What went wrong 2015, and what won't go wrong in 2016.

2015-12-29 13:46:08 by Gerkinman

I cant believe it has been a full year since I last made a news post here, but I guess with 2015 coming to a close now is as good a time as any. 

ANIMATION ONLINE is obviously were I have spent the best part of the last 11 years focusing my time, and this year has seemed to be a very vocal year about it.

Personally, its not really a scene I feel I am attached to anymore. The last couple of years have seen all the animators who moved to Youtube complain about how hard Youtubes changes have made it for them after a couple of years of sustainable income. These same people refuse to submit content to sites like Newgrounds because they are afraid of splintering their viewerbase, cant because of contracts with MCN's or just simply dont care anymore. Its all been very negative no matter which way you look at it.  Or they just give up and make Lets Plays. EVEN I TRIED IT! (and had fun with it outside of all the time wasted rendering)

This year was the year I stopped watching "internet cartoons" (and making them apprerently as I only released 2 shorts, and one was a remake of a short from 2004...). I unsubscribed to almost every animator I was following on Youtube (and even had a massive dispute with Frederator that allowed me to exit my contract 6 months early in exchange for all my ad revenue, which I gave them happily to break free from there clutches), and... Well to be honest, despite posting my work here, I dont ever really watch content here on Newgrounds either (I do still occasionally check out games however). I think the site is EASILY the best it has ever been, but content that interests me just never really gets uploaded here. This feels especially aweful to admit after being featured on front page so much more in recent years. Its something I really appreciate, but my videos tend to do so poorly regardless I always feel bad about it, like that front page spot could and SHOULD go to a video that will generate ad revenue for the site.

Rather then complain about these things however, I think it was time I admitted to myself, im not a teenager anymore. The real problem with cartoons in recent years is the content, its all the same stuff as me and my friends were making 10 years ago. For a long time I thought that was a bad thing, but for some reason it never really occured to me that there are constantly new kids and teenagers watching this stuff, hearing these jokes and seeing these shorts for the first time. It all just comes down to the fact that I feel like I have outgrown everything that the Newgrounds and Youtube animation scenes have to offer, it is time to move on and leave all this stuff to a new generation of creators. It all feels very hollow and creatively bankrupt to me, but im sure if I was 30 years old back in 2004 when I started making web content I would have felt the same way. Of course it feels stale to me! Ive been seeing this stuff over and over for 10 years. Its not made for people like me. Its made for people with fresh eyes. These days I spend a lot of time watching original animated content on Vimeo, stuff that isnt for everyone, but its what im interested in, and its just not content I can find anywhere else. (Remember when people posted content like this a lot? Its a shame this sort of thing is so rare now) 

I plan on spending 2016 on 2 projects. One short game and one short film. Making the move to television animation (which happened last year to those in the know) means I am working rediculous hours for very little pay, but the work is fullfilling which while fantastic in its own right, has taken away much of the drive to create my own content I had left, so I want to keep things simple.

If I can get the short film finished in 2016, I am hoping I can get it to cerculating the short film and animation film festival cercuit for a year and it should see a release here on newgrounds in 2018 once the festival cercuit is done. It will be a very heavily expanded version of what I attempted with last years short White Eyes, applying all the technical knowledge I have learnt since starting in Television animation as a compositing artist.

The game on the other hand, I fully expect to release here. This isnt the project I uploaded a trailer for last month, but a much smaller project that will hopefully work as a learning tool for that bigger Shooty and the Catfish project. It will be a visual novel or sorts and is being developed with RPG Maker MV. Something I know now supports HTML5 export, but I dont know exactly if anyone has attempted to upload any games built in the engine to this site yet (know of any examples Tom?). Its an interactive short story based around the story of the Flatwoods Monster. No ETA on it yet, but its already got parts of it completed.


In the end, I guess the real reason I wanted to make this post is because I have had a large number of animator friends come up to me in the last week and tell me how terrible a year they have had, or jealous of the success of other animators who focus on making video game content or parodies or whatever else. Im tired of it, I dont know why your all coming to me, im as washed up as washed up gets, but I can tell you why you feel like you had a crap year. Its because you were trying to make content for everyone but yourself. You were all so obessed with views and how many subscribers or followers it would get you that you forgot to make something you genuinely cared about or were passionate about. I know because I did the exact same thing.

