Feel Like You’re Missing Out?

Then head on over to: https://www.patreon.com/jayrayhawk and become a patron to get instant access!

I’ve been most active there, posting regular updates on what I’m working on, and giving folks a behind-the-scenes first look at a lot of content, with more on the way!

In time, I’ll be posting some of the content here on my blog as well as my social media pages, but patrons get access to it months before anyone else, as well as some patron exclusive content that isn’t going to be posted outside of Patreon!

So if you’re interested in discovering more, consider becoming my patron today at: https://www.patreon.com/jayrayhawk

My Patreon Page is Live!

You can check it out here! https://www.patreon.com/jayrayhawk

This is something I’ve wanted to do for awhile now, but I wasn’t really sure how to go about it.

Most of the time I see folks who are artists, or doing the kinds of things where they are able to produce a lot of tangible content frequently (videos or music etc.), who are using Patreon to its best effect. I believe those are the sorts of things that it fits best in general.

As an indie game developer and self-publishing indie author solo act, it took some extra consideration on how exactly I could put one together and still give people something worth subscribing for, without necessarily having to devote a huge amount of time into creating additional content beyond what I’m already working on just to appease the expectations of patrons.

I felt like whatever I did with Patreon rewards, it needed to be as a natural extension or result of what I already am producing for the most part, rather than adding a bunch of extra stuff to my workload. That was the challenge that I faced in trying to think of a way to provide rewards to folks who were generous enough to help support me financially.

But after awhile of considering what I could do and what I had to offer others in this regard, I did manage to come up with enough ideas to launch a Patreon page of my own starting today, which you can check out here: https://www.patreon.com/jayrayhawk

For now I have settled on two tiers with content that I believe I will be able to add fairly regularly, at least a couple times a month. My goal is an average of one post or update a week, with a minimum I’ve set myself for at least one update a month. This is my first time trying something like this, so I kept my commitments to it on the low side, that way I don’t get in over my head early on and end up feeling overwhelmed by it.

We’ll see how it goes though! I appreciate everyone who takes the time out of their day to check it out, and spreading the word about it would really help me out!

Updated Game Info: New Release Window, Non-violent Design Philosophy

After the better part of a year, I’ve updated the page on my site regarding my game in development Death? Preposterous! with new information and images.

There is a new target release window for the game, and additional insight into some of my design philosophies and goals that I have had throughout the creation and development process.

I plan to update the page even further after the game has released as well, so you can look forward to that.

You can check it out here: https://jayrayhawk.com/games/death-preposterous/

New Banner Images

It’s been quite some time since I’ve been active here, but that’s because my focus has been on working more on Death? Preposterous! until I can complete it.

In the meantime, I have taken a number of screenshots of the game, and I’ve updated the banner images you see at the top of my site using these new images.

They’ll randomly be chosen from the pool of 30 images as you navigate this website, but you can check them all out below in this post too.

For those of you following along with my twitter account or my facebook page, you’ll notice that I’ve also updated to a new image there as well.

 

My Recent Game Development Progress

As I mentioned in the previous post, and as followers have no doubt noticed, it has been quite awhile since I’ve last posted anything of substance here.

During this time period I have still been working on my indie RPG Maker game “Death? Preposterous!”, but the progress hasn’t been totally steady over the past 4 months. There was a good solid stretch of time for about 2 months where I was in a really bad productivity/life slump that started back in February and ran through most of April as well.

This was a long stretch of time where I was unable to motivate myself to do much of anything, even the things I normally would enjoy working on, like my game project, I felt pretty lackluster overall and was unable to make much progress.

However in the past few weeks that feeling has finally subsided and I have begun working on it in earnest again. There is no such thing as “making up for lost time” really, but I also realize now how much longer it is taking to bring the ideas from my mind into reality in the game itself. Everything takes an excessively longer period of time to implement than I imagine it will. It’s simple to think of an idea, but takes much more time and effort to actually bring it into existence.

For example, recently I have been adding wildlife into the game to help the maps feel less empty and barren. I feel like it has been an excellent addition to the game and helps bring the game world to life. I originally thought this would be a simple thing to do that I could have finished in a few days at worst, and it has taken me weeks instead of days, and I am still not quite done adding wildlife to all of the maps.

Many setbacks like these, unrealistic visions of the ideas in my head vs. the actual time and effort required to implement them the way I imagined them, end up taking the scope of the project and throwing it out the window.

