Crowdsourced Adventure

A new domain – and a new game – are active right now.

CrowdsourcedAdventure.com.

The site includes a small ‘Myst like’ gameworld with four simple puzzles. It’s playable right now. [As of Aug. 4, 2020] and between active player support via Ko-fi, and more passive indirect player support via banner ads, I’m hoping to raise a ton of cash not merely to finance the development of the game over time – which I’ll do at a ridiculously low pay rate – but also to give to worthwhile charitable causes, and creative productions, beyond my own in the the broader gaming scene.

All Ko-fi support – every $4 – backing this also gives you as a supporter some cool benefits, not least the entire set of the stock media and other content I have on my itch.io page. [a $14.45 value] plus you’ll be able to contribute ideas of things you want in the future worlds of the game. [And you can have your text message added into the game, 30 character limit, could be your name, username, a URL, whatever.

For those who are wondering when my next sale is, it’s on Labor Day 2020.

Check my Etsy and Itch.IO shops then. There’ll be some fantastic discounts that day only, [Sept. 7, 2020, for those unclear on when Labor Day is.]

Etsy and Itch.IO [minor updates]

A little bird peering through a window at a floral vase. Acrylic artwork, on sale currently [Etsy]
Landscape with wildflowers. Also on Etsy.

Basically, the good news is that I’m posting a LOT of new art items on Etsy over the course of this week. The two seen above are just the start. There’s a sale arriving on Itch.IO later this month and a lot going on on Etsy too, and I’m promoting both venues very heavily.

I’ve ordered a fresh batch of stretched canvases, about 20 of them (!) and some of those are 18×24 inches – I also have 25-packs of 16×20 inch and 18×24 inch shipping containers/mailers and a ton of bubble wrap and packing tape ready to go. On top of all of this, a $30 ad campaign has begun [between Etsy’s own ads and some other fine-tuned banner ad campaigns] that should result in approx. 450,000 impressions [ie. almost half a million people across the internet will see my ads] and, even with an expected CTR (click through rate) of only around 0.1-0.3%, that’s still hundreds of visitors showing up on my Etsy storefront. This campaign should be running from June 6-June 26 roughly, and what that means is if you were on the fence about buying something from me on Etsy, GRAB IT NOW.

Especially given that I’ve refined my pricing to take cheaper sourcing of bulk art supplies into account and reduced my effective pay level to a bit below $2/hr on Etsy artworks. Everything’s cheaper than usual right now. It’ll especially drop in price noticeably – an additional 15% – at the same time my Itch.IO sale is active [June 21 to July 4] so keep an eye on that!

ETSY SALE – June 21 to July 4, 2020!

ITCH.IO SALE [93% OFF!] – June 21 – July 4th, 2020!

I’ve also been very active on social platforms lately including YouTube. I comment on blogs, forums, YouTube videos, social media. I’ve spent hours posting replies and hyping all this stuff that’s going to happen. I’m trying to make it take off in a big way. So if you don’t buy the item you want on Etsy now, you’ll probably lose it as it’s very likely that someone else will claim it where you hesitated. And if they don’t, eventually it might end up in a bundle on eBay [some of the older items I have had on Etsy for a while will shift to eBay soon after the sale end on July 4th, 2020]

Now for the downside of this frenzy – my ‘minigames’ are being pushed back on itch.io. I’d indicated an attempt to release a set of four minigames by late July 2020 and that won’t happen. It’s unrealistic given that the first half of June is going into making art for a giant Etsy sale, and much of the third week of June into modest updates to some 3d asset and texture asset content on itch.

So what should you expect in game development terms if I’m focusing on Etsy art / stock media updates primarily in June?

Tricky – I still have a few bugs to quash and things to implement in each of those games, and if the bugs are not easily fixable this may get delayed further, but the basic expectation here is that ‘Spiral Skies’ goes live by July 4th, 2020 in both its SD and HD premium forms, plus there’ll be a lot of new teaser / preview material for other game projects posted by then as well.

