Tuesday, June 12, 2018

June News

Milestone achieved! 

Huge thanks to the Patreon backers for another record month- and welcome to all our new backers! 
These elite readers are bestowing weekly Prelude for everyone during the month of June.

Another unlocked feature of 'Full Time' is a Chat 'n Sketch this month- scheduled for June 23rd, 3pm EST on our Picarto channel.

Also this month, our final Skirmish boxed-game prototype arrived.  And, WOW!  It's like opening a pile of treasure.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RaVm4Cy84M

Just waiting on freighting, and we'll start delivering to backers of the campaign.  After that's done, we'll announce when games are available for public purchase.

And speaking of games- Faction War is rumbling again.  The test game this spring gave me a lot to chew on, and I finally got around to overhauling the mechanics.  Now there will be ryuu-nekos that boost Awareness, Manekales for mounted riding, and more.

Needs a bit more testing, but we're stepping closer to a public release for the first official Dreamkeepers roleplay system.

Also nailing some commissions this month, keeping up with weekly Prelude and Volume 5 updates, Boneitis and me may be on the Thoughtcops podcast soon, and we're prepping for Anthrocon in July. 

Thanks for enjoying the award-winning Undisputed Gateway Furry Saga, looking forward to bringin' you more.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Skirmish Box Sample

BGC: Daytripper

Die once, shame on you.  Die twice, shame on me.  Die three times, and you might be reading Daytripper: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLyMlUtQFbs

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Q&A Week 6

37 What is Andurana's internet like? Heavily censored?
Yes and no.  There's a set of whitelisted pages that are licensed by the CCA to disseminate information and content.   The sites of major newscasters and mainstream entertainment content.   Being licensed & whitelisted means complying with an extensive (and ever-changing) list of regulations and rules.  It effectively gives the government discretionary control over who says what, how, and why.    But because of the decentralized nature of their internet- emanating naturally from any data system plugged into living flo-wood- anyone can put anything out there, and it's possible to jump out of the whitelisted system to view all the unregulated content.   Technically it's illegal to post unlicensed content, but virtually everyone is doing it all the time for a huge variety of reasons.  It turns into another one of those legal systems where everyone is breaking the law, giving enforcement officers the ability to use it pretextually for targeting anyone they have a particular interest in.

36 The importance of twins seems to be a recurring theme, do dreamkeepers that have a twin commonly share their power or have it linked (Like with the Indigos.)
Twins can have shared or linked powers, but I'd say that even with twins it's unusual.  Dreamkeepers, even those with close siblings, typically have a power that's more keyed in to them as individuals.  But linked, shared, or otherwise correlated powers can sometimes occur with twins- or even with other familial relations, like father / son, mother / daughter.  But the more distant the relation, the more unlikely it is to have their powers entangled in any manner.

33  Do the CCA have any other types of combat soldier besides the Shock Troopers or at least different sets or armor for different situations
Now that it's too late, yes.   Originally they had only standard-issue armor:  Designed for urban combat, raids, and law enforcement, and also so ranks could lock into a testudo formation.  It's designed for maximum protection during chaotic short-range urban operations.  During the Toll Wars, they were suddenly deployed into the wild north, and engaging in combat with 'bandits' among the dunes.  The radically different terrain rendered their typical tactics and armor woefully inadequate.   Back in Anduruna, they struggled to innovate a new armor and movement system for the shock troopers that would facilitate their longer-range, lighter, faster needs.  Just as the Toll Wars were concluding the new shock trooper light desert armor system was completed and produced.   There is now no purpose for it, but several thousand sets of desert light-armor stand in storage, ready to be used in the unlikely event of another bandit war.
Within Anduruna they use their standard-issue armor.  However, since district police are technically not permitted lethal weapons, shock troopers often have to work with local cops on drug raids and other law enforcement activity that involves zero combat.   In such situations, often shock troopers will ditch the bulkier armor plates and other bits of encumbering gear.  This is strictly against regulations, but helps them do their tasks more effectively.   If a shock trooper is injured on a call, and wasn't wearing their full gear, it will be hell for their commanding officer.  Different districts and units are more or less strict about policing gear usage during non-combat jobs.

