We closed out last week just a little shy of all the needed gameplay (namely, going places, clicking on things, and having my scripts play as a result). Thanks to a helpful plugin called Dialogic, I had no need to make my own dialogue system…
And Godot comes with pathfinding out of the box, albeit buggy pathfinding, which may mean I need to apply a couple bandaids of my own.
The hope was to have all the gameplay systems done that week, spend this week making a Complete Game, and then the rest of December and January expanding the game.
As of the close of today, I have reached the point I aimed to hit last Friday which is… not great, but better than my other missed targets by a lot. Crosswiring multiple forms of input in Godot proved challenging, but not nearly so challenging as Unity. With Dialogic coming with choice boxes, and me spending my first couple days implementing palette management and a custom animation system suited to my prejudices, my Godot RPG Engine is now more capable than my Unity RPG Engine, and I have less experience with Godot on the whole.
Here’s my sweet, sweet radial menu radial menuing.
But that is not (for me) the most exciting bit of news. Unhappy with my test graphics, I began the process of doing research and mockups into the sorts of graphics I’d like to do in my game. I have wavered between my hand-drawn style and pixel art in the past. And one of the reasons is I can make competent pixel art, but not unique pixel art.
Until now. The dam broke.
That’s a mockup, but that’s the style. It means the characters (except for the piqha) need to get larger, but I’ve realized I can bring the feel of my brush into the pixels. In fact, I’ve done it before:
I am now genuinely excited for the art I am going to bring to this game, and to future books and comics, even if it is low-res adventures.
When I ended the week without reaching my goal, the plan changed. This week is no longer for finishing, but for building. Next week is not for finishing because of Christmas. The last week of December is now for finishing. But that’s fine. I went for two months so I would have that space to work in.
So this week, the plan is to build out from this foundation. Get the game looking interesting.
Next week, I intend to work on it some, but not a ton, thanks to Christmas.
And the week after that is a race to make it a complete game. That is, having the win or lose conditions, the music, the options menus, the title screens, and so on.
Usually I post all this stuff to Twitter as I do it, but ever since I hit on the art direction, I’ve been holding off. I want my next salvo to hit hard, with lots of the new art to gawk at.
According to schedule, this week is supposed to be the first full week of development on Last Legend Zero, in which basic gameplay is established. Next week, then, is the week of “finishing” Zero, that is, ensuring it is a finished game, so that anything added or refined during the remainder of the development time is literally added or refined. However, yesterday I had a mild cold, and today I slept in due to the some moderate symptoms.
Additionally, I spent the last week developing a workflow that would create HD graphics that I could then reuse in books. However, there are still several advantages to using pixel art, and I recently was reminded of them.
At the moment, most of my work can be re-purposed easily. Turning my HD palette shader into a pixel art palette shader will only make it simpler, not more complex. The palette management system I’ve devised for the one shader will work for the other. I’ve made almost no graphics for the game.
So, let us weigh the pros and cons of making a game in both pixel art and HD graphics with these emoji: 👾🖋️
👾 Pixel Art is Future Proof: As screen resolutions improve, pixel art will continue to look just the same.
👾 Pixel Art Implies More Gameplay: The more bespoke an asset is, the less you can do with it. The more reusable the assets are, the bigger the world feels.
👾 Pixel Art is More Gameplay: Pixel art takes less time to make, meaning more of my time and money budgets can be devoted to the actual game.
👾 Pixel Art Runs on Potatoes: The lower the resolution of the active area, the less work the computer has to do, the wider the range of machines that can run your game.
👾 Pixel Art Palette Controls are Tighter: Instead of having to adjust several related colors into several other related colors, I can simply turn one color into one other color. This allows for shading, and for larger palettes if I so desire.
🖋️ HD Art Is More Distinctive: While pixel art styles vary, especially as you go up in resolution, unless you try to adopt a fairly extreme style, your game will not stand out from other pixel art games. An HD hand-drawn game will always look like Hollow Knight to some degree, but it will have more of an identity of its own than a pixel-art game.
👾/🖋️ Pixel Art Is Considered “Cheap”: You have to charge less for the same amount of effort if you make your art pixelly. Although with the current plan, we’re already talking price ranges that fit pixel art just fine, so this isn’t decisive for one or the other.