I think Easely needs another week or so of actual dev work, eRacer two weeks, Vortex 2.5-3 weeks. That’s ideal, and that’s if I don’t run into last-minute barriers. The new Panoramic Worlds has about a month of additional work involved before launch. Same with Vivid Minigolf 2, and Miniature Multiverse has about three or four months of development work to go. So, in theory at least, these games can all be launched by the end of 2020.

In practice, that might not be feasible. Funding’s a persistent issue, and if this Etsy sale is successful, along with the Itch sale in late June, I can still get these games all done this year. I’d love that. I am hoping to raise around $400-500 between those two efforts. That’d actually recover the time this month that I will have spent painting (and then some) as I would be able to focus on gamedev pretty near full time, and would not be stuck doing $2-4 per hour microtasks at all. If these sales fail utterly despite all my efforts, however, I would expect only some of these games to be out by end of year, and others not until early 2021.

The relevant game pages on Itch will soon reflect this.

New Itch.IO pack [furniture]

The newest asset pack – a furniture and indoor objects collection – launched during the Memorial Day sale.

Furniture collection showcase render

If you missed that sale, don’t worry, everything I have on Itch.IO will be bundled in a gigantic sale once again from Fathers’ Day 2020 to July 4th, 2020.

(That’s June 21 – July 4, for those who don’t know when Father’s Day is.)

Expect all my content on the platform to once again be available for just under $1, in one colossal bundle of 12 products ranging from asset packs to game preorders, asset packs including a vast array of 3d modeled objects, seamless textures, overlays, decals, and stock video elements. Don’t miss the next sale!

AGAIN, THE LINK IS HTTPS://MATTHORNB.ITCH.IO/

New Itch.IO asset pack

A new texture pack has been released on matthornb.itch.io.

https://matthornb.itch.io/2020-bonus-texture-asset-pack

Over 180 texture maps with more additions daily until mid May 2020, when the asset pack will have over 500 total seamless texture maps.

An example of a seamless texture applied to a sphere.
More texture samples.

This collection has been popular already, with hundreds of views of the page, it’s been added to multiple ‘collections’ [i.e. wishlists] and multiple sales, multiple tips!

Kind of a no-brainer though at a 28-cent price. This sale ends in less than 36 hours, so if you want the launch-sale pricing, buy this now!

TriumphantArtists.com major update [2020]

The overhaul of TriumphantArtists.com has finally happened.

Go to the main page, hit the refresh symbol on your browser, and view the new version of the site!

Also, lots of other stuff is in the works, including an overhaul of HornbostelVideos.com soon, so keep an eye out for that in a few weeks.

The stock footage stuff on https://matthornb.itch.io saw an ‘Earth Day’ sale recently, but that shop (and my Etsy shop) will have sales for Mothers’ Day, and Memorial Day weekend soon so if you missed the sale recently don’t feel too bad.

February 2020, updates

Some of you may have noticed a problem with my eBay shop lately. Things are taking longer to deliver. Orders do, in some cases, take weeks to fulfill.

That has much to do with my bare-bones financial condition. I’ve made a lot of artworks and am shipping them as soon as I can, but even so the delays continue to escalate as some customers have requested and been given, refunds. Note that even in these cases I still will fulfill their orders, it’s kind of important to me even if it makes zero difference to eBay, but… the last two weeks I’ve been scraping through huge piles of sub-minimum wage tasks in an aim to finish shipping all delayed orders. My losses [all factors considered] on eBay in the past 40 days are in excess of $70 which makes me a rather godawful excuse for a business person but maybe not a truly horrendous ‘person’ person?

I’ve been doing a ton of stuff on mTurk and other places, every gig I can grab, at $2-3 per hour, including low-end tasks I’d normally not touch, in an effort to stabilize things and resolve complaints from customers, complaints that have piled up badly.

You need to know that I’m working on it, working very hard to shovel my way out of the broken mess I’m now stuck in. Much of that low wage work’s already done, I do see some delays/lag as likely though as the tasks are still being approved and shifted out to a usable form of money. But I’ve earned $10+ daily doing that and it seems to be piling up faster than the refunds are going out. So sending refunds *and* shipping all of the ordered items, should be viable in the next week at most.

