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.
Ok, let me preface this with an explanation. I felt like I hadn't been fair in my post The Limited Palette, Death Of A Tyrant. What I did was try to apply their palettes to my sprite to show their palette style is flawed and mine is superior. I've decided I need to revisit the matter and be as fair as possible.
This time, I've taken a drawing from one of them. In this case, Kaiseto, because his style is closest to mine. I'll be putting my palette style to the test on his pixel art. The following image is not my art.
Shared without permission, because I don't need permission. If Kaiseto wants to put it on the internet, then he has to live with reposts. At the very least, I told you who it was, and credited the source, so I don't want to hear whining from those artists who love to whine.
Now, check that pixel art out. It looks amazing, right? I'm not going to lie, it's a gorgeous piece..... when you first look at it, and when you don't understand pixel art the way I do.
If you've been fooled by these pixel artists, and their army of browbeating sheep, you'll think that pixel art is beautiful, next level, divine, top-shelf. You'd quack along with the other ducks in the pond, praising it as the best pixel art you've ever seen.
But I'm not so easily fooled. Watch what happens after I apply my style to it.
On the left is my edit. All I did was adjust a few of the colors and add a few more, plus one darker shade to define areas that were weak. On the right, completely unedited original.
Doesn't look so good anymore, side by side with my palette adjustment, does it? The original now looks muddy and dull, making mine appear to be the original.
Now, the piece was called Jade Guardian, so I left a lot of green in there to give him a foresty kind of look, so that's why some areas, like his claws and the insides of his ears, remained mostly untouched.
My edit isn't perfect. Probably made some mistakes as a result of too much of the image being the same color and hard to pick out what is what. I'd definitely work on it more if it were my piece. But most notable among the improvements are that he looks better defined and his eyes are greatly more expressive.
I'm going to stop picking on Kaiseto now and focus on one that's a little more egregious. Kaiseto isn't the worst of these idolized pixel artists I've seen. He's actually among the best of them.
This one's also not my art. I actually have no idea who did this one. It's been on my computer for years. And I don't care to look it up, so..... suffer.
Yeah, because color just disappears in the shadow, doesn't it? Why does he turn purple and blue? And why does all the detail seem to vanish in the darkest regions of his body?
This is why I think professionals are just idiots who know nothing. "The world is washed out and color all fades away in the shade! I know what I'm talking about because I'm a professional!" If it were just professional pixel artists who have no idea what they're doing, I might be more lenient with the rest of the world's professionals, but it seems to be writing professionals who give terrible advice as well.
I'm afraid "professionals" have it wrong. Colors aren't faded and dull like that. The world is a vibrant, colorful place. Plus, there's a such thing as shadows within shadows. You'd still be able to make out details in the dark blue crevasses of his body. Light doesn't just hit a surface and die. It scatters all over. Objects reflect light which is why, even when sitting in the shade, shapes still have darker shadows.
This is best demonstrated when you're in your room in the middle of the night. You know how your closet looks extra dark inside? There's still light in your room, but less of that light is reaching your closet, making it extra dark. Full black, #000000 exists in real life, people. Light doesn't stop existing where something casts a shadow, otherwise your eyes wouldn't be able to adjust to dark environments and still make out shapes and details. If the above image were how things really worked, we'd be totally blind in low light conditions.
I saw one person claim some pixel artist understood color more than anyone else. We'll call them AssKisser and KnowNothing respectively, for fairly obvious reasons.
AssKisser claimed KnowNothing had some kind of profound knowledge of colors that few other people know, and attempted to prove it by posting some quote from him.
KnowNothing claimed verbatim: "The important thing about neutralizing colors is that the added color should be the exact opposite hue as the color it is meant to kill. If you only use gray to neutralize, you won't ever achieve gray unless the piece is 100% gray. Neutralizing colors must be far enough away that they balance TO gray. If your second color is exactly opposite from the other, it should occupy 50% of the space (equal parts) because neutral gray will be exactly halfway." AssKisser then showed this example from KnowNothing.
Ok, KnowNothing, cute illusion. You figured out a neat parlor trick. Am I meant to be impressed? Here's something that will blow your mind.
