Thursday, August 27, 2015

Am I dead? No. But I am different. [Part2]

Well, my last post ended off on the note of the less than noble motives behind what is probably the most important video on the channel and clearly threw the actual point of explaining my current activity to the wind. Let's see if I can actually share what I'm doing in any meaningful capacity by the end of this post.

After the video covering whether or not we could make Sword Art online, I kept up with the responses to the best of my ability and realized that I'd missed quite a bit in my coverage of the game, especially in regards to the actual game itself. Mainly, I hadn't really considered the significance of the death mechanic and how it would impact the play experience. Afterwards, I'd intended to do more videos based on the replies I was seeing in the comments section. A lot of people weren't really all that positive on things like the Oculus Rift, so I felt inclined to a video explaining it's merits. But, I found that this was a lot more grating to do that I was expecting and soon found myself putting it off more and more to the point that I eventually wouldn't do much of anything. A few months went by before I made another video. This is pretty similar to where I'm at right now all things considered.

The next video I made was "NerveGear: Both Near and Far" and it worked out to be just what I needed to get me in the video making spirit. Around that point, the channel had undergone a dramatic growth (to about 500 subs). I was blown away. The rate of growth was more than anything I'd ever seen in anything I was involved in. It was a life changing experience, and it made me rethink a lot of my goals. I didn't mention it in the last post, but when I completed that 2014 VR preview video, it seems to have planted seed in mind that would steadily germinate over time to make me come to a realization: "I wasn't going to art school for the right reasons." I had been planning to go to the Savannah College of Art and Design to learn how to create and animate character models for my games and to see if I could take advantage of the student loans to get the money for the equipment I'd need to create my own game (a desktop PC, the software like Maya and Photoshop, and a Cintiq). But after creating that video in December, I realized that I didn't need any of those things to do what I wanted and that going to college with such a petty mindset was asking for a world of troubles. So, I made a bold move, I decided to skip out on college and try to strike it out on my own on Project Navalusu with an independent endeavor funded by KickStarter! I'd have the whole summer to work on it now that I was out of school, and without that giant time waster in my life and a new desktop PC I built myself thanks to my family's support, I'd be ready to take on the world! To basically any of you with even a shred of real world experience, you can probably see where I'd miscalculated.

Before I go into the frankly depressing numbers here, I do want to take a moment here in this post to expressly thank every last one of my subscribers for their prescence and comments. Things are rough now and I've had many ups and downs, but I don't regret the choice I made. 90% of the reason I decided to skip out on college came from the vigor I gained from seeing the channel grow the way it did. Looking back on it from where I stand now, I dodged a bullet and the experience I've gained this year has been invaluable to me and I think it will continue to guide me well into the future. I can't possibly express my gratitude sufficiently to communicate how much this means to me, but I can at the very least say that I believe I'm better off with the impact you've all made in my life than without it. 

It was during this period that I was most active in creating videos. Between August to November, I released a video almost every week. It mostly consisted of the impressions of SAO2 and some reviews, with only a few VR editorials, unboxings, and news videos sprinkled in between. I'd estimate right now that less than 10% of the channels current views total came from the videos I'd made in that time period even though they compose almost 90% of the videos I've made for the channel. In that time period, only design docs and several failed unity attempts and a bunch of useless concept art remain. I announced the Kickstarter, yet did nothing to follow up on it. I foolishly believed that the time I spent in school during my senior year was what was holding me back from achieving my creative goals, yet when granted the time, tools, and opportunity, I failed miserably. I was an idiot blinded by their fortune and there is no excuse that can be made for this. The failure is all mine and unfortunately, you all had to shoulder the burden of the promises I made with your disappointment and patience. I'd apologize, but it's a bit late and I've done so often enough at this point that it's probably losing meaning coming from me.

I'd struck a deal with my parents around September that if I wasn't making $500 a month off YouTube by January of that year, I'd drop it, apply to college for a more normal career and get a regular job. I'd started doing both of those things by December. I'm not old enough for this statement to have any real significance, but I can definitely say that this was one of, if not the darkest period I've ever had in my entire life. I shut everything I possibly could out, from my family, to my friends, to even the videos. I spent my birthday walking around to any place I could find begging for work and promptly spent the night sulking in my room. My family had thrown a surprise party and I completely denied any attempts everyone made to get me out. I didn't even acknowledge the guests. I continued on the next day a bit more calmly and no one ever brought it up again, but I would be lying if I didn't say I don't feel guilty about that to this day. It's December 15th for anyone whose interested.

Wounds heal with time though, and things have steadily been getting better for me this past year. By February, my brother and cousins managed to line me up an interview at the warehouse they worked at and come March, I was hired and I've had a steady income since. I couldn't quite get into school due to some complications with my parent's tax situation preventing me from receiving FAFSA aid, which also prevented me from taking advantage of the benefits of my NJSTARS qualifactions I'd gained for being ranked 29th out of the 380 or so students of my graduating class, but I recently managed to get those issues resolved and may only just be able to get in to class in the upcoming fall Semester. I'm going for their Electro-Mechanical Engineering major, but intend to use the credits I gain to transfer out to a better school around the second year to keep costs for school low. I'm hoping to graduate as either a medical engineer, mechanical engineer or electronics engineer. I'll hopefully be able to better figure this out soon should I get the opportunity to discuss my educational path with an adviser at the college I'll be attending soon. I'm really aiming hard for the medical engineer major though as I think it'll give me a skill set that will bring me the closest to my hardware goals and offers a skillset that will become invaluable in the coming years, giving me job security.

So where does this leave development? Believe it or not, things are going better now than when I had all the time in the world. I'm working on rigging a character model to use in some VR experimental demos....
Pictures, yeah, it is happening.

I'd use a pre-made model, but I feel doing the work myself provides more experience, reduces my dependence on outside tools, and minimizes potential copyright hassles.

As for what the demo is, I'll go into that tomorrow since it's getting late at the time I'm writing this and my day job isn't something I'm willing to compromise on.

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