👾 If we do pixel art in 3D, we can replace it with HD art at a later date: This means committing to pixel art is not committing against HD art.
👾🖋️ HD Art works better for illustration, but not decisively: There are plenty of kids’ books and shows that use illustration styles that seem sloppier or otherwise less good styles. And, in fact, if I make children’s books with pixel art illustrations, I will be doing something that few people do. It will be a distinct book style.
🖋️ Pixel Art Implies a Computer/Virtual World: While I do want to mix Digimon, Wreck-It-Ralph, and Tron for a virtual setting, and both art styles can be used to mean both kinds of world, HD art is better at representing both realities.
👾 I have better tools for animating Pixel Art: Aseprite is simply better than any HD animation tool I own. It is certainly better than animating by pencils and guesswork.
🖋️ I’ve Always Wanted to Make a Hand-Drawn LookingGame: And here’s where I trot out the classic pen test of piqha:
🖋️ Godot Does Not Gracefully Translate Inputs Into Differently Scaled Viewports: In Unity, I could set one camera to a pixel art scale, and one to an HD scale, and mix and match the styles, which is how I made this lovely thing:
Mixing and matching scales like this doesn’t work out of the box in 2D in Godot AFAIK. Although, this isn’t a total win for hand drawn art, as it does work out of the box if I do a 3D world:
🖋 Piqha Just Work Better Hand Drawn.: Here I want to do a compare and contrast between the above picture and one I generated in Aseprite that, for some reason, refuses to export correctly. But it refuses to export correctly, so I can’t.
So it looks at this point like Pixel Art is winning by a wide margin, especially if I use a 3D world.
This week’s task, as I said, is to get the basic gameplay up and running. Next week’s task is to turn it into a complete game. Time to buckle down!
I got scale-mixing working in Godot and it wasn’t even hard.
This week’s goal, aside from hugging my kin, and thanking God for what I have, is to finish my business plan.
At this point, I am about 80% sure the plan goes like this:
Reconstruct my JRPG/Adventure engine in Godot.
Build a 1-month adventure game therein, probably using Piqha. Probably an Easter Egg hunt, to publish in time for Easter 2022. Put it up for sale for $2. Let’s call it Last Legend Zero. Say the story is set before the crash of the ship, one Piqha suspects that something is wrong, and is exploring the conduits of his ship to figure it out. I want, somehow, the Word of God to be available to post-crash colony, so perhaps this easter egg hunt is the story of how it gets there.
Develop within/alongside the game the sets and characters for the Last Legend comic.
On the completion of the adventure game, I should be set for Last Legend comics for 1 or 2 months.
And/or 8×9 storybooks.
Bunny Trail Junction will reboot as a comic in like format, or storybook pages in the 8×9 storybook format, in due course.
I may spend a portion of November or December assembling a post-hoc December wrapup of the current format, and perhaps the 2021 Annual. Just tie up the first year in a bow.
Work on other projects with the Illusive Man as they come up.
Pour 2 months building a JRPG, Last Legend I. This is our business launch. Our “two-month, $5 game that makes 4K per month of work.” Our 1K wishlists on Steam.
By this time, presuming all goes well, we should be far enough along on the Illusive Man’s manga project, that taking a month or two off to produce something here is a good idea.
Pour 2-4 months into producing Last Legend II.
Get us our party mechanics.
Finish the challenge I undertook on behalf of my swordsmanship master.
Be a solid game that secures the Last Legend/Piqha brand, universe, and assets for use in the comics.
Be a solid showcase of what my micro JRPGs look like. Which leads us to:
Licensed JRPG. Say to the Illusive One, to Brometheus, to Niemeier, to my other homies, “Behold: here is a small game I have made that is designed to present a story. You have stories and an audience. Let us therefore run a Kickstarter together and produce a grand thing.” And do so. Choose the best fit. Run a crowdfund. Make a game. Lather, rinse, repeat, to raise everyone’s boats, while taking appropriate breaks to produce my own stories.
