I know, I know... I've posted a lot lately, and I'm sure it's annoying. I'm very aware of that. First there was my long-winded and large update, I needed to get that one out of the way because if I find a different service to migrate to, I don't want to suddenly spring that on people, so I needed an opportunity to communicate my frustrations with Weebly.
And considering how difficult it was to fix my typo in the title of this same post, simply because Weebly refused to allow me to edit the title after moving to the text, that migration is looking so much more likely.
So I had to do that one. Then, in that same post, I mentioned Patreon and how I wanted to switch to MakerSupport instead, so then I had to follow that up with my thoughts on MakerSupport. Then the Patreon Saga has an update, and I felt you guys would be angry with me if I had made a big deal put of Patreon's policy, but didn't make it clear I was aware of the policy reversal, giving me two more posts I had to do.
But this one is something I need to do for me. The first step is admitting you have a problem, and I need to face that problem now, or it will continue to erode my work from the inside. Plus it's so heavily preoccupying my mind right now, I can't work. It's making me feel something I haven't felt for years. I'm not sure what that feeling is, and I can't find a word for it off the top of my head, but the best thing I can think to describe it is inadequacy. But it's more than that. For the first time in over a decade, I feel... unable. And not a general inability, I feel completely and totally unable, and stuck, or whatever this feeling is.
It's like that feeling you get when it suddenly dawns on you that you're lost.
I can't remember an exact date, but there was a point in my life where I came to the realization that I wasn't good enough to be anything. I had to have been around 11 at the time, but I still drew like a 5 year old. I drew because I liked to draw, not to get better at drawing, or do anything remarkable with being able to draw. I sucked at art, but I was good enough for me, and it's all that mattered. At least, until that night.
I don't remember what led up to it, but I remember I had been under a lot of stress, and had a lot of pressure placed on me to stop drawing like a child, but I still remember that night. It was the night I realized I did want to be better. I didn't know it at the time, but looking back, that's what it was.
All at once, every criticism I'd ever received on every drawing I had ever done, whether constructive or destructive, suddenly broke through the barrier I'd always had and they rained down on me. And each one stung.
It was the first time in my life that I actually let it all get to me, and I mean really get to me. It was first time in my life I felt unable in my creative ability. That night was the single most emotionally brutal moment of my entire life, and that's saying something considering I watched my house burn down only years before that and lived basically homeless for a while.
I'm manly enough to admit I cried myself to sleep that night, feeling just absolutely worthless, convinced there was nothing of value about me. The me that you know? The one who is always challenging his perception of art and always pushing to be better? I never really realized it before, but that version of me was born that night.
Now you know why this image has so much meaning to me. This character didn't exist back then, but this image represents the journey that started that night, and that journey started with tearing myself down to the ground.
Years later... tonight, actually, it's happening all over again, for a different reason.
I'm not a good writer. That's my biggest creative weakness.
I need to be able to admit that to myself before I collapse into another phoenix event. (It's prententious-speak for destroying myself emotionally and rising again, stronger. Or... at least I hope I'd be able to bounce back this time...)
My biggest creative weakness is that I don't know how to write a story. When listening to a brief overview of the fall of Bleach, a Shonen Jump manga by Tite Kubo, I realized that's me.
The story is that Bleach was good, but Tite Kubo didn't trust his editors, and instead just wrote aimlessly. He had a smash hit with the first major arc. From there, his distrust in the direction of his editors left him to try to wing the story on his own, and it became apparent that he had no idea how to write a story when he ended up recycling the previous arc wholesale for the third arc: The characters go to a place they don't understand with rules they don't understand, where they have to fight increasingly more powerful enemies to save their friend. He did that twice, one after another, and then he sort of did it all over again another time after that one, but with much less effort. This lead to the anime being cancelled and the manga being cut very short.
I'm not exactly like Tite Kubo, but I can see myself in him, because I have a similar problem. I don't plan out my stories ahead of time. I'm just not good at it. What I do instead is come up with a beginning and an end.
Everything between those two points is improvised as I work to get from the beginning to the end. Sometimes I'll put little key points I want to write towards along the way, but other than that, everything is improv. I've had some really good things some out of spur-of-the-moment decisions, and it allows for things to feel organic, such as character development, which feels more natural because I don't have a planned path for them to develop along. Instead, they grow as their story develops.
Where making literally everything up as I go really helps to make certain things feel more organic, especially when it comes to overcoming tough puzzles and obstacles, it means I can never create more complex stories. I can't build my own connected universe like Marvel, or foreshadow coming events, or reference things that will come into play later, because they don't exist yet. Literally.
I prefer to start writing and just fill in the blanks and the lore as I go. And it does start to show, especially when it comes to sequels and needs to fill in more areas of the lore, and it gets worse when that lore has to mesh with the first in the series. Doing things the way I do them is also very vulnerable to creating plot holes, and even retroactive plot holes.
That style also works as a painting hung to cover the fact that I'm no good at writing stories in general. If I write like that, it makes it seem like I'm actually decent at telling stories.
Over the years, as I've grown, my artistic skills have improved. It just clicks, and I'll be a stage or two better without even really having to practice. I can do nothing at all related to art for months on end and I'll just be better out of nowhere. That sounds like I'm just bragging, but it's true. I need little practice before I improve.
But the same cannot be said for my ability to write. I have gotten better... to a degree, but only Call-of-Duty-arm-hair-and-more-realistic-dog-models better. Building and planning a story has always been hard for me, much the same way chess has always been hard for me. I'm much better thinking in the now than planning several steps in advance: I can play chess well enough, but against people who are experts at thinking several moves at a time, I lose every single time. I'm not smart enough, and I don't think I can be smart enough.
I'm autistic. I have Asperger Syndrome. I don't like to blame a lot of my shortcomings on my disorder, because doing that turns my disorder into a pair of lead boots that will only ever hold me back. But I think in this case, it may be the root cause.
Can you guess what my major interest it? Here's a hint: it's plastered all over this blog.
Anyway, could it then follow that one or more of the things effected in the underdeveloped parts of my brain are connected to my inability to think several steps ahead the way chess or creating a complex and interesting story would demand?
Originally, I had a whole depressing direction this post was going to go, talking about how torn up I was that this could be a hurdle I never get over, but then something happened. And I'm going to reveal why I wanted... needed.... to write this post immediately, despite all my previous posts.
It's officially called Rubber Duck Debugging, but that name is kind of lame. I call it the Rubber Duck Technique.
It's a trick whereby programmers, when trying to figure out what's wrong with their code, will explain the code, line-by-line, to a rubber duck, or some other stand-in (sometimes actual people).
From Wikipedia: "Many programmers have had the experience of explaining a programming problem to someone else, possibly even to someone who knows nothing about programming, and then hitting upon the solution in the process of explaining the problem. In describing what the code is supposed to do and observing what it actually does, any incongruity between these two becomes apparent. More generally, teaching a subject forces its evaluation from different perspectives and can provide a deeper understanding. By using an inanimate object, the programmer can try to accomplish this without having to interrupt anyone else."
How does this relate to me in any way? Well, the sharper among my readers won't even need it to be pointed out. But considering I know a thing or two (or three) about being hopelessly oblivious to the obvious, I won't blame anyone for not catching it.
Through the process of explaining my troubles in this post, I came up with a potential solution to learning how to write a story.
I have nothing concrete, yet... but the idea is along these lines: sometimes learning things head on just won't work. It's how I learned coding in GML. Rather than pick up a textbook and start reading, I took other people's codes and toyed around with them to see what changes had what effects. Once I started to grasp it, I moved on to tutorials to start learning more quickly.
Oh.... now that I think about it, that actually shows... especially thinking back on my long update and why I'm stuck on my RPG...
But whatever. I have a learning disability. Which is just code for: I'm too hopelessly mentally retarded to learn things any other way. I could not learn to program the standard way. It just wasn't working. I'd just read without absorbing any of the words I was reading.
Regardless, then I started to wonder if maybe there's a way I can learn how to write stories in a similar fashion. I don't mean ripping off people's work. I mean, in general: finding an approach to learning how to write better stories that I can manage, until I develop my own ability, exactly the same way I did with pixel art.
I don't have an answer to that, yet... but it's a start, and it's helped me feel less unable. A start, no matter how small, is at least forward progress, and even the smallest forward progress is infinitely better than where I was at the start of this post.
I'm really sorry about posting so frequently. It wasn't planned. In fact, I have other posts I want to do, but now can't simply because I've over-posted lately, and I'm worried people will start to suffer from the same fatigue that excessive Youtube videos caused to Youtubers who posted far too often.
And I'm sorry for bleeding my heart out all over the place like that. It's hard to explain in words how horrible that feeling is... the feeling I had at the beginning of the post. It's hard to describe, but like I said above, it's similar to the feeling you get when you suddenly realize you're lost. It was so hard to think, so hard to focus. This post was really spur of the moment, and I definitely needed it.
And I hope this has helped someone in some way, maybe if they were struggling with their own creativity, to get a look into my own struggles.
I figured I'd be remiss if I didn't at least point this out, considering I made such a big deal about how bad this policy change was, so...
Alright, so first off, I appreciate that they didn't decide to decapitate their company on the spot, and I appreciate that they took responsibility and were willing to recognize that it was their mistake... instead of pulling a stupid move like most game dev studios and blame all of us.
But I don't understand how they thought doing that was going to be a smart idea in the first place. This one should have been painfully obviously a stupid move. Yes, it sucks that Patreon takes a portion of our pay. When I withdrew my Patreon donations, I didn't even get to have all of it. Of the $79, I only got $66. But whoever thought charging donors more money to save creators the fee needs to be fired, and then shot.
However, though they do seem to have changed their mind, very narrowly dodging sinking their company like the Hindenburg, I still don't trust them. Had this been their only massive, egregious mistake, I would have gone straight back to using them and forgiven them. Sadly for Patreon, I'm all too aware of the Lauren Southern ban.
I don't want this post to get too long, but their excuse was they she was fund-raising activities that appeared they could lead to people getting killed. Appeared.... APPEARED....
And yet there are people on Patreon who were openly calling for, and supporting, those violent riots that were going on around election time last year. People who, more than likely, were using their Patreon accounts to fund said violence. Violence that frequently came very close to... what was it again? Oh yeah... getting people killed.
I hope they got a bulk order discount on that lie, because I'm not buying it.
If they had been enforcing that claim evenly across the board, with every user caught fund-raising for dangerous, potentially deadly activities suffering the same no-appeal ban, I would have been fine with it. Or at least less outraged by it... But they couldn't even do that.
It's obvious Patreon penalized one of their own users, I don't care who, for political opinions they didn't like. And though I try not to get into politics on here, unless the politics come knocking at the doors to my industry or most cherished hobbies, I still can't support a company that would do such a thing.
In short? Sorry Patreon. I'm glad you changed your mind and reversed the policy, but I'm afraid the policy blunder was only the straw that broke the camel's back, and taking the one straw off the pile doesn't make it all better again.
(For once, I actually managed to keep one of my posts short. Amazing!)
Yesterday, among my incessant whining, I mentioned that I'd be very interested in ditching Patreon over their new policy.
I was directed to MakerSupport as a possible alternative. Well, I stayed up late last night to look into it. These are my first thoughts:
It seems as if Patreon and Minds had a child and gave birth to a weird social media/crowdfunding hybrid. It can be used a bit like Minds, where you can make blog posts and leave comments, but also functions a lot like Patreon should. However, there's little detail in there that Patreon can't match...
Oh hell yeah!
I hate that this has to be a noteworthy plus in this day and age, but sadly it is, and I love to see it! If for some reason the image won't load, or if it's too small, I'll copy it from the site directly:
Hate Speech is Free Speech
We believe in absolute free speech. Hate speech is protected by the US Constitution, and is protected by these community guidelines.
Some nations have passed legislation which prohibits so-called "hate speech" online. If a case were to arise in which we were asked to remove otherwise-legal content deemed "hate speech," we would refuse to comply.
Mmmm, that's some sexy amendment protection... I want to rub it all over my body. Saying "we would refuse to comply" is now essentially talking dirty to me, so needless to say, I was hooked.
Warning to all those who want to sign up!
The site appears to be very young: there are few users, some features are still under construction, there are bugs.
-While I was signing up, I couldn't receive my verification email. It wouldn't arrive.
-When I filled out my info and clicked to sign up, I got some kind of message that said "signup error", but there was no information along with it. However, my account was still created anyway.
-You're presented with two names, much like Twitter: your name, and your @handle. It's a little confusing at first, because it calls them Profile Name and Username. It looks to be possible to change both at any time, so don't panic if, like me, you find you're not sure which is which.
-IT DOESN'T SEEM TO BE POSSIBLE, AT THIS TIME, TO CHANGE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS. It doesn't show up on the account settings screen. So be careful when typing your email that you don't typo it.
-In account settings, you'll find two bars: tagline and description. I was informed that tagline has been disabled and does nothing. It's to be brought back at a later date. Description however, acts as an 'About' panel that will appear on your profile.
There appears to be no limit (unlike Twitter) to the amount of characters you can put in this about panel. I've seen someone with two to three whole paragraphs in their about panel, as well as links.
-I contacted support and they got back to me in mere hours, verified my email for me, claimed they fixed the bug I encountered, and explained that they'll be changing 'description' in the future to better explain what it's for.
-A messaging system is coming soon.
1. Absolute freedom of speech. You want to comment on someone's post and tell them you wouldn't even rape them? It's protected. Chances are good you're not going to be banned for posting your Ultra Rare Pepes, your praise keks, your Heil Hitlers, and whatever other triggering crap Jack is too much of a bitch to handle.
2. They charge content creators part of your donation rather than charging you extra like Patreon wants to.
3. You can upload videos. I don't have videos to upload, so I'm not sure on the file size and extension restrictions, but I can see very distinctly there are videos being posted.
4. You can post polls, sadly still limited to only 4 options.
5. There doesn't seem to be a character limit, at least when posting posts. I'm not sure about comments yet.
6. Anita Sarkeesian and the rest of them are highly unlikely to ever sign up.
7. A pledge reward system does already exist, like Kickstarter or Patreon (I think), setting it apart from Minds and and Gab with their revenue system.
1. Very few users yet.
2. Still lacking features.
3. Still a tad buggy. You can call it early access beta.
4. Fetish artists make up a surprising number of the creators so far. I found them accidentally, simply by virtue of doing a search for 'art', hoping to find other devs and test out the search function. I cringed a little.... or a lot...
(Please be respectful and don't go out of your way to bully them, no matter how much you hate their fetish. You can probably still get banned for legitimate, legacy definition, textbook harassment.)
5. Limited search function. It's quite hard to narrow searches down to a specific profession. In fact, I don't think we're even categorized yet. Meaning, search for Game Developer and you're likely to also get Land Developer, or something like that.
Part 2: Supporting Me
If you'd like to risk blowing your money on me, you can find me under my new brand name @DracoLord.
Pretty sweet logo, huh? I got it custom made at 48HoursLogo.com. Not sponsored.
Before you go there, please read my blog post explaining 48hoursLogo and giving tips on how to go about getting your logo made. The website is abysmally lacking in information, such as what to even do... like at all... (or at least, when I used it, it was.)
DracoLord is on MakerSupport only, at this point in time. I will not be returning to Twitter under any circumstances, neither under my original account if it gets restored, nor a new brand-name account, and I will not be making a Facebook page. I refuse to sign up for and/or support anything that silences wrongthink. I stand with gamers.
Sorry my MakerSupport page is so barren at the moment, I'm still getting it set up. I wanted to make this post asap. Unless you're one of the first readers, you likely won't see it in its blank state, though, because I won't be leaving it like that for long.
And no, I'm not abandoning 'BastendorfGames'. Like I said in a previous post, BastendorfGames is good for a username, but terrible for branding. First of all, it's kind of on the long-ish side, and second, not a lot of people know how to pronounce it. Some people pronounce it 'bass' like the fish, others pronounce it 'bass' like the guitar. (Just FYI, it's 'bass' like the fish, and the rest is exactly like Ganondorf.) And third, it flows like crap, and fourth, it sounds like a D-Class indie dev name. Like CoolBuddy, or BigDino... (Sorry if there are any CoolBuddy or BigDino devs out there, reading this. No offense was meant.)
I chose DracoLord because it's easier to remember, easier to say, and because my refusal to pander to social justice makes me villainous in their eyes. If freedom of speech and freedom of expression are evil, then I embrace my destiny as the dragon lord of darkness. (And because DragonLord had already been registered as a trademark.... 14 separate times.)
If you'd like to support me (please don't) you can do so on MakerSupport. (I'd rather you didn't. I feel guilty being trusted with people's money, knowing I have so much trouble finishing anything.)
If you'd like to contact me to discuss work, you can contact me directly at BastendorfGames[at]outlook[dot]com, or use the contact form on the contact page.
Or, since I'm currently running the official DracoLord email, you can contact UnderworldDragon[at]outlook[dot]com. (Because I'm too poor to buy a domain, and because DracoLord at outlook was already taken.)
Sorry those are broken up that way. I found out that there are bots that can scan website text for email addresses, collect them, and sell them to spammers.
Though, keep in mind I'm not exactly in a position to be hiring, per se. I am still an unpublished indie nobody, even if I do appear to be slightly more professional now. I'm too principled to try to ask people to work for free, for 'exposure'. But if you're able to work well, match my style, and *cough* don't demand very much as compensation, feel free to send a pixel art portfolio. (Though, you probably shouldn't... I'm a stickler for accuracy, so I demand better than I can usually afford.)
Note: I'm not encouraging people to help support me. I honestly don't expect anyone to. And that's fine. I only want there to be that option in case anyone is brave enough (or indeed stupid enough) to give someone as hopeless as me money to help out.
You don't need to support me, and please don't feel bad if you can't or just don't trust me enough to support me. It's totally fine. I can still work on my own, but it will be slow.
There are other ways to support me other than money: if you know how to use GameMaker, I desperately need some good tutorials on JRPGs. You can support me by making a Youtube video or Twitch stream and breaking each part of the code work down like Shaun Spalding does, and then sending me your work. (Sorry, I have a learning disability, and the best way I learn is to have everything explained in as much detail as possible. Shaun does a fantastic job of that. Sadly, he hasn't done a JRPG tutorial, yet.)
I know that sounds like I'm asking people to do all the work for me for free, but it's not, I promise. Like I said in my massive rant yesterday (Topic 5: Update - RPG), I just need a working model to look at as a base, because that's how I learn new things the best. And I've never done a JRPG before, so there are things I struggle with, such as battle stat calculation, random encounters, experience growth per level, turn order and turn handling, AI combat behavior, etc. I can handle everything else on my own.
Where I have the most trouble is getting Slime Monster A's script to communicate with and respond to Character A's action, without Slime Monster B, Slime Monster C, and Slime Monster D all suffering the effects of the action. And the other is figuring out how to get the game to transition turns properly. I could probably jury-rig an unstable engine that sort of worked on my own, but it would take a lot of time, and a lot of headache, as is usually the case when I try to program something when I have no idea what I'm doing.
Pro GameMaker users, contact me if you're interested in helping.
Got my first blog comment. And it's spam....
The moron either forgot to include his link, or it was blocked. I'm not sure whether it's possible to include links in my comments section or not.
It was on the Furry DnD player guide I wrote a few days ago. The post was all about teaching DnD players ways of dealing with the different kinds of furries who may end up in their game and end up ruining it in some way.
The spam's been deleted now, but since I have a Captcha in place for things like that, it would have had to be a manual copy/paste.
I noticed that it did reveal to me his email address, and that's one of the big things I worried about: does Weebly give me information on my commenters?
I think you'll be happy to know that it doesn't give me a whole lot. But it did just straight up give me that guy's email address. Not sure if it also gives it to any average Joe who swings by my site, because I was smart and deleted it before I could think to log out and check, but since no one comments on anything anyway, that's a rather low priority issue.
Topic 2: My Thoughts - Patreon and Going Forward
I didn't want to leave this as just a PSA warning people that Weebly may show me your email address if you ever decide to comment. I also wanted to include some more important stuff.
Like my Patreon account. Turns out I was wrong on how much I had in there. I thought I had $17 because I had been almost positive everyone who supported me had stopped supporting me, after I warned them that the game they initially supported me for may not be finished any time soon, and 3 of them had financial needs they needed the money for, so I allowed them to pull their support, and they allowed me to keep their money so long as I didn't use it for personal things.
I literally just now logged in to check on my Patreon, due to their new, stupid-ass policy, and discovered I actually still had one Patron the entire time, donating 1 dollar for the past half year. After Patreon's fees and such, that's left me with $79.
But the reason I even stopped by Patreon in the first place was because I wanted to pull that money off of there. Not because I'm greedy and want it, but because I caught wind of Patreon's new policy that punishes smaller donors, as can be seen here in this Engadget Article.
"Rather than extracting a processing fee from the creator side, Patreon is going to start charging supporters extra. The new service fee is 2.9 percent plus 35 cents per pledge. It's effective on December 18th for new pledges and as of January 1st for existing ones."
I can't live with that. The enormous guilt I'd feel... If I ever went back to using Patreon full time, the guilt would just be endless.
Instead, Sargon of Akkad pointed out a new service called MakerSupport. I gain nothing for telling you this, and I know literally nothing besides what the main page says about it. But if they're pro-free speech and take a percentage of my cut rather than charge my donor's more, it sounds fantastic to me.
So yes, I do want to pull my money out of my Patreon account, because I'm strongly considering closing it over this new policy change.
Unless some of you comment below right now with a good, reasoned argument for sticking with Patreon, after everything it's done, there is a 99% chance I'm closing it in favor of MakerSupport.
You can dick with my free speech, and I'll get angry, and you can ban people for their political opinions and I'll be pissed, but fuck with the people supporting me and that's where I draw a hard line.
And you can rest assured that my money will be going to a game, or equipment to help me with making games. I said in an older post that my Wacom Cintiq is pretty much trash and I'm in desperate need of a new one. $80 Patreon dollars isn't going to get me that, but it could potentially go towards it.
Topic 3: My Thoughts - Crowd Funding
I think crowd funding is a brilliant idea. It's the best way to really challenge the AAA monopoly when it comes to games.
Sadly, sometimes things are mismanaged and people who can't be trusted are given too much power over the project, so crowdfunding gets a bad rep.
