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....
I didn't want my Twitter suspension announcement to be my only post for days and days, but I've been working a little slower lately, due to how I tend to move from one thing to another to keep myself interested in my projects, so options on post topics were few.
I want to do this one, because it's important. Gamers tend not to understand exactly why games can just die in development, even when it has a talented team and money.
Frankly, I was guilty of not understanding either. And though I can't cover all the reasons, I would be interested in knowing how many games go through exactly the nightmare that wrecked mine.
When I started Savage, it was in 2004-ish. Probably late 2004. It began as me fooling around, trying to learn RPGMaker 2003 which is the perfect gateway drug into game development.
The main character was so zero-effort, he was just a recolor of one of the default heroes that comes with RPGMaker 2003.
(Claus and his recolor, Zephyr)
The only two differences are that I changed his undershirt a little, and gave him a ponytail, just so that it wasn't a complete ripoff. Mind you, he was still a massive ripoff, but I'm not ashamed to admit that.
I was never "original character, do not steal" about it. He's very clearly not an original character, and even then I understood that.
The game didn't get very far, mostly because I was just working on it to get the hang of working in RPGMaker. It started with a fight between two nameless NPCs, then a speech by the headmaster, since it was a training school setting. After the headmaster gave his speech, you'd be allowed to play. You'd leave the the room and find yourself suspended somewhere in the stratosphere, above the mountains. This area was the 'airport'. Literally a needlessly complicated maze of halls suspended over open air, extending from one corner of the screen to the other with no walls and no directions. There were two people, one who would complain about his flight, the other was another party member, with no clear indication that he was there, or that he was important.
This back facing sprite is the only thing that remains of his admittedly terrible character design. But at least he was completely original.
He was completely undeveloped as a character, but he was the first character in the RPG to have his own sprites.
I'd somehow allowed myself to believe that having a player character lost in a maze with no indication that he was even there was an acceptable thing for me to do. You couldn't leave without him, either.
After getting him, you'd leave and get on an airship. No transition from the airport maze to the airship, you'd just end up on it, below deck. The first iteration of the airship was actually just a 3 story box. There was no deck, or anything to actually suggest that it was a ship.
Zephyr and Fry would talk a little, then you'd get control of the characters again. You'd go down stairs and there'd be an insectoid eggsack down in the cargo bay. If you interacted with it, giant flies would come out and attack you. 5 of them. First 1, then when the battle ended, you'd be attack by 2, then when that fight ended, you'd be attacked by 3. After the fighting was done, the screen would shake and it would just cut to a crashed airship on the overworld map. Eventually I added a cutscene card to show that it was attacked by giant flies.
I would have put the picture here, but upon checking my hard drive, it seems I didn't hang onto it. I kept it for years, but I guess I recently deleted it. You're not missing much. It was a terrible drawing.
Fry would die in the crash, along with everyone else, except the main character, because that makes sense. There was little else. I had a cave 'designed' (it was literally a large rectangular room with rocks in it, designed to look a little like a cave.)
After I got the hang of RPGMaker, I tried to make more complete games without copying any character designs. Nothing really panned out. I wasn't skilled enough in RPGMaker to make anything solid. After a while, I checked back on my RPG because I wanted to look up how I did something in it. It was then that I decided to finish the game, because I kind of liked it, and wanted to see it complete.
The first thing I decided on was changing Fry's character design. I think this was the only change I didn't regret making.
Since I was too lazy, I just replaced his old sprite with another of the defaults. I had always planned on replacing it with a new one, but I wasn't talented enough, so for a lot of the development process, Fry was an 'insert sprite here' character, with the blonde chick above as his placeholder.
I was too lazy to put the effort into making a new character, so I just kept him a 'her'. Fry became Frankie, and not even in recolor form like Zephyr. Just straight up that was her sprite. You can still see her in the finished version.
I still stuck to my vision at first... Improving the concept of the beginning, getting rid of the needless maze... hell, even some enemies transferred over.
(Cute, disturbing, dangerous. The Speyederclops)
Drawing obvious and direct inspiration from the Owlbear from Phantasy Star, I created the disturbing and accidentally overpowered Speyederclops creature. Apparently I liked it enough to redraw it so that it could stay in the game.
(Why is it called 'Owlbear' when it's neither an owl nor a bear? I haven't the foggiest....)
(First boss of the game, Verdock.)
Those were the only two eyeball enemies, I swear. (More were added later on, though.)
Personally, I preferred the more fungal-looking Verdock more than the slime one. But I kept the slime one because I sucked far too much to recreate the fungal version in side-view. I tried really hard, but I just wasn't wasn't good enough at the time.
I think this is the start of my regrettable changes. I didn't realize what I was doing at the time, but as they say: hindsight is 20-20.
What I was unknowingly doing was deviating from my vision more and more with every change. The more I changed, the further from my vision the game grew, and the further it got from my original vision, the more I hated it. And the more I hated it, the more I resented working on it, and the more I resented working on it, the more I rushed to finish it.
(Drake the Dragon)
This one's hard to face. Verdock was the first of my regrettable changes, this one however, is my most regrettable change. The first rendition of Drake was actually fairly competently done. I'm still amazed I managed to do so well.
He was so cute. And yet, I discarded it for a plain, boring version. I didn't have a choice. RPGMaker was too limiting, so I wasn't able to fit that huge sprite in an upright pose. He was just too big, no matter how I sliced it.
