SSL fix, other updates, and a rant

I, right now, am successfully solving the SSL issue that has been making Google Chrome throw errors and warnings on this site for roughly the past month.

I’m also planning to update and overhaul a lot of other things. Just stay calm if you saw that error, it was just a configuration problem. I’m working on it and the shop will be secure again in a matter of hours. [EDIT: Chrome no longer throws the red warning, because I’ve successfully re-implemented and fixed the SSL encryption that will ensure all store data [ie financial stuff, passwords] is kept encrypted and safe.] 

Updates of other types include a delay on Miniature Multiverse again. I keep looking at my shoestring budget and sadly cannot imagine any way I can cover the remaining $350+ in costs there without seriously compromising summer plans. The basic issue is that if I put the cash into my indie game,  it may or may not succeed. Indie game development is hellishly risky and very unlikely to work out, and I’m sort of wondering if I should double down on ‘lower cost’ and somewhat smaller projects for now in order to launch the game more effectively at the start of 2020. That is the safe bet given the likelihood that aiming full steam ahead on ‘Miniature Multiverse’ will ruin some other things if the game fails.

So here’s what the choice looks like for 2019:

-a few little minigames, plus a couple of niche multimedia projects & games that certain notable subsets of my audience have been waiting on seemingly forever, plus a bunch more still art, comics, and several key but small video shoots over the summer, plus overhaul of my video section on HornbostelVideos.com with a bunch of new things. And expanded lines of stock media/ 3D model collection stuff.

OR:

Miniature Multiverse. And the extras relating to that.

That all said, if any of the stuff in category #1 does surprisingly well, there’s no reason #2 won’t also happen in 2019. But it’d then be at the end of this year and not somewhere in the middle.

All of this shouldn’t have to be an issue but my effective discretionary budget across all projects is roughly $60-75/month lately and this slows everything down for obvious reasons, especially projects with massive volumes of physical supplies involved like Miniature Multiverse or Vivid Minigolf v2.  So yeah. Things will continue to move forward agonizingly slowly, indefinitely, until something, anything at all, that I make actually sells well. That’s just simple reality. It’s math. My list of 25 projects in varying stages of progress across all media formats will require 2.5 more years in the best case, to wrap them all up and 7-8 years at the current lurching-forward-in-fits-and-starts rate.  I don’t see a solution arriving any time soon as my current pay rate is collapsing to roughly $1/hour (I’m not joking) on the most consistently available tasks. I am scraping by somehow though for now, mainly due to the assistance of family and the disability checks that cover the cost of my medications but not really anything much else. I’ve got great, bordering on amazing, stuff on the way as far as stock media on Itch.IO but nobody is rating/reviewing it so it is going nowhere. The total revenue earned on Itch.IO after launching 3 different stock-media packs is under $50 still. Total. After 180+ hours of labor unpaid, hundreds of dollars spent on the stock creation processes, $45 in ad campaigns announcing this launch, and telling everybody I could, hours spent posting in forums and the like linking back to this stuff from a dozen sites. https://matthornb.itch.io was my best shot at justifying going full steam ahead on Miniature Multiverse and it has only managed to further demonstrate that it’s unlikely to work out as a project launch.

It has been discouraging generally.

If I sound bitter, maybe it has something to do with several hard drives being utterly unrecoverable and around 1TB of unique data lost forever, making a bunch of my in-development projects damaged and in certain cases possibly irreversibly ruined. That will set me back by about a year overall, and even then there’s still a chance it could become far worse due to lack of sufficient redundancies even now. And of course, it’s clear nobody except me gives a shit about this or recognizes how good the material that was lost could have been. Which is perhaps for the best that they don’t; I do and it is still tormenting me emotionally as I sort through the losses and make desperate attempts to reconstruct the projects in some form.

But I am – as someone with three, possibly four mental illnesses – seriously an exhausted wreck by this point, running aggressively on fumes for years, on the cusp of serious self-harm over the whole thing and am kind of being on the edge of simply giving up on living altogether… or maybe will just finally admit my work will never be viable, and stop doing art, videos, game stuff. Just… stop trying. But I’d kind of rather kill myself than be totally and indefinitely dependent on disability payments and the assistance of family forever so maybe I should just die?

These are the thoughts running through my head at times. I’m 32. I started pursuing this stuff around age 13 roughly as that’s when I began working on videos and 3d animation, etc. 2001. Now it is almost 20 years later, and despite a college degree and a ton of effort, I’m still to this day working 10 or 11 hours a day on gigs and creative projects, with no financial viability to show for it and no good career prospects realistically ahead of me.

I also have to note: My life is not over yet. I may be 32, still a virgin, autistic, depressed, never tried alcohol or drugs of any kind, technically unemployed yet working all the freaking time, working a lot of online gigs, at wages around $1.50/hr, tilting at creative windmills and pursuing personal projects I may not be able to actually complete if things get any worse, etc, but I am still not quite yet at the ‘giving up’ stage. Nor am I convinced that we should give up as a global society. We’re gonna have to make tough calls starting right now. I think to try desperately to solve things we have no good chance of solving, and pushing ourselves to and beyond the brink of sanity for others on the off chance that somehow it’ll pan out even if the odds are 99-to-one against or worse… is fundamentally one of the most human things I can think of. I am a Triumphant Artist. For me that’s defined as not giving up no matter how burned out you are, just pushing yourself harder and harder to make something work, until your last breath. But it’s also about a certain sort of delusional idealism. I want to make a difference in this horrifically messed up world and if you or I can’t make an impact and help keep human civilization afloat, while there’s still a chance to do so, then why bother existing at all?

