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	<time pubdate datetime="2004-04-20T12:00:00+01:00">
		<sup>12:00<abbr>pm</abbr> • 2004</sup>
		<abbr title="April">Apr</abbr> 20
	</time>
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<h1>Tanner Helland Writes #6</h1>
<p>
	This is one of <a href="/writing/kroc_writes">a series of personal letters</a> written to / from
	<a href="/writing/kroc_writes#tanner">Tanner Helland</a> during 2003–2005. These letters cover—in immense
	detail—events in my life during that period, including many unfinished and aspiring designs and creations. As a
	person however, I have changed from the inexperienced, often immature person I was and my skills in programming and
	web-design have changed just as radically.
</p><p>
	These letters have been republished to give deep insight into the way I tick, and to show a lot of background work
	that lead up to the concepts and skills needed to produce this website, which ultimately I failed to do so back
	then.
</p>
<section id="p1"><!-- ==================================== page 1 ============================================ -->
<header>1</header>
<p>
	<strong>Kroc—</strong><br />
	Preparing to reply to your letter is a bit like preparing for some type of final exam—it takes weeks of
	preparation and study, and even after all of that I don’t feel as if I’ll even be ready. <samp>:)</samp> A ha
	ha. Many apologies for the delay in responding. I have been ever-so-busy as of late.
</p>
<dl>
	<dt>Thank-yous</dt>
	<dd>
		<aside>
			† Less <q>thoughtful</q> as I would call it and more <dfn title="obsessive compulsive disorder">OCD</dfn>
			<samp>:P</samp>
			<br /><br />
			‡ I sent Tanner a copy of his MIDIs burnt across 2 audio CDs.
		</aside>
		<p>
			But first, a number of thank-you’s are in order. Thank-you for the letter. It was a delight to
			read. <samp>=)</samp> I look forward to them with great anticipation. Thank you for taking the
			time to so thoughtfully reply†. Thank you for your flattery and praise—it is somewhat
			unwarranted, but happily and thankfully received. <samp>=)</samp> Thank you for all that you
			spend on postage &amp; ink costs. I greatly appreciate your sacrifice to stay in touch. Thank you
			for all the amazing—utterly amazing—work on
			<dfn title="Tanner Helland Independent Sound">T.H.I.S.</dfn> (I’ll be writing more on that
			later, of course.) Thank you especially for the 4 CDs and jackets‡. What a treasure. I owe you
			projects until the end of time, and still I will owe you for your generosity and kindness! I so
			greatly loved the CDs. They have brightened many of my days and have helped me pass on my music to
			many more people.
		</p><p>
			Thank you, thank you. You are a true friend <samp>:)</samp>
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt>ComputerBitsUK OK?</dt>
	<dd>
		Believe-it-or-not, I managed to, eh, “provide” myself with a chance to look at your websites. But, to
		my dismay, they wouldn’t appear www.computerbits.uk.com was down, www.camendesign.com didn’t work, and
		as I suspected www.thelostalliance.com was nowhere to be found. I am hoping that it was merely a fluke and
		that I just tried on a day when servers were down, but if not then I hope that all is well for you. Know
		that if there is ever an emergency and you need assistance you can e-mail
	</dd>
</dl>
</section><!-- =========================================== page 2 ===================================== --><section id="p2">
<header>2</header>
<dl>
	<dt></dt>
	<dd>
		me, I check every Monday. I will always do whatever I can to help, especially if I can send a little bit of
		money or something. Don’t hesitate to let me know.
	</dd>
	<dt>About me</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			Now about what I’ve been up to. When I received your last letter, (February 3<sup>rd</sup> the
			office got it, February 6<sup>th</sup> I picked it up) I was at the tail end of my 10<sup>th</sup>
			month as a missionary. Within a week I was called to be a district leader—which entails watching
			over &amp; serving 11 other missionaries, 9 mean and two women—which placed a huge restraint on
			my freetime for writing letters and any other kind of personal business. Combined with this was a
			call to train a brand-new missionary simultaneously, which is also a time-consuming venture. So
			not only was I to run my area while training a new missionary, but I was also to watch and help 5
			other companionships and their areas. I was <em>so</em> busy. But I loved it. We were able to help
			so many people out. Recently we’ve placed a huge emphasis on general community service and have
			been providing free stop-smoking workshops for people of every denomination to attend. It has
			truly been an amazing opportunity.
		</p><p>
				Then at the end of last month I was called to be a zone leader—watching over 2 or three
			districts of missionaries—and was moved down to the city of Lethbridge, Alberta. My new area
			runs from the east side of the city of the Lethbridge, clean down to the U.S. border and into
			parts of Montana, and then some 150 kilometers to the east of Lethbridge. It is quite an
			adventure. I miss being in the city of Calgary. But here it is much more rural and we spend a lot
			of time in small towns, where the people are more stubborn and unwilling to talk about religion.
