I had mentioned in my last post that I was aiming to get three new collections posted on Itch.IO shop by Labor Day, plus a launch of ‘Panoramic Worlds HD’. These collections include a 3d-asset sci-fi and a medieval/fantasy collection BUT also a big VFX elements pack.
That VFX elements pack, I have a few possible outcomes for. The lowest-end outcome would involve a ackage of 20-odd digital effects – rigid-body dynamics debris blasts/falls and a mix of explosion FX that are simulated. But if you want an additional 25+ clips of real stuff in the mix, from dirt bursts to debris and splashes and cloud tank stuff potentially, well, I have a contingency plan for that but it’ll cost me about another $150 to do it right, $150 I currently do not have in place.
That $150 is almost entirely a mix of additional debris materials, the aforementioned water tank setup, a waterproof case, and camera lenses. I’ve already got a viable camera that can do this stuff at high quality 120fps – though if you really want pristine footage and the amount raised is close to $300, I can trade out my camera system and push that to be a bit better as well. Though, I’m unsure if that’ll happen.
The catch: The budget is locked in by Aug. 16 – so any funding raised after that will not be in time to meaningfully change the scope of the asset pack. That pack is launched by Sept. 1 so… any materials that I order in the last 2 weeks before package launch are going to be a bit too late.
SO HERE’S MY OFFER FOR AUG. 10-15:
-WHILE THERE’S NO NEW ITCH.IO SALE FROM ME SO CLOSE TO LABOR DAY, recall [firstly] that Ko-fi payments sent to me do include all existing asset packs I’ve got on Itch.IO plus any future Itch.IO packages. And for now, those Ko-fi payment minimums are very low. As in, $2.25 to buy ALL MY STOCK MEDIA PLUS ALL STOCK-MEDIA and ITCH.IO GAME FUTURE UPDATES.
–Second, everything on Etsy is about to go on sale and not always discounted to the same extent. The digital products on Etsy are going to hit 45% off from Aug. 10-15, 2021. That’s mainly some print-your-own miniature papercraft kits in a mix of scales. But if you opt to order anything physical on Etsy it’ll be 25% off [and] will include a free download link to all the content I have on Itch.IO. As in, that same $2.25 deal is included with all Etsy physical-item orders for a span of the next six days!
(the creation of this pack will cost at least a couple hundred $ doing a wide range of various debris bursts/falls, involving a mix of different materials, different types of FX stuff, maybe some good smoky billowing cloud tank FX too if this goes well, and that budget, of $200ish which is… roughly what I have available at the moment, and the way I want to do it – bigger and better -will be about $75 -$125 above that, so any support in the form of Etsy or Itch.IO orders in the next week or so will make it possible to do this better, with an even wider range of effects elements. But it has to be roughly within the next 20 days, by Aug. 20 or so, past that point, the scope of the collection will kind of be locked in and won’t change meaningfully between then and the Sept. 1 launch. )
-a new medieval/fantasy 3d asset pack there too. Think modular castles – interiors, exteriors – smaller structures, and many different middle ages period details filling all of them. At least 20 3d assets included at first launch.
-and a scifi pack as well with SF themed 3d assets. Sort of a mix of the darker gritty cyberpunk stuff and some cleaner / glossy future designs too, plus some alien / outer space environment elements. Again, well over 20 different 3d objects/assets included from the get go.
And those three new asset packs will have very nice preview images and materials showcasing them effectively. Which they should have, given that they’re each priced around $2.50 or so.
But: despite this accumulating mass of epic-scaled asset packs closing in on a $30 combined price, and fast approaching 3000 total files across all of them, don’t assume that you won’t still be able to find great deals from me anymore during holidays! Labor Day 2021, Halloween 2021, Thanksgiving and Christmas 2021 all will have the bundle of all my itch.IO products together for over 90% off the normal cost (i.e. under $3 for everything released to date)
That – the trio of entirely new packs – is on top of some new, and fairly substantial free additions to a few of my existing asset packs, my first submission to the Unity Asset Store, about a dozen more listings on Etsy bringing the total to 30+ listings… a relaunch and redesign of several websites including HornbostelVideos, and the release of a little adventure game called ‘Panoramic Worlds‘ across multiple platforms.