The only thing I would add is I want to produce a kid’s book every now and again. Keep my library of kids’ books growing. I feel the itch even now; it has been too long. So, keeping my format notes in mind, I think I may aim to produce a 8×9 Last LegendKids’Pulp Formula book next, and try and put one in every other month. Maybe break Awesome Moments into that format length as well.
Maybe do a Jump the Shark story before years’ end so I keep my pattern of one per year rolling.
As of Captain’s Log LB•11: The Primacy of Vidya, I have decided that henceforth instead of making comics, games, videos, or books as the fit takes me, I will be making games and then deriving comics, books, and videos from the games as much as possible.
It’s no good for some things, like Awesome Moments, obviously. In that specific case, I am content. Awesome Moments is a record for my own children, and I feel a little odd about making it a product. But I do need to make a product.
I’m working using a concept/business model I am calling the Game Tower.
A Game Tower is a game development technique wherein you make a miniature game that is a Complete Game that implements a core mechanic of some larger game you would like to make. Then you release and sell that game. Then, on top of that miniature game, you build a larger miniature game that has an additional component. In this way, you build a tower that grows towards the dream game you wish to make, while also increasingly funding that game and expanding your track record.
I have discussed before how I find dismal projections of how little money indie game developers make to be encouraging. Partly because I’m old poor, so a coder’s “I could never live on this” is easily 50% more than I can hope for as a Lowes Greeter. But partly because of the way Game Towers work. The projections in question assume you are marketing from square one each time, but every brick in a Game Tower helps sell the brick below and the brick above.
I have two Game Towers in the running. A JRPG Tower, which we’ve spoken of and…
The one I’ve chosen, Game Tower Awakening, is building a foundation with my favorite games in mind, especially The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for the Gameboy, with later influences from Megaman and Megaman X.
The first brick in that tower is familiarize myself with the Godot engine, try out some graphical and gameplay ideas, and see how that goes. And so I have done. Hat Trick: Prelude to Nightmare was made in Godot, tested the ideas, and is technically a Complete Game, even though it is not a good game.
Now, this is not the first game in the tower to be ‘financially viable’. Nor can I follow the proper methodology with this game, as making it has taught me several things I want to change on the ground floor. So after concluding I should focus on vidya, I debated two options:
Release the Proof of Concept with no real gameplay to the world and immediately begin working on the second brick.
Spend up to a week polishing the Proof of Concept so that it can be reasonably considered a real minigame.
The advantage of 1 is that it does a better job as a marketing tool. Hat Trick: Prelude to Nightmare was not meant to be a mere proof of concept. It was meant to market the Hat Trick comics on Bunny Trail Junction And it was meant to market the second brick. Right now, it’s not a good game. All it can really do is prove I can make certain things.
To make it a good minigame, I have a week or more of work ahead of me. Animating goblins, developing rudimentary AI, filling out the levels, changing the music at dramatically relevant times, and adding a bunch of satisfying beeps and swooshes to the menuing. This puts me a week or more further away from making the second brick. No big deal?
It would be good to do. I have learned a lot of stuff about Godot making this first game in the engine. There’s a bunch of things I want to do completely different now. And I know from experience that game dev will always be like this. If I start over, build a new foundation, by the time I get a game out of that, I will have a ton of stuff I’ll wish I’d done differently. Pushing forward to make the minigame a proper minigame would mean I begin work on it with even more notions of how I can do better.
But some of the changes I intend to make are fairly drastic.
For instance, I want to build my animation system differently so I can compartmentalize animations and reuse them between multiple characters. Oh, and here’s a big one.
I’m going to ditch 2D for 3D.
Not entirely. I still intend to use the same sprites and tiles. But I will do so in a manner reminiscent of Paper Mario or Octopath Traveler, albeit with an overhead perspective instead of a side-on perspective. So more of a Pokémon Black & White kind of look.
See, one of the things I love about Link’s Awakening is all the jumping. To add top-down platforming in 2D would be complex. I’d have to carefully consider how to emulate the third dimension. How to alter and sort the graphics as they get higher or lower. How to track which parts of the map are at which height.
If I just shift that gameplay into Godot’s 3D engine, I get all that stuff automatically.
And I can take a Link’s Awakening style adventure and make Megaman or Sonic levels by tipping the camera on its side a little.