Like with Ant Simulator. You were to play as an ant and do the things an ant would do, in First Person Perspective. The project got tons of cash off Kickstarter, going over their initial goal if I remember right. But it fell apart at the seams when the main developer found out that his two co-developers had used the money all up on expensive clothes, huge parties, and other things not related to the game or the development of the game in the least.
Yogventures: By YogsCast. It was put into the totally inept hands of Winterkewl a company I'd never heard of. The project was too big for Winterkewl (what a stupid name...) and the endeavor came crashing down around them, killing the dev company in the process, and severely damaging YogsCast.
Fez 2: Killed by hubris. Everyone knows Phil Fish's hyperinflated ego is why Fez 2 was canned. He couldn't take criticism and believed people to be unworthy of his god-tier, perfect game. So he refused to finish it. And rather than try to refund the money, he kept it all.
Mighty No. 9: How do you make 4 times what you needed, and fail this hard? First of all, the community manager in charge of the MN9 forum was an SJW who started banning backers from the forum, which was a direct violation of the promised privileges that were earned via backing the project, prompting refund requests.
Second, it became painfully obvious that the budget was horrendously mismanaged, when some of the graphics came out looking worse than what you'd get on the N64 way back in the day.
(Can I get my explosion with extra pepperoni, please?)
(Back in my day, the mothership going down was a marvel of cinematic videogame splendor.)
(That poor bastard, thrown 7 feet into the air...)
(Even the Genesis got it better in 3D, and they were just smoke clouds.)
Sorry about that, Weebly's narrow blog region is bad for side-by-side images, s i had to put them in a line so that they'd still be visible... It could just be this particular theme, but I'm not sure people would appreciate it if I suddenly changed that.
3.8 Million dollars and they couldn't get better explosion graphics than that? They didn't even have to replace what they had, either!
This took me, what, 3 minutes in Photoshop? Using only basic filters and very little off-the-top-of-my-head image-correction know-how, I was able to make the explosion look tons better without any real effort on my part. If I were on a $3.8 million dollar budget, I'd put tons more effort into it, and I could make it look better without even having to ditch the original graphics. Throw in a little smoke and a little bloom and it would look perfect, and only cost less than a day's worth of manhours, at an amateur's rate.
"Yo Inafune, I could fix this for you for $20 an hour. It would only take me 3-4 hours tops."
You can't convince me Mighty Number 9's budget wasn't horrendously mismanaged...
My Own Games: Even though I haven't accepted a bunch of money, I've definitely totally botched my own games.... as I mentioned in The Death Of A Game - How My RPG Fell Apart... A tragic summary about how poor foresight and 'settling for less' brutally destroyed a project so thoroughly, that even attempting to remake the game twice absolutely would not solve it. Indie devs, especially beginners and aspiring, I highly encourage you to read that post, by the way. It's one of the most important posts I've ever written. (Relative! Calm your buns. It's relative.)
Sometimes it's not even my fault when a game falls. I'm sure some of you remember this project:
What ended up happening with it was, I got too tired. The game required me to be in a sharp state of mind, because the programming that goes into this one is like nothing I've even attempted before. So I put it off when I started making mistakes. When I'm tired, I get really dumb. I didn't want my own stupid mistakes to start causing trouble while coding, so I had to stop.
In fact, at that time I put off all of my games. When I got back the energy to tackle working on games again, I decided I'd focus on something else because a severe lack of note-taking had worn away my memory and goals of the project.
When I went back to the project file to look into some of the code to see how I did a certain part of the engine so that I could use it for my RPG, I found that, despite being unopened for months, the game would no longer run because something had changed in the very last update of the GameMaker Studio software. A string of code I had been using to manage certain types of player input had undergone a slight change that disallowed an integral part of the code from functioning the way I had been using it.
And this string of code that broke would have been used multiple times each case, for scenery, items, NPCs, etc. Had I kept working on it, come the update I could have easily been looking at hundreds if not thousands of instances of this chunk of code, all suddenly broken. And not just in need of a simple fix. Oh no... No. Fixing it would mean completely rewriting the way the mechanic worked, then hunting down each and every single last one of the broken blocks of code, potentially thousands, depending on how quickly I worked, and replacing it with new code. Hours.... countless hours of repetitive work just to get the game running again. Had I kept working on it, that would have been a hell of a blow to the project, and I likely would have dropped it after that, anyway.
I will go back to it eventually. But it will require a ground-up rebuild of the entire project due to the broken script, and I probably won't be using Game Maker, simply because as powerful as Game Maker is, it's not really equipped to handle what I want to do with the game. Or, maybe... I'm not sure yet. Asshole Games (Yoyo Games) released GM: Studio 2 in a desperate bid to fleece us out of more money because they're greedy sons of bitches, and I haven't moved to GM:S2 because I literally had just got done upgrading GM:S1 to the paid edition only a month before they announced GM:S2. So I don't know if GM:S2 can or not. But I know GM:S1 can't. At least, not in any clear way. And I'm not give Asshole Games any more of my money, not until they can settle their money-hungry asses down.
I asked two forums, and no one could really give me a solid answer on how to do what I was looking to do with GM:S1. I found 102 different ways of doing sort of, kind of what I wanted to do, (but not really), but no one anywhere could tell me how to pull off the admittedly complicated plan I had.
I can't guarantee I won't make a mistake and botch a project people tried to fund, but... you can rest assured that if I do, I won't give up. The one and only non-pretentious thing that I got out of the dialogue in Getting Over It (it's a game, not a seminar...) was a quote by Mary Pickford.
“If you have made mistakes, even serious mistakes, you may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call "failure" is not the falling down, but the staying down.”
Or, in slightly less poetic terms: “Failure is not falling down, it is not getting up again”.
I have fallen down countless times, and a number of them you guys have actually seen thanks to me being more active in talking about my projects. But despite it all, I always get back up, so can I really be called a failure?
And much like Getting Over It, I may be thrown back to the start over and over, but each time I start up again, I'm carrying gains from my past attempts. I'm becoming a better artist, developing my own art styles, picking up classic AAA trade secrets and new indie secrets.
When I eventually do release a game, it will (hopefully) be awesome.
Topic 4: Update - Blog
I added a new part of the tutorial I was working on to the Tutorial Zone. Yes, I am going to be that annoying with it all the time. I'm obnoxious, but consistent. Progress on the tutorial is going to be slow, because out of all things, I am a game developer first, so the tutorial gets put slightly behind game development projects in priority.
If you've been away for a few weeks, the Tutorial Zone is a new segment of my blog where I've decided to put my tutorials. It can be accessed via the navigator bar at the top. Or by using this link: Tutorial Zone.
Future Of The Blog
The future of my Weebly blog is looking bleak.
First, a little history: I first started my Weebly blog when it turned out that Twitter was implementing anti-hatespeech policies that were bound to be extremely hair trigger. I knew it was only a matter of time before the platform itself bit the dust, or my followers started being suspended, or I ended up being suspended. I wanted a place detached from Google, from Facebook, from Twitter, and from Tumblr, and I wanted a place where people could keep track of me if something went wrong. Gab and Minds weren't really around at the time.
I didn't want to rely on a social media setting where someone else was in charge of all the accounts, where there was sharing and re-posting, blocking and unfriending all creating these hierarchies and statuses among users. I wanted to be completely separate, individual, devoid of some stupid, arbitrary hierarchy, and above all else, I wanted control. I didn't want someone else's format, I didn't want someone else's rules, I wanted it to all be up to me.
So I looked around, and chose Weebly because out of all the blogs I looked at, Weebly was listed as the most customizable. And it is... I can make this text blue. And this text will be a little lighter blue. And so on, and so on, and so on. I can make giant text or tiny text. In fact, I can make my text nearly unreadable... Such as this. Weebly has formatting options few other blog services have.
Check out my divider. That line isn't made of underscores.... ______________ As you can see, there is a very clear difference. With the divider, I can customize its width and top and bottom margins.
Hell, Weebly has things I've never even tried. I can imbed Youtube videos. I can insert a survey, or a button...
And I can make anyone who clicks that button suffer greatly...
I could put in a slideshow, or imbed an audio or download file. I can even set up a store where you guys could buy things from me, right here in this blog post, or host a newsletter, I can even embed code.
My blog used to link to my Twitter and Tumblr via social media icons, and it used to have a forum, and even a Paypal donation button. All things that were requested by visitors but never used, so they were scrapped.
All that, and I haven't paid a dime for this blog. Weebly has a free mode, and I've been using it 100% free.
Fast forward 2-ish years (I'm not really keeping track), making this blog ended up being a good idea. I came under fire for my liberal use of use word "faggot" on Twitter, thanks to their algorithm, or maybe I was just report-brigaded...
Either way, I got my account locked for saying, to a friend of mine "you are the best huskyfag". He didn't mind it one bit. No, instead, someone else took it upon themselves to be offended on his behalf. My account was locked for a short period of time.
As soon as I got my account back, I was pegged for a tweet in the same thread, same word, for saying something to the effect of "the word 'faggot' doesn't bother me, in fact, I enjoy it. So get over it, faggot." and the penalty was a week that time.
When the week was up, I was pissed, and no longer gave a shit about my account. First thing I did was tweet directly at Jack with something like "@jack you can't stop me from using the word 'faggot'. So either suspend me, or get over it, faggot."
Frankly, I expected him to suspend me. I wasn't about to change my way of speaking just because other people are butthurt about it. Well, he did suspend me. But at that point, I was done caring about his shit website.
"But Bastendorf, it's offensive!"
I'm bisexual. That means I'm at least half faggot. The word doesn't bother me anymore. In fact, as I said, I enjoy it. So get over it, faggots.
Since I started using Weebly, I've run into a number of recurring issues.
Sometimes it will glitch out, and refuse to allow me to add a title to a post, or sometimes it will refuse to allow me to edit the title if I change my mind.
I always have to be careful when I hit the post button because sometimes when I hit post, it will cut the post off. The text will all still be there, but it won't display it. It will look like I just abruptly stopped writing and hit post. In order to solve this, I have to edit the post (like I said, all the text is usually still there) and then hit update.
There have been a few times where the text isn't still there. Sometimes it's just plain gone, forcing me to rewrite the whole block of text. Or sometimes it will post a 'previous version' or something where all of my proofreading and editing was straight up dropped. If you've ever read a post on my blog that looks like I never proofread it, that's usually what happened. I did do all the proofreading, but it didn't post it, for some unknown reason. This one's more rare, but is has happened... Like in Spat With A Game Critic. I had to proofread the damn thing twice because it dropped all of my changes after I hit post, and I remember having to rewrite two whole blocks of text because they had just vanished entirely.
There's one glitch where it won't allow me to edit anything anymore. In order to fix that, I have to save the post, refresh, go back to the draft, and continue. But there have been times where the save failed to save anything and I open it back up to a blank document after an hour of writing. You guys don't see it, but there have been times I've had to start over completely due to such a glitch.
Another annoying thing is that if start a post and come back to finish it later, it posts using the date I started it, rather than the date I post it. So if I start it, save it, and come back a week later, it will claim it was posted a week ago. Fortunately, I figured out it's possible to correct that after posting by clicking the date posted and changing its post date. Not sure why I'm able to do that, but it's nice for solving it.
When I click to edit a text element, rather than starting the flashing line where I clicked, it will start it at the beginning of the block, which is what happened just now. You won't be able to see it, but this section of text you're reading right now had to be cut and pasted from the top of this block, just under the second button, because I forgot to make sure the writing cursor was in the correct spot.
And there's this other issue.... Say something goes wrong... Firefox crashes, or I accidentally close the Weebly tab, and I'm in the middle of a post. Sometimes it will try to automatically save, and sometimes it succeeds, and other times, it's picky about saving. I've had times were it saved most of the document except for the very first, or very last text box I created. Sometimes it will save nothing from the body, keeping just the title, sometimes it will save the body but not the title, and sometimes it will save nothing at all. And that's not just a crash save, or unexpected close save. It also happens if I manually save. As I mentioned above, I have saved a draft only to come back to it and find the entire thing blank.
I contacted tech support about these issues, but they told me it was because my cache is full. So I started clearing my cache before starting a post. It only served to make the glitches less frequent... they still happen.
Frustrating, But Tolerable... Until...
I could live with the stuff above to a degree... it's really not as bad as it sounds, unless it's happening constantly.
But then I started the Tutorial Zone. Now, Weebly isn't just a blog service. I can create non-blog pages, and that's what the Tutorial Zone is. And it's the construction process on that section of the my blog that I started to encounter a whole host of new issues.
First of all, it wouldn't allow me to use a header image.
Well, that's not entirely true, it did allow it, but it scaled the image up to fit the space the default header image would have taken. (The default, at least for me, is a picture of waffles on a plate for some reason...) It doesn't seem to be a glitch, just a stupid design flaw...
So that's why the image for the Tutorial Zone landing page has a huge, unsightly margin above it. I couldn't get the picture up any higher than that.
Now, because I've decided I'm going to be insufferably annoying with that part of my blog, the links to each part of the tutorial are in image form. For some stupid reason, it absolutely would not align the images and text up properly. You can't see it anymore, but the first 'level' had the text closer to the image, but I absolutely could not get the second one and its text lined up the same way, and it would not allow me to re-align the first block. The text block would not move, no matter what I tried. I had to erase everything on the page and reconstruct it entirely.
And then the images wouldn't line up with each other. It was an unbelievable struggle to set up the Tutorial Zone as you see it now. But it doesn't end there. If you go to one of the 'levels' in the Tutorial Zone, you can scroll all the way down to the bottom to see quick nav options, allowing you to jump to the next one without having to return to the landing page.
You would never believe how difficult it was to set those up... and neither would I. I've never had any issue getting links set up on this site. It's really rather easy.... but those simple little navigation buttons at the bottom of each tutorial page were a nightmare.
First, I had to edit the second page to link to the first page. That was easy enough. Then I had to go to the first page and edit the link so that it took readers to the second part of the tutorial. And Weebly fought tooth and nail to prevent it. At first, it wouldn't let me edit the text block. I had to refresh Weebly in order to get the blinking line to even show up. Then it wouldn't save the link.
In Weebly's editor, it's simple to make text into a link. I just highlight the text I want to be the link, click the 'create link' icon in my toolbar, and tell it where to point. It even comes with a quick-access feature that allows me to instantly direct to other blog posts or other web pages on my own blog without needling the URL, and I can easily have them open in a new window if I wanted to.
For some reason, it wouldn't save the link destination, or convert the text into a link. And no, I wasn't cancelling by accident. It's rather hard to accidentally break the link conversion in Weebly.
I tried over and over. It would not take the link. I had to delete the text block, rewrite it, and try again. But since I was using copy/pasted text, it refused to drop the color. When the tutorial can't take you to the next part, it looks like this 'Next >' a somewhat greyed out text. The links on my site look like this Next >. Kind of a gold-ish text, due to the theme I'm using. Normally, I'll make them bold, just so they stand out a little more, like so Next >.
Text links on my blog glow when you mouse over them. You can try it right now. After struggling to get the link set up in the first place, it wouldn't lose the grey color, nor would it go bold, and it didn't glow like a link should. The text color change overrode the link color effects. Weebly doesn't have a color that matches the link color, so I couldn't just change it to the link color and hope no one noticed it wasn't glowing, and Weebly also won't just allow you to remove a color, not without removing all formatting, including the link. So in order to solve the color override, I had to remove all formatting (thankfully there's a button on my toolbar that does that for me), make the text bold again, and then turn it into a link again, and FINALLY it all worked that time.
All That To Say...?
I'm strongly considering migrating my blog elsewhere, now. Weebly's nice... it has a lot of really good features, and I love that I can customize it however I please. I don't have to have this be the page you land on when you come here via typing https://bastendorfgames.weebly.com/
And the embedded code option allows me to further modify how my blog behaves, if I so choose... and it gives me the option of having it all for free if I choose!
But the glitches...
They're minor, don't get me wrong, but the amount of fighting I had to do with Weebly just to set up the Tutorial Zone... and I wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary! That's the thing! I could understand if maybe I was trying to run an embeded code, and it wasn't working right. Ok, that part would be totally on me. But I was just trying to establish a link and some alignment styling! I do that kind of stuff all the time in my blog posts with no problem at all!
That's Pudgyman, by the way... I made him as an inside joke. My brother was really into Slenderman a few years ago, and we got into an argument about whether or nor Slenderman can be defeated, or fail in catching/killing someone once they've seen him. He insisted that there was no way to beat him because Slenderman stalks you no matter where you go. So as a joke, I created Pudgyman, the mortal enemy of Slenderman. He stalks Slenderman where ever he goes, and can attack people with tentacles of cellulite that form out of his back-fat, which my brother said was even more terrifying than Slenderman based on that detail alone. I made a quick, rough pixel drawing of him at the time, and while looking for an image to throw on here to demonstrate how easy it normally is to align things on Weebly, Pudgyman was the first image I came across.
If I do migrate, I'm not going to shut down my Weebly blog immediately. Instead, I'll leave a notice of migration with a link to the new place.
And no, I'm not going to use Blogspot... I'm not going to use anything attached to or owned by Google, Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr, and I'm not interested in running a social media blog on a social media site, like Reddit, Minds, Voat, etc, where some dumb whore can simply hit the report button and destroy my blog because she didn't like my opinions or choice of language. And because I frankly get sick of people taking the time out of their day to contact me with "You're misogynistic scum. I just wanted to let you know that. Blocked."
They can't block me on here. They don't have an account on my blog. It's the small victories in life that sometimes feel the best.
Also, I like being able to do things my way, and not some other service's way. The Tutorial Zone, for instance. I can't do that on Tumblr, or Twitter, or any social media platform, for that matter. Here on Weebly, the format is mine to control. The bar on the left, for example? (You'll have to scroll back up to read it in all its cringy glory.) I can remove that in its entirety if I wanted to. I could even throw an image over there, if I felt like it. The categories segment? I set those up. The only one that was there by default is "All" and I could easily just remove that one if I were an idiot and wanted to make it impossible to unfilter my blog entries back to 'All'.
I like having that freedom. I like knowing that I'm not limited by some pre-existing format, or character limit, or image size limit, or some dipshit CEO's whims.
"Pointed GUI elements with hard edges? Rounded is better! Square avatars? Round is better! Animated avatars? Static images are better! Good features? Fuck you, we don't want you to have features! In fact, we'll remove good features that you like and relied on, for no other reason than 'fuck you, that's why'. Oh, by the way, we're letting other people dictate what you can post, now. We call them the Trust and Safety Legion, and the Heroic Arbiters Of Approved Content and Sanitized Speech. What's permitted depends entirely on their subjective opinions, political world views, and feelings now."
Yeah, no. There's a reason I don't use my Minds account very much, and it has a lot to do with the freedom Weebly grants me. They can round their GUI all they like. They can't round my GUI elements. I'm free to keep that stuff just as sharp and square as I like.
Sure, it's harder to grow my blog when I'm isolated like this, but whatever. It's better when you don't have to deal with people and their ePean-comparing....
"Lol, you only have 100 unique visitors a week! My blog, where I post vapid selfies, food pics, and stolen memes 20 to 40 times each day gets 100,000 unique visitors a week!
#Lol #Fail #BeneathMe #DonateToMyPatreonSoICanHaveFreeMoney"
Oh, and the other cool thing? I don't get bot accounts begging for likes and subscribers/followers, or whatever the word for it is, because there's no social system here.
Topic 5: Update - RPG
Damn, topic 4 was kind of large. I had to go through what I love and hate about Weebly, so that you'd understand what I struggle with and why I might be migrating soon...
I very nearly put this topic (5) on separate post, but the thing that stopped me was the fact that I don't have a whole lot to say.
It's coming along nicely enough... graphic-wise. Engine-wise... everything is terrible...
The problem with an RPG is the math... not 'doing the math', but rather, programming the battle calculations.
I'm not a programmer. Part of why I use GameMaker. Everything I know how to do in GameMaker's coding language I've either taught myself, or learned through forums and tutorials. There are no tutorials for RPGs in GameMaker....
That's not entirely true. There are some, but there are very few, and most of them are Legend of Zelda style RPG tutorials. The ones that are JRPGs are Terrible-class tutorials. To explain what I mean, I'm going to borrow straight from my World Building tutorial over in the Tutorial Zone:
Useless Tutorials tell you there's a process and leave you to figure out the process all on your own.
Terrible Tutorials do it all the work for you in advance and say “Copy and paste my work, ok bye.”
Bad Tutorials tell you what to do and how to do it.
Good Tutorials prepare something ahead of time and show you how to achieve the same result step by step.
Great Tutorials show you the process in real time, and how these kinds of choices are made, to include the reader in the full process.
There is only one tutorial on the entire internet that competently teaches how to make a JRPG, and it's by an idiot named Heartbeast, and he expects people to pay for it. Fortunately I bought his lesson when the site that hosts it was having a massive sale, so I got it for a tiny fraction of what he wanted for it.
But it was still a waste of money, because the thing about Heartbeast is that he's an idiot. He's more interested in showing off cool tricks he knows how to do rather than functionality.
"In this tutorial, rather than do something intelligent and letting the engine handle the important stuff, which it can, easily, we're doing to do something retarded and consign an enormously important part of the script to a .dll, which means you'll need a way to compile .dlls, and learn a third-party language to accomplish what could simply be handled in the same language you already know."
That's actually what he does! (Ok, I added some text to show how it's pointless that he does that, but the premise is very true) GameMaker is more than capable of pulling off everything he used this .dll file to do, via script, and it would be much faster and easier to work with, and on top of that, I wouldn't need to buy a third party program and have to learn another programming language in order to do it.
And this world-class idiot is the only one with a decent JRPG tutorial for GameMaker.
I don't really need a tutorial to do it, but I'd like to have a working model I can look at, just for help in areas that would otherwise take me days to work out, and probably not even all that well. I'm not a programmer, and when I try to do things without a model, I tend to hack things together. Sadly, all the points I need help with are points he does stupid shit with, just to show off.
I've had to ask for help from real programmers, and their first response upon seeing my code, when I don't have a working model to look at, is: "I'm surprised this does anything at all."
I'm sure I've said it in a previous post, but before I found a working model for a platformer, my solution was to code like this:
if (A && !B && !C && !D && !E && !F) || (G && !B && !C && !D && !E && !F)
(To those who aren't scripting language-savvy, in most programming languages, an exclamation point before something means 'not', && means 'and', and || means 'or'.
