Hi everyone. I'm the weird loser dork Matthew Lyles Hornbostel. I'm an indie artist (here's some stuff I posted on Pinterest) and an eBay seller of handmade art and the like, with 320+ ratings on my eBay account, 100% of them positive so far. I make some indie videos which I write, direct, record, edit, do VFX and sound design on... etc. Pretty much I do everything except fill all the roles acting, because otherwise the projects I envision simply won't get made!
I also do indie game development, and a lot of traditional art (painting, sculpting, drawing with pencils and pastels, etc). I do a lot of 3D animation in my projects and love what can be done in 3D in my creative pipeline with modern hardware and software, but I also retain a soft spot, however irrational and impractical, for extensive use of miniatures and physical effects elements.
You may have noticed my recent [substantial] involvement in posting a bunch of different stuff on Itch.IO just in the last 3 months. In that time, I've expanded my roster of games and game assets here markedly, but some of the biggest stuff was in the work for years before making it to Itch.IO. I have been doing 3d stuff since I was a teenager, and now I'm over 30. So I have a decade of experience doing this crazy stuff - freelancing for below minimum wage or just doing creative work without salary, either to help others in my social circles [friends, family] who need my assistance, or often just for the fun of it, because I have some cool idea I'd love to see realized.
I'd like my creative work to someday result in a full time income so I can ditch everything else, all the gigs around the edges and just make games and art stuff all the time basically. And if it were really to take off... well, I like the idea of supporting a long list of other people and other causes, because there's so much desperate need in the world and I like to help people. And this is what I'm good at, so if I can someday leverage this stuff into some reasonable measure of success, i.e. annual income climbing to $16k or more per year, then it'd cover my basic costs personally and creatively with extra to spare, and then that extra would be given out to everyone in some manner to thank them for all the assistance everybody's been giving me that is helping in getting me to that point. But at the moment, I'm on disability, I have some mental disorders and other weaknesses, nobody will hire me to a normal job - so I am stuck freelancing and selling stuff online and supplementing that with a bit of govt. disability cash which, I want to get off of soon by earning enough annually, over $12k/year, to get off of that entirely. And I'm not quite there yet. I do creative work for 14-15 hrs/day, average income a bit below $2/hour overall. I sometimes make $4/hr or so, and other tasks $2-3/hr, some less, and there's also a couple hours/day in there, on projects just for fun, on top of that, projects which have no real likelihood of paying off but which I'm passionate about.
So yeah. Gig economy lifestyle. If I made say, roughly $3.50 an hour on most of my work it'd get me to my target. But I don't have enough work yet that pays that well.
I am attempting some passive revenue by releasing sale items on Itch.IO but for 'passive income' it's an awful lot of work and I've averaged maybe 20 cents of income from every hour worked on the products being sold, and those items are the best cases.
So here are some notable failing [or should I say flailing? They seem to be going all over the place!] projects I've got displayed on Itch.IO (there are a few others, outside of Itch, but these ones are the most relevant to this community)
This is a first-person puzzle/adventure game I began thinking about making in 2010, and which has been gaining momentum continually since then, with over two dozen substantial areas, realized with fairly realistic looking handcrafted miniatures, extended digitally. I basically captured panoramas inside O scale models built in my garage, TONS of models, you have no idea how much space this is taking, because much of it isn't yet posted due to spoilers or other reasons. But it's been a big time sink and the costs of developing it are pretty high for an indie with a low income. That said, I'm thinking it'll be out there by the end of February 2019 at the latest even if sales here on Itch.IO don't really materialize at all to cover the remaining $235 in costs. So yeah, I guess I could describe it as having an interface similar to Myst III/IV or Scratches, but higher visual resolution than either and art made primarily with miniatures and not digital 3d renders. It's being built using Unity 2018, PlayMaker (a visual scripting system that is great for rapidly assembling variations of a lot of the most common interactions) and a few postprocess shaders. And lots and lots of scale models photographed with a knockoff GoPro style little camera locked into a position inside the miniature environment, that shoots 20-megapixel stills, it's rotated around in 15-degree increments, then the stills for every required position in the miniature world are stitched together into 360-degree panoramic nodes with the roof of the garage replaced by a digital extension, generally some sort of sky matching my vision for the particular world. So that's kind of my process here. It is pretty involved and it has to be repeated carefully for 200+ different 360-degree nodes. Right now I'm missing the last fifth of the game; the final puzzle sequence and five different miniature sets that still need to be built, captured, integrated into the project. If I really push myself though it should be possible to do within 60 days, 90 if the assembly of the remaining models is pushed back a month due to limited funding. I hope it somehow breaks even at least on the physical materials cost of making it but I'm a bit skeptical that it will.