Upsides: my Itch.IO profile has seen a gradual climb in sales even despite total absence of reviews from buyers there. Even comments here and there would be enormously impactful FYI, the only feedback I have ever gotten was a comment on one Itch stock-media pack that said the collection was a great deal. Which explains why that one pack is accounting for about 60% of all my sales on Itch!

Also, I’ve made a second sale on Etsy, so it seems that is going well and I’m posting three new artworks soon, later than I’d aimed to, but still… they will be posted.

Here’s the item that was sold. I’m still posting more and more art there as time passes. I expect the total number of available listed items to be around 25 by the end of February:

Likewise, I’m nearly done setting up an overhauled version of TriumphantArtists.com and will switch everything over to the new web design in another day or so. It’s better in terms of navigation, clean style, and flexible [responsive] formatting. The pages, in general, load faster too!

As usual though, don’t expect the changes to necessarily show up in your browser without hitting refresh. My advice, go to the main page at TriumphantArtists.com next week, hit refresh, and, err, feel refreshed I guess by how the site looks after that point? I expect the switch over will be in effect by Feb. 15 and may become visible worldwide over the following 48 hrs. so some cool things should result from that.

“Pirate video” – I’m making a little video short for the nephews’ birthday, putting an hour or so a day into that on top of everything else. It includes some pretty awesome VFX shots. That’s just another reminder of what I can do with videos and visual effects!

sea battle – pirates in pittsburgh suburbs. .GIF loop.

Ships sailing in a pond, during a storm.

Final note – I know everybody’s so, so tired of waiting for something to happen with Miniature Multiverse. I have completed the first part of the game’s design, 100%, with other sections of the game in varying stages of completion. Now I’ve opted to release a ‘partial version’ with the later areas all stripped out temporarily, and post that as a downloadable on Itch.IO with added sections posted every two months afterwards as long as it is still selling (if it sells much at all really, which given the nature of indie game dev, is unclear.) So that is the first fifth of the game which will be posted on Feb. 24th, along with the corresponding sections of the making-of PDF for ‘Extras’ buyers. So yeah, a lot is going on right now. I’m working every waking hour on something creative or earnings related [or both] lately and wouldn’t have things be any other way.

Small update, January 2020

-A new wave of stuff headed to my venue on Etsy, including beautiful artworks like this one, and prices that trend gradually downward until each item sells, even if that means the items don’t break even in some cases. Bonus is that not only is more and more stuff getting posted this month, but there is now a first Etsy review from my first customer on Etsy, a person who took a chance on my shop, and didn’t regret it at all.

Hopefully more sales, and more glowing reviews, will follow.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/MatthewLHornbostel

-Lunar New year sale on itch.io will offer all my stock media in a bundle for an unprecedentedly low 89 cents at end of month. 90% off bundle!

I have made 15+ sales on https://matthornb.itch.io so far but nobody has written a review. I am convinced that if even one or two customers do write a review there it would affect the trajectory of the shop in enormously positive ways… encouraging development of even more added quality content at ludicrously low prices.

Note, I have struggled a bit with an unusual deluge of sales on eBay lately and several of those orders have kind of fallen through the cracks a bit. I am sorry about any delays caused by other work, unwanted distractions, unexpected fees/costs, etc. I am working to resolve all remaining pending orders and messes there within the next five days.

I will reiterate that if there are unreasonable delays, I will make it up to any customers affected and will do what I can to resolve complaints – even if that means refunds, or extra apology items delivered beyond what was listed as sold. I am just one guy here so sometimes things do go wrong, I am working on it and I do want to preserve my track record there with (currently) 385 positive ratings and no negatives so far. I would also like to see Etsy and Itch shops develop similarly impressive track records in the long run.

Anyway, the amazing bundle deal on itch.io starts in about a week as does the relaunch of TriumphantArtists.com with a heavily improved and revised design. Please try refreshing the main page starting on Jan. 20 as things will begin to look very different then.

Happy Holidays (2019)!

