Happy New Year! – 2020 in blogging and streaming recapped

This is a scheduled post and I hope that it’s not December 32nd now as I really want 2020 to be over.

2020 has been a difficult year with Covid being an issue for the most part. At the beginning of quarantine and the lockdowns and all of that, I ended up starting to stream five days a week instead of three days. This was mainly to give people a way to relieve their anxiety and give them some entertainment and chill times. At one point, we played Amnesia and joked about the Zombie virus and how there is a fungus (similar to the virus/fungus in TLOU) that infects ants and controls them to get eaten by birds… who then spread the spores. Very interesting. We also joked about how we would fare in a zombie apocalypse… I’d try to mediate as much as possible, and I would most likely die first… yup.

At the start of 2020, I was also messing around, saying that there is always a plague in the 20s. Guess I jinxed it. Yikes.

Overall, this has been not too much of a bad year for me personally, though. While I had my fair share of panic attacks, anxieties intensifying, depressive phases, social problems, and other problems, I also had a lot of good moments, like getting a lot of traffic on my blog and hitting some bigger milestones when it came to streaming. I also managed to overcome some of those problems and learn how to deal with them. I think I even grew as a person due to some of the struggles this year, which makes me feel more confident in handling rough situations in the future better! At one point, I also joined a Stream team which wasn’t that good since I’d always compare myself to other streamers and stuff… So, I ended up leaving Wild Abandon.

The last few months of 2020 were a bit troublesome when it came to streaming, though. My internet speed was getting slower in the evenings, resulting in me dropping a ton of frames. Alas, I changed my schedule to morning streams as they seem to work a lot better for me. Numbers-wise that proved to be a good decision as well as it has lead to me meeting a lot of awesome people. I’m lucky to slowly build a community like this and I’m looking forward to growing this Crypt of mine steadily over time with more Undead joining in to enjoy games together without having to fear bigotry or toxicity.

Back to blogging: We hit a few milestones, including one year of blogging, one-hundred followers, and also my participation in both Blapril and the Blaugust Promptapalooza! The latter felt a bit off and I was certainly struggling with providing content on my blog, especially as a lot of the prompts didn’t scratch the itch too well… but we managed to get a fair share of posts out in that time and the link-backs certainly helped guide new readers to my blog, I think. At this point, hello new readers. Pleased to meet you. Even though we don’t actually meet. Uh, pleased to write you? Pleased to read you? Doesn’t really work, does it? Uhm,… I’m pleased that you’re reading my stuff. Thanks for that!

Traffic-wise, I hit over a thousand views in some of the early months with the trend increasing into later months, so that’s something that I’m really proud of. It kind of proves to me that I’m doing things right and that the topics I post about actually resonate with people. I sometimes wonder how a post will do, especially when I try out something new or when I review a game that is just coming out. Seeing the number of interactions with the post or the tweets, however, brings a smile to my face and actually helps a lot with that “posting”-anxiety that I feel at times.

“Posting”-anxiety is probably not a term that exists but what I mean by that is that kind of fear that you have before publishing anything. Similar to how my heart starts racing once I’ve hit that “go live” button in OBS, resulting in me needing about ten minutes to calm down and be my reserved self that is actually happy to be live again. It’s a bit of an issue. What if nobody shows up today? What if nobody reads my blog post? What if nobody likes the game that I’m recommending here, even though it is a great title? Will people lose faith in me as a curator?

It really isn’t that bad with blogging, but at times I just tend to overthink anything and everything, which is something I want to get better at in 2021. I want to have more faith in my blog posts and my streams, and take better care of myself & my mental health. I want to have fun with what I’m doing and enjoy it while it lasts and while I’m able to stream and blog.

Speaking of Mental Health, I’m looking forward to going to therapy again. Due to my financial situation, I wasn’t able to visit my therapist anymore and ended up having to call all of the meetings off, as I just couldn’t afford it anymore. In the same fashion, I need to eat proper food again once 2021 starts and actually take care of my needs. Showering often, going to sleep early, waking up early, getting enough rest, taking enough breaks, getting enough steps in, taking a breather every now and then. Those things are really important and while I managed to get that kinda stuff sorted for a lot of 2020, which helped a ton, I also ended up falling back into old patterns of skipping meals, staying up all night long, eating too late and hence not being able to sleep, and so on. But then again, we had that post yesterday, so uh… y’know… read that for more in-detail-stuff.

Let’s go over my blogging goals, at last:

In 2021, I wanted to familiarise myself with the Classic Editor and all of the blocks in the Gutenberg Editor. So far, I’ve only been using the Gutenberg Editor but the Classic Editor has some features that looked more than promising, as far as formatting goes. I’d also like to meddle with all the different blocks that are available in Gutenberg. I haven’t played around too much with the different galleries, as of late, and there are plenty of features that I haven’t tried at all, yet.

That’s something I want to change. I want to bring the best out of Indiecator and get the most value out of my reviews and other posts. I wanted to be more consistent with the Monster Hunter Log and the Late to the Party posts as well as the occasional Stray Sheep and Lookout Post… post… yup.

