色々な更新の記録、其の玖

 この更新の記録は、本来隔週更新する予定だったとは思えないほど散発的なスケジュールで更新していますね。実はこれが今年最初の記録なのですし。

 さて、まえがきをともかくにして、12月下旬からの僕の近況報告をしましょうか。

 個人的な健康(身体と精神の両方)を始め、繁栄するために出来ることをしてきました。一貫した厳しい筋トレスケジュールを取り掛かり、カロリーやその他の栄養素(主にタンパク質の摂取量)をアプリで記録し、驚くことにさらに体重が減らすことが出来ました・・・とはいえ、実際の利益も見え始めていると言うことが出来ますよ。先月から脚がかなり引き締まってきて、明らかに脂肪が燃えてきて、柔軟性も出てきて(まだ好きなほど柔らかくないですが)、全体的に自分の体が向かっている方向性にとても満足しています。今月は、押す運動と引く運動の日々に切り替えたので、筋肉がつくのが楽しみです。

 精神的には、ときどき(数日から数週間の)スランプに陥ることがありますが、物事を続ける努力を続けています。感謝日記を始め、毎晩寝る前に最低三つは感謝していることを書くようにしています。また、毎日三つの項目からなるやることリストを作る習慣も取り入れました。たいていの場合、その中には片付けなければならない仕事も含まれていますが、時には三つのことを完全に思いつけないこともあるので、「筋トレする」や「シャワーを浴びる」など、より平凡なことで引き伸ばすこともあります。この記録を書くことも、実は今日のやることの一つなので、どうなっているかが分かるはずです。

 生産性といえば、何もしない時間を最小限にしようと努力しています。特に一日の早い時間に。「まだ早いだから全部片づけるには十分な時間があるね」と考えながら仕事を先延ばしにしているうちに、突然一日が終わってしまい、実際に何も出来ていない、ということがよくあります。僕が始めた対策の一つは、起きたら携帯をチェックしないですぐにベッドを出るようにすることです。早起きと、8時に朝食、9時~13時まで作曲、13時に昼食など、キッチリとしたスケジュールを組むことで、かなり助かっているようです。

 とはいえ、まだ職業を見つける必要があります。いい習慣を取り入れたりしつつも、求職申し込みを書くことはもう一年近く先延ばしにしているので、今月中に少なくともいくつかは送れるようにしたいものです。ソフトウェア工学の仕事を見つけたいと思いますが、ウェブデザインの仕事もいいです。なぜならここ数ヶ月、逆向ロード現作団のウェブサイトを色々といじくりまわっている。ダウンロード回数や、パスワードで保護された分析ページが追加されました。

 それに続いて、僕の創作活動についてお話ししたいと思います。音楽の依頼については、2022年の最初の四ヶ月で完成させた依頼の数は4件になって、2021年の全期間のよりもう多いと自負しています。例によって、この再生リストでご視聴になることが出来ます(依頼人様がまだ自分で使っていないので公開していない一つの依頼を除いて)。

 それに、近々依頼を再開する予定があるので、いつものように僕のツイッターも見ていてください。

 他の製作については、夢界Projectの第二弾の開発は・・・まだ開始のわけではないのですが、いくつかの素材を作成し、全く新しいデザインドキュメントを起草して、再び足元を固め始めています。僕の優先順位はまだ他にあるので大したことが出来ていませんが、出来るだけ早く本格的な仕事をしたいと思っているのです。

 その代わりに優先すべきは、三枚目のアルバム(「祖型无現の再現」を一枚目とすれば)です。今年中に公開したいと思っているのですが、もう5月が始まってしまい、一年の3分の1が過ぎても進捗はまだ0%なのです。特にこのアルバムは音楽だけでないので、早く手を打たなければいけないと思っています。ジャケットを描いたりブックレットをデザインしたりしないと、その為に自分の絵の腕を磨かなければならない。

 しかし、音楽といえば、もうすぐ依頼でもアルバムでもサントラでもない新曲を公開する予定です。今週でなければ、必ず来週に。他の曲と同じように、動画も作らなければならないのです。皆様にお見せするのがとても楽しみです。本当に、マジでいい曲になった、僕が言うから、何か意味があるはずなのです。

 今のところ僕からは以上ですけど。今回の更新は、僕からの無沙汰に見合うだけの十分な長さであったことを願っています。ご健康を、ご安全を、ご警戒を、そしていつも通りに、皆様の継続的な応援をどうもありがとうございます!

Posted in Album 3, Albums, Commissions, Games, General, Mukai 2, Mukai Project, Music, Update logs, Website, 日本語 | Leave a comment

General Update Log No. 9

You wouldn’t believe these update logs were originally supposed to be a bi-weekly occurrence, given my sporadic schedule with them. In fact, this is the first new log of the year — at least of its kind.

But without further ado, let’s get you up to speed on what I’ve been up to since late December, shall we?

Starting with my personal health (both physical and mental), I’ve been doing what I can to thrive. Getting into a consistent and rigorous workout schedule, keeping track of my calories and other nutrients (primarily protein intake) with an app, which has surprisingly led me to lose even more weight… though I’ll have to say that I’m also starting to see some actual gains. My legs have gotten a lot more firm over the course of last month, I’ve clearly been burning fat, I’m a lot more flexible now (albeit still not as flexible as I’d like to be), and overall I’m definitely very happy with the direction my body is headed. This month I’ve made the switch to push and pull days, and I’m already looking forward to the extra muscle it’ll help me put on.

Mentally, I’ve been having the occasional slump here and there (lasting from anywhere between a few days to a few weeks), but I’m making an effort to keep on top of things. I’ve started a gratitude journal, trying to list at least three things that I’m grateful for every night before bed, and I’ve also adopted the practice of making a daily to-do list with three items. Most of the time that includes tasks I need to get out of the way, but sometimes I can’t think of a full three things, so I stretch it with more mundane stuff like “work out” or “take a shower”. Writing this blog post is actually one of my tasks for today, so that should tell you how that’s been going for me.