Hello everyone, hope you’re having a good time as 2019 nears its end.

I’ve got a few key updates for all of you.

Etsy update – My often dormant Etsy shop actually has some listings available again. One of them has already sold!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/MatthewLHornbostel

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.

Remember my Etsy shop? It’s active again. Here’s a pumpkin pie painting I made.

Happy holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah, New Year’s, etc.

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:

Pinterest – Matthew Hornbostel’s profile

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:

Holiday Bundle – Cyber Monday sale!

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.

THE SCHEDULE:

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.

 

 

September 2019 updates

 

So… the things I said I intended to do, in my last post, are happening.

-eBay stock media DVDs, are being sold and some are being auctioned right now along with a lot of other amazing deals intended to draw attention to the store I have there.

https://www.ebay.com/usr/mtthornb

-the two new stock 3d asset packs I promised were in development, are finally available on itch.io.

https://matthornb.itch.io

But – and this is a key thing – I could still really use support to get Miniature Multiverse done soon.

And no, I haven’t yet resumed my efforts on Etsy, but at some point I will. The video ‘Freeway’ is complete, and the new House Trek is in production. I am currently working on a systemic overhaul of nearly all my websites with OpenElement and if some things occasionally seem a bit more defective than usual in next few weeks it is probable they’ll be fixed soon, but as usual you would be well advised to refresh any pages that seem broken or massively out of date. If a page is soon gone entirely, removed, the content is probably just redesigned with a new organizational structure and filename, it is NOT gone. Try refreshing or returning to the domain root, then refreshing. And if that fails, try again a few hours later or a few days later. This should work in 99+% of problem cases.  Seriously, it will all be better in many ways (visually, navigationally… in performance and responsiveness terms too) once this transition process is over and the data is all restructured and redesigned.

Right now I am pursuing a lot of work on Amazon’s mTurk and it doesn’t pay well, but it might be enough to cover the remaining miniature supplies and some other costs, by mid October. But again, if you want to help get that moving ahead faster, try buying something from the above shops, or backing me on Patreon – https://www.patreon.com/matthornb (or Ko-fi – https://ko-fi.com/matthornb  –    if you only want to commit to a small one off payment) or, maybe hiring me via the HornbostelProductions shop. I am not merely offering made to order personalized art in numerous forms, I am now posting an option in which you could pay me to make a virtual tour / virtual world for you or for someone you care about, as a gift item. It is less expensive than you may expect; right now prices amount to roughly $2/ hr, so if you are choosing one of the more costly options it is still only around $28 to order a large, detailed realtime 3d world based on your creative visual ideas, and I can turn it around in a week or so, and give you a playable Windows application at the end of that week. That is pretty cool!

Anyway, thank you all for staying around, I realize things have moved slowly but I am still trying, I have not given up. I think sooner or later something I am trying will work out and my network will take off. patreOnce that happens it’ll be pretty amazing.

 

Making some new videos this summer, not just stock media, plus handmade artworks and finishing ‘Miniature Multiverse’ (hopefully)

My current plan involves the following sequence of events:

#1) Wrapping up and releasing the stock-media asset pack updates on Itch.IO, including an expanded ‘Marshes & Meadows’ and two new collections of 3d assets beyond that. Expected timing is late June, with the sale running from end of June through July 4th. I’d attempted to be ready for the entire duration of the Itch Summer Sale but things aren’t progressing quickly enough. So the start of that sale was officially June 21, and I had reworked my plan for June 24th or 25th when it became clear this would not be ready for the 21st, and now that it’s the 25th, I’m very close but realistically the 27th-29th is now looking like a probable release timeframe. But whenever this stuff IS a bit more polished and ready to launch, you’ll see a video on my Itch profile, 15 mins. long, an extensive overview of my work, especially work related to Itch.IO releases & content.

The sale will include massive discounts as well, especially on a bundle of all five stock media packs ($1.49 for five different stock media collections together in one incredible bundle, essentially 30 cents each!)