See, you can painstakingly checker together two perfectly opposite colors, or... here's the crazy part... you can just use grey and achieve the exact same result in less time, using less colors. Seriously, I don't know what KnowNothing is talking about. "If you only use gray to neutralize, you won't ever achieve gray"
What the hell kind of hipster-ass bullcrap is that?
I went to KnowNothing's gallery. I had to know what kind of artwork the supposed god of color was capable of.
I'm not impressed...
First of all, that black outline looks too messy.
Second, anyone notice the major issue with this one?
That's with the yellow on the skin?
Left are the colors of the character's skin pulled straight from sprite.
Right, real life billiard balls.
Here's a rubber ball with less gloss. I still don't see yellow.
Now you understand why they got their nicknames. KnowNothing, you're hopelessly, hopelessly ignorant. AssKisser, you're so blind, you wouldn't know a good pixel artist if you were forced to watch one bang your mom in 2D.
Here's another common one I see that really pisses me off.
This one frustrates me because it's how "professionals" justify their dull, lifeless pixel drawings. "You gotta connect the colors! That way everything has the same shades and it looks bland and muddy! Because that's how it looks the best!" It even says "To be like the professionals, you must use the connected palette like on the right" underneath this graphic in the tutorial.
Well, do you know what style of palette this sprite uses?
Oh! It's the bad one! I used the bad everybody! I did the wrong!
All except the one single color are completely independent from each other. Why did I bother connecting those two ramps? Because the two colors were so close to each other that having them separate would have been pointless. And why do I make them individual? Because like I said above, colors don't just vanish in the shadow, and I can't bring myself to pretend like they do.
These people.... no, I'm not going to be nice. If they're going to walk around and act like thugs so they can be the grand gatekeepers of pixel art, they don't deserve my respect.
These idiots don't seem to understand how color and light work.
No, that's not very fair. I said I was going to be as fair as possible this time. It's not entirely their fault they were mislead, so I can't call them idiots. It's like a cult. I bet ya this started with some crap pixel artist who somehow got it in his head that colors just fade blue in the shadow, but rather than face criticism and learn to improve, he decided to fool people into believing he was good at pixel art. Maybe his images didn't look so bad, so it was easy for him to fool more gullible, less talented, aspiring pixel artists, and eventually as more people who loved his pixel art started to adopt his style, it spread like the plague.
That's just speculation I pulled out of my ass, whole cloth, though.
The better I get at sprite art, the more I start to realize "professional" and "the best" aren't synonymous. I used to think professionals were the greatest. I looked up to them until I became an expert and realized I was no longer looking up to masters, but now down at a bunch of journeymen who believe they're masters. It's a vicious cycle: Journeymen praising other journeymen, reinforcing the lie that they have the greatest talent. Beginners then see them praising each other and calling themselves the masters, and the beginners start to aim for their level, to be a "master" too. You end up with more and more blind ducks perpetuating the delusion that they see more than normal pixel artists, when in reality, they see less.
And when I look back up from where I've gotten, I realize so few actually reach expert status that there never really were any masters.
These are Earth's mightiest pixel artists?
"But Bastendorf, it's a challenging style!"
Is it? Any pixel artists reading this, I want you to ask yourselves this: Is it a challenge, or is "it's challenging" just an excuse/lie you tell yourself and others?
Now let me ask you a question. What's more challenging? Restricting the number of colors you're allowed to use and staying exactly as you are, or pushing what you can do and what you know, and questioning your abilities and methods, to see what new heights you can reach?
And what's more rewarding? Doing the same thing over and over because it's what you know and what gets you praise, or striving for better, even though it may mean you're no longer able to call yourself the best there is?
Take another look.
Keep in mind, I was never afraid to question my skill and change my style. I questioned everything that came my way, including the style on the right. I think it's better to not get stuck to one style too firmly. It makes you stagnate. My style is always evolving, always improving, always under the most intense self-scrutiny. I'm not willing to consider myself a master pixel artist, yet.
I might not ever.
I can never know if there's nothing above a certain skill level. And deciding that a skill level is the best means I'll stop trying to improve.
For any pixel artists that come my way who have never been to my blog before, I want to share this image again.
For those unfamiliar with this image, it's one of my favorites. It's all sprite art I did, and all of the same character. I show this one a lot, but I think this post in particular justifies showing it off again.