On the topic of productivity, I’m also making an effort to try and minimize time spent doing nothing, especially early in the day: all too often to I find myself falling into the trap of thinking “it’s still early in the day, so I’ve got plenty of time to get everything done”, only to keep putting my tasks off until — oops — suddenly the day is already over and I haven’t actually gotten anything done at all. That kinda stuff. One of the measures I’ve started taking was making an effort to get out of bed as soon as I wake up, rather than staying in there for up to an hour or more just checking my phone. An early rise and a rigid schedule (breakfast at 8, music work from 9am to 1pm, lunch at 1pm, etc.) have definitely been helping a lot.

That said, I still need to find a full-time job, and despite all the systems I’ve put in place and habits I’m in the process of adopting, writing applications is something I’ve been putting off for close to a year now, so ideally I’ll at least have some sent out by the time the month is over. I’d definitely like to find a job in software engineering — or web design, seeing as I’ve been doing a lot of tinkering with the Retrograde Road website over the months, the latest additions being download counters, as well as a password-protected analytics page.

…which segues nicely into my creative endeavors that I want to talk about next. Regarding music commissions, I’m proud to say that I’ve already finished more commissions within the first four months of 2022 than I have throughout all of 2021: Four commissions and counting. As usual, you can find and listen to them in this playlist (except for one commission which I haven’t posted yet because I’m waiting for the client to use it himself first).

And of course, as usual, keep your eyes peeled on my Twitter, since I plan on reopening soon.

Regarding my other projects, the second game of the Mukai Project has… not exactly started development yet, but I’ve begun getting my feet wet with it again, creating a few assets and drafting up an all-new design doc. It’s not much to write home about yet, particularly since my priorities still lie elsewhere, but know that I’m chomping at the bit to get some serious work done on it as soon as I can.

What I need to prioritize instead is my third album (if Proto-Unreality Replication is counted as the first). I’d been wanting to get it released this year, but May has already started, and with that, a third of the year has already passed me by without any progress made whatsoever. I’m going to have to get the ball rolling on this one very soon, especially as the music isn’t all there is to the album. I’ll still need to draw an album cover and design the booklet, and the former in particular means having to derust and repolish my art skills.

But speaking of music, you can expect me to release a new non-commission, non-album, non-soundtrack song very soon. If not this week, then definitely the next. I just need to make a video for it, like for all the others… and honestly? I’m very excited to show it to you guys. It’s really, really good, and coming from me, that should mean something.

That’s it from me for now, though. I hope this update was long enough to be worth the lack of news from me otherwise. Stay healthy, stay safe, stay vigilant, and as always, thank you for your continued support!

Posted in Album 3, Albums, Commissions, English, Games, General, Mukai 2, Mukai Project, Music, Update logs, Website | Leave a comment

9周年来た! それに名称変更

 どもどもー、こちらPopfanです!

 新年が始まってもうほとんど一ヶ月半経ちましたね。皆様は元気で、健康で、安全でしょうか。僕は先月から定期的な筋トレを再開し、毎朝ウォーキングをするようになりました。体に効くかどうかまだ言えませんが、気分はよくなってきます。朝のルーティンが一定しているのはいい気持ちですね・・・

 それはさておき、話したいのはサークル自体のことです。今から大きく変わろうとしていますから。

 きっちり9年前、Skypeのグループに加えられていたことに目覚めました。グループにいた二人は僕を加えたSpaztiqueさん、そしてプログラミングができそうと言われたFullHitPointsさん。後者のプログラミング能力と、Spaztiqueさんの作曲や文章と、僕のデザイン感やアイディアがあれば、「東方海冒険」を実現する可能性があると感じたのです。結局失敗したのは当たり前なんですが、チームが結成された日であり、「上海アリス幻樂団」の西洋版だと思いながらそのチームを「外人アレク現作団」と名付けることになりました。2013年に、日本以外に東方二次創作ゲームを作るチームはほとんどなかったので、二次創作ゲームやアルバムをたくさん作って知名度を上げようと思っていたんです。

 非常に野心的でしたものの・・・一作品も完成できませんでした。「東方海冒険」は没され、「マジカナ」は中止され(メガドライブ移植の機会も失って)、立ち絵を描いてくれるために加わった人もすっぽかしてしまい、そしてSpaztiqueさんもFullHitPointsさんも、みんなが成長して人生に重要なことをするべきになったため、結局退職したんです。実際にプレイできるものを完成させ公開させるまでには、5年以上の歳月を要して、それはたった一人に開発されました。

 時間とともに変化してきたのはSpaztiqueさんたちの感性だけではなかったですし。先月、僕は真剣に(その時の)チーム名を考え直していました。それは本当に僕がなりたかったものなのだろうか? 何かや誰かの模倣に過ぎないことが? そもそも、東方二次創作ゲーム開発コミュニティにほとんど興味がなくなってきて。作曲も東方と無縁になりつつありますし、「夢界幻魔伝」は東方のデザインを真似していた時代のものですが、今後は自分なりの道を歩こうと思っています。

 そうして、サークル名をどうするかを長く考え続けて、ついに・・・

 あまりにも思い切った更新が要らないので、ビジュアル的に前と同じです。でもこの新しいサークル名は、今の僕の人生観を端的に表しているような気がしています。説明しておきます。

