Six free spritesheets released

After years of wondering if it’s possible to extract spritesheets from Clickteam Fusion, I finally bothered to just straight-up ask the Clickteam forums, and some dude immediately replied with the answer and it’s really really easy fml

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So anyway to celebrate my newfound ability to create spritesheets, I’m releasing all six playable characters from Electra City and Gamer 2 as a free bundle on itch.io! They’re not the prettiest sprites, since they were literally the first fully-animated characters I’d ever created, but they come with idle, running, crouching, jumping, melee attack, ranged attack, taking damage, and death animations, plus two different color palettes. That’s more than enough for somebody to do something with them.

Plus the spritesheet selection on Itch.io is really sparse right now, especially if you restrict yourself to free ones. And most of the others have that ugly RPG Maker chibi style. Who knows, maybe I’ll save somebody from the same problem I had back in the Seska Donitz days where I couldn’t find a realistically-proportioned free platformer sprite to save my life.

 

Next of Kin Now Live!

Next of Kin is now being posted on the Gang of Five! New chapter every day! Those of who clicked the Google Doc linked in the last blog post are now tasting karmic justice, since you’ve been spoiled. Serves you right.

If you’re curious what else I’ve been up to these days, I’ve been video editing for MasterClass! They’re kinda like an online course-offering website that has lots of big-name teachers like James Patterson and Gordon Ramsay, who give a series of online lectures based on the field that made them famous. I can’t go into more detail for NDA reasons but it’s been a really great opportunity and I’ve loved working with them. I’d actually taken their Patterson course back in the day, so it’s cool to get a behind-the-scenes look at how they make their courses. Plus it’s forced me to learn a lot of little things about Photoshop and Premiere I hadn’t known previously; Photoshop in particular is consistently surprising me with the amazing features it’s hiding. It’s got this thing called “batch processing” where you can set some parameters and it’ll execute them on every photo in a specific folder, which has been amazing for quickly converting something from PNG to TIFF and ensuring everything has the same resolution. I can see why nobody can quit Photoshop once they’ve learned it.

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didn’t even realize the keys were backlit till I plugged it in, fucking score

Other fun news: I’ve purchased a silent keyboard, since the old one’s Spacebar died due to overuse. See, Overwatch’s Lucio is a jumping machine and so I’m constantly mashing the poor spacebar like it owes me money. This new keyboard has far softer keys, which has resulted in me constantly doubble-tyyping lettters but I think it’ll be a lot nicer on my recordings whenever I have open mic on.

Because I’m planning on going into streaming! I’m getting a second monitor for my birthday, and I literally already own everything I’d need to leap into that pool. I’ll be honest, I plan to stream on Mixer both because I think it’s an up-and-coming platform and because I love the ability to add interactive buttons that viewers can click. My early plan is to create a rudimentary polling system where people can vote on which Overwatch healer I play the next round as (including Soldier 76 of course), and expand from there if it works. Streaming is the main online platform I’m not currently taking advantage of, and it’ll likely be a few months before I can stream regularly but I’m setting the pieces in motion.

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I added transparency to this pic with Photoshop! :3

Also, while I’m calling out purchases and things that exceeded my expectations, my younger brother gifted me a FitBit because he’s way more financially successful than me, and I love it way more than I expected to. It tracks your steps, your sleep, and you can input your meals into the app and find out how many calories above your diet you’re actually eating. The first step in fixing your sleep schedule, eating habits, and exercise routine is to find out just how badly you’re currently doing, so you can just try to beat your progress last week.

Thank you for coming to this week’s episode of Consumer Electronics, I’m your host aabicus, allow me to play you out with 21 seconds of me practicing the Ken Burns effect:

 

New Darwin’s Soldiers story!

Man, doesn’t this take you back to, like, 2014?

Been ages since I wrote one of these. And to be honest, I’m not done yet. But f-22 was one of the original players in Darwin’s Soldiers and he told me an idea he had for a story, and I liked that idea. Problem is, he’s already got a story he’s working on, and another story planned for after that, and let’s be honest he’s not exactly the fastest content creator, so this one would have to wait probably years to come into being if he wrote it. I’m not that patient, and he gave me permission.

Introducing Next of Kin, a sequel to the ancient story I wrote a bajillion years ago, Ship of State. Don’t actually click that link though, because it’s not done yet. And even when it’s done, it’s going to go live on the Gang of Five, where I post a chapter a day in a dedicated thread. This is a walk down memory lane to a different era, a time when these Darwin’s Soldiers stories were my only creative outlet. It’s really nice to get back to that, for just a bit. No editors, no filter. And I get to flood the wiki with new information as soon as that whole thing’s finally posted. Because every author knows you never post a story before it’s finished. Don’t click that link.

New game!

Hey everyone! I participated in TinyJam 2018, was assigned to work with two programmers and an artist. We ended up going with my game concept (and thank god, cause I’d have felt rather useless otherwise) and we ended up winning first place! (To be fair, it’s because the other two teams encountered significant setbacks that resulted in neither of their games being completed by the midnight deadline).