And I suspect (I do not know, but I suspect) that Godot may succeed for me where Unity failed, allowing me to prototype gaming in pixel art, and then slip HD art with the same proportions in if I decide to make the game more ambitious.
The Choice Revisited
Now, let’s take a quick look at Option 2: cut off my proof of concept where it is and begin building the second brick now.
If I am correct, I should hit a stage in developing the second game where I can take a couple of days, build out the first brick’s world and situation in the game in progress, and simply publish it in place of the proof of concept. That is, a month (hopefully less) into making the second brick, I can paint the second brick to look like the first brick, and get all the advantages of finishing the first brick first, as well as the advantages of cutting directly to the second brick.
So that’s my choice. Today or tomorrow, the Proof of Concept will be available for download on bunnytrail.itch.io/hattrick0 and then, later, when I can recreate it and more in the second brick engine, it will be swapped out.
The Second Brick
The Second Brick is a ninja stealth combat game where you play a snow leopard ninja my wife uses as her online avatar, sneaking around and killing therians. Tenchu Z in the Link’s Awakening engine. Aside from the meager marketing I manage on Twitter by my lonesome, this has the advantage that I can have her run betas on her Twitch streams, and enlist her fanbase in spreading the word.
The Third Brick…
I have many, many friends online who are writing excellent books and comics and drawing attention. Releasing the second brick is all the proof I need that I can turn one of these into a still bigger game. I have lots of ideas for several properties, but we will see who is amenable. With our audiences combined, the Third Brick will have an even greater reach.
That JRPG Tower I was working on? The one that’s more marketable, has better storytelling potential and so forth than the Tower I’ve chosen to build just because I happen to like it more?
It may have very different gameplay than this Tower. But I might be able to take the work I do on graphics and dialogue and world representation, and use the same foundation for a second Game Tower.
After several days of consideration and a day walking ’round in chilly weather with a cyborg eyepatch and a cockatiel, I have settled on some conclusions for Bunny Trail Junction and my various projects going forward. Chief of these is this:
Vidya is Prime
Vidya is my prime medium. Comics, children’s books, internet videos, and so forth are all fine ways to tell stories, and I should use them, especially when vidya is unsuited to a specific story. But most of my alternative media should be vidya first, and then derived from vidya.
Now, there are arguments against vidya being prime.
Vidya is Bad!
I’ve been listening to a podcast called A Brief History of Power, and it has been recommending that we disconnect as much as possible from screens in general. Your life will, it is argued, be more functional without TV, Facebook, and Mario. And I agree. I try to limit my kids’ screen time and advocate the whole family limit theirs.
But I do not believe the technology is intrinsically evil. I believe it is a usable tool that has been made into a glowing idol before which men bow and receive propaganda from their gods. Christians ought to be wary of the tool because that is its primary usage. But we can and should use it to our ends by our means.
In A Brief History of Power, especially BHOP 063, Rev Fisk and Dr. Koontz make a distinction between media intended to be integrated into life and most media, which is design to wholly absorb your attention and suck you into its world. This is regarded by Fisk and Koontz as an unhealthy thing, especially in excess.
I am a proponent of Tolkien’s Escapism.
Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can! – J.R.R. Tolkien
That is, I agree that Escapism to the extent that you run away from the real world when you could be making it better is at some point a vice, and it is a vice that is clearly endorsed especially by the Pop Cult, one of the Secular Cults of my area and era.
The Pop Cult is devoted to movies, video games, and other franchises. It is the religion of Disney, Marvel, and other forms of mass media. Men escape their sad lives into fantasy worlds. The Pop Cult is offered up to the population by the Death Cult as a narcotic, and the media therein is intentionally laced with Death Cult propaganda. However, practitioners of the Pop Cult are not necessarily conscious Death Cult Members.
However, I believe that attention absorbing, escapist media is good, right, and salutary for two purposes, hinted at by Tolkien.
For Christian Rest. That is, for escape from this world, this vale of tears, with all its woe, toil, struggle, and incessant Death Cult propaganda.
For escape from cults. That is, Christian men should create media that permits refuge for their fellow believers, and a doorway to freedom from evil cults for the trapped cultists.
