- It looks like the data on my problem hard drives will partially or entirely be recoverable. It’s an ongoing process that’s expensive and slow, but going well so far and not as costly as I’d expected initially.
- My nephews and niece will be in the new house about 20% of the time, not 40-50% as had been the case my first 3 months in Pittsburgh. That means I’ll have more potential for productivity from here on out.
- All eBay orders people placed from me, were shipped out successfully some time ago, i.e. around October, so I’ve caught up on all of that, and it seems like the frustrations and complaints of several customers will likely be resolved.
- Activity across my web network has been climbing steadily after the resumed operation of the sites and the extensive display fixes for mobile users, which are underway and mostly already applied at this time.
- Itch.IO has become a big focus for me; I launched the TACC2018 content there and the 2018 Bonus Autumn pack in time for Halloween 2018, and intend to have two new products – a Miniature Multiverse extras pack with artbook, and a batch of textured 3D models of plants and details for outdoor nature scenes – released in time for a massive and very promising Thanksgiving sale [Nov. 20th-30th, 2018]*
- The fiscal situation here is good but not great; the Halloween sale was successful enough to show potential but not actually anywhere near enough to cover remaining costs of completing ‘Miniature Multiverse‘. I think if the Thanksgiving sale goes well, an end-of-2018 release is still possible, if uncertain, and if it turns out to be only marginally successful, then you should all expect the completed project to be released around late January 2019 or early February.
- Other things like fan art modding projects and a long list of video productions which were delayed due to inaccessible data may yet be resumed but only after Miniature Multiverse launches. Apologies to the adventure game fans who, for most of the past 15 years, have been sitting around waiting for new content to play! And apologies also to my family who will have to wait even more, until Christmas 2019 for all the family videos I’ve recorded after 2010 [give or take] to make it to the finish line! [I.e. ‘1999’, ‘Globe’ and ‘Fortress Siege 2’.]
Status update – I’ve been in Pittsburgh for a while, I’ve gotten past the ‘trial by fire’ of childcare and have a few days off right now to sort through things. I’m now sending out a bunch of long-delayed eBay orders as well as 100% refunds of the purchase prices of those orders as an apology for the delays in shipping. Also, as you might have noticed, my websites were down for weeks, due to a weird glitch in my billing setup at A2 Hosting. I’ve now sorted that out and all my domains are back online and should hopefully remain online from here on out.
The bad news is, I’m having real difficulty getting many of my external hard drives to work. That includes drives with critical content on them relating to many of my projects, some of that content is essential and irreplaceable.
I did back everything up locally in a massive reorganization effort; each drive had a mirror drive which was filled with identical content. Unfortunately, only 3 out of my 10 drives are functional post-move which means in a couple of cases both the original drive and its duplicate are both unusable. With data recovery costs at around $400+ per drive, I figure I’ll need $800 minimum to get everything back on track production-wise.
I have noticed that certain projects are almost entirely intact. One of the few of my projects that still seems mostly in place is my game ‘Miniature Multiverse‘. I need close to a thousand dollars in position in order to recover all the inaccessible data. That includes a ton of video projects that were nearing completion, as well as game productions, and scattered side projects including a batch of fan content I was close to done with and now cannot access.
So here’s the deal I’m making with all of you. I will work as hard as possible to wrap up ‘Miniature Multiverse’ and do it justice, with the goal of launching the project by end of 2018, several months early. I am desperately hoping it will then sell well enough to jumpstart the data recovery effort, which in turn would allow me to complete other projects, their existence contingent on ‘Miniature Multiverse’ succeeding. I won’t have a big ad budget for the launch, every last penny and every available waking hour goes into getting the game finished, so I’m counting on all of you to PLEASE buy this thing when it’s done because the future of nearly everything else of mine pretty much is hanging in the balance. If the game does well, I can accelerate my productions, and if it fails, then you’ll see a bitter wait of 2+ years possibly before anything around here makes much progress again.
About $120 worth of brand new, unused art supply items, are going to be listed at prices that are only 55-65% of the amount I paid for the items, and with free shipping.
I’m trying to get my eBay shop to new heights, and most of my recent ratings are as a buyer, not as a seller. I’ve got over 200 ratings by now on eBay, 100% of them positive, but only about a third of them have been as an actual vendor/seller. I’m hoping to draw in about a dozen new ratings on eBay *as a seller* this week and ideally also one or two on Etsy soon as well.
To that end, I’ll be advertising heavily, for both my art shops and my near-release game ‘Miniature Multiverse‘ and I’m expecting a torrent of web traffic during the next 12 days as I post:
-a bunch of art-supply listings at excellently low prices.
