Update on Things

This might not be my most coherent blog post since I didn’t sleep last night, but at least I spent it being productive, right?

The first big thing that happened was that my article scored the second-to-top comment in a reddit thread dedicated to an insane play performed by the LA Gladiators during the Overwatch League playoffs. A blog called Daily eSports contacted me and asked if I wanted to start writing articles for them at a rate of $1 per 100 words. I agreed mostly because they said I’d get to work with an editor and use their SEO tools, two things I’ve been meaning to get more practice with, things that would teach me valuable skills to making my content marketable. It’s a little depressing because the SEO tools were like “please replace every single interesting word with the most generic synonym” and the readability tool was like “Every sentence over 20 words is too short”. I mean, I assume they’re right since they were literally designed to attract people, but I like my $10 vocab words ;~; But I’ve already written my first article for them, which is officially the first online article I’ve ever been paid to write.

I’ve been strongly considering making a Patreon for my YouTube channel, maybe start getting some pocket change for that pastime too. It’s still humming along, nothing but the Payday videos are getting hits but I expected that when I decided to invest into a single franchise. The only Fortnite video I’ve made is maintaining a steady climb of new viewers despite me phoning in marketing, so I’ll probably more of those. I decided to do my Fortnite vids with a Scottish accent just because I need some way to enjoy myself, the game itself certainly isn’t doing it.

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Right: Before aabicus learned Photoshop. Left: After aabicus started learning Photoshop

Look at how goddamn gorgeous those thumbnails on the left are. Sure, they’re not Rembrandt, but they actually qualify as YouTube-worthy thumbnail quality. I’ve finally finally started Photoshop, and I’ve recently passed the threshold where I know enough that it’s just fun and awesome and I look forward to making the thumbnail instead of dreading it. Photoshop is a goddamn miracle and it blows my mind what I’ve been able to accomplish with next to no effort. This makes me really happy because I’ve wanted to know Photoshop for years, but I’ve always put it off because the initial hurdle felt too daunting. That leaves Unity as the one looming beast I’ve never managed to tame. Have made no progress on that front.

Kinda related segue, my new school project is to make a Mixer game with 3 other students (Tyler from Zone Out, Akshay, and Wong). Mixer is Microsoft’s attempt to beat Twitch at their own game and, following their failure to do so, rebrand itself as the leading avenue for crowdplay games (the genre Twitch Plays Pokemon invented). To their credit, they have done a great job of that and there are a bunch of thriving crowdplay games on the channel. Our job is to make one more.

My job specifically is to write the design document and create a mockup in Clickteam Fusion for playtesting purposes. The design document is a work in progress and the school’s private Google Drive is a real twip about sharing stuff outside network, but you can see the mockup via this secret itch.io URL. That’s never going live anywhere else, so consider it a thanks for reading this blog. Hopefully it’s more user-friendly than Hurdles.

Into the Black: A Retrospective

In one month, the Into the Black RP series will be celebrating its 5th anniversary! With thousands of posts and almost a dozen different authors, there are a lot of different characters and storylines filling our furry cyberpunk universe. While mainstays like Soren, Marita, Axel, and Emilena have had plenty of time to leave their mark on the world, I wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate some characters that may not be as well-remembered, but are no less the heroes of their own story. (Click on any image to enlarge)

Patrick Anderson

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The complete saga of Patrick Anderson

Who can forget Rocky’s contribution to the canon? He only posted three times, during which his character drove home, fell asleep, and started snoring. Luckily, after real-world days stretched into weeks without the author returning to wake his character up, the rest of the authors made good use of Patrick by detonating a brick of C4 in his bedside cabinet, to give the bad guys a much-needed victory.

Kaien

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As yeswonderful’s post-count might foreshadow, Kaien didn’t stick around very long either. Her author joined the 2nd RP while our heroes were trekking through the dangerous jungles of Bolivia. Kaien emerged from some bushes, asked the heroes why they were in Bolivia, and then bid them adieu and returned to the bush. Some say she’s still there to this day.  Personally, I say she was an ignored Grecian chorus, a messenger begging the authors to reflect on that whole nonsensical Bolivia plot and reboot the storyline before it went any further. If only we’d listened.

Winky Face

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The only remnant of the late Winky Face. Gone but not forgotten

Not technically a character, but bestariana1girl nipped in once and posted a single emoji after learning she needed 50 posts to qualify for a forum member tag. nick22 quickly deleted it with his admin powers, but Winky will forever live on in Serris’ OOC.