Consumption of non-Christian-made entertainment is not wholly contraindicated here. I’m not making a law saying “don’t watch TV”. Nor are Fisk and Koontz.
Fisk and Koontz, (and I) would recommend, rather, that you consider what the media you consume is doing to you, and consciously decide whether you want that to happen.
And what is indicated is the production of media by Christians.
Reasons FOR the Primacy of Vidya
I can make it. While the barriers of entry are lower than they ever have been, and continue to plummet, not many men can.
It combines all the skills in my talent stack, making it both more valuable and harder to duplicate.
Distribution is solved. While I can (and want to) make physical copies, I can give away a game to Kickstarter backers for 25% of the final intended cost, or as a free add-on for subscribing to my mailing list. These things are not possible for paper children’s books.
It is easier to derive my other media forms from vidya than vidya from the forms. I have already solved the problem of making black and white print comics from pixel art. I have not yet made motion comics for YouTube, but I suspect a game->video pipeline is simpler than a video->game pipeline.
It is much more likely (IMO) that I will build a game business that puts out books and comics than that I will build a book business that puts out games.
My new plan is to finish out December in Bunny Trail Junction, then go on indefinite hiatus while I roll up a video game business. That game business should quickly start leaking into videos, comics, and books as well. I hope in time to end the hiatus in February with a bimonthly format that carries through 2022, so that the 2021 annual and the 2022 annual are roughly the same size, but the Vidya is Prime.
Continue making comics for Bunny Trail Junction. Hit Inktober in the last week.
Finish Inktober as comics for Bunny Trail Junction, and continue making comics.
Start working on the first minigame in a series of progressively larger games.
Continue making comics for Bunny Trail Junction.
Finish the minigame
Kickstart Awesome Moments
Prepare some YouTube stories for launch in November.
BONUS ROUND: Grow my Twitter Reach!
SECOND BONUS ROUND: Start making a wearable computer for myself!
Can we see the issue?
I went from doing one thing a month to doing two things a month to doing four things a month. And then to make matters worse, I lost last weekend to hyperfocusing on a project that I should rather have noted and moved on from.
Smart Notes work well with ADHD because impulses can be boiled to a note. The Chaos Elf can then discard the impulse and re-center on what he’s supposed to be doing, as a normal person would, confident that his shiny notion will be saved and grow over time. The Smart Trees that grow also play into his strengths, as his random explorations eventually ripen into large projects that nevertheless, can be completed with minimal work and, therefore, discipline.
LA•Q•1•2 Smart Notes and ADHD
It’s no good. I can’t maintain it. I haven’t maintained it. Neither of the things I did in September received half the attention it deserved, let alone October.
In October, I tried to do four things at once. Instead, I did one thing at once. I spent a week working almost solely on the Kickstarter. I spent a week working almost solely on the game. And I spent a week working on various other projects of varying importance and unimportance. Some days, I spent endlessly scrolling Twitter in an attempt to say something good and link it back to my work. And that publicity work did pay off with steady Twitter growth… but steady Twitter growth was not on my priority list!
It seems that even when I’m doing two things at once, I’m really only doing one thing at once.
If I do two things at once, I will accomplish neither. I must do one thing at a time.
LA•Q•3•1 Single Project Principle
The thing is, I thought I’d be more effective once medicated for ADHD. And I am. But my increased effectiveness isn’t the ability to do twice as many things (or worse: five times as many things).
My increased effectiveness is the same amount of productivity over the same amount of time, but I can choose where it goes.
And by choosing 6 things, I am throwing that away.
The Dark Moment
Every story has a dark moment before the climax. For me, I became obsessed with the idea of assembling a wearable computer using a Raspberry Pi. One that would put data on a display over my eye. I could look through the ocular window and see the world. But also see what time it is. See what project is scheduled for this particular moment. Press a button and run a Pomodoro timer.
Of course, with the shipping crisis ongoing right now (October 2021), the soonest I can have a Pi is November or December. I have built a working mockup of the display out of sculpey and junk I have floating around. But the parts to make a good eyepiece won’t arrive ’til November or December.
But the real irony is that a thing invented to keep me on task took me off task. For three days straight.