Which is why I’ve recently been giving little amounts here and there fairly often, to educational causes, to medical causes, environmental causes too. If you were to see my tax returns next year… you’d find my total 2019 income to be basically nothing, about $2000 earned doing creative work for others, and virtually all of it poured back into projects of my own, save for maybe 20% given away either as gifts to family (birthdays, Christmas, stuff like that) or to genuine charitable causes. I know the statistics. I know conservatives donate more per capita than liberals. So all you – liberals or conservatives – please step up your game and give to causes you’re convinced are genuinely worthy and which you can verify via unbiased sources, actually have an efficient and effective impact on the world. I realize I may not ever make more than a dollar or two an hour in earnings. But if I can give *anyway*, and influence someone, anyone, to give a bit more too, or give to better or more impactful causes, then maybe I can live with myself being in the frustrating situation I’m currently in.

It should be over. I should’ve given up on any sort of career years ago. But because I’m kind of an idiot, I am still not yet giving up.

I won’t give up because I can’t. It’s not who I am. Jason Lindsey once described me as ‘one of the most intrinsically motivated people I’ve ever met’ and maybe my breakthrough is still ahead of me. And by breakthrough, I mean $12k+ per year, being off of dependence and government disability, paying taxes, giving way more to worthy causes and to help people I care about, having creative freedom to pursue my ideas for outstanding projects without having to stall them or compromise them constantly due to lack of funding, and basically that is my dream, to do this on my own terms, with my own business.

Nobody hires a mentally ill person. It’s a red flag. And especially, nobody hires a mentally ill person with no recent ‘steady’ employment. That’s a HUGE red flag. So I have essentially come to accept that no matter how extensive and exceptional my skill sets are or how little I agree to in pay, or how much unpaid overtime I’m game to do, I will never be hired anywhere for any longer-term ‘real’ job… I’ve given up on anyone ever hiring me and I am determined to make a real self-supporting living on my own, freelancing and doing artworks and creative stuff for other people online, dirt cheap, and building what I hope will be viable self-created product lines – more and more of them as time passes – digital products or on DVD, sold on Etsy or eBay or Itch.IO or Steam or right here.

I am not giving up yet. I probably never will until I am forced to face the collapse of industrial civilization due to our short-sighted political/macroeconomic/environmental/militaristic thinking, then death and then no longer existing.

And if that is mentally, psychologically and/or emotionally unhealthy for an unemployed nobody like me to feel the stress, the crushing weight and responsibility of needing to help save the world, and it makes me a deluded moron, so be it. Rather work my ass off trying to improve things for everyone, than shirk all responsibility and live unaware of, or simply not caring about, what’s most likely coming.

But… I do think that there are massive systemic risks ahead in the next 25 years. Environmentally, I am well aware that we’re using resources faster than they can be replenished and that shortages of key commodities are inevitable. I suspect that climate change and untenable agricultural practice will result in falling crop yields in many places, among other issues, and that the global economic structure which is built on an assumption of exponential growth and has been since 1800 when the Industrial Revolution started to take shape… well, I get the feeling there’s not much more room for growth there given that the planet is limited in size, demographics are hitting an upper wall of 9 billion people, and that when economies worldwide flatten out or start dropping in volatile and unpredictable ways, it’ll spur internal civil unrest and indebted governments failing, and international tensions all over the place. Tack onto that the issue of proliferation of catastrophic weaponry, and the absence of a clear geopolitical leader (Thucydides trap between US and China) and the converging risk factors are pretty obvious and ominous. And as much as I appreciate the creativity of people like Elon Musk, there’s no way we can build a self-sustaining Mars colony before all this happens. It’s just not a realistic solution. Trump’s phrase ‘America First’ should be replaced with ‘Earth First’ or ‘Humanity First’. And they amount to roughly the same thing; if Earth’s habitability collapses then so will human society. We need to focus all our available efforts on fixing this planet and maintaining peace. I do not believe that wars over dwindling resources will do anything other than make conditions worse. I do believe we’ll need to work together on saving the planet from escalating contamination of the air and water, and that we need to accept right now that there are some tough years ahead of us and that sacrifices on the individual and societal level will prove essential for this to be navigated peacefully and safely. I am worried for what the world will be like for my 5-year old nephews as they grow up. I want the future to be bright. I believe there’s still a chance that it will be. But that won’t happen if we ignore the warning signs and go about ‘business as usual’ without regard for the future, without regard for the health of the planet’s ecology that our civilization is dependent on, and without regard for the needs of the sick, the poor, the weak and desperate.

So yeah. Do something to make the world better. I may not succeed but if a few of you who actually care about fixing things do succeed and put your success to good and selfless use, then maybe my embarrassing train wreck of a life isn’t for nothing. We have the internet. We are globally connected by the world wide web. That, if nothing else, is encouraging. Maybe we will start to care more about people in other countries, when we have friendships and personal connections online, with people all over the world. Maybe it’ll be a key platform for younger people to save the planet and work together, help each other. The internet’s often been hateful and full of trolls and deceptive misinformation, and cyber criminals. But it doesn’t have to be.

It can and should be a force for collaborative good, for compassion and cooperation. I want that, and if enough of us choose to actively use it that way, to solve problems instead of cause them or apathetically drown them out… we could still turn the world around.