Yes, a lot is going on around here.
Some new Etsy items have already been posted, in fact.
Like this painting, or a brand new second set of model buildings, which will be visible in a preview image very shortly on NScaleScenery.com! (in the next 36 hrs! with the actual sale listings across multiple model scales posted for sale on Etsy within 36hrs after that!) This is a big deal! So much has been in the works here these last few weeks and I am hoping that as the results of that effort start to go public you will be thrilled by it all! 😀
Happy Holidays / Merry Christmas, to all of you out there.
We’ve – that is, my family the Hornbostels – had a pretty small holiday celebration due to the 2020 pandemic but hopefully, next year will be better?
Anyway: A few notes as of late December 2020:
– a modest volume of about another dozen additional textures have been added to the 2020 texture asset pack.
-a batch of minor updates (new 3d assets) has been added across various 3d asset collections. (well over half a dozen new 3d objects)
-A set of new artworks have been posted on Etsy lately with another one or two at least, likely to show up around the end of December 2020 and a few more beyond that in January, bringing the total count above 15 (which is still admittedly a small inventory as far as Etsy shops go)
-I’m making a launch of much of my Itch.IO stock media on Unity’s asset store a priority during the next month or so, but that doesn’t mean it’ll get approved immediately or all at once. I would not expect any of that to go live until the end of January at the earliest. And if the first batch of the content’s rejected for some trivial formatting reason I’m missing, maybe even later.
-Next planned update to Itch before the current Christmas to New Year sale ends on January 3rd, is more about game productions than actual fresh stock media. I am trying to, even if the games themselves still need a lot of work still before launch, at least set up a bunch of new GIFs, video, stills, etc, relating to the game dev projects so the pages reflect the current state of those projects – especially a lot of materials relating to the four minigames that have been teased forever with nothing new to see – and a lot of that should show up in the next few days, by Dec. 31.
-I’ve been running a ton of lean, efficient ad campaigns quietly for the past 50 days and they seem to be generating escalating levels of good-quality traffic on Itch.IO… at a rate of at least 40 new visitors a week. These campaigns will be expanding in rate of acquired traffic at least 4-5x from tonight through to the end of the sale. To put the data in perspective: expect close to 200 more people to visit my Itch shop by the end of this sale. But traffic’s never been my Itch shop’s problem. I’ve had 5000+ visitors since the shop opened. The issue is not sales either, though that’s sort of an issue. But I’ve made over 40 sales there total, and at least half of those have been in the year 2020. No, the real issue is a lack of useful feedback from customers. I have never seen any of my asset packs actually reviewed. Not once. I’ve had two commenters and that is basically it. And one of the two comments was to let me know that there was a link defect in some of my .MTL files. (I’ve since fixed that everywhere it was an issue.) So I’m convinced that if a bit more feedback arrives from buyers, it’ll massively improve the rate at which visitors become buyers, buyers respond to the product with additional comments, ideas, suggestions, and/or reviews, and that? That could cause a massive deluge of new activity there. It could be a positive cycle that means the whole endeavor grows on an unprecedented scale. So I’m really hoping that works out soon. It’s why I am running this campaign but… also why I’m offering this: for every bit of feedback left on my Itch pages from December 2020 to March 2021, I promise another 3d asset posted for free to everyone. Note, at least four of those itch pages have free downloadable stuff already that can be reviewed or commented on. So if even 10% of the people who download there, and 10% of my buyers, leave feedback in the next 3 months, that equals – likely – between 12 and 25 free assets posted as a result. When I say ‘asset’ I don’t just mean a singular file but either: [a seamless texture map + any other useful related maps for PBR use] or [a 3d mesh in .FBX and .OBJ format plus a custom-designed PNG texture map UV-mapped onto it.]
Whether any of that works out in a big way, is up to all of you.
I’ve hoped for a truly massive pile of orders placed over the Etsy / Itch Halloween sale [Oct. 27th to Nov. 3] but the response has been… less than stellar so far.