First of all, it shows I never adopted the style everyone approved of, and second it shows my point perfectly. Each step of the way, I thought I was such a good pixel artist. If I had convinced myself to stop trying to improve at any point on this scale, I would never have reached where I am now.
Actually, I recently noticed that my image may be wrong. The way the color pattern of the character has evolved suggests that the first and second ones are probably in the wrong order. The rest is accurate, though.
But that's besides the point. ...Actually, I forgot my point. It's late at the time of writing this. I've been working on this one for hours, trying to make sure I explained myself well and gave Earth's Mightiest Pixel Artists™ a fair shake this time.
Wait, now I remember! Good thing I stopped to do some proofreading. Jogged my memory. I never wasted my time trying to challenge myself with dumb limits. It's pointless. "Oh boy gais, look what I did! I drewed a pitchur with only a few colors! Gibs me cookie!"
It's not exactly something I consider worth being proud of. At least not something worth being proud of more than on occasion. I know I'm able to take the challenge and complete the challenge. It's why I don't do it. It's like the bronze trophies on PS3, or the PC game achievements you get for doing something that takes little effort.
To me, the real challenge is challenging my style. Like I said above, I question everything. If the point of a challenge is for it to be tough and make you think and show your ability, then what could be more tough and thought-provoking than constantly calling into question your own style?
Maybe it is all just a challenge to them. In which case, they challenged themselves to copy another style and limit their own ability and stay that way. I challenged myself to build my own style my own way, different from the pre-approved style Earth's Mightiest Pixel Artists™ all base theirs on.
I know that this all probably seems petty. But there are two things in this world I'm hardcore passionate about. 1) Dragons. 2) Pixel Art. It's bugged me for years that these people hold tyrannical control over the art form, and have gone totally uncontested for who-knows-how-long. I've been waiting a long time for someone to come and show them that they're wrong, to prove that there's another way, that you don't need to bow to their style to be a great pixel artist. But no one ever did.
Now that my ability has grown quite a bit and I've refined my style, I've decided I'll be the one to stand up to them. I'll be the one to prove that their style isn't the only way, and certainly isn't the best way.
And besides, I did learn a few things while recoloring Kaiseto's art. Some just from the practice, and some from Kaiseto's style. So thanks, Kai. And hopefully aspiring pixel artists among my readers have learned something from this long rant.
Remember, just because a bunch of people agree that someone's the best, that doesn't always mean its true. Maybe one day I'll do a tutorial... when I'm not feeling so lazy. I've actually been meaning to do this one for weeks now. Almost ended up putting it off longer.
So I made fun of some kids who are probably going to grow up to be worthless due to "progressive" environments being their teaching place. I called them useless on Twitter and the person I tweeted it at responded back calling me useless.
I corrected by saying I'm a talented game developer, so am therefore not useless. Turns out, she's a game critic... an oh-so useful position, but this isn't about sniping, so I'm not going to be mean. She demanded I show her how successful I am, but sadly, I only have 4 absolutely trash games out. She wants to Let's Play them.
This post is going to be mostly addressing her for the sake of her and anyone her LP sends my way, so bear with me.
Look, critic girl (to cover my ass and protect your identity), I've made little effort to hide the fact that I used to be terrible.
Here They Are. Go ahead and click the link. I'm not afraid to admit those are my creations, and I'm perfectly comfortable with people playing them. (My readers, please don't play my games. You're not going to have a good time... You don't deserve to suffer that way.)
Frankly, if it bothered me, I wouldn't have left them up for 6 years. Hell, one has over 900 plays... those poor, unfortunate souls... That's a lot of plays for something you think I'm afraid of people discovering.
The issue, here, is that I didn't say SUCCESSFUL like you seem to think I said... like you admitted you think I said. I told you I'm TALENTED. Talent and success are not synonyms, and playing my old games isn't going to prove I'm not talented.