 「逆向(ぎゃっこう)」とは、「逆を向く」、言い換えれば「後ろを振り返る」という意味です。「ロード」とは道です。僕はどれだけ遠くまで来たか、まだどれだけ遠くまで進む隠喩。作品だけでなく、感性も、成長も、人生全体の歩みも・・・よく考えたら、後ろを振り返りながら前へ進むと、それが後ろ向き歩き、逆行(ぎゃっこう)のことです。

 僕は昔からノスタルジアが魅力ありだと思っているんです。幼少期にメガドライブ、その後プレイステーションで遊んだ思い出。10代前半、メガドライブを再発見し、我が家のゲーム機をやっぱり壊さなかったことに気づき、それでよく遊びながらエミュレータでマスターシステムもプレイして。そして10代後半、友達とPSO1をプレイして、YouTubeでゲームプレイ動画を投稿するようになって。大人になったばかりの頃、ゲーム開発に目覚め、東方コンに参加して。「夢界幻魔伝」などに費やした苦労と、いよいよ公開できたときの見返り・・・

 つまり、どんな時代でも、懐かしい思い出があり、それを振り返り、慰められます。将来新たな懐かしい思い出も作り続くことを信じています。僕には、それが人生の意味だと思います。過去に憧れるでなく、過去・現在・未来が自分の中に共存にすること。今を大切にすることで、刺激的で充実した人生を送り、時々振り返って、自分がどれだけのことを成し遂げたか、どれだけのことが実際に起こったかを実感できるようにすること。

 一番よくないのは、何もせずに日々を過ごすことだと思います。せっかくの一度きりの人生だから、有意義に過ごしましょう。そうですね・・・うつ病のような精神疾患は自分を維持するための最も基本的なことを行うことさえ非常に困難な場合がありますね。僕もそんな体験があったことありますが、講演者や自営業者が口にするようなサクセスストーリーのようなものを描くつもりはありません。時間がかかっても問題ないです。後発でも問題ないです。自分の惨めさや気だるさに囚われていても、人間として劣っているわけではないのです。だって、僕はこんなことに気づき、自分の人生を変えるために必要な力と支援をようやく見つけるまでに9年かかったのです。そしてそれでもまだまだです。

 君ができれば、是非自分のノスタルジアを作るために頑張ってくださいね。でもできなければ、必要なだけ望むだけ、僕のに浸ってもいいです。

 なぜなら、この「逆向ロード」はみんなが並んで歩めるほど広いんだから。

Posted in General, 日本語 | Leave a comment

9-Year Anniversary and a Much-Needed Name Change

Hello, Popfan here!

We’re now almost a full month-and-a-half into the new year. Hope all of you are doing well, staying healthy, staying safe. As of last month, I’ve picked up my regular workouts again and started taking walks every morning, though while I’m still not sure if it’s had much of an effect on my body yet, it does make me feel a lot better about myself. Having a consistent morning routine is really nice…

Anyway, that’s neither here nor there, though. What I’ve really wanted to talk about was the circle itself, because it’s going to go through a really big change right now.

Exactly nine years ago, I woke up to find myself added to a Skype group by Spaztique, where I met FullHitPoints, someone who I was told knew how to write games. With his coding expertise, Spaz’s writing and music, and my design ideas, we felt like we had a very real chance at making Endless Blue happen. Obviously it didn’t in the end, but that was the day our team was founded, which we eventually settled on naming “Team Gaijin Alex” — a pretty blatant pastiche of “Team Shanghai Alice”, since we saw ourselves as sort of the western counterpart (back in 2013, the western fangame scene was still practically nonexistent, to put it into perspective) and we really wanted to get our foot in the door making lots of Touhou fangames and music albums.

We had big ambitions… and failed to fulfill any single one of them. Endless Blue got canned, MajiKana got cancelled and we lost out on the opportunity to get a legitimate console port, the guy we brought on to draw character art eventually flaked on us, and even Spaztique and FullHitPoints eventually retired from the team due to all of us growing up and having new priorities to focus on in life. It took over five years for this team to finish and release something that was actually tangible and playable, and that was, for all intents and purposes, a one-man project.

Their sensibilities weren’t the only ones to change over time, either. Last month, I looked back and began seriously reconsidering the (at the time) current team name. Was that really what I wanted to be about? Nothing more than an imitation of something or someone else? I’m barely even all that invested in the Touhou fangame dev scene anymore to begin with. My music has been becoming a work of my own, not overtly connected to Touhou in any way, and while chain of lucidity is obviously from an era where I was still comfortable simply aping Touhou in terms of design philosophy, I plan on carving out my own niche for future games, or at least stop wearing my inspirations on my sleeve.

And so I sat down and began thinking long and hard about what I could rename the circle to, and after several hours of just writing down my stream of consciousness, the end result is:

I didn’t want or need too drastic a change, so the visual design is still the same as before, but I feel like this new name summarizes my current outlook on life fairly succinctly. Allow me to explain…

“Retrograde” means to move backwards — or, in the case of the kanji I picked for the Japanese version of the name, to be facing backwards. The road, on the other hand, is a metaphor for how far I’ve come, and how much further I’ve yet to go. Not just in terms of the creative work I produce, but also my sensibilities, my personal growth, the overall progression of my life… I suppose that, if you’re moving forward while looking back, then you’re also walking backwards — “moving in retrograde”, if you will.

I’ve always been a sucker for nostalgia. Memories of my earliest childhood from playing Mega Drive games, later on PS1 games; my early teenage years marking the rediscovery of the former, realizing that I didn’t break our console, after all, and spending a lot of time with it in addition to playing Master System games on an emulator; then my late teens, where I began playing PSO1 with friends and uploading gameplay videos to YouTube; my early adult years when I first got into game development and attended Touhoucon; all the work I put into COL and other projects, as well as the payoff when I was finally able to release them…

In other words: no matter the time period, I’ll always have at least one nostalgic memory from it that I can think back to for solace and comfort. And I know that I will keep making new memories I can be nostalgic for in the years to come. I’ve realized that this is what life is about for me: not to live in and yearn for the past, but to have past, present and future all coexist in my mind. To make the most of my present in order to have an exciting and fulfilling life, so that I can look back on it from time to time and realize just how much I’ve accomplished, how much has actually happened.

