Letters from Somnolescent October 1, 2021

Summer 2021 — Growing Frosty

by bulb

Summer has come and gone once again, and with Somnol having slowed but never stopped, we’ve grown quite nicely into the seasonal recaps. Really, the rush towards the back end of this year has just been clearing off plates and getting ready to move onto another phase of our lives. Sometimes it takes a while, but there’s always tomorrow…

AutoSite goes gold

Not long after the last recap, desiring to close one of Somnolescent’s dozen or so project rooms, dcb called it good and AutoSite (XL, not Legacy) finally went gold after closing in on two years of development. Really, no real development had happened since December 2020, when RC5 came out and largely solidified what was already an incredibly solid and simple little program.

If you don’t have 1.0, you can get it from the downloads page on the AutoSite site. In a nod to the original manual I wrote for the Python version closing on now three years ago, the manual for XL is included as a sample site with the program for you to get a real good idea for how an AutoSite site is put together. If you’re maintaining a static site, seriously, give it a shot. We still use it around here rather often.

Saving tens of thousands of drawings of Zafaras

On a more spur of the moment note, dcb decided to write up some script to crawl the entirety of the Neopets Art Gallery archives stretching all the way back to September 17, 2003 (just over 18 years ago, as of writing this) and hand the entire thing off to Archives for safekeeping. Of course, while we don’t expect Neopets to nuke history like that, you never know when companies rewrite and reorganize their sites (as Neopets has been doing for a year or so now).

This is a lot of art, fair warning, roughly 35,000 images. Even in a plain text list of links, if your device is easily overloaded, it’s probably not gonna make for brilliant browsing. It’s a lot easier if you have a specific keyword or username you’re looking for, say, sgerbwd (yes, Caby was in the Art Gallery a couple times, lovely to see~), and use the Find function on your browser to search for it in that big list.

One of Caby's old Neopets Art Gallery pieces
It is Spooky Month, isn’t it? Have an oldie-but-goodie from around the time her and I met then…

Of course, this archive was out of date the moment it was posted, but hey, maybe dcb will rerun it once a year or so. We’re just making sure nothing quite goes missing.

Art Fight is never truly over

And speaking of saving art! While Art Fight 2021 was a slight bust around here and pretty much everyone gave up shortly before the month was even over, much still got drawn during it (including my only digital art piece to date–more on that later). Prompted by the realization that most of what Caby’s ever drawn for the event has long been locked off behind Art Fight’s stupid login-wall, I helped her put together a gallery for all of it, 188 images in full quality, most of which are totally exclusive.

The aftermath of Pennyverse Month 2021 (plus some extras)

Toyhou.se overhauls

The renovations aren’t quite complete, but they’re already rather extensive. I had a go at rewriting everyone’s bios because they were starting to embarrass me quite a lot. (Turns out Diesel doesn’t need tons of detail to describe…) I also reorganized their rather haphazard galleries so it’s easier to find their refs and pairings. Much nicer to browse now!

As far as actual content goes, seven of the lads (Seb, Kevin, Penny, Colton, Cat, Arthur, and Diesel) have history tabs now! Had a lot of fun exploring through old Caby art (which is always fun >///>), explaining why everyone’s turned out as they did as far as their designs, color schemes, and personalities go, and also recovering lost relics, like the original original natural-colored Sebastian, from the pre-Districts days even!

One of Seb's new history tab entries
Caby found the original for this one literally on the same night I was writing his history page. She was digging through her old external at just the perfect moment…

Like I said, there’s still more to do, like rewriting (and adding more) links between characters and working on world location pages. But hey, the end of Pennyverse Month is never the end of Pennyverse, is it?

Drought warnings for the entire Central Grasslands

I mentioned it in the last recap, but since we remembered toyhou.se lets you post in-progress multi-part stories that others can subscribe to, I’ve been experimenting with posting my longest story to date as I work on it. It’s called “The Little Green Men Controlling the Weather”, and it involves a pre-freakout Gonzo trying to uncover the story behind the bizarre, historic droughts plaguing the Central Grasslands. Have a sample:

“W-well…” Gonzo was at a loss for words. His eyes stayed fixed to the forts circled up on the wall. “Why would they want their own country to dry up?”