Without further ado, you can now check out Meteor Magnet Miner!

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Not gonna lie, I think the game could be improved with a few minor tweaks. I think everything should move slightly slower and the player’s ship could use slightly better handling. I had the programmers send me the build and I’m gonna see if I can get that to happen on my own, after the fact.

I’ve also graduated college, and will have a postmortem on that eventually. There’ll be a public article on the Daily SPUF discussing that as well, in the near future.

RIP my wallet

Usually people are speaking in synecdoche when they write that, jokingly referring to some expensive luxury item or Steam Summer sale they can’t resist, but in this case, my literal wallet has finally died.

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Above: my old weatherbeaten wallet. Below: the until-now unused wallet my brother got me last Christmas, with my ID lazily photoshopped over

My wallet is the oldest item I possess by far, even factoring in that I’ve used it every single day of its life. I picked it out after graduating fifth grade, since I was getting library cards and credit cards and other things that required too many slots to fit into my plastic kid’s wallet. It followed me through high school, college, Ohio, Texas, back to California, and now it’s retiring at the very end of my Master’s program. It visited England, Scotland, Norway, Germany, France, Spain, Canada, Mexico, and countless US states. God only knows how many dollars, notes, cards, keys, and coins that have passed through it.

It’s weird to think I’m moving onto the next phase of my life without it. I’ve got a replacement all ready to go courtesy of Jake, but part of me wants to shell out for a wallet restoration place and keep the legend going (especially since the Velcro works perfectly, it’s just the worn-through fabric back that needs replacing). Something I can think about in September, once I’ve graduated and some of these distractions are resolved. Either way I think it’ll appreciate a short break.

If you want to know about some of these other things, I made an apology video for the YouTube channel since I’ve been letting it stagnate as my graduation looms:

And finally, its a bust at Pixelberry, but I can’t say I didn’t give it my all. I finished and returned the writing sample, and they sent me a form rejection. So I wrote back asking if I could downgrade to their Junior Writing position. Not content to leave my chances up to one email, I took a day off school and Ubered down there with a hard copy of my application.

Pixelberry was in a large multicorporate building, I had to sneak in at the same time someone exited the front entrance. Pixelberry’s office was locked with a fob, and I think everyone was at lunch so I loitered in the courtyard till 12:45. Then I flagged someone down at the front desk and asked to deliver my application to HR. They let me go in where I gave my printed application directly to the guy in HR. Explained I’d been in the running for Senior Writer and didn’t get it, so now I’m applying for junior and wanted to make sure they had a paper copy. He seemed nice, I think I made a good impression on him. either way, my efforts earned me a personalized rejection, which I genuinely consider a win. They ‘appreciated my persistence’ but they didn’t think my assessment ‘demonstrates the qualities they look for in our writers.’ Which is probably true; in all honesty I had a hell of a time writing it since teen romance is somewhat out of my comfortable writing purview.

So that’s the end of that story just kidding they recently opened up for a QA Story Tester position and I’m already printing out my application for another trip down there. I’m sure they can’t wait to hear from me again.

 

Pixelberry Wants a Writing Assessment!

Just got my first writing job application that wants to move forward! Pixelberry has asked for a writing assessment to see if I can move onto the interview stage. This is super cool, and I’ve taken the day off school so I can fully focus on it.

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I like the artstyle, and I can definitely do this sort of writing, though I hope they assign me to the sci-fi/supernatural/fantasy/not-just-high-school settings. The “every good option is locked behind a premium currency” business model is super frustrating but I bet it makes a fortune

I’ve kinda taken everything else off too, just to send out job applications fulltime. I repurposed my old C++ learning story into an all-purpose story for working on things in the third-person, and it’s got a pretty cute spreadsheet tracking my job applications and their status.

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I’ve kinda let my YouTube channel fall by the wayside as I sort this stuff out, but it’ll be there when I get back. My viewers almost exclusively come from my reddit threads, so this might actually be a chance to test whether a brief hiatus even hurts my numbers. Itch.io’s been sitting barren since February, but I’m pretty happy with the game selection already on there tbh.

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Just broke my 200th download on itch.io, which is genuinely cool. It warms my heart to check every few days and see a handful of people have downloaded stuff. Almost all of the hits are from TV Tropes, since I wrote full pages for Gamer 2, Find the Cure!, and Oedipus in my Inventory. Any of my future creative content will get its own page no questions asked, it’s great for building steady (if minor) traffic. My Clickteam Fusion tutorials and C++ Projects are steady hitmakers too, the latter of which I don’t really understand but I’m not complaining.

I can’t help but be a little worried overall. Literally no other job I’ve applied to has even written me a rejection letter, so if Pixelberry doesn’t work out I may not have a lot of options going forward. One safety net is that I’m in the running for their Senior Writer position, and if they say no, I can ask if there’s any chance I can downgrade to their Junior Writer position. I mean, you never know.

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.