31 How long will Prelude be?
Short answer:  I dunno. 
Longer answer:  We're bridging the gap to Volume 1, and we have a handful of story arcs and events plotted out to hit in Prelude.  We also like to let Prelude breathe a little more, and get playful when something fun presents itself.   I'd estimate, very very roughly, that we're maybe 1/4 through Prelude.   We have Lilith and Namah developmenets- for instance, how they come to know their fugitive uncle- Mace and Whip developments,  that explain Bobby, Vi, Paige, and Randy, and also plot to take Vanth and Bast from their origin here to their situation in Volume 4.   With hopefully a lot of fun along the way.

29 Why was everyone so emotionally distant to Mace in volume 4?
They were distracted with spelunking and Nightmare attacks- those have a way of distracting the mind.  Plus, none of them know Mace terribly well yet, and he's socially not the smoothest fella.  He may be the main character, but he's got his work cut out for him in regard to the rest of the cast. 

Monday, June 4, 2018

Caption Contest!

We're using a fresh never-before-seen Volume 5 page.  What are Nainso and Tia actually saying? 


Patreon backers will find out later.  For now, YOU are in command.

Fill the word balloons with any dialogue you like, and submit the image here: 


Deadline is Monday, June 18th at noon EST.  You can submit as many entries as you like.

Liz & I will choose ten finalists, probably based on what makes us laugh the hardest- and then the DK Moderator team will vote on the finalists until one wins. 

(DK Moderators may enter the contest, but cannot vote for their own entry.)

All ten finalists win a Dreamkeepers button pack.  FINALLY.

The Ultimate Master of Funny, the Caption Contest winner will also score the original pencil lineart that goes with this page. 

As for rules:  If you're allowed to post it on Deviantart, go nuts!  Put your caption text right in the image- it's more fun to read that way.

Thanks to the backers for hitting the Production Milestone and unlocking this contest.  Have fun, and enjoy everyone's entries. 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Q&A Week 5

32 What are the most commonly seen power levels and how rare are the high levels?

Among dreamkeepers who unlock their ability, beginning at a power of Level 2 is most common, and Level 6 is the most rare.   Most 'keepers that begin at level 2 can eventually train and end up with a Level 3 power, so Levels 2 and 3 are the most common.    I'd say level 4 powers are maybe one in ten, level 5one in a thousand, and level 6 one in a hundred thousand.

29 Are you guys comfortable having a sexually open and addictive audience like the one you have now? Does it freak you out sometimes?

Fanart doesn't bother us, whether it's adult or not.  There's plenty of Batman porn floating out there, too, but I wouldn't call Batman fans 'sexually addictive.' Once anything gains a significant following, rule 34 applies.  Especially if the characters are charismatic and, whether through appearance or personality or both, hold some level of attraction.  Policing people's private enjoyment isn't our job, so we don't feel the need to endorse or denounce fanfiction and fanart.  It's separate from what we create, but also an indicator of relevance.  We consider it best to take it as a compliment.

27 Is Lilith's power able to restore Igrath's eyes?

This question is skirting the edge of Plot Vault, simply because it could potentially involve things not yet covered in the story.  But I think we can give at least a basic answer, to explain the limitations of Lilith's power.  She can initiate growth and healing in damaged tissues, but she cannot generate entire organs and limbs from nothing.  Even if it's heavily damaged, there has to be something there to be healed.

24 What kind of training to the CCA shock troopers go through? Tough training like USMC MCRD? Or simple law enforcement like the police

Shock troopers go through a rigorous boot camp to train for a range of basic skills before they're officially instated.  Springer use, fire and movement, squad tactics, hostage rescue, that sort of thing.  This is on top of classroom and academic training on protocol, chain of command, and legal matters.   Officers selected for the training program will be training in boot camp for 3 months (with some leave days) before being certified as entry level shock troopers. 
Training continues throughout their career.  Shock troopers are 'on call' for a week at a time, and sleep at the local HQ.  Then they have a week rotated out of active service, where they spend time with family.  Their off-weeks are also used to take elective and mandatory training courses to upgrade, specialize, and maintain their skills.