So, it would look like this: If crouching and not jumping and not attacking and not getting hit, and not moving and not in the air, and not underwater... etc. And every time I added an action the player character could do, I needed to stack more "and not" functions on the end of every single behavior handler...
From a working model and a good tutorial to explain it, I learned there's an easier, highly more practical and efficient way of doing that:
if state = 1 or state = 2
I need working models to look at, or I'm just going to frustrate myself and waste my time and energy, especially if it ends up not working, and I have to rebuild whole segments of the engine. If I have to do that, I usually get discouraged and move on to a different project. As people who have played Getting Over It will know: it's harder starting all over than starting up.
There's not a lot I can pull from Heartbeast's tutorial, mostly because he does things like a moron, and I don't want to have an engine full of neat shit that no one will ever see, and because he doesn't always explain what a piece of his code does. A lot of the time, he goes Terrible-tier and instructs us to download a document where he's made a raw dump of his programming and tells us to just copy and paste what he put in there.
This is why I keep calling him an idiot, because the fucking point in a tutorial is to TUTOR, and copy/pasting something that was done for us isn't going to fucking teach anything, Heartbeast, you half-faced, loggerheaded imbecile!
I apologize. I got really worked up, there...
The reason I haven't shown anything about the RPG's engine is because there is no engine yet. I underestimated just how complicated a JRPG's battle engine is... I do have some idea of how I want to structure it, but not much of an idea of how to execute it... at least not without wasting hours and days and potentially weeks of my time.
Oh, and in case anyone was wondering what I just said, back there... I called him a worthless, blockheaded idiot... Sometimes I go medieval when I want my insults to be just a little more insulting, and the Rule of Three is a must when delivering epic insults. Example: You can go the Nicki Minaj route and fall back on 'you a stupid ho', or you can insult them like a boss, like: inbred, thick-skulled wastoid, or drooling, slackjawed wanker. See? The Rule of Three makes insults better. It doesn't even have to be intelligent/old-sounding. Stupid, dumbass cunt also follows the Rule of Three, for example.
Topic 6: Update - TableTop Game
Does anyone who reads my blog even really care?
Well, since I'm sure no one does, I'll keep it short.
It's coming along well enough when I get the opportunity to work on it, I'm just stuck on the art. I don't want to have to spend a lot of money on it, because I'm not even sure I'll make anything off it. Not because I don't think anyone will buy it, but because I can't really think of an excuse to make money off it. Just doesn't really feel right...
And if I'm not going to make money off it, I don't want to spend money on it. And when I have to draw the races and classes with a crappy, somewhat broken pen tablet, it can be a little frustrating.
I guess, technically I don't have to draw them, but I would like for people to know what they look like... and the PDF document would be rather boring and lifeless without them.
Topic 7: Ads
I hope you people appreciate what I do for you.
You see, I've been well aware from the day I started this blog that Weebly has a Google AdSense feature. In fact, I'm staring at it right now because after running through all those features above, that's where I stopped. But with how intrusive Google is, and with how invasive ads have gotten lately, I decided long ago that I wouldn't put any advertising on my blog, because I don't want to do that to people.
Everything I do on this site, even my tutorials, generate nothing. Well, except traffic... I've clearly managed to generate traffic. Not sure how much of that is spam bots trying to spam me and getting foiled by my Captcha system, for all I know, it could be 100%... I have literally zero feedback from the analytics section of my account as to the behavior of the visitors on my blog. I can't even see what pages are being visited. But considering it fluctuates depending on the posts I make and the fact that the number of visitors per week has grown since the blog began, I have to assume that there are some real people among those numbers.
The analytics provided to me by Weebly are rather limited. I don't get to have all that hardcore data stuff that analytics services provide. I can't see things like average time spent on my blog, pages visited per visit, which posts it is that causes the occasional massive spike, the age, race, gender of my visitors, etc. I'm completely blind to my traffic. All I see are numbers. Total visits, and total unique visitors per week, which I can break down to the specific day.
Not sure if I'd be happier knowing which parts of my blog people are visiting, or not. On one hand, I'd be able to see if my tutorials are fairly popular and put more time into getting those out, but on the other hand, I'm always looking to keep people from having to worry about my blog being intrusive. As far as I'm aware, it doesn't publish emails when commenting, which means that spammer must have put his email in his name when leaving his comment. So the only thing that does give me any info on you is if you fill out the contact form. And that's not something I have control over. It wants me to take your email, that way I can respond when you use the form.
Thinking about it, I may start putting ads on my tutorials if I can prevent Google from tracking my visitors with it, and disable/prevent auto-playing animated and video ads from being put on my site... because those are absolutely terrible. And if I did decide to place ads and was able to stop them from being loud, obnoxious resource hogs, it would be literally one per tutorial page, because having more than one ad gumming up a web page is fucking unacceptable. I'd put them nowhere else but on the tutorials as well, because frankly, I don't deserve to earn money off posting inane blog posts... And I don't think there's any way to really justify making money off my whining, ranting, and failing to release games like a bitch.
I probably won't do it, though, because fuck Google...
That's the end. Sorry this one was so long. I didn't expect to rant about Weebly's problems or Heartbeast as much as I did... And I needed an excuse to talk about all these things, as they've been piling up, and I didn't want to do them one at a time, because they probably wouldn't have been interesting enough on their own.
I was going to put a survey form here, to see if I could get readers to recommend blog services, but I think I'd rather look myself, and not just because no one ever interacts with my features anyway. More because I highly doubt there's anything as powerful and customizable as Weebly out there, and because I'm picky about what I use.
I just realized this post took me literally all day to write. I started on it as soon as I woke up this morning, and it's now an hour til midnight...
Maybe I should run ads on my blog page after all...
I'm kidding, of course. But I did still just throw away an entire day on this post, and will gain nothing for it...
So much for getting anything done today.
Like I said in my last post, I felt bad about saying nice things about Akimbo Creation and Arc Continuum, so I've unveiled a new thing I'm doing early, as a way of saying sorry. And it's on topic this time!
You may notice up in the navigation bar at the top, there's a new area. I did this because tutorials don't belong in blogs. It's too much of a damn pain in the ass to find them. So I'm introducing the Tutorial Zone. I've decided I'm going to be obnoxious but consistent about it.
I thought about having animated sprites, but then I realized that websites haven't done that since 2003, and it would probably just be too annoying and piss people off.
Another thing I thought about was music. But then... does anyone even really like it when websites play music?
I also thought about making the section more like an overworld map, but I think that, too, would only end up pissing people off.
The reason it looks how it does is because I was getting sick and tired of my blog not looking like you'd expect. I mean, the background doesn't even look game-related. It's just a default image. I had always intended on changing that, but I'm having a hard time deciding what to put back there. The dilemma is, if I put something from an existing game as the background, it might confuse people and make them think I worked on that game.
But at the same time, I'm stumped at what to design for myself. I've thought about it for a long time (years), and just haven't come up with anything good yet. As a result, the tutorial zone is designed more game like, to make up for it.
Either way, tutorials will be included as they're completed.
Some of you may remember I did an article on Arc Continuum, a game on Steam. I had gotten it for free by chance, played it in early access, saw potential, and did a brutally honest review, which can still be read here.
I recently thought about the game, so I went back to take a look and see how it was coming along.
It was taken out of early access as a full release only 3 months after I reviewed it. It's still in exactly the state it was before, and the developers haven't posted on its news section since May 2017.
Fantastic. Now I feel like a jackass. I gave them the benefit of the doubt, recommended supporting them, and they pull a Digital Homicide. To say I'm pissed off is an understatement. Not because I was really all that looking forward to it, but because I probably sent them at least one purchase, and they took the money and ran.
I know, I know.... I'm not much better. I took people's money and didn't deliver. That money is all still untouched, though. I have too much principle to do such a thing. That money may eventually go towards a different game, but I haven't touched a single penny of it.
I feel kind of betrayed by Akimbo Creations. Sure, I was harsh in the review, but I didn't hate the game, and I was fair the entire time. It showed enough promise for me to want to see it get somewhere, and now I have to live with the thought that I may have convinced people to buy it. And now it's sitting at the top of my Steam library and other Steam libraries, unfinished.... and what makes me feel worst of all is that I didn't have to pay for it. I won it in a contest I didn't even enter. I didn't lose anything to get a hold of it, but because of me, there could be people reading this right now who trusted me and trusted Akimbo Creations, and spent their money on it.
I know it wasn't a lot of money, it was quite cheap in early access, but still, I'm sorry. Whether you bought it because of me or not, I still wrote a review that praised portions of the game, not knowing they'd do this to us all, and for that and potentially costing you money, I'm sorry.
I'm not asking you to forgive them, but please forgive me. I mean it when I say I thought they would be better than that.
I'm working on a thing that may make it up to some of you. I was going to wait until part 2 was finished before unveiling it, but I think given what happened with Arc Continuum, I should go ahead with part 1 sooner than planned.
"Our middleware will be debuted in ARC-Continuum, an epic multiplayer role-playing game for PC that allows you to explore stunning galactic realms on your journey to restore balance to a troubled universe." Go fuck yourself, Akimbo Creations.
Let's get this out of the way for those who aren't already frequent readers: I'm a furry degenerate. Surprise!
Anyway, I keep hearing these DnD campaigns that get ruined by furry players, and since I've talked a bit about table-top, pen-and-paper games on here, I figured I could write a guide to furries from a furry's perspective to try to help you out, whether you're a player and there's a furry in the game somewhere, or if you're a DM with a furry playing your campaign.
From here on out, I'm going to assume you know what a furry is. If not, you probably don't have to worry about it too much. Either way, I'm not going to bother explaining it, or the terminology.
This guide will try to help you with ways of dealing with having furries without the campaign devolving into yelling and what to do if you think a furry in your campaign is ruining things.
As if I need to say it, but this might get a tad NSFW. I'm not going to delve into weird kinky crap or go into much detail, but furries are hard to talk about without NSFW connotations. You will not be getting a second warning, so if you skip this part and miss this warning, well I guess that serves you right.
Case 1: The Obsessed Furry
Alright, taking on one of the most annoying traits straight out of the gate. Unfortunately we can be an obsessed bunch. We each have our favorite animal, and whenever and wherever possible, we will pick that animal in some form or another to represent us.
I pride myself in being different from what you might expect from the typical furry, but even I'm not free from a deep fondness of my favorite animal.
For me, that affection for dragons has existed since I was a child, and long before I was ever a furry, or even a horny teenage for that matter. I see dragons in a very different way than most people, and I don't mean that as a sexual thing. Most people see them as evil and scary, I see them as beautiful and sometimes quite cute, even when they're supposed to be scary and fearsome. I've always felt a strong connection with them, and that transferred directly over into my fursona. Of course I'd take on the form of a dragon when I turned into a degenerate.
They are my most favorite animal, above and beyond all others, and have been since I was in grade school. People have tried, for decades, to tell me they don't exist, as if that would make me stop loving dragons more than anything else. It failed, because it doesn't matter if they're real or not.
I can only speak from my own experiences, but I have a feeling that's the same for a lot of furries. And some take that obsession to the nth degree.
For example, how many of you out there have tried running a campaign with a friend who always has to bend or break the rules of the universe in some way to play their fursona in some sense? Always, no matter what the setting, they're a fox, or a feline, or something. Even if it doesn't fit. And this can get extremely annoying to other players, and especially to DMs.
Personally, I'm not so obsessed with dragons that I need to play a dragon all the time, every time, regardless of setting, but there are some that will try.
My advice to DMs with friends like that is to try to encourage them, gently, to pick something other than their obsession. I emphasize 'gently' in this case, because fursonas to their furries are a special part of them. Some of us spend a lot of time and effort crafting our fursonas, and some of us don't take confrontation and criticism over our often-times beloved fursona. The fursona to some is like a car or truck to others. You get attached to it. Maybe it's not the greatest in the world, but it's yours. To a furry who is heavily obsessed with their favorite animal, saying "be something else this time" may be like telling someone "throw your car in the compactor", so in some cases, you might need a little tact and grace.
If it's important enough for you to get them to play something else, then it's important enough to handle delicately.
If they always choose a red fox, try to get them to be a grey fox next time, then maybe the time after that try to get them to pick a swift fox (they're cute as fuck), and then after that, maybe try to get them to pick a fox relative like a fennec, or some other desert/savanna canid: dingo, coyote, wolf, jackal, hyena, etc.
Try to slowly get them to be something slightly different than what they always choose, slowly and gradually, game after game, pushing them away from their beloved fursona.
From there, maybe after 8 or 9 campaigns, try for other mammals semi-related to foxes. Example: go for maybe a common dog breed, or one of the other four-legged carnivores. Don't immediately jump to something like a kangaroo, or a duck-billed platypus. The idea is to slowly nudge, if possible, in the direction of away from their fursona or animal obsession, not to flat out throw them from 100 degrees to below 0. And not to try to get them to completely stop using their fursona/obsession, but to try getting them to try out new things and be more open to playing something that doesn't break the universe.
Or, maybe suggest trying out something else as part of a challenge, something they're less comfortable with. This idea may not go so well, though. Some of us aren't all that creative... *cough* Sergal furries... *cough*
And me, for that matter. I went with the single most popular type of furry-animal...
Having a furry as a DM doesn't have to be a bad thing. I heard about this person who had a friend who was a furry and always played a fox. That furry later created a campaign set in a dieselpunk setting. In this his world, the most powerful faction ended up being a race of foxes.
All hope is not lost, though. Play to your DM's decisions. If your DM has shoehorned their favorite animal in as an anthropomorphic race, have fun with it. Try to use clever role-playing to get him or her to reveal where these shoehorned, upright walking animals came from. Make your DM work for their decision, but try to have fun with it at the same time.
Examples: Try to get into a situation where your DM has to reveal the evolutionary process behind this race, and how they managed to rise to power. Or if the race fits with the setting, try to use role-playing to get him or her to reveal what caused specifically the emergence of the fox people.
Is your character a researcher, or intellectual? Have your character decide, after encountering these fox people, to do some research. Hit up the libraries in game and have them start digging for documentation on these people. Go to their ancient civilizations in the game and try to uncover their way of life and some clues to how their civilization worked in the earlier years.
Having an obsessed furry as your DM doesn't have to be a drag. I'm sure, if you're clever, you can find some ways to build upon it and make the campaign fun for all, and if your DM isn't a crappy DM in general, you could still find ways to make it a good campaign.
The person who ended up in the dieselpunk campaign said it ended up being a brilliant campaign and a great world, despite being run by a foxfag.
Case 2: Bronies
Bronies are furries who are obsessed with My Little Pony, to an unhealthy degree. Everyone hates bronies, even other furries. The reason for that is that they have a major-league talent for ruining everything they come in contact with, and a professional-grade talent for being unlikable.
#NotAllBonies are grating, subhuman pests. Over the course of the battle against socialism, I met some bronies that were pretty cool, and managed to not piss me off from the word 'go'. I never thought I'd ever get along with a brony.
But what happens when one of those bronies are in your campaign? One of the ones that, by virtue of being so heavily obsessed with My Little Pony, destroy everything within a 5 mile radius of themselves like a miniature nuke?
Alright, I'm not going to lie... to quote Sans "You're going to have a bad time."
I'll start this one by saying may God have mercy on your soul. Christian, Muslim, Jew, Atheist, it doesn't matter what your beliefs are, if you end up with a brony in your campaign, it's never too early to start praying...
Since I'm not entirely sure, myself, what to do with the most punchable kind of brony on the planet, all I can do is offer theories.
Let's just bite the damn bullet, here. Between furries and bonies there is an ocean's difference in mindset. Where only some furries are narcissistic, self-centered, annoying, and obsessive, it seems most bonies are narcissistic, self-centered, annoying, and obsessive. I have a feeling that has a lot to do with the god damn cutie-mark thing.
Every single one of these annoying creatures has a pattern on their thigh, as can be seen in the picture above and no two of these patterns are identical. I've noticed that narcissistic furries tend to try to find some way to make their fursona stand out in some way from the rest, so naturally something designed to be unique from everyone else is going to attract those who feel that standing out in some way is a necessity.
One possible solution is to allow your brony player to play as an anthropomorphic horse race. This will save you the headache of trying to get the ones that want to play as a pony to not try to play as a pony. At least.... hopefully. There's a good chance that it might not be good enough to just play as a horse.
You can allow them to put some interesting pattern on their character, and firmly but gently, remind them that they're a horse, not a pony, any time they try mentioning it, or you can get passive-aggressive about it, and have npcs refer to them as horses, equids, and more insultingly, donkeys, but never as ponies, just to drive home the idea that they're not a god damn pony.
A lot of the times, a brony is going to want to be a unicorn... because they're idealized in the series and I'm sure that feeds a lot of narcissism...
But what can you do if they demand to be a unicorn? If you don't want to permit them to be a unicorn at all times, you can have them be a druid with the power to change into a unicorn, and you can allow them to play to their own detriment. For example, they can choose to use their transform to become a unicorn so they can call themselves a unicorn and have the satisfaction they get from it, but then when they get into a battle, they've already needlessly wasted their transformation to stroke their own ego.
Or, maybe their character motivation can be to find magic, or a spell, or some other procedure that will make them into a unicorn. That way, you can still forbid them from making a pony character and ruining your campaign/setting, but also still give their character a compelling reason to take part in the campaign.
Or maybe you can allow them to be a unicorn from the start, but put in an enemy or something that hungers for unicorn blood, and have it focus exclusively on attacking the unicorn character, sort of as a way to make them work for the rule-bending they demanded.
Worst case scenario: you end up with a brony as a DM, and they fill their world and campaign with My Little Pony crap. It's the end of the world, right? I wouldn't blame you in the slightest for assuming so, but not necessarily.
First, let me start by saying my heart goes out to all who end up in a My Little Pony campaign... No man or woman should have to suffer that way. But in the event that you do get trapped in such a game, there may still be hope for you without necessarily quitting.
One option is to play a dark/evil character. I'm not saying you should go out of your way to ruin the campaign, but if you wanted to be the blemish in a grotesquely happy, friendly world, you could take on a Naughty Bear type character role.
Naughty Bear is an angry, violent teddy bear living in a place called Paradise Island with far-too-innocent teddy bears as his neighbors. His character motivation is to drive all the other bears into suicide by tormenting them.
The game is irredeemably terrible... It's an abysmally awful game. I'd probably give it 1 star, but the idea could still work for your character. You could do really cruel things to non-essential NPCs, like killing people, or psychological abuse. But you could do this in ways that don't ruin the campaign, that way your DM can't complain much. (That's not to say they won't still complain, and I can't guarantee they won't rage, because narcissists in general don't make good DMs, and tend to hate it when their players mess up their world.)
Or, you could play along, slowly and gradually having your character lose his mind the more he or she has to put up with the sunshine-and-rainbows world around them, until your character eventually snaps.
Through a series of unfortunate coincidences, I happen to have found out that there's an episode of My Little Pony where one character goes absolutely insane and starts to spiral into complete madness. I only found out in summary form as part of a "My Top 10 Favorite Episodes From Shows I Like" I watched once, so my knowledge of the episode is limited, but from what I can recall, based on memory alone, Pinkie Pie, the pink one... (obviously) gets a little obsessive with her parties, and everyone ends up too busy to attend her party. She slowly starts having a full blown mental breakdown when no one shows up.
If chaos is your thing, having your character go insane and start acting irrational and crazy might be the chaotic catharsis you need to get yourself through the campaign.
Try not to do things that will ruin the campaign if you go this route, and try to make your road to insanity gradual but noticeable, so that it still seems like character progression. (Eye twitching, paranoia, seeing things, talking to a split personality, etc.) If you can go without ruining the campaign, there's little the DM can peg you for as a violation. There's nothing really in the rules about flying off the rails into insanity.
The idea is to be a dick without directly being a dick. And you have to commit to the character while performing it. For example, when your DM asks "what do you do?" you'd say something to the effect of "I seduce <nearest inanimate object>.", make your roll, even if your DM protests, and then have your character react as if the object responded to your attempts. (IE: Act like you were rejected if you roll a fail, and act as if it reciprocated if you rolled a success.)
Or have your character curl up into a ball and pretend they're a hushpuppy. (points if you get that obscure reference...)
Or, you can pull a Jonny 2×4 and carry around your best friend everywhere you go. In this case, whenever an NPC asks you something, your character can claim your imaginary friend knows, and to ask them.
NPC: "Do any of you know what happened to <Insert pony's lost item here>?"
Your Character: "Oh! <Friend> knows! Why don't you ask him!"
And then you'd hold out the object for the npc to talk to.
Pick an insanity archetype and study it, then have your character slowly develop into that archetype.
Or, you can play a psychopath and build Vincenzo Natali's The Cube-style death trap puzzles, kidnap ponies, and force them to try to get out of your deathtraps alive. I can't guarantee your DM will like that very much, though.
Regardless of what you choose, you must commit at all times. You can't just switch on and off the insanity as you see fit, otherwise it will be pretty obvious you're just mad about something.
Sorry, wish I had more ideas. A character being somewhat evil, and a character going insane is all I can come up with towards still having fun in an Equestria setting when you're not really a fan of the series.
It's how I reacted to Tranquility Lane from Fallout. In my opinion, the only way to handle a world too perfect is by introducing a little chaos.
Case 3: The Weirdo
There are some weird-ass furries out there. And those weird-ass furries sometimes want to do weird-ass things. Some want parks... in real life... where they can shit in public like real animals (sometimes I'm ashamed to be associated with furries)... some want their characters to be completely naked... some may take role-playing their character's animal way too far: licking themselves, or people they like, becoming insufferable with their character being a cat ("Meow I will roll a d20. 18, that's purrfect.")
You can be a bad DM and rage quit, or prevent it, or you can be a good DM about and allow it, or you can be the good DM who doesn't allow it.
I'm going to give you advice on how to be both good and not allow weird-ass furries to get their way when doing irritating or weird shit.
The nudity one is easy. Very easy. First off, no armor. As a DM, you can allow them to go naked, but find natural ways to throw them into situations where not having clothing and armor to protect them ends up biting them in the ass. No, I'm not saying you should insta-execute their character with it. The goal is to passive-aggressively get them to dress their character.
Examples: Black Pudding. Black Pudding is a DnD monster that dissolves armor. You could make it so that your naked furry player suffers severe body burns from the Black Pudding's corrosive gelatin body, due to not having armor or a layer of protection.