I couldn't tell at the time, but from here, I can so easily tell that from Drake's change onward, that's when things started to fall apart. That one hurt to have to do. And it still hurts now.
I'm still genuinely proud of how Drake turned out the first time. It's one of very, very few old drawings I can still say I'm proud of. It has its problems, yes, but it's one of the best drawings I'd ever done at the time.
I did a bunch of work after that, but at a certain point I ran out of will to keep it going. I was growing to resent working on it, and that shows in plain black and white...
(The Restless Soul. He's supposed to be a ghost...)
Yeah.... that's one of the bosses. It's... absolutely terrible in every conceivable way. I couldn't even be bothered to adjust the jagged line work of his outline. That's how little I cared at that point.
After a certain point in the game, it becomes a repetitive slog. There are 12 dungeons you have to enter. Yes, I made players run all 12 nearly-identical towers... back to back... with nothing in between... in order to beat the game. That's it. Once you start entering towers, that's all there is. I didn't have the love for the game I once had. Not even enough love to give the game a proper bad guy sprite. (I'm serious. You never get to see the enemy's sprite. He just kind of talks to you like a disembodied voice.)
I padded out the game with these repetitive dungeons and then I just ended it... Now you see why I always tell people not to play Savage. It's not fun.
I'm not kidding when I say I didn't care anymore. You think the Restless Soul is bad? There's one dungeon that's completely empty. No enemies. The boss?
Here's a picture of it:
No, that's not a mistake. There's nothing there. Literally. That's the boss. The Nothing. It has no sprite. You're fighting an enemy that is literally empty space. Granted, it's still a fairly difficult battle, but I'm not making it up...
(Unaltered screencap of The Nothing's creature sheet.)
You can go on Game Jolt right now, download RPGMaker 2003, and the RPG_RT, and Savage, play to this dungeon, and you will find this battle exactly as I described it.
The thing that makes the nothing so hard to kill is its crit rate. It has a 1 in 3 chance of getting a critical hit. And if I remember right... yeah, when The Nothing is close to death, it will start spamming a low-success, all-party instant death spell.
The sequel was no better. The hate and disinterest carried over wholesale.
(Dane, the craptastic mage)
He's a random, meaningless NPC, right? Wrong. This was supposed to be one of the party in the sequel. A main character. This design actually makes me feel better about how bad Fry's design was. Fry may have been awful, but Dane is just an affront to character design. Words can't properly express how ashamed of this one I am.
So let's inflict more pain on all of us!
This was my attempt at a snake. The last of the 4 looks like little more than a wooden post...
I love the juxtaposition between early sleeping Drake from before, and this abortion of a sprite (done years later, I might add).
I was proud of the first game was done, but it wasn't until after the "Yes, I finally finished a game!" factor wore off that I started to realize my game was terrible, and that I hated it.
I put a little more heart into it in the form of bonus content I added on a little bit later, called the Cheese Hunt. The game pays homage to Perfect Dark by spawning in wedges of cheese all over the world. Depending on how much cheese you pick up, you're rewarded with an assortment of special goodies, and a super secret I can't tell about. If you want to know what it is, you have to suffer through my terrible game. (Just be warned, one of the rewards can cause the game to crash when entering a battle some times. Though it's only against a certain enemy that only shows up around the beginning.)
Some of the same passion for the game bled through my favorite character of the series, in the sequel, but other than that, I hated it just as much. That same hatred eventually stopped me working on the sequel.
For almost a decade after finishing it, I've hated my RPG. And it took me until this year to figure out why. And it's the same reason it's been bugging me, despite the countless other failed projects I had no problems leaving behind. It's because I didn't end up making the game I wanted. Some aspects were changed because RPGMaker 2003 couldn't do what I needed, and others were changed just because of poor decision making. And that's why I've felt the unending urge to remake this game out of all other games I've tried. (Well, it's one of two. The other being the one with the blue dragon.)
I guess the moral of this story is... gamers, this is how games can fall apart so quickly, even with all the funding in the world.
Developers, always stay true to your vision. Your vision can be flexible, but don't try to force something you don't want, because you can very easily end up hating your own game.
And if you do end up hating your game because you lost your vision, it's not the end of the world. Listen to your heart and let it guide you back on track. I know "follow your heart" sounds cliche as all hell, but if I can turn a crappy RPG that I've hated for almost a full decade, no matter how many times I've tried to redo it, into something I genuinely love working on simply by listening to my heart and following it back to my original vision, then there's a chance it may also work for you.
I was suspended from Twitter, as you may have found out.
What did I do? As soon as the lock was lifted, I tweeted at Jack Dickless (@Jack) and told him he wasn't going to stop me from saying the word 'faggot' so he either had to suspend me or get over it.
Heh, inadvertently admitting, in the process, that he can't get over it. I'm enjoying this far too much.
Am I bothered? Devastated? Sorry? Nope.
I'm going to try to get the suspension overturned by saying it's a homophobic microaggression to suspend me, just because if it succeeds it will piss Jack Dickless off and I'd love that far too much to miss that opportunity. But if I can't, oh well.
What this means and what to expect:
Nothing. This will in absolutely no way effect my ability to develop games. In fact, it has only emboldened me to make my games even more awesome. I got some inspiration from two little-known games I've only just recently found out about, and until this suspension I was leaning more on discarding that inspiration. But now? Now I'm all in.