Granted, there have been a few dozen visitors showing up on https://matthornb.itch.io during this event, but generally, this sale underscores what I’ve been sensing for a while, namely that the itch asset-pack stuff is not working and neither is my Etsy stuff, for the most part. My inclination at this moment is to minimize further future updates to that material and focus almost entirely on actual gamedev efforts on Itch [and also on GameJolt and Steam].
Now, if the goals are still reached unexpectedly [anything close to the $250 sales total target] I’ll still make major stock media updates, but if things continue to underwhelm I’ll probably limit that. Instead I’ll focus this month of November on earnings in more reliable venues [eg microtasking like mTurk even though the tasks available pay only $1-3 per hour most of the time] instead of focusing on making added asset pack content since clearly not many people are interested in that anyway.
Here is the likely scenario assuming the sale continues to fail badly:
—Late 2020, focus on microtasks, tedious stuff that could pull in about $250 – $300 more by year end, plus a few small updates to Itch.IO asset packs, consisting of about 15 more 3d assets and 20 more texture maps.
–Q1 2021, I’d get the promised minigames all out there. I’m going with free and paid variants of these. The paid variants are usually a bit higher res graphically with a few more cosmetic options, but otherwise the same.
–Q2 2021, Panoramic Worlds [both free and paid versions] launched.
–Q3 2021, Miniature Multiverse released.
—Q4 2021, Vivid Minigolf released.
-Early 2022 focus on a few freebies including the Redeemer VR tour, the fangames, etc. But only if things have gone well enough on the commercial releases to take this stuff off the backburner in between the first wave of games and the later reworking of Isola for realtime 3d by late 2022.
If the sale suddenly improves and unexpectedly goes really well by the time it ends on Nov. 3, all this changes a bit:
-Late 2020 would be focused on more game assets, and releasing those to all asset-pack buyers, including 50+ new 3d assets, 100+ new texture maps, and some Unity-compatibility updates. This would all ramp up into sales on Thanksgiving and Christmas 2020 which in this scenario would be actively promoted like this current Halloween sale has been. If the Halloween sale surprises me and goes well by the end that’d bode well for the other 2020 sales onwards as well, which would mean I’d have the minigames, Panoramic Worlds, Miniature Multiverse, Vivid Minigolf all launched by August of 2021 and the rest of it by December 2021. I think this really is possible but at this juncture it seems less and less likely to work. I keep pointing this out but… if I had even another $100 a month across all these sources, it’d more than double my gamedev budget per year, AND speed up the production by about 40-50% simply due to my not diverting time to the aforementioned low-wage microtasks. Every dollar you spend on my stores speeds up development of my actual creative work by roughly one hour. Really.
Better: All prices are 25% off during the Black Friday/Thanksgiving/Cyber Monday span. So if you want an item… now is a good time for 25% off.
Pinteresting… As a result of posting a ton of freshly revealed .GIF clips from my video productions and other projects,I’ve had a staggering 800+% spike in Pinterest views from October to November, which I suspect drives some of the activity I’m seeing elsewhere [the above Etsy sale, for example].
Check my Pinterest boards to see why that’s taking off like crazy:
And also active [through Cyber Monday is a jaw-dropping 81% off sale on all of my Itch.IO stuff [asset packs with 3d models, stock video FX elements, and texture maps] bundled together. Five asset packs (AND) an early Miniature Multiverse preorder, for $1.69. Here’s a direct link to the bundle page:
There are some new GIFs, video clips, and stills scattered across my ITch.IO pages to showcase the evolving status of my asset packs. I pushed a big update recently to some of them and will be posting some smaller incremental updates very soon – fixes to a few texture-file links and a couple of other small but noticeable glitchy details [like the dandelion texture which I noticed issues with] and I’ll also be adding the long-awaited hanging spanish moss to the ‘Marshes & Meadows’ pack. So those fixes will be posted soon. I tried to participate in the Icehouse Game Jam but fell behind my intended schedule and opted not to submit a very incomplete minigame. However, I’ll still finish the mystery game production [teased on Twitter & Pinterest] at some point.
A new plan… I am working on overhauling HornbostelVideos.com and TriumphantArtists.com.
