It's about midnight and I should be going to bed. It's also about six and a half years since I posted a news post saying that I never use news posts. In general I don't much use this NG account, but I'd like to change that. There are a lot of things I'd like to do.
I've mostly put a stop to all of my social media postings and purged what I can from the past because I don't like the permanence that comes with putting something on the internet. My thoughts and feelings are prone to change, and what was acceptable to me in the past can very much not be acceptable in a short span of time, either for moral reasons or more likely because I just hate my past self and 99% of what my past self says.
That's besides the point. I'd like to start using this news thing to chronicle my art activities. Ever since I graduated and started working full time it's felt like my production has slowed to a crawl. I do work on things, but because I don't actually release any final products it often feels like I've done absolutely nothing. Say nothing of all the times I've thought of projects I've wanted to work on and have barely even started. Even worse when people ask about what I've been up to and I can't really answer them, either due to having not actually worked on it or due to the nature of what it is.
How does a porn artist talk about their work with others? There's really no good way to introduce that concept to your peers. "Who's got two thumbs and draws smut on the regular? This guy." For some reason we're totally okay with sharing it with complete strangers whom we've never met, but suddenly when it comes to people we know it is a huge judge of one's character to be involved in such things. At least that's how it feels to me.
Regardless, because I can't really talk to people about my progress on something ("Today I worked on getting that masturbation pose juuust right.") it can feel like I haven't actually done anything even when I have. That is the purpose of this endeavor, should I actually have the motivation to do it more than once or twice. The hope is that by recording and showing exactly what I've been doing, I can look back during moments like these and realize that I really have been up to something.
And who knows - maybe that will help someone else out there, some random passer-by who shares in the struggle of trying to drum up the motivation to continue working on your projects after being drained of energy from the daily grind; trying to carve out the time between your work life and your social life, between eating and sleeping and cooking and exercising; struggling with the forced secrecy that comes with this line of work; struggling with long-term projects that are simultaneously making so much progress and making no progress at all.
Let's go over just what's been happening over the past few years.
In 2015, I made a short webcomic as part of my graduation project. I look back on both the art and writing as being just okay, but it was fun.
Then in 2017 my entire art career got sidetracked in a massive way on a project which continues to this day. One night, I happened to come across a little browser game (nsfw) called Strip Poker Night at the Inventory, a rule34 porn parody of Poker Night at the Inventory. The concept, for the unaware, is that all your favorite characters come together and play poker. You can piece together what happens next.
Despite the characters looking ramrod stiff due to the paper doll creator they were made with, I was instantly enamored by the concept. I have this bad habit of wanting to try my hand at anything I become interested in, so once I learned that the game was open source and that anyone could make a character for it, I immediately began playing around with the creation tool. While I was not and still am not a huge fan of the art style, I admit the whole dress-up doll concept was charming to me. I made a model to play around with and the next thing I knew several months had passed and my own little Marceline had joined the fun.
I thought it would end there, but I couldn't stay away. As more people learned of the game and began making characters of their own, the quality skyrocketed until the older characters began to look hilariously outdated. Chara (from Undertale) in particular was not very popular amongst.. well, anyone, so when an anonymous user on /aco/ proposed a different look to replace her old model, a fire lit up in me and I jumped on the opportunity.
Little did I know that this would carry me on until today, two whole years after making that proposal. What was supposed to be a simple image asset swap has blossomed into a full on redesign, at first a maverick attempt at pitching a remake to the unknowing audience, and eventually a well-known, fully endorsed attempt.
In that time, the assets used to create content for the game have expanded greatly as well. It's gone from a hackjob effort to a full on production kit with its own software, albeit still working in tandem with that paper doll creator. The quality of characters has gone from robotic and stiff to complex, well-thought-out, and.. still pretty stiff, if I'm being honest. That's what you get when you need a consistent artstyle and a creation tool that anyone can pick up and use.
Many new features have been added, and this has gone from being a fun little game to being a full-fledged game.
Watching this game flourish the way it has has been both fascinating and at times frustrating. I say frustrating because it does feel like as that bar goes higher and higher, it becomes a constant race for me to keep up in the minimal time I have to work on it. A few months becomes a year, which becomes two years, and who knows how much longer I actually have until this is done. And in the meantime so many new characters pop up that you wonder if they have some kind of hyperbolic time chamber that they can go into and just work all day every day on these things.
And in the meantime, my own artwork suffers as I spend more time on SPNATI instead of drawing or writing. Sure I enjoy doing it, but it's not exactly something you can put in your portfolio, is it? Granted, half the stuff I draw can't be put in a portfolio anyway, so I guess there's that. It's a good thing I'm not trying to get into any game or animation studios (too stressful), but when your mom and your coworkers ask you what you've been working on and if they can see, suddenly you have a problem.
I do wonder what people think as time passes, wondering what on earth that one guy who said he would work on Chara is doing. My greatest fear is that it will all build up to a great big "meh" in the end. But I press on anyway. As long as I enjoy doing it, I will press on. I want to finish what I've started.
What I enjoy about it is all the unusual challenges that arise from it. Linking dialogue trees together, thinking of all the different possible variants in conversation, working with the strict parameters set by Kisekae to come up with creative solutions and get what I want, even drawing certain poses in Photoshop to mimic the look and feel of Kisekae. I have a lot of fun doing this... It's just that for some reason it feels like it has no value to me. Now that I write this, I don't know why I feel that way or if it's even justified. I'm working on a game. That's pretty cool.
So there. That's what I've been doing for the past three years. But just because SPNATI has taken up the majority of my time doesn't mean I haven't been working on other things. I still sketch quite a bit (which maybe I'll start uploading here?) and I'm actually working on a finished piece for the first time in a long time.
It was originally going to be part of a fan art contest on the SPNATI subreddit but it wasn't finished in time. Still, it's felt good to take a break from the game and work on some good old-fashioned art again. And I have to say, I'm pretty happy with how it's turning out so far. Sure I see several areas that still need improvement, but I feel like I'm starting to find a rendering process that I'm happy with, and my inks are starting to get better, especially with the hands and feet, which I've always had trouble with (they're still not perfect here as you can see). I just need to find a way to do it faster - I like the final result, but I feel like there's a shortcut waiting to be discovered that I can take to get to the final step of adding in the finer details. We'll see.
I think that about brings everything up to date. If I can be bothered, I'd like to start logging what I work on each day just so I can prove to myself that I actually am doing something. Ever since Tumblr nixed porn, I've felt like I don't have a central platform that I call home. Closest would be FunnyJunk, but they don't really focus on the individual user like other places do. Maybe Newgrounds can fill that niche. It's not like I have a hoard of fans to talk to on Twitter.