The one I gave you directly, Savage, is an RPG I started in 2004. You do realize that's almost a decade and a half old, right? I didn't finish it until 2008, and I didn't upload it until 2011. Not a single one of those games are good, current, or even serious for that matter. One of them is a joke for a joke challenge I was part of (Drake's Nightmare), and judge for. (My game didn't get an opportunity to win. All three judges submitted a game for the challenge for fun.) And another is made mostly out of graphics I didn't even make. (Savage) And Slaughter House was done literally in weeks because I wanted to make a game about stickmen and senseless murder jsut to be a game about stickmen and sensless murder.
To try to use any of those games, from all that time ago, as proof I have no talent is extremely disingenuous, because I've made it patently clear, to you and to everyone who follows me, that absolutely am a talented developer. My inability to release a game in a while has little to do with a lack of talent, but let me put my skills where my mouth is.
"Is 2D all you're good for? Get with the times!" Actually, no. I can do 3D, too. And I'm pretty damn good, there, as well.
Here's a WIP canine character I sometimes show off.
Wow, is that it? I'm all out?
Huh, yep. If I go back any further than 2012, it all becomes pretty much shit not worth seeing.
So, critic girl, go right ahead. Play my games, berate them into the ground, insult me until you're blue in the face, then link me your LP/review. I'll watch it. I really will. I look forward to it.
You can say what you want, do your worst. My own fans can even tell me how they really feel about them. It's not going to bother me. The games are between a half decade to a decade and a half old. Yeah, big shock: I struggled back then. I'm pretty much self-taught. I sure as hell didn't go to college, so I didn't take any game development classes, or design classes.
You're not going to prove to me, or your fans, or my readers that I'm useless by showing off my old games. All you're going to show is that the road I traveled was steep and rocky. You're going to reveal the uphill battle I fought to get to where I am now. Go back over my sprites in this post. I think I've thoroughly proved I'm a talented developer. (Or, at the very least a talented graphic designer... I've done jack shit to show I can develop games.)
My inability to maintain enough interest to finish a game in years has nothing to do with my skill as an artist or game developer, and everything to do with there being a lot wrong with my brain.
When I stop being interested in finishing a project, I have to dump it. It doesn't mean it's gone, but it means I've stopped working on it for the time being. I have to stop when I lose interest, because if I kept trying to force myself to finish the game, I don't think it would have the heart and soul put into it that I want to put into it. If I don't have the passion I once held, the game could be lackluster and rushed.
I've lost interest in every single project I've ever worked on since 2011, with exception to my last one. That one was actually going very well, I just hit the mother of all energy slumps, and it's left me very forgetful and extremely easily mixed up, and very dumb. The kind of engine that game needs requires my mind to be sharp and quick, otherwise I'll be screwing up, frustrating myself, and exhausting myself trying to simulate code in my head.
Any programmers reading will know all too well what I'm talking about.
As a result of my current state, I've willingly put the project off, as much as it pains me, simply because I know I'm not fit for the game's demands right now.
However, I was struck by sudden inspiration and have returned to a previous project shown early on in this blog. It's where the animated sprite at the top of this post comes from. That game, I'm hoping, will be the project that I finish, simply because of how long I've been trying to develop it (9 years) and because it's sprites are looking really nice.
Then we'll see who is mocking who.
Oh yeah, I'm also a talented writer, too. I wrote and published a pretty good novel. And no, I'm not telling you what it is because you'd never read it, because I'm not giving it to you, you'd have to buy it like everyone else, and I know it would kill you to know your money ends up in my pocket, so you'd never do it. And to answer your question, no, it's not successful, because I don't shill it, ever, and I haven't bought much advertising space, so it has few sales right now.
One character from the list above actually comes from that book, though.
(I really hope this post comes out ok. I've had to rewrite so much of this damn thing because it kept glitching up and erasing blocks of what I wrote. Weebly is never usually this bad... I'm tired now and just want to go to bed.)
Edit: Yeah, I knew it would fuck up... Good thing I copied everything over to a word document, otherwise I would have lost this final block of text. Now I have to check to make sure I haven't lost any of my fucking proofreading...
Update: Yep, all of my proofreading had been undone. I've (hopefully) fixed it all now.
Since it was part of my last post, it's been on my mind since yesterday.
he(Right click on it and click View Image to see the full view.)
This is now one of my most favorite images for a lot of reasons, but primarily because it shows both the evolution of a character and an artist together. However, when I showed this to a friend just now, he picked out the ones he liked the most, and it made me realize there's even more to this image than I thought.
