabbit that was the inspiration... Regardless, I realized that I was making a huge mistake by having the castle he was exploring be exactly the same from room to room. It wasn't going to be identical, mind you, each room was going to have different layouts with different platforming elements, but what you see in the screenshot link is how every room in the castle would look, with the exception of color palette swaps every time you fought a boss. And while listening to that music, I decided I couldn't just allow myself to do it that way.
Today, (at the time of posting this, anyway) I was listening to some more music from classic games, Dance of the Flame Spirit from the old game Mountain King on the Atari 2600, and I was struck with serious inspiration.
"But how!? The game is literally as minimalist as it gets!"
Couldn't tell you if I tried... I haven't the foggiest how the hell got the kind of inspiration I did from a stick man on an all-black background... It just came to me like a bolt of lightning.
Fun Fact: That game used to scare the shit out of me when I was a kid.
I've improved so much since I last worked on my game back then, and learned a lot over the year and a half I was working on other things, (or rather, failing at working on other things) so the game will need a ground-up rebuild. But I think it will benefit from it immensely.
I'll post screen shots when I have something worth seeing. Here's hoping the scope of the project isn't too much for one guy to handle, now, because I'm going to be giving this one my all.
If you think you've seen the scope of my abilities, prepare your buns, because you've seen nothing yet...
Ok, who would win in a fight?
A color palette style that has been lionized to obscene proportions, that all the greatest pixel artists of all time live and die by and has been foisted on hundreds if not thousands of other pixel artists as the absolute best system ever.
A hot pink cat. (A cat that is colored hot pink, I mean. Not a pink cat that is hot.)
Well, if the title of this post tells you anything, the titanic, tyrannical behemoth that is the limited palette has finally run into a sprite it just can't pixel. I've been waiting so long for a defeat this large. Can you tell I'm really thrilled? Because I am really thrilled.
In the following image, I used 5 different palettes, 3 of them by the greatest, most admired pixel artists I could find, 1 computer generated one, and my own.
Note that the palettes used in the upper row are used by their respective artists, and are used for every single one of their images.
Syosa - defeated. Fool - defeated. Even Kaiseto, who used the most reds and pinks, stood no chance against my character's bright pink armor. (Her eye lenses weren't taken into account.) There was more to Kaiseto's than that, but I couldn't be bothered to copy the entire palette over. Those were his only red and pink colors anyway.
The computer generated color ramp came the closest, and it still couldn't do it.
"But Bastendorf, real life has a range of hues! It doesn't look like that in real life!"
It's called "HOT PINK". Not "semi-sorta almost hot pink if you squint your eyes and pretend rose is hot pink". It's a fluorescent color, fluorescent colors really exist and they really look fluorescent. Crazy right? It's almost as if art imitates life or something like that and desaturating everything is wrong.
This is how you know the limited palette is weak and rigidly sticking to it, like the idolized legends do their own, is stupid. Look at those real life photos and then tell me which of the palettes come closest to being hot pink. Here's a hint: the bottom 2 are near perfect, the 8 upper ones are all way off. The greatest pixel artists there are wouldn't be able to draw my character without breaking their precious palettes, or without getting her color entirely wrong.
"But Bastendorf, it's not weak! It's a show of your skill to be able to make great art even with a limited palette! It's a show of strength!"
No. You don't control the limited palette, the limited palette controls you. That's weakness. It's impressive to be able to make great pixel art despite limitations, but when you cloister yourself inside a single, super-rigid color palette range that you run to every single time you want to do pixel art, then you're not strong. You can't function without a handicap.
"Then just don't make your character hot pink!"
If anyone uses this excuse, you can see what I mean. The palette controls you. It's weakness. I will not bow to the "rules". The cat's armor is hot pink. The science is settled.
"The palettes you used aren't meant for characters with her color requirements!"
Weakness. If their palettes are unable to handle a character wearing bright pink armor, but mine can, which palette is superior? The one that can't, or the one that can? Mr. Incredible can't move the Earth, Superman can. Which superhero is weaker, the one who can't, or the one who can? If you were hiring an employee to do important writing work for your business, two people applied, one can't spell but the other can, who is the superior choice in employee?
"Your character uses more colors than the palettes can handle. It's not fair!"