Sunday night, as I put down the third eyepiece prototype, with 4 projects on deck only two of which had received appreciable work, and they only a week apiece, and a bunch of money poured into eyepiece parts in the mail, I realized I’d screwed up big time.
I also realized that losing only three days and a hundred dollars or so was a grace.
I will do this again any time if I do not take steps to prevent it.
The Break in the Clouds
Sunday Night I did some quick research into choosing tasks and staying on task for Chaos Elves. I resolved by the time I went to sleep to begin the next morning two short-term correctives, and a long term corrective.
The short term correctives are as follows:
Schedule each day out in advance and keep the schedule before my eyes. This would be done with Google Calendar and an app that reduces Google Calendar to a friendly clock face with wedges for the scheduled events. For this, I chose Sectograph.
Begin to assemble a digital ZettelKasten with checklists that can be synced between my phone and computer. Transfer my work into the ZettelKasten. This will empower the long-term corrective..
The Long Term Corrective
I am dedicated to creating a fountain of entertainment for children. Stories you will not regret giving your kids. Books, comics, videos, and games. I am dedicated to finishing the story of Hat Trick. To creating Awesome Moments. To releasing more Jump the Shark.
I need to consider how I am going to fulfill that goal. To create a system that will pay for itself and continuously get my stories out. Bunny Trail Junction was a fantastic first draft of that system. But it does not pay for itself, it does not find the fans, it spends too much time indulging in navel gazing (which should instead be reserved for my blog), and not enough time telling stories. I need more stories, better stories, faster stories, but!
Most of all, I need to do only one thing at a time.
If I do two things at once, I will accomplish neither. I must do one thing at a time.
LA•Q•3•1 Single Project Principle
I do not know how I am going to accomplish this. And so, for the rest of this month, barring a day or two to upload November’s comics to the site, I am going to hammer that out. I am willing to even go a week or two into November to do this. Options on the table include:
Reducing Bunny Trail Junction the Comic to 2 or 3 episodes a week, starting January
Making January a Hiatus for the Comic
Devising actual Sprite Comic Stories so that more story can be produced more quickly
Canceling the Awesome Moments Kickstarter and redoing it when I can devote a whole month to nothing else.
Making everything into vidya so I can build a profitable business, then extracting comics and videos and storybooks from games.
By working in the ZettelKasten, and by loading my story ideas into the ZettelKasten, I am confident that eventually, I will have the operation I need to succeed.
Right now, everything is up in the air.
I haven’t been on Twitter except for one or two brief posts since Thursday. Several Inktobers haven’t been posted to Twitter (they have gone up automatically on the comic site, of course) as I’ve been A) building eye pieces and B) wrestling with the fallout of my bad choices.
This blog post was built in the ZettelKasten as well, and if it copies into WordPress reasonably well, future blog entries will as well. Ideally, one day, I’d publish the ZettelKasten as my blog, with the personal bits redacted, so that readers would get the full connectivity.
But I’ve spent the last two days going over my business and plans, and I don’t like what I see. I need to make something new.
I need to make a system I can promise to follow.
LA•Q•2•1•1 Chaos Elf: A Chaos Elf is a man with ADHD. The name was chosen to reflect the stunted self-control more accurately called Executive Function Retardation that typifies the disorder. Since nobody but me is willing to call me and those like me Executive Retards, a different rectification of names was selected.
I promised to upload the third draft by last weekend. I have failed because I don’t yet have my pastor’s notes. I will be getting them today, inserting (I think) two more pages into the story to really hammer home the centerpiece of the plot, and keeping my promise.
The Kickstarter is 1/3rd funded! Right now, I’m not pleased with the options I have available for people to back it. This weekend, I hope to tweak it a bit so people can get, e.g. coloring books, or something else that I can price relatively low and have the book itself have a large enough markup I can actually use the funds for more than production and shipping.
I have mixed feelings about Awesome Moments. I am 100% on board with making it, and it being the greatest thing I’ve ever created, for the sake of my children. But as a product I offer the world, I am hesitant. So I am praying that it funds or not based on God’s blessing the project as a whole.