Not only does it paint a picture of growth, it also paints one of struggle.
When I first started game development in 2003, I had been under the impression that I was waiting for everything to become clear to me. By way of reinforcement, I was mislead by teachers to believe that I'd suddenly see the light and start drawing and developing games like a pro as soon as I got to college. I was waiting for that day to come instead of working towards that goal. "Just take it when you get to college. You'll learn so much more there." I believed the lie...
It wasn't until high school that I started to realize I was wasting my time and college was no different from any other grade level, just harder, and that's when I dug in for myself.
The first few years, the character above didn't exist. I didn't have access to the internet at home, hell, no one did. I had no idea how it worked. My first introduction to the internet was only three years prior, in middle school, and my first time getting totally unsupervised use was a year after, for some dumb school assignment. And that's when I accidentally discovered there was porn on the internet. That was the greatest half hour of my 12 year old life....
Ahem... as I was saying... I didn't have internet, and I didn't know how to use it as well as I do now. So what I did was grab images from a bunch of NES classics off fan sites that had them posted. Namely Super Mario 1 and 3, and Kirby's Adventure, put them on some 3.5 Floppy disks (yes, I had 3.5 floppies in 2003, and I had a computer that still took them, and so did my school) and saved them to take home. For the first year of high school, I practiced at home on Game Maker 6, badly imitating NES sprites as best I could... on MS Paint... the old one... with only 3 undos. I eventually moved on to Sega Genesis sprites. In my Junior year, I had a laptop and was told about RPG Maker 2003 and iDraw, which was a step up from MS Paint.
At about 2008, the character above was starting to take form for the first time, and I had learned to shade by practicing drawing with a mouse in GIMP.
I didn't have much of a style, and the character was still mostly under development at the time, so when next I drew him, I went back into a fully black outline, (as was how I drew back then), and used a lot more color, sticking more to his actual design and to less how I wanted him to look.
Actually, the drawing above comes sometime between the second and third sprites, but I still had more on an idea of how I wanted him. You can tell because his earlier design didn't have a green jaw. The green, after it was added, stopped just at the end of his neck.
In 2009, I went back to his old palette, because I liked it better. I was still struggling with how to do away with the outline back then. But I was learning how to make it stand out much less.
Half way through making the sprite sheet for the 4th one, the character underwent a massive physical change. There actually exists a previous version of that one.
Towards the end of 2009, you can actually see that I started to dabble with ways of getting rid of the outline. The sprite, however, was ugly, and after doing quite a few frames of animation for it, I eventually ditched it. Surprisingly, that was one of my more ambitious projects at the time.
2010 was when I explored the possibility of doing an RPG with the character instead of a platformer, which all but the first sprite on the list would have been. As you can see, I lapsed back into my old ways with the outline. I was stuck in this mindset that the way I was doing things was the only way to do things, but I was never able to figure out why other, better sprite artists were able to do so much better than me. It was a really brutal position to be in.
2011 was a step forward for me. I was going to get the game done. I'd even won a concept contest and was set to collab with someone. But in the middle of the project, he vanished, his Youtube channel when completely dormant, and he stopped responding to me. He posted one more video after that, and was never seen nor heard from again.
The latter 2011 one was an attempt at doing my character in more HD than ever before. It's clear just by looking at it that I was kind of starting to get the hang of spriting, but still had no real idea of how to utilize shading properly.
2012, the big one, was just for fun. It was my attempt at doing a super detailed sprite, and also to practice pixel art in GIMP so I could stop relying on iDraw. He was never meant to be so muscular. But I started with his chest, and just started adding details where I thought it would look the best. When the torso was done, he looked really toned and muscular, and really hot, so I ran with it and made the rest of him muscular to match his torso. That was once my magnum opus... It's has an enormous impact on not only his my skill, but also on his design.
Surprisingly, I still didn't get it at the time. I didn't understand why the 2012 giant sprite looked so good, and I lapsed back into the style of the second one from 2011. I wish I could show you the transition, but I didn't draw him in that time, so it happened with other sprites, some of which I don't have any more. I deleted them due to being inferior or unnecessary.