Actually, I'm hoping the Streisand Effect will push more people in my direction over this.
Expect me to continue completely hindered. In fact, with Twitter no longer distracting me for the time being, I can focus even more on my work, and with this new determination, expect even better things to come.
If you want to keep up with me, I'll still be posing here. (Being suspended on Twitter is exactly why I created this blog. I knew this day was coming.) Or, you can follow me on Minds or Gab. I'm far less active over there than I was on Twitter, but feel free to come say something to me.
Gab.ai (I'm liking the extended characters, so I may gradually start to become more active there.)
Minds.com (I'm still getting the hang of the systems on Minds, and probably won't use it as much, since I already have Weebly to act as my blog, and Weebly is greatly more customizable.
In fact, if you're a fellow developer or a sprite artist, feel free to share your work with me over on either of those platforms, and I'll re-share your stuff.
If you want to support me on my projects, I'll be reconstructing my old Patreon page to better reflect my current projects and skill level, and my current needs. But first I need a new... company name, for lack of a better word, and a new logo. Now that I feel less inadequate as a dev, I'll be putting more effort into making my Patreon easier to find.
Don't go looking for it yet, because you might not find it. It's not under my typical user name of BastendorfGames. I never was a fan of the "<Name> Games" shtick as a company/brand name. It works as a username, but I'm aiming a little more professional on my branding, and grew kind of tired of my old brand name (the one that was on my Patreon.)
That should have been finished by now, actually. I do already have an idea for a name and logo, but I've been having way too much fun creating stuff for my games. I just haven't had the time to work on the logo much.
I'll make another post when I'm ready to link my Patreon.
From here on out, things are going to be.... Slightly Awesome.
If you got that semi-reference, you win nerd points, by the way. Totally a clue for the inspiration source.
I was having a discussion with my friend/co-developer, and we were talking about Undertale, a game he enjoyed, but I hate. I think it's time I put that hate to paper. Digitally....
Warning: this is going to get a little vulgar, so if you're a puritan and have a problem with that.... well, too bad. My media isn't designed for puritans.
The art style to Undertale, and mechanical expertise are nice, and the music is amazing. I can't get enough of Megalovania. But the charm falls apart once you start to really think about what the game is: a massive, self-indulgence hipsterfest.
"Oh my Goed, we're always told to kill, and we always obey without even asking why. Oh my Goed, maybe violence isn't the answer. Maybe we can solve every problem with a hug and a kiss. Look how deep, thoughtful, and introspective I am! *Fap fap fap fap* Oh Yeah! I'm so fucking deep! *Fap fap fap fap* Call me moral, bitch! That's what I like!"
It's pretentious bullshit, and other pretentious, pseudo-intellectual wankers are constantly lapping up that pompous facial and begging for more. Now, I'm not saying that if you enjoyed the game, you're necessarily bad. Let me get into it, and see if you start to see my position. Maybe you'll change your opinion of the game.
Undertale, if you haven't played it and never heard of it, revolves around giving you the choice to kill the 'monsters', or to spare them, because they're all misunderstood. They're all super nice, and best friends forever and they all want to be your best friend. Seriously, what the fuck is this? Sesame Street? Dora The Explorer?
"Swiper, no swiping!" "Oh, ok. I'm sorry about that."
Why is it a problem? Because not every monster or unnatural creature is going to be your best friend forever just because you choose not to kill them. Undertale is deceptive because all the monsters are sentient in some way, and can be reasoned with.
And by that, I mean there are no insentient creatures attacking you out of fear, or trying to kill you for food, or just being territorial and trying to kill you because you're in their territory, or trying to kill you just because they perceive you as a threat, or trying to kill you for no other purpose than to show dominance by making and example out of you.
Lions, for example, will kill other animals simply for overstepping certain boundaries. I remember seeing an animal documentary where this small mammal critter was pestering a bunch of lions. I think it was some kind of small monkey, or similar. It would sneak up and pull a lion's tail, or poke one, and then go running away. The lions menaced it, trying to scare it away, but it was bold and kept pestering the them, evidently part of some kind of game. Eventually, the leader decided he'd had enough, chased down the little animal, caught it, and killed it. He held the carcass in his mouth a moment, as if showing the other creatures that he wasn't going to tolerate that kind of behavior from the others, but he didn't eat it. He just kind of abandoned the body and went back to laying in the sun, back over with the others.
Another thing is that all the Undertale monsters you fight are the same. They don't really want to kill you. There are no Negans or Governors among them.
What is a Negan or Governor?
Well, for those of you who don't know anything about the Walking Dead, this is going to be a spoiler-free explanation.
Phillip 'The Governor' Blake (the dude in the eye-patch) is a cold, broken man. He has a really big problem going on with him, and though I can't reveal what it is, it makes him into an obsessive, controlling, and dangerously deadly person.
Negan, well he's a vicious pack leader who only cares about his own, and will step on literally anyone it takes to protect his own, and protect himself. (Man, explaining characters as complex as these two without spoiling anything is hellishly hard.)
How do two characters from the Walking Dead relate to Undertale, RPGs, and video games in general? Because Negan and Phil are both sociopaths. They... damn it, I really can't make this point without spoiling things.
