Updates on creative projects

I guess there are a few things that have changed since I last gave something of a progress update on various goals, so I’ll just list them all here for completionist’s sake.

  1. As mentioned before, we’ve hit some exciting milestones in several long-running series. As mentioned in “The 2s Have It”, we’ve got a bunch of big viewcounts on different websites, but the only number that really matters is 388; the current subscriber count for The SPUF of Legend. Subs are how you get anywhere on YouTube, especially considering most of my views come from me hyperlinking to the videos on reddit in related conversations. I haven’t had any real luck in translating our increasing viewcounts to a sustained community, though I know why it’s not currently working; I don’t really have a united theme in my videos to motivate anyone to come back.  You need to pick one game and stick with it in this industry; the Daily SPUF‘s viewership ratings were huge until we started covering games other than TF2, and the Spuf of Legend had a small dedicated community of viewers but they justifiably left when I stopped making Payday 2 videos. At the moment, my plan is to survive the next few weeks (more below) and wait for a really good, trendy, modern game to come out that I can leap on and corner the market with the same gusto I covered Payday 2.
  2. MasterClass has finished, and it was a great experience all around. Ended up recording footage from almost two dozen games, and the class turned out great. It was awesome watching the episode and seeing my recordings throughout, especially since many of them had my username aabicus in the HUD when the game needed it. Sadly it doesn’t appear to have translated into a full job with MasterClass, I would have loved to work with them as a fulltime employee. But there’s always the future!
  3. I went through the Darwin’s Soldiers wiki one day and added categories for gender. I mostly wanted to see the breakdown myself, turns out there are 280 males73 females, and 19 unknown/genderless characters in the Darwin’s Soldiers franchise. Guess that makes sense considering the combat/military focus, but I’m hoping we do a better job with the Into the Black franchise.
  4. Speaking of Into the Black, I finally finished an old story I’d started months earlier but abandoned when StarfallRaptor left the forum, since it was being written at his behest. But I hate leaving things unfinished, though I’d have made an exception if I’d known it would become the longest story in the canon. “Weekend at Jessica’s” is a Starfall story, so expect a lot of sex/adult themes, and I’m working on another Emilena story for people who prefer the ‘action noir’ style-storylines. It takes place back when Emilena was a cop, and covers her going undercover as a waitress to discover which employees at a fancy restaurant are using their job to peddle drugs.
  5.  GDC is coming up, and I might or might not be going. I have an opportunity for a free press pass, in exchange for reporting for someone else’s YouTube channel, and I am absolutely taking that opportunity if it happens for the sheer networking potential alone.
  6. Apex Legends surprised everyone by launching onto the public stage and genuinely being a blast to play. I find myself coming back to it even when I normally don’t like Battle Royales, and to my surprise I actually want to make videos on it. Let’s see if I can get a foothold in this brand new community.

My Biggest Mistakes

(I’m not sure where I’m going with this post, but I’m trying to get back to writing for myself. darwinssoldiers.com has been bottom of my focus pile for a while)

I’ve pretty much lived my life taking opportunities whenever possible. I used to work in a nursing home, and I got to talk to a lot of people at the end of their lives. Almost all of them regretted things they didn’t do.

To try and avoid that, I’ve always pushed forward. I’ve lived in two countries and three different states, I’ve chased my dream job of game development for over seven years, and I’ve learned every piece of creative software I could get my hands on. As a high-schooler discovering the internet, I dreamed I would one day be able to Photoshop images or turn snippets of my gameplay into GIFs, and it’s great that I can now effortlessly do such things.