22 What kind of picture do you enjoy drawing the most?

I think my favorites have become those that mix some characters in action with an immersive environment.  One of the major features of Dreamkeepers is the thriving fantasy world- so getting a fun emotive character moment, or spot of action, within a fascinating context, makes everything that much more engaging to me.  Especially when lighting comes into play. 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Inherent Limitations of Free Speech and Expressions of Guilt

Thank you to my friends for their help in shaping and improving the thoughts below.

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Prior to posting my 'Nazi Prevention' article, I made a prediction:

That Dogpatch Press editorial staff would maliciously poison the well, and that their readership would be rabidly unreasonable. 
I've seen several good things occur post-article, and the one which makes me happiest is being proven wrong about the Dogpatch readership. True that a handful resorted to party-line insults, but a plethora of reasonable people came forward, to agree and disagree, in good faith. Most of them only felt comfortable doing so through private channels. This is a fact which stands out in my mind.
The best public response I could find was by Darkend, a talented editor at Sofawolf press. Rather than resorting to ad-hominem, he focused on well-reasoned disagreement directed at the ideas we presented. He was considerate enough to post his thoughts as a journal, and I would encourage everyone to read it. (links at the bottom.)
The community is currently riven with fear and loathing. I'm hopeful that placing emphasis on thoughtful good-will interactions can improve things. So to that end, please express appreciation to Darkend for being willing to speak, and I hope he'll be open to reading if I clarify some of my positions.
Brevity was among my primary concerns in the initial article, which led to me excluding... Well, everything in existence outside of those 2,000 words. That has opened the door to some misinterpretations, which I'd be pleased to address.  One interesting, and one troubling.


Darkend believes that the article "fetishizes" free speech, to the exclusion of all other values, considerations, and consequences. 
I think he's entirely correct that elevating one value above all others, and using that abstraction to subordinate everything, is a bad idea. In fact, such thinking often constitutes the very worst ideas, manifesting as totalitarian ideologies. 
Conceptual systems like these can be identified by their tendency to have one utopian solution for every problem. For Nazis, the solution was ethnic homogeneity. For Stalinists, forced equality of economic outcomes. Others enshrine the idea of free markets, or individual responsibility, or diversity. When totalizing systems are imposed fully scaled and uncompromised upon reality, they degenerate quickly into hellish suffering.
Simple solutions are tempting in a complicated world- in fact, they are necessary.  None of us are capable of fully comprehending the complexity.  Abstractions are an a-priori requirement for making value judgments and decisions.
On an individual level, I think it's healthy to have a handful of different lenses, and more so on a macroscopic social level.
For whatever harm a misguided individual may inflict with their totalitarian obsessions, an entire society can magnify it. And virtually everyone wants to avoid that. In fact, I think we have a common desire:

The minimization of unnecessary human suffering.

So far, it appears that individual rights and freedoms have served that end better than any previous system of concepts. Partially because free speech helps uncover and defuse bad ideas early. Which is why the next perception of Darkend's was troubling to me.
His perception of free speech entailed no philosophically inherent limitations, up to and including stabbing a political opponent in the throat (or punching them in the face.) Blurring the line between speech and murder is dangerous, and for that reason I think it's worthwhile to briefly reiterate what I think most people mean when they are talking about free speech:

Free speech is a mechanism by which the interaction of a diversity of ideas is facilitated.

Information is exchanged, reasoning examined, and suppositions assessed. Using open inquiry to identify bad ideas provides intellectual immunizations that can be shared with those who may be susceptible. Good ideas can be identified and likewise shared.
Conceptualizing free speech in this manner introduces immediate and obvious inherent limitations. Murder and physical violence are used to suppress ideas, not engage with them. Though it may be expressive, throat-stabbing a political opponent is clearly not covered under this definition of free speech. Neither is shouting down a lecturer with obscenities, destroying Berkeley with a riot, pulling fire alarms during speeches, or bringing airhorns into the classroom. Violence, aggression, mislabeling, and bad-faith tactics all obstruct the beneficial mechanics of free speech.
Because this definition provides explicit boundaries and substance to the idea of free speech, I find it more useful, and it's generally what I have in mind. That's why I agree with Darkend when he points out,

"The purpose of some forms of speech, specifically harassment and intimidation, are designed to suppress the speech of others. It's a way to say, 'If you speak up, you'll be next.'" 