Or, you could throw them into the biting cold. This may not work so well on fursonas that are covered in fur, but even fur-covered animal creatures suffer from the cold. Or, you can warn them that the area coming up needs protection, and if they refuse while the other players bundle up, you can be justified in having the furry's character slowly freeze to death due to running around in sub-zero weather, completely naked, despite being warned.
Have enemy attacks hurt more, due to not wearing armor, and always be thinking of organic ways you can punish them in little ways for their insistence on being naked.
Another way to take care of players who want to role-play a naked fursona is to have them constantly getting dirty looks in towns and cities, and having them get kicked out of stores, taverns, castles, inns, and the like. Or you could take it even further by not permitting them in the city at all. Guards could prevent them from even going in until they put something on.
If they attack someone for kicking them out, roll with it. Have them suffer the consequences of criminal assault.
I hate Nekos. They're just humans with decorations attached to their bodies. They don't really embody their animal at all. They just have ears and a tail most of the time.
But equally as annoying are those on the other end of the spectrum, who take their role a little too far.
This one's not as easy to deal with, because it takes a little more time and creativity, but you can have characters react poorly to being licked, or to those annoying vocal quirks like "meow" in place of anything that sounds even remotely similar, or going "awoo" for no other reason than 'I'm a dog character played by an annoying person! Notice me!'
Licking, rubbing their head against someone, and any other over-acted crap you don't want in your player doing can easily be responded to by NPCs by having them resist it, making them irritated and aggressive towards them because of it, and even having penalties if it persists. For instance, if they do it one time too many with a shop keeper, the shop keeper can increase their prices for that character, or even throw them out.
Repeat offenses can end with the town putting up photos or drawings of the player's character around town, with warnings saying they're weird and telling people to avoid their character. NPCs across the whole city can start refusing to interact with the character, based on the posters, and force them to change their ways when they realize none of the NPCs like their character anymore.
-Other Weird Behavior
Let's say you've got a player that does something gratuitous, like the afore-mentioned shitting in a public park for instance. I can understand why you wouldn't want to tolerate players doing something like that. I wouldn't put up with it, either, but I wouldn't yell at the player, or forbid them from doing it. Nor would I rage quit over it.
Instead I'd allow them to do it, but I'd force them to roll stealth checks any time they want to do that. If they pass, they can get away with it. But if they fail, that's when I get to punish them. One good way to do this in the most humiliating way possible is by having someone with authority (a guard perhaps) force them to clean up their own shit, as well as all the dog shit in the park as punishment for getting caught doing something socially unacceptable.
Maybe I'd make them roll for it, or just tell them that it cuts X amount of their free time, the first time. Then, if they're caught doing it again, and in the same town/village, it would come with a small fine as well as X amount of their time. Gradually, my punishments would increase until the cons outweighed their weird satisfaction. IE: A large fine and jail time for X days, and if that still didn't teach them, then it would come to whipping posts and health loss. (I wouldn't allow it to kill them, but I would definitely have it start impacting their ability to play.)
And if even the whipping post wasn't enough, then I'd start having authorities threaten hanging. And if that still didn't solve the problem? Let's say this player is as insufferable as can be, and weathers all punishments, and keeps making a nuisance of themselves, then I would role-play through their character's trial, ending with their character being actually hanged.
At that point, the player can't be mad at me about it. They were punished over and over by guards and authorities, and even warned in advance by the guard captain that if they didn't knock it off, they would be executed. So, having been aware of the risk, they can only blame themselves, because they had several chances to stop and didn't learn their lesson.
And I don't even have to yell at them out of character a single time to punish them for it.
Usually the roll itself is going to be enough to dissuade them, but just in case it doesn't, you might need to be prepared to kill a character. Or maybe you can spare them death and think of even more strict punishments than just whipping.
This one's not going to be easy. But if you're up for a challenge, having a weird furry as a DM might still be something you can still enjoy.
You're probably going to have to swallow your pride for this one, but one good way to beat them is at their own game.
Let's say your DM was trying to put some weird fetish into the story. For the sake of keeping this as tame as possible, let's go with a watersports fetish. (Watersports, for those who are way too sheltered, means peeing, usually on other people.)
If your DM is obviously trying way too hard to work a watersports fetish into their campaign, stoop to their level and fight back. Have your character take a piss all over the wizard's alchemy lab table. Try to look for inappropriate times for a fetish, and as shallowly as you're comfortable with, role-play your character doing something to get under the DM's skin, using that fetish. Meet up with other players outside a session or when the DM is away from the table, and try to get them in on it. That way, when you're having that all important meeting with the king, every single one of the players just drops trow and gives the king a golden shower bukkake.
And now I need an intermission because I'm laughing my lungs out...
Ok, I think I'm good now. It might seem counterintuitive to engage in the fetishes, but trust me, even furries aren't into fetishes all the time, and it would eventually get on your DM's nerves if every time he asks "What do you guys do?" the response is "I pee myself."
Alright, what if it doesn't work? Or what if it's not such an easy fetish to fight fire with fire?
What if it's a rape fantasy fetish, and giant tentacles come up and grab the players and start raping them?
In this case, make it as unsexy as possible. For instance: your character is so emotionally distressed, he or she goes catatonic. Just say "I'm so traumatized, I go catatonic." That way, no matter what happens to your character, your response is "I'm suffering from catatonia still." or "I'm in a paralyzed, vegetable state and can't feel anything."
Or, let's say you want to get back at your DM for trying to force his fetish on you. Have your character suffer PTSD from it, afterwards. Make it a traumatic experience that changes your character from the clever rogue to someone who is rendered inconsolable at the mere sight of something phallic, or related to the traumatic fetish. Have your character too traumatized to sleep, or focus on the campaign.
Or, let's say you want to quit. Yelling won't do much good. Instead, play it cool and quit with style. Let the fetish take place, (you don't have to participate with more than "I just get raped, I guess.") then have your character be so broken and traumatized by it afterwards, that they kill themself.
What if it's something you just will not put up with? Let's say it's a diaper fetish, or something you will not tolerate even for payback later. Just suicide on the spot. Wait for your DM to finish setting up the scene and ask you or other players for a an action, then have your character's first action to be to commit suicide.
Sure, it's easier to yell and quit, but it's not really going to send much of a message. However "My mind is so fucked by what I'm seeing that I kill myself." will send more of a message to your DM: You're so disinterested in being part of his fetish that your character kills themself to avoid it.
Case 4: The Self-Insert
This isn't something unique to furries. Fan-fiction writers (especially Harry Potter fanfics) tend to have self-inserts. DMs sometimes have self-inserts, furry or otherwise. But it's the furry ones that are probably the most annoying.
What is a self-insert? It's the analogue to the DM or author. Essentially the person puts an avatar of themself in the world. This isn't always a bad thing, but more often than not, it's very bad, because this means rules might be broken for this character, or the author/DM will favor this character over all else, taking part in wish fulfillment and other eye-rolling flights of fancy, serving only to stroke the DM/Author's ego.
I remember hearing this story where the DM was running a Warhammer campaign, I think. The players were all on board an abandoned star ship of some sort, looking for an important character they were there to rescue. They come to the last room, and find out the person they're there to rescue is the DM's self-insert: a chakat, which he describes with care.
As soon as he was done, all of his players opened fire, shooting it to death.
The DM was pissed off and rage quit, and refused to speak to them again.
So naturally, the DM from the story was probably going down the annoying, flawless-character route. Personally, there is no character archetype I hate more than the perfect character, so I can understand their reaction.
But there are ways to deal with self-inserts that don't end friendships. Like I mentioned in a previous post, I had to discard a campaign I was building because two of the players (friends of mine) were trying to use extremely over-powered self-inserts, and one of the players was a fanboy who wanted a universe crossover so he could play Mecha Link, a robot version of Link from Legend of Zelda, even though it was set in medieval times.
Unfortunately, I don't have a whole lot of clever ways at getting back at a DM for using a bad self-insert, since doing anything to this character will just piss off the DM. But I'm still going to try.
-The Evasion Tactic
Outside a session, or while the DM is away, discuss with the other players ditching the self-insert. Leave them in town and get out of there, or abandon them while he or she sleeps at camp.
This is probably going to insult or offend your DM.
-The Stubborn Protest Tactic
You can disengage from the campaign almost entirely by leaving all of the decision-making and out-of-combat work to the DM's character, that way the DM is having as little fun as you are.
-The Playground Mimic Tactic
You can just be a dick and study how this character behaves, and start imitating his or her mannerisms in-character. Even better if you have a transform spell that allows you to change everyone in the party to look and sound like the DM's character.
This one actually has the benefit of showing the DM just how insufferable or unlikable their character is, especially if it's done well.
-Passive-Aggressive Mocking Tactic
If the self-insert is getting special treatment, you can simply have your character start going "Why don't you go ahead? You've got all the best loot anyway." or "Why don't you take this battle? The monsters never seem to hit you, so you should be fine."
Try to pick up on what ways the self-insert is being favored, and start taking advantage of that. If they never get hit, make them fight all the battles. If they get the best loot, make them take the lead in all the dungeons. If they never seem to fail important rolls, have them do the important actions. This will show the DM that you're on to his or her bullshit.
-Just Talk To Him/Her Tactic
You can just talk to your DM and explain that you're not having fun because the self-insert character is a little unfair or annoying.
This may not work, though, because sadly some lessons are better left to the DM to learn on their own. (Part of why most of the tips on this entire post are passive-aggressive in nature.)
Case 5: The Horndog
Frankly, if you manage to get through a campaign without a character, furry or otherwise, attempting to roll seduction and get laid, I'd be surprised.
One of the best campaign stories I've ever heard was one where a player (not a furry) had their character attempt to seduce the dragon they were about to fight. He rolled a natural 20 and came away from that steamy encounter with a permanent limp. (#Worthit)
Another character in the same campaign would later come across another dragon, attempt the same thing the other player did, and fail.
That was a tragic way to die...
I say let them try. I mean, if they can crit a seduction roll like in the story above, they deserve it. But just like above, if they're stupid enough to try to seduce a large, dangerous creature, and they fail, then the creature should get an attack of opportunity, even if it means the character dies.
It's fairly easy to dissuade players, even horny furry players, from trying to hump everything in sight, and that's by letting them know that there are going be dire consequences for failure. Maybe they roll a critical fail, a natural 1. Well then maybe they're immediately killed off, or something else. Get creative.
What if they're only trying to seduce level 1 NPCs? Well, that's easy. If it bothers you, you could have NPCs start reporting his behavior, and then have the guards respond.
How I would do it: I'd let the first 4, maybe 7 of them go. If he or she kept it up, then I'd start keeping score, silently recording each failure in a notebook. After a certain threshold was reached, especially if he or she repeatedly tried to get with the same NPC, I'd have the guards show up and inform the character that they had been receiving reports of immodest behavior. (Or just call it harassment, I don't care.) They'd leave him with a warning. If it kept up, it would be a fine the next time the guards showed up, then a bigger fine if it persisted, and finally I'd have the guards deliver a bigger warning. "Stop immediately, or we will be forced to take corrective actions."
If that didn't solve the problem, I'd have the guards capture and castrate the character if it was male, or whip the character if it was female. (The medieval era was a barbaric time...) And if for some reason it still persisted, then I'd have them warn one last time that they'd execute the player's character, and if despite that it still kept up, then they'd make good on that promise and hang the character responsible.
I don't know why you'd protest to having women trying to get with you, but if it bothered you enough, just play a disinterested character. If your DM has someone trying to seduce you, simply have your character not react to it. Or, if your DM rolls for it, and your character is seduced, go along with it, but cringe it the hell up with the corniest innuendos you can think of. Or swallow a little pride and mention that your character goes along with it, but finishes extremely prematurely.
Or, instead of playing disinterested, play an anti-thot: have your character vomit violently whenever someone tries to seduce you. Hell, make a really big deal about it and have your character go into fits of projectile-vomiting. Nothing says unromantic like hurling violently all over the place.
I would suggest fits of flatulence or severe body odor.... but some furries are actually into that... ...so vomiting was the only thing I could be at least reasonably sure would work.
Or, you can take a page from The Lonely Island and JIZZ. IN. YOUR PANTS.
Or you can take a different page and have your character scream "I'm not part of this system! I'm an adult!" throw something on the ground, and run away. (Preferably something breakable.)
If you have evasion spells, you can easily just cast one of those and get out of there.
Another fun reaction to it would be to suddenly act possessed and go into fits of screaming in strange tongues at whoever your unwanted seductress/seducer is. If your character creeps put the NPC or character your DM is trying to push on you, every single time, consistently, your DM should hopefully get the message without much arguing.
Case 6: The Pushy Gay/Lesbian
Alrighty... we all have one of those friends who try to push something onto us, and for many of us, that friend has something sexual in mind. Believe it or not, even furries aren't always into everything at all times. I've been through it. I've had someone try to talk me into their weird beating fetish, they wanted me to role-play beating and abusing their character. It's just not my style, so it made me uncomfortable.
As A Player
If you're the DM and a furry player is trying to attract a same sex partner, let em. There's no real harm in it. However, you also don't have to role-play the stuff you're not comfortable with, and don't let them try to shame or pressure you into it.
If they're trying to push you into role-playing a homosexual scene, there are ways to deal with it without yelling at your player.
You could have their newly acquired lover commit suicide, suddenly.
Or maybe they slip into an eternal coma for no reason.
You're the DM in this case, you could have the love interest assassinated, or suddenly get dragged into another dimension and come out days later, completely brain-dead. Or perhaps they suddenly morph into the opposite gender. (That one won't work on bisexuals, unfortunately...)
Or, have the character say "Hey, you want to see a trick?" and when the player agrees to it, have them transform into a chair. Then what? Nothing. They transform into an inanimate object and fall completely unresponsive, and it never wears off and can't be reversed.
You could take the cheap way out and have the character shout "I must go! My people need me!" and then run off. As the DM, you have unlimited creative ways of getting yourself out of having to role-play a homosexual love scene.
Sometimes talking isn't enough, and when its your DM doing it. It can sometimes be hard to escape without quitting the game.
Sometimes, when you have a pushy gay or lesbian furry as a friend, they'll try to push you into a gay or lesbian relationship with another character.
I'll admit it, being bisexual does come with advantages, but some people are straight, so this will leave them extra uncomfortable, and sometimes even leave them feeling aggressive. I'm not one of those LGBT cult fuckwits. I understand the discomfort completely.
To start: it's not homophobic to resist, and don't let your friend shame you that way. It's not a crime to have preferences. If you don't want your character engaging in a homosexual relationship, it's perfectly ok to feel discomfort over it.
Sorry, in this shitty day and age, I feel like I have to point out that you're allowed to be disgusted by dykes and faggots still.
-DM Pushes A Same Gender Mate On You
Quickest and easiest way to deal with it is to have your character tell the NPC making advances on you to fuck off. If that doesn't work, attacking and/or killing the NPC is also an option.
It's not homophobic to murder a character that doesn't actually exist because they're making advances on you. I'm giving you a free pass, from a bisexual person, to straight up slaughter the pesky NPC if you feel he or she is deserving of it. I don't care, I'd do the same thing if I were in that position.
Another way would be to take the NPC into combat and accidentally swing your sword and accidentally bury it in the back of their head.
Or, if you don't want to directly kill the character, you can just bring them into a dungeon or into combat, and allow them to die.
This one might mean fighting your DM, but you can try to get an anti-love potion or similar charm, to force the DM to break the NPC's love for you.
If you want to be a total dick about it, a funny way to get the message across to your DM is when the NPC comes looking for you in your room or headquarters, tell your DM that the NPC finds you hanged from a beam or other high place. You can either role play your character hanging him/herself, or keep it a secret and spring it on him or her via the character happening upon your lifeless body still hanging, and leave a suicide note saying "I'm not really all that into you." or something else really undramatic like that. (Or an even bigger dick-move would be to write on the suicide note just two letters: "marry me".)
-DM Pushes Gay Or Lesbian Scenarios On You
Again, I have to remind people that it's not a crime to be straight, as much as soyboys want you to think it is. You don't have to allow your DM to put you in scenarios where someone of the same sex is trying to get it on with you.
Now, in this case, sometimes it's done just to poke fun at you. Don't overreact to once or twice where someone of the same sex as your character tries to get in your pants. Only if it keeps happening should you take some kind of action.
The option that first comes to mind is to go along with it and when you're undressing in the room of the inn, role-play dropping your pants to reveal a completely vacant pelvic area, like you're a Barbie doll or Ken doll.
Or, alternatively, role-play dropping your pants to reveal that you have Danny DeVito's face growing out of your crotch. (I have a really disturbed mind when it comes to getting passive-aggressive revenge on people I'm role-playing with...)
If you want to be blunt, have your character start killing anything that makes an advance on you, and then start calling yourself the Thot-Slayer.
...Just have your character wordlessly cannibalize the person. (Though, if your furry DM is into vore, that might only encourage it. It's a decently uncommon fetish, though, so chances are you'll be fine.)
Again, if you want to quit with style, a character suicide always sends a stronger message than just walking away, especially if the one who is DMing is your friend and you're still interested in being their friend.
Case 7: Furries In General
If you have a giant shit up your ass about just playing with furries at all, here's a tip: Grow up.
But if it's that important to you, make it your policy to ask everyone you play with, before you start playing a campaign, if they're furries. If they are, don't play with them.
Having More Fun With Furries
But that's not what I meant by that.
Furries are notorious for being attention seekers and attention whores. They always have to have attention on them. If you end up with a furry, and know what they're like, try to play to furry culture a little, if you understand it enough.
No, I'm not saying give them a horse to bang. The references to furry culture doesn't have to be sexual. Example: "Legalize Awoo" is a popular furry meme. "Awoo" is just a howl noise. I don't know much about it, but something furries do for fun is fake-campaign to lift fake bans on awoo, or awoo-ing, allowing them to howl as they please.
Admittedly, it's kind of hard to research furry culture without stumbling across the dirty aspect of it, so I'm not sure what advice to give there. But it's not an exclusive club. If you know enough about the clean side of furry culture, you might be able to throw furry themed Easter Eggs in for your furry player, which they should most likely enjoy, if they're not a closet furry.
IE: Paws instead of hands.
Just don't try making things up on the spot. We don't replace all things with theme-accurate other things, so you might just confuse your player. And be careful how far you take it. Some of us are very easily encouraged....
And make sure you know their personality before you start ribbing them. Even if It's all in good fun, some furries are temperamental. I've run into a few who couldn't take a joke.
Or, instead of risking making an ass of yourself by trying to 'be hip with the kids', try to gauge your furry player and attempt writing in ways for them to do something cool that maybe the other players can't, while on an adventure.
Or maybe make NPCs acknowledge their character's form in some way. Taking the scenario from back at the top, where the player would always play as a fox, as an example...
An NPC could say something to the effect of "I always did love a man with tall, pointed ears." It doesn't necessarily need to be flirtatious, but witty observations might help, every now and again, to make things a little more interesting, and might help the player feel a little more included.
A Furry Campaign
This one's more of a disclaimer, simply because I realized that writing this post might embolden DMs to try making campaigns for their friends who are furries.
If you're open minded enough to try such a thing, then cool! But before you make a furry-themed or furry-centric campaign, you should probably talk to the furries you know, or talk to other furries, about your plans. There are a lot of misconceptions about us, and making assumptions without really understanding our filthy, degenerate culture might just end up insulting your friends.
A furry campaign doesn't need to be X-Rated (AO Rated, if you're more into games than movies) it can be tame/clean, that way you don't have to feel like you're facilitating degeneracy.
If you're not making a sexual campaign (which you probably shouldn't, I'm not even brave enough to try that) then you should really communicate that up front, before the start of the first session, and make sure you define the boundaries ahead of time. I've been a furry for something like 11 to 13 years, now, and I can tell you without pause that if you give us an inch, we'll take you on a trip to the moon. Furries love to push boundaries, oddly enough. For every respectful furry, there are at least 10 who seemingly don't know the meaning of the word 'boundaries'. Trust me, I've encountered many.
Unless you want to be checking tables for rolls seduction of horses and other animals, play with tame-only furries, or make sure you're strict with what you'll tolerate.
If You're Brave Enough To Run A Furry Campaign
Bring your patience in spades.
Furries are going to want to play their funsonas with are sometimes over-embellished, or come up with something that's likely to be excessively over-embellished. (4 arms, glowing body parts, wings, 9 tails, 40 feet tall, etc) And they're likely to come with a 1001 fetishistic abilities that you probably don't want to know about, and I'm not going to be crushing any innocence by listing. You're welcome.
Brush up on your mediator skills.
If you were to go to a furry convention and shout "The floor is now drama!" every single furry in the building would immediately drop to the floor and start doing the backstroke.
The sky is blue, water is wet, furries love drama. You'd think that after a decade and a half, I'd be able to tell you how to avoid furry drama, but frankly, I don't think it's possible. Not without altering the fundamental laws of thermodynamics.
You probably can't completely avoid drama, but you should know how to work it out if it arises.
Expect Rule 34, especially if you stream the sessions.
Rule 34: "If it exists, there exists porn of it." Rule 34 is an unstoppable law of the universe. And just like the weather gets hotter towards the equator, Rule 34 gets stronger around furries. Don't be shocked if you start having suggestive or explicit images or stories related to your campaign sent your way. I'm not saying it's guaranteed, but it's likely.
Yeah.... this disclaimer is intended to discourage rather than encourage. But who knows? Maybe you accept the risks.
If You're Dumb Enough To Join A Furry Campaign
You're either dumb as shit or have balls of steel, but if you find yourself deciding to join a furry-themed campaign, make sure you only join your trusted friends. You don't know, and probably don't want to know, what kind of bizarre, kinky crap might go on in someone else's campaign.
Especially if you're sheltered or new to the internet. That would be a hell of a way to lose one's innocence...
If you can think of an archetype of furry I missed, or if you have a specific situation you'd like me to go over and try to help with, comment below, or hit me up on the contacts page if you want it kept confidential. There are a lot of ways a furry can unintentionally ruin a campaign, so don't be afraid to ask a (mostly) sane furry expert for help. My advice won't work in all cases, but I see too many DMs running into furry players and not knowing what to do as their campaign falls apart, and far too often it's simply because the DM or other players doesn't understand furries enough to work through the issues they're having.
A furry doesn't have to be the end of your campaign.
At some point, I started to realize that I can't make any more progress on my RPG without knowing what the world map looks like. Naturally, since this is a remake, it already did have a world map, but I hated it. It was excessively large with not a lot to see or do.