Two things I have definitely learned from this experience making this game off, and mostly on, over the past 9 months are:

  1. An RPG is too much time consuming work for a single person to complete in any sort of reasonable amount of time on their own, and
  2. I am apparently not a person who is going to be able to accurately estimate when a project will be “done” ahead of time… not even remotely close. I was terrible at it in the office job I held for 7 years before I quit that and started this (risky? insane? wonderful?) period of self-employment, and I’m terrible at guessing how long it’ll take even when I’m in full control of the project as is the case with creating this RPG Maker game.

So… I’m not even going to try and guess anymore “when it will be done” because I’ve learned I cannot imagine anything close to the realistic truth of it, as far as how long something will actually take to complete. Even when I grossly over-estimate in my head to “be sure I’ll make it by then”, even that ends up being not enough time to meet the reality of it all.

All that said… I am at a point in the development where I know I’m getting close to the end (relatively speaking) of the project, and what I originally envisioned for the game is not impossibly distant anymore. In other words the game is far enough along at this point that it is feeling like an actual game now. Things are coming together, and it’s no longer just a bunch of random bits and pieces shoved together but rather feeling like a cohesive whole “thing”….or at least like it’s getting there.

In other words it’s far enough along at this point that I am going to continue to see it through until it is finished, even if that takes a lot longer than I thought it would (it always seems to) to reach that point, I’m going to reach it.

It’s exciting knowing that I’ve made it far enough to where it is really starting to come together and be a real thing. I can definitely see the “light at the end of the tunnel” as the saying goes….it’s still a ways off, so don’t get too excited, but it no longer feels like I’m just bumbling about in the darkness. There really is an end to it all and I can see it off in the distance at this point.

So if you were to ask me today, when will the game finally be out? I don’t know and I’m tired of pretending like I have a reasonable idea when the real answer is “It’s done when it’s finished and I’m satisfied with it.” Maybe this summer? Maybe in the fall? Maybe later than I can imagine? Regardless of the time it does end up taking me to finish though, I am confident that there is enough of a game here now that I will see it through to completion in any case. It wants to be born into this world and I’m doing my best within my limited means to create it. Just finishing it and getting it out to the world is my goal at this point, and I feel that will be accomplishment enough.

As a final thought for this post, you may have noticed that the banner images on my site redesign are different than they used to be. Did you notice they also change from time to time? They all feature recent screenshots from some of the maps and characters in Death? Preposterous! and I thought it would be a nice idea to show you the full versions of those screenshots here in this post, since you can only get so much of an idea from a banner sized image.

You can click on the images below to see them in their larger original sizes. Please keep in mind that these are technically still screenshots of a game currently in development and do not necessarily represent the final version of the game… though to be honest they are pretty far along and at this point I don’t imagine there will be too many other changes to how these areas look other than perhaps a few cosmetic tweaks or additions, so this should be a pretty solid look at these areas.

I will have some more updates in the future (at some point) with more details about the game’s story and characters and features etc., and the storefront page on itch.io is slowly coming together too. I’ll probably share that with everyone when I get it looking a bit better finalized, and fill it with more information about the game as well, so you can look forward to that at some undetermined point in the future. In the meanwhile I’m getting back to work on finishing up the parts of the game I still need to do. However long that takes is however long that takes, but hopefully not too terribly much longer now. We’ll see how it goes. Just keep moving forward. Progress is progress yes?

Site Changes

I’ve taken the liberty of changing the layout of my site. You’ll no doubt notice this as you read this post if you have visited before. There are still a few kinks to work out, and some things might not be fully functional or laid out exactly how I’d like them yet, so please bear with me during this transition.

It has been a long time since I posted anything here, and I was contemplating whether or not to even continue running the site, but in the end I decided to keep it around, and just refresh things a little bit to hopefully better focus on what I am trying to accomplish.

More changes and additions will be forthcoming, including information on what I have been up to during the 4 months of silence, but for now I just wanted to put out this small update to get the ball rolling, so to speak.

How to make secure, easy-to-remember passwords

As we all tend to live our lives connected online more and more these days, we’re tasked with having more and more online accounts to access all our goods and services.

Every single day, these services and their accounts are under attacks from people who are trying to access our personal information, credit card numbers, and essentially gain access to any and every account that they possibly can, so they can sell your information to the highest bidder, or perform acts related to identity theft.