The worst thing anyone can do is to just waste their days away doing nothing. You only have this one life, after all — make it worth your while. And yes, I know… depression and other mental illnesses and disorders can make it very difficult to get up and do even the most basic things to sustain yourself. I’ve been there, and I’m not intending to portray myself as some kind of success story about how I overcame all my inner demons and got on that grind or whatever other buzzwords motivational speakers and self-made entrepreneurs are spouting these days. It’s perfectly okay if it takes time. It’s perfectly okay if you’re a late starter. You’re no less of a person for being trapped in your own misery and listlessness. After all, it took me nine years to come to this realization for myself, to finally find the strength and the support I needed in order to get started making those changes to my life — and I’m still nowhere close to out of the woods.

If you can, then by all means work as hard as you’re able to in order to create your own nostalgia. But if you can’t, then feel free to partake in mine for as long as you need and want.

Because this Retrograde Road is wide enough for all of us.

Posted in English, General | Leave a comment

色々な更新の記録、其の捌 年末版

 パンデミックがあったら時間が速いですね。2021年の終わりを迎えて、皆様それぞれの文化や宗教がどのような祝日であっても、楽しく過ごすことが出来ましたでしょうか。ご健康で、ご安全で、ご接種を受け続けて、そして2022年がこの馬鹿げたことに対処しなければならない最後の年になるように、一緒に力を合わせましょう。

 挨拶をここまでで、この場を借りて、今年一年の活動をまとめ、来年の抱負を述べさせて頂きたいと思います。

 先ず、ブログ自体は例年になく更新が多かったことになりました。新作の発表が少ないため、最近情報を提供するために、また自分自身の説明責任を果たすために、この更新記録を始めるべきだと思いついたのです。あいにく、僕の人生は苦しいことのほうが多くて精神衛生を苦しめたため、責任などの役を立てなかったのです。少なくとも、精神衛生に関しては気分がだんだんよくなるようですから、来年も頑張ります。

 外人アレク現作団に関しては、出来たことは・・・

  • 8周年のために絵を描いた
  • 新作アルバムを公開した
  • サイトをリニューアルした
  • Discordのサーバーを作成した
  • 夢界幻魔伝のあと一つのアップデートを公開した
  • 作曲コミッションを3件果たした

 ということです。

 総体、やっぱり生産的な一年でしたね。YouTubeチャンネルも復活させましたが、あそこで投稿したゲーム動画は現作団の活動ではないので上掲のリストに付けませんでした。

 因みに、最近サイトは50万ヒットを突破しました。皆様の興味も応援もいつもありがとうございます! 今、少しでも絵に自信があれば、是非とも記念に何かを描いてみたいのです。しかし、現状では、この一文しか出来ないのです。

 作曲コミッションといえば、やめる予定は今ありません。申し込むにはこちらで、僕が作った曲を聴きたければこちらになります! 状態が変わる場合は、Twitterで知らせてあげます。どうぞいらっしゃいませ。

 新年の抱負は以下の通りです。

 初めに、もちろん夢界Project第二弾の開発を出来るだけ早く取り掛かかりたいです。年末までに完成させることは別の話しですが、開発記録を書いて、公開する企画があります。

 もう一つのアルバムを作って、年末までに発売する予定もあります。時間管理とモチベーションを確保できれば、10曲があっても間に合えるはずでしょう。

 また、作曲の勢いを維持するために、依頼された曲や自分で作った曲を毎月1曲以上投稿することを目標にしたいと思います。

 長年燃え尽きていた絵をまた描くために、新たに頑張ろうとも思います。基本の練習が多いでしょうが、また燃え尽きてしまわないように、考え方を鍛えることも重要だと思います。

 最後に、個人的な事だけですが、7月に日本語能力試験を受験し、N3以上の取得を目指そうと考えています。自慢するしか訳がありませんが、たまにそれだけでもいいでしょうね。

 では、これで以上だと思います。よいお年を、また2022年に!

Posted in Album 3, Albums, chain of lucidity, Commissions, Games, General, Mukai 2, Mukai Project, Music, Update logs, Website, 日本語 | Leave a comment

General Update Log No. 8: End-of-Year Edition

Time flies by quickly when there’s a pandemic going on, doesn’t it? With 2021 coming to an end, I hope you had a happy celebration of whichever holiday your culture and/or religion observes. Stay healthy, stay safe, stay vaccinated, and let’s all do our part to make sure 2022 is the last year we’ll have to deal with this nonsense.

With that out of the way, I thought I’d take this occasion to give a recap of my activities over the course of this year, as well as what I have planned for the next year.

For starters, the blog itself has seen more activity than in any previous year. It had occurred to me that, given my sparse output of new works, I should start these update logs, just to keep people up-to-date and myself accountable — not that it was all that effective at that, no thanks to my life itself being a rollercoaster ride for my mental health, with far more downs than ups. At least things are starting to look up again in that regard, though, and I’ll continue to further work on myself the next year.

As for TGA-related stuff, I’ve managed to…

  • Draw something for TGA’s 8th anniversary
  • Release a new album
  • Redesign and overhaul the website
  • Create a Discord server
  • Release one final update for COL
  • Take and complete no less than three song commissions

All things considered, I’d say it was quite the productive year for me. I’ve also resurrected my YouTube channel, but the game videos I’ve been uploading on there aren’t quite within the scope of this team’s activities, so of course I didn’t put them on the above list.