-a handful of auctions for substantial original made-to-order personalized artworks.
-a couple of new artworks on Etsy as well.
-a final batch of articles filling the ‘articles page’ on TriumphantArtists.com – the last incomplete section is currently being written, that is, the one on ‘game design/development’.
-Chapter One of ‘Another Road Taken’ as well as early parts of the ‘Troop 4Uncensored, pt. 4’ comic book, filling out the fairly weak comics section of TriumphantArtists.com and in the process also further improving the Troop 4 site.
-House Trek episode 6 posted on HornbostelVideos.com, and also a Miniature Multiverse video trailer shortly before launch.
-Revision/update of my still art gallery on TriumphantArtists.com.
-And actually launch ‘Miniature Multiverse‘ on major digital gaming shops!
A few quick notes on what had earlier been teased. Firstly, Miniature Multiverse, a project mostly stalled since 2011, has moved forward, as I’ve realized that I can now get it done – I have a new high end camera setup, better than what I had during the Kickstarter – and I’ve gotten much better assets and experience with Unity, so… all that was missing was some specialized miniature materials and a few additional weeks of work and I could get this out there. So that effort began in earnest a few weeks ago. And now I’m publicly discussing it.
There’s an Itch.IO page and a website that is active again:
MiniatureMultiverse.com. The site needs some work in the hours/days leading to actual launch. The Itch.IO page does too, but once the updates to those two pages start flowing faster, you’ll know release is likely just hours or minutes away.
I’ve changed my method of panoramic capture, but the good news is that the last-minute change will improve the visual quality of the tour – and it also means that I’m working through the process of photographing the tour and I’ve figured out the best available approach. Which in turn implies something is there to photograph… and in fact, all of the three worlds in the initial version of the tour have been assembled as extensive miniature environments. And by extensive, I mean usually about 4 or 5 feet from one end to the other, with a lot of varied detailing but in a small enough scale that I can get my arms out to my camera over any part of the miniature, and also big enough, that the camera can be carefully positioned in the various nooks/crannies of the landscapes. They look beautiful BTW, and I’ll post a lot of material related to the project shortly.
But for now, here are some key things to consider.
One, the tour has well over 50 nodes across only three worlds [Pryme, Lokus, and Vyrsul] BUT those worlds are restructured to be a bit bigger than had initially been envisioned, so there’s actually plenty to explore here, despite the fact that the first release only has three explorable locations.
Two, I’m selling this on Itch.IO for $1.75 (plus a tip if you’re so inclined) in hopes of covering the costs involved in expanding the tour to include new worlds, so that the project can grow over time. Those new worlds will, if funded, be released as free updates to the tour!
Third, it has no HTML5 release, only Windows / Mac OS X / Linux versions. I’ll package all those into the $1.75 download archive, so there won’t be any need to buy multiple copies for multiple platforms.
Four, as stated earlier, I am not using the single-shot capture method I started out with anymore, and this image explains why that was a flawed method and inadequate graphically in my view:
One thing you should know about me is that when I’ve latched onto an idea, I rarely abandon it. Even if that means chipping away at obstacles to completion for years on end.
One good example? Miniature Multiverse.
For those who don’t know about this, it was a concept that I ran a Kickstarter campaign for in 2011, and the campaign was poorly promoted and weakly managed and failed to raise any real funding. That said, the concept was sound and Kickstarter staff gave the project a ‘Projects we Love’ designation. I still get occasional messages and emails from people who only discovered the KS years after it failed but still want it to happen.
Well… I have gained a lot of experience using Unity as an engine since 2011, and have acquired a lot of good assets and tools connected to it. I have a better camera than what I had in 2011, a Sony camera with 20.1 megapixel photo capability, and I’ve figured out a great camera rig setup that is suitable for this project. I also have a lot of miniature supplies now and am actively and rapidly scratchbuilding the baseline content I aimed for in crowdfunding, now quite efficiently on my own dime. It also helps that I have no physical backer rewards to worry about shipping! And I have a strategy to launch both the HT:TOS DVD and the Miniature Multiverse first three worlds, by September 20th, in just fourteen days. Two. Weeks. From. Now. And that is also when I post online chapter one of Another Road Taken and the first limited set of video stuff is posted on HornbostelVideos.com. Nearly all of this is already completed and in position now and all that really still needs to be done is a few final changes and then uploading those things.
And yes, I know I’ve drastically miscalculated timing on projects before – but I think this is so close to ready that even if I miss the mark it won’t be by much.
One catch: I want to build more worlds. Miniature Multiverse was always intended as an ongoing thing. So is the [similar type of project] ‘Panoramic Worlds‘.