2013 was the first version of him done in Photoshop, and was based heavily on the giant one that came before it. Shocker, I still didn't really get why it looked good. I had managed to break free of the rigid ideas I had of doing sprites, but I still wasn't quite there, yet. But I proved to myself that I could easily do it again if I wanted to, so there had at least been progress.
In 2015, I took the same design and condensed it down further, probably because he just didn't look young enough, still. By then I had a handle on my new style, but still had more growth to under go, even though I didn't realize it.
After cancelling work on the project for an 11th time, I started to get things I hadn't gotten before. I started to understand things that I had been blind to for 9 years.
The last sprite in the image, finished literally just today, is a result of everything just sort of suddenly clicking all at once while listening to Mountain King from the Atari game by the same name. It's still kind of a work in progress, because issues with shading makes him look kind of fat, when he's really just puffing his chest out like the giant sprite, but it's an order of magnitude better than all previous attempts, and all previous sprites, including ones that aren't just this character.
That's a little better. Consider this the first teaser and only a small taste of what's hopefully to come.
I still have a long way to go, but not bad for some nobody with no college-level education though, huh?
Holy shit, you know what I just noticed?
Despite the countless changes I've made to his design, his outfit has remained unchanged for 9 years. Blue jacket, orange collar, no sleeves, no zipper or buttons, and too short for him.
His eyes have always been the same, as well. No matter how I changed his colors, his eyes have always been yellow.
It's really cool to see.
Ok, who would win in a fight?
A color palette style that has been lionized to obscene proportions, that all the greatest pixel artists of all time live and die by and has been foisted on hundreds if not thousands of other pixel artists as the absolute best system ever.
A hot pink cat. (A cat that is colored hot pink, I mean. Not a pink cat that is hot.)
Well, if the title of this post tells you anything, the titanic, tyrannical behemoth that is the limited palette has finally run into a sprite it just can't pixel. I've been waiting so long for a defeat this large. Can you tell I'm really thrilled? Because I am really thrilled.
In the following image, I used 5 different palettes, 3 of them by the greatest, most admired pixel artists I could find, 1 computer generated one, and my own.
Note that the palettes used in the upper row are used by their respective artists, and are used for every single one of their images.
Syosa - defeated. Fool - defeated. Even Kaiseto, who used the most reds and pinks, stood no chance against my character's bright pink armor. (Her eye lenses weren't taken into account.) There was more to Kaiseto's than that, but I couldn't be bothered to copy the entire palette over. Those were his only red and pink colors anyway.
The computer generated color ramp came the closest, and it still couldn't do it.
"But Bastendorf, real life has a range of hues! It doesn't look like that in real life!"
It's called "HOT PINK". Not "semi-sorta almost hot pink if you squint your eyes and pretend rose is hot pink". It's a fluorescent color, fluorescent colors really exist and they really look fluorescent. Crazy right? It's almost as if art imitates life or something like that and desaturating everything is wrong.
This is how you know the limited palette is weak and rigidly sticking to it, like the idolized legends do their own, is stupid. Look at those real life photos and then tell me which of the palettes come closest to being hot pink. Here's a hint: the bottom 2 are near perfect, the 8 upper ones are all way off. The greatest pixel artists there are wouldn't be able to draw my character without breaking their precious palettes, or without getting her color entirely wrong.
"But Bastendorf, it's not weak! It's a show of your skill to be able to make great art even with a limited palette! It's a show of strength!"
No. You don't control the limited palette, the limited palette controls you. That's weakness. It's impressive to be able to make great pixel art despite limitations, but when you cloister yourself inside a single, super-rigid color palette range that you run to every single time you want to do pixel art, then you're not strong. You can't function without a handicap.
"Then just don't make your character hot pink!"
If anyone uses this excuse, you can see what I mean. The palette controls you. It's weakness. I will not bow to the "rules". The cat's armor is hot pink. The science is settled.
"The palettes you used aren't meant for characters with her color requirements!"
Weakness. If their palettes are unable to handle a character wearing bright pink armor, but mine can, which palette is superior? The one that can't, or the one that can? Mr. Incredible can't move the Earth, Superman can. Which superhero is weaker, the one who can't, or the one who can? If you were hiring an employee to do important writing work for your business, two people applied, one can't spell but the other can, who is the superior choice in employee?