That's why I grabbed Kaiseto's palette to make it more fair, and took the reds and pinks from it. His color ramps were large enough to handle her sprite detail and still failed, where mine was also able to handle her sprite detail, and succeeded.
"You should reduce the detail anyway. She uses too many colors."
I bow to no sprite rules. She only uses 12 colors. 7 pinks, 4 blues, and black. That's not a lot. And I'm not removing black, because unlike Fool and Syosa, Kaiseto and I aren't afraid of #000000.
"But if you zoom all the way out to 100%, most of the colors blend together anyway! You don't need that many!"
She's not designed to be viewed at 100%. She's a video game sprite. The vast majority of 2D video game sprites are viewed at 200%. And at 200% all of her colors are distinguishable from each other, and all of her details matter.
Yeah, as you can see, I've heard every retarded excuse in the book already. These people really don't like free thinkers. "He's not using the approved methods! Quick browbeat him!" I could probably reduce the number of colors to 11 by removing the one redundant one in her lenses, but the rest is important to the shape, color, and material of her armor. You're welcome to try reducing colors beyond that if you want the challenge, though. (Be aware that her darkest color comes more heavily into use on her walking frames, so it's not entirely pointless.)
If these guys are unable to use hot pink, and yet they're called masters, I guess that makes me the final boss? What's above master rank? Grandmaster rank? Platinum rank? S Rank?
You're welcome to put your rigid, limited palette to the test against my sprite, or if you have a friend or know another "master" pixel artist everyone idolized who is willing to try, you can link them to this post and challenge them against my palette breaker character. So far her kill count is 3. 4 if you count the person who made the color ramp generator.
I'm in a really tight bind with my RPG remake.
You see, on the one hand, I don't want to just do the same crappy story over again and end up with another shit, half-assed game I'm still not proud of.
But on the other hand, I don't want a remake of a crappy RPG I made one time years ago to be anything deep, meaningful, or special.
I hate this intellectual property. I can't do anything with it because I don't want to do anything with it, but at the same time, I feel compelled to fix what I created.
I want it to be how it was, only improved. But how it was is total shit, and that part makes me want to just dump the IP all together. But I can't. There's a character in the game I want to work on more. I can't just abandon her like that. She deserves better. I love her too much to let go of her.
Would she work in another RPG? Most certainly. She has a background story that makes her compatible with just about any RPG I please. I could put her in Phantasy Star, I could put her in Final Fantasy, I could put her in Bravely Default, Super Mario RPG would be a tough sell, and require a lot more work explaining why she's there, but it would work. She wouldn't even have to be in an RPG. She's uniquely versatile that way.
But like I said above, I haven't been able to shake the feeling that I could have and should have done better on the game since I finished it in 2008. Artists of all stripes will know exactly what I'm talking about. You look back on your earliest creation, the one you were so proud of, and go "This is so awful, I could do so much better." Well, that's what this is for me.
But I just can't bring myself to make it something special with a really good storyline, like Final Fantasy 6 or 7, or Phantasy Star 1 or 4. I'm afraid that if I do, it won't feel like the game I once created and it will keep bugging me, but I'm afraid that if I don't, it will just be a different flavor of shit and I'll just be ashamed of it, and it will go back to bugging me. Aiming for a middle ground isn't going well, either, because there's not a lot there to go off in the first place. The original game had no meat. You begin the game, the plot happens, you grind for 4 hours, and then you go and beat the final boss.
Even after mostly rebuilding the beginning of the game, I still can't squeeze mid-way plot out of it. And now you see why I hate this IP. The plot is too generic. Most revenge story plots, where the goal is clear, are that way: Something happens, hero seeks revenge, hero grows stronger, faces villain, gets revenge. That's what my game is, even if I didn't realize it at the time, and that's what it does. But there's nothing really to make the "hero grows stronger" part more interesting. It's just a massive grindfest with plot stapled on at the beginning and the end, and a far-too-large world map it takes place on. (Though I have solved that problem mostly by way of hacking out the large, empty bodies of water.)
I can't change the plot because that would fundamentally change my game, and as mentioned, it's been nagging me for nearly a decade that I didn't do better, so I can't deviate from what I have or I could risk living with that unsatisfied feeling for even longer.