Now, I’m not saying all that just to scare you, but the reality of it is identity theft has become far more common in the past 10 to 20 years since the advent and propagation of the internet, and the increase in global connectivity online. One of the major ways that account compromises are possible is because many account passwords are insecure and easily determined by those with malicious intent and technological prowess.

In fact, many people don’t even know how to make a good strong password for their accounts in the first place. Here in this post I will give you a basic overview of how to make reasonably strong and secure passwords, and talk about what makes a password secure.

So let’s get started. First we’ll take a look at some best practice tips for your passwords, and then I’ll give you some examples of making simple yet secure passwords that you can remember easily.

1. Don’t use words you can find in the dictionary

This is a very common mistake that people do all the time. There are computer programs out there for cracking passwords that run through a list of every word in the dictionary automatically, and if your password has any of the words it finds, it just makes it that much easier for the remainder of your password to be guessed and then compromised.

2. Don’t use all lowercase or all uppercase letters

A password is stronger when it contains a mix of both lowercase and uppercase letters. If your password is all lowercase or all upper case, then it is not as secure as it could be. Even just introducing a single opposite case letter can improve the security greatly over one that has only a single case type.

3. Don’t use all letters or all numbers

If your password is only letters, even if you aren’t using words able to be found in a dictionary, it’s still considered a “weak” password. Likewise for passwords which include only numbers. In fact, passwords with only numbers in them are even easier to crack, since there are only a possible 10 values vs. at least having 26 choices with letters, or 52 if your password includes both uppercase and lowercase.

But I digress. It’s still not secure enough however. A stronger password would be a combination of letters and numbers, but that’s still not ideal yet. Let’s keep going.

4. Don’t use the same password for different online accounts

This is a big one. Many people do this, simply because it starts to become difficult to remember all those passwords. Even I have been guilty of this one from time to time myself. But as best as you can within reason, you are going to want to have a different password for each of your accounts.

The reason why this is not a good idea to do is because if one of your passwords is compromised on one of your many accounts online, and you have used that password on other accounts, then every account where you have used that password, it is now vulnerable to access from whoever it was that got your password from your single account.

In other words, the more frequently you use a single password across accounts, the less secure that password becomes, and by extension, the more vulnerable all of those accounts become too.

5. Don’t use short passwords

Even if you follow the rest of these suggestions outlined here and elsewhere on the net for good password practices, if your password is only 6 characters long, it won’t matter very much how secure you make it.

Arguably the most important factor in making a strong password is length. The longer the password is, the more difficult it becomes for those with malicious intent to compromise it.

A secure password has…

Here is a short list of the “rules” if you will, for a secure password.

In order for a password to be considered secure, it must have:

  • No dictionary words
  • At least 1 UPPERCASE letter
  • At least 1 lowercase letter
  • At least 1 number
  • At least 1 symbol (Some symbol examples include: ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) – _  / and there are others you can potentially utilize too.)
  • At least 8 characters in length (the longer, the more secure)

But how am I supposed to remember all that?

Yes, you’ve hit upon the potential conundrum with all this secure password business. As great as having a secure password like #7drjR48296&#!!kdXB is, how are you supposed to remember a random string of characters like that, especially taking into consideration point #4 earlier? You would need a different one of those gargantuan strings of difficult-to-remember passwords for EACH online account you use.

Well, the answer is simpler that you might expect. Let’s take a look at some example passwords and I’ll suggest some ways you can make them secure and also easy to remember.

Let’s say you’re a dog lover, and you have an unsecure password on your account that looks like this:

Ilikedogs

If we reference the “rules” for a secure password discussed previously, we can see that this one is lacking in quite a few ways. There is a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters (the first character is an uppercase ‘i’ in case it’s hard to tell visually,) and the length is 8 or more characters long, but other than that the rest of this password fails to be secure. It doesn’t use any numbers, or symbols, and it uses words found in the dictionary.

So let’s work on this password a bit. One of the best ways I have found to make a password both memorable and secure, is to start with a simple password like this one which is easy for you to remember, and just make modifications to it.

So let’s look at our numbers and symbols, and see if we can find any similarities. We know our password is lacking both of these elements and requires them in order to be considered secure. And we also want to try to change those dictionary words into something that doesn’t necessarily match up.