Recently, the website has also surpassed 500,000 hits. Thank you all for your continued interest and support! If I had any amount of confidence in my drawing skills at the moment, I’d definitely be drawing something to commemorate the occasion. As it stands, though, you’ll just have to take this single paragraph instead.

On the topic of music commissions, they’ll continue to be open for the foreseeable future. Go here if you want to apply for one, and see here for a collection of tracks I’ve written over the years! My Twitter will be where you can be kept up-to-date, should the situation change in any way. I’m looking forward to your patronage.

Regarding the next year, I have the following resolutions:

To start with, obviously I want to begin development for the second game in the Mukai Project as soon as possible, preferably as early as January. I have my doubts that I’ll be able to actually finish it within the year, but I may or may not keep a public devlog.

I also plan to work on a new album and have it finished and put up for sale before the end of the year. Even for a 10-track album, it should be doable so long as I keep on top of my game with my time management and work ethic.

Additionally, in order to keep my momentum going with regards to composing, I’m going to aim for posting at least one new song every month, whether that be a commission or something I wrote for myself.

After years of burnout, I’m going to renew my efforts to get back into drawing again, as well. A lot of it is going to be practicing the basics, but training my mindset is also important so that I don’t end up burning out again.

Finally, just as a personal thing, I plan on taking the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test next July in order to try and get at least N3. I don’t really have any use for it other than bragging rights, but sometimes, that’s all the motivation you need.

And I believe that’s about it. Happy new year, and see you in 2022!

Posted in Album 3, Albums, chain of lucidity, Commissions, English, Games, General, Mukai 2, Mukai Project, Music, Update logs, Website | Leave a comment

A Word on Release Deadlines (from someone who sucks at keeping them)

EDIT (3 October 2020): I just remembered that Michirin also had troubles with her computer during the development of MajiKana, so I made mention of that.

Hello, Popfan here! This is going to be a bit of a different type of blog post that I was originally going to just write as a Twitter thread instead, but with the scope I’m anticipating it to be, I figured it’d work better here.

So, as most of you are probably aware by now, Touhou Gouyoku Ibun got delayed yet again, and you’ve got people who are absolutely pissed at it. (One clown with a particularly bad case of brainrot even went around claiming that ZUN is responsible for the delays, another clown is using the delays to try and make himself look good and push his own fangame.) Admittedly, I haven’t been following the events too closely until now, so I don’t have good enough of an overall picture to provide accurate commentary on the situation, but from what I can tell, the issues are lack of communication and transparency on Tasofro’s end (something that Unabara Iruka, the lead programmer of the team, has acknowledged and taken the L on by now), as well as just a series of unforeseen circumstances.

Keep in mind that we are in the middle of a global pandemic right now, and if it isn’t team members falling ill that’s disrupting production, then it’s likely the mandated social distancing making it impossible for all of the members to work as closely with each other as they may be accustomed to. Granted, many small-scale hobbyist dev groups (particularly ones that I know personally) are composed of members from literally all over the world who each do their part for a project from the confines of their own home, coordinating their work via Discord servers or similar means of communication. They obviously wouldn’t be as affected by social distancing, at the very least not with regards to their workflow. I don’t know exactly how Tasofro usually work together, and it might have always been with everyone at home, but given that they all live in the same country and show up at conventions like Comiket and Reitaisai, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of them having a shared office or something, either.

Of course, mental health plays a big role in work ethic and productivity, too, and in this day and age in particular, it’s more volatile than ever.

The point I’m trying to make is that deadlines aren’t a binding contract. They’re not a 100% guarantee for when a game will be released, least of all when we’re talking about an indie dev team, a group of friends making a game for fun, or even a solo developer, and if you’re the type of person who gets angry at a game for not getting released and then takes that frustration out on the developer(s), you honestly need to check your entitlement. Missing a deadline doesn’t mean the dev team is lazy, and even if they are, so what? A notifications feed full of angry and destructive messages isn’t going to boost their morale, and if you’re at the point where you wouldn’t even buy/play the game anymore but still feel the need to harass developers, log the hell off, go outside, and touch some grass.

With that out of the way, I thought I’d talk a little bit about my own relationship with deadlines, as those of you who know me also know that I don’t exactly have a good track record with meeting them. To hopefully give you a glimpse inside a developer’s mind.

Personally, I’d come to see them as a way to boost productivity, such as back in 2017, when I wanted to release the demo version of COL in October and the full version no later than December. The idea was to get everything done before October (all the stages, bosses, endings, assets, you name it), then spend the next two months on testing, fixing bugs and making balance adjustments. I was actually able to meet the October deadline for the demo, but unfortunately missed the December deadline because creative drought kicked in and I couldn’t come up with anything for the final boss theme.

Still, though, with those deadlines in place, and the desire to meet them, I was able to complete pretty much half the game (i.e. finish all the stages and make the endings) in less than three months after trucking along for over a year barely finishing the core engine and part of stage 1.

The above is one of my only few success stories, though. For an example of a project that went horribly wrong, let’s look at MajiKana next: We started development on that in early 2015, aimed for a demo release in early July, nailed it, then expected to have the whole game done by the end of the same year. It would have been simple enough: just 8 stages with maybe a few unique setpieces here and there… but then we got contacted by Super Fighter Team wanting to create a genuine console port, and we began to feel like the game had to look a lot more impressive.

And that was the beginning of the feature creep that eventually killed the game. We added different types of magic projectiles that were simple enough. Then we had the idea of adding different melee weapons, each one drastically changing the way the game is played: the quarterstaff in particular greatly expanded your moveset by adding sliding and wall-jumping, and of course stages then had to be designed to accomodate for the possibility of having or not having those moves available to you. The flail was meant to work kind of like the whip in some Castlevania games in that you could hold down the attack button to fling it around, but it looked like a mess, and despite the fact that it was the lead programmer’s idea to add those weapons, he could never be bothered to go back and make it look more believable.