I am not hesitant to share the project with the world, however. I love it. I believe you should love it too. I am excited about it. And I am going to be putting up posters, arranging to speak at churches, and so forth. The trick is, how do I balance that with what I said I’d do in October and November before I decided to try
Bunny Trail Junction: The Comic
November has been assembled all month. So according to my normal process, I should have it uploaded to Amazon, right?
Wrong. I’ve been tearing my hair out all month trying to simultaneously do the Awesome Moments Kickstarter and get the game that also launches in November done. I haven’t even kept up on producing comics.
Technically I have, as the pixel art comics…
… are so easy to produce that I have 24 comics already done this month. The problem is, that’s not what I want to run. I don’t want to offer my Bunny Trail Junction readers me blathering about what I should do or not do. That’s what this blog is for! I want to offer the readers stories!
Moreover, Hat Trick is picking up traction at least as much as Awesome Moments, thanks to all the work I’ve been putting into the game. Although neither is getting the kind of traction I need to make a living yet.
Currently, I have a couple of ideas for the comic. All of my ideas involve finishing out December strong, then maybe changing it up.
These ideas can be mixed, matched, and stacked.
Cut Back Next Year: The current favored plan is to reduce the comic to 3 strips a week instead of seven, and release bimonthlies instead of monthlies. This frees up enough time for me to work on games and videos while keeping the comic on life support.
January Sabbatical: No comic in January while I focus on retooling everything. This would be really helpful because even if I cut back to a bimonthly, I still have to have January and February both done at the beginning of January. Unless I take a one-month sabbatical. And then, if I do the full 31 comics for Inktober next year, with every other issue being every/other month, the 2022 annual will be roughly the size of the 2021 annual.
A Story In Pixel Art: This is my favorite plan, but it’s also the newest, and I haven’t let it marinate as long. If I can devise a story that works as a sprite comic, in the style that I’m doing for the games, I can generate enough comics to cover the gap between months where I draw and months where I work on games or books.
Story Books As Web Comics: And finally, if I just do a two-page spread of the 5×8 as a single day, like the prayers I’m going to be including in December, that totally counts, and it fits certain story beats better.
3 and 4 are the newest, but most awesome notions. Sprite comics allow for awesome animations. The title screen I’ve got for my game has already convinced me that I want to do comics that look like this. And if I can make storybooks for Bunny Trail Junction that later lead to larger, illustrated books, so much the better.
Just look at that title menu! Comics that look like that would kick ass! And the more I weave my comics and games together, the better for each of them.
November will have two or three comics that straight up have animations in them on the website. And that rocks. Putting that stuff in stories will be super cool.
Anyhow, today I’m going to try and polish off the last edits to November and get that submitted to KDP today.
Hat Trick: Prelude to Nightmare
I spent Saturday and Monday neglecting all my other responsibilities to make Hat Trick: Prelude to Nightmare a complete game. And it is done.
That doesn’t mean it’s a good game, or even the game I wanted to make. To get close to what I want, I need to add:
Enemies that fight back.
Health and health drops
More combat options like dashing and parrying.
More world to explore and waves of foes to fight.
Nice sound effects to menus and the like.
Spawn animations of goblins bursting from the ground.
Music changes when exploring Vs. Fighting.
Arthur’s portrait changing based on the situation.
But, it has a win condition, a lose condition, an options menu, and a controls menu. If I get only partway through the things I want to add by November, and then have to cut it off, at least I will cut it off a finished, if sub-standard, product.
I want to make a whole blog post about what I’ve learned from making the game, and how I’d like to tweak things moving into the next one. So stay tuned for that.
Going Where My Audience Is
I have rebranded my Jump the Shark YouTube Channel as a Bunny Trail Junction Youtube Channel.
I have observed before my audience is kids. To reach kids, I need to go where kids are. Which is not twitter, or bunny-trail.com. It may be YouTube.
My current idea is to take my Kids’ Pulp Formula, write a bunch of stories, and upload one or two a week to YouTube. I’d draw one or two pictures for the story, record myself reading it, and thus build the audience for my books, my comics, and my games. For the same purpose, I’ve created a branded SubscribeStar.
My intention is to create a family-supporting setting and cast using my Piqha for the majority of the stories, although doing my existing books and comics is also fine. But Piqha, man, they’re so cool, and so far none of my finished work is strongly counter to modern propaganda pieces. I want a Berenstain Bears but with a respectable Papa. And the Piqha can do that.