There are even other things going on beyond all of that that involve making 3D worlds, including one-off 3D game productions such as Spiral Skies, Isola, and the church project that some of the Redeemer church people fully funded, and a few larger long term things I can’t discuss easily but they’ll involve fan art and more info on that will be known on Sept. 24.
But to make worlds – a lot of them – for everyone to explore, sometimes means funding is necessary [in the case of Miniature Multiverse] or at least helpful in getting things done a bit better and faster. Now, not a lot of funding is needed, but if I had, say, at least fifty or sixty subscribers as members supporting my work consistently while also benefiting from it enormously through exclusive content and deep discounts across my shops? That’d enable me to get a new world built for Miniature Multiverse every month or two, ongoing. That’d be pretty awesome, no?
Members would have access to the newest builds of Miniature Multiverse – months ahead of everyone else. So subscribing premium members and shop buyers will be able to see some things sooner than the general public. Same with videos.
And while the House Trek DVD is going to be available for purchase, to non members, it’s free [digitally] to members. Members will get things cheaper or earlier than everyone else. And if you’re a member, you provide a degree of momentum here that is exciting – every member makes things move forward faster across the board for a variety of reasons. So if you want to help, remember to become a member!
Bad news: As stated in the previous post, the transcription work I have been depending on to pay the bulk of my bills, is going to dry up soon.
Good news: It’s still mostly around for the moment, and isn’t gone quite yet.
Bad news: The eBay shop is still losing money each week.
Good news: I made 8 sales there in the past 60 days, and that will hopefully push my ratings to 200+, perhaps leading to higher bidding totals and items breaking even or even being frequently profitable?
Bad news: I thought that’d happen at 100 positive ratings, or 150, so how will 200 be any different?
Good news: It’s different because the frequency of bids on my auctions IS increasing over time, and because traffic on my websites is climbing too.
Bad news: The large wave of bids is concurrent with a hurricane [Harvey] that will likely dump near 20 inches of rain on Houston, flooding everything and stalling all outbound mail.
Good news: I already notified customers that there may be unavoidable delays related to this, and they’ve so far all been okay with that.
Bad news: Two items will sell later this week, and those customers may be confused and frustrated if power goes out here and no communication is possible. They’ll be wondering ‘What is going on with this Matthew Lyles Hornbostel? Why is he not responding to my questions?’
Good news: Power is not that likely to go out, and I am in a great position to grab a bit of epic hurricane footage that could perhaps be used in my upcoming short art video ‘Storm 2’.
Bad news: This also delays recording of ‘The Annoying Magician!’ and some fragments of ‘Tinyville 2’ until a month from now.
Good news: Plenty of work to do before then anyway. I am posting the articles section pages a bit at a time on TriumphantArtists.com, plus am closer than ever to to launching a first batch of [fully legal and self-created] content on HornbostelVideos.com, plus the comic ‘Another Road Taken’ and some game/interactive media material is on the way too. Watch for the Spiral Skies update – showing some more of the small Unity 5.6.3 engine based adventure/puzzle game – to appear before long on SpiralSkiesGame.com, plus some largely empty fan art pages fixed and filled with content, and some even bigger updates regarding the church virtual tour program, as well as a little top-down racing game I’ve been debugging.
In case you are curious here’s a teaser for the historical preservation effort related to the Church of the Redeemer Episcopal in Houston, Texas – the entire building, which is largely demolished now, is being actively reassembled in a virtual realtime 3D form thanks to some $360+ in donations for that purpose from various church members, covering the entire cost of the project. Too bad the crowdfunding process that worked here, failed on the far more imaginative project ‘Miniature Multiverse’ years ago – but whatever.
I’ve made over $250 in total at the craft fair.
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.
NOW SELLING ON ETSY, under $35:
UNDER $20 FOR EACH SET!:
There are INSANE bargains all across my network right now and you should definitely take a look if you haven’t already.
Why is next Monday, April 10 – and every Monday after that for the next 15 weeks – going to be epic? Here’s why:
- Comics. New T4 content – the Troop 4 Uncensored, pt 4 comic book [divided into 10-12 parts] -and the first portions of Another Road Taken, which have been delayed way, way too long, will be posted during this span. Not that anyone has complained. Most of you either don’t know what I’m even referring to – or do know but have been really patient with me.
- Game news. Spiral Skies sees actual up-to-date media content [new stuff to see on a new website specifically chosen for the project – SpiralSkiesGame.com – posted on one of these Mondays. This is something that actually has gotten a bit of response which is great… though at this time nothing is visible on the new domain, just on PanoramicWorlds.com.