There will be a lot of new stuff for everyone, massive improvements in content and responsiveness for various devices and the new drop-down navigation is way nicer, plus my video-player setup is way cooler, with a wide range of professional-ish features. Plus it’s all way cleaner looking and no giant endless blocks of text. And long awaited comics and a few more articles actually posted which are not currently available.
HOWEVER, VIDEO IS STILL A LEGAL MESS:
There is a tangled mass of challenges in terms of dealing with video content I have made over the years. I’d love to hit the ground running VERY FAST the day this large-scale new overhaul goes live in mid January of 2020. I need to convince the assorted family and friends to accept terms I’ve laid out [quickly] but that’ll require them to believe signing on [ie allowing their roles to be public and facing possible embarrassment] will somehow be worth it. I have a way to do this but it’s a bit tricky in a few ways, and I will NOT guarantee the online survival of the site video content beyond its first year. I do think I could pull off the plan [but] it’s contingent on this stuff finding an audience.
TV networks need subscribers or millions of live viewers bombarded with commercials, and I will not intrude on my stuff with video ads stalling the video content, nor will I require a subscription or paywall. There will be a still, not animated, banner ad at bottom of each page below the video stuff, and a widget for social media sharing, and that is *it*. So I expect far less revenue per viewer, as a result, than ‘TV’ because I refuse to be intrusive and wish to respect my audience.
Resulting harsh truth: I’ll launch with about 25-30 videos in the site library, and each of them needs to, on average, hit nearly 7,000 unique, REAL views/month. Minimum. That is, 2 million total [combined] video views in the first year. I have had family express skepticism that my VFX-laden, comedy and/or action videos will be of any interest to the broader world.
Well… Pinterest is a fascinating case study. The REASON my Pinterest views have exploded to 800-900/day has mostly to do with about a dozen amusing .GIFs from my video projects. Some of those have been seen by *thousands* of Pinterest viewers. So I figure, if a 5-10 second GIF loop from me grabs a thousand viewers in the past week… how well might the actual high-res video do? I truly believe what my family finds fun the world will too. So that’s why I’m emboldened to give this a shot.
Currently, the Cyber Monday sales are active – and some Etsy art is viewable and some Itch.IO asset packs updated, but little else is new.
Lots of gamedev, video, and web design stuff is going on in the background during December, though.
Jan. 20th, 2020 – the web network updates go live including way more video content, new design, comics, articles… etc.
Feb. 15, 2020 – the Miniature Multiverse extras pack and a bunch of new preview material gets posted online, generating further buzz.
March 15th, 2020 – the full game (Miniature Multiverse) hits Itch.IO and Steam.
Shortly after that I will be reevaluating my plans based on how successful or not, that game’s been. If it goes well, more will happen faster. We’ll see.
Specifically, it now includes a noticeable price reduction on larger items, and a far more staggering bargain available for any order of multiple items of the same size and medium. It’s occurred to me that my biggest cost as a seller on all such listings is in the process of shipping and that if I offer listings with two or three items made to order at once, not just one, well, I can reduce the per-item price considerably for customers simply due to the fact that in such a situation, multiple items can be shipped together in a single container. So, as I add this option to all my made to order art listings during this next week, think about the prospect of purchasing three items at once, for the price it’d previously cost to buy two. Great idea especially for situations such as Christmas. Say you’d like to order gifts in advance for a long list of family members, there’s now the option of getting handcrafted gift items, personalized in nature, focused on subjects that appeal to those specific people, an order of three of them, for a single, really stunning low price. These artworks can depict nearly any subject you want, so long as it is not extremely disgusting/obscene/offensive content wise.
That said, you could certainly ask for things like, say, a portrait of a person you care about, a landscape, or a portrait of a pet, a view of your home, indoors or out, or a view of a place you once visited, an imaginative sci-fi or fantasy scene, or something silly or unexpected, maybe fun and oddly specific, like penguins playing with a soccer ball:
You probably shouldn’t ignore the opportunity to do this, as it’s a fantastic idea for holidays or other occasions, but it’s also possible to order a set of two or three items designed not as entirely individual works to split up but as parts of a larger cohesive aesthetic display – a ‘diptych’ or ‘triptych’ that can be posted together along a wall in your house, or in a set of two or three rooms, as matching decoration!
