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, you’ll know release is 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 intially 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:

Not all bad news – good news, bad news post!

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.

Parish Hall of Church of the Redeemer, recreated in 3D
Parish Hall of Church of the Redeemer, recreated in 3D

Crafts Fair in Houston TX and other news

Okay – a few notes.  One is that after a great deal of frustration I’ve gotten my PC working again.  I backed everything up and then it went from bad to worse, from ‘blue screen of death’ to ‘black screen of death’ in which I could not even reach the command line.  Fortunately I found a way to get back to BSOD, then from there I wiped the C: drive and reinstalled Windows, followed by copying the backed up data back onto the C drive.

The day or two after that?  Mostly spent reinstalling a long list of utilities and software packages.   Then and only then, could I resume work on a range of projects that had been unfortunately on hold while the computer was screwed up.  This has been a huge hassle and I’d like to replace the aging video card as I’ve long suspected it as the root of my PC issues.  I know what other better cards are compatible with my desktop, and I am planning to get a replacement, as soon as I’m able to factor it into my budget.  To that end:

I’ll be attending a crafts fair at 5700 Lawndale, Houston, TX, this Saturday April 22nd from 9 am to 3 pm.  This is the Redeemer Lutheran church buiilding and they’re hosting the event and organizing it, plus some Redeemer Episcopal and Missio Dei Houston members are also involved and participating.  

Anyone who wants to meet me there can do so, I’ll have a booth and will be selling handmade art and will also have some great freebies available.  Some of those free items may run out quickly so it’s advised to show up on the early side of the event, ideally during the first hour or two.

There’s a massive crafts fair there, plus garage/yard sale and bake sale, bbq, etc.  It’s basically one of those huge fundraising deals, which I’ve attended in the past.  The booth fees are $25, which gets you an 8 foot table, although it may be too late for anyone else to sign up now.

The vendors keep whatever’s raised, generally, and I am hoping to sell a few handcrafted artworks at this event.  I will also have some other stuff like stickers, pencils, prints, push pin buttons, and DVDs/BluRays which are going to go fast it looks like.  I’m still agreeing to hand them out for free on a ‘pay what you want’ basis.  My dad says they should cost $20 but I’m fine with just handing them out.

Church of the Redeemer DVDs
DVDs of closing services for Church of the Redeemer Episcopal Houston

Those are mainly of interest to people who have been a part of the Redeemer Episcopal community, but the handmade stuff has much broader appeal.

I have sold a set (triptych) of three artworks at one of these old events, at a price of $90, which was later appraised at $150 by an art dealer.  You might find similar bargains here; many items will be marked 15% lower than on Etsy, given the local nature of the event and the fact that they won’t need to be shipped, so shipping isn’t built into the pricing.

What is?  Well, materials, plus a rate of about $3 per hour for my creative work on each item.  Some items are a bit more if new, or less if old.

Worth a look for anyone in the Houston area.

 

Still reeling and coping with the setbacks

I think in a few days I’ll have the PC operating normally, more or less.

While the Windows OS update was screwing up my plans for a video channel release (previously scheduled for May 10 but now pushed back by two weeks.) I also found a message in my spam folder notifying me that vividminigolf.com was not set to auto renew and that it was expiring.

Fortunately I got it renewed within the grace period, that brief span between when a domain expires and when it is purchasable by other people.  But for a couple days the site was down and the game was inaccessible.  Sorry about that.

I think things are getting back on track, more or less – I have a few options for getting my PC working again ranging from mild [replacing faulty AMD drivers] to severely annoying [reinstalling the OS] but all of them depend on first backing up everything on the internal drives in case something goes severely wrong and the hardware is basically unrecoverable.  That is unlikely but I’m backing all the content up via command line anyway.  This takes some time, and involves a lot of copying of subdirectories to and from a 128gb flash drive.