In an update video released towards the end of the year that showed off those new features, we had to announce that the game would be delayed by a few months, since we’d spent so much time just implementing the new weapons that we’d barely even gotten started on stage 3. The new deadline given was “Spring 2016” — and then came work on the stage 3 boss, which, without giving away too much, was at least two screens tall, and very involved. It was a nightmare to program and get everything working, and by the time it was all done, we had to realize that it wasn’t a terribly fun or engaging boss fight. Michirin and I were already brainstorming ideas for how it could be improved, but our lead programmer was starting to lose motivation to work on the boss.

To add insult to injury, Michirin also ended up having some serious technical issues with her computer, which ground productivity to a halt even further. Another update video later, we once again had to delay the game’s release to “it’ll be done when it’s done”, but… well, you know how that went by now.

Mental health has been playing an active role in the delay of my projects, too, especially in more recent years: Dextrous Yet Destitute was supposed to be finished by the end of 2020, but due in part to a particularly nasty mental breakdown in the summer of that year, I ended up losing a lot of weeks both to the breakdown and the subsequent recovery. In the end, it took me until April of the following year to finally complete and release it.

Granted, by that point I’d learned to stop setting hard deadlines for myself. Nowadays it’s more a case of “I’d really like to be able to have this thing done by this date”, such as with the v1.20a update for COL, which I hoped I’d have ready in time for the anniversary. While I had originally looked to deadlines as a way to keep me productive, it was this year when I came to learn that productivity comes from staying organized and allocating time of your day to dedicate to your work and nothing else. Nowadays, when I do set a deadline, it’s usually a soft one for myself; I don’t set hard deadlines unless I already have the thing 100% done and I’m just waiting for the right time to release it.

That’s just me, though, and while it does work for me and I would recommend others to give it a shot, too, not everyone does, nor does everyone need to. As long as deadlines are set, there will be ones that’ll be missed and then people who set them will have to make the choice between setting a new deadline or just saying “it’ll be done when it’s done”. In any case, next time your favorite developer is postponing the release date of a game you were really looking forward to, consider what could have gotten in the way, and respond with compassion, not anger. No developer wants their game to get delayed, so they’re usually not doing it out of malice towards their fans or consumers.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I apologize if I was all over the place with it.

Posted in Albums, chain of lucidity, Dextrous Yet Destitute, English, Games, General, MajiKana, Mukai Project, Music | Leave a comment

色々な更新の記録、其の柒、そして夢界幻魔伝にさらばだ

 昨日は、いよいよ夢界幻魔伝のv1.20aのアップデートを完成させることになって・・・それから今すぐにv1.20bのホットフィックスも公開しなければなりませんでした。まあ、相変わらずですね。とにかく、この1~2ヶ月間はすごくとんでもないことになっていて、一時はアップデートがなかったことになったところでした。プロジェクトは破損していて進捗を完全に失ってしまったのです。Game Maker Studioの2.3アップデートで自分のプロジェクトのv1.15aの時点のバックアップを取っていなかったらこれで終わりでしょう。これからはGithubを使うことになりましたが、それでも挽回しなければならない進捗が沢山ありました・・・挽回は2~3日だけかかったけど。

 いずれにしても、修正しなければならにことがない限り、これで絶対に最後のアップデートです。初期公開からもう3年が経って、新しいことを取り掛かる時間です。偶然にも、それは僕が語りたいことでもあります。

 まずはきっと皆が聞きたいこと、夢界Project第二弾。意外だと思っても、開発を2019年に取り掛かってみたことがありますが、少しグラフィックやショットタイプしか作りませんでした。幻魔伝プロジェクトをベースとしてコピーしたことや、あの時から幻魔伝自体のできた作業を考えれば、当然ながら再利用できるものは少ないです。ありがたいことに、そんなに大したものではないですが。

 長い話をまとめて、開発を早ければ年末に、遅くとも来年の年明けに再開したいと思います。色々な事情があって、作画バーンアウトもあって、やる気すら起こせませんでした。と言っても、グラフィックとプログラミング以外に開発することがいっぱいあると認めます。例えば作曲や作文など。「自分の限界を理解しながら行動しろ」とはいいアドバイスだと思います。これからはそれに従ってみます。

 ちなみに、前週新しいタブレット(Huion Kamvas Pro 12)を手に入れたので、作画の腕を磨く機会を逃さないと思います。

 また、新しいアルバムの制作にも取り組みたいと思っています。最初の「色々な更新の記録」で、アルバムを作る計画があると言ったのを覚えているかもしれませんが、もちろんそれこそが僕が取り組もうとしている事なのです。どれぐらい長くなるかまだ決まっていませんが。また10曲を狙いますが、それより少なくなる可能性もあります。「祖型無限の再現 ~嗹縁開无現里~」と「器用貧乏」の物理的なCDを売る夢もまだ離していませんし。どうしても作らせて欲しいですけど、お金がかかって、需要がなければ収支が合えません。いつの日か、ね・・・

 せっかく幻魔伝を終わったので、作曲のコミッションをまもなく再開する予定です。まずは自分のリハビリの為の何かを作ろうと思いますが、それからきっと再開します。ただし、料金体系はフレーズ単位ではなく、1分単位に変更することにします。また、僕が費やした仕事の量に対して料金が少なすぎると感じたため、料金も多少高くします。この数ヶ月間僕がコミッションを再開するのを待っていてくれた人たちには、お知らせしておきます。

