I was beginning to wonder if I had it in me to accomplish the task I set out to do. And for a while, it looked like I had failed. But through countless sacrifices (you have no idea just how much I had to give up in order to make it work out), sheer determination and absolute stubbornness, I managed to pull on through. It's done. My first comic has been released! I'm absolutely thrilled with what I did, and I'm looking forward to pulling it off week after week after week. My only wish is that others will learn to enjoy my work as I have learned to enjoy it. I put my 150% into making the comic. The dialog flows so much better than originally, the pacing is better, my characters look (mostly) amazing, and the amount of emotion I conveyed really is pretty groundbreaking for me.
I still have a long ways to go. I am just getting started. This is just the beginning, and I have much to learn, and a great many years to grow. Yet it feels like such a grand beginning, filling me with energy I've not had for a long time. It might be a small start to you, it might not look too impressive at first, but I swear, I'm going to get better with time, and I really hope that--even if you don't enjoy things now--that you will by the time I'm through. :)
So I said that I'd only use this blog for important updates, right?
Well, I didn't really consider my birthday comic (speaking of which...happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday dear Brian, happy birthday to me) to be important enough to be worthy of this blog as an update, despite it technically being a comic. It felt like if I did so, it'd be anticlimatic.
Well, I just found a way to make it anything but. I've made up my mind as to when I'm going to be updating--every Monday at 6:00 PM, PST. Yet as I declared during the birthday comic, I'm nowhere near close to ready to relaunch my comic. So it'll be a while before I can release anything new, right?
Not with my idea. It might end up backfiring on me, but I developed a plan: what if I were to keep updating every Monday at 6? But not with new content. Heavens, no. I've got six comics which are obsolete. What if I began...updating those?
And that's where the idea comes in. It wouldn't show up on the "Recently Updated" tab for ComicFury, and it'd be invisible to anyone not physically checking out the changes...yet what if, one comic per week at a time, I began to update...and then didn't stop once I had gotten through everything which I've already done? This would accomplish a number of things at the same time, hence why I'm going to do everything I can to make sure I succeed. First off, it gives me a chance to gradually get used to my art style. Rather than suddenly beginning, I'd have a head-start. Beyond that, rather than a simultaneous upload of half a dozen comics (which would be tedious), this far more gradual method would be less stressful. Furthermore, with this method, I can continue releasing something every single week on schedule--setting a pace for me to keep. And that'd form a habit, and with the habit formed, I'd be more likely to succeed.
But it gets better! On my TVTropes page, I said that I wanted to release The Descended in two months. Now I'm not sure how many comics my new script will take, but it'll be at least two extra, meaning 8 updates--which is approximately two months, giving me perfect timing in that regard. Yet most of all, it puts me on a definite clock, a pressure to finish things. While I didn't finish NaNoManGo, I did a lot of work during that month (more than before or after), as just one example of how the pressure of a time limit gives me reason to continue on. Not wanting to stop updates dead (no more schedule slips! Successful webcomics don't have them), I'd make sure that nothing would make me miss one--meaning that I'd have to have all the details set out well in advance, something which I've been doing gradually, but not consistently.
So that's my grand plan. It might not work, but I'm going to try it. As foolish as this ambitious idea is, it stands a chance of working. So stay tuned!
This isn't really an update, but I just felt like I should post it somewhere. I know not many people read my blog, and I'm fine with that, but I figure that...well, anyone who does will appreciate me having posted this. It gives a huge insight into my mind, something I often try to give you but rarely convey as well as I could. It changes subjects multiple times, but everything in it is still connected. So read as much or as little of it as you'd like, and try to take some lessons of your own from it. I've given my best guesses as to the message I'm trying to say, but really...in truth, I don't think I really have one, and that when I typed this, I wanted you to read it and make your own conclusions, take your own wisdom from mine.
Sometimes, you just have to talk. This is something which if anyone responded to, I’d be more than happy to post about, but it doesn’t look like it’ll be happening, yet this is a ramble which I want to make and don’t want to forget about.
So here it goes.
When I posted about Misfile, I said it was a fun experience—and that was an understatement, in that it only scratched the surface of what I meant. I’m sure people probably interpreted it as me just liking the story, liking its humor, liking its characters, liking its art, or something else like that.
…But is far, far more than that.
Rather…when I said that it was fun…I felt that I was really there. You know how all the time, I say how my own characters are so real that I can talk and have conversations with them? That they to me are more than just characters, but are actually real people?
…Well…if the comic’s well-written enough (and I can tell you here and now that Misfile most certainly is), then…I feel it for other comics as well. The characters within weren’t just characters. I could feel them as if they were actually real people. And while I may never know them as well as the creator or some obsessive fans who take this a lot further than I would…I still felt like I knew them, like I could connect with them as good, honest, real people, making me want to become one of their friends.