#2) I also have been slightly reducing prices and broadening options on eBay, and I posted a brand new fantasy artwork for sale too, I created it on the afternoon/evening of the 24th, over a span of 3 1/2 hours. Opening bid is $8.99. You can view my eBay profile here as usual, and the fantasy item in particular, here. 

All the eBay activity is partly to raise funding, but also in preparation for a stock-media DVD launch coinciding with the new Itch.IO releases. Basically, it’ll be all five of my massive stock media collections that do or soon will, exist digitally on Itch, together on a physical DVD complete with disc art, cover art, shipped to customers through eBay. So the eBay ramp up in activity is intended to coincide with the equivalent excitement at Itch.IO.

#3) With the eBay and Itch frenzy wrapped up, ideally I’ll have raised a couple hundred $, or something close to that, and it’d get me to the point of funding the remaining content of ‘Miniature Multiverse‘ which STILL IS MISSING THE LAST HANDFUL OF MINIATURE WORLDS! So while I *could* plausibly raise that cash elsewhere, over the next month, if I want to do so before end of July, I will need something to happen on eBay / itch.

If you’re wondering why I recently bought a handful of items on eBay, incidentally, which have zero connection to that, including a batch of candy gummies and some lighting stuff [filters and a light] plus a bit of children’s clothing… yeah, I am recording a couple of comedy family videos with my nephews and niece, all of them under the age of seven. So they have short attention spans and candy is key to keeping them on task as the 20-minute mark hits. Plus the light stuff is related, as is the roll of blue paper I’m using as a improvised cheapo bluescreen. And the clothes, I want to be sure there’ll be shirts that won’t have any blue in the design, as blue would get keyed out! So yeah, sometimes for holidays I’ll grab something (the flower items for Mothers’ Day) or for projects. In the case of the current video projects, we’ll see if there’s a way to get everyone onboard with the idea of posting that stuff online, but for now I’m just focused on getting those videos made in the first place. So that… the videos in question include a short called ‘Freeway’ in which the children are forced not to watch TV, they get upset, drive off in a car, on their own, and a ridiculous chase ensues. The other video is “House Trek: The Next Generation, Season 1” and that is a follow up to the ancient HT TOS series of absurd sci-fi videos I did and which can be viewed (some of them at least) on HornbostelVideos.com.

Only this time it has an actual cast, better production values (in terms of set stuff, props, etc) and a real narrative arc across the handful of episodes that constitute Season 1. The cast of HTTNG S1 includes me [as the crazy inventor uncle] and the kids [who accidentally initiate a launch sequence and cause the adventure to develop] and Katie [my sister / their mom] as well as my parents. This should be fun. You’ll see what I mean someday.

I’m recording this in much higher quality too. Really, it’s 1080p, good pristine 1080p too, some shot in 1080p, some in 2.7k and downscaled sharply. I could go higher res than that even but I think an HD final edit makes sense for a few reasons, mainly that 1080p is about as high as many PC monitors and mobile tablets can display anyway, and it’s the highest resolution that works for BluRays. But the bottom line is it’s real high end HD and it should look nice when done.

I am hoping that despite spending near $120 on the pair of video shoots, that I’ll still be able to cover the Miniature Multiverse stuff too, sometime in July. It’ll be the end of the month if no sales are made on eBay/Itch and maybe early/mid July if things go unexpectedly really well on my sales. But the project *will* move forward soon to completion, one way or another.

And so will the ‘older’ video projects. I had worried that a significant chunk of my video core data on videos recorded during the last couple years, would be unrecoverable and that in the worst case the videos would be severely weakened as a result of the data losses. But I’ve, with a mix of clever digital methods, been able to recover almost everything at this point, that was key to those. The resulting reality is this: Now those videos can also continue and move forward again. And that’s great news.

So, for example, Fortress Siege 2 is going to happen. And a few other videos too, will be part of what I’ll be working on from October-December 2019, after the release of Miniature Multiverse. If that launch goes well I may even be able to overhaul some of my hardware/software workflow and that may result in some cool VFX imagery and techniques / technology that you’ve never seen me pull off before!

Well, let’s just see how this goes, shall we? 🙂