Making Things

This is a bit of brainstorming and navel-gazing.

In a few minutes, I’m going to pour a couple of hours into my JRPG prototype.

In the background, a 90 page storyboard for a comic book awaits editing and production.

While I’ve made some video games, I’ve had by far the most success producing children’s books — and indeed, stories for children are my jam.

I cranked out 3 books last year, and only the one this year. In fairness, I fled a state and decided to work on a comic book.

I’ve found in the process of making children’s books that more drafts = better final product. Obviously, there’s gotta be a point of diminishing returns where successive refinements result in a minuscule amount of improvement for a ridiculous effort. But in my attempt to capture the pulp mindset of producing good enough entertainment at a brisk pace, I haven’t hit that threshold yet.

My comic book in progress represents a bleeding edge of this drafting process. But I think my recent painting of Wren may represent it better.

I dunno. On the one hand, there’s a certain life and energy in the initial sketch that has been beaten out of the final painting. There’s a certain level of refinement implied in the final painting that is never achieved. These nagging bits don’t matter, as I did it just for fun. It was a Sunday project, and a Sunday project is meant to be restful and enjoyable rather than advancing any of my causes. But..

I could do a book like this. 30 pages, low resolution sketch and writing in Krita, each draft ups the resolution, tweaks the writing. At the beginning I’m cranking out 2-6 pages a day, at the end I’m refining a single page each day.

I need to try it at some point.

Maybe I should ditch the RPG and make that December’s project. I’m not going to say either way, at least not until November 30th. But the thought occurs to me.

Niemeier has me thinking each year is gonna get a bit worse for the forseeable future. Vidya is a long involved process that takes several years. Will I have a computer in 2025? Will I have electricity?

I live on a 40 acre hobby farm a long, long way from civilization, so my family will probably do alright. But in the event of a total social collapse, getting a story onto paper in a couple of months has advantages over getting a story into game form in a few years.

Add to that the fact that the only pressing job I have on this blighted planet is leaving my offspring a record of my love and faith so that should God take me tomorrow, they know the way to find me, and the advantages of books over vidya compound.

I love coding and I love game design and I love the ratio of work in making a game: backgrounds only once, characters animated, etcetera. I think if I try to give it up, I’ll be yearning for it again after a while.

Then there’s the whole brief fling with Alpha Test, which still needs to be added to Yet Another List of Projects.

Every time I work with pixel art for a while, I grow to despise it. Then I come back to it a month or so later and think, “Actually, that looks rather nice.”

The suitability of the 3-panel widescreen format to web comics that convert into 5×8 Amazon books is nothing short of providential. Even if I don’t make pixel art comics of it, I want to use it. I feel like it’s a gift God has given me, an to leave it sitting on the table while I tinker with other projects is a shame.

My stated purpose is to get my stories out there even for people who can’t afford them. A webcomic fulfills that objective. Paper books preserve the story through ongoing social upsets.

One issue I have with printing 5×8 books of a sprite comic, though, is that I’ll have to charge $10 a copy for 30 pages of color graphics. Alpha Test should be black and white, or gray-scale, so that the 5x8s can be $4, with big, beautiful, more expensive 8.5×11 hardcovers for projects downstream of Alpha Test.

Actually, scratch working on the RPG today.

I still want to do it. But I think it would be most productive for me to take a long walk and do mulling and some praying.


So I’ve done some mulling.

  • It is impossible to prototype my JRPG engine as an Alpha Test comic. It is game mechanics, not a story. It is a medium for the story. The JRPG and the comic are not reflections of one-another, but alternative means for getting my stories out.
    • However, Alpha Test is a means of prototyping stories for the JRPG engine.
    • Alpha Test holds the edge in speed of construction and probability of persistence over any game.
  • Alpha Test has serious distribution problems in that it is a color comic as presently conceived, and anything I make that has the color cost of printing ought to be a quality production. The opposite of Alpha Test.
  • So Alpha Test needs to be Black and White. Somehow.
  • I’m thinking a couple of thoughts. I could stick with pixel-art and go straight monochrome, ala the Gameboy:
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (GB / Game Boy ...
  • Create subtle unique palettes for background and foreground, ala the Gameboy Color or Advance running a Gameboy game:
  • Or make black and white drawings to assemble into the comics.
  • First option is just the second option with four times as much work for half again the effect. But, hmm…
  • Third option is just “draw a comic” with copying and pasting easing back the work curve.


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