****WALKING DEAD SPOILER SECTION****
Alright, from this point on, it will be free spoiler season, so if you haven't watched the Walking Dead, then skip all of the red text. And for those of you who have already watched a good portion of it, I'll only be spoiling the Governor, so if you haven't seen up to Negan, you don't have to worry. There will be no further warning.
Rick and the others find out the hard way that letting the Governor live was a mistake. When they cross him, and piss him off, he swears an unending vendetta. They beat him. They win, and they let him live. The smarter thing would have been to kill him when they could have, or hunt him down and kill him later, but they don't. He gets away.
While everyone thinks it's over, he wanders aimlessly, with no purpose. He finds a family that needs him, and a girl that reminds him of his daughter. He's getting things back on track finally. He's turned over a new leaf. He's a good guy. Right? Wrong. We find out he's the same son of a bitch he always was, still willing to step on anyone it takes to get his way.
Then, the girl dies and then he goes right back to being the same old, insane governor. He shows back up at the prison Rick is staying at, with a tank and a small army. Rick and the others try their hardest to talk him down and try to take the Passivist Run, inviting him and the others to stay at the prison with his group. And Phil agrees and becomes their best friend forever, and they get to eat chocolate cake and they all get the good ending, right?
Wrong. He kills Hershel because Rick refuses to surrender and evacuate. The Governor attacks Rick and company, and completely demolishes the prison forcing everyone to scatter. A lot of people are killed off, the prison is left in ruin, and it all could have been avoided if they had just killed him when they had him on the ropes.
Don't worry, though. Like I said, I won't be touching Negan. Not even the stuff the internet has already ruined. Besides, explaining his character would take way too long.
****END OF SPOILER SEASON****
Both Negan and the Governor will kill whoever it takes to get what they want. You can't just chant "Swiper, no swiping" three times and they'll leave you alone.
And that's the problem with Undertale. I've never played it, and I have no plans to because I hate that "play a minigame to score a hit" type of mechanic, and I never play bullet hell gamesm so I can't really pick any character out of the bunch to use as an example, but considering you can complete the game without killing anyone means that no one is a truly selfish asshole. No one distrusts you, or genuinely doesn't like you. In fact, the main character.... what the hell's his name? Chara.... really? That's it? The main character is named after one of the abbreviated forms of 'character'?
Whatever... what I was saying was Chara is actually kind of a Mary Sue. One trait of the Mary Sue Character is the ability to befriend anyone, including their greatest enemy. Chara does just that.
There are no truly bad people in the whole game. No one that doesn't like Chara. No Negans, no Governors, no Sephiroths, no Kefkas, no Light Yagamis, no Jokers, no Count Draculas, no Yoshikage Kiras, no Sasuke Uchihas. No one who will do whatever it takes, and step on anyone it takes to achieve their goal, be it power, survival, justice, change, greatness, or just shameless, twisted, self-gratification.
Not every villain has to be flash and flare like Dr. Robotnik/Eggman, or obvious like Victor Von I'mNotTheBadGuyISwear, or literally look like Satan and be named Sinestro. But the problem I have with Undertale is that it tries to push the "kindness solves all problems" shtick, and since everything works out absolutely fine and dandy, and everyone is Chara's best friend by the end, it just comes off being grotesquely pretentious.
Ok, yes, I get it. It's inspired by Earthbound where enemies are effected by some kind of madness, and most of the living enemies are either 'defeated' or simply 'return to normal' after you beat the ever loving hell out of them.
No one actually ends up dying as far as I can remember. Except maybe Giygas. But in Earthbound, it's done right.
Enemies are spared, yes. Some of them. Others, ones that aren't organic, explode into pieces upon being slain, or fall apart, or otherwise die in some way. You can't even spare Giygas, because he... it... has become too powerful and destroyed its own mind, becoming more of a formless, abstract, dark energy hell bent on killing you. By the time you fight it, Gyigas is just raw madness, and you can't reason with madness. The essence of madness is anti-reason. You can't be insane and still be reasonable, and you can't be beyond reason without being in a type of insane state. They are polar opposites of each other. So if Gyigas could still be reasoned with, the end of Earthbound would have broken my suspension of disbelief and wrecked the moment in its entirety. And a moment that powerful needed to be left exactly the way it was.
I felt feels during that battle, and having some Captain Planet tier morality bullshit shoehorned in would have ruined that.
Even in the very end, repeatedly sparing Pokey (yes Pokey, I'm not fucking calling him Porky. In EarthBound, he is named Pokey, and his brother's name is Picky. Porky is a pig, not an Earthbound character) eventually does bite Ness in the ass, because he goes on to cause other people problems. Namely in Mother 3, which I think acts as an alternate timeline to Earthbound. I'm not too sure on that. Any of it, really. I've never really played the game. I did try the beginning, but I couldn't do it. I found the fan translation so I could play without needing to know Japanese, but...
"Say 'all black and covered in soot' one more time and I swear I'll turn off this game and never play it again!"
"Gee, I'm glad you're ok, but you sure are all black and covered in soot!"
Needless to say, I haven't played it since. But according to Smash Bros Brawl, Pokey is one of the major villains in that game, and it's pretty much all your fault for showing him unconditional mercy in the second game despite him trying to kill you and use Gyigas to destroy the universe. (Earthbound, for those who don't know, is actually Mother 2, but Mother 1 was never exported to the US, and is also a really crappy name for a game, so to prevent people from wondering where the first game is, they renamed it, and pretended like it was the first and only.)
