Wait, it's 2016 already?
#1
Time for new years resolutions!

I sacrificed a lot of time to art last year, to the point where I sometimes didn't get around to reading or writing for weeks. To change that I want to get in the habit of using my sketchbook as a notebook as well, and to make sure I actually go through with it I've made the decision to write something on every page without exception. I also want to dedicate at least half an hour of every day to reading.

As a project for the first half of 2016 I want to translate a play by a german author and adapt it in a sound novel format, which means drawing charactersprites, backgrounds and maybe composing music, though I might end up going for stock music instead. I have a few ideas for interactive shortstories that might work in that format as well, but I feel like I should do a testrun to get to know the software before tackling that kind of project. 


In terms of lifestyle I don't want to change much, but  for now I'll start swiming once a week and evaluate whether I want to do more than that after a few months.

There's a few secondary things I want to work on, but I don't  want to commit to too much in too short a timeframe, so let's leave those for a later time. 

Let's do this!
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#2
hey lodratio, glad to see you setting yourself up this year.

im just here to say dont stop and ill keep a lookout for this ddeathline

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#3
Hey man, great stuff. I'm keen to see you develop this thread into something like a development journal for your adaptation project. If you follow through it would be a great resource for people to see!

To answer some of your questions on the SMART goals: The way you presented them on youtube was lumping up all the whole thing by splitting it up with the smart criteria, but I think that defeats the true power of the smart system, which works best on simply stated and specific goals. So you need to start big and break it down into the components.

I think if you start with the overarching goal, like I concocted, you can begin to look at each major area that you will need to work on first (translation, art, music etc) and create overall smart goals for each of those. Then within those, you can create smart goals for the bits within the greater areas.

So at first your translation goal was good. Translate at least one act a month. For the art you could look at your characters and say, you want to create maybe 1 character concept a week, which will get you halfway, and then for the next 12 weeks do sprites/animation for 1 character every week. Same for the backgrounds...you would have to do 1-2 a week, if you want to hit 20-40, by June.
In terms of programming and software learning, you might want to dedicate a bit of time each week to also get up to speed if you are new to it, creating placeholders as you go. So these are the things you should set your smart goals for, because they will really keep you on the ball. Even without knowing details, by thinking of them in the smart way, we are already getting a sense of how much work on a weekly (even daily) basis might be needed. Good to know up front!


The key thing is really going to involve listing out all the tasks, estimating the timeframes required and then seeing what the dependencies are between them and identifying the highest priority tasks, which ones can't go ahead before others are completed. Timeframes and milestone dates for delivery of the various things. This is really just bread and butter project management. For example, perhaps you can't really start the programming until you have the translation/adaptation complete (this will depend on the project of course). With your dependencies mapped out you will also be able to prioritise the most important things first. Another example is that perhaps the characters don't all come in at the first act, so you could prioritise the ones that might be needed first.

You can of course slice things many different ways depending on your preferences. So perhaps you can do a "proof of concept" mini project, where you do the whole thing for one act only first. So the translation, the characters, the backgrounds, even music, the programming, because that will get you a really good idea of everything within the first month or so. You will have come across most of the problems you are likely to see over the whole process, and also have experience of the actual time required. After that it will just be repeating but on a larger scale. The nice thing about this approach is that you will have something to show up front, and if this was a normal marketing type thing it would make a great teaser; you know something that you might see in a kickstarter for example. This is up to what you think will work best of course.


I also HIGHLY recommend you create a physical board that you can see in your workspace with the stuff all mapped out, use colour codes, little stickers, whatever to make it look like a fun little adventure game. Also important is that "ticking off" as you complete tasks process. It's a little positive reinforcement that will help you feel good about your progress. Not the same if it's just in your head. An app I use for my daily taks is Todoist which is really simple and user friendly, and gives you some progress goals, and good "karma" points if you hit the deadlines, and lowers it if you slack off.

So yeah, I'm keen to see what you come up with. Better get cracking, July ain't that far away and there's a lot of fun to be had!

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#4
Yup, half a year doesn't seem like that long a time frame once you divide it into all these little tasks.
I like the idea of making this a kind of journal, but I don't think I'll update it more often than once every other week. It's much easier for me to focus when I don't feel like I have to keep blogging about what kind of progress I'm making all the time. Plus I think that once you've said something about your project it creates a kind of subconscious barrier to making changes. As long as you keep things to yourself you can easily change around what exactly you're trying to do as new things come up without feeling like an idiot for contradicting yourself.

For instance I'm starting to think that it'll be necessary to add descriptions and introspective segments to most of the scenes to even out the pacing and flesh out characters more. I'm aware that'll make it less of a faithful adaptation, but there's no way around it. The thing is that playwrights can leave a good part of bringing characters across to the actors, while sprites are more limited.