"Your character uses more colors than the palettes can handle. It's not fair!"
That's why I grabbed Kaiseto's palette to make it more fair, and took the reds and pinks from it. His color ramps were large enough to handle her sprite detail and still failed, where mine was also able to handle her sprite detail, and succeeded.
"You should reduce the detail anyway. She uses too many colors."
I bow to no sprite rules. She only uses 12 colors. 7 pinks, 4 blues, and black. That's not a lot. And I'm not removing black, because unlike Fool and Syosa, Kaiseto and I aren't afraid of #000000.
"But if you zoom all the way out to 100%, most of the colors blend together anyway! You don't need that many!"
She's not designed to be viewed at 100%. She's a video game sprite. The vast majority of 2D video game sprites are viewed at 200%. And at 200% all of her colors are distinguishable from each other, and all of her details matter.
Yeah, as you can see, I've heard every retarded excuse in the book already. These people really don't like free thinkers. "He's not using the approved methods! Quick browbeat him!" I could probably reduce the number of colors to 11 by removing the one redundant one in her lenses, but the rest is important to the shape, color, and material of her armor. You're welcome to try reducing colors beyond that if you want the challenge, though. (Be aware that her darkest color comes more heavily into use on her walking frames, so it's not entirely pointless.)
If these guys are unable to use hot pink, and yet they're called masters, I guess that makes me the final boss? What's above master rank? Grandmaster rank? Platinum rank? S Rank?
You're welcome to put your rigid, limited palette to the test against my sprite, or if you have a friend or know another "master" pixel artist everyone idolized who is willing to try, you can link them to this post and challenge them against my palette breaker character. So far her kill count is 3. 4 if you count the person who made the color ramp generator.
Drawing I did for a friend of mine.
It's her character, Tailgate. He's kinda like a griffon... thing.
Go ahead and reverse Google search it if you don't believe me that I drew this.
I know it looks awful. That's my fault. I wanted to start, finish, and upload all on the same day, and this was my first foray into fur texturing a character to be as believable as possible, so it was rushed and sloppy, and I did stupid things that hurt the image quality in the end. I could have stood to deviate from the source material just a little.
That's the thing that makes me better than most freelance artists. You ask me to make a drawing of a character, I will excessively analyze that character down to the nth detail, and I will go back to the reference material over and over and over until my version looks as close to the original material as I can get it to be in the selected style.
Could have taken more liberties... Also should have worked the custom brush I'd made for hair so that it looked less like faux fur, but I didn't want to waste a bunch of time just doing that. And initially, I wasn't even planning to hyper detail the image.
Another mistake I made was a lack of planning. I didn't really put any thought into how I was going to shade it until I had already done an hour and a half worth of work that ended up being unnecessary in the end, anyway... There wasn't meant to be much shading until I started deciding I'd detail it to the extreme.
By the way, that kind of detail work isn't something you just sit down and have Photoshop take care of automatically. The only things photoshop did for me was making the gradient on his beak. The hair you see all over the character's body was entirely me. There is no "realistic hair" option in photoshop. The way the hair flows across the body like an actual animal had to be done 100% manually, turning a 1 hour drawing into an 18-ish hour drawing. (Probably would have been shorter if photoshop hadn't crashed my computer, wiping out all of the custom brushes I'd made specifically for this image, forcing me to recreate them all, and then photoshop crashed itself not long after that, wiping out all of my custom brushes a second time. Strangely, the image survived both times (because I was spastically saving) but not a single one of the bushes survived. In fact, closing photoshop down for the night, last night, also erased them a third time, all but the brush I had used the most.
You might be wondering why my version looks so angry if I attempted to make it as close to the source as I could get it.
I went into the drawing intending to give Tailgate the look and demeanor of my favorite Bleach character, Ulquiorra, just because the contrast amused me. Tailgate is so cute and fluffy, Ulquiorra is blank and cold. So I gave Tailgate the expression and face paint Ulquiorra wears. Turns out, Tailgate wears the look well.
If only I'd put more time and planning into it.
Oh well. She didn't pay anything for it. It was a surprise gift, and she loved it anyway.