Also cool – I’ve updated a LOT of the pages on TriumphantArtists.com, but the articles section is mostly notably absent from the revised structure. Well, that’s about to change, with a substantial overhaul of the articles area, plus new content in comics and a fun minigame all aimed for release by about the end of July. And there’s also some video production effort going on lately, which is a long way from making it online but I’ve got plans to get things online, batch after batch – dozens of elaborate videos I’ve made over the past two decades, revised and uploaded. Generally speaking, sales of handcrafted art are a big key to keeping those projects moving forward, so any customers who order here are greatly appreciated.
As mentioned (somewhat incessantly) I do have nearly 200 ratings now on my eBay account, all positive, and that’s a solid indicator of my integrity as a vendor. But I’d really love to see that expanded to my Etsy shop and to this shop on HornbostelProductions, so anyone willing to take that leap will find some great deals on both and will be glad they made the decision to try out my storefronts beyond eBay.
Some of my fixed price listings have been sitting for a full year without any orders. It’s been just over a month since the last sale I made on eBay.
So – all of that considered – I think it’s a good time to lower prices a bit.
So if you’re interested in an original work by Matthew Lyles Hornbostel, now’s a good time to order one.
Most of the custom made-to-order art on my eBay shop is now 10-20% cheaper. So go take a look!
Also – the Etsy items are also on sale still and cheaper than they were. An automated Etsy notification was sent to me actually warning me that based on the statistics for similarly sized items in the category, “you may be substantially underpricing your work” and that most other items in my category are priced higher, and therefore able to make a viable profit.
WELL THANKS A LOT ETSY, BUT THERE IS THIS LITTLE THING CALLED A “LOSS LEADER” BUSINESS STRATEGY.
I amwell aware of the fact that my prices are low and that I may be losing money on many of the items I make. That is intentional. I did that on eBay too for the first three years or so, so I could gain the first batch of ratings from customers and establish my shop as a credible, trustworthy venue with a positive reputation! After that I could start to incrementally raise prices over time – while still keeping them lower than almost all other vendors’.
Quite frankly, I would rather make under $3-6/hr doing painting or pastel work, or visual effects, video editing/post, game art assets, etc – than make the same level of income doing long strings of tedious tasks like transcription of audio & video recordings for subtitles or other purposes, or repetitively tagging the content of image files on Mturk so people can search and sort through them easily [on various websites, search engines, etc].
And by the way, I HAVE done those things, and they’re a mind-numbing waste of the [creative] talent I have. But they do pay the bills in times when nothing on my web network is selling, and they do keep the whole thing afloat and inching forward during rough stretches. I think it needs to be clarified that such income streams, while taxed by the government, are not applicable to [paying actors]. That should have been stated in the actors’ pay post, it was a detail I overlooked… the fraction of my income generated outside of and unconnected to my web network and unrelated to creative work is not considered ‘web network’ revenue and none of that goes to cast members.
ACTORS TAKE NOTE OF THIS FINE PRINT:
This distinction matters; it means that the total revenue generated by the web network I run is the baseline that determines the size of residuals in a given year for each actor on each video or other project.
So while transcription and other similar grinding non-creative ‘in between’ work have generated around $1260/year the past three years, for me, on average… that doesn’t add onto the other income made elsewhere.
The only numbers that count for actors are the other revenue sources that now constitute the majority of my income:
-eBay sales [avg. $360/year the last 4 years but generally trending upward over time]
-Art sales I make locally at craft fairs, or elsewhere, or on this website shop, including DVD/Blu Ray releases of video collections and video games. [booming like crazy – over $400 the last 12 months locally, but no success on this website shop yet]
-Etsy sales [none yet despite a strong effort to list items and promote them there, at really low prices.]
-third party or affiliate ad revenue if ever applicable [negligible – under $5/year the past 5 years]
-Freelance work involving creative effort; i.e. videography, vfx, 3d game assets, web graphics, previz, etc. [$240/year on average, over the past 3 years.]