In any case, so far I've  translated 3/4 of act one, tried implementing the first scene into the engine as a test, made conceptual charactersprites for the people appearing in that first scene, and I've come up with composition ideas for the main backgrounds. I still feel like I'm behind schedule, but oh well. There's only so much I can do in this amount of time without rushing things.

The thing that's giving me the most trouble at the moment is the programming. it's not that it's particularly difficult to understand, but there's a lot of things you need to look up, codes you need to remember, and if you mess up in any way it breaks everything... and I'm doing something as simple and straightforward as a single, linear story. If I had to program in complex choices I'd probably go insane.
If you're wondering what the skies are about, I wanted to figure out how to get across the surreal feel of the world the play is staged in. I figured I'd do it by stylizing the weather, so I tried to come up with an abstract way of portraying what the different weather conditions might look like. The thunderstorm isn't working at all so far, but other than that I'm okay with where it's going.


So yeah, I'm doing all sorts of things in parallel. I thought about approaching this 'one thing at a time' at first, but that would mean that I'd only get around to implementing the majority of the play after I have all of the art assets, so I'd have no good way of judging how many and what kinds I actually need. My plan right now is to program each act once I've translated it, put placeholders for backgrounds and sprites that I don't have and replace them with finished ones on the go.

If the perspective on the backgrounds looks a bit wonky in places so far, it's because I've been eyeballing, so don't worry about that just yet, but if y’all have critique points on the compositions or the values, if the poses of characters don't look right, or if something looks better than the rest and you think I should do more of that, etc. feel free to point it out to me.


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#5
Hey man, I think that it is a sensible idea to do things in parallel and finish acts as you go. That way at each phase you actually have something visible that can be played through as a prototype. As you said things can get more polished as you go.

I hear you about programming. That is pretty much the nature of the game. Lots of looking up 'stealing' of code and making it fit and work for you. It can get frustrating, but also really fun when things start to click.
One thing to keep in mind with code, is that you will invariably find a much better way of attacking an entire setup 3/4 of the way down the line, if you are learning as you go, so just be prepared for this to happen! Do as much due diligence as possible as you go.

No crits on the art...just keep pumping them out!

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#6
Time for the February status report!

Translation is progressing steadily, though I'm still in the beginning of the second chapter as far as writing additional exposition is concerned, so I'm a little behind on that one, but I think I'm doing a good job on it at least.
For backgrounds, coming up with good concepts and compositions has been a real challenge. I've figured out the character designs for the most part, though I'm not sure how muted or vibrant the colours should be, and some of the clothing isn't as distinctive as I'd want it to be. The biggest problem is the execution. The quality of my drawings and paintings just isn't consistent with what it was a month ago. I know that might be a stupid thing to complain about, but it's bothering the hell out of me. For programming I tried using Tyranobuilder for a while because it seemed like it might be more intuitive than other software, but the 'userfriendly' interface is actually more tedious than just putting in a line of code every now and then, so I've gone back to Renpy.
All in all, I am making progress, but there's too many unknown variables, and I'm not confident I'll be able to do a good job with the adaptation if I just keep going the way I am now. I guess the problem is that I'm trying too hard to do a good job, so I'm afraid of making mistakes.
I've thought about using NanoReno 2016 to do a test run with a much smaller story that I don't care about as much, and the idea is starting to sound pretty appealing. If art has taught me one thing it's that doing iterations of something is a much better way of learning than trying to do it perfectly the first time. As the name of the challenge implies, it'll be over in a month, at which point I'd stop working on that project and get back on track, even if it's not finished.
This would delay things further of course, but since I don't really have a deadline I'm not going to let that worry me too much. Generally, going forward in the way that seems to make sense is a better approach than ignoring problems you know exist and pressing on by force. It isn't something you can do when other people depend on you to deliver on time, but hey, I'm not in that position.


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#7
I decided to go with my intuition and participate in Nano.
I'm sure it's the right decision at this point. I've made more progress on this project in a week than I did on my other one in the course of the last month! Being nervous can really kill your ability to make progress, whatever it is you're doing, and it's especially true for art. If any of you are trying to make portfolio pieces and feel like you're stuck, the solution might just be to try and make some finished pieces that you know no potential employer will ever see. Once you take that source of anxiety away a lot of things that you didn't think you could do will become possible.

I'm attaching the art I have so far in this post. I'm a little unsure about the compositions, and It'd be great if I could get some crits. I want to make the color scheme cohesive, but I also want to keep the individual pieces distinctive.