So here is an example of one possible way we can improve upon the original.

Il!ked0gs

All I have done here, is replace that lowercase ‘i’ in ‘like’ with an exclamation point (you can think of it like an upside-down ‘i’ if that helps you remember) and that gives us our “at least 1 symbol” requirement met. It also removes the dictionary matching word “like” from our password too. For the ‘o’ in ‘dogs’ I just replaced that with the number ‘0’ instead. Similarly, this had the effect of removing the dictionary searchable word “dogs” from our password, and meeting the “at least 1 number” requirement.

Two simple changes were all that were necessary in this case, to take this from being a relatively weak and insecure password, and turn it into a secure password, all while keeping it still fairly easy to remember.

Pick a phrase or term that is easy for you to remember as a basis for your own passwords, and with just a few small changes following the secure password rules, you’ll have vastly improved passwords to help keep your online accounts as secure as reasonably possible.

If you want to take it even a few steps further (not required) you can check out the next section where we’ll take another look at how to make this password even more secure.

Expanding further for the curious/interested

Even though the password we put together in the previous section is a secure one, it’s a bit on the short side with only 9 characters. Remember, the longer a password is, the more secure, as long as it’s still following the secure password guidelines.

But with length comes increasing complexity and more difficulty in remembering it, right? Not necessarily! Here’s an easy trick for increasing the length of an already secure password.

Let’s say you really like the number 4, and it’s your favorite number and there’s no way you’ll forget that. Next let’s pick your favorite symbol, maybe it’s the hyphen –

Now, let’s combine your favorite number 4, with your favorite symbol – and think of some ways you can add that in to your secure password to increase its length, and still keep it easy to remember.

Here are some example variations to our original 9 character length secure password Il!ked0gs

  • Il!ked0gs-4
    • Total characters: 11
  • 4-Il!ked0gs
    • Total characters: 11
  • -I-l!ke-d0gs-
    • Total characters: 13
  • Il!ked0gs—-
    • Total characters: 13
  • I—-l!ke—-d0gs
    • Total characters: 17

(NOTE: If it shows —- as one long line and a single hyphen at the end as you are reading the above password examples, know that those are supposed to instead be 4 hyphens in a row. It doesn’t display that way as I type/edit it, but may display like that when reading automatically. My apologies for any potential confusion.)

You get the idea here yes? These are just a few small examples of what you could possibly do, and simple ways to increase the security of even your secure passwords by increasing their length. If you make it a pattern or something easy for you to remember, then it doesn’t necessarily make the passwords any more difficult for you to remember what they are either.

Another thing that you may or may not choose to do in your passwords is plan for iteration. In other words, build into the password some kind of sequence that you are easily able to remember, in the event that you want/need to change your password, but want to keep it close to what you had before so it is still easy to remember.

One way you might do this is for example with the first improved password in the above list: Il!ked0gs-4

You could take that -4 portion of it, and when you change your password, make it -5 instead, and the next time, -6, and so on and so forth.

Now there are arguably pros and cons to making the iteration very obvious like that. The pros of course are that it is easy to remember and the new password is still technically secure. However if you did have one of your account passwords actually compromised, and all you change on it is a single predictable number, especially when it’s visually separated like that and might be easy for someone to guess, probably one of the first things they would try is changing that last number after the hyphen.

So it just depends really. There are other ways that are much less obvious you could use to implement iteration into your passwords. For example counting up 3 numbers each time instead of just 1, or changing a letter in some pattern and not a number. I’ll leave those possibilities to your imagination and creativity to come up with on your own. And remember building in iteration like this is totally optional, you decide if you want to do it at all or not for your passwords.

Even with this possible shortcoming though of building in iteration for the sake of convenience and easy memorization, these passwords are still secure, and much much better than an account that doesn’t even have a secure password to begin with.

I hope this post was helpful for you, and gave you some good food for thought. If you didn’t know before you read this article, then at least now you have a good idea of what makes a secure password vs. a weak one, and how to make stronger passwords that are still pretty easy to remember.

I’m not a security expert or anything, so the extent of my good password practices knowledge pretty much ends here. I’ve shared with you what I know, but by all means, check out some sites on your favorite search engine if you’re at all interested in good tips for staying secure online. There are great resources out there in video and podcast form too that delve much deeper into this topic than I would be able to assist you with.

%d bloggers like this: