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.

‘Miniature Multiverse’ launch pushed back but mostly there’s good news!

Miniature Multiverse will now launch in mid-late November 2017, another delay.

Good news though: The project, once released, will be far better value.

The program will be priced at $1.50, with six worlds at launch, not three.  I.e. I’m essentially doubling the scope of the project and also trimming the price by $0.25. All updates will still be free.

Obviously, adding an additional room to Lokus and two entirely new worlds (Cliak and Sedest) plus another sixth world, will be the focus of much of my time the next two weeks. But once that effort is complete, the launch may be far better for it.  Bonus: I plan to launch on Steam and the Humble Store as well – I’ve done a bit of market research (thanks, SteamSpy!) and reached the conclusion that a Steam release will be worth the additional cost and effort. Maybe the project will be trashed by Steam buyers, but hey, if you don’t like it, just refund it [Steam has a refund policy that allows games to be refunded as long as you’ve spent less than 2 hrs. running them)… and in this case, that refund policy means you can see pretty much everything in this initial launch for free.  And if you decide you want to hold on to your copy of ‘Miniature Multiverse’ for later updates [there’ll be a lot of free updates over time for buyers] that’s great.

That said – I’d encourage people to go the Itch.IO route.  Their review process for indies is leaner and faster and less backlogged so despite the fact that I’m submitting to Steam first, there’s a high likelihood that the Steam version won’t go live until nearly the end of the year. It’s also possible Valve will find some nitpicky reason to reject my project – the HornbostelProductions.com shop release is 100% certain, the Itch.IO release I’d say is 95% likely to work out, Humble Store 80%, Steam 75%. These are just my best guesses at this time though given the available information.

Miniature Multiverse GIF
Miniature Multiverse

In other news, my video site HornbostelVideos.com is live now!  There’s not a lot there yet – basically just YouTube vlog entries and revised House Trek episodes – but more will be added over time.  Well worth a look.

House Trek TOS space battle
House Trek space battle

 

Miniature Multiverse launching soon on Itch.IO!

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.

Miniature Multiverse launching in a few days
Miniature Multiverse is launching in a few days

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:

Miniature Multiverse happening?

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!