This is the earliest form of my fursona. I have no better shots of it than this, because I hated it. I remember it had blue eyes, though.
I don't really consider this one official. It was rather slapped together, and I had no idea how to build in primatives.
The first picture I ever took of my avatar in the making. As you can see, I started over from scratch. I can't remember why I went with blue, with green spines, and grey eyes.
I was always simplistic when I drew dragons. No horns, no ears, no wings, etc. It shows.
I chose a dragon because ever since I was a small child, I had always adored dragons. So naturally, when I became a furry, I chose a dragon as my species.
Here it is a few days later, after more work was done. It's now glossy, fully black, sporting wings, and new yellow eyes.
I chose yellow for the eyes because, in real life, I had caught the reflection of myself in the window of a car. For some reason, the way the sun hit me made my irises light up a ghostly amber color, which is abnormal, and unusual for me, as I have brown eyes that are on the darker side. I loved it so much, it became part of my avatar.
Though I've never needed glasses, I thought they looked cute on me, so I made a pair.
A few weeks, and a massive upgrade later...
A much longer neck was added to the original design, a new tail, new spines, new hands, new legs, horns, ears, spikes, and whiskers.
You can see, from the shots standing in grass to the ones standing on a blue block, the neck was thickened.
The hands are gigantic because I didn't want to use inviso prims, because it would get rid of any shine, and any human skin would be rendered invisible if the primitives crossed over them. But I still have to hide the default hands beneath the avatar.
At this point, I was supposed to have white horns and spines that were tipped in blood, because I wanted to be a human slayer. (I was so edgy :p). Unfortunately, I didn't have enough to make the textures I needed, so I just left them all red.
The belt is something a friend of mine showed me how to make. I couldn't find a good place to attach it, on the body, but I really wanted to use it, so I attached it to the default avatar's nose and positioned it to look like it was around my dragon avatar's neck.
The first time I drew my new fursona in color and uploaded it. (I warned you I sucked.)
The whiskers were removed. I Just didn't like them. The membranes of the wings were colored yellow, due to a friend of mine making a 3D render of my fursona, and mistakenly making them yellow. So I tried it out for a time.
The X-shaped belt came back, a few more were added, as well as a tool pouch, watch, necklace, and I even tried out some stripes. He was also given a more pear-shaped body to make him more cute.
By this time, the differences between Bastendorf as my fursona, and Bastendorf as a character were steadily growing.
8 was much better, but I still didn't like it. So later the same year, I set out to work on Version 9. After receiving constant complaints about his feet being too small, I decided I wanted him to be built for speed. I went with a more raptor-like design for the lower half of his body.
I also shortened his mane, refined the shape of it on top of his head, and dropped his 4th toe. His main two colors also received even more saturation at the suggestion of a friend. I'm not sure why, I just loved how he looked all vibrant, even though it deviated from the dark-colored dragon I always imagined him as.
Even though he stopped being a human slayer, years ago, the red claws and horns had grown on me, and so they stayed.
Here's a quick n' dirty edit I made, later, to show how his outfit has evolved.
I had also tried out spots and stripes again.
Didn't stick, but I may still toy around with the idea.
Another common complaint had been the lack of muscle. So while doing some sprite art, 3 years later, I put some muscle on him. I started with the torso, and by the time I had finished it, he had turned out more ripped than I had intended. But rather than fix it, I built the rest of his body to be equally muscular.
Here's a preview of the yet-unfinished version 10 that I started earlier this year. His ears clearly lost their fin-like shape, and the fins on his neck have been reduced down, quite a bit, to little more than vestigial bumps on the sides of his neck. He's also 6' 1" tall rather than the old 5' 11". This is because I worked on his mother character at the same time I worked on him, and she was always designed to be taller than him, despite the fact that I'm taller than my mom.
When his mom underwent an overhaul to make her more like him (She was a lot more like version 3, but more feral) I had to make her smaller, but I didn't want him to remain too much smaller than her, so while her height decreased, his increased.
As a character, he's nothing like me any more, but as my fursona, though he's changed over time, he's been a constant and I wouldn't replace him for anything.
Despite 10 years of changes, his eyes are still yellow, and his claws and horns are still red.
You've come so far since that late night, building you on Second Life.