But that doesn’t make these 3 memories any easier:

  1. As an undergraduate, a film studio decided to use the college I was attending as the primary set for a horror film they were creating. For most of my sophomore year I’d be walking around and occasionally see them recording or prepping at random locations throughout the campus and surrounding city. I appeared in a very, very minor role as an extra but otherwise did absolutely nothing to make friends or connections with the studio staff. Even worse, the screenwriter and one of the producers were close family friends! I could have done anything I wanted if I’d just asked them. But unfortunately, I didn’t want anything at the time. I never even considered Hollywood a possible job direction, so the movie eventually wrapped up and, and was only ever a passing curiosity in my college years. I can only imagine where I might be right now if I’d taken advantage of that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity even a little bit.Kinda connected to that one, I didn’t make good use at all of my undergraduate professors. Everyone warned me before I went to college that it was extremely important to befriend them because they would be a huge resource in the future when looking for jobs and opportunities. I got to know the Film Studies teached well enough, and co-authored a compilation with one of the English professors, but other than that I pretty much graduated and left when my 4 years were up. I didn’t go to office hours nearly enough, and to no surprise wound up alone and struggling to find a job out of college. I feel less bad about this one because I did a much better job with forming collegiate connections in my Master’s program.
  2. On my first day in San Francisco after graduating college (six years ago), I had secured an apartment with my boyfriend and we’d been lucky enough to gain a video game connection with a man my mom knew from work. He offered, and we readily agreed, to meet up for coffee and he’d talk to us about the job market, our resumes, and what we needed to know to ingratiate ourselves in the city. After coffee, he drove us around San Franscisco and pointed out various game studios he knew and how likely we were to be hired by them.And then he parked in front of a drab-looking building and pointed saying “That’s Double Fine.” Double Fine was one of the world’s most famous game writing companies, and I loved their games. He encouraged me to walk right in there, without a plan, and ask them for a job right now. I remember my boyfriend sitting next to me, also encouraging me to do so. It felt like the sort of choice you’d encounter in one of Double Fine’s game, to be honest, but I ended up making the wrong choice.  I was too scared to walk in there; I hadn’t scheduled an appointment or anything, I hadn’t researched the company or learned their company values and all I had was an unspecialized resume I hadn’t hand-crafted to give to them. Also, I couldn’t fathom they’d be interested in a junior writer whose largest published game at the time was Legends of Equestria. A couple seconds passed, and when they realized I wasn’t getting out of the car, we drove away.

    Would that moment have led to a job at Double Fine? Probably not. But I’ll never know.

  3. And lastly, I regret the last six months. I graduated in September 2018 having not done nearly enough to secure a job out of college. I did great in the actual program but I only applied for a few positions while I was still enrolled. Upon leaving, I continued to apply for jobs but with something of a slow-burning longterm anxiety attack giving me sleepless nights. I am well aware that you can only call yourself a “recent graduate” for the first six months after you obtain your diploma, and now here we are and I’m no closer to being employed than when I started. I’ve applied for dozens of jobs, but I should have applied for hundreds. I should have bugged people and made more phone calls and networked and done everything in my power to secure a position before it was too late.

The 2s Have It

Hi! It’s been a while since I posted on this blog. A lot has changed, not all of it for the better.

Apologies for the radio silence, nonexistent readers, and I don’t really have a very good excuse. I’ve fallen into something of a slump these past few months. While I’ve kept my online obligations running (new SPUF of Legend videos, new Daily eSports articles), I’ve let a lot of my creative projects fall to the wayside. I’m not sure if it counts as ‘depression’ per se, but I’m really starting to feel the stress of my inability to land a job.

Feels like I’ve sent thousands of applications, and I hear literally nothing back. I’ve made it through two rounds of interviews at one place, but I haven’t heard anything in over two weeks. I had to borrow money from my parents to pay rent 5 days ago. It really feels like I’m running on a hamster wheel, the same wheel I’ve been on since leaving Ohio to chase a gamedev jobs in Austin 4 years ago.

I have to admit I’ve never felt more worried this was all for naught. Everyone I know from my graduating class has landed gaming jobs except me. It feels like I’ve blown thousands of dollars moving to SF and trying to break into a thriving industry that has room for everyone else. I feel like I bring a lot of skills to the table, but apparently they’re not the right ones for anyone to take notice.

My cumulative internet traffic is the only silver lining to my situation. I’ve broken 2 thousand views on itch.io, 2 hundred thousand views on YouTube, and 2 million views on Gfycat. Too bad I’ve had almost no luck translating those numbers into user activity, or a real community.

So…happy 2019 everybody. It’s weird to think I now have 7 years experience as a game developer, and yet I’ve never felt like less of one.

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.