This started around 2013, when I was selling the earliest version on eBay as a DVD product I physically shipped to customers. But it's expanded threefold in scope since that point, and dropped dramatically in price too. We're talking about 1GB of texture and stock video elements. 1250+ texture image maps, and 100+ video elements designed to be compositable for motion graphics work (i.e. cutscene videos, or visual effects work) - It started off on Itch.IO for $3.99, quickly dropped to a baseline of $1.50, and [currently] is on sale from Nov. 20-30, for 87 cents. Great Black Friday fodder.
201 additional texture image files, 15 new pyrotechnic elements shot in 60fps high speed 1080p HD. Currently discounted to 58 cents.
My most recent asset collection includes more than a dozen 3d plants and objects, for use in your realistic looking outdoor landscapes for games, architectural previz, VFX, etc. detailed enough to look decent prerendered but low poly enough to be used by the hundreds in any good game engine. .FBX and .OBJ format, mostly .PNG or minimal-compression .JPG textures. It's available for 63 cents during the current Thanksgiving week sale. I'm planning to add some more models to this soon, as in a few days before the sale is over. (I currently expect to acheive incremental updates tomorrow and on Cyber Monday to this pack in particular, bringing the total included model count to around 30 at that time)
So... that's the main stuff available on Itch.IO at the moment.
There's also a bit of other stuff though - one thing is a tiny freeware package of blood spray elements for use in action or horror videos/cutscenes... a mini adventure game project called 'Spiral Skies' in development, but kind of on the backburner until Miniature Multiverse launches... a Miniature Multiverse artbook, hint guide and 'extras pack' including a small game demo, and a last chance for people to see their names credited in game... that's showing up at the start of December 2018, roughly two months prior to estimated release of the full game. $1 batch of stuff aimed at enthusiasts.
Note that while all of these items have accumulated a ton of views, and although the attention directed towards my work here on Itch.IO has been snowballing seemingly exponentially the past week, sales volume remains weak due to absence of meaningful customer reviews or ratings. The closest I've gotten was one customer who posted an enthusiastic comment on one of my product pages. In hopes of generating some publicity and ideally provoking people to actually rate the asset packs, I posted 9 free download links on Black Friday. Still no reviews yet though. In fact, some of the free download keys still remain unclaimed at the moment.
It's also worth noting that the biggest bargain currently active is this one:
And there are additional perks for any bundle buyers, should the sale unexpectedly hit a list of sales targets, starting at $200 in total sales by end of Nov. 30.
Now, given that the sales volume across all my stuff on itch is still below $10 for the past 45 days, even this initial goal threshold seems highly unlikely to be met. But I suppose it's still possible. If the sales total hits $500 everybody who bought the bundle for $1.49 gets Miniature Multiverse for free at time of launch, along with the extras connected to it - which would, in total, add up to $6.10, not $3.60, of already arguably underpriced content for $1.49 if that actually occurred.
Not holding my breath though at the rate things have gone so far, given the current climate of passive disinterest and weary wariness currently surrounding this sale.
Still, a few of you have shown excitement about what I'm doing, and I really appreciate the positive responses when they do materialize. It makes me think maybe I'm not utterly pathetic. ;/
It's encouraging, and helps keep me motivated to continue working hard, release of new games and game assets in 2019. If this starts to go at all well, somehow, either in November or later (Christmas sales? New Year's?) then I'll probably keep at it for as long as it shows some sort of potential.