And it went further than that. I could hear what they’ve heard, and what I was hoping they’d hear. I listened to what they’ve said, and what I’ve been hoping they’ll say. (Predicting the future in webcomics never turns out even close to how you expect, but that doesn’t stop me from wishing.)
But why? Why do I think of them in the present and more importantly, the future? Because I care for them, as much as I would any real person. And when it comes down to it…I want them to be happy in their lives. In comic terms, this would be that I want them to have a happy ending, where everyone is happy and has as few regrets as possible, that everything worked out perfectly—an impossibility, I know, but something I still wish were going to happen.
But it doesn’t have to just be the comic’s end. When it comes to their every-day lives…I want them to feel good about their lives, rather than miserable with the hand that they have been dealt. (Again, not very likely, but, uh…more probable, at the least. :P)
I know that’s hard to explain, but…well, I really do feel connected to them, as if I were really a friend of theirs despite them not knowing me and me having just gotten to begin to know them.
In a way, though, I suppose it makes sense, given how I am in real life. I’ve never been able to hold onto a friend for more than a year or two. I just…drift away from them with time. And even when trying to fit in…I tend to stand out awkwardly.
Beyond that…it extends to online life as well. I thought it wouldn’t…I thought that I could stay connected forever, that I wouldn't have the same problems, swearing to keep close to what I treasured...but it most certainly does, much to my absolute horror. Everyone I’ve ever gotten close to has either vanished or slowly faded away from me, leaving them as little more than a ghost, a phantom memory in my mind which I often lose the proof of ever having existed. And which I sometimes fear is mutual, in that I remember them better than they remember me.
The first people I was close to I alienated. The second people I was close to vanished. The third group I was close to had so many problems we destroyed ourselves, and I just…wanted to stay away, despite the fact that they were for the most part still good people and very good friends.
The fourth group (which I sometimes consider to actually really be the first group, because it’s the longest-lasting and most consistent) has slowly but surely been slipping away from me. I’ve lost contact with them, I’ve lost my bond with them, I’m completely and totally…drifting away from my good friends. The first people I think I actually called friends, in fact. They were that close to me, and I really felt bonded to them...yet they've all-but vanished from my life...
The fifth group I’ve at times completely abandoned, and while I’ve tried to rekindle the flame of passion there…I keep on eventually…drifting away.
And the sixth group, ComicFurians? Well, at the moment, we’re close…but I have previously drifted away, and I’m horrified—absolutely terrified—that it might be happening again; it already feels like it’s started. (My webcomic, here, The Descended, what you're reading at this very moment, was supposed to help stop that, but it's not working. Rather, I think it is and if it weren't for this webcomic, I'd have left already...but that it's basically just on life support and that I'm failing to keep my connection alive.) Despite my efforts to get closer, I feel like instead of bonding with them more I’m actually getting further away from them, spending less and less time devoted to them, abandoning them just as I feared I would do.
So bonding with fictional people makes a lot of sense. You can always come back. On the internet, you can’t really do that. Sometimes the posts and/or site are gone, sometimes your account is, or sometimes everything’s still there but the magic, the liveliness in the posts, has vanished.
Fictional people…well, don’t. Sure, they can disappear, if the comic is removed from the internet, and sure, they can (and do!) fade from my mind with time…but I can always come back to them, start over or continue from where I left off.
I know…it’s bad. I shouldn’t be like this, but I am. And, hey…I’ve come to accept it. My councilor has multiple times asked me this:
If I could go back, would I change it?
The memories of the past make me sad, because I long for them in the present. I want to have those friends, I want to be part of a group, I want almost more than anything else to fit in (and yet at the same time still stand out as an individual), all things which should be possible because they happened in the past…but which aren’t happening.
Yet despite the sadness thinking of the past brings up…despite the mistakes I’ve made…despite how much I wish I could change the way things were and the way things are…my answer to the question of “would I erase it”?
I would not. I cherish the memories. I’d never want to get rid of them. Yes, there is some incredible sadness in there, and things can be incredibly painful…yet nothing in there is something which I wouldn’t want to have experienced. The bad things were things which I needed to see and experience, to make me grow as a person, to teach me to recognize and accept my mistakes.
And the good things which I miss…well…they were good things. Why would I want to get rid of them? Why would I want to forget all the happiness I’ve had in the past? When I feel miserable, yes, it makes me sad to think of better times…but I was still happy in those times, and I never want to lose that.