But I haven’t put a single penstroke down for this project yet. Fulfilling my comic promises and advertising Awesome Moments has eaten all of my time! And right now, I’m not even feeling it. I’m feeling my game.
Man, getting my comic to look like this would be so cool. Heck, using bits like this rendered in-engine for videos would be so cool.
I’ve never edited videos before. I’ll need to record myself reading stories and edit the audio as well, and I’m not sure how I’ll find the silence necessary to pull it off on this farm. Right now, as I write this, my sister’s dogs are barking, and there are baby chickens chirping directly under my window.
These are all rather niggling excuses. I can overcome them. But that leads me to the one all-encompassing problem that I have with my projects.
I Should Only Do One Thing At A Time
I am able to do a great job getting funding for Awesome Moments, telling people how great it’s going to be, doing updates for the Kickstarter, and tweaking the rewards to generate interest.
As long as I do nothing else.
I am able to do a great job inking beautiful comics with intriguing stories to run on Bunny Trail Junction every single day for months ahead of time.
As long as I do nothing else.
I am able to build a retro game that looks super fun and exciting and slowly build up hype for it as I put in more and more cool features.
As long as I do nothing else.
I suspect the same is true of the YoutTube videos. The reason my mind is coming up with a slew of excuses is right now I am in game-development mode, and my mind doesn’t want to switch to advertising mode or to video mode or to drawing mode. But somehow, I’ve developed a plan of action where this month I’m doing all four at the same time.
That has to stop.
I can present all four at the same time. I’m presenting Inktober right now, although it’s certainly not getting me the eyeballs I had hoped for. But I’m not doing Inktober right now. I did Inktober last month.
I have to be doing one thing at a time. If I am making videos and games and comics and childrens’ books and funding, I have to be working on only one of these at a time for multiple days at a time. I may do one per month. I may do one per week. But I can’t do two per anything ever, ever again. I am making it work half-ass right now because I promised a game in November, and I promised the comic would come out every day this year and I’m doing the Kickstarter right now and I owe it a fair shot.
Tomorrow I have an appointment to work on a business plan. My business plan has to be to make one thing at a time. And it has to be something that gets my work to my audience and starts up a cash flow.
So today, I figured I had better sort my ducks out. Here they are. Now it’s time to ponder on how to line ’em up.
So, I have launched the Awesome Moments Kickstarter:
Tell your friends. Tell your enemies.
If Awesome Moments funds, it will be the main focus from then until it is done. And every day until then, I will post something about it on Twitter. I will seek out opportunities to speak in churches or otherwise. I’m going to give this thing the best possible chance I can to fund.
That said, I have no idea if it will, and I’m not married to either outcome.
I am going to try and get a couple of story videos made in time for November, because I see a useful lining-up with Thanksgiving.
If Awesome Moments doesn’t fund, I will double down hard on making videos in November. We will try to prime the algorithm with a glut of good stories.
December’s Bunny Trail Junction will be at least partially a prayer book, so I can keep the prayers I want to pray every day in my pocket. It will be the last Bunny Trail Junction monthly for a while.
After December, I will release bimonthlies instead. Bunny Trail Junction will drop from 7 comics a week to 3 comics a week, plus a video each week on YouTube/other media outlets. I hope to one day go back to daily comics, but my commitment is to reaching my audience — little kids — where they are first, and keeping the comic going second.
This week, my primary goal is to turn Prelude to Nightmare into a finished game, however short, stupid, or terrible it may be.
Then improve it each day, while keeping it a finished game, until November, when it is released as is. My ultimate business strategy is to build an audience on YouTube and use them to crowdfund books, and seed the demand for games. My videogame strategy is to proceed as previously outlined, making a 1-month game, making a 2-month game that is advertised , and then Kickstarting a year game for a year’s salary. The timeline for these events varies based on whether I am making Awesome Moments or not. If not, I’ll aim to begin work on Game 2 in December, and release it as an Anniversary gift for my wife. Otherwise, if Awesome Moments does fund, I will spend a month spinning up the YouTube channel before launching into Game 2.