(Skip down to 'the point'... if you want to dodge my usual segue ramble.)
There it is. Doesn't even look natural, does it? You see that long, purple neck of land right in the middle? That's a stretch of land where nothing happens, and all you're expected to do is take on encounters against poisonous enemies, all the while every step you take damages you, because you're in a swamp. It's part of the challenge, I guess, but it's so uninteresting.
You see the tail coming off the purple swamp region? It's pointless. I did nothing with it. You see the dark green hook-shaped continent next to the swamp area in the middle? Also pointless. You encounter monsters on it, but there's nothing there....
See the island in the bottom-left corner? It's massive, but if you're expecting anything of value to come of its size, you'd be sorely disappointed. There are multiple reasons to visit, yes, because that's where all the best stuff is sold, but there's no point in the island being that big. I didn't even space things out. You can see from the black dots that there are only 4 points of interest, and they're all clustered in a small region.
Gee... I wonder what skull island in the lower right is for? What's that? You mean that's where I put the game's final boss? Color me surprised! I might as well have written out "Secret Lair" in land tiles....
And look how big the sea is! Keep in mind that, in my teenage mind, I thought it was perfectly acceptable to hide 12 mandatory points of interest in that gigantic, empty sea. Sure, there is an NPC that gives you directions to find them, but damn! Talk about tedious! Half the right side of the map is empty ocean, and the little black dot in the upper left corner is just a system event. It fires off automatically, towards the beginning of the game, and then never again. There's nothing out there to interact with.
And keep in mind that this is zoomed out. This is a 3200 by 3200 pixel map, meaning it's very easy to get a little lost.
Alright, that's enough berating myself over my old design. I think everyone knows where this is going, considering the title, and how harsh I am on my old map design.
So I decided I'd redesign my map, combining 3 of my biggest RPG influences into one overworld: Dragon Warrior 1, Dragon Warrior 2, and Phantasy Star 4. (Suck it, Final Fantasy fans.)
The new map's not finished yet.... mostly because it took way too long to get working on it.
First I made a rough design in Other World Mapper, which is a really nice vector-based map maker for making DnD campaign maps, city maps, and dungeon maps, though that's not why I bought it. I bought it years ago because it's really handy for making maps, and I needed a good map maker for something I was working on.
It's still in a rough state, version 0.9.2, so it tends to crash and malfunction a lot. But it does work nicely, and you can buy it here.
Beware when buying, I think their gallery is a little photoshopped, because I can't get it to do all the fancy things they have on there.
Anyway, I made the rough design in Other World Mapper, because it's pretty good at making fractal landmasses without all the fiddling around like in the crappy, CAD-driven Campaign Cartographer. But since OWM is still a little new, and kind of buggy, it crashes sometimes. So it took a little redoing (and a lot of opening it back up again due to crashes). Then I exported it to PNG, and uploaded it into RPGMaker VX Ace so I could trace over the original design to form a grid-friendly version of it. That took a lot of fiddling, too. Turns out, 10,000x10,000 pixel parallax images don't sit too well with RPGMaker, and it kept crashing. Who could have guessed? (Me...)
Took a lot of fighting with RPGMaker, but I got it all traced out in 32x32 grid spaces. (All that work and the RPGMaker version is only going to be for reference purposes. FML...)
The point is that as I was working on this new map, I sat back and started to realize just how uninteresting this place was shaping up to be.
That's when I decided it'd take a week off and spend a little extra time working on my tabletop game. It turns out that getting into DnD was the best decision I've ever made. It's made me rethink how I do game design on more than one occasion.
I came across a video about how to make hand-drawn maps more interesting. From there, I decided I was going to redo the map for my tabletop, just to make it more interesting. As I was browsing Youtube and DuckDuckGo (I'm ashamed to admit boycotting Google is really hard, and sometimes I still go to Google's search engine when others just won't cut it) for some fantasy map inspiration, (LOTR is a great example) I came across something that completely changed the way I think about game worlds and the design process behind them.
I've been doing it wrong for over 14 years...
It's a recent revelation, so I can't share too many techniques just yet, mostly because I haven't really come up with anything. I'm doing my best, damn it! I just had my entire word flipped upside down, here. I have to rethink everything I know about game design, so it's going to take a while to have some good tips, but here's what I've figured out so far:
A World of Whats and Whys
Things happen in worlds. Things before the game starts. Even in worlds set during the dawn of all life have events that came before, because something happened before creatures crawled on land, or even before RNA developed in the first place.
...That would actually make for a pretty cool RPG idea. You play as a creature emerging from the water for the very first time. Not sure how it would work, though. There's not a lot of treasure to be had, or monsters to fight when you're one of the first species to ever explore land on Earth.
Maybe it would have to take place before land-bound animals evolved, so it would be all underwater. Still would kind of hurt for loot, though. But a fully underwater RPG would be neat.
Anyway, that's not the point. The point is: worlds have things that happen all the time. This is always a concept I grasped, but I only ever focused on the whats, and never the whys. And all my whats and whys were shallow, meaningless flavor.
Let's take my old map for example.
Specifically this region here. In the lore, I had it revealed that a giant ship came along and tore through the continent and the halves drifted apart, one side slowly dying and becoming a toxic swamp.
Ignoring everything that's wrong with the physics of that admittedly retarded concept, I never stopped to ask myself why in the hell a ship would just barrel through a continent in the first place. Even if it was possible for a boat to dig into the land that way, and keep going without hitting something too hard to rip through, it seems impractical for the captain of a ship to decide to take a short cut through solid land. The amount of damage it would cause to the ship would be unreal.
And maybe he had it upgraded so that it could withstand plowing through terrain. Ok, but why? Why would anyone spend that much money on their ship just to plow through a continent? It would be cheaper and quicker to sail around.
See, that's the problem. I thought about the what but completely glossed over the why. What: A ship split the land, sailing through it. Why: Hell if I know.
Let's do the process right now, just as an example.
So, the ship idea is stupid, impossible, and impractical. Maybe it was made by wizards with a lot of power, and it serves as a short cut for trade ships, then. That's a 'what'. But it fails the 'why'. Why? let's take a more detailed look.
I've marked all the locations that might benefit from having such a short cut.
1. That's a town.
2. Another town.
3. A city.
None of these places really need a shortcut. Two are connected by land (there's a tiny bridge over the river), and one's on an island a stone's throw away.
4. Town. It's connected by land to 2, so there's no real point in the sea shortcut.
5. Deadly tower full of super dangerous monsters.
6. Deadly tower, dangerous monsters.
7. Deadly tower.
8. Deadly tower.
9. Completely empty cave.
11. A town that can't be reached by boat, anyway.
12. Even deadlier tower full of even more dangerous monsters.
13. No one in their right mind would want a shortcut to the guy who is planning on killing everyone.
See the problem? There's no real benefit. In fact, considering that in the lore, the division killed off the plant life on one side for reasons I never bothered to think about, let alone explain, which stranded #4 in a deadly blight swamp, I'd say that the split was a net negative.
You could argue that such a shortcut would benefit 1, 2, 3, and 10, but if it were a man-made short cut, having one that cuts through the lake in the middle of the upper land mass diagonally would be much smarter. The split through the land as it is now would take only slightly less time than just going around.
So now that I've explored two ideas that don't work, how would I retroactively fix it using my new process? Well, the most obvious is that a giant earthquake happened, and the land was torn open on an enormous fault line. That makes it an event of nature rather than stupidity like the other explanations.
The earthquake was so strong, it caused a massive split that caused toxic decay buried under the ground to ooze out, transforming the land around it into a poisonous blight-swamp, and over the years, the rains began spreading the poisoned region, and consumed almost everything in its wake, save for the lone, elevated region in the middle that was up too high for the sludge of the swamp to spread to.
This information would be typed out in the form of notes in a note-document for reference, later, and probably spouted off at you by a random NPC in the finished game. Probably one in the #4... place.... it's called Stockard... the town in the swamp is named Stockard. I was trying to avoid it because, surprise, among everything else I sucked at, way back then, I was also shit at naming things, especially towns.
Point is, someone in Stockard would mention that in the recent past, a massive earthquake split the land and released some kind of soupy bile from the pits of the Earth, which twisted the plants and monsters into toxic, blighted, poisonous ones, and that they'd been stranded there for generations.
Utilizing Your Notes
The information you start to build about your world doesn't have to die at some random NPC blithering at players. There are ways to get extra mileage out of certain things, and build upon your lore.
Let's take my example from above: A town stranded by a swamp created by the release of a gross, decaying soup trapped underground. How else can we use this lore?
The Cascade Effect, of course. From Wikipedia: The cascade effect is an inevitable and sometimes unforeseen chain of events due to an act affecting a system.
What kind of cascade effect would being stranded and cut off from the rest of the world have on this town? Let's take a look.
Oh, right... I was genuinely shit at everything, and 'everything' kind of includes town design...
Well, whatever... I can still use this image. For example, in the upper right, you can see quite a populated cemetery. Naturally, being cut off from other towns means starvation. But also you'd expect for people to be brave enough to attempt to cross the plague-ridden bog in a desperate bid to obtain resources to aid the starving. And not all of those people will make it.
You'll likely already have noticed my admittedly crap attempt at half-assing a destroyed building. Some little kid in the multi-shop informs you that it was torn apart by monsters that invaded the town. Why? Hell if I know. But that's also a factor that adds to the grave count.
Some of the headstones inform you that they died from the poison, some say they died of starvation, and others say they were killed by the monsters that attacked.
Another way that the swamp effects the town is the tiny little house near the middle. That house belongs to a medicine women who sells some pretty advanced potions compared to the other places you can visit up to that point. She sells potions that allow you to revive your party, a cure-all for most conditions, and a potion that cures the plague (which is something your party can contract from monsters in the swamp. It's like regular poison, but much more powerful, and can't be cured by magic or normal antidote.) Though, I made them too expensive to really be worth buying, and the swamp is the only place your characters can even face monsters that have plague magic, so it ended up being a waste of time anyway...
How would I improve this town now that I no longer suck major ass at design? First of all, I'd put in a small plot of farm land, something that shows they're able to get by, despite being stranded in the swamp. I'd make this plot of land look as though it's been hastily built, as if they didn't have the liberty to waste a bunch of time finding a good spot for it as the swamp closed in and ate up the route to the other towns.
I'd put it in an awkward or unusual place, maybe in the corner of the city, near someone's home, or in some other place that made it look like it was a last-minute addition, such as making it cut off a walk-path, or encompass someone's mailbox. Hell, I might even put in two of them. One in a place that makes it look like it was planned to be there, and another one in a place that shows it clearly wasn't there before, only being added when demand for food spiked.
Maybe I'd also add a well, so that it doesn't seem like they're drinking from the decorative fountain in the middle. Actually, I think I'd add an older well and a newer well, so that it looks like the original well wasn't enough to keep the farm watered, and care for those who got too close to the swamp and got sick. Or maybe that it's there as a precaution, just in case the original well is ever not enough.
Second, I'd put in more people talking about dead loved ones. You can't see it from the image, but no one really even talks about the swamp. Only one character even mentions it, even though it's a fairly big deal.
Player Character: "So, ma'am, what can you tell me about the swamp that's made your lives difficult here, and killed off so many loved ones?"
NPC: "Meh. Oh, by the way, did you see the sale? 50% off designer pants at the item shop! I'm going to buy 3 pairs!"
These people should be more downtrodden than I made them. They're under constant threat of starvation, they're trapped, many of them have loved ones that ventured into the swamp and returned to only to die of poison, or never came back at all. The place should be doom and gloom, with most people saying something depressing like that they're not sure their child will survive the next winter, or that their husband set off into the swamp to try to make it through and was never seen again.
Third, I'd leave the potion shop mostly as it is, but have the medicine hag sell resistances to poison just so that players aren't suffering as much to try to get out of there. I'll admit, even as the developer of the game, I struggle to make it in and out of the swamp. Had I been smart, I would have better equipped the potion shop to facilitate getting back out. Instead, you're kind of expected to try to make a lucky break for it, or grind until you can afford the cures and survive the trip.
Terrible Game Design 101, with Bastendorf!
Fourth, I'd make other people mention the swamp. Other people should be concerned with the safety of the people living in the swamp. Maybe not everyone in the world, but places near by should at least bring it up. Off the top of my head, I don't think anyone, save for one person in the whole game, even mentions the swamp's existence, and it's one guy living in Stockard, the place most directly impacted by it being there.
Oh, ok, I was wrong. I found two people in the town marked '2' on the map that mention the swamp. One of them actually has a lot to say about it. There's also the guy who tells about the ship tearing apart the land. But still... not enough people mention it, especially considering it's a new development, and completely cut off one town from the rest of the world.
Fifth, I'd make some of the people in town surprised you and your party were able to make it through. Considering this swamp has killed a bunch of people, it would make sense for people to be shocked and surprised to see new faces emerge from the poisoned woods.
The more questions you ask yourself about your world, the better off it's going to be, because asking questions is how you build lore. Don't just think about the present, and don't just think about the past. Think about how things cascade into one another. How are things effected by events past and present? It's far too easy to think of each city and town as being separate from one another. Maybe some are.
In medieval times, it's easier to get away with people not talking about minor events from one city to the next, but when you're playing an RPG and the ultimate evil blows a city into oblivion, it's going to strike players as odd that no one in the world even mentions it. There's something like this in Phantasy Star 4, for example. Actually, there's a lot of stuff like this in that game. Something happens in another town, and almost no one speaks of it. An entire city turns to stone? Maybe only one person mentions it. A rogue AI blows the fuck up and demolishes the mountain it's hidden in? Not a single person talks about it.
A star ship stuck in orbit for years finally crashes to the ground, wiping out buildings in a nearby town? Few people care. An earthquake splits open a cave under a city? Only people in that city even mention it. An entire town is reduced to ash? I only remember one person in the entire world bringing it up. Bad guys send a temple up in a pillar of flame that could be seen for hundreds of miles? I don't even remember anyone outside the nearby city mention it. You crash land a space shuttle on a shrine? "It's raining metal! How 'bout that!" A large, black fortress shows up over night, complete with worshipers of a new, insane cult that is brainwashing people? The only other person beyond the nearest city that talks about it goes "Could have sworn that wasn't there yesterday...." Giant hole into another dimension opens up in the ground, killing everyone in a nearby city? "For you, the day the rift wrecked your village was the most important day of your life. But for me, it was Tuesday."
I think you get the point. It's a little... odd when people don't mention something extreme happening in the world. Not everyone in the world needs to mention everything, ever. But if an explosion bit enough to wipe out a mountain happens, I expect people in 5 different towns in the region to bring it up.
I'm not saying that you should load your game up with events that people talk about, but things should have a cascade effect. You throw a rock in the pond and it sends ripples to the far edges.
I know this post is probably kind of disappointing. I didn't really teach world-building tricks, and the title probably lead most of you to believe this was going to be a really in-depth look at world design. And if I'm honest with you, I'd really like for it to be, simply because world building is so much fun.
But it can't be. I wish I had more tips and tricks to share, but I only just came across that realization literally the 14th of this month. At the time of writing this, it's currently the 16th. So literally only 2 days ago. It takes a while to build up my techniques and resources, especially after only just finding out that everything I thought I knew about world building was completely wrong.
I'll need maybe a few months to integrate this new way of thinking and develop it into a powerful new tool I use for every game, but I do plan on eventually sharing everything I'm learning, because I am a river to my people.
A damn good quote from a great film... (Lawrence of Arabia for those who don't get that reference.)
I'll try to put together something more useful than this sometime later. I can't stand when someone claims they'll teach you something, and all they do is throw conjecture and theory at you.
"In this lesson, you'll learn how to design levels. Step 1: Try to come up with something interesting. Step 2: Try to put that interesting thing in your level. Step 3: Good job. Fuck you, bye!" < This is an example of a tutorial I came across. It boasted that you'll learn good level design, but rather than get even ankle deep into the process, he spent 13 videos, 20 minutes each, blithering matter-of-fact-ly with conjecture, concept, and theory. I ended up learning jack shit from it all, because the tutorial series contained jack shit to begin with.
I don't care if you're the level designer behind the Halo franchise who created the most beloved maps to it, concept and theory is worthless. Garbage is garbage no matter who is giving it out. You may fool greenhorn devs into thinking you're so cool, but I'm no greenhorn, and I'm not impressed by a bunch of empty, jargon-laden talking, with mspaint, flow-chart-tier visuals.
The best tutorials come with good examples that break down and show the methods behind it, step by step. I try to practice what I demand from others when it comes to teaching, so I'm definitely going to be following this up with something more concrete. Even if it takes months for me to figure it all out... I have too much principle, and not enough ego to take the easy way out.
Sure, I can seem smart with concept and theory like the AAA devs do, and it takes less work to load my tutorials up with big words and fancy-pants jargon that kind of sounds like I'm teaching you something, again like AAA devs do, and most will be fooled into thinking the 'tutorial' was worth their while by the end of it, but you and future readers won't really be learning anything you can use, if I did that. And that's not something I can live with.
All that just to say I'll be coming back to this topic as soon as I better understand how this new strategy works, and master it well enough to explain it to the greenest greenhorns out there.
Oh look, another post where I blither on about something that isn't video game related!
Now that I feel sufficiently guilty about being too lazy to blog about my games (honestly, it does get a little boring) I'll get into it.
Hey, at least it's still a kind of game, right? So it's at least thematically relevant. I mean, the blog post is called "dev blog" and development can be anything. And I do usually go with Bastendorf Games on social media, and a game can be almost anything interactive with a win state and a fail state, so...
Anyway, when I was still back in grade school, I encountered something that, much like comics, would stick with me decades later.
For readers from the UK and other countries, grade school is 1st through 4th grade, then middle school is 5th to 8th, and high school is 9th to 12th. Though it used to be called elementary school, junior high school, and senior high school.
It was in 5th grade that I was sitting in the library during lunch. I had just started to learn about Goosebumps books and would read them in the library during lunch period. (This was before cellphones, and the school had no internet access...) Anyway, this group of probably 7th year students came in and set up this massive game that struck me with awe and wonderment. I'd never seen or heard anything like it. It was enormous, taking up a full table, and each of the players had pencils, big stacks of papers, and a foot-tall stack of books and manuals they had to crack open every once in a while.
I was an asshole of a child. I didn't pay attention to anything that was going on around me, and really pay much attention to what these guys were saying, because people who were older than me, talking, was boring. But I remember them talking a lot. Something I'd never seen in a board game before.
(The above image is clearly not the moment I'm talking about, but I wanted to give an idea of what it would have looked like, to those who don't know.)
I think they were forced to stop playing after a day or two. It's was a shit school with asshole teachers. So I can imagine someone getting assblasted seeing 'them demonic damn games with real life magic and real life demon summoning!'
But my memory of it never went away. ...And this is where I became an avid DnD Player, or a DM, right?
Actually, no. I wanted to play whatever it was they were playing so badly, because if it was big enough to eat a whole table top, it had to be really cool. But I wasn't able to get a hold of it or find anyone else who was playing to join. And sadly, to this day, I've never played.
I think I remember figuring out what it was, and asking my parents to get it for me, but it was more expensive than any normal game, and they wouldn't even buy an N64 brand new, let alone Dungeons and Dragons.
I did try to craft my own version to play with my siblings. Hell, I tried twice.
First time, I had all of my siblings come up with characters. Then my brother told his friend about it, and his friend told his brother, and they wanted to join, too. And that's where the attempt fell apart. Their characters were self-inserts. They liked inventing characters for fun, so these ones already existed and likely had long before we ever knew them. And in some apparent attempt at one-upping each other, their characters were absurdly overpowered and came with miles of conflicting lore. My brother's friend, I'll call him Kyle for the sake of this, had a character he wanted to use called Fireban or something equally lame, and this character had the power to burn anything in the universe to ash. Just a touch on the overpowered side for a player character....
And Kyle's brother, I'll call Rich, was my friend, and his character was essentially a Dragon Ball Z Original Character he created who could go Super Saiyan 14 or some such bullshit, while simultaneously going Kaio Ken times 150 or some unbelievably overpowered thing he could do. Keep in mind that this was before Dragon Ball Super, so god level didn't exist, and neither did SSj3 for that matter. Never the less, Rich was super into DBZ, and would often massively wank his characters.
I had a cousin who was visiting at the time, and we tried to get him to join, but he was a Legend of Zelda fanboy at the time. So his character was Link, right? No... it was Mecha Link and he wanted Metal Mario and I think one other character from the Nintendo franchise, but made of machinery, and those characters would be his team. I didn't know how to DM, so I didn't have access to anything DnD related, so I had no ready set of rules or classes, and I sure as hell wasn't going to allow them to throw these over-the-top, lore breaking characters in. So I quit trying.
The second time I tried, it was in high school, so at the very least, it had been 4 to 5 years later. This time I had all of my siblings create characters. A different cousin, and his brother also joined in.
We had decided to make a campaign based off Naruto, which had just began airing on our local station at the time. My character had been I-Cant-Remember-His-Name from a place I created for the campaign called The Village Hidden In The Shadows, my brother was one of his universal "I use this character for everything" character-inserts adapted to the universe, and hailing from the Hidden Sand Village. My other brother was from The Village Hidden Under The 3rd Hokage's Hat... it was stupid, but I let him do it, and one of my cousins decided to be from The Village Hidden In Plain Sight, which I thought was pretty funny.
Aside from the monumental levels of cringe, it went pretty well. I even had some dice, so it worked out. Sadly, I still didn't know how to DnD, so I based the combat system off a combination of Pokemon, because that was the only RPG I still had, and Yu-Gi-Oh, because we were all really into it at the time, because it was still 2008 and it was still big at the time.
This combination barely worked. First of all, everyone had life points the size you'd find among duelists in Yu-Gi-Oh, which we were all used to at the time. (We were all amateur duelists, so it was easiest for us to understand.)
Everyone, at level 1, had 4000 life points, and so did the campaign's first enemies. I have to specify the campaign's first enemies like that because it was the only fight in the campaign. And that's simply due to the fact that the battle literally took all day.
Since all I had at the time was Gen 1 and 2 Pokemon, the attacks ended up being weak, with ludicrous amounts of health.
I don't even remember bothering having anyone roll to see if their attacks connected or not, simply because taking 1d20 +12 points of damage when we all had 4000 hp was really no big deal.
