What I've Been Up To, as of September 9, 2022
Updated: Dec 21, 2022
ello everyone, welcome once again to yet another Update Post, whereby I tell all you fine folk what I've been up to since the last update post.
So, how's the sabbatical going for you?
First I should address how my little break from my own stuff is going. So far, I'd say it's going rather well. I do find it exceedingly difficult to just relax, though. Even though I've told myself I don't have to worry about stuff during this period of time, I find that I keep doing so anyway. Old habits die hard, I suppose... but that's kinda the point of this break, to disrupt old habituated behaviors that aren't doing me any good and replace them with potentially more helpful habits.
Another 3D Kiki Banana game experiment thing
So, remember back in my previous update post where I talked about that totally amazing but kinda obvious in hindsight revelation I had back in May or so? Yeah, well here's a little bit of me experimenting with that idea... sort of.
This is the model of Kiki I made specifically for this kind of game type I had in mind, namely a semi-linear 3D platformer with a tracking camera perspective (think Super Mario 3D World as opposed to the free-roam camera of, say, Super Mario Odyssey). It would technically be a 3D platformer, but the level design would be more linear and streamlined but with branching paths, as opposed to a big open world kind of thing in other big collect-a-thons like Banjo Kazooie or Donkey Kong 64... I hope I described that okay, I kinda feel like I didn't, but oh well.
As you can probably tell, none of these have that fixed/on-rails camera I had in mind. I experimented with that style of camera a bit, but couldn't get it working quite right just yet. What you're seeing here is the typical third person free-roaming player-controlled camera.
I must say, while I'm not nearly as enamored with the concept as I was earlier this year, I do still think it's a fine style of game. However, of course, it would require a tremendous amount of effort to get right and do up all the graphics and sound effects and music and whatnot - an amount of effort I have no doubts I could pull off, just not right now. Maybe at a later date...
This model of Kiki uses textures for her mouth and eyelids, which I can swap out and animate pretty easily, without the need to animate with armature bones, which I hate doing, by the way. Faces are the worst when it comes to armature rigging! This flat texture style is so much easier, and, on a stylized cartoony model like this one, works just as well, maybe even better.
Her eyes are pretty interesting. They're not your typical round sphere in a socket that you usually see, nor is it a mere texture like the mouth and eyelids.
They're actually just slightly curved planes with a pupil texture on them that sit in concave indentations in her face that are covered over with two bits of convex geometry, one with a backface-culled texture that gives it the illusion of a solid eyeball object, and the other the eyelid texture that can be animated via a flipbook material. The pupils are rigged to bones, so I can animated them via the armature. It's a pretty neat way to do large, stylized cartoony eyes (which I don't think I've seen done before). I might have to make a tutorial showing how I did it.
As far as what I've actually done game-wise, not much. Kiki can walk, run, jump, swim, crouch, and crouch-walk. That's about it so far. I didn't make any new environmental assets, either, so there's nothing really to show there... so...
Onward to the next thing!
If you're not aware, Craiyon.com is a, quite frankly, amazing A.I. art generator based on text prompts you feed it. It takes an English phrase in plain language and interprets it in its own way and spits out nine different iterations of your prompt at a time, and does a pretty damn good job of it, too. It's kinda incredible just how well it reads human phrasing. Go play with it yourself and see what I mean.
Anyway, I've been enamored with this thing for a while now. When I start feeding it prompts, it's hard to stop. It's really fun!
Of course, I tend to gravitate toward the absurd...
I've found it's surprisingly good at mimicking other styles, be it a general one or a specific artist's...
It's especially good at approximating Dave McKean's style for some reason...
It's also fun to just see what it comes up with from a very vague prompt...
One thing I like to do with it is feed it a description of a character of mine and see how the machine interprets it. I've gotten some really interesting results.
What I've been doing recently is getting a bunch of iterations of this particular character idea of mine that I don't yet have a clear-cut design for, which is:
- an Egyptian angel/cherub girl with black hair, white and green wings, a golden halo, maybe with an ankh wand or an eye of Horus motif. -
Again, it's just a vague concept for a character I haven't fleshed out yet, and I thought it would be fun to let this A.I. take this basic description and then I take what it outputs and then put my own spin on its spin of said description. Here's a few examples:
--- WARNING! An artist's depiction of bare-naked titties inbound! In case you're some inhuman weirdo for whom that's offensive for some reason, avert thine eyes! ---
This one I think is my favorite out of these thus far. I can see this being an actual character in something. Perhaps she's some kind of angelic being disguised as a human in our physical world many thousands of years ago to deliver something somewhere, but can only do so in a corporeal form, which, being an angel and all, finds difficult to acclimate herself to... or something.
Anyway, it's a fun little experiment, and I would recommend any artist try it out, especially if you've hit a block or have gotten into a creative slump.
Some people think that A.I. like this will eventually get so good that it will put a lot of human artists out of a job, but I don't necessarily think so. This doesn't scare me like it does others. If anything, I'd say it's freeing.
