posts filed under: general

Fresh New Look!

Fresh New Look!
It is done!

The fresh coat of paint is still drying so some things might be still broken, but overall I think this is looking pretty good.

I really wanted to get a redesign of my site going because I honestly hated the artwork on the old one. If you draw you know what I mean. Your art doesn't age well usually. When you're constantly improving at your craft over time, you notice how horrible your older work is compared to your newer. I mean it may have not looked objectively horrible, but man it was so gosh dang old I couldn't stand it anymore.

I've been drawing a whole lot more lately so I thought my new website should reflect that and look all totally hand drawn. I tried to simplify a lot of things like the shapes and colors and textures of the site. My old site was flashy and a little complicated. I liked it, but I'm feeling like much more of a simpler look now without paint brush splatters and gradients everywhere.

Still to come is some more visual polish. You might notice that the site is now left aligned instead of centered (when it at maximum browser window size.) The right side that looks totally empty right now will eventually have some cool art in it. I just have to figure out what that art is going to be.

You might also notice that the website changes based on how large your browser window is! I hope to improve my site's performance on mobile, and also hope to keep the site pretty viewable on smaller screens while also taking full advantage of how high res everyone's desktops are now. The site's width has increased from 960 pixels to 1100 pixels or so, but that changes based on your browser's width.

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I also went through and took a lot of my "doodle posts" and rolled them into my newly named "draws" page. Everything that was on there before is now filed under "ancient" and you definitely shouldn't look at it because old artwork is terrible and embarrassing.

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That's all for now! More updates to come.

New Webzone Coming Soon!

New Webzone Coming Soon!
Say goodbye to this old and busted layout for my blog.

It's probably not that busted, but it is coming up to maybe 5 years old according to my first post here ever. I've spent the last couple of days cooking up something new! I'm still going to be using the same back end, so all of the posts and everything will be preserved exactly as they are, but the front end will look totally fresh.

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I think one of the reasons my anxiety flies so high is when I leave things the same for too long, and my website is one of those. For some reason I've just spent a lot of time being too intimidated to gut my site and start fresh. There's something about digging into an old project... it can be scary!

Anyhoo, enough talking about it. Probably at some point tomorrow I'll be migrating all of the front end to the new hotness.

April Status Report

April Status Report
Hey! It's me! The person who is supposed to be updating this blog a whole lot more. I really need to break the habit of totally ignoring my blog at the start of the month and then developing crazy anxiety about making a new post.

The majority of my time lately has been going toward stuff that unfortunately I cannot share with you at this time. It sucks, I know, but trust me when I tell you that it's a very cool project and I'm really excited to be a part of it. I wish I could go into any more details here, but maybe by the time PAX rolls around again this year I'll be able to talk about it more.

Other than that I've been tinkering with just some basic stuff for the next version of Otter, and working on my Pathfinder Character Sheet manager. I'm still finding time for doodling of course too, and for now I'll have to use my doodles as the primary feed of my blogosphere.

I'm also realizing that it has been many, many years since I've updated my website. I think my website has looked like this for about six years now which is actually pretty unbelievable to think about. When I was younger I wouldn't be able to tolerate a website design for more than a year at the most... but here we are. I'm an old man now and the years have all blended into each other. Obviously my art style has evolved a lot since I first put this site together, so it'd be nice to get something fresh running. I think I would be able to keep all of my posts in order, and maybe even still preserve this look somewhere in a different URL, but we'll see what's possible when the time comes. Not sure when I'd be able to squeeze in a complete redesign of my site at this rate!

Super Sky Sisters isn't dead, it's just asleep for now until I can find time to prioritize it again. I still want to launch it somehow. I'm just still being me and holding it back until I feel good about it.

It does feel weird not having my personal projects be at the forefront of my life right now, but I am having a lot of fun working on this secret game. I really really really want to post what I'm doing, but it probably wouldn't be cool with the other folks on the team. I tie so much of my self worth to my personal projects and sometimes that is tough, but I am making progress on things even though posts here aren't as frequent as they should be.

That's all for now! I'll check in again soon. Promise!

Sky Sisters Upgrades

Sky Sisters Upgrades
I think the last actual question to ponder in the world of Super Sky Sisters is the upgrade system. A long time ago when I demoed the game at an event in Denver I got some feedback that suggested that it would be more interesting or fun if the players had some sort of active goal to pursue. This came mostly in the form of maybe collecting something actively, or something along those lines. Basically the way that the game is played right now is that you are always just reacting to things and never just acting.

The strongest idea that came out of thinking on this for awhile was tying the upgrades to some sort of active goal that the players could pursue. I decided to go down the path of collecting things and put a small challenge in that involves the players guiding the orb along a predetermined path. When they completed a lap on the path they would earn an upgrade, and the path would then demand more of them for the next upgrade by either changing shape or adding more laps, and so on. At first this seemed like a good idea but lately I'm totally not sure.