I want to try out new things and see how it goes. Something that I haven’t tried at all, yet, is uploading playthroughs to YouTube or embedding the first hour or so of gameplay into my reviews to give people a better look at the game. There is only so much that I can do as far as explaining goes… and people will have the option of watching it or not watching it. Obviously, rendering stuff is going to be a pain in the butt, as well as editing videos again… as that’s something that I haven’t done ever since I got that workshop for Magix back in 2012 or 2013… so no clue really if my knowledge is going to be good enough for other programs. I’ll look into it, starting this year.

Apart from that, I started doing digital art in Krita in late-2020 and been really enjoying doing panel art and emote art for my own stream and other people. I have yet to think about whether or not I wanna take commissions but I’ll let you know when I do. I’d love to get into animation and bring some of my emotes to life on-screen… looking forward to GIF-creation and potentially creating some animated alerts for the Stream as well.

As far as streaming goes, there are a plethora of goals that I have in mind for that:

There plenty of things that I’m working on right now and it all is a Work in Progress! So stuff changes and improves over time! Patience is key! The other day someone offered to animate things for free for people, so I messaged them if they were serious and if I could really ask them to do something for me… free of charge. As I was completely broke at the time, I was more than happy to hear that I’m able to get an ultra-awesome Stinger transition for my Stream as well as a super-duper-awesome animated “Starting Soon” screen that is in-line with my current branding. I’m really excited to implement that into my stream and once it’s out I’ll write about it again and credit the artist and all of that. Really looking forward to seeing how people react to it! I, for one, am deeply in love with it!

Aside from that there are some other goals:

  • Always say “yes”, unless uncomfortable.
  • Use Drama experience! (for entertainment, voice tone, volume, acting, etc.)
  • Educate myself on Mental Health and LGBTQIA+ related topics so that I know more about them and so that I can spread more awareness on those topics and how to handle questions on those topics.
  • Make the Stream more accessible. (Closed Captions, Content/Trigger warnings)
  • Be more positive in general about myself and towards others.
  • Work more on my emotes.
  • Be more consistent.
  • Think up more creative ideas for the Stream and the Branding.

Now, the post is already really long, as is, but let me just quickly clarify something: When I say “always say yes” then I mean that you take an opportunity in chat and turn it into something entertaining. It’s basically the backbone of improv and I want to use more of that and my Drama experience in my streaming to an extent but I don’t want to tolerate trolls, bigots or toxic people, so I won’t *always* say yes… just when it’s an opportunity. The other day, someone said something about One Direction, so I took that and said that I’m their biggest fan. Then I mentioned something stupid about how my favourite song by them is “Sucker for you” (which is obviously not by them) and how my favourite member of that band is Logan (who was in some other band as well), resulting in someone in chat really liking it. When someone comments on how I died, I’d say that I can’t die since I’m undead. All of that is merely an illusion. When I’m not good at the game, I can play it off as giving people a chance. When I am good at it, I can act as if that’s always the case with an ironic wink or whatever. There are plenty of ways to turn something boring and use it spontaneously to make it work for you and I feel like that’s something that I want to do more often.

Consistency and Quality are the backbone of streaming, so I want to up that, obviously. I want to brainstorm more on my branding which is what I do at basically any given time… Being more positive about myself and my looks and whatever is important for my mental health, so it ties into the goals from yesterday as well, but it is also important for the stream itself since a happy Magi is going to be more entertaining than a depressed Magi.

Talking about Mental Health and LGBTQIA+ related topics has been something I’ve enjoyed a lot in the past… educating myself on that is completely understandable as part of that. I want to understand what people go through and I want to be able to help. And at last, accessibility,… is tricky to deal with. There are a lot of things that I need to do but I haven’t figured them out just yet. Eventually, I’ll be happy with how accessible my stream is, but until then I’ll have to educate myself and look things up and try stuff out. Closed Captions are the first step towards that!

Either way, I hope you have a nice start to 2021. It’s definitely going to better than 2020, I think… Take care of your mental health and your needs. Take breathers whenever possible and don’t overwork yourself. Even with vaccines on the way, try to stay safe and try to not endanger too many people. I’ll probably wear my mask forever since I’m just not used to not wearing it. Do you have any resolutions for this year? Let me know!

Again, Happy New Year!

Cheers!

This post originated on Indiecator and was first published on there by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

Indietail – Occupy White Walls

Art is something that should be accessible to everyone… but it’s a bit rough to get into. I don’t know a lot about art but I do enjoy going to exhibitions and museums – and while I don’t know a lot of the big names or techniques or epochs or whatever… I don’t think that I need to.

But there are often people that make it hard for newbies like me to get into that hobby. It’s hard to enjoy something like that if other people constantly are talking in a very condescending way with you while wielding big words and termini that you don’t understand.

Today we’re taking a look at Occupy White Walls, an art gallery simulation game that is trying to fight that problem. It’s trying to make art accessible to everyone – in a very unique way.

Developer: StikiPixels
Publisher: StikiPixels
Release Date: November 14th, 2018
Genres: Casual, Art, Simulation, Multiplayer
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was available for free.