And yeah, I get it, no one in Undertale really wants to kill you, but that's just because Toby is a crappy writer and wrote a game full of Sesame Street characters. "Elmo no want to fight. Elmo love you! Will you be Elmo friend?"
And before you not go into the comments, and not go on tirades, berating me about how I missed that Flowey is the true villain with his "kill or be killed" mentality, I already know. It doesn't change anything. Frankly, his "attack of the Google Image Search results" boss battle doesn't impress me, and in the end, you can still choose to spare him.
Actually, the fact that Toby is a fan of Earthbound bleeds through in that fight a little too much, to be honest. Both Flowey and Gyigas are distorted abominations, both fights have you calling for help to beat an otherwise invulnerable boss, and both fights have trippy and unnerving music. Yeah, the whole game kind of feels like Earthbound, and I can forgive that. The Flowey fight is just a little too on the nose, though. The Sans fight is honestly a better final boss.
Ultimately, when you get down to it, Earthbound is a silly, charming, and well-thought-out adventure/story packed to the transistors with feels upon feels. Undertale is a silly, charming, poorly-thought-out way for Toby Fox to beat us over the head with his deformed morality boner and brag about how pseudo-deep he is. Kind of like a holographic card: they use simple illusions to give the appearance of depth, lending a 3D effect to the image, but they're still flat as paper.
Everyone knows true morality means potentially letting your enemy or killer walk all over you and slaughter you, and others, 'cuz morality and stuff! Yeah!
And he got popular and rich off his pompous tripe, and I'm salty as fuck about it.
And that's why I hate Undertale.
I still love Megalovania though...
I'm going to give a quick recap, since my struggles have been across countless months and numerous blog posts, and I don't feel like trying to figure out which ones simply so I can refer to them all.
It began with my house burning down when I was just a child. I had to have been only 7-ish at the time, maybe 8, potentially 9, but I doubt it. Someone was kind enough to donate a bunkbed. It was crap and made of wood, and frequently collapsed. (Thankfully none of the times I was on it when it did, and my brother who had the bottom bunk was on only one of the times it collapsed.)
That was our bed for at least a few years, there was a divorce between our parents, a new marriage, and the birth of a sister and another brother. When they got old enough to stop using cribs, my brother and I had to hand down our mattress for them to use, and ours was replaced by a shiny metal one. The mattresses on this new bunk were amazing. They never needed to be flipped, or rotated. Slept on the same mattress the same way until I was at least 21.
Then the second divorce came, houses were swapped, (dad's grandfather owed his own house which we inherited when the 97 year old man finally kicked the bucket. That house was put in mom's name, and the one we lived in was in dad's name, and at the time he was in the worst part of a decade-long downward spiral. When his mom died, he took a total nosedive that eventually spiraled so out of control it cost him the ownership of his bosses company, which would have been his in just a few short months if he hadn't blown it and walked out. We didn't like the idea of living in a house he technically owned, so I convinced mom to move us to the house that was in her name) and suddenly I found myself with my own room for the first time since I was 2 years old.
As such, I no longer needed a bunk bed, and had mostly outgrown the tiny mattress that I had grown so used to. thankfully I'm so short. If I had been even 5 inches taller, I wouldn't have been able to go on using that mattress as long as I had. So an upgrade was needed. That was in 2009.
Since then, I've struggled to get good sleep. Swapping using mattresses every 2 or 3 years only to be no better off, and in fact, usually worse off than the previous. I got to watch as my energy waned, year after year. There were fluctuations, so the decline was hard to detect at first, but much like Twitter's Stock Market Value, it was a gradual and steady decline.
I even bought a brand new mattress. But it turned out to be one-sided, and wore out to become the worst mattress I've ever used.
My decline hit its worst when I got back from spending 8 days at my mom's place over Christmas in 2016.
It was terrible. I'd wake up some days just as tired as when I went to bed, and on some nights, I'd wake up feeling even more tired than when I'd gone to bed. I tried everything I could think of. An expensive mattress fixer (a pad you put under the mattress), an expensive mattress topper, both the fixer and the topper at the same time, sleeping on the floor on just the fixer pad and topper pad, nothing worked.
And then things got even worse. My mattress had worn out so completely that even rotating it wouldn't give me temporary relief anymore. I was so tired all day every day that I had actually managed to convince myself there was something wrong with me and not my bed. It took a thyroid blood test coming back fine to snap me out of my daze and get me back into trying to solve the real problem.
I was laying awake in bed one morning wondering why I came home after 8 days gone and just seemed to die. And that's when it hit me. I remembered the guest mattress at my mom's place reminding me of my old bunk bed mattress. So I asked her for the brand. She couldn't find one labelled on the mattress, and I couldn't figure out where the logo she found on it came from. That effort went cold.
Not long later, I came up with the brilliant idea of trading mattresses. I was desperate. I couldn't go on living that way. So I swapped mattresses for the one I'd used while there. It's smaller, so mine was an upgrade in size, and since it's just a guest mattress, I didn't have to worry about someone needing my junk mattress for months on end.
We did the swap, and the disappointment set in. It wasn't the fixer to my problems. It was a huge improvement, yes, but it was still sagging rapidly, no matter what I did, and though I did get some energy back, I was still sleeping terribly. I couldn't understand it. And just like before, I was laying awake in bed one morning, wondering why things went wrong. I slept so much better on it before, what could possibly be different? My pillow.