The first attempt to acquire signatures from a few cast members failed; I’m now revising the terms and will send out those forms on a person by person basis beginning with an initial set of 40 people or so on May 17.  The terms for cast members are now even more generous, to the point where under some circumstances the video channel might not prove to be viable.  I recognize that if the channel on my website were to take off suddenly with above 500k viewers, and the other stuff – the sale items – don’t grow at a similar pace, the cost to me could be enormous and might cause a systemic failure of my web network.

Why?  Because I’m using sale products as a substitute for conventional third party ad revenue.  Should the sale products disappoint and fall below a certain ratio relative to the video views, the profitability of my websites go down and maybe even go negative.  The threshhold at which this happens was, in the original document, very unlikely to be crossed, but now I think the odds of the video channel losing money are hovering around 25%.  This is something that I can adjust to some degree to improve things if they get bad enough, like:

-writing most upcoming videos with smaller casts of about 3-4 persons instead of sprawling ensembles.

-minimizing location shoots off my property.

-increasing promotion frequency [advertising] of related sale products in the video channel playlists in an attempt to boost revenue on the channel to a tenable level.

-promoting my video channel only subtly and emphasizing the shop on most non video pages.

My hope is that the video channel will raise about as much revenue as it costs, maybe even prove mildly profitable somehow.  That would be amazing, and in my view the effort breaking even is still something of a victory.

Since we’re discussing the shops and sale items, I think it’s a perfect time to point out the stuff I’ve got piled into the Etsy and eBay shops right now.  There’s more there than is usually the case and you should check that out.

I’ve got a bunch of antiquarian magazine issues [I maestri del colore] on sale right now on eBay, substantially undervalued, someone could absolutely buy a lot of 20 and flip them, reselling them as individual listings.  That might actually make you a tidy profit.  But those listings are ending right about now!

My eBay shop

I also have a bunch of my old work on sale on Etsy now.  Lots of stuff.  Batches of old artworks that have been around a few years and haven’t sold locally – but which are now on sale at really great low prices!

My Etsy shop

I am screaming profanities right now

My PC, the one I do pretty darn near all my digital work on, is stuck with a blue screen of death.  Again.

When this happened I was initially yelling at my computer at the top of my lungs and crying.  I have been so far unable to start it up [to desktop] but after some effort made it to the command prompt and am attempting a number of possible solutions.  I am incredibly frustrated and it goes pretty much without saying that I’m going to miss the April 10th goal I had set for myself regarding the video channel.

I feel sometimes, no, I KNOW, that I’m doing things that push my pathetic hardware and tools to the breaking point.  I don’t have any other choice; this broken down pile of garbage is all I can currently afford.  If it goes down permanently I am stuck with a serious mountain of problems and I don’t know if my web network would survive that.

I am selling a lot of old vintage books, or trying to, but although they are apparently of some value nobody is bidding on them.  I hope that someone buys something soon on Etsy or eBay, from me, as that would give me access to options like buying a good replacement video card sooner, rather than later, and having local backups of key files instead of relying solely on a cloud service.  Basically I get the sense that my workflow has a minimum of redundancy and that when one of a few dozen key things fails, everything in the pipeline grinds to a halt.  Maybe some things could even get ruined permanently as has happened occasionally before.  Things breaking, stalling, progress in fits and starts, is happening way too much lately.  Really hoping for a breakthrough here someday.

I’ll keep you all posted as this fiasco progresses.

Am hoping that some of you will buy something from me on Etsy as I am using this delay as an opportunity to make and post new art there and also some batches of old works I might as well list at low end prices.

And again, there is the magazine stuff from 1964, I Maestri del Colori, old art publications that I am trying to sell right now, among other eBay listings.

Thank you all for being so patient with me generally.

I know this has been a long, slow wait.

If you haven’t already noticed the ‘ways to help‘ page on TriumphantArtists.com, um, now would be a good time to do something on that list so maybe, just maybe, I can get things moving again.  Again, thank you.

Spiral Skies news

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.