If you're interested in the story aspects, here's a link to the contest: http://lemmasoft.renai.us/forums/viewtop...50&t=37428


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#8
I guess I should do an update on the secondary goals I made in the first post. I'm reading almost every day, and I've definitely gotten out of my habit of defaulting to drawing whenever I have freetime, so that's one success. For my sketchbook, instead of writing something on every page, I've gotten into a rhythm of alternating between writing a few pages and drawing, but I'll take that as a success as well. As for swimming, I stopped going after a while, because there just didn't seem to be any time for it, so that's the main thing I want to work on getting fixed right now.

As for Nano, at least the art side is going as well as I could have hoped. I've made a lot of progress with figuring out how to make clean sprites with an alpha layer and create at least some likeness, and making backgrounds at least readable without investing a lot of time into them has also gotten easier with practice. I'm not nearly as confident in the writing though, and there aren't as many resources for those times when I'm not sure how to solve a problem with pacing, mood, etc.

some sprites



some backgrounds





a textbox


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#9
I dig the variety! Your ideas are awesome which is one of those ingredient pieces that a lot of artist seem to miss out on. :} Seems like you've got a pretty solid understanding of perspective as well. Hmm.
Maybe keeping an eye on values might be a useful thing for you? Seems like your value ranges for your environments and characters seem to live in the same middle-high or middle low ranges. Loomis has got some great stuff to say about this in "Creative Illustration" Doing segmented studies with a 1-5 value range helped me a lot!
Look forward to see your project come to fruition! Good luck! ^_^

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#10
"I don't care about drawing and painting for its own sake. It's just something I want to use to support my storytelling." That's what I've been telling myself since I started keeping a sketchbook two years ago, but at this point art has once again completely taken over my life.


When I made this thread, it was for the sake of using accountability ( i.e. the pressure of the expectations you believe others have of you) as a source of consistency. In retrospect I should have known better than to do that. After all, I already worry too much about that kind of thing to begin with.
Fear plays a bigger role in how we think about the world and interact with eachother than we'd care to admit, and I think I'm a prime example of someone who tries their hardest to pretend that that should apply to everyone else but them. The fight against your own ego (an ego being nothing more than a desire for control and safety, which is to say a desire to be in position free of fear) is the kind of battle you can never hope to win completely, but I somehow still expect it to be gone a lot of times.
Admitting to and working on the shortcomings of my art is easy for me, as long as I can see them. When it comes to writing however, I have huge trouble disassociating myself from anything I work on. Amit said in a different thread that our own ego is what makes a lot of things impossible for us. He's pretty spot on as far as that is concerned. A persons ego is their desire to be in a position where they are safe from fear, so it naturally pushes them into a place where they feel comfortable. I've listened to a lecture by a screenwriter today that also dealt with similar fears, and how they impact that persons work. https://soundcloud.com/bafta/charlie-kau...ng-lecture

Now, time to get to the core of my argument:
Failure is scary enough when the only one who is affected by it is you alone, but we're social beings, so we extend our fears to the people around us as well.
Doctors have every reason to feel afraid of failure. The decisions they are making are important because they affect other peoples livelihood. The same goes for politicians, police officers, farmers, plumbers, parents, really, anyone who is given responsibility for an aspect of other peoples lives, to a certain extent. Depending on how big the impact they have is, they have a very real reason to feel scared of failure. However, if you do something enough it'll become routine, and a lot of things that should be scary lose their terror after a while. I have responsibilities as a driver, and I don't worry about those at all at this point. So why make such a big deal out of writing? I have a thesis on what a writers responsibility is. I'm not sure about it, and it could be it's just my own justification for not doing something I should be doing, but here it is:

People rely on the images and storytelling presented to them as a basis to create a story for their own lives.
Forget about the idea of an enlightened, rational human being. We're not intelligent enough to process the world in that way. At the core of our self-understanding we think about life in stories, which is why we often make strange decisions without even realizing it.
Let me give you some examples: If you meet someone while hiking in the mountains, travel along with them for half a day and give them your number, they're far more likely to keep in contact with you than if you met them somewhere in their everyday environment, even if you spend a good long time together and then gave them your number - because you've become part of their 'story of a journey', and in that context you are unique, unlike in their everyday life where they have tons of people they interact with on a day-to-day basis.
Martyrs believe they're sacrificing themselves for something greater than themselves, and that image gives them the will to do things that look mad to anyone who doesn't share their beliefs, and I'm not just talking about religious beliefs here. In the same way, someone who believes in the survival of the fittest and acts upon that belief, and then loses it at a later point will be tormented by their own actions, simply because the story of their life has fallen apart.
So, if people depend on storytelling to continuously reconstruct their own understanding of the world and themselves, and to pick up the pieces when their life falls apart, can it really be said that a writer has less responsibility than anyone else in their work?