I also did something stupid while trying to compensate for how much exposition the beginning used to have, and how long the intro cut scene is, and ended up far over extending the beginning. I put way too much work into it. At the rate it's going, the intro could end up being a massive chunk of the play time. I have to do something to fix it... all of it... before it drives me crazy.
I hate what I've created. It tortures me...
After doing a ton of research on what causes the thread to bind up and how to stop fabric from getting dragged into the machine, I was hoping I'd have some good news. I don't.
At least, not 100%.
The good news is that I had a few things set wrong on my machine. Upper-thread and lower thread tension is important. I didn't know proper bobbin tension tests, because the machine I learned on was the Husqvarna Viking, which does away with the bobbin-case, so I didn't have to worry about the bobbin tension. I also needed an upper thread tension of about 5. That solved the jamming.
It was suggested that I put tissue paper under the fabric to get it started, to prevent it from getting dragged into the machine. This means sewing the tissue paper into the garment, but it can easily be ripped out, and I already had some tissue paper laying around for other projects a year or two ago. It works.
The bad news...
Part of this requires me to do a zigzag stitch, which is a type of stretch stitch, which is why straight-stitch plates wouldn't work.
I ended up getting half way through my first seam before realizing every other stitch was being skipped by the machine. The thread would go in on the right just fine, but when it would switch to do the left stitch, the thread would come back out, every single time. So I ended up with a straight stitch and an extremely puckered seam.
According to a little more research, I have to either try a larger needle, or I have to get a stretch needle. I found out what a stretch needle is, finally. It's a ballpoint needle that's designed a little differently, specifically to avoid skipped stitches.
Fuck my life.
Life Advice: Never listen to the professionals. They never have a clue in fucking hell what they're talking about. Retards, every single last one of them. 10 different god damn "professionals" assured me "You need a jersey needle, you need a jersey needle, you need a jersey needle." Which is the official term for regular ballpoint needles. Not a single one of those bastards mentioned a stretch needle. No, I had to find out about those on a hobbyist blog.
I'm very quickly running out of patience. If I can't figure this out, I'm moving on with plain clothes from the Goodwill/Salvation Army, and I'll finish the god damn unitard version when I can afford to drop $400+ on a faggot serger.
Back to the store again. Hopefully I don't get another sunburn.
Update: I don't know why I keep going to Walmart. Ever since the smaller ones closed down in favor of the larger ones, the store has gone straight to hell.
I think it goes without saying that they didn't have what I need. I'm never going there again. I got lucky, one time, in a moment of desperation, but that's once in a 5 year streak I've left that store and not been disappointed.
Update 2: Found some on Amazon that aren't Add-On items. Only problem is that they won't arrive until June. So I won't know until then whether this is a waste of money or not.
After wasting what felt like a full hour or more, all I managed to accomplish was wasting thread. The thread keeps bunching up and jamming my machine. I can't get more than 2 stitches in before it jams up enough to stop the needle moving.
Looking like I need more crap. A "stretch" ballpoint needle was suggested. What the hell does that even mean? Does the need itself stretch? Or is it some special needle that's different from any other somehow? I doubt both. Smells like bullshit to me.
Also some kind of "straight stitch needle plate" because the damn fabric won't quit getting sucked down into the feed dogs, which is probably what's causing the missed stitches and jams, come to think of it, because it would stitch just fine until the fabric starts getting pulled into the works.
I know there's nothing wrong with my machine because I tried it on normal fabric, and worked perfectly.... besides the ballpoint needle really ruining the fabric, but who cares? It's test fabric anyway. Or at least it is now. It's a section of gay-ass flower-patterned material that was in with the supplies I got from the old lady who kicked the bucket. She probably had some kind of plan for that material, but I don't. I'm never going to end up wearing anything that gay-looking, so I'm making the material my test-bitch.
What the fuck ever I guess... I have more black thread. It's not that big a deal yet. Just aggravating because it takes more time to undo a god damn jam than it does for the damn thing to jam enough become immobilized and any time it jams up, I have to start the stitch all over again because in order to unjam it, you have to cut the thread.
I have to look into getting it to stop with that jamming crap and solve it so I can even get anywhere. That, or I have to buy a stupidly expensive serger machine, and if it seems like I'm mad now, I'll be even more furious if I have to spend several hundred dollars on an extra device I'll probably only use once.
Updates on what I figure out, later. And hopefully I'll be able to be less irritable in that post.