Gittsun

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Series regulars bushwacked and nick22 share co-author credit for Gittsun’s brief adventures. bushwacked wrote him as a random drunk who gets gunned down as flavor text during a shootout, but nick22’s characters rose to the occasion and heroically bandaged him up. bushwacked sportingly kept the character around, but he never really knew what to do with him, and Gittsun’s antics, speaking style and general uselessness annoyed everybody…a lot. Finally Pterano had enough, and Gittsun’s appearances ended as violently as they began.

Felix

bushwacked is responsible for this one too. Near the end of the RP, the heroes raid a Purifier factory to try and steal info on the location of the pulse bomb threatening to EMP the city. While searching, they ambush a Purifier hit squad and leave one hapless grunt alive for questioning. bushwacked played the out-of-his-league Felix as he begged for his life and gave the heroes all the info he knew. But since pacing was never our strong suit, the questioning continued on…and on…and Felix slowly slipped into reverse-Stockholm Syndrome until he was suicidally begging the heroes to kill him just so the plot could continue.

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Felix’s swan song arrived when LettuceBacon&Tomato posted this. It was the final straw, and the heroes finally dropped Felix off a catwalk and continued the storyline.

And those were just the characters that actually appeared in the RPs! We’ve also got some honorable mentions who never even made the leap from the discussion threads. Put your hands together for these unsung heroes:

Hania Enapay

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Belmont2500 already held the record for fewest posts of any author in the Darwin’s Soldiers canon, but he outdid himself when Hania Enapay never progressed beyond this bare-bones character sheet. Belmont’s phrasing makes it sound like there are other RPs the character has appeared in but I don’t actually care enough to go check.

Warren Joseph

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Forum newbie Alien Ant Farm joined shortly after Belmont, posting a police chief for a city that he’d just made up. Then he was almost immediately banned from the forum for unrelated violations. At least Chief Joseph got that retirement he wanted so badly.

Dolly and Karl

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But it’s not just one-hit-authors whose creations couldn’t quite reach the silver screen! Serris made Into the Black history by posting Dolly, a gene therapy pioneer who doesn’t survive her own character sheet. LettuceBacon&Tomato’s character Karl took a similar bullet for the plot in the Racing the Storm discussion section. At least they’re in good company.

And, last but not least…

Life

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Flora, the futa fuchsia folf, was popular among a certain caste of authors. She got a bunch of side stories and even her own spinoff RP where she (and some of nick and Starfall’s characters) could do sexy things while the rest of us were RPing dark and gritty high-octane cyberpunk. But something I never told anyone else was that she had at least one fan who never posted in the RPs or even made a forum account. It was a guy that messaged me and offered to pay me for a private RP with Flora and his OC, an immortal Snivy diety named Life.

And I can’t think of any worse way to end this article than with a link to it. Happy 5 years, Into the Black universe, god only knows where you’ll be in five more!

A Pizza the Action – first look

I’m working on my next game title! This one’s all about procedural generation, since it started as a final project for my ProcGen class. You can see the video I turned in for said project here:

(or the tie-in PowerPoint, which I’m not going to record myself presenting because it’s only a five-minute presentation)

I’m almost immediately taking a two-week break from this game as I survive finals and travel around showcasing Major League Magic at various cool events like Sammy’s Showcase and The Mix, and I don’t suspect I’ll be done with this game any time soon. It’s looking to be something of a complicated endeavor, (I’m learning more about the RandRange command than I ever cared to) but I am excited to finally get to use my “flying angelic pizza sprite” in an actual game 😀

Individual self-assessment

I get melancholy at the end of every quarter.

1) What work did you you contribute to your game/team this quarter (similar to how you’d list it on a resume)?

I designed a website, recorded videos, wrote articles, created social media accounts, posted on said social media accounts, took minutes during sprint reviews, shoutcasted tournaments, and wrote spell descriptions.

2) How do you feel about how your game progressed during the quarter?

Major League Magic progressed extremely well. We’ve made big strides on every level, with the very successful implementation of terrain alteration being the biggest success. We’re getting some decent numbers on social media, but I didn’t do nearly enough marketing. I should have tweeted at least ten times as often, I barely touched the Facebook page, and in general anything I finish should have been done at least a week earlier. We also could have made more success on art, but what we managed to accomplish with the better-looking UI does wonders towards making the game look better.

3) Was there anything that you struggled with?