Now, that doesn't mean that storytelling is inherently a form of manipulation, though it certainly has the potential to be used that way. Of course a construction is always just an approximation, but it's a necessary compromise for our limited intelligence to be able to process a very complicated world. It's the same thing with language itself. Michael Ende described his understanding of art as 'the act of turning images of the outside world into images of our inner world, which makes us capable of dealing with them'. I believe what he meant by that is that in order for us to be able to construct a story about our lives that reflects the reality we experience, we need to have a counterpart to the things we are confronted with in the 'outside world' in our inner construction of it. That's why creating a story is something that requires honesty and precision of thought... and at this point I'm not sure I'm either honest or precise enough to do a decent job of it. Some part of me might already have given up on writing entirely.


If you've read up to this point it'll be clear to you that I'm not entirely sure what I'm trying to say, except that I'm not doing what I want to be doing, and it's really messing with me. This is the biggest dump of 'stuff not meant for university' that I have written in a good long while, which is to say I haven't written much of anything recently. In fact, my thoughts have been occupied with composition and values to a scary degree.
I thought I'd find it in myself to get over my existencial angst and past the prologue of the story I've been meaning to work on for half a year now, or at least write a shorstory or two over the summer holidays. Here we are in mid-September, and my head is so full of art things that I can't come up with anything worthwhile, or that's just another excuse.
The reason I'm writing this is to get someone elses opinion. So, yeah, no matter what your position on whatever you believe the topic of this textlump is might be, post it up!

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#11
Lodratio, it sounds like you're having a tough time balancing between visual art and written art.  I am struggling with a similar thing - balancing my time between improving my visual art skills with improving my written art skills for my comic book script.

Allow me to share with you a breakthrough I had recently.  Please take it or leave it I won't be offended either way.

Now for the post part of this year my writing had taken taken a back seat behind my efforts to improve my drawing and painting skills.

But a random reply by someone on my twitter feed started a small pebble rolling that has now turned into a rolling stone.  For this guy on twitter it was probably just a quick shot in the dark but it turned out to impact me in a significant way so I will pass this on in case it helps.

He said that I don't need to drop my writing altogether and that I should just do small chunks every day which still promotes growth and can still be fun.

I gave this a go and started off in a small way and just did maybe 10mins every day. 

At first it was a shear act of will to just spend 10mins thinking about my writing (not even actually physically writing).  But then as the small steps of progress added up to something more significant the feelings of excitement and motivation followed and I really felt like I wanted to get this stuff written down.

What I found was that my motivation started to build as the ideas started flowing again and now the visual art to written art split is more like 70% visual to 30% written.

So what I'd like to share with you is this:  Exert your will first and then your feelings will follow.

Hope this helps, please disregard if it doesn't but good luck anyway my friend.

“Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.” -- H. Jackson Brown Jr.

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#12
I like what ArtLoader said really because the story he recounted, isn't really about inspiration or discipline or momentum or motivation, but at its core I believe it is about being completely open and present in the moment and going with where it takes you.  

 I think you perhaps have started to overthink on some things and you are substituting your thoughts on what you "should" be doing with being Present and engaged with whatever you are doing when you are doing it.  

The plans, the goals, the fears, the dreams, the joy, the pain, the thoughts...all that stuff doesn't matter a damn really, if you are engaging with them out of fear or pressure or something else that is something other than full engagement at the time you are doing it.

Whatever you do, try and do it with full presence. If that means you are focusing on the art more, for a while, then do it with everything you have. If you want to write for a bit, do it with everything that you have. If you are doing dishes, do it with everything you have.  If you approach things in this way, regardless of whether they were exactly to plan or not, then you will be aligning your inner being with your outer reality in a more natural and powerful way. 

It's trendy to call this "the zone" these days, but actually it has been called being absolutely present in the moment for many thousands of years prior to this.

Perhaps you need to think less...and whenever you do anything make sure you do it with full presence, no matter how short a time it is for! :)

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#13
This might not be relevant, but I found this kinda inspiring :)

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#14
I find it awesome that you shared your thoughts and feelings Lodratio. That's one of the things that makes Daggers kind of like a family.

Got to agree with Amit, I mean doing what you do with all of you. And that Kurosawa video is great.

It's true that everyone deals with fear. Based on what I read and heard from other people so far, as well as personal experience, the best way to deal with it is to face it and embrace it. And I might add, to observe it of any other negative feeling.

That all sounds a bit too general I guess. If you ever feel like discussing this kind of stuff or personal experience, feel free to write in Discord or PM :)

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