Saturday, May 31, 2014

Saga of the Splintered Realm - You Deserve an Update!

It's been a while since I updated peeps on Saga of the Splintered Realm. I took about a month off from working on the game because life got very hectic, and because I needed a mental break from it. I have learned this about my creative process - I work best if I really intensely focus on it for a few months, and then take a month or two off - and then go back with that same intensity.

I spent last week dotting i's and crossing t's with Army Ants things, and I got ahead of the strip (for the first time in 6 months! I have the next two weeks done), finishing/publishing the second Adventure Journal. I went to bed last night with thoughts of the Splintered Realm dancing in my head, and this morning woke up with dozens of little lingering issues from a month ago suddenly solved in my head.

I've learned to trust how my subconscious works. It's really a pretty nifty little mechanism in my head. I know that at any time, my subconscious creativity is working through two or three things that my conscious mind is not working on. When I go back and put my attention on that work, my subconscious has solved a number of problems or found a slew of new ideas. It helps me so much to go back with fresh eyes.

The reason I put a January release date on the SSR kickstarter was not because I needed 9 months to write it. I can write it all in a month if I really want to... it's because I wanted to build in two periods of dormancy for the game to fully gestate in my imagination.

I'm sorry if this sounds kind of weird or trippy, but it's the way my head works. I cannot work intensely on the same project for over 3 months at a time. I have to move on to something else and then wrap back around to it. Every time I've fought that, I end up becoming less and less productive over time. Now that I've learned to embrace it, I have found ways to maximize my creative output.

Knock on wood, but it keeps me from ever getting anything akin to writer's block, or from hitting big creative slumps. I am always ready to move onto the next project in line, and I just keep cycling through projects this way.

Anyhow, I will be laying out some of the solutions in the next few weeks and talking about them in some detail, and I'll be sharing some images that the artists have been creating (which are so much better than what I was expecting).

Thanks for your support and good will, and I am always open to feedback on the play test documents. You still have a few months to chime in. I will not be finalizing the game until the fall, so you can spend all summer sending suggestions my way!


Friday, May 30, 2014

MTDAA Adventure Journal #2

The second issue of the Adventure Journal for the Michael T. Desing's Army Ants RPG is now live on RPGNow. It's pay what you want, which means that if you want to pay nothing, you can do that! (you're pretty clever, you know that?)

Friday, May 23, 2014

An Army Ants Primer

So, you want to know more about these Army Ants, eh? Here's a primer to get you started into the world of Michael T. Desing's Army Ants (or MTDAA)...

1. The short story Slab Smash is a perfect introductory story. This will give you an idea of the general vibe of the series.
2. If you like that, you should probably go ahead and read MTDAA Issue One. That's the original introductory story I created (almost 20 years ago!), that establishes the core team.
3. Next, take a few minutes to read the file cards for the core team to learn a little more about them.
4. Still digging it? Great! The collection, Tour of Duty (Volume 1), includes the first ten issues of the comic series. You can purchase it in pdf or print.
5. You should follow that up with the Year of the Ant (Volume 2), also available to purchase in pdf or print. This was the first true graphic novel of the Army Ants, and chronologically follows the events of Tour of Duty.
6. Now that you're all in, you can dive into the current graphic novel, Fall of Valhalla (Volume 3). You can read Chapter One, Chapter Two, and Chapter Three online for free. This graphic novel builds on events of the previous two books, so you will want to read those first.

If you are interested in learning more about the Roleplaying Game for MTDAA (where you get to actually play a little military ant and blow stuff up!), you can download the free Player's Guide to Michael T. Desing's Army Ants. If you like that, you can upgrade to the complete MTDAA RPG rulebook, which is available in pdfsoftcover or hardcover.

Finally, if you REALLY like Army Ants, and want to support its continued growth - getting a backstage pass to the process behind the games and comics - you can sign up to become a Patreon Supporter, and be able to say that you're a member of the Ant Army!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

File Card Upgrade

I've cleaned up the art for the file cards and created a new one for Slab to round out the cards for the core six members of the team. I've posted them all on Tapastic so you can get the lowdown on who's who among the core group. I've done new art for most of the cards to bring them up to speed with my current style (which has morphed a LOT) and with the uniform designs they will soon be sporting...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

On being a digital immigrant

I have to say, trying to figure out this new-fangled technology these kids use can be quite the experience!