-printed swag like T-shirts on Zazzle/CafePress [minimal so far]
Do keep in mind that most of the art I’ve sold on eBay ‘made to order’ has resulted in enthusiasm, even ecstatic responses, and that if you buy something there you’re likely to be happy with it [judging from past patterns] but that while I am able to do fantastic pet portraits and landscapes, cityscapes, water scenes, still lifes, fantasy/sci-fi work, etc, lots of things I work on turn out well but portraits are a bit of a risky thing to ask of me as the depictions of the people involved will often look a bit ‘off’ from the real people I’m trying to paint/draw, despite my best efforts.
PROBLEMS PAINTING PEOPLE
It’s well known that the human face is generally the hardest image for artists to recreate correctly by hand, due to the enormous portion of our human brains that is wired specifically for the purpose of recognizing who other people are and identifying their emotional states. Our minds are finely attuned to facial recognition of [humans] and that’s why the phenomenon of pareidolia is so common [seeing faces in randomly patterned things like clouds or wall textures] and why we can tell hundreds of people apart very easily but can’t tell individuals apart anywhere near as well when it comes to other species. If the image of a non-human subject is very slightly off, nobody will notice. If it’s an image of a person, though, the image will seem ‘wrong’.
For example, there’s this portrait of my sister Sarah and her new husband (they got married a few days ago – as of early June 2017 – and it was a beautiful wedding. We jokingly called it the Sarah-mony.). The portrayal of the couple in pastel looks a little odd and most people will say so but few can say exactly why; it simply doesn’t quite capture the appearance of the two people I was trying to depict. It’s close but not close enough to break through beyond the uncanny qualities.
So yeah – keep all of this in mind. There are amazing bargains on custom, made to order work on my eBay shop. However, there is a risk that portraits (in particular) which I make may, despite best intentions and a lot of careful effort, may not look quite like the people I am attempting to draw. But I’m generally getting better at it over time.
And to all those of you who want to see my video work, I’ll begin posting it on a little domain I’ve acquired (HornbostelVideos.com) well before the end of summer 2017. There’s also another new domain – SpiralSkiesGame.com – showcasing the new minigame I’ve been developing, and while nothing’s loaded onto either domain yet the websites will both become active soon enough with a bit of content at first and more posted over time.
Items such as the kitten artwork [colored pencil, faved a lot on Etsy but not bought by anyone there] and the Easter chick sold, so it seems my depictions of animals were well received as usual.
I’ve also sold a spectacularly large item on eBay, made to order for a customer there.
That was a colossal 5′ by 8′ item on canvas, I’ve shipped it and it’s on its way to the customer. It cost them $108.
So – all told – I’m in good shape to push things beyond where they were before. I’m ordering a new GPU (video card) for my computer and will try to set that up soon. I’ve also acquired a few other smaller things that I need, and much of that is related to a virtual tour of the former Church of The Redeemer meeting location. That’s one of a handful of Unity 3d projects being developed in tandem, so any shaders, plugins, etc, used for this will also be useful elsewhere.
The Redeemer DVDs were generally very popular and the Blu Rays less so even though they look amazing on a high-def TV. 1280×720 video may not be flawless resolution but it’s well above 720×480. If you’re online asking for a copy, keep in mind that aside from a teaser for the virtual tour, pretty much everything on those discs is church service footage only of interest to the aging people who attended the church prior to 2011.
It’s not exactly a seat of your pants, high octane thriller.
But – it may well lead to some exciting videos making it online, ones that are shorter but way cooler looking and faster-paced, than a church service.
Right now I’m slashing prices on all of my Etsy listings by 20-35% (until May 10) so that’s worth a look. The eBay listings also have mostly dropped by 5-10% as sales there have slowed down slightly lately. A lot of that kind of stuff ebbs and flows. Sometimes I see 3 or 4 people all commission unique artworks in a single week, other times I can go a month with nothing much selling. So it’s hardly consistent and right now I’m expecting a boost in activity, partly due to the sales and reduced pricing, and partly because I have launched a bit of advertising this week. So if you like an item I made, that you see on Etsy, buy it before it sells to someone else.