I realized that while I was there, I had been using a spare pillow, because I hadn't thought to bring mine. The issue with my pillow is that it was old. Very old. It had once been fantastic, but now it just struggled to keep its shape. It was memory foam, and would usually take a good 6 to 7 hours to regain its full thickness, and it would lose it in roughly 10 minutes, becoming very flat, and very hard on my neck.
I could see the writing on the wall when it came to my old pillow months ago. After over a decade of use, it was time to retire it. In fact, I had tried. But it had no labeling. No tag, no logo, no nothing. I tried other memory foam pillows. The first one was the My Pillow. Their jingle was pretty catchy "For the best night's sleep in the whole wide world, visit MyPillow dot com." And my mom had gotten one as a birthday present and said she loved it. So I gave it a try.
Junk. It didn't even last 3 months before being rendered useless.
I tried a different pillow made of solid memory foam, but unlike my old one, it just wasn't right and wore out fairly quick. Then I tried one that boasted the best sleep.
They emailed me asking how much I loved their pillow, and I told them that it wasn't even good for a day. They offered to take it back, on their expense, and put more foam into the case for free. I told them how much I wanted it filled, and they said they'd send out a free return label. The label never arrived.
I then tried murdering the MyPillow and using some polyester project stuffing in a combination to make a new pillow, but the project stuffing just lacked the compression I needed, and ended up being to firm. I'm not too good at making pillows.
For a while, I had been using double pillows. And that's when I realized that two memory foam pillows were just too thick, so I'd lay with my head and shoulders on my pillows to reduce neck strain. I somehow managed to work out that the simple act of doing that was putting strain on my back while I slept, and was causing my mattress to sag quicker due to the way my body was putting weight on it. I experimented, letting my shoulders rest on the mattress, and though it hurt my neck due to how thick my pillows were, I quickly realized that I was better supported laying that way.
It was then that I realized it wasn't only my mattress. It was my pillows that also needed replacing. I was done buying terrible pillows online. And I had just recently discovered the legendary Purple Mattress company is willing to sue people over slightly critical reviews showing that their product is unsafe, and I refuse to support a company that sues its costumers over reviews.
So I had to go all the way down to the store and buy a pillow. Fortunately I bought 2, because one was wafer thin on its own, despite how soft and plush they seemed at first.
How can I be so sure? How can I prove I'm not just making excuses? Blaming my bed and terrible sleep for my lack of work drive? How do I know it's not just that I'm a fake dev? That it's not that I'm lazy? Running a hoax? A scam? And that my mattress is just a convenient excuse to cover for something? (Gotta love haters...)
Because I ran an unintentional experiment. After replacing my pillows and mattress, my energy started to return. Hell, I was even staying up really late, and still I was getting my energy back. Only a few days ago or so, I decided I was going to get back to my platform game for a bit.
"I'm feeling up to it today. Actually, very up to it. I'll just do one sprite and go back to the RPG for now." I told myself, just so that I could feel less terrible about putting off what is tuning into a really promising project.
I did one. And then I did another. And another. It didn't wear on me like it used to. I didn't feel the burning boredom, the draining tedium. I managed to finish 4 sprites, and half-finish 4 more all in one day without even struggling to get myself to continue, or having to just force myself through it. I didn't even think about how boring it was. And the only reason I couldn't finish all 8 is because it was already 3 hours past my bed time, and I just didn't have the energy to stay awake long enough to do them all.
For those who are new, or who don't remember: I hate animating because I can't sit there and do the same thing over and over and over. It's normally too boring. I haven't been able to sit there and hash out a full set of animation frames, that way, in two years. It's been a long time.
So what happened? Well, I forgot to rotate my mattress before I got the new pillows. And I kept forgetting. So the sag I had started to cause with the bad resting posture I spoke about above kept advancing over time, and I went back to sleeping poorly, and my energy started to fade again. I meant to do it last night, but forgot again, and I had a terrible night's sleep these last few nights, and I'm back to were I was before. Lethargic, apathetic, lacking drive and motivation.
My unintentional experiment proves the problem has been my mattress (and pillow) and it proved I was right and the haters were wrong. I wasn't just blaming my mattress as a cover for ineptitude, or as some excuse for a lie or scam.
The Good News
So the good news is that as long as I remember to rotate my mattress before bed tonight, I should be able to start recovering my energy. If I can get it back to where it was when I hammered out all those animation frames, I can put more effort into my projects like I used to be able to.
My mind felt so much sharper, something that's been a rare commodity in the last 2 years. This year especially. In those brief few days, I was more lively, full of drive to do work, more creative... I remembered wishing I had the ability to work on all my projects simultaneously. I wasn't at the top of my game... I haven't been for over a decade... I haven't been since that brief period just after high school where I could get more sleep and didn't have to worry about home work, or exams, or finals, or anything. Those few days may not have been even 50%, but it was better than I've been.
I miss that feeling already.
There's no real way to wrap this one up, especially after getting that depressing at the end. But hopefully now you see that this wasn't all just pretend. I wasn't just using it as an excuse. And best of all, I was able to prove to myself that it's not hopeless after all. I can solve the problem, I can get better, and I can develop games with the dedication I once had.
It may not seem like that big a deal from your end, but from my end it makes a world of difference. I just need to remember to rotate the mattress....
In fact, I think I'll go do that right now.