“Subjugation.”

Gonzo’s brow furrowed in confusion.

“Companies work all over the world, you know. They have no state sovereignty.”

“Companies?”

“They’re colluding. The government takes all the rain away. Your dinky little farm dries out, crops are dead. You sell it to a big company—” Calhoun made a big, sweeping gesture with his hands then— “—suddenly torrential rainfall! Record rainfalls! Flash floods every two weeks! Farm does better than ever.

“The company splits the profits with the government halfsies, and everyone makes their millions. Except for us. We lose land. We lose economic security. We lose freedom.”

I’m admittedly dragging my heels on this one; I’m still hoping it’s done before it gets too cold. Hopefully back to it soon. At the projected rate, I have a feeling it’ll eclipse “Darkpenny” in word count long before it’s over, which makes me very very happy indeed.

Recovering the sessions

I definitely intended to work on some music this year, but then plastic instruments came back into my life with a vengeance instead. Nevertheless, while I was doing Somnolescent Discord backups, I stumbled across some high quality Vorbis renders of what was to be my second full-length album Isolated Together before the Fusion Drive Crash of 2019 ate the project files and the uncompressed renders. Not ideal, but enough to do a small, download-only EP compilation I call The Lost Sessions.

The Lost Sessions by aphrodisiac
Fittingly, I’ve probably had this photo knocking around since 2017 or 2018. I’m often sitting in darkness, so hey, fits?

These songs are still rather bittersweet for me to listen to; by far, they’re my best work to date, but they’re also just kind of a reminder of what wasn’t, and to this day, I am still incredibly anal about backing up everything I make in some form or another. (This mentality has saved both me and the Somnolians; I rescued a couple months of Caby’s art projects thanks to the old Filebase experiment that was going on at the time.) Beyond that, it just plain sparked some personal realizations I went over on my Scratchpad.

Still good songs. Hoping to relearn them and do them justice again at some point. For now, have a nice little blast from the past.

Demos and teasers

There’s been a lot of modding going on at Somnolescent this year. As I mentioned, I’ve been busy helping the GH2DX team, first to ship 1.0 back in May and working towards a perpetually one-week-off relaunch for DX 2.0 currently, but also in Stardew! If you recall April’s recap, Caby and I were working on a mod we were imaginatively calling Furdew Valley, which replaces all the humans in the game with fluffy animal people.

We’ve had to cut it back a bit (mostly just on the fun ideas, the actual sprites and text are easy), but in fits and starts, we’re trying to finish it up before winter comes and nothing outside a greenhouse will grow. Have some more screenshots:

More teasers for Furdew Valley
(Click for full size)

Speaking of GH2DX, though, there’s a fun story from development where we needed a way to load multiple versions of the game, which led me down the rabbit hole of demo discs yet again. Turns out, while information on them is rather difficult to find, people have actually made attempts to hack these demo discs, occasionally using leaked tools and occasionally coding their own. It’s a bizarre scene that I have enough information on to write an entire subsite on (and maybe I still will), but in the end, we achieved our goal and GH2DX now boots up to a shiny, official Sony loader where you can pick one of several games to play in one.

Because the thought of having my very own demo disc was too cool to use for GH2DX alone though, I set about putting together some demo packs for Guitar Hero and Amplitude, two of my favorite rhythm games with much unfinished content between them. People really liked these, they came out really lovely, and you can grab them over on Archives if you desire a chance to try out some early in development goodness.

Art highlights

And as customary, here’s some drawings from lately:

"klax grind" by dcb
“klax grind” by dcb (August 4)
"drought warning" by Caby
“drought warning” by Caby (August 24)
"Pinedelaris" by borb
“Pinedelaris” by borb (September 1)

About bulb

Group posts, recaps, and things we all contributed to. Hopefully, our hum-to-English translation is intelligible enough.


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