It was a train wreck, because we didn't have any abilities written down, so we just made up new ones on the spot any time we forgot an ability.
We did finish the fight out of a sense of principle, but didn't get anywhere after that. Which I guess is kind of a good thing, as I hadn't done any prep work on the campaign, and didn't really have much for us to do other than the first battle.
I always love realizing I'm now doing things I'd always wanted to do as a child.
"Wait, how can you make your own table top game if you've never played one?"
First of all, it's been a long time since the days of having no idea what I was doing. Seconds, thanks to Total Biscuit promoting a Warhammer campaign he was part of two years ago, I realized there are people who have come up with ways to do their campaigns from the comfort of their own home with people all over the globe. (The internet is an amazing thing.)
From there, I started watching other people recording their campaigns, and kind of absorbed the gist of it through osmosis. There are still things I don't know, like what exactly you're doing when performing a saving throw for example, but I do know what it accomplishes, and the rough idea behind it.
And I'm not quite sure what a check is really calculating. I get that's it's 1d20 plus your stat modifier... so a strength check would be 1d20 with the + or - attribute marked next to strength, but I'm not really sure what the roll is against. What I always assumed is that the dice roll plus all modifers has to be higher than your base strength... so if you had a strength of 10, you'd have to roll 10 or more, or a number that, when modifiers are added, ends up 10 or higher. But I quickly realized that can't be right, because then having a higher strength would be a bad thing, and characters with 0 strength would be the best at strength...
I do know what a natural 1 and a natural 20 are, and I've heard "Give me a _____ check." enough times to know which skills do what. So essentially, simply by watching other people play, I've kind of taught myself how to design my own game (sort of).
Though, it still is kind of pathetic to admit I've been making my own table top rpg without even having played or DMed before.
But why am I doing it?
1. Because I've always wanted to. And I'm not one of those guys who are willing to allow childhood dreams to die just because someone told me I'd never get anywhere.
2. Because it's actually been really helpful and shaped the way I think about developing video games, especially RPGs. It's hard for a video game to be as detailed as Dungeons and Dragons, but like I mentioned before in The Trouble With Modern Games, I've found it to be a shame that the narrating text adventure style has vanished, and I'm changing that. And doing things like this is helping me get into a different frame of mind for games.
3. It's not really that demanding for me to do. I've been working on it off and on for two to maybe three years. It's a low stress type of work I can do even when I'm drop dead tired. Being creative is something that has always come naturally to me, and a lot of the work I'm doing has already been laid out for me due to basing all of my lore and stuff off something I've already spent years working on and fleshing out.
4. The feminist tyranids (feminids) have been taking over and destroying DnD and Warhammer 40k. I'm not saying I think I can replace them, but I am saying I've got a damn good shot if they start tanking hard. I hadn't known, or really cared about SJWs in table top before, and so I wasn't taking my table top game too seriously, nor had I expected it to go anywhere. But now I think maybe it has a chance, and now I feel like playing my part in fighting for this hobby I've barely been part of.
Instead of wasting my time on Twitter any time I'm too tired (or lazy) to work on a game, I can just work on this. Getting suspended from Twitter has done wonders for my productivity. Every once in a while I'll go "That would have made a brilliant Tweet! Damn it!" but over all, it's been better for me. I've gotten so much done since my suspension. I hadn't realized how much Twitter distracted me until I could literally no longer use it.
My table top is almost ready for it's first test drive, so I'm going to need to start looking for good DMs to build campaigns with it, so it can see some field action for fine tuning and critique. It's high fantasy, but deviates from the ground work laid out by DnD. I've always hated coloring inside other other people's lines (...giggity). I think people might like it.
I'm also going to try to keep the cost down, because I know how expensive DnD and Warhammer 40k can be.
I really do want to start playing DnD though.... Almost a decade ago, my mom was out doing something and I was with her. She walks back up to the car and hands me this black, velvet pouch and said she found it in the grass, and wanted me to have it. I opened it up and inside were two chrome d6's.
I also have a red and black set of game dice (that I may have lost, actually) that I'd really like to get to use. But I don't have any IRL friends who are as absolutely nerdy as I am. They're more mid-tier nerds... (No card games, no RPGs, no MMOs don't watch anime, mostly Nintendo IPs, total normies...) and none of them live in my area anymore. (Apparently I'm not the only one who absolutely hates it here.) And I doubt there are any clubs near me, either....
Though there was a store in the next town that sold game dice. That's where I got mine. They also sold DnD stuff, but it was $120, and I couldn't afford that at the time. I haven't been around there much since then, but I don't think anyone serious goes there. It was a small shop. They might have even gone out of business by now. I could check, but it's 12 miles away. Even if I did meet another DnD player there, meeting up for sessions would be difficult.
~ For My Regular Readers ~
So, I was trying to make my new logo, because my old one was garbage, but my new one was turning out kind of lackluster.
I ended up scouring the internet for inspiration when I accidentally came across a site that allows you to set up logo design contests, where designers compete to make you a logo and earn your money, and you set your own price. (99 USD minimum)
It's called 48HoursLogo.com
I'm not getting paid for this post. I just think it's an absolutely genius idea, and I want to drive more traffic and attention to it, because as brilliant an idea and service as it is, it's actually really obscure.
After setting up and running my very first contest, I can honestly say it's a great site, and I already have some tips for people who want to use it.
~ For Clients Who Want To Hold Contests ~
The site seems to be full of folks whose first language is not English.... and by that I mean more than average.
I had a handful of designers enter my contest, and not a single one of them had a really good grasp on English. Nor do the site's staff, for that matter.
This wasn't a massive problem, though. I didn't really have too hard a time communicating, as everyone who did end up participating in my contest did at least know how to speak English, or at least could translate it well enough to understand me.
One of the biggest issues I had is that the site does nothing to help new users understand how it goes and what their role is. I had to contact support to get the following instructions.
Here are the stages of a project:
1. Qualifying Stage
This is the stage where designers are able to join and submit entries. It is also in 'Blind' mode, meaning only you and the person who submitted a design can see a design. Every single design is hidden to outsiders to make sure that clients receive unique submissions from all designers participating.
Participants will be able to make revisions and add those in as entries.
During this stage, you will be asked to rate 1-5 stars, or Not Interested, all the submissions you receive over the period of time you set, and leave feedback on them.
2. Finalists Stage
This stage is entered automatically when the time allotted by the client/contest holder runs out. In this stage, no more entries are permitted and no more comments are allowed to be made on entries.
You will be required to select up to 3 finalists who will become the only people you're still able to communicate with, and who will be the only ones still able to submit revisions.
Note: You must select the participant's approved design when picking them as a finalist, that way if they've submitted multiple design styles, or several revisions, they know which one you want them to work on in stage 3.
3. Design Revisions Stage
You are granted more time (I think it's 7 days total) to have your finalists put the polish on their entries. The system no longer allows any new participants, and closes off entries to all but the selected finalists. You will be entirely unable to communicate with the other participants after stage 1 ends. This is automatic. There is no private messaging system, as far as I'm aware, making any further communication with non-finalists impossible. Be careful.
4. Winner Stage
You've selected your winner. All comments are opened back up again, and you can decide to give out participation prizes. During this stage you'll wait for the winner to upload a zip of the design. You then download it and review it. If everything looks in order, you go back to the contest page an click "Confirm". This will pay the prize out to the winner. Important Note: You do not need to wait for the system to move the contest along automatically. From even the first stage, you can declare a victor simply by ticking the box in the corner after clicking on an entry.
5. Post Stage
The site doesn't tell you this, but after the contest is over and you've picked a winner, you can still run through all previous entries and just buy them from their designers, so if you want more than one, you're allowed to take more than one.
Be Nice, Be Fair, Be Legal
The world is full of clients who are insufferable. (ClientsFromHell.net). Don't be a client from hell. Don't steal a participant's design and refuse to pay them for it. Don't be mean to your participants.
It's important that you remain calm and supportive, even when someone is spamming you with entries (I had this happen to me. I went from around 60 entries to nearly 100 thanks to a very enthusiastic, last-possible-minute participant) and especially with communication problems.
It's important not to get a big head. Clients often times forget that these people have lives and feelings, and acting like a tyrannical CEO is going to reflect poorly on you and your entire company.
While hosting my contest, I tried to be as gracious as possible, using language such as:
"I love the font! But would it be possible for you to make <insert change here>?"
"The colors are good. If it's not too much trouble, can you give me <my request>?"
On ones I wasn't too impressed over, I approached them like this:
"<Insert genuine compliment here>. But I'm not sure if <problematic detail> works." This was often met with complete overhauls, or new designs completely.
And when I didn't like the design at all:
"Thank you, but I'm afraid it's not quite what I was looking for."
Tips For Creating A Contest
This is to help you out a little bit based on what I noticed when I had a look around. There are 3 tiers of contest. I'm too lazy to look the official names up, but this guide will help give you an idea.
General Tier: This is a contest for 99 USD. You're likely to wait a while for any entries at first, you're more likely to get fewer entries, and you're likely to get beginners in design.
Pro Tier: This is a contest for 148 USD. You're going to tend to get more attention this way, better designers, and more people interested in joining.
Gold Tier: This is a contest for 198 USD. You're more likely to get entries in the first hour, and attract the site's best designers.
Though it's not official, there is an extra tier, which I'm calling:
Platinum Tier: The site allows clients to put in a custom money amount. So, over 200 USD is what I call platinum. (This is what I did.) You will attract a lot of attention this way, and designers seem to be more willing to work hard to win. You're much more guaranteed to be noticed by the best talents the site has to offer. I ended up with 4 master level designers, and a number of mid tier designers.
You can put out a little extra money to make your contest featured, which will draw additional attention.
But you don't even have to pay if you don't like what you get. There are two sub types of contest:
Non-Guaranteed it means there's no guarantee you'll select a winner to receive money. This will make people more wary of entering, and likely make them work less hard.
Or Guaranteed which will send the message that even if you don't like what you get, you're still going to go through the motions and pay the winner. This will make designers more confident, and more willing to try winning your contest.
I've seen some truly genius logos on this site. And I've had some really good designs entered into my own contest. (I did a platinum, guaranteed, featured contest.)
Reward Non-Finalists With Great Designs
You can actually hand out consolation prizes in the form of Participation Tips. It will cost you a little more money, but it's a nice gesture towards people who tried their hardest, but just fell short of being a finalist in the end.
Tips are in 5 USD amounts, but you can give more than $5 to any given participant.
Example: I looked over the results and collected my top 6 designs. The best 3 went on to become finalists, the 4th place design got $10, the 5th place design got $10, and I gave out $5 to the 6th. After I've selected my winner, the two losing finalists will also receive participation rewards. It costs more money on my part, but it encourages people to want to work for you in the future.
~ For Designers ~
For those interested in joining up as a designer, follow these tips.
The last thing you want to do is make your client mad.
Make suggestions if and where possible, and don't be afraid to enter variations to your work. Sometimes your client won't know what they want, or sometimes you can change their mind a little, or even a lot.
See, the entire reason these people are making contests is because they're not entirely sold on a logo design, and are trust people to help them come up with something. So feel free to dazzle them a little if you can shoulder the work. It might pay off.
Clients have to review and rate every submission they get. Try to limit entries to 4 or 5 at a time. Even if you work quick, they still have to go over your designs and the designs of everyone else, and rate them. Be considerate of their time and mindful of other participants.
It might be tempting to blast out 40 different variations to the same logo, but remember that you might not be the only one doing that. Your 40 might also be stacked onto Edwardo's 10, and Dinkleberg's 7, and IMaekGuudLogoes's 18, making your client's total workload 75 entries.
There's no reason you should do someone's logo for free for 'exposure'. That's a manipulation tactic, and you should never feel pressured to work for free unless you want to. You can walk away from a contest or client at any time. The site will allow you to remove your designs. I had someone submit a design, change their mind, and remove it before I had a chance to look at it. I couldn't view it at any point afterwards.
Don't waste your client's time by not reading the outline. I had one unfortunate participant who gave me really nice logo designs..... for an insurance agency....
To the guy's credit, they would have looked absolutely fantastic on a business card, but for something as titanically important to a company's branding as a game development company's logo? Not a chance. Unfortunately, he didn't follow the contest's design outline, and I had to be that guy by 1 star-ing his submissions and informing him that as much as I could envision his designs on a billboard or business card, I couldn't accept his entries as they didn't even come close to the outline I wrote, the sample logos I selected from the site's own database, or the inspiration pieces I uploaded from my hard drive.
Choosing A Contest Tier
Beginner Level Designer
If you're not so hot at logo design, stick to the Guaranteed, General Tier contests. (Scroll up to the Contest Creation Tips section for more information on my tier rating guide.) Avoid the higher-paying contests, because chances are, you are going to end up trampled by more skilled designers.
Don't try to tackle things that will be more challenging just yet. Indie game development company logos, for example. When it comes to game dev logos, your work is cut out for you in spades. A game dev's logo has to be memorable, striking, and above all else, be easily recognized by sight alone. The logo of a dev is a massively important part of their identity.
I would recommend, if you're just beginning, to look for ones that need only a simple shape with text, or even text only, and go in with a wide variety of different designs.
Medium Level Designer
At an intermediate designer level, you might be able to take part in Gold and Platinum tier contests (Scroll up to the Contest Creation Tips section for more information on my tier rating guide.) I recommend General and Pro Tier.
But know that if you participate in big prize contests, there's a very good chance you'll be up against people well above your skill level.
Feel free to choose between guaranteed and non-guaranteed, because if you know a little more about what you're doing, you have a better chance of not completely wasting your time.
Even if you go into a larger prize contest, don't be afraid to still give it your all, because some clients may give out participation rewards.
Expert Level Designer
You'll want to hang around the guaranteed Pro Tier contests, and try your hand at Gold and Platinum, whether guaranteed or not. (Scroll up to the Contest Creation Tips section for more information on my tier rating guide.)
The more risks you take, the more likely you are of nailing a win, or getting personally invited to a contest. Clients, if they want someone to enter their contest, can send an invite, so even if you fail 10 times out of 10, you'll still be building a portfolio and draw attention.
At this level and above, you should be able to safely tackle game developer logos. Keep in mind that if that's a thing you're interested in doing: a game dev logo is a beast all its own. I've found that normal logo rules don't apply to game dev logos. This kind of logo can be virtually anything as long as it's memorable and easily identified at a glance.
I'm not kidding, either. There are a number of video game companies I've never known the name of, but I can recognize their symbol anywhere.
Example: Infogrames. I can never remember their name, but their armadillo is unmistakable.
-Psygnosis. By the end of today, I'll forget their name, but I will always be able to point to their striking, signature owl and tell you they make games.
Master Level Designer
Look for those big prizes in guaranteed contests, and maybe take a crack at Pro Tier ones. (Scroll up to the Contest Creation Tips section for more information on my tier rating guide.) You're not going to get as much, but you might not have as much competition
Just remember to give it your all, because you'll often find yourself up against other people who are good at design, and all want that prize money too. Maybe (if you're allowed, I don't know if it will let you do it) if you're feeling confident, (or desperate) throw your hat into more than one contest and increase your chances of winning.
Know The Silhouette Test
Character design and logo design are two very different things, but the concept still applies. The Test
Logos need to look good and recognizable in color, in black and white, and in silhouette. If the logo has a character in it, make sure they have a design and pose that looks good in silhouette form.
Calculate Your Risk Carefully
The site's system does keep track of how many contests you've entered, how many times you've been a finalist, and how many times you've won, and clients can see that information. If you throw yourself into a thousand contests, but never become a finalist once, that's going to show.
All three of the finalists in my contest have finalist numbers like 70, 277, and 634, and have wins in the 20s to 40s, as well as nearly flawless ratings of 98%, 99%, and 99%. And that stuff is easily discovered on your profile, so make sure you're not forging a terrible reputation.
Keep An Eye On Time
As mentioned in the contest making tips section, contests progress automatically. You will not be allowed to submit entries after the timer on stage 1 of the contest has run out.
I had one unfortunate participant who decided to upload a work in progress in the very last hour of the contest, and he didn't make it in time. Sadly, I can't give him more time, even though I would have liked to. His design had turned out promising.
Once the system moves into stage 2, it's too late. If you're not among the three finalists, the contest ends for you. Only finalists can continue interacting and submitting enties. I can't even tell the guy "Hey, sorry... you ran out of time. I didn't cut you off on purpose." because it cuts off comments to all but finalists, and there is no PM system, from what I can see.
Protip: Never give yourself only an hour or even a day to enter a contest, especially not one with 50 to 100 entries and 8 or more participants already submitted. And double especially when the contest cuts off automatically.
You want to hit a contest as soon as possible, and start working on revisions as soon as you can. The longer you wait, the further behind you drop. The early bird catches the finalists slot, because the early bird has more time to work and impress the client.
If a contest says: Started 6 days ago, Entries: 80, I recommend giving it a pass. Even if you think you're a shoo-in to beat the other designs (which are hidden to all but the client, by the way) you never know if the client is asleep or not, so you never know if you'll get a chance to make revisions in time.
Don't Hold A Grudge Over Cutoffs
If you do get cut off by the system, don't hold it over your client. I had no way of extending the time. I had set the maximum possible time of 7 days, and he entered within the last hour. If I could have given him more time, I would have. But the cutoff is a hard cutoff, and I couldn't. I wasn't even permitted to put out personalized "Hey, better luck next time" messages before selecting my finalists. The system (probably to prevent begging and pleading) slams the door to everyone and demands you pick finalists the moment the allotted time hits 0. After that, you can only communicate with whoever you've named a finalist, and only after you have named them a finalist.
There might be a way to extend the time, but it's not made clear how to if there is, and no doubt it would cost money, and I'm not paying extra for tardiness.
Don't Beg To Be A Finalist
I had someone beg a number of times to be a finalist, but the unfortunate thing was: he was a last minute entry. I had already spent all week working with other, very skilled designers and hammered out some really good designs that I liked. By the time he had come in, I already had my three finalists picked out, and in order to beat them and usurp a finalist position from one of them, he would have needed an extra day or two.
Moral of the story: He came in late, likely knew he didn't have enough time to get his design finished up, and tried begging his way into a finalist slot to give himself more time. Unfortunately, the participants had their fingers on a finalist position were already way ahead of him, already had refined their designs down to where I could no longer knit pick even small details, (they all entered in the first and second days) and were simply waiting for the next stage to come.
Had he been on time, he likely would have gotten his design in order, and likely could have taken a finalist slot, because his design wasn't all that bad, it was just not yet finished.
~ Flaws ~
This is for my usual readers who aren't already familiar with the site.
There is one tragic, glaring flaw, and it's the reason I wrote this tips post: the site communicates nothing to its users. It doesn't tell you what to do during your contest, it doesn't tell you what the referral system is for, it doesn't tell you in advance that only finalists get to keep talking to you...
It does have a few instructions, but those aren't explained in depth, and as far as I've seen, it only directs you through setting up your contest. Running it, you're on your own.
As I said, in order to get the Contest Structure tips posted near the top, I had to contact support.
It's also lacking a PM system meaning communication outside a contest is impossible, it has limited contest entry filter options, and doesn't even allow you to hide non-finalist entries when you get to the finalists stage.
It's not so bad in small contests, but when you have 107 entries and 3 participants going "revision of number <X>" and they're ordered either by rank or ascending/descending Date Submitted, it can be hard to locate a specific number belonging to a specific person. Order By Number and Group By User would have been very handy.
They also lack a 'filter by new comments' option, meaning that I had to scroll through all 100 submissions to make sure I didn't miss a comment by the uploader, because you have to click the submission to see the comments, and the only way to know it has a new comment on it is on the thumbnail itself. You get no notification otherwise, and the indicator is tiny and easy to miss.
I made suggestions to their support team for ways to improve the site, but the first email went entirely ignored, even though I asked how to submit suggestions and was told to use the contact form.
It has no "compare" feature, so when someone uploads a small modification to a design, it can be hard to tell what had changed and by how much. I had a lot of people who would decide to make a change to a design just on their own, and it made it kind of a pain to go about comparing them to find out what the change was without asking, and I was hesitant to ask about changes due to the aforementioned language barrier.
It's a bit of a pain. The service is still functional, though.
(I think I know why communication outside contests is impossible: it cuts out the possibility for begging for free logos and stops contest losers from harassing/intimidating clients for not selecting them as finalists/winners... but I don't know... it's frustrating to not be able to say encouraging words to those who don't quite make it to the finals.)
~ The One Smart Choice ~
The one and only smart choice they made was allowing their site to use notifications (at least on Firefox, anyway). Any time a submission is uploaded to my contest, my browser pops up an alert, even if I don't have 48HoursLogo open in a tab.
If I click that notification, it will bring me straight to my contest page. It made lightning quick responses to entries quite possible and very easy.
~ Signing Up ~
Sign-up is totally free. Need a logo? Go give it a shot! It offers no-risk options, (though that's kind of a dick move...) and unlimited revisions at no extra cost. (I feel guilty about making people do an excessive amount of work, though)
They also do brand identity, too!
I'm not getting paid or even rewarded to write this or promote the site, I just think it's a genius resource, and would like to direct more traffic to it, help out fellow indies, and want see more like it pop up.
I could really use the same kind of service for video game music composition. It's too hard to wade through the garbage to find the real talent, and it has already cost me over $1000 looking.
It would be nice to put it to a contest for it. It would save me some hassle with searching and contacting, it would save me some money (my principles won't allow me to refuse someone payment for their work, even if I can't use their work), and competition breeds excellence, so I'm bound to get some real talent.
I'm getting really sick of people with amazing music portfolios who flop when I hire them, and then demand more money from me to fix it.
One for textures and such would be useful, too. (If I had the money for such a thing, I'd design my own ultimate indie game project resource site themed on 48HoursLogo's system, but sadly, I'm a broke-broke...)
If someone has the resources to build such a site and decides to do it, do let me know. I'll support the shit out of it.
And if you do sign up to 48HoursLogo... *cough* put me down as a referral. Username Bastendorf. *cough* (no idea what I get for referrals, because the site doesn't tell users anything at all... but it's an option that's there, so why not? I'll update if someone puts me as a referral and I'm able to figure out what it does for me.)
Update: I've completed stage 4 and added a stage 5 to the contest creation tips in the contest processes.