And going down that train of thought…well…it makes me realize many things about the present as well. Mainly, that I shouldn’t take anything for granted, that I should cherish everything I have while I have it. That I should look and see happiness whenever I can, and enjoy every moment I can squeeze out of it when I otherwise feel miserable. Every day, I might feel a little depressed...but I am never truly sad so long as I have this in mind. Look for good in life, and you will find it; I can almost guarantee it. You just need to know where to look, and I've never failed so far.
But more than anything else, it’s a reminder that I should work to make my life better in the future, that I can still try to be happy in the future, that it is possible for my life to some day be better than it is now. (Not that it’s bad, mind you, because again, I like to think of what I still have, while still remembering everything I’ve lost, but that still means I want to look forward to what I have yet to gain.)
And I think that’s another reason I bond so well with those who are not real. (Well, they are real as far as I’m concerned. They have their own universe, and when their creator brings them to light…they are people, not characters.)
Because I see all of this in them as well. And I can apply it to others as well. I try to make others’ lives better as well. I don’t think I often succeed, and I’ve been horrified to see some awful mistakes where I make people miserable…
…But nothing makes me happier than knowing others are happy, especially if I helped play a part in it happening. And if I’m lucky, I might make some people miserable short-term, but like me the misery in the long-term makes them better.
(So I can hope, anyway. Obviously, I'd prefer to have never made anyone miserable at all, but it happens whether I want it to have or not. It may be little more than naive idealistic optimism, but I'd like to think that what sadness I caused for them ended up making their lives better once they learned to deal with it. It doesn't excuse me having ruined an element of their lives, but...it'd mean that I'd at least have a consolation prize in that it ended up working out in the end.)
Besides…life could always be worse, right? As low as you know, you can always go worse, yet that also means that you can always go higher. In my case…I have a full family, who I am close to. I haven’t had a single relative I’m familiar with actually die—even my grandparents are alive, something many people do not have the pleasure of.
And while their failing health concerns me, that concern is proof that I care about them, and despite how much I can sometimes appear apathetic, knowing that I still have emotions, that I would care if they die (rather than my dreams where I frequently see that I wouldn’t)…it all means that I have some people near me that I cherish and would hate to have lost.
(Same goes to my pets as well, of course.)
What can be taken from all of this? Well, obviously, I’m a bit of an unusual guy, but I suppose it means that I’m still quite human. Sometimes it feels like I’m not. Sometimes I feel so distant, feel like I can’t connect, like I’ll never be what I want to be. But just talking about it helps.
I love to see others happy. I’m not the best at making it happen for others (though I try whenever I can), but when they are, it makes me smile. And I like myself to be happy as well. There’s not really much point in getting depressed about the past or things in the present I can’t control, after all.
I’m not really sure I can wrap things up on this topic. Basically…I like to see people living their lives to their fullest. Be it characters, be it myself, be it others…I really think that people should enjoy…everything.
I might sound like a freak for all this rambling…but honestly? When it comes down to it, I’m okay with that, and quite frankly…I don’t think I’d want it any other way. This is just who I am.
So I began working on a slight rewrite of the original script I had, including creating a revised comic1 to be launched for a reboot--and asked people for their opinions. The criticism I got was quite helpful, but also means I've still got a lot of work to do. But so far, I'm liking the results. (I haven't exactly gotten anyone to COMMENT on the new stuff, but from a personal perspective, I like the way things have turned out.) Basically, it was said that my style of sprite art was not good enough for expressing detailed emotion. Basic emotions, sure, the eyebrows, the eyes, the hands, the head, and *maybe* the bodies can be tweaked when need be to give off emotion, but it's small, slightly limited, and overall more subtle than it should be.
So that means that I need something slightly...larger...than a sprite. Which means I've basically undergone a major art shift.
Fun fact--the original game art was inspired by chibis someone I knew drew.
The just-for-fun second version art was also inspired by chibis, with the large head, large eyes, and small limbs and all.
And while you'd have trouble telling by the final version of the sprite art, they still held onto that chibi inspiration.
Now, instead of Chibis, my style is going to get more animesque. Which is pretty much a major overhaul. It'll take time to get things adjusted. It will force me to change the way I tell the story. (I had planned for Sprite Art most of the way through the comics, though admittedly, there were some comics I had in mind which I knew I couldn't pull off with sprites; that's part of the reason I decided the change would be necessary.) It will take me some time to get the style nailed down and then perfect it. Basically, it changes everything in the comic.
But I think it is a change for the better.