A few weeks ago, I got an e-mail from Twitter (which I almost never use, but which I've been on the cusp of embracing and using) was possibly 'compromised'. I assume that's the kind parlance for hacked, since I suddenly was following 700 new people (many speaking some language I could not figure out for the life of me), and was re-tweeting those on my behalf (fortunately, I only have 4 followers, so no harm, no foul).

I logged in, got rid of all of those add ons, and changed my password.

And then thump. Twitter blocked me. I've spent a few hours going around and around. I keep going the same process, four or five steps that start at a friendly tutorial telling me I have to reset my password, and ending up at a wall that tells me my account is blocked, so I can't reset my password.

At what point do I call it a day? At what point do I accept twitter is just 'not my thing'?

Actually, what is my thing?
What SHOULD be my thing?

I'm not afraid of work or of investing time and energy into something. I don't want to spend 7 hours updating my tumblr page only to find out that no one goes to tumblr for webcomics. I simply have no idea. I've tried using the power of Google to help me, but the default assumption is that I know what the various social media sources are and how they can be used.

I don't, and I don't.

I mean, I JUST got into google + (and even that's not an all-in proposition) a few weeks ago. I am sporadic on Facebook.

Where should I be? What is a waste of time?

I'd love to hear some suggestions...

Monday, May 19, 2014

Pushin' the Patreon

So why should you join the Patreon campaign? Well, supporters have received several sketchbook pages, a script to an unpublished story, an experimental page (that I particularly love, but which was never published), and now a preview copy of the upcoming MTDAA Adventure Journal #2 (which no one else gets to see until next week). They also get to see the weekly webcomic a day or two early (depending on how far ahead I am with publishing), and next month they'll be getting an entire unpublished comic story that tells a ladybug solo story.

That's a lot of cool stuff for a dollar! Sign up as a patron and you can get in on all this YOLO swag (as the kids say today). No, really. They do. My students were saying it today!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Webcomic for the week of 5/19

This week's page explains how (and why) Sarge lost his eye... a story I've been wanting to get to for over 15 years...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Iron... Ant?

Patreon supporters have been given an inside window into what might have been - the script for an "Iron Ant" story that I wrote for the original comic series nigh on 15 years ago but never created. I found a whole bunch of stuff from the archives that I'm putting up for the Patreon supporters. If you want to see behind the scenes of all things MTDAA, a $1 monthly pledge gives you access to all sorts of nifty stuff... like this!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Army Ants Webcomic for week of May 12

Here is this week's webcomic. Thanks to the Patreon supporters for paying for new Bristol Board and markers this week! I also picked up some painting supplies, and I'm going to experiment with some full color work for covers... I'll let you know how that goes (gulp)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Work In Progress: Army Ants Page Fall of Valhalla 3.12

Here is a sample from next week's page... Troy descends into the lair of the Termite Queen to learn of her powers. I am REALLY enjoying working on these pages, because (due in large part to Patreon and Kickstarter) I don't worry about what's going to happen on the business side as I draw! In the past, I have spent the vast majority of the time working on pages thinking/worrying/stressing about how the page would eventually see print, how it would eventually find an audience, and how I would ever find a way to make any money at all off of my work.

Now, I don't worry about those things! I think about cross hatching and textures. I think about where I want to drop in some blacks to fill in the image. I think about whether I want the Queen snarling or smirking. I think about how I can set up an element on this page that I can follow up on the next one. In short, I think about the PAGE.

It's so nice. And it's because of you!

I hope that you see the difference in the pages, because I sure do! By the way, if you are not a Patreon supporter and you'd like to give me a monthly 'attaboy', you can always drop a buck or two in my virtual tip jar...

Monday, May 5, 2014

Webcomic for Week of 5/5

I've been out of the loop for a few days, but I'm trying to get caught up! If I owe you an e-mail, I'll try to get back to you soon! FYI, I continue to experiment with the webcomic format. I drew this at a different scale (about 30% larger than last week's page) to see what level of detail I could include, and how the result would look...