			They all think we have ulterior motives. We really have nothing to gain from this work but the
			experience &amp; memories &amp; joy of knowing that we helped someone else find the same happiness
			we enjoy. That’s a great reward—to be sure—but in terms of monetary or physical rewards,
		</p>
	</dd>
</dl>
</section><!-- =========================================== page 3 ===================================== --><section id="p3">
<header>3</header>
<dl>
	<dt></dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			I don’t think anyone realizes that we don’t get paid for doing this. We actually <em>have</em>
			to pay in order to come out and spend all of our time serving instead of working.
		</p><p>
				I love it. I truly feel as though I’m spending all my time making other people’s lives
			better, I wish everyone could have this same opportunity.
		</p><p>
				But I’m excited that I am less than a year from returning home. As of this week—April
			14<sup>th</sup>, in fact—I am less than 365 days from home. It’s strange to think that I’ve
			been at this for more than a year! It seems as though just yesterday I was at home, announcing to
			the team that I’d be departing for awhile. Ha ha—oh how time flies. I can’t believe we’re
			⅓ of the way through 2004. We’re getting old!! <samp>:)</samp> But life is good. I’ve
			enjoyed being away from work and school and all that, but I <em>am</em> getting anxious to return
			to normal life, to find a job and a girlfriend and a career and all that. It will be fun.
		</p><p>
				So that’s my life right now. <samp>:)</samp> How have you been? Are you still working? I
			imagine you’ll send the usual updates on <dfn title="Badly Drawn Adventure">BDA</dfn>
			<abbr title="with">w/</abbr> your next letter, so I’ll continue on with my growing list of
			things to reply to! This letter is going to break my hand!! It’s already tired!
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt>VacantBrains.com</dt>
	<dd>
		Thanks for the <dfn title="Vacant Brains">VBrains</dfn> shot. <samp>:)</samp> Ah, those were the days. I
		liked the little assistant fellow, but hey—what do I know? Hehe. It was such a good idea in theory, but
		as always the lack of unity made it hard to get going. Maybe someday (assuming I remember how to use a
		computer when I get home… hehe)…
	</dd>
	<dt><dfn title="The Lost Alliance">TLA</dfn></dt>
	<dd>
		Perhaps what amazes me most about <dfn title="The Lost Alliance">TLA</dfn> is that the whole thing
		fundamentally rested upon the two of us. When Clint left, we kept things running. When other team members
		disappeared, we carried on. Yet when you and I left, things fell apart. Figures. <samp>:)</samp> I enjoyed
		reading your 2-year anniversary letter. Amazing to think it has been that long, eh? And the 25<sup>th</sup>
		of this month (April)
	</dd>
</dl>
</section><!-- =========================================== page 4 ===================================== --><section id="p4">
<header>4</header>
<dl>
	<dt>	</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			will—or rather, <em>would</em> have been—the 2.5 year mark. I can’t believe how long it
			lasted. Crazy. I guess that means I’m 0/2 on internet start-up RPG projects…
		</p><p>
				…But as they say, the third time’s a charm. He he he he…
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt><dfn title="The Lost Alliance">TLA</dfn> Resurrected?</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			In all seriousness, I have considered one last, grand final
			<dfn title="Visual Basic RPG">VBRPG</dfn> project upon my return. The possibility of it working
			haunts me. I know it <em>can</em> be done. There is no physical limitation preventing it from
			working. In fact, there are only two reasons that <dfn title="The Lost Alliance">TLA</dfn>
			failed—lack of planning, and lack of unity. The talent was there. I would even go so far as to
			say that the desire &amp; dedication was there for key team members. It’s kind of like having
			all of the ingredients you could ever need, but no recipe—or even an idea of what you really
			want to cook. That was TLA’s problem. We spent two years debating <em>what</em> we were going to
			make instead of actually making anything.
		</p><p>
				So, obviously, the key to success would be to have a recipe before gathering the ingredients. In
			<dfn title="The Lost Alliance">TLA</dfn> we made the mistake of doing things backward—we
			gathered the ingredients before picking a recipe. And when we finally semi-agreed upon a recipe,
			we realized the ingredients were all wrong.
		</p><p>
				It’s an interesting analogy. My dilemma lies in what kind of an RPG to make. No one can even
			seem to agree on that.
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt>RPGMaker?</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			So I had a different idea—maybe the key would be to first sponsor a team to make a VB-based RPG
			editor. See, I think it would be smarter to do a project like this in two parts. First have a team
			work on the engine itself. Set a date of one year for completion, and then get as far as we
			possibly can.
		</p><p>
				Then, when the year is up, we start transitioning into a full-blown RPG team
			(<abbr title="that is,">i.e.</abbr> recruit artists, writers, whatever). What I like about this
			approach is that it solves all the TLA problems. We wouldn’t have to worry about “stunt-men
			and make-up artists writing the script” because such people wouldn’t even exist until the
			engine was nearly done.
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt>RPGMaker v2.0</dt>
	<dd>
		Or, we could do it in multiple stages. 1) Recruit designers &amp; design the game style 2) Write a script
		3) Based on the requirements of
	</dd>
</dl>
</section><!-- =========================================== page 5 ===================================== --><section id="p5">
<header>5</header>
<dl>
	<dt></dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			the design &amp; script, recruit artists &amp; musicians &amp; SFX guys to do all the media 4)
			Based on the design &amp; the media, recruit programmers to build the engine.