I got thrown back into the gulag, this time for mentioning the term "nigger-lynch" and how "paddywhack" was once on the same level, the second tweet was from the same conversation as last time, (double-dipping, real nice...), and the third of them was for saying "tranny". And this time it's for 6 days.
I'm beyond giving a shit about my account anymore. I never gave a shit about Twitter, and I will never give a shit about Jack Dickless, or whatever the spineless bitch that runs Twitter is called. Pretty sure his full last name is DicklessCuck, but I can't be assed to look up someone I literally watch die and feel nothing, on Gulag-dot-com to confirm, so I'll just stick with the shortened version: Dickless. That much I at least know is accurate.
Like I said in Why The Blog, I never planned to sign up for Jack Dickless's stupid platform. I resisted from its inception until 2013 when I noticed an article talking about companies that were signing up for Twitter. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was probably going to have to, if I was ever going to start building a following.
It worked, I guess. 2600 followers isn't much, and a large portion of that has been suspended away since I got that number, but the impact is still there. People mention me in conversations about indie devs, now, I'm now consistently getting over 100 unique visitors a week to my blog. Still not sure if much of that is bots. I've seen weird shit, like several hundred page views from only 8 unique users. But I'm starting to wonder if it counts going to previous posts as page views. That would go a long way towards explaining how that's possible and for them to still be real people accomplishing that.
But the point is that yes, Twitter is worthless trash, but I did step on Jack's head to get nice leg up.
I think my time on Twitter was a massive benefit. I grew as a person, and it's hard to find another cause for my massive growth as an artist.
And that makes a great segue into the gift mentioned in the title.
This isn't final, by the way. It's just a preview of how the RPG remake is going. Something I never planned on showing here on the blog, but that changed when Dickless locked me for the second time.
There would be a lot more than this, by now, but I suck at interior decorating and design, so I've been a little stuck. I have a few ideas on what to do about all the empty floor space, but nothing concrete just yet. I really don't want to use bland tables, it's too obvious and too boring, but I don't know what else I can do. It took me an hour to think of the tapestries, and three hours to come up with the large jars. (And even longer making them and the alcoves they sit in.)
I'd really like to combine the rest of what I wanted to talk about into this post, but I already have dark bags under my eyes so large, I make Palpatine look like Luke Skywalker.
So it will unfortunately have to wait until I wake up, whenever that ends up being.
Sometimes I'll sleep longer if it doesn't cool down much in my place. Or I can sleep real short if someone calls me 4 hours in. (Stupid automated spam phone calls.... ought to be illegal.)
Either way, my bed just threw my Poke'ball and chose me, so....
Mostly because I don't want my last post to be all you guys get.
So I said I was working on 2 games. Well, that's a lie. I'm actually working on 3. You just won't be able to play the third among them because it's going to be X rated, if I can get it structured and get a story out of the premise. It hasn't been easy, simply because I've been extremely picky on the matter for almost 2 years, now. I'm never very sure of how to pace it or what to do with it, or where to go with it.
I won't bother talking too much about that one. However, the Savage Remake and the game about my character, Bastendorf, I can talk a little more about.
Since this suspension is likely to drive more people my way I have to start by clearing things up.
Disclaimer: As I've said, the character and I are separate. It's not a self-insert, or a Mary Sue story. I've done lots of work making the character of Bastendorf different from me in almost every way (naturally, with any two personalities, there will be some overlap somewhere.) And I've worked quite hard making the character balanced so it doesn't come off as an ego trip for me.
That game isn't going as quickly as I had hoped it would. The level of detail that goes into it takes way too much time, and it's hard for me to do random textures well. IE: Grass, tree bark, brick textures, etc.
I found some learning AI that would try to learn from images to create its own images, but sadly they need to be compiled in Python, and I don't know how to use Python, nor do I have any interest in learning another programming language just to try to get a program to help with random texturing. I've been unsuccessful in finding a way to lift the burden of random texture design. It takes far too long to get a sprite to look convincingly random enough, and unless I want to simplify the game, or take ages working on it, I need some way of getting random textures faster.
Though I've had more energy recently than before I swapped my mattress, I haven't been in the mood to force myself into repetitive sprite work. And being a platformer, it needs more animations. As a result, I've put more time and effort into my RPG remake.
The trend for RPGs always seems to be either super detailed pixel art, or super retro pixel art. I wanted to go a step between them. The simplicity of retro graphics, but the freedom of detailed sprite art.
The first one is from RPGMaker 2003. He was just a recolor of one of the default sprites that come with it because the game was never meant to go anywhere. I was just fooling around and learning the software.
The second one was my first remake attempt. He's a custom upgrade to the first version, and done up in high detail.
The third one is a completely custom design. I started asking myself questions about the character (namely "why does he wear robes") and the more I asked myself, the less I liked the frankly stolen design.
The fourth is the current. I decided I was sick and tired of RPG overworld sprites with their scrunched bodies and enlarged heads, and decided I wasn't going to do it that way anymore. I wanted the proportions to look a little closer to regular people. The colors and designs were transferred over pretty much directly.
I'm not keeping the design simple for any pretentious "I'm so deep and complex" reason. I'm mostly just doing it because I'm lazy and hate animating. And the simpler a sprite is, the easier it is to animate. Heh.