I've also figured out what the referrals do. They allow the person you've marked as your referral... person... to have one free featured contest. (Usually making your contest featured costs $19 in addition to the cost of the prize money) Once my contest had officially ended and the winner been paid, they emailed me information about the referral system.
Today is not a good day for... I don't know, anything at all?
The best way I can convey what I mean is with an example. Often times while I'm working, I'll need to looks something up. I do boatloads of research that I use in my material: writing, drawing, video games. I want to know how specific things work or worked, or sometimes I just go for a little inspiration.
In this instance, I had been looking for a Lord of the Rings wiki, because usually fan wikis are more helpful and thorough than Wikipedia, and when it comes to RPG and high fantasy, it's kind of hard not to look towards one of the kings of high fantasy.
It took me a whole minute sitting on my web browser to remember what I was supposed to be doing. It was after a short struggle that I remembered I wanted to look some features of Lord of the Rings up, but it took an additional 20 to 40 seconds of time for me to remember what Lord of the Rings was called. I could remember characters, and scenes from the movie, but the name of one of the most innovative and influential movies in cinema totally evaded me very briefly.
You'd think that once I had the name, I'd be all set to go, but no. I typed "Lord of the Rings" into the search bar and hit enter, and was confused as to why I wasn't seeing what I felt like I should be seeing. I saw the IMDb and the Wikipedia entry, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I wasn't after those. I just couldn't remember what it was. Long story short, it probably took a total of 5 minutes for me to remember I had to type "Lord of the rings wiki" specifically, and clumsily stumble my way, one detail at a time, to a fan wiki page, simply because I'd forget what I was doing in the space of a few seconds. I'm a little more awake now than I was when I was trying to internet easlier, but whatever system is intended to run the memory center of my brain is clearly lacking the energy to do so. My short term memory is kind of shot at the moment and it's making work very difficult.
As a direct result of constantly forgetting what I'm supposed to be doing, I've had more time to think. Sort of. It's a very fragmented think, and a very forgetful think, but it is a think no less.
And the brain child of probably way too long a time spent thinking about very little is what I might end up doing if I get off my ass and finally start to pursue making comics.
This is a thing I remembered I want to do. See, I realized blogs benefit from having images or other break points, just so that it's not a massive, unbroken wall of text. It makes it easier for people to stop and come back later, because the images or markers act as kind of a checkpoint, helping to make picking it back up after doing something else much quicker.
However, I'm not always so good at picking images that relate, even when my mind is working somewhat normally, so this is all you get. Hey, at least it's tangentially relevant to the topic, right?
A while back, I did a procrastinate. And in this procrastinate, I decided I'd blog about a childhood dream of mine.
Bastendorf The Comic Book Maker
I'll summarize just for those who don't have the time to read two blogs in a day: when I was a very young, impressionable child, I had a great desire to draw comics. I've always been a game developer first and foremost, but my dream was to do comics as a hobby.
I never really had any ideas, because I was an idiot kid and spent entirely too much time fantasizing about how awesome I would be in the future, and little to no time working to be awesome, or writing and creating stories to fulfill becoming awesome.
It's why well into High School I still sort of drew like a small boy. It wasn't until I was half way through high school that I realized I was wasting my time waiting to just become awesome through the magic of adulthood. Probably because I had always had it hammered into my head that things would suddenly change when I hit college. "Everything will be different in college, just you wait. But you got to stick through K through 12 to get there." It's what I had always been told. I guess I always treated it as some rite of passage, that I'd just reach college and suddenly now I'm a man, a man, man, man!
PSA: If you have children, or are a middle school, or high school student, please listen to me: If you or your child/children want to get into arts and design, such as acting, drawing, writing, game development, etc, do not allow yourself/them to believe college will be where everything magically changes. I found out the hard way that college is no different from any other school year. There is no magic. All that awaits you/them in college is debt. There isn't a single solitary thing college can teach you about art and design that they you/they can't learn simply through practice and the internet. Don't wait/let them wait until college. Start now. Right now. The sooner you/they start learning and practicing their/your craft, the better off they/you will be. I took art classes 3 years out of middle school, 4 years out of high school, and 1 in between class for a week. I didn't learn a good god damn thing. I learned more in one year on Youtube than those 7 years of art in school. Don't make or let your children make the mistake I made.
Not a day goes by that I don't regret not starting work towards my career a decade sooner than I did. That is and always will be the biggest regret of my life.
Anyway, hobby in comics...
In my memory-of-a-goldfish state, I started thinking about what I could write as a more serious comic. (As a kid, I did some comics. But they were all dumb. Really funny if you share my sense of humor, but still dumb.)
In my previous blog post (linked above) I said I might do something with superheroes. I don't think I'm clever enough for that. I am a stupid man, I'm a stupid man! A stupid man, a stupid man, I am a stupid man!
Dave Bulmer's little self-deprecating song doesn't seem to have the same charm in text form...
Irrelevant, I guess.
It occurred to me that since Marvel are currently hell bent on destroying superheroes as a genre, maybe it's not worth struggling to learn to write them. Maybe I'll just avoid the mess that superheroes in general are currently becoming.
If you haven't seen this yet (lucky you), above is a completely unedited screenshot from an actual comic, actually made and printed by the actual Marvel. It's from the 4th issue of Marvel’s comic series Angela Queen of Hel.
Yeah, that's not a sinking ship I'm eager to board.
Instead, I might focus on a different idea. One I can't really explain in even minute detail because there are thieves every 40 feet. Disclaimer: I'm not saying you might.... well, actually... I guess that is what I'm saying. You never know who you can trust. One of my readers may end up stealing my idea, or maybe someone new will show up, see the idea, and walk off with it. I guess the takeaway from this botched disclaimer is: don't take it as me accusing any one of you directly as definitely being thieves, just that I'm saying that there might be one among my readers in general.
But in addition to using my time to think and having a change of concept, I realized I have a few gigantic problems.
Here's a giant one: I can't draw humans to save a burning orphanage full of children.
If the only thing standing between those children and being burned alive is me drawing an accurate human, I'm afraid Little Orphan Annie is straight up boned.
Cover your ears and try to tune out the screams, because it's not going to be pretty when the flames reach those kids...
Now, in my defense, I hadn't been using any guides. (Construction lines like shown here.) And I was really rushing when I did Sir Arthur (in the color image above.)
If I really took my time at it, and did all the things I should have done (construction lines, references, pre-sketch, etc) I probably could have done a lot better. But still only marginally.
(Like I said, those orphans are pretty screwed....)
The second problem is quite a bit bigger. I need one of these things:
This is called a pen tablet, for those who don't keep up with the technical crap that goes along with being an artist.
A pen tablet is basically a digital sheet of paper: an electronic device you can draw on.
I already have one, and it's trash. It's breaking like hell, it's small as hell, and the screen is a subtly more red hue than my PC screen, meaning all color is slightly, but very noticeable off.
How did I break it? No idea. Cracks just started forming in the plastic. In fact, it wasn't even in good shape when I bought it brand new. The sheet that makes up the screen had been slightly drooping right out of the box.
Why is the screen reddish? I haven't a clue. It's just like that. And I've tried and tried to adjust the colors on the display options to compensate for the excess red. It's just not possible.
Recently, some kind of residue got under the plastic... glass... whatever it is that covers the screen, so there are these big, ugly blotches. I'd likely just be able to take it apart to clean this strange residue (probably dust) but I'm afraid taking it apart will make the cracks even worse, and I'd rather have a dirty, working tablet than a clean, non-working tablet.
Also there's a small cluster of pixels in the screen that don't work. Not sure if it was like that when I got it, or if it got that way shortly after. Pixels that don't work are kind of hard to notice at first.
The pen is also a little slow. It seems to have a very slight, but definite delay, and it does quickly add up. If I move quickly enough, the cursor can end up being whole seconds behind, and it gets worse when I'm using more complicated brushes.
Apparently my model was such a crappy model, they discontinued it only 5 months after I bought mine. Gee, thanks Wacom. Fantastic! It only cost me 2 grand. Pocket change to a peasant like me! It's not like I'm poor or anything!
Long rant short: I need a new one. But they're really expensive. Can I draw with pen and paper? Yes. Am I any good? Absolutely not. How much worse could I possibly be? Oh you have no idea... I have big, clumsy hands and no artistic talent, and not being able to undo on a piece of paper is a nightmare. (No, erasers aren't good enough.)
I could try to crowd fund a new one, and having a better tablet would not only improve my digital art, it would also improve my ability to develop games, because I would no longer have to rely on my junk tablet, or try to draw with my mouse, which would help with textures and models (And save time moving the window back and forth to compensate for the reddish tint it has...) Pixel art might even be able to benefit from a pen. I did notice that back when I did pixel art with my tablet, it did go faster...
But I honestly don't think that endeavor would go too well. I have few people even following my content, and out of you guys, even fewer will be able to afford to help me much, or even want to help me. Kind of hard to afford something so expensive with such little support.
Here's another big ol problem!
No way in hell I could do something remotely that detailed. The amount of backbreaking hours this image had to take... And I know who this guy is, and I know for a fact he did the whole thing by hand on paper, first in pencil, then ink, then paint for the shading. I know it because that's what he does and he's amazing and I'm not and I suck.
The idea I have would require maybe not as much detail as Mark Crilley's sexy, sexy image there, but it would require a lot of detail. And I'm too trash at art and too lazy to put that much effort in, but at the same time, I'm too principled to take the easy, quick way out by just avoiding adding backgrounds into my comics and manga-level simplifying things down.
"But Bastendorf, if you have such a negative attitude, you'll never be able to do it." No, I really, genuinely can't do that kind of thing. I'm just not creative enough.
How I decorate a house: "Ok, so it has a chair... a coffee table... and a tv. There! Look, I made a house! Mom, put it on the fridge!" (My mom never put my art on the fridge. Probably because I was always exceptionally shit at it...)
Another reason I can't do it is my extreme obsessive compulsive perfectionism.
Anecdote: There was this one time I was drawing an image digitally, and I remember having spent hours getting things just right, only to realize way too late that I'm sitting there erasing, redrawing, and carefully perfecting the god damn construction lines! I had to have spent at least three hours heavily scrutinizing and adjusting temporary line work no one would even end up seeing! "Oh noes, I didn't fully erase that temporary line that I'll ultimately end up just hiding or deleting later. I can still ever-so-faintly see one or two of the pixels of it if I go up to 2000% zoom! I must fix this right away!" < Slight dramatization, but completely accurate to what I end up catching myself doing all the time.
Actually, now that I think about it, that's probably a major contributor in why I tend not to draw construction lines. Just the absurd amount of time I spend needlessly trying to make them look better.
Anyway, the point to that anecdote was to underline how long it would take me to do something like Mark Crilley does, simply because I can't overcome my compulsion to get as perfect as possible even the most trivial of things.
And now I have to question why I'm even making this post.
Oh yeah... because I honestly can't get any work done due to forgetting every few seconds what my plans are, and decided my time would be better spent ranting in a post as a thinly veiled disguise to a half hour of berating myself on my blog over my failures at pretty much everything I do. And also specifically so I had an excuse to make a throwaway stab at Marvel over how badly they're screwing up as of late.
I spent half an hour writing and proofreading this entire post just so I could make a snarky quip about the rapid collapse of a once-great comic book industry giant.
It was totally worth it.
SSL has been enabled for my blog now. That stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and according to my vast, professional knowledge and not this article I just looked up on the subject because I had no idea what that meant, SSL is used to encrypt information transferred across the internet. It protects your information from getting intercepted by unwelcome eavesdroppers.
That would have been enabled a lot sooner if Weebly had bothered telling me what it was. And that it wasn't enabled by default for that matter. Frankly, I don't know why SSL enabled wouldn't just be something that was a given.
"Would you like to protect your visitors from having their information intercepted?"
"No, fuck you."
It'd be like making seat belts optional.... at NASCAR.... "No thanks. I understand that countless racers have died in some of the most brutal car crashes in human history, but I'd rather not have seat belts in my car while flying down the track at lethal speeds."
Literally the only reason I found out it wasn't enabled, and what it did when enabled, was Weebly all of a sudden decided it was going to tell me that it wasn't enabled yet. Gee thanks, Weebly. I've only had this blog for a year. It's not like you've had months upon months to tell me that sooner.
Well, there you go, guys. Now if I start selling crap on here, you won't get your info swiped trying to get it. Doubt I will, but whatever. It's better to have it and not need it than it is to need it and not have it.
To start, no, I didn't forget to tell about my other dream (the one I said I'd tell about in my last post). I just fell into a deep lethargy and haven't had the energy to power my brain. Or rather, I should say I put myself in this deep lethargy... it is completely my fault, and I'm not going to be an SJW about it and blame something else.
I put myself in a long-lasting lethargic state (no, it's not self-destructive) and while in this state, it's been really hard to think creatively. One of the other things I'm working on at the moment is my own P&P. That's pen and paper, for those who aren't massive, massive nerds like I am. Also more commonly referred to as Table Top Games, or Table Top RPGs, or for the out-of-touch minivan moms: It's Dungeons and Dragons.
No, I'm not making a DnD campaign or a module, I'm creating my own system from scratch. (I'm a colossal nerd.) But anyway, the point in telling you this actually segues nicely into the point of this post, but also helps to show what kind of state I've been in. I was trying to write a paragraph of flavor text for elves, and in this lethargy, after hours of thinking, the best I could come up with is "they're like humans but they have pointy ears."
I'm not kidding. When I say I'm not up to a task, I'm really not up to a task. This is why, when I'm not in the mood to do something, I tent to procrastinate doing that something.
While trying to crank out flavor text for the races available in this game, infrequently bouncing back and forth between working on my video game and my table top game, I started to realize something I suppose I always knew was there, but now found glaringly evident.
I noticed ultra modern games, and this constant push to make games more and more realistic, kind of caused games to lose an important charm.
Way back, sometimes all you got was just text on a screen. Or sometimes text and a basic graphic. Something along the lines of:
"You see a white house. It's covered in cracks and moss. There is clear evidence no one has lived there quite possibly for decades. The paint has weathered so much, you would almost have missed that it was intended to be white. Weeds have grown tall around it, partially drowning out the place where the house meets the ground. Near it is a mailbox. It droops from neglect and wear caused by countless hot summers and brutal, cold winters. It's rusted so badly, holes have developed in its aluminum shell."
In those days, when it came to those games, you had to use your imagination. Every single player had a different, unique way of envisioning the state and look of such a house. These days, you literally see the house with all the details that used to be described to you.
There it is... yay.
Actually, I created the description of the house before ever deciding I wanted to have an image, so I'm quite surprised I was so easily able to find a photo of a house that matched my description, simply by typing "old house white" into DuckDuckGo. (The wording was strategic, because I realized right away that 'old white house' would just bring up old photos of the Whitehouse...)
Now, there's nothing inherently wrong with literally showing you the house, but when I do that, you.... we... take the little details for granted. If I had just simply showed you the house, you can see it's old, but you lose out on small flavor text details in favor of the big picture. All nuance is lost in an image or even a 3D, 4k rendering, because it's up to you to take in what you see, and not everyone will notice all the subtle details.
However, when I describe it to you, I can control what details are drawn to your attention, and make sure that no detail goes overlooked.
Take the picture above for example. How many of you noticed that you can tell by the way the paint has worn and flaked that one half of the house appears to have been added on much later in the life of the building? You can see the worn out paint kind of takes on the shape of what seems to be the original house. I'm willing to bet more than a hand full of people reading this ended up missing that. And therein lies the rub.
In fact, in a modern game, that detail would likely even be passed off as a glitch or texture problem, or just straight up be accused of being incompetent design.
I'm not saying we should ditch modernity in our video games. That would be absurd. There's a lot that being able to see what's happening brings you that descriptions just fall flat at. Example: (Fable 2 spoilers ahead) There's a house in Fable 2 that doesn't seem at all out of the ordinary, but as you go it enter it, the entire thing dissolves away into this horrifying, ruin of a shack. That transition between past and present gave me the worst chills down my spine when I encountered it, and it was the coolest thing I'd ever seen. (end of spoilers)
Or the part in Fallout 3 (Fallout 3 spoilers ahead) There's this building you can enter, and at specific points, the whole building shifts backwards in time to before the war, allowing you to see it as it was back then. It was kind of neat, but at the same time, it was absolutely terrifying. (end of spoilers)
That type of thing just isn't as powerful described to you as it is experienced in full visual and auditory splendor.
And I do get it, not everyone has the time or patience for games where every little thing has a whole paragraph written about it. This one for example...
(I told you, I'm a gigantic nerd.)
Back when games used to look like that ugly monstrosity, developers had no choice but to describe everything to you because not a lot could be conveyed with the technology, which was part of the charm really. (Don't take me the wrong way. Though I tease the Planescape's visuals, it really is a very good game.)
I never got to really enjoy games like that when I was younger, and now that I'm older, I'm finding myself lamenting the outmoding of games like this.
In the modern era of the game's industry, details are taken for granted and lost among the scenery. Item descriptions are limited to a one-line blurb, or fully non-existent. In games such as Planescape Torment, every item had paragraphs of flavor text you could call up by examining the item. In fact, while we're talking about the game, nearly everything had its own flavor text. Even mobs that were graphically identical to each other. Example: You end up in a morgue where there are numerous zombies roaming around, and each zombie has a unique description. Some are older and others in better shape, some have parts of them hollowed out with junk stored in them, etc. And that kind of thing isn't readily possible in modern, ultra realistic games.
In games like this, it takes hours and hours of work and teams of people to make everything look as realistic as possible. The people who do that work need to be paid for their time. So to cut costs, work time, and file size, certain things, such as NPCs, will be recycled. This is why, in GTA for example, if you're walking down the street, you can inevitably find 4 or 5, or even 9 identical NPCs just walking along down the side walk, because to make every npc fully unique would take too much time and disk space.
You might even play the game a hundred times without ever noticing some of the game's smaller details.
But in a game where everything is described via text, it can take literally just me about 30 minutes to fully flesh out all the major and minor details of a room. And when you play it, since all the details are described to you, you'll get the full experience.
And on top of that, a description of something can give you so much more than a picture of something.
Now I'll try making an examine-action description of that exact same wallet.
"You turn the wallet over in your hand a few times. It's old. Very old. The timeworn, brown leather has lost almost all of its luster, becoming dull, dingy, and soft in its age. The edges have been severely frayed from what was probably decades of the rubbing, scraping, and abuse from life inside the pocket of a southern man's denim jeans, and hundreds, if not thousands, of times pulled from, and shoved back into, said pocket. A large, rectangular indent in the broad side of the leather immediately catches your eye, evidence that there was once a card kept in a sleeve inside the wallet. In fact, the presence of the card has had massive influence on the wear of the wallet. Along the edges of the rectangular imprint, the leather is much more frayed than anywhere else, the corners of which have even worn straight through to the inside of the wallet itself.
Along the the leather surface are hundreds of tiny, hair-thin scratches: scars left by coins, house keys, and whatever else the modern owner might have shoved in his pocket along with his ever-present wallet. Along the bottom of one face of the wallet, almost lost among permanent creases, are nearly indistinguishable letters spelling out the word "PERRY", or at least, that's what it appears to spell. Lettering likely to be the brand name of the wallet, or the company that made it.
In addition to the battle scars, there are numerous cracks caused by the relentless standing and sitting motion of day to day life typical of modern man, compressing the leather in ways that eventually added to the catalog of age-marks on the surface of the relic. It has clearly seen better days. No square inch of it is what it used to be. Every centimeter damaged and warn out, each blemish like a memory of some long-past event."
Do you see the difference? I understand some of you might be too young to have ever had to experience the kinds of games I did, back in my day *shakes cane*. So I'll go ahead and break down the difference.
When I showed you the wallet, I took just some random photo off the internet. The picture is as lifeless as they come. You gain little from the photo. However, in text form, I have a hell of a lot more freedom to breath more life and character into this simple object. Like I said above, what you see is what you get. It's an old, brown wallet. In text description, I was able to do what the image could not. I illustrated the kinds of things the wallet would have been through in order to do to it what you see.
When you see something like an old wallet, you don't really think about who owned it. Or, I guess you can, but like I keep saying: what you see is what you get. With written description, I was able to nudge you in the direction I wanted you to think about it. Suddenly you get more than just an old wallet, you get an idea of who may have owned it. Maybe you imagined him in his old truck, wallet in his back pocket crushed between him and his seat, or maybe you pictured him at the checkout to a gas station, picking up a pack of cigarettes and pulling his wallet out to pay for it, and roughly shoving it back into his pocket to carry on with his day. My description can nudge you in the direction of thinking about what kinds of things were in his pocket along with his wallet in order to cause all those scratches. Coins, keys, maybe some kind of tools because he's an electrician? What kind of card made the large rectangular imprint? His ID? His driver's license? Some rewards card? Or maybe he works at a facility of some kind, and it's his employee access card for electronically locked doors? Who knows? That part is up to you, my job was to take you by the hand and kind of guide you in that direction.
And that's just a small taste of the charm that is missing in modern games and their high detail graphics.
Now, a lot of people (dumb people) are going to think in hardcore black and white here, and assume what I'm saying is that games should never use detailed graphics ever again, because it's either one way or the other, never both! And they'll make a big deal because they can't go back to simple games because too many people love beautiful graphics, and it would be a crime to turn our backs on the innovation of the current pc and console games of today and tomorrow! Blarg!
What I'm saying is that the text adventure should be revived and still be a genre among even the multi billion dollar games.
Sadly, modern day humans don't want to have to read anything, so I fear the genre will never regain its full glory. I'll admit it, there are times I'm just not in the mood to read mile long walls of text. But the difference between an article and a text adventure is that you have to use your brain.
Alas, we live in a time where even Cuphead's tutorial is too much thinking for some people... and as long as those 'some people' remain employed and engrossed in our hobby, the text adventure genre may never come back.
So how has working on a TTRPG changed the way I think about video games? Well, for my JRPG, I've been thinking, and thinking, and what I'm thinking is wouldn't it be cool to add that kind of detail to my game? The answer is very heavily leaning towards 'yes'. But I've been hesitant to pull the lever and give that the green light, because it has to be the right balance for today's zero-attention-span gamers. It won't end up being miles upon miles of text like Planescape Torment, but it will definitely be more than the average Final Fantasy style JRPG.
Also I've been itching to get into making text adventures. And no, I don't mean like Depression Quest. That's not a Text Adventure, that's a Choose Your Own Adventure. There is a difference. A big one.