In Occupy White Walls, you create your own gallery. You build it from scratch using different floors, walls and structures, which feels quite sandbox-ish. You also are able to buy paintings, photographs and drawings of famous and underrated artists, so that you’re able to… occupy… those white walls… yup!

My gallery is nowhere near finished but it’s looking cool so far, even though I’m only using glass panes right now. I’ll probably completely rebuild all of this at a later date – but for now this is already turning out quite well!

By opening your gallery you’re able to earn more money… and by buying new artworks, you unlock new structures, frames and other cosmetic features.

What’s very lovely about this is that the whole game is kind of built like an MMO of sorts… You’re able to visit your friends’ galleries or teleport to a random user’s gallery: You comment in their guest books or have discussions with other people on different paintings. You open their gallery so that they earn money while you’re enjoying the paintings… and when you see something that you like, you can put it on your wishlist or buy it yourself!

The tricky bit to Occupy White Walls is that you cannot just search for paintings. You cannot go for Van Gogh, da Vinci, Munch or Sargent and just take their paintings. Instead, the game works with artificial intelligence called Daisy that essentially recommends paintings to you based on your preferences. You then are able to find more paintings that are similar to the paintings you pick or you even search for more paintings by the same artist.

I love this view over here to bits!

Using this method, I was able to find an artist called LARSKRISTO who does a lot of very colourful and obscure pieces but also creates very dark and enigmatic paintings… I really love his style!

Another great feature of OWW is the information that you get about each painting. You can learn about the background of the artist and some other information if you look at a painting. Most paintings have a ton of information available and hence you can also discuss interpretations with others and analyze these paintings yourself, if that’s your jam – or you just look at them and enjoy the view: All based on your preferences!

And Daisy learns from the pictures that you buy and is always to find something new and interesting for you – and if there is nothing of interest in the selection, you can always request more. So far it has been fairly accurate for me… and just now I found about de Goya and that I actually like his stuff…

The game is completely free to play and progression is purely based on your creations: You build up buildings and galleries and buy new paintings or unlock new cosmetic features for your avatar but you’re never asked to pay a single dollar out of your actual pocket – in case you really want to, you can support the developers by buying the game’s official soundtrack.

Moonlight Surgery by Alnilam is one of the paintings that I found today.

Speaking of the soundtrack, it is just enigmatic and mesmerizing. There are a lot of very relaxing pieces there that perfectly work with what you’re doing. It’s relatively easy to sink a lot of time into this game once you found some pieces that you like and once you’ve got an idea of what you want to do.

Originally, I planned on having a “café” or bar of sorts with a lot of different seating areas and art pieces around it… but I need to be a higher level for that to unlock some other furniture pieces. Hence, I’m right now working with a different concept of a gallery in a glass box of sorts that is surrounded by an ocean and that features a lot of surreal and contemporary pieces. So far so good… I’ll revisit the café/bar idea later, though!

When you open your gallery, you’re getting joined by bots that wander through your gallery and look at paintings. After a while, they explode into paint splashes and leave money on your desk that you then can collect to invest it into more paintings or more space, furniture and building materials. Every now and then, you’ll see actual players that you can interact with but more often than not, you’ll only see the bots and you’ll only notice that players have been there due to the comments in your guest book.

This is another painting that I really adore. It’s by John Singer Sargent and it’s titled “Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau)” and there’s just something about it that I just love.

And of course, there is a chat function where you can discuss all kinds of topics with other people… but since it’s Free-to-Play and since it’s online, won’t there be any trolls or toxic people there?

Well,… the developers have heard all of these concerns before and I’ve heard that they are working on a system to remove comments that you don’t like from your guest book while also detecting hateful messages. The comment feature was only recently introduced and the game keeps frequently getting updates! With each update, the developers are introducing more art pieces (old AND new!), new features, and items.

The community is super helpful and seems quite alright. Of course, you get the occasional “I was here” comment but once you’re able to remove that kind of stuff, those won’t be a problem. My initial concern about toxicity and trolls has also not been that much of an issue, yet, since there just don’t seem to be all that many people out there that know about this title or that appreciate art in that way. On top of that, you have to create an account for the game and while that is a bit annoying, it apparently is helping a lot with the process of keeping trolls out. Hence, I’m quite confident that the game won’t get tainted that easily by the internet!

The only issue that I had with the game is how many resources it requires to run properly, as in: Having a lot of paintings, objects and effects can make the game lag at times… but a lot of people avoid that by just creating small galleries on multiple accounts and by connecting them with portals.

It is still in Early Access and it still is getting updated… so that kind of justifies all of that jankiness. You have to wait a bit for stuff to load up and there are some issues here and there with floor-tiles glitching out a bit, but it’s usually not that bad compared to other EA titles.

All in all, I’d say that this is a great game and if you’re into art or if you want to look at cool paintings or meddle with some architecture you should definitely check this title out!

Oh, and if you want to visit my gallery: My name in-game is MagiWasTaken. And on another note, if you wanna check out some of the art that is featured in-game, visit this side.

Cheers!