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The upgrades are things like +20% damage, or +10% special recharge, or +50% loot range. I think the upgrades are actually a lot of fun and when I added them to the game it seemed to really fit and complete some sort of puzzle that I was staring at for months. It almost seems like a hack since it seems like players in general are always going to respond well with some sort of +X% of something opportunity in a game, but it also gives the sense of progress and that is actually quite difficult in Sky Sisters since the entire game takes place in a single square arena.

So right now I'm at a crossroads. I like how the upgrades require the players to do something actively to earn them, but the more I look at it the more complex it seems. Adding this new idea of an upgrade path on top of everything else just seems like a giant mess, and the game is already messy and chaotic most of the time (especially at the higher difficulties.)

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The more I think about it the more I want to remove this system entirely and make upgrades a thing you just earn halfway before a boss, and immediately after a boss. This is the super tough part of designing a game like this. It's not as obvious to me as say changing the layout of a level to teach a mechanic easier. It's a big system with a lot of moving parts and messing with one part changes all the others. When I watch people play the game it seems like they're already trying their hardest to just survive and go for a high score, so maybe I'm reading into this feedback a little bit in the wrong direction.

Back when I received this feedback it was at a point where the game was much slower paced, so maybe the player felt like they just wanted more going on and not so much down time. The idea is that during this "down time" the players can work toward some goal, but I'm not sure if this is the right way to accomplish that. Since PAX I made the game faster paced, and it worked out better than I thought.

Not sure what I'm going to do! I think I will probably remove this whole path tracking challenge to get upgrades. Or... as I've typed this out I thought maybe if there was something on the screen that the players could always shoot that might be fun... but ... now I'm already thinking of how that could go horribly wrong too. Oh well. Video games!

Doodle Post

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Habit Tracking Tests

Habit Tracking Tests
Routine will always always always be something I consistently struggle with. I'm not really sure how to overcome this since I've been fighting it for pretty much as long as I can remember. Sitting in school everyday felt like torture and when I think back to it I'm not even sure how I made it through it.

It's not a secret that I have a lot of depression and anxiety related brain issues, so trying to fight those constantly is pretty much my every day life. Lately I've been pretty off the wagon when it comes to pretty much everything and I feel like I can't bring myself to do dang near anything. I've been trying to fight that on multiple fronts so here's just an example of one of them:

In the past I've had varying results with habit tracking stuff. I've used a lot of different tips and tricks and websites and applications. Thinking back on it I think the results have been overall pretty good, so I've tried to dive back into it. I grabbed a little app called Loop which is the most effective and most simple habit tracking app I could find. (I tried out a couple and oh boy are some of them terrible.)

Loop is pretty straight forward. All it ends up being is a list of what you want to accomplish every day and some boxes you can change into checkmarks for when you do them. You can set up different habits to be only on certain days, or just leave it on the default of every day. Right now my list is: Rowing 1mi, Rowing 2mi+, Walk 1mi, Draw 1hr, Draw 2hr+, Kpulv Projects 1hr, Kpulv Projects 2hr+, Contract Work 1hr, Contract Work 2hr+. I'm aiming to go for at least 1 hour on a bunch of stuff every day, and I consider the 2hr+ categories to be totally bonus.

For the rowing category that is one of the other fronts I am trying to fight the depression on. I got a relatively cheapo rower for Christmas and I've been pushing myself to row 2 miles a day. I think that's pretty good? But who knows. Maybe other people do like 10 miles a day and I'm super lazy. Walking is also on the list as that has the bonus of getting me out of my apartment. Walking around Denver is always nice, and being able to get my Pokemon GO in for the day as well is even better.

I've often seen articles and research that suggest that humans are creatures of habit. If you do something on repeat long enough it becomes a compulsion, but I'm not sure if I buy that. When a routine forms for me my brain does everything in its power to resist it constantly. As soon as I get into a habit I just want to break it because to my mind it feels so good to do so. I'm not sure if this is something that I'm totally alone in struggling with or what because it seems like everyone's cure for depression and other mental ailments is to just form good habits! Yeah, it's so simple...

This Loop app I think is helping though. It's satisfying to see the checkmarks fall into place, and it also has some neat graphs to show how each habit is progressing overall. My downfall with these types of applications is always the same though. Once I start to slip up the app reminds me how bad I'm doing. The missing checkmarks become a horrible sight and I cant stand to face them and I end up spiraling back down, so it always is a double edged swords with these kinds of things. When people suggest to establish goals for sorting out weird mental stuff I wonder if they consider what happens when someone consistently fails at these goals? It's a pretty bad feeling when you can't even meet your lowest expectations! But maybe people that are shining beacons of happiness never experience this.

Alright this is getting into weird rambly thoughts so that means it's time to wrap it up. So far I'm enjoying this habit tracking stuff but also I'm mostly on top of the stuff that I care about the most right now (mainly the exercise related habits.) We'll see how long I can stay on this wagon.