For starters, I'm not getting rid of the sprites. I'll still manage to get usage of 'em. Maybe putting them in as filler until I draw their detailed form, maybe using some gags which just work better as sprites than they do drawn out. (I can think of an incident or two. For instance, you know the comic's avatar? Where Argus is falling? That is actually a moment in the comic. And that's not something which would be easy [or even desirable] for me to draw out; it just works better as a sprite. And, well, if the comic's animesque, and the sprite art's chibiesque, well, then, mangas and anime are where we get the highly distorted look of chibis in the first place, for more comedic moments, and this IS a webcomic which is made up of almost nothing but humor. :P Combined, that means I'll still be using them often enough that they are still part of the comic, just not as much as they are now.)
The look of the characters is also (so far) being mostly maintained when drawn out as well, making me not have to alter any details I like to keep. Furthermore, it allows for some extra level of details which the sprite art would not. But beyond that, it's (so far) not taking me significantly longer to draw than positioning the sprites would. Meaning it should be time-efficient, while giving more detail and being faithful to the current sprite art, yet still delivering that extra level the webcomic needs.
Plus, it allows me to actively practice my art skills. I anticipate some copy-pasting will be needed (not for whole bodies, though), but there will still be development, and if I do my job well enough, you'll still be accusing me of copy-pasting even when I'm not. (I'm in the process of taking the basic measurements for my characters, meaning that I can whip them out in a few minutes by following the specifications I'm about to create.)
Furthermore, it actually allows you to see the characters with your own eyes. The sprite art does them good justice (that's how I envisioned them, after all), the programs more or less capture what they look like (to the point where they make excellent reference images to help assist me when drawing), I've given a text description of what they look like, I have some fairly decent fanart which is good enough that I could show it to people and say "they look like this" (well, just for Argus and M, but the artists capture them pretty well), but none of it is art made by me.
With this new direction, you would be able to see, actually see, my best attempt at bringing their sprite selves to life, to see what they truly look like, at least to the best of my (quite limited) artistic ability.
Overall, there are a ton of pros, and only a couple of cons. I don't have quite the same amount of sentimentality, it'll be a pain to edit the webcomic to have everything be the new version rather than the sprite and program renders of my characters (both here and on TVTropes), it will take *slightly* more time to make comics, I haven't mastered the new style yet, I don't even know what people THINK of the new style, there's overall less room for dialog, but the things I gain are worth SO much more.
It's basically a massive Art Shift, one well worth undertaking, and this major change of direction is (in my opinion) more than worthy of a blog entry.
Do you read my webcomic regularly?
...Of course you don't; nobody does, you'd have to be crazy to consistently read the same stuff over and over again. :P I get like an average of three unique people viewing the comic at most, so of course nobody's following along. :P
But let's speak in the hypothetical scenario where someone does like to follow along and has been checking the webcomic daily. Assuming they're not a stalker (I wouldn't put it past someone crazy enough to check the comic daily despite not having updated in three years, though... :P), they probably haven't been paying close attention. So I'm here to help give you some tips--typically, I don't post a blog post unless it's something huge. Instead, I'm using my Shameless Advertising Thread. It's probably the best way to reliably get updates on my comic. Since I'm mostly working on smaller stuff not worthy of posting in my blog, I post in there rather than in here, where I save for revolutionary breakthroughs such as my Third Axis post.
Another decent place to keep track of me is on my TVTropes Page. I rather treasure it, considering the amount of obsession it took to get it that long in the first place, so as you can imagine, I try to keep it relatively clean and orderly (to me, anyway), not to mention up to date on things. After all, when I get my comic going, I'm probably going to get 90% of my traffic from that site by adding in my webcomic to the trope pages which I have linked in there right now. As you can tell by the number, that's a LOT of pages to be on (Troperrific!), and someone seeing The Descended on pretty much every single page they browse would spark interest eventually. :P
Hey, what can I say. OotS is a huge influence, and considering how Trope Overdosed THAT is...... :P
Anyway, I'm continuing to work hard on the comic. I've got the script going as far as I can go without having worked out the Battle System, and to do the Battle System I need to know the classes and elements (which is what I'm working on right now), so once that is done I can continue the script and go for a lot further. And keep on going, and going...getting a huge buffer built up, while simultaneously running the prototype of the game mechanics as a game. (Appropriately named The Dungeon Of Misery. Fun times! :P) And after that, I can release.
As it is, though, I don't think I'll quite be able to make the July release I was hoping for. I wanted a July 23rd release for my birthday, but that's just over two months away. Keep in mind I can only work on The Descended as a hobby and have real life to attend to during the week, and given the amount of research work I have to do (playing games is totally research! >_<), along with how to finalize the quirks in the system...well, two months can pass by in the flash of an eye. Oh, well. As long as I continue working on it, day by day, we'll eventually get to see it released. And when we do, it will be awesome. :D