Saturday 18 March 2017

The Goddess of Atvatabar

The Goddess of Atvatabar is now live!

It's a few days late as usual, so from now on all dates will say "estimated". Atvatabar is a milestone story for several reasons:
  1. The first joined-up story:
    I've added new pages to Journey to the Centre of the Earth so that the stories now join up. At the end of Joueny, where Jules Verne's book returns to the surface, you can now go deeper and discover Atvatabar. And vice versa.
  2. The first joined-up character:
    In Goddess the hero needs to make a decision about his girlfriend. This is the first step toward a single character story that moves forward between episodes (see next post).
  3. The last un-numbered story:
    the next story will be the origin story, "issue 1". From that point, each story will be numbered, Eventually the first four stories will be edited and re-numbered to they form a consistent story that moves forward.
Enjoy. :)

Monday 13 March 2017

My free toolbox

For the record, here are the programs and services I can't do without. And they're all free!

  • Smoothdraw - the most responsive art program out there.
  • Crimson Editor - still my favourite editor. 
  • Microspell - spell checker. Very quick and flexible, 
  • fnr - find and replace multi-line blocks of text across multiple documents 
  • pngquant - for compressing web graphics: gives beautiful results
  • Filezilla - for uploading the results

And web sites:

And now you know!

A last! Spell checking!

My built in spell checker stinks. As you may have noticed. Each page is spell checked at least three times yet typos are everywhere!  Aaaaaargh!

This is because

  1. I need to type so quickly
  2. the spell checker doesn't know the difference between HTML and ordinary words, so every second word is underlined - I can't see the real mistakes from the false ones.
  3. There is no way to tell it "next time ignore this word, OK?"
But today all that changes! I discovered "Microspell". It's wonderful! I just told it to check my entire site, and was able to fix about a hundred typos that I missed before. Hooray!! I can't guarantee that the site is typo free - after all, this is me we are talking about - but it's getting better.

Saturday 4 March 2017

New: Theology 101

Bonus track!  A whole new mini book is added today.

A lot of stories deal with weird stuff like time travel, aliens, gods, etc. Not everyone is interested in the details, and it take ages to explain it every time, so I decided to put all the heavy explanations in one place.

So if you want the secrets of the universe, they're all here:

I call it... Theology 101!  It isn't the kind of theology they teach at church. But it should be.

Thursday 2 March 2017

Progress update

I just added "The Time Machine", the first story since the game launched. No players yet - or else maybe they play but stay very quiet - but I'm happy with that. I'm still finding my way, improving the game all the time. Here are the latest improvements:

Faster art

At first the art was averaging over half an hour per picture. This picture for example ended up taking over an hour. I'm happy with the result, but an hour is far too long when every story has over  a hundred pictures!

By the end of story two (Gilgamesh) I'd got that down to fifteen minutes. Here's a typical 15 minute picture from near the beginning of The Time Machine: 
I'm still not happy with that. I feel pressured for time, and the result is not great. it does the job but as an artist I could tear it apart. Here's the new, improved art style:
The people in the foreground still use the old style. but the hero in the back uses far fewer lines. This enabkles me to just focus on the parts that matter, finish a picture in ten minutes, and not feel rushed. And I can spend longer on each line, so the result should look more professional. Heres a fully "new style" picture:
I like that style. I just draw the parts that matter to the story, and enough extra lines so the reader isn't totally lost, and I'm done!!! Perfect. Of course, I can't change the art style half way through a story, so I added some more lines, like so:
This fits in better, but as you can see, the new lines do not add anything to the story. In fact, they more than double the time it takes to make the picture. Look at the adult's forward arm: in the simplified art I could be free. But when I added more detail it looked wrong, and I had to erase it and re-draw it. Also the body looks worse now: look at the top of the front leg! Urgh! 

The beauty of the simpler art is that your mind will fill in the details in the right place, so I don't have to. Ten minute pictures are the way to go!

Faster stories

The first two stories took six days to write. Meaning six days if working on the game full time. But I have a day job so a six day story usually takes twelve days or more. That isn't acceptable. I have now got that time down to three days. My goal is to reduce that to two days (if I have to read a story for the first time) or even one (if I'm already familiar with the story).

Joined up stories

I now start on The Goddess of Atvatabar, the first story to join up with an existing story! Soon, when you explore the caves in Journey to the Center of the Earth you'll be able to go deeper, deeper, and come out on the other side! That is a big step to making this more interactive: making a joined up world!