Choose Your Own Adventure 'games' are slightly interactive stories where you kind of get to chose the direction it goes in at certain intervals.
Interactive Novel 'games' are wholly uninteractive stories that wait for you to press something to progress the story.
Text Adventure games are deeply interactive games where you have to pick your way around an environment using text commands such as "Go West", "Take <item>", "Look" etc, and solve puzzles without being eaten by a grue.
The primary difference between games like Zork, and 'games' like Depression Quest is that Zork takes a lot of effort on the developer's part and a lot of effort on the player's part, and Depression Quest takes little effort on the developer's part, and no effort on the player's part, simple because all possible options are usually presented to you at the end of a few paragraphs of writing, though some novels do get greatly more into detail than just a few paragraphs...
In a text adventure, the obscure and unassuming painting described in a room's flavor text may have more to it than you might think. You have to think on your toes in a text adventure, because when it comes to a game where your imagination and my narration build the entire world, your experience is limited only by our combined creativity. If you don't think to take a closer look at the cracked mirror in the terrifying hall of decapitated corpses, you may end up being stuck for hours.
A lot of people think text adventures are lazy simply because they don't involve graphics, but really they're not lazy at all. They're were an attempt at taking a table top experience like DnD, where your imagination drives the game, and digitalizing it. Or, you know... reading a novel.... where you have to.... you know.... use your imagination and shit... Same people who bitch about text adventures not having graphics are strangely silent about their favorite books no longer containing pictures. Fucking funny, that, huh?
If you think text adventures are lazy simply because they lack a visual element, then I think this is a little more your speed.
Be sure to buy the beveled version. You wouldn't want to hurt yourself on those sharp, dangerous corners. And before you start reading, always make sure you're wearing your helmet and knee pads. Safety first, after all.
'Lazy' my ass. In fact, I'd go as far as to say it's the complete opposite. Yeah, that's right, graphics are less work on my part. See, when I use graphics, all I have to do it make sure the thing looks like what it's meant to be. In a text adventure, I have to make damn sure I describe objects well, because if I fuck up, gamers may not get what I'm trying to convey to them. Especially when it comes to motion. If I want a graphic to do something, I just animate it to do that thing. In text form, I have to find a way to describe what that thing is doing, and if it's an usual movement, it might be harder to describe.
In visuals, atmosphere is as easy as palette selection. In text, I have to establish the mood, because there are no visuals to do that for me.
And don't even get me started on the work. I tried to make a text adventure in the past. Ended up quitting because I spent a week loading the very first area up with all kinds of interactive crap, and just got bored of it because I wasn't really getting anywhere despite how long it was taking. You have no idea how much work goes into making sure every little piece of the scenery can be examined.
When I draw a sprite, that's it. I pick a color and draw it. In text form, there are no shortcuts. I have to think of what the object is made of, how old it is, what fine details might be on one, etc. Example: A picture. What is the frame made of? Wood? Metal? Is it a painting or a photo? Is it a 60s photo? A 70s photo? The-first-camera-ever photo? A modern photo? What's in the image? Graphics can convey all that in an instant. In text format, I have to find a way to put it in 'show, don't tell' form.
The only thing lazy about a text adventure are the people too damn lazy to use their imaginations and play.
Wow, this educational rant turned really sour at the end, there... I guess there's little else I can say on the subject that wouldn't just be putting a bigger emphasis on my example with the house or the wallet, showing the real range of things you can get away with in text that you just can't do with visuals.
Actually, since I brought it up, here's a personal fun fact about Clifford the Big Red Dog:
I think that's actually the first thing in my life that I grew to absolutely hate simply because it was overly popular to the point of being nearly omnipresent in my life. I remember, way back in elementary school, it would be all over the damn place. This had to be clear back in second or third grade, making me around 7. There were so many books, and every time I went to the school library, or the public library, there would be dozens of Clifford books. There was even a cartoon series. My family even had a few of the books, because at the time, my siblings and I were young enough to enjoy picture books.
I think my first school had been kind of obsessed with it, because every year it seemed like they had more and more Clifford books. Bookfairs at this school would bring in cardboard cutouts of Clifford to promote the book, and everyone seemed to absolutely adore them, even though they really weren't all that good. Can't remember, off the top of my head, what books I preferred instead, but the irrational anger I felt searching for the image I used above brought back a lot of memories of loathing. I think it was the first time in my life something was so beloved for no perceivable reason that it sickened me.
I eventually ended up mostly forgetting about the damn thing because about the time I reached the end of grade school, Clifford's popularity took a terminal velocity nosedive and vanished from my sight and from my mind so fast, it have the author whiplash. In fact, it was so fast and so abrupt the way he and his garbage books vanished from my perception that I didn't even notice. It may have been a combination of me being far too ready to forget about him, and the breakneck speed at which he disappeared from the public that was why I didn't even notice he was gone.
I was talking to a friend about a dream I had last night, simply due to how meta it was. I dreamt I ran into a lady that seemed familiar to me, only to quickly realize she seemed familiar to me because I had run into her in a different dream years ago. And I came to that realization while still in last night's dream. I somehow had the cognitive awareness to not only realize I had dreamt about this woman, one I have never met in reality, before, but to also recall that dream vividly, while still in my dream. I'm actually amazed and frightened that something that meta actually happened to me.
I tend to be skeptical, logical, and apply reason to try and explain away paranormal events, but every so often I come across something in a dream that really stands out, something that makes me wonder if there's more to it. And of all the things that have stood out in my dreams, this event stands out the most.
I have had a dream within a dream before, and I have had dreams where I've realized I'm in a dream, but never have I ever vividly recalled a separate dream I really did have while in a dream, before now.
But anyway, this isn't about that. Nor is this a very serious post. I'm simply making it to share kind of a weird quirk I've noticed about myself as a result of this dream.
I frequently dream I have incredible supernatural powers. By now, I've run most of the gauntlet of classics. I've had flight, which actually seems to have relative development, first starting out as not really being able to fly, but the more I've dreamt the power to fly, the more control I have over it. In the second one where I had the power to fly, it had developed to where I could sort of hover a short distance if I concentrated. The next time, I was able to fly at will and for prolonged periods, even suspend myself in the air, but I could sense I still needed practice. And in last night's dream, I had mastered it enough to pull off mach flight at will.
I've had the typical super strength, I've had super speed, I've have psychokinesis (the ability to lift objects with my mind), I've had numerous illusion abilities including making myself imperceptible to people, there have been multiple dreams were I had the power to manipulate people with mental suggestion, there was a dream where I had a severely underutilized time control power, and I call it underutilized because the only thing I did with it was create a pocket of reversed time around a trail of ants, forcing them back into their anthill in reverse.
In one dream, I had the power to construct mini parallel universes. On three separate occasions I've been able to Kamehameha. (And let me tell you, it's one of the most awesome things ever, to be able to actually do that, even if it's just in dream form.) I was a werewolf in one a long time ago. In another dream I had god-like power, and in a somewhat recent dream, I actually was a god. Albeit a lesser one who was part of a small collective of lesser gods. (By 'lesser god' I mean that we were a divine beings weaker than typical Greek gods, but much stronger than angels.)
In last night's dream, I could fly, as I mentioned, and seemed to have the power to manipulate people with psychic suggestions and illusions. I gave my friend all these details as I told about the dream. In it, I was in a library, and this high school girl was sitting at a table, coloring. I can't remember exactly what she did, but she was acting like a bitch, so when she wasn't looking, I grabbed a hand full of her markers. She had a friend with her who noticed markers were missing, their first reaction being to suspect me. The friend said something like "You can't take something that's not yours." and I told her something to the effect of "I really don't have to give a shit." Walked out of the library, and that's when I my dream self revealed I had the power of mach flight.
As I was telling my story, I started to realize a trend with myself. In all the dreams I've ever had some form of super natural power, I'm a complete dick.
Mind you, not all of my dreams feature me as something special. I have 4 typical dream styles. (Used to have 5. 6 if you count nightmares). Type 1, I'm my normal self, doing something that usually makes absolutely no sense. 2, I'm playing some kind of video game. 3, I'm a super being of some kind. 4, I'm at school, as my normal self, either returning to school years later, or still taking high school. 5, the door. (I'll have to go into more detail about dream type 5 tomorrow, if I remember.) I pretty much never have nightmares anymore, so 5 and 6 are only in past tense, which I'm glad for. Especially when it comes to type 5....
However, the super-being dreams have all had one thing in common (aside from me having one or more powers or abilities at my disposal, obviously). In them, I'm usually extremely aggressive and angry, either silently daring the people around me to give me a reason to unleash my super fury on them, or I'm actively doing something to someone with my powers.
In no other kind of dream am I like this. I'm not even like that in real life. But when it comes to my super-being dreams, I always range from being in a mildly dark and fowl mood, to silently seething, constantly on the verge of just slaughtering the next person who so much as rubs me the wrong way.
Though, I guess it is worth noting that I don't always do asshole things to people in these dreams. Sometimes nothing really comes about, and I just end up going through whatever I'm up to in the dream huddled in anger and loathing. And it's also worth pointing out that any time I do end up being a dick to someone, they always did something to at least sort of deserve it first.
For example, in the one where I had super strength, I was walking a long and someone jumped out from behind a bush and started attacking me with this chain he had. I grabbed him by the collar and through him 10 feet through a window.
In the werewolf one, some little fat kid was annoying me, despite being a large wolf creature. This one was quite a while ago, so I can't remember what he was doing, but I think it had something to do with how much he was talking. Either way, I cut off his ability to inhale any air, which was something I was able to do for some reason, and suffocated him to death.
In the ones I fired the Kamehameha, the first one was a guy who had been robbing my house. (The look on his face as I was charging up was priceless.) the second time has been a group of burglars in my house, this time armed with knives. And the final time had been a mugger in an alley. Weird that all three of those dreams took place at night and had me using a stupidly-powerful ability on ordinary people, all three of which were criminals trying to rob me at the time. I wasn't even going through a phase where I was worried I was going to get robbed, nor had I seen Dragon Ball Z around that time, so I haven't a clue where they all came from, and why I had only 3 of them so close to each other, and then for them to just stop.
And as described in this last one, I stole some girl's markers because she was being rude or something like that. I was actually working my way back into the library to steal more after I had flown off, too, but got distracted by the dream-hopping lady, and in the process I crossed the dreams which caused a rift in the space-sleep continuum, and caused me to wake up.
I guess there's a limit to how self-aware a dream can get before it collapses from being too meta.
Anyway, sorry. I like to share my dreams sometimes, because I frequently have really entertaining dreams. Especially the ones where I have some kind of super power, and even more so the ones where I use those powers to do really stupid, petty things... like stealing someone's markers.
Need something else to do for a break, right now, so I've decided I'm going to give away one of my secrets.
First, I need to bust some balls. Can't bake a cake without breaking a few eggs, now can I? This idea that watching Lets Plays is a waste of time is laughable.
"Ugh, why do you idiots watch people play games? Why not just play the game yourself? You're turning an interactive into a non-interactive."
"Ugh, why do you idiots watch people play sports? Why not just play the sport yourself? You're turning an interactive into a non-interactive."
"Ugh, why do you idiots watch movies? Why not just go act yourself?"
"Why do you idiots watch plays? Why not just go participate in your own lives?"
"Why go see comedy shows? Why not just go tell your own jokes?"
"Why go see a concert? Why not just go play your own music?"
"Why watch cartoons when you can make your own animation?"
Need I continue? Asking why someone would watch when they could do is the dumbest anti-Let's Play argument I've ever heard. But then again, people who whine that people record themselves playing games aren't exactly round-peg, round-hole levels of cognitive function anyway, so I'm not going to spend a lot of this post on that.
On to the point past this point.
Watching Let's Plays
One of the best decisions I'd ever make, as a developer, is starting to watch Let's Plays, and now I'm here to tell you that you should, too, if you're a developer. The ones with commentary, I mean....
I first started watching Let's Plays because I thought it was entertaining. But the more I watched, the more I realized I was actually learning something most devs, especially AAA devs, don't usually get to learn: How people interact with their games.
Every single experience is different, and that can make it kind of hard to learn anything concrete at first, but one of the most important things I've ever learned is that not everything is as obvious as you assume they are.
Years of watching Markiplier and Nerd Cubed screw up over and over again has shown me that sometimes the obvious answer isn't quite obvious enough. So in practice, I've begun to consider the placement of items I WANT the player to get, versus the items I want them to work for, and started to think of how best I can make important locations and items stand out to the player without treating them like morons by pointing big neon signs at it.
I've also started to learn what kinds of control problems to avoid. Players don't like delays in certain aspects of character movement. Like if there was a very slight jump delay in a platform game, it can sometimes lead to death in trickier situations. Or things like having friction-based movement allowing the player to slide a little may seem like a fun little idea, but you fail to balance that friction and it just ends up frustrating players, because the player slides too much in a game where precision is necessary.
The perfect example of this is Donkey Kong 64 versus Banjo-Kazooie. I played DK64 first and thought it was fine, then I played Banjo-Kazooie, and then Banjo-Tooie. After that, I decided it had been too long since I played Donkey Kong, so when I went back to playing it, I was fresh off the controls of BK and BT. As I played, I realized the Kongs all have really weird, slidy physics completely opposed to how tight Banjo and Kazooie both feel when they move, making things as simple as turning around on a narrow platform in Donkey Kong far more frustrating than it has every right to be.
I've also learned, through watching hundreds upon hundreds of Let's Plays that spikes are dangerous from the sides in 99 out of 100 games. Sonic the Hedgehog is one of the only games I can think of where you can touch spikes from the sides and not be harmed. And Super Mario Land 2 is the only game I can think of that make spikes dangerous to touch from the sides, but explained it away by putting barbs on the spikes so there are no safe places to touch them.
Seeing how many games take the lazy way out of doing spikes has made me vow to never make that same lazy mistake.
And those are the kinds of things I've learned to pick up from watching people play games. What tends to work, common things gamers have problems with, what to look for when ironing out flaws, and what to think about in terms of design are all examples of things I've gotten from watching people interact in real time with games. And not even just first-time plays either. I do pick up things from gamers going through a game they've already played.
Glitch Plays, such as Son of a Glitch, have actually become one of my favorite kinds of game video, and are very educational to me as a developer.
Learning how players try and break a game, and what ways a game can really go wrong has gotten me to start thinking about all the ways my own games can go wrong, and to start designing my games with potential issues in mind. Tiny little things can be so easily overlooked by you and your testers, only to have players unwittingly walk into a fairly serious bug.
Mario 64 is full of them, for example. No one developing Mario 64 thought it was possible for Mario to move backwards, so he has no horizontal movement speed limit while he's moving in the opposite direction from the one he's facing in. The developers didn't bother to code in a limit because they never thought it was possible for the player to willfully go backwards. Players figured this out and how to move backwards through a series of oversights, and have found ways to exploit Mario's insane reverse speed to do things like outpace the infinite staircase teleport loop, rocket through walls, and even fly into parallel universes.
Watching the way game-breakers try to tear apart games has gotten me to start thinking about level design in all new ways, and how to fail-safe some of the myriad things that could potentially go wrong, so I've started revising the ways I go about mechanics.
Rather than have a solid wall just simply stop the player, it needs to move them out of it if they end up inside of it, and it needs to move them out before the next frame is drawn, that way players remain completely oblivious to the fact that their character was ever stuck in a wall to begin with. But as I've learned, it's not good enough for the engine to just shunt the player in the opposite direction, because this will always guarantee players will end up getting thrown out of bounds, or into areas they aren't meant to go. If a player gets pushed backwards and ends up stuck in a wall, having the engine move them in the opposite direction to which they're facing in order to free them from being stuck would only put them on the wrong side of that barrier.
In this diagram, a swinging ball knocks the player character backwards at a rate of 5 pixels per frame. Since he's not a multiple of 5 pixels away from the wall, his bounding box ends up inside the wall behind him, telling the game he's now stuck in the wall. Since the game is designed assuming he's going to be ending up in a wall due to a player's own forward velocity, and thus, in the direction he's facing. The game then moves him backwards one pixel based on that erroneous assumption, discovers he's still in a wall, and moves him backwards another pixel. This continues until he's no longer in a wall, and then buffers the next frame, putting him on the wrong side of the wall and entrapping the player out of bounds through no fault of their own, simply because the game was programmed to assume the one and only direction he could move in is forward, so wrongfully extrapolates that the nearest free space is back behind him, much like Mario's reverse speed oversight.
The best solution I can think of is for the engine to find the shortest possible route to a collision-free space, and move the character in that direction until he reaches it. This is something I never would have thought about if I hadn't started watching Glitch Plays.
Through watching these types of videos, I even started to ask myself: "Is it possible to avoid the player ending up out of bounds?" There's no way to completely guarantee they never end up out of bounds, but I was able to come up with a way of bailing them out in the event that they do fall into the void. See, the void is infinite in all directions, the in-bounds section is not. So based on the character's position compared to the lowest point in bounds, it's entirely possible to program a "checkpoint" fail safe system where the game records the last location the was considered in bounds, and not in a wall, and if the player character drops below the lowest point in the in-bounds area, then it teleports them back to the last place they were considered 'in-bounds'. That method would be slightly more fair than simply returning them to that area's load zone, and a lot more fair than flat killing them to make up for being out of bounds.
Sometimes the first and most obvious solution to a problem isn't always the greatest solution to a problem.
I've also taken up watching speedruns as a way to start training myself to identify ways in which players might attempt to shave time off the game to get done in the fastest time possible, and ways to facilitate that and even reward that.
Incidentally, speedrunners also end up encountering some of the most outlandish glitches I've ever seen in my entire life. From losing a key in Super Mario World in a wall, to landing on something awkwardly in Legend of Zelda and getting launched thousands of feet into the air, or having a star in Mario 64 spawn out of bounds due to positioning, or getting knocked into the digital void in GTA, or getting wedged in static scenery elements in Crash Bandicoot, or soft-locking 007, or hard-locking Jak and Daxter.
Speedrunners have the uncanny ability to find glitches by pure accident, mostly because they aren't waiting around for the game like normal players during standard play. They're rushing the game as much as it will allow them, and sometimes the game is ill-equipped to handle it, or sometimes minor flaws are heavily increased when the game is pushed in an unexpected way to suit a shortcut or to save a second or two. And with speedrunners, every second, every half second, and yes, even every frame, matters.
For non-developers reading this, frames are process cycles the engine makes. In 60 FPS games, there are 60 cycles in every second. This means that a single frame can be anywhere from 1/24th a second, to 1/60th a second, and when people are scrambling to shave every frame they can off a game session, something somewhere is bound to go catastrophically wrong, even in the most bug-free games. If something happens with frame-perfect precision, players can break things that would otherwise be impossible to break simply by performing an unexpected action just before the frame that's meant to prevent it from being possible.
I would never have known it was possible to beat something that happens in 1/60th a second if not for watching speedruns. In fact, some speedrunners learn to accurately exploit frame windows that are extraordinarily small, and I've even seen players who have taught themselves to nail 1-frame stunts and exploits consistently.
Speedrunners have taught me to try to find backups to things that are meant to progress the game. I've seen gamers get stuck after beating a boss simply because the game somehow misses the trigger that tells the game the boss is dead and that it should move on.
Speedrun fail videos have taught me to completely change the way I think about developing games. Maybe it's a really stupid idea to have the game only test one time that the boss has been defeated. Maybe it isn't good enough to only try and prevent something from happening, and I should go the extra mile and make sure that if it does end up happening despite my best efforts to prevent it, there's still a way out of it. Maybe if the player can bounce off walls (Mario 64 and Mario Sunshine for example) the game should keep a tally of the number of times the player ends up hitting a wall in certain frame of time, that way if they get stuck between two points due to collision looping, the game automatically frees them instead of making them reset.
Challenge plays taught me that there is no limit to the length players will go to in order to challenge themselves at their favorite games. No-death runs, no-powerup runs, blindfolded play, some kind of handicap...
Grabbing a star in Mario 64 with only a single press of the jump button is an interesting one.
I once unintentionally took a challenge myself. You know the giant zombie snake in the first Resident Evil? I had run completely out of ammo, only had one health point remaining, and saved in a really bad spot when I ended up in the room where you have to kill the snake. That means I had to either do the entire thing with the combat knife without taking a single hit, or start all over. (I'm the kind of gamer who blissfully forgets to make extra saves only to end up regretting it later.)
I think it ended up taking an hour to do, but I beat that snake with only one health and a knife, and man did it feel like an accomplishment.
Watching ways in which the players challenge themselves has made me start thinking of ways to build fun challenge modes or achievements into my own games, ones that go beyond the standard, mundane time attack mode, ultra ludicrously hard mode, boss rush, and the seemingly obligatory 'collect all X of <item>'.
I have nothing against the tried and true challenge modes I just listed, but I'd rather do extras, such as 'beat the game without firing a single bullet' or 'complete the game while steadily dying the whole time' or the immortal classic 'the floor is now lava' mode. (Though, admittedly, doing 'the floor is lava' hasn't exactly been easy, because you're required to make it so there's a way to get through the game without ever touching the 'floor', and that takes a lot of careful planning, as there has to be design work that doesn't look cluttered and messy, or get in the way in normal game play as well as a way to progress without dying when the floor is a hazard. And that becomes even harder to pull off for games with characters who can't float, fly, or hookshot their way through an area.)
That's about it. I just wanted to defend watching people play games online. It helps to keep you from growing out of touch with your fan base, when you're a developer, to actively watch gamers playing their games.
As soon as people start uploading Let's Plays for my games, I'm going to be watching them. Some people may think that's an egotistical/pretentious thing to do... "You actually watch people play your game?" but people, especially developers, who think that are dumb. Statistics and reviews can only give you so much information. I prefer to be able to see exactly how people play particular games, that way I can learn what I've done wrong and improve and/or avoid common pitfalls for developments. (Microtransactions come to mind, as do over-priced and pointless DLCs)
"I don't like it. You should change it." "Ok, what should I change, and how?" "I don't know, but you should definitely change it." This is an example of an exact conversation I had with someone over something I was working on once, and a perfect example as to why I prefer to see things in action rather than be told something's up. Describing a thing to me is useless. I want to see exactly how a thing is wrong, that way I can get a better idea of what needs to be done to fix it, and also so I can determine whether it's actually a mechanics problem, or if it's actually too hard/unforgiving, or the person playing it is just the guy from the one Cuphead video....