Stardew Valley and a New Hobby

Jasper

Jasper’s ‘happy’ portrait. I love his cheek bones.

For Christmas, 2019, I was given a Switch, and Pokemon, Let’s Go Eevee. After I’d played it through to completion, my husband suggested another game I might like. Little did he know that he was going to unleash my newest obsession.

The game was Stardew Valley, and after an intial shaky and confusing start, since he wasn’t particularly forthcoming with advice, I became hooked.

Long story short, I’d just become comfortable with the game when our house was broken into, the Switch stolen (games as well) and, after a brief mourning period, I realized I couldn’t let go of the Valley. So I bought in on PC.

After I’d played the game through to exhaustion (if not completion, since there’s no such thing), the characterisations and setting further inspired me, and I threw myself whole-heartedly into writing fanfiction.

Six months, three and a half stories, and over 300 thousand words later (you can read them on Archive of Our Own, under ‘Lemurkat’), that flame began to wane, and a new Stardew related addiction began.

Modding.

It began simply with me running them – expanded lands, dialogue, and cut scene (“event”) expansions, as well as a few that did fun stuff like turning my ducks into swans and so forth.

Then I began digging into the code. Now, I taught myself HTML about a billion years ago, back when that was the in thing, and when I was a child I’d programmed our ZX Spectrum, but computers had become a whole lot more sophisticated since then. Although not, as it turned out, more difficult.

After writing and play-testing a few scenes (and learning that computer programming is mostly about writing script then running it until you’ve found all the typos, bugs, and things that just don’t work), I downloaded Aesperite to make my own sprites. Animating them is fun! Modifying the original ones, and creating my own from scratch.

Best NZ$15 I spent in a long time actually (pretty much since I bought Stardew on PC). Aesperite is fairly intuitive and easy to learn – although it took me a while to figure out how to cut and paste parts of my image.

Jasper-portrait

Neutral, happy, sad, amused, embarrassed, angry, with his buddies.

Next step obviously was to create my own characters, so I took Jasper from my Fanfic (although he’s actually a canon character as well, just not one you ever see in the game – yet) and created a portrait of him. Then changed his moods. And refined it. It seemed a shame not to make a sprite after that, so I did that as well, modifying Elliot’s sprite (although Harvey’s would’ve worked well too).

He was well received when I showed the image off on the Stardew Valley Hangout Facebook page, so I have downloaded the ‘NPC template’ for Content Patcher (a must for Stardew Modding since it retains the original files and over-rides them when running the game through the modding API thus meaning you can uninstall them easily) and began working through his dialogue and interests in the hope that I can implement him in game sometime in the not too distant future.

Professor Jasper Thomas is in his early 30s. His father, a miner, was killed in the explosion that turned Pelican Town into a ghost town (pre-game lore, NOT canon) and Jasper decided to attend ZuCU (Zuzu City University) where he studied mythology and anthropology, specializing in the non-human races (goblins, dwarves, shadow people, all canon). Alas, his outlandish theories earned him the scorn of his peers, and in an e

Jasper-sprite

Jasper’s sprites. He sleeps in PJs unlike every other character.

ffort to prove them true, he has returned to Pelican Town to further his studies and seek evidence that the dwarves are actually alien refugees (this IS canon).

He’s boarding in a room connected to the Archaeology House (there’s no door currently in the game. I could add one in but I don’t really want to mess with the ingame tile sheets). His friends are Gunther, Marlon, Rasmodius (the wizard) and the Junimo. He’s polite and shy, and avoids social events (so you won’t see him at festivals, even though I’m sure he’d love the moonlight jellies) and probably won’t be a marriage candidate (mainly because modding in marriage candidates brings in some issues). Whilst shy, once he gets to know you, if you express an interest in his studies he will natter your ears off for ages about his studies.

His daily schedule will include roaming the woods searching for Junimo, or heading up the mountain to hang out in the Adventurer’s Guild. I haven’t programmed his schedule yet as I figure it will require a lot of tinkering to calculate how long it will take him to walk anywhere.

He loves some dwarven artifacts, certain gemstomes (who doesn’t?), miners treat,  blueberries, and apples. He likes the dwarven scrolls and other gemstones. He does NOT like beer.

Anyway, after determining these things, I downloaded Tiled. Banged my head against it for ages while I figured out how to use it, and finally managed to work out how to make a bedroom for him (then I added him into it via PSP because why not?):

JaspersRoomSo now I need to finish him off and patch him into the game. Before then, I should release my Immersive Marnie mod (adds a ton of dialogue, 2,4,5,8 and 10 heart cutscenes for Marnie, plus additional dialogue and scenes for Jas, because the poor lass has NO cut scenes of her own, just ones she shares with Penny and Vincent), adds a certain other core character to events, and adjusts Marnie’s behaviour if you befriend her.