The sheer volume of content marketers need to release to get anything to happen. I just couldn’t find things to tweet about, and it took me far too long to actually make the social medias to tweet from. My excuse I kept using was “I’m waiting for us to get better art”, but considering we literally just our first few updated art assets yesterday, we’d have been SOL if I’d truly waited that long. Also I never actually started that weekly dev stream I’d been planning due to not being able to come up with stuff to dev stream about. The team never really kept me in the loop as to what they were working on, unlike Medical Necessity and personal projects where I always knew exactly the progress we’d made every week. If this game fails, it will largely be my fault due to shoddy marketing.

4) What you are working to improve next quarter?

I need to apply to more jobs. I need to finish my self-assigned jobs faster (I was more than able to finish things on Ahmet’s or the college’s pace, but the assignments were too slow and I should have finished things long before anyone asked for them.) I need to be more involved with the team and less of a free agent doing his own thing in the corner of the lab. This master’s ends in two months and I have nothing lined up. Again. After five years of not being able to break into the games industry, I’m about ready to give up if this college program ends and even that wasn’t able to turn me into somebody companies would want to hire.

 

New trailer

For whatever reason I’m turning into more and more of a videographer. Guess that’s to be expected when my YouTube channel is the only thing taking off of my various creative enterprises, not that I’m complaining.

Interesting conundrum with the new trailer I made for Major League Magic. People who have never seen the game before like it, and people who are familiar with the game have a bunch of things they think I should change. So far I’ve mostly committed to keeping it as it is for that reason, so have a look if you want. Don’t tell anyone though, it hasn’t officially gone live yet:

In less than a week we’re going to The Mix, and I’m gonna dress up in a wizard’s costume and drum up hype for the game. We’re gonna have two monitors setup for players to fight each other, and a third bigger monitor letting the crowd see what’s going on. I’m pretty excited, I think this could go super well.

But before that I need to make a press kit, and I’m trying to create a small backlog of Payday videos so my YouTube channel doesn’t take a 2-week break at the same time I do. Gonna travel to see my brother graduate college, then visiting a friend in St. Louis for the rest of the summer off.

More Exciting YouTube Happenstances

Last time I used this title I wrote about YouTube, programming and LinkedIn. I have more updates on two of those fronts.

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Believe it or not, lowered viewer duration is a good thing when the decision that launched your viewerbase is “my videos do not exceed two minutes”

The YouTube channel is exceeding all my expectations, with a huge boost in subscribers, comments, and views ever since I switched to a Tuesday/Friday schedule and started aggressively promoting it on social media. My main goal right now is to keep this momentum (or, at worse, maintain my current viewerbase) until Overkill releases Overkill’s The Walking Dead, and try to get my foot in that door on the ground floor. Best case scenario for me is that the game has an initially disappointing response, but Overkill saves it through consistent hard work and frequent patches (which is what happened with Payday 2 and RAID WWII, so odds are good that’s how it’s going to pan out). Runner-up situation is that the game is just straight good from the word go, but that’ll mean I have a lot more competition (like what happened to me with Overwatch.) Either way, I’m just super happy that after two years of releasing videos, they’ve finally started gaining traction.

In other news, the newest C++ assignment was kicking my ass until I spoke to the professor. It’s called “the flocking assignment” because it involves creating a bunch of birds (aka triangles) that chill in a big cloud and disperse with the press of buttons. It’s another SFML assignment and even the actual programmers are having trouble with it. After about ten hours with the tutors last weekend, I finally just spoke to the professor because I wanted to work on my final exam instead of this. He crunched the numbers, and I can still pass the class even if I get a zero because I’ve turned every other assignment in, so thank god. I’ll still probably turn in what I got for partial credit. Looking forward to the final project, by the way, its a Clickteam Fusion assignment where the player fights enemies in a procedurally-generated environment by grabbing procedural-generated weapons. Or at least that’s the goal. At the moment I’m still working on the procedural-generated environment. Should have more to report later.

RIP Gang of Five

Good thing I archived all the Darwin’s Soldiers RPs in Google Drive, because their home forum has bitten the dust as of 10pm tonight. The admins are working on resurrecting all the forum content on a new host, and best of luck to them, but when I have to trawl through the Darwin’s Soldiers Wiki and TV Tropes pages and fix all the hotlinks, I’m making these Google Docs the primary links. At least those (hopefully) aren’t going anywhere.

I took the opportunity to create one with the three posted chapters of f-22’s story “the Disease“. If he ever posts more chapters I’ll have to go paste them here, but it’s been months so I’m not holding my breath