And also because one of the major problems with the last remake was how long it took to create characters and fully animate their walking sprites. It was easier to dump that much time into it back when I had more energy, but when it comes down to having to create characters and NPCs, it's much easier to do when there's less to do. Though, I'm not one to go full lazy. I'm putting all kinds of effort into this, still, despite the simplistic design.
The best news about it so far is that I've manage to eliminate everything I absolutely hated about the original game without making it feel like it's no longer the same game. Which is great, because now I don't feel as burdened by the task of remaking it. It feels less like I'm remaking it just to keep it from nagging at me for the rest of my life and more like I'm finally doing it the way it was meant to be done.
As for those who want to know more about my AO games... I don't know. I wanted to start an alternate blog specifically for Not Safe For Work subject material, but I'm not sure I'd even be able to keep the blog entertaining. I've long since abandoned my goal of posting once a day even on this blog. I'm just too boring for it. I couldn't pull it off even for my primary interest/hobby, without repeating posts or falling into the traps that other every-single-day blogs call into.
IE: Cat pictures, "20 images that you won't believe are real!", and other vapid, irrelevant crap like that.
I haven't forgotten about my paranormal debunking thing. I just haven't felt up to doing it, and that's not a thing I could even remotely dedicate to doing daily. Takes too much effort to hunt down a paranormal event, analyze it, and explain why I think it's faked and how it's done. I don't have the kind of energy I had when I did the first and only one.
If I were to do a separate blog, I don't know if I could make it worth visiting/maintaining, but I definitely don't want to turn this one into that kind of blog. Also not sure anyone is even that interested. I could probably launch a poll and see how many people are interested... but I'm not even sure anyone would vote, regardless of whether they wanted me to make a second blog or not. And I'd have to put it in the side bar, because Weebly doesn't allow me to put polls in posts. No idea why...
I'll think about it. I'd tell you to let me know on twitter if you want a blog to follow about X games, but I can't access my Twitter for right now (see my previous post for more information) so I guess there's really no easy way of letting me know.
"Your Twitter is so boring!"
"Why do you have a blog? And why do you never post about your games on Twitter?"
I've never really cared about Twitter. Not really. Never even planned to create an account until I was sitting there, one night, and thought to myself "How am I going to tell people about my game? I might have to just suck it up and make a Twitter account." And then I did. I stopped resisting and made a Twitter because I thought that was what I had to do in order to speak to more developers and start building myself a developer status.
I didn't post much. Maybe like 5 times in an entire month. 6 times in all. Then GamerGate started. I wasn't made away of it until the start of October, but when found out it was on Twitter, I looked into it. The more I saw, the more angry I became with what was going on. People losing their jobs over support for GamerGate, games journalists acting like they were the coolest kids on the block, people trying to tell gamers they were terrible people for the games they liked and people trying to tell developers what we can and can't have in our games.
So I jumped in. After reading thousands of tweets and finding out what was going on, I joined the ranks of outraged gamers and developers, and became extremely more active. Discussing things with gamers and devs, and arguing with people who had bad ideas.
Naturally, I accrued a lot of followers. And equally as naturally, as GamerGate eventually wound down, so too did my activity on Twitter. And that's when the Trust and Safety Council came in and Twitter became censorious, and cracked down on people with mean words and people with the wrong opinions. My activity waned further.
I didn't want to get into politics, but I kind of had to with all that's going on.
When we started seeing accounts up and get suspended for no given reason, I created this blog, because I knew it wasn't going to be much longer before either Twitter bit the dust, or my account got shipped off to the gulag. Either way, I wanted people to still be able to find me were anything to go wrong on Twitter.
I started to care less and less about the dying platform, and decided to shift all of my game development stuff over to here. Why bother growing a following when one wrong thought could get it all taken away in an instant? Twitter has a 140 character Tweet limit, images are limited to 4, and GIFs are limited to 1. Over here, I can say as much as I want, post as many pictures as I like, and as long as I don't bog down the page, I can post as many GIFs as I like. It's just far superior to that garbage website.
So why am I making this post?
Well, it happened. I finally got locked out for thinking the wrong way.
It was a massive discussion, and 'offensive' words came up. @JackLaMothe had just gotten done saying he was gay and that words like "fag" didn't bother him, to back me up when I said "faggot" didn't offend me. I don't really like pointing it out, but I'm bisexual. So this was a bisexual telling a gay guy that he was "the best Huskyfag". I know him reasonably well. We're on friendly terms. And considering he backed me up literally just before that, I know it wasn't him that was "harassed" and "offended" by it. Which tells me it was one of the snowflakes in the conversation being offended on his behalf that reported the tweet.
I have no idea what the second one is, because I can't see it until I've deleted the first one, which is another issue with Twitter. But I'm contesting the first one. Not sure how far I'll get. I'll probably just have to delete it.
I've lost all my steam, so I don't know where this one was going after the image. But now you know why I don't really use my Twitter, Tumblr, and YouTube accounts for anything game related. Twitter is too terrible, Tumblr has way too much ass cancer, and YouTube with its DMCA system and lust for making their advertisers happy in place of their actual users just isn't worth the hassle.
Of course I'll try to unlock my Twitter account. But I think this is a turning point for me. I might soon get a Vidme account. No way in hell I'm going to be putting videos on YouTube. I was saving YouTube for uploading trailers for my game, but now it's not happening. I also have a Twitch account I haven't done anything with.
Whatever I decide, you'll find out about it here.