I’ve also created a goose, more chickens, and various other bird species for cut scenes or to switch out for existing sprites. Watching the scenes play out as scripted is extremely rewarding!

jeremy-images

This is Jeremy. He’s just learning how to fly.

Celebrating Lemurs!

October the 27th is World Lemur Day. A day to celebrate the most endangered clade of mammals on the planet.

Did you know:

  • Lemurs are found exclusively on the island of Madagascar (and some tiny offshore islands)
  • There are over 100 different species of lemur, ranging in size from the dwarf mouse lemur (30 g)  to the indri  (up to 9.5 kg).
  • Of those species, a shocking 90% are endangered, many critically.
  • Lemurs are prosimians, which translates as “before monkey” and are descended from a common ancestor. It is believed this ancestor was carried over to Madagascar on debris, and evolved to fill a variety of different niches.
  • The aye-aye, possibly one of the strangest mammals in the world, was described as having “… the ears of a bat, the tail of a fox, the teeth of a beaver, the fur of a microwaved cat and the hands of a witch…” (from John Cleese’s “In the Wild”). Its middle finger is not actually elongated, but very, very thin, allowing it to probe into crevices to extract delicious bugs and grubs.
  • Most lemur species are vegetarian, with the eastern sifaka species requiring such a diverse array of foliage that they rarely survive (and have not yet flourished) in captivity.
  • The west coast of Madagascar is much drier, and the lemur species found there tend to somewhat more adaptable with their diet.
  • John Cleese loves lemurs – and has a species of avahi (woolly lemur) named after him: Avahi cleesei
  • The lemur “poster boy”, the ring-tailed lemur, is one of the more generalised species. It thrives in zoos, and spends more time on the ground than other species. However, wild populations have suffered a massive decline in recent years.
  • The black lemurs  have been filmed biting millipedes, which causes them to secrete a chemical that not only acts as a natural insecticide, but is also a narcotic.
  • Sclater’s black lemur is the only non-human primate with blue eyes.
  • The bamboo lemur regularly consumes high qualities of cyanide.

Here are some pictures of lemurs that I have drawn over the years:

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Ten Top Birds

Here are illustrations of ten beautiful species of bird. Not necessarily in order of preference (as that changes regularly). All illustrated by me, between 2011-2016.

(another favourite, Currawong is not included because I haven’t drawn him).

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Obligatory New Year Post

lilbluepenguin

Little blue penguin by the beach

 

So, it comes to pass that 2016 is about to draw to a close. It has been a troubling year on the global scale: beloved celebrities have passed, as have prominent scientists and authors. Politics have been unsettling, as has the “revelation” that climate change may well lead the human race – and goodness knows how many other species – to extinction within the next decade. On a personal level, things have been rather more pleasing. We introduced a new, four-legged and furred, member to our family, and we have now owned our own house for a year. We traveled to Australia and explored Tasmania. My not-so-inner child was further delighted by the creation of Pokemon Go and the resurgence of popularity in Pokemon that ensured.

Whilst I did not achieve many of my writing goals for the year, I did complete my Animal Alphabet in April and successfully participated in NaNoWriMo. I have had two short stories accepted for publication in anthologies (that I am not the editor of) and one even paid me money! And I have taken on several formatting jobs for different authors. I also helped my lovely friend Matty Angel release her first book and realise one of her life’s goals, including helping her bank her first ever paycheque!

So, what do I strive to achieve in 2017?

Writing:
Work on “Tail of Two Scions” (and get the damned thing done!)
Write a short story a month for the year.
Participate in NaNoWriMo 2017

Art:
Get back into a pattern of drawing regularly.
Create that picture book that Matty is talking about.
Sell some art.

Reading:
Read over 100 books.

Travel:
Celebrate Midsummer Eve in Scandinavia
See Europe (countries yet to be determined)
Travel to anywhere in the world that is required to attend the Helloween “Pumpkins Unite” tour. (may wind up in 2018 depending on their schedule)

Social:
Attend at least one concert (The Darkness)

Aurelia and Riana

Aurelia & Raina

Aurelia and her friend Riana, a tanta (aka “Fork Marked Dwarf Lemur)

I haven’t been doing a lot of writing recently, and even less drawing. Sad but true! What I have been doing is a lot of walking (damn you Pokemon Go!) and a fair amount of formatting. I’ve been working on the second anthology for our Writers’ Guild and I think, given the time and effort, that this will be my last combined anthology. The stories are great, and I’ve had a lot of support on the editing process, but wowsies… formatting takes time! However, I’ve gotten two actual paying projects for formatting to work on as well, so we’ll see how that fans out. Maybe one day I will be able to give up the day job…

Meanwhile, I’m trying to prepare myself for NaNoWriMo by: a, clearing out projects out of the way and b, deciding what story to work on.