 最後にもう一つ、今回だけは言っておきたいのですが、個人的なゲーム日記としての二つ目のブログを行っています。日本語訳版がありませんが、こちらにご覧ください。この「海外式日本記」は外人アレク現作団に関連する内容(開発中のゲームや音楽のあど)の為のものなので、ここでは紹介しませんが、日記を更新するたびにTwitterに発表します。(Twitterのアルゴリズムに隠されなければ)見逃すことはありません。

 以上です。支援も応援もいつもありがとうございます。早く新しいものをお届けしたいですね。

Posted in Album 3, Albums, chain of lucidity, Commissions, Dextrous Yet Destitute, Games, General, Mukai Project, Music, Proto-Unreality Replication ~Len'en Kai Mugenri~, Update logs, 日本語 | Leave a comment

General Update Log No. 7, and a Farewell to COL

So as of yesterday, I’ve finally finished and released the v1.20a update for chain of lucidity… which I then had to promptly supplant with a hotfix in the form of v1.20b — business as usual, really. At any rate, the past month or two were one hell of a ride, and at one point the update almost wouldn’t have happened in the first place: The project had gotten corrupted and I’d lost all my progress. If I hadn’t made a backup of the project as of v1.15a due to Game Maker Studio’s 2.3 update, it would’ve been all over. I started using Github after that, but of course I still had to recover a lot of progress… which I kinda did in the span of a few days.

At any rate, unless anything else comes up that requires fixing, this is the absolute final update for the game. It’s been over three years since its initial release, and it’s high time for me to move on to new projects, which happen to be within the scope of what I want to talk about in this update.

Starting with the elephant in the room: the second Mukai game. I’d actually attempted starting development on it back in 2019, believe it or not, but most I got done were a few new assets and maybe the shot types. Given that I effectively made a copy of the COL project to use as a base, and considering all the work I’ve done on COL itself since, it of course reasons from that that there’s not much I’ll be able to reuse — not that that’s much of a setback, thankfully.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I’m hoping to restart development sometime late this year (November/December, perhaps), but no later than early 2022. Various circumstances have held me off from even so much as finding the motivation to work on it, not least of all my art burnout. However, I realize that there are many other aspects of the game that I could have been working on aside from graphics and code: music, for one, or even just writing the dialogue. “Know your limits and then work around them” is good advice to live by, and I’m going to try doing so, going forward.

As an aside, I did receive a new drawing tablet last week (a Huion Kamvas Pro 12), so I’ll be trying to take this as an opportunity to continue shaking off the rust and improving my art skills.

What I’d also like to work on is a new album. You may remember from my very first General Update Log that I mentioned I’d had a plan for one, and of course that’s exactly what I’m intending to work on. I can’t say how long that album is going to be yet. I’m going to try shooting for 10 tracks again, but it could also end up with less. I haven’t entirely given up on my dream of having and selling physical copies of Proto-Unreality Replication ~Len’en Kai Mugenri~ and Dextrous Yet Destitute yet, either. I’d love to have them made, it’s just that it costs a lot of money, and if there’s no demand, I obviously won’t be able to come anywhere near breaking even. Maybe someday in the future, though…

Now that I’m finally done with COL, though, I may open song commissions again soon. First I just want to write something for myself to get back into the swing of things, but after that, definitely going to take another jab at it. I should note, however, that I’ll be changing my pricing system to be on a per-minute basis, rather than per-phrase. My prices will also be somewhat higher, since I felt like I charged way too little for the amount of work I put in. Just as a heads-up to those of you who’ve been waiting all these months for me to open commissions again.

One last thing I’d like to mention — just this once — is that I’ve got a second blog that serves as a personal gaming journal. You can check it out here. I won’t bring it up here again, since the TGA blog is meant to be for, well, TGA-related stuff (i.e. the games and music I’m working on), but I’ll be posting on Twitter whenever there’s a new journal entry, so you can’t miss it (unless Twitter’s algorithm says otherwise).

That’s all. Thank you all for your continued support, and I hope I’ll have something new for you to look forward to soon.

Posted in Album 3, Albums, chain of lucidity, Commissions, Dextrous Yet Destitute, English, Games, General, Mukai Project, Music, Proto-Unreality Replication ~Len'en Kai Mugenri~, Update logs | Leave a comment

TGA Website — A Retrospective

Hello, Popfan here!

As you may or may not be aware, I’d been working on redesigning the website for the second time. Today, I was finally able to get everything wrapped up and publish the update, and I couldn’t be happier with the end result.

To commemorate this milestone, and in order for me to properly convey everything that went into making, maintaining and upgrading the website, I’d like to take a trip down memory lane and showcase said website’s transformation over the years.


The Prototype (2014)

This initial version was never actually anywhere close to being completed, and it would be a good bit over a year until anything actually went online. There’s not much I can say about it, either. My inexperience with web design was readily apparent as it was all purely HTML and a little bit of CSS, really shoddily made, and full of pretentious flavor text.

You’re hardly missing much.

Original Release, “Version 1.0” (2015)

On the 17th of July 2015, this is more or less the way we (there were more than just me at the time) graced the internet with our presence.

Much of the actual page content itself was inspired by ZUN’s website. The language buttons were huge, garish icons that weren’t even the same size (to say nothing of the odd design choice of diagonally splitting the English icon to show both Union Jack and Star-Spangled Banner), the navigation menu was pretty much a case of recycling old EB assets, and the page background image was a last-minute creation just to have some kind of patterned background.

For the longest time, there was hardly anything worth having a website for, either, as evidenced by the games counter at the top of the page (we really thought we’d be churning out one Touhou fangame after the other). All we really did have at the time was a playable demo of MajiKana.