Its not a mistake I will be making again.



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2015-12-29 15:05:15

I don't know of any RPG Maker MV HTML5 games on NG YET but I'm excited to see one! If it works on the web it should work on NG.

This year has been pretty terrible for everyone on all platforms. Even with Steam, one of the strongest platforms for success stories, the majority of devs are seeing small numbers. All the major platforms are inundated with content and the public is more ADD than ever so it's so hard to get their eyeballs, let alone their wallets.

I still like to think there will be a return to web gaming in a big way. When you release a game that needs to be installed, not many people install it. The majority of people trying to sell games are selling between 0-100 copies. There's this huge empty space where smaller web game devs once built huge audiences of fans and made some ad revenue along the way - not usually enough to pay the rent every month but more than most small games make when you try to sell them. It's a fun space and would be more fun if more of the audience came back to it. Still a lot of potential.

I have hopes for web animation too. We're getting great CPMs on our video pre-roll but the fill-rate is dismal and ad providers often hang forever before not returning an ad. I dream of a day when the video ads load fast, load often and pay well, while a large community of paying NG subscribers can ditch the ads completely and support artists and devs in a different way.

At the same time it shouldn't always be about the money - I'm just a lot more fixated on that nowadays because I know it's what is in everyone's best interest, including NG paying its own bills long-term. I'd love to the audience grow regardless and would love to see more interaction, fan-love and encouragement... People can never get too many compliments... And of course constructive, helpful critiques. Anyway I'm just rambling now... Hope your 2016 is great and hope some big changes come around these parts too!

Gerkinman responds:

Hey Tom!

I doubt I will be the first to get something out from RPG Maker, but I know it has a big user base and that it could be a group of developers worth targeting for the site (despite all the negative connotations that come with the program, like all things, it all depends on who is using it).

In terms of games, I have had friends in both the mobile and PC independent development scene pack up there bags this year. The same issue hits animation as well. The barrier to entry is so low now, making content is easier then it has ever been. Its a double edged sword really, now everyone has easy access to the tools (and thats fantastic), BUT now everyone has a voice, and with that its hard to single out the ones you like the sound of. Its all becoming very much white noise which is a real shame. The fact newgrounds can feature things is a massive plus in helping people find good projects, but some things are always going slip through the cracks unfortunately. I never thought I would see so many creative areas hit at the same time with the same problems.

In the end the money doesn't bother me so much, I have a job to cover that and I feel like if I could make my own stuff for a living I would too much pressure to make money to actually make the things I really want to make. But for a lot of people its a big incentive, and thats fair I suppose. Not everybody creates things for the same reasons.

I do hope the website gets more fresh blood coming in, the back end is fantastic and its a real pleasure to use in that sense. Best of luck with the site, and in general, in 2016.


2015-12-29 15:34:24

This post of yours definitely helps to put things into perspective for me, as someone who's currently building up his skills to make the things he wants to make (i.e. animations). It's looking more and more like just choosing one single platform isn't the best option anymore. My thoughts are that while I wouldn't mind making the monies on the stuff I make, I would really like to have an audience that can enjoy my stuff and that I could communicate with (whereas I would need some voodoo Wall Street powers to communicate with money). It's been... interesting seeing various takes on how Youtube has a seemingly unspoken vendetta against the little guys like me who want some form of success, and on how Newgrounds is a great platform for animations, but unfortunately isn't swimming in the amount of people like YouTube (something that I hope changes at some point in the future, because Newgrounds is basically a part of my childhood at this point).

So... good luck with your stuff, mate.
I'll be here pondering my future as part of one of the newer generations of content creators.

Gerkinman responds:

Im not really sure what the best option is, or platform.

I would say for animation your best bet would be to learn to be a technically proficient animator (this is obviously advantageous for cartoons AND games) and then try to get an industry job making cartoons. Its a lot of work and incredibly competitive industry, but if you can get a job in it at least you will know how much your making as opposed to hoping for the best online.

Thanks for the well wishes, and same to you. :)