I’ve several options:

  1. Rewrite “Tail of Two Scions” again.
  2. Rewrite “Furritasia: Reborne” (like I promised I was going to about a month ago).
  3. Finally finish my Pokemon Fanfiction with a Poke-apocalyse story.
  4. Write a series of short chapter books aimed at the 6-9 years market, each featuring a different animal having adventures.
  5. Write a romance/love story (maybe the story between Kataryna Lemieux and Daniel Galbraith)

Anybody wish to help me with suggestions? I suppose I could always try all of the above and switch between them. Seeing which one works for me!

Anthropomorphic Animal People (aka: Furries)

The furry fandom is a subculture interested in fictional anthropomorphic animal characters with human personalities and characteristics. Examples of anthropomorphic attributes include exhibiting human intelligence and facial expressions, the ability to speak, walk on two legs, and wear clothes. Furry fandom is also used to refer to the community of people who gather on the Internet and at furry conventions.

  • wikipedia “Furry Fandom”

I first connected with the internet seriously in the early part of this century, and immersed myself in online communities and cultures. Along the way, I discovered Furries. Now, the Furry Community was one of the friendliest, but also one of the most mocked, on the internet at the time – and they possibly are still rather misunderstood today. I created a Fursona (Furry persona), put up auctions for both stories and art on Furbid, and shared my art via VCL, spending most of my time on Yerf’s forums (but lacking in the artistic ability to actually become a member). Sadly, all of those sites are now long defunct, VCL has been archived, but is still viewable, Yerf has vanished altogether and Furbid has been replaced by Furbuy, which seems to attract sellers but not-so-many buyers. And truth be told, my art was somewhat substandard at the time and most of the auctions were purchased by the same fellow, a fellow how probably kept most of lower-tier artists afloat.

Now, whilst I enjoy drawing animal people – as has been noted in previous entries, I favour animal, or animalistic, characters over humans – I have never believed that I actually was the spirit of a lemur trapped in a human’s body, nor have I ever engaged in anything dubious or dodgy, either wearing a fursuit or not. I just prefer drawing, and writing, animal characters to humans. I have a vast cast of Furry characters, beginning with Kataryna Delilah Lemusu, a ring-tailed lemur.

conbadge-kat Kataryna began life as a regular ring-tailed lemur-morph: brownish-red fur, white belly, long striped tail. Then one day, in a fit of artistic angst, I killed her off. Slashed her wrists in the bathtub, in fact. I’m not sure what happened to that illustration – it’s probably lying around in a drawer somewhere – but anyhow, she was unable to stay dead: Anubis sent her back from the Afterlife, tasking her with the duty of helping others, and saving other people’s lives. She was reborn, as an angel. For a few months, I actually wrote her story as a serial via Livejournal (also now largely defunct, as the users all migrated to Facebook) and have archived it on my Fictionpress site, if you want to read it (it’s poorly edited, sorry). Naturally, I never quite got around to finishing it. I was too fickle in my writing, and I don’t think I finished a single story between 2000-2008 (when I wrote, finished, edited and, eventually, published, Midsummer Knight’s Quest). Despite not being finished, it did spawn a sequel, Scavengers of the Deadlands (also unfinished) which you can read the first ten-or-so chapters of here.

One day I shall finish them … one day!

Although I did move away from the Furry forums around 2005 (and shortly after, Yerf closed, the two events are entirely unrelated), I still drew the occasional bit of Furry Art, and the characters still remained alive, begging their tails to be told. Fellowship of the Ringtails is technically furry, although the characters are actually little changed from their earth counterparts in appearance, and mainly anthropomorphic in behaviour. I was also accepted into the Furry Writers Guild, much to my surprise and delight! And, with any luck, will see some of my short stories published in future anthologies. This may encourage me to reincarnate my Furry characters, dust off the manuscripts and get them published!

I have also written Poke-morph Fanfiction, and you can read that story here: Pookamon: Quest for Freedom AND it actually IS finished!

 

 

 

Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go hit the “store” a couple of days ago, and it has been taken up, with great enthusiasm, by many of my (equally “grown up”) peers. Even my husband, who never watched the show and never shared my enthusiasm, has taken up the ranks of Pokemon Trainer. I’ve even purchased a data plan on my phone (there’s only so many Pokemon you can lure to your house using incense, after all). We’ve a gym at our corner, two Pokestops within easy walking distance and a shopping mall filled with rattata, zubat and pidgey at our disposal.

Anyway, in line with this recent resurgence of the little pocket monsters, I thought it might be fun to dig out some of my illustrations from my “draw ’em all” phase in 2008 (I didn’t draw them all, but did get through an awful lot) and one from 2011. You can probably spot the latter one!

Missing that I captured today are Slowpoke, Koffing, Weedle and Zubat, whom I appear not to have drawn. Maybe I should remedy that!

Here is also a clear example of how art improves with practice! Who thinks I should draw all my Pokemon again? Comment below (suggestions welcome)!

(Note: The sheep is a fan-pokemon, I think his name was Lambert. He was drawn for a trade. I should draw Pidgey again, shouldn’t I?)

Now, off to charge my phone, so I can catch some more!