Think about it. What this kind of art-generating A.I. will no doubt replace is all the drab, boring freelance stuff that one does just because it provides a paycheck. So, instead of forcing artists to do stuff they'd rather not, they can use that time they would normally be doing rote work for someone else to do their own thing.
That's a topic for another time, however. Moving on!
An Experiment with Asking the Universe
This is going to sound strange I'm sure, perhaps like some schizophrenic non-sequitur, but I'll just dive right in.
I've noticed a tendency with nearly all the creative ideas I get for stories, games, artistic projects, etc. The ideas are almost always either too big for me to believe I can do, or too small for it to really interest me. Refer to my previous post for more on the Desire to Belief ratio.
Now, I'm sure a lot of you reading this may not believe in prayers being answered, or the Law of Attraction, or biasing the future probable database within the Larger Consciousness System in your favor with your intent, and so forth. That's fine, you don't have to if your not so inclined. I, personally, am convinced that there is indeed something to this stuff, even if I don't fully understand it all.
My current understanding is that, where the Law of Attraction undoubtedly operates is within the realm of mind. You can experience this yourself. Think a thought (preferably one that feels good, but that's up to you) and hold it in your mind for at least 68 seconds. That's the amount of time it generally takes for a thought to become a dominant one...
Done? Now, if you're observant, you'll probably notice other similar thoughts started popping in to your head as well, right? So there, you just experienced it - like attracts like in the realm of the mind. Whether that's true on the physical plane I can't say for sure, but it absolutely is in the mind, as you've just now witnessed.
So anyway, I got to thinking why I kept getting these ideas that just barely missed the sweet spot on the Desire to Belief chart, and it hit me: I've always just asked for the idea for a creative project! Never have I asked or declared that I want the creative project itself! It's like a monkey's paw type thing, where you have to be careful what you ask for, or more specifically, how you ask it. In this case, I've been asking for ideas. An idea is not a finished product. See what I mean?
I asked for ideas (and yes, that's how I get ideas, I just ask the Universe/God/Higher Self/Larger Conscious System/Whatever your preferred linguistic handle of choice for the higher powers may be, for an idea, and I eventually get it. Seriously), and ideas they remained. That's why they didn't hit the sweet spot, because if they did, they wouldn't soon remain as ideas!
So I decided to ask for the thing I really wanted (namely a creative work, specifically a small video game in this case), and the got to work on... this.
I don't know what this is yet. It appears to be the beginnings of a kind of adventure game with 2D sprite characters in a 3D world (a la Paper Mario), starring some cute little water nymph babe with watery hair and a ceramic pot. She's appeared a few times in my cannabinated sketchbook doodles, but other than that I don't have a freakin' clue who she is, what she does, how she does it, or what she wants. Nothing. Zilch. Nada.
But interesting, though, that it actually happened. Whether or not it will keep happening is entirely up to me, but enough of it happened that I have something to show for it (little though it may be in quantity). How neat is that?
I'll definitely try this out on other creative projects as well.
You may have noticed, in the event that you got curious and checked out my other website DeOcculted.Info, that there's a new splash page with a spiffy new logo letting everyone know that it's being overhauled, which is true, it is.
This poor website has been needing a massive, massive overhaul for so long, so I finally decided to get to work on it. Originally it was going to be this huge repository for occulted knowledge (from the Hermetic principles to corruption in world governments, and everything in between), but I came to the conclusion that that was far to massive an undertaking for me, and there's other websites like that that do that far better than I ever could. But I still want to do something with it, so I thought, what could I do that is uniquely me, within my capacity to do, and still gets the job done in as far as conveying the Truth.
Without stumbling down this rabbit hole too deep, I'll just say that DeOcculted's purpose will include:
Organizing others’ research and philosophies (including my own) in such a way as to facilitate a more holistic understanding of them all.
Organizing my own scattered thoughts, musings, observations, and revelations into coherent body of knowledge.
To explain more obscure, complex, or otherwise strange topics that seem to be mired in misconceptions so as to clear up those misconceptions and clarify them for integration into the holistic understanding I wish to facilitate.
To extrapolate practical applications of this occulted knowledge such that it can visibly improve the lives of those that apply it.
I'll just leave it at that for now, I think you get the picture.
Plans for the Future
Seeing as I'm on a short sabbatical, I don't particularly plan on anything, other than sampling various mediums for creative expression, that I may rediscover the joys of creating, as I outlined in the last post.
However, one thing I do want to do in the very near future is revamp the Emporium section, to the point where it actually looks like the owner gives a shit about what he's selling, and has actual wares to sell! At least, wares that aren't just random pickings from my gallery.
I want to actually make money with the Emporium! That way, the website can pay for itself eventually, and perhaps even line my pockets with some extra. That'd be cool. That way, it would help fund my work, so that I can have more time and resources to produce more and more art and whatever other stuff for you guys.
So, that about wraps it up. Thanks for taking the time to read, and I'll see you next time.
Cheers, and take Care!