I spoke up with my article. Subsequently I received a small but implacable contingent of furries mislabeling me as a Nazi, Nazi sympathizer, and advocating for my ostracization, as publicly as they possibly could.
Observers might class such behavior as harassment and intimidation.  Those same observers do not want to be next.
I believe that is why the majority of thoughtful responses to my article are being shared with me in private. People are afraid.
And I'm not talking about white supremacists. Pro-LGBT conservatives, libertarians, egalitarians, liberals- they are afraid to speak up, because they know what will happen. They might just get called a Nazi and be banned forever.
Is there persecution being conducted along party lines?
I don't know.  Politics has gotten so ugly it seems defined now by deception. False flags and misinformation are the norm.

But I do know a few facts.

I have been accused, publicly and repeatedly, of being a Nazi and a Nazi sympathizer. These accusations are categorically false, and often attached to coy ultimatums, hints that obedience might end the abuse.
I have clarified my position calmly, publicly, and truthfully. Such clarifications are rejected out of hand. It is made clear that only capitulation will suffice. 
I also know for a fact that I am not the only person who has been falsely and maliciously labeled a Nazi or sympathizer. These labels are used by a small and unhappy group within the community as moral justification to act on their feelings of hatred and to exercise social power. Which brings us to another good point that was shared by Darkend. 

"Loosely defined laws restricting speech are almost always turned into tools to oppress minorities."

I believe he meant 'minorities' here to refer to the birth characteristics of an individual, but his point holds true even for literal numeric minorities of people. Even for subdued majorities.
My personal experiences above lead me to assess similar anecdotes with credence. And while I'm grateful that I can simply shrug off the lies and social pressure, those who are less established are often not so fortunate.
Darkend touched on some additional points that merit brief mention.

1) FA isn't the government and as such is largely free to choose who they do and do not wish to host. This isn't anyone's free speech issue.
2) "Exluding (sic) the speech of people will only turn them into nazis" is the abuser's "Look what you made me do!"

He's correct on point one- private platforms are free to make their own rules, and fair moderation is necessary to maintain a healthy functioning atmosphere.  But it is possible for corporations to infringe on individual rights, and by some accounts, that appears to be happening. 
The second point, I'm not sure how Darkend equates a cause-effect observation to an assignment of guilt. Acknowledging incentives and results doesn't inherently require a scapegoat.
However, seeing this objection appear repeatedly on twitter makes it appear salient. It is being used as a justification for the moral rectitude of social purges, and indicates preoccupation with blame. 
Perhaps it means that people feel guilt, and are eager to redirect it.

What's the truth, and what's spin?  I don't know for sure.
I'm not advocating for or against AltFurry. I'm not particularly keyed in to the politics of the furry community, and I'm not certain what any of these groups actually stand for, so any endorsement- or denouncement- would be hollow. I tend to be quite detached, scribbling away at drawings rather than reading furry news or tuning in to the latest gossip. But when that gossip is resulting in mass expulsions predicated on group affiliation... Well, when an oblivious chap like me can see that things are getting bad, they must be very bad indeed.
I'm hoping that examination and consideration might help us start fixing things together. I would like to thank Darkend for sharing his thoughts, and hope that he finds my response agreeable.

Readers may be interested in digesting more points of view. Below is the original Dogpatch Article I submitted, with the thoughts and feelings of their editorial staff. In the following days QuQu-media posted an article, and 2-Gryphon posted a video which deal with the same subject matter. Also below is a link to redacted screencaps of some of the private notes we received and Darkend's journal.

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Initial Dogpatch Press article and Staff Commentary "The Milo Story, Nazi Prevention, and A Simple Hope" http://dogpatch.press/2018/05/21/the-milo-story-nazi-prevention/

Darkend’s Journal response: https://www.furaffinity.net/journal/8743858/

QuQu-Media "Why political extremism within the furry fandom should deeply concern you." https://ququ-media.com/2018/05/23/why-political-extremism-within-the-furry-fandom-should-deeply-concern-you/

2-Gryphon "Bird Bawks- Altfurry"  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44B_GphVpAI

Redacted private commentary:  https://steemit.com/dreamkeepers/@dreamkeepers/redacted-private-commentary