If I gotta be honest, probably the biggest thing the site had going for it at the time was its bilinguality. I was really proud of myself for having figured out how to do it with some PHP, without needing separate pages for each language. This version lasted about two years, until it was replaced by…

“Version 2.0” (2017)

Starting from the 2nd of June 2017, this is what the website looked like. Say goodbye to the games counter and hello to an overall more streamlined, clean design. The overall layout hasn’t changed, though I did move the Twitter widget to the Contact page. A link to the Index page and a clickable icon were added to the navigation bar, too, as previously the only way to return to the Index page was via a link at the bottom of each of the other pages.

Wanting to get rid of the ugly background pattern somehow but still not knowing what other kind of pattern would work nicely, I ended up settling on a gradient instead. This is also kind of where the “TGA color palette” started becoming more of a thing, giving the website (and anything else TGA-related, really) a more coherent look.

Padding around the various page elements was also increased in order to make the design less claustrophobic, and of course the language buttons were redone, too (I opted for the American flag in the end).

Backend-wise, this was also the beginning of me becoming more competent with PHP and CSS, with feats including storing the ever-growing list of events in an array and dynamically building a table with as many rows as there were entries (or only the latest six). At one point I also tried creating a mobile version, but it was buggy as hell and a pain to maintain alongside the main site, so I removed it again about 10 months later.

Over time, as creative output diversified, I also ended up adding extra pages and making other small design changes here and there, bringing us to…

“Version 2.5” (2020)

With the extra pages added, the navigation menu grew, too, of course. Since I didn’t want the increased size to make it taller than most displays’ height, however, I recreated all the images at about 80% their original size.

The other change was me wanting to spice up the subheaders (like the “Latest News” one in the above screenshot), slowly moving away from using images for text. It was really tedious having to make new ones or edit existing ones; I don’t know what I was thinking.

All in all, though, version 2.x lasted by far the longest out of all versions up until this point, at just over four years and two months.

Intermission: Remember this thing?

Up until today, if you typed gensakudan.com into your browser’s address bar, this was where you would end up. Obviously the idea for such a landing page was stolen blatantly from ZUN’s own website (but then again, so was the team name). It really is one of the most Web-1.0-y things you could imagine. I loved it at the time, though; thought it was unique and a nice homage.

I suppose you could also take this blog post as a retrospective of how my tastes have changed over the years.

Anyway, it’s gone as of today, and typing the URL into your address bar now will instead bring you to…

“Version 3.0” (2021)

Oh my god everything’s different what the hell—

So yeah, uhhh… Turns out that four years is quite a lot of time to be thinking about what you really want out of your website. For starters, I didn’t want it to look like total crap if viewed on a mobile device, so I studied up on what web designers do nowadays and came across the term “Responsive Web Design”, or RWD for short. Basically, design your website in such a way that elements dynamically shift and resize in order to look nice no matter what size your window or display may be.

While we were at it, though, I also wanted a complete do-over, not just a glow-up of something that was fundamentally flawed since day one. To wit: during the planning phase, I spent several days agonizing over whether to keep the vertical navigation menu or swap it out for a horizontal bar. A lot of my design choices in the past essentially boiled down to me trying to go against the flow no matter what and bring back whatever I could of the past, regardless of how flawed or archaic it was for present-day sensibilities.

Because I’ve come to think more about why things work the way they do now, I eventually decided that a horizontal menu was the way to go, also largely because a vertical menu would have required a lot more effort and a lot more Javascript coding to set up, and I unfortunately put all my skill points into PHP…

’course, in thinking about what does and doesn’t work, what is and isn’t necessary, I also ended up trimming away a lot of fat. The Links page was pretty useless, as it was dedicated to literally three 200×40 banners with short (and ultimately pointless) descriptions for each. It got cut down and incorporated into the side column (which, in true RWD fashion, disappears if the display width is too narrow). The Gallery page was useless, too, as I literally only used it for a few YouTube videos, so it also got the axe.

The Goods page, meanwhile, technically still exists, but was repurposed into the new Music page, showcasing my released albums as well as other TGA- or me-related music. I was gonna make a custom audio player for these, but… again… effort. Reviving my Soundcloud account and using the embeds from that ended up being the more attractive solution.

The astute among you may also notice that the URLs look a lot cleaner now. No more gensakudan.com/index.php?lang=0&cookiecheck=1&otherpointlessvariable=why. In fact, “URL beautification” is another thing I looked into. Normally the variables wouldn’t have bothered me much, but I found that people kept copying them along with the rest of the address (including the cookiecheck one, ugh), so that was the impetus for that. Now everything’s neat and orderly at all times, and the website doesn’t even need to store cookies anymore because the site language is right there in the URL, naturally incorporated.

And don’t worry, I did make sure that pre-3.0 links don’t break. In fact, a lot of the final touches were to ensure support for legacy links.

Regarding new graphics, I updated the language buttons again, of course (and something compelled me to just go with the Union Jack instead), but the banners for other people to link back to this website were also looking like a right mess, so I ended up making all-new ones. Admittedly, though, the old ones did have kind of a particular charm to them, so I may or may not bring them back as an alternative… and the new ones haven’t entirely grown on me yet, either.

What’s in store for the future? Well, one thing I’d been wanting to add was Dark Mode. I’ve briefly looked into it, but have been kinda put off by the difficulty of it. Lightbox galleries for the game screenshots would also be neat. And of course there’s always the option of adding more languages for the website. I could do a German translation no problem, I just don’t know if I see the point in it. Maybe Chinese…?


That’s where we currently stand, though. Special thanks to Maribel Hearn for giving me tips and emotional support during the coding process, as well as Masataka Touji for his willingness to proofread my Japanese translations. And of course thanks to you, too, if you’ve read through the whole post up to this point.

Now that I’ve got this squared away, I can recommence work on the v1.20 update for COL. No ETA on when that’ll be ready yet, unfortunately.

Posted in English, General, Website | Leave a comment