- The video channel. It’ll be on TriumphantArtists.com. I’ve put some substantial effort into this launch but my friends/actors mostly have yet to sign a digital document I sent them, which, in effect, stalls almost every video I really strongly want online from actually being placed online. When they ask about the videos not being online, I turn the question around and ask them why they have been unwilling to sign the documents I sent them. I tell them that THEY are holding back said releases. Most of them seem genuinely surprised by this. Perhaps once I am pulling in thousands of viewers these holdouts will actually notice, and respond to, the messages I sent.
- More artworks on Etsy in the lead up to the mid-April launches. This is the only way that some of the launch content can actually [realistically] materialize faster. If you audience members like the items I list on Etsy then buy them, knowing that those sales [if made in the next few weeks] will finance completion of more videos, etc. So once again, please take a look at my Etsy shop.
Here are the different videos [definitely] making it online in the next 15 weeks. Longer projects are often split into multiple webisodes and I currently estimate between 24 and 36 videos being on the channel by the last of the 15 weeks. 24 is the likely outcome if nobody signs off on the legal documents in the next few weeks. 36, potentially, if a bunch of the signatures are collected soon.
DEFINITELY RELEASED IN NEXT 15 weeks:
–House Trek: The Original Series – this is a reworking of an old video series from 2001-2004 that had a very silly take on space travel, badly going where much better sci fi series had already been before. The fifth episode, the longest one, is now a two parter, and there’s also a short new episode tacked on to the end of the series to bridge the gap between this and the upcoming House Trek: The Next Generation.
–Storm – an old 2003 art video short depicting a rainstorm.
–Storm 2 – new short video two-parter in which I find myself alone in the house unprepared during a severe hurricane.
–Relativity – Escheresque 2004 art video with cool [and recently somewhat reworked] imagery that messes with your perceptions.
–Send in The Clones 1, remastered The brief first  video in the aging ‘Clones’ video series.
–Creativity – 2005 art video short.
–Awakening – new eerie short video in which I find myself struggling with persistently trippy and creepy nightmares which affect my judgement and sanity even when I’m awake.
–Refuge – new 3-episode sci-fi short with some freaky horror-ish surprises. It’s the year 2202, Earth is a poisoned wasteland and the surviving humans have traveled to another world to keep going. But now people are going missing at an alarming rate!
–Sheol – psychological horror/mind bender. Brand new short. After an internet troll interrupts a video chat, and threatens to kill me, I wake up the next morning imprisoned in a horrific death trap.
MAYBE RELEASED IN NEXT 15 weeks:
“Matthew’s Portal” (2005) a classic family mind-bender with a fun and clever story.
“Send in The Clones 2” (2002) My clones rapidly transition from laziness to rebellion.
“Duel 2030” – Recorded in 2007-2008, it’s a dark post-apocalyptic action mini-epic.
“Snow Siege” – The first of the videos I recorded with my cousins, in 2003. A kid-friendly holiday classic.
“Tinyville Disaster” (2003) – A classic comedy made with stop-motion animation.
“Fortress Siege” – a 2009 medieval comedy that is equal parts visually impressive and wackily absurd.
This little note was originally posted July 10, 2016, had to be reconstructed due to SSL transition and such.
“Spiral Skies – and some other games – now in Unity 5? Yes. (Maybe)
I am exploring the option of using the Unity 5 engine to make a realtime 3D version of Spiral Skies. This is part of why this has been delayed further – I am pushing into full realtime 3D and that involves a lot of optimization but Unity is fortunately a good choice for this kind of project. In some ways the realtime version is weaker but in most respects it should end up looking way better. Apologies to anyone who wanted the 2D version in Construct 2, but this has a lot of potential if I can make it work correctly.”
UPDATE, as of February 10, 2017: It’s not perfectly functional yet but is progressing nicely – I’m doing most of the interactivity using PlayMaker for this game and it is turning out pretty well so far, great learning experience potentially highly applicable to future games. Will post more visual content before long, as soon as SpiralSkiesGame.com is designed fully and ready for widespread attention. I’ve registered that domain but nothing is there yet, will be soon but not yet. Suffice it to say that I’ve raised my aim as far as visual fidelity is concerned, and given the enormous, incredibly aggravating and nearly endless frustrations I’ve had with WebGL debugging and output in general (*grumble grumble*) I am only likely to release the game as a downloadable app for Windows, Mac, & Linux, and Android/iOS users will probably find that disappointing, as will the people on NewGrounds & Kongregate who wanted the game to be playable there, but… it’s the best I can do at the moment. Sorry.