		</p><p>
				I really like this organization idea because it’s completely opposite of what most teams do. I
			actually got the idea from how they produce movies &amp; TV shows. Everything is done before they
			actually get out the cameras and start filming. Why should writing a game be any different?
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt>What do ya think?</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			So here’s the catch—I’m getting too old to do this alone. <samp>:)</samp> Hehe. If I were
			to do this, I would want a partner whose judgment I could trust. Say that partner was you…
			<samp>:)</samp> The two of us would probably do the majority of the design &amp; script work
			before we even went public <abbr title="with">w/</abbr> anything. We would handle all recruiting
			and publicity work. I guarantee that if we wanted to, we could publicize a project like this all
			over the internet, and if appropriately done we could gain massive support—far more than TLA
			even did. It would truly be a community effort.
		</p><p>
				Anyway, it’s an idea I’ve been mulling around in my head. I can’t shake this burning desire
			to make a VBRPG project work. If you’re game, I say we give it one last try… The “Grand
			Finale”, if you will.
		</p><p>
				Or, if you’d rather not, we can stick to the present projects and I’ll just have to save my
			VBRPG desires for another life. <samp>:)</samp> haha
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt>The new equipment</dt>
	<dd>
		<aside>
			† This was when the iPod was still relatively niche—and cost an insane amount—like £400.
		</aside>
		<p>
			Congratulations on all the new equipment! Those iPod things sure are cool†. One of the
			missionaries out here had one and I was really impressed. They are fun. Hopefully you’ve got
			even more cool toys by now. Haha <samp>:)</samp>
		</p>
	</dd>
</dl>
</section><!-- =========================================== page 6 ===================================== --><section id="p6">
<header>6</header>
<dl>
	<dt>Music for you… and anything else…</dt>
	<dd>
		And you’ve got it—one whole musical score for <dfn title="Badly Drawn Adventure">BDA</dfn>. Now I’ll
		have to warn you, that—as you well know—my music is far more suited to an in-depth love story with
		full-blown 3D cinematics than it is to a comedy. But I’ll do my best. <samp>:)</samp> It’ll be an
		adventure, that’s for sure. (Not unlike everything else we work on, heh). Also, any programming
		assistance I can offer is yours for the taking. No hope of payment is necessary—if we do sell it, you can
		keep the money. You’ve certainly earned it. The only thing I would ask is that if it does well enough, I
		could really use some new composing software. I want to buy a full-blown version of Cakewalk Studio so I
		can start moving into fully digital music instead of only MIDIs. So if it does well, that would be all I
		need. The rest is yours. (But we’ll worry about that when it happens…)
	</dd>
	<dt><dfn title="Badly Drawn Adventure">BDA</dfn></dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			Now as for BDA, I like your encryption ideas. Very clever! I have no suggestions for it as of now,
			but if I think of anything I’ll let you know. As usual, you seem to have thought it out in great
			detail <samp>:)</samp>. As for the actual encryption for the algorithm to turn HKeys into licence
			keys—always compress the data using Zlib or something similar before encrypting. That removes
			most patterns in the long sequences of repeated data, which prevents many methods for deciphering
			algorithmic encryptions. Once you do that it is much harder to decrypt, because you have to
			unencrypt the compressed data, which isn’t anything recognizable anyway. It’s great
			<samp>:)</samp> A combination of pre—and post—compression encrypting usually works best.
			Lemme know what you decide on.
		</p><p>
				As for shipping costs, I would think that $25 would be about 4–5× more than the cost for
			shipping &amp; the CD itself. Plenty of profit to be made <samp>:)</samp>.
		</p><p>
				I love the editing pane idea. Brilliant, simply brilliant. It’s the little things like that
			that I would have never in a million years devise. You never fail to amaze me, heh. The play /
			pause button is also a great idea but I hope it’s not too hard to implement. The structure pane
			is possibly the best idea of all, simply because of
		</p>
	</dd>
</dl>
</section><!-- =========================================== page 7 ===================================== --><section id="p7">
<header>7</header>
<dl>
	<dt></dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			how practical it is. It’s about time that an editor used something intelligent like that. Very
			good idea.
		</p><p>
				In fact, the whole thing is simply a masterpiece as far as the programming design goes. I love
			it. The only thing I doubt is the story, and that stems somewhat from personal preferences rather
			than any significant flaw. In my limited experiences, the best games are the ones that draw me in
			emotionally. When I have some sort of attachment to the characters in the game, it provides a
			strong motivation for succeeding. After all, these are my fake “friends” at stake.
			<samp>:)</samp>
		</p>
		<aside>
			† I cannot, for the life of me, work out what the handwriting says for this word. 
		</aside>
		<p>
				I would worry that an entire game based around a training camp wouldn’t provide the depth to
			entertain players for much more than an hour or two. I would see the training camp as a level or
			two or three, merely enough to acquaint the player with basic controls and game mechanics. After
			that, something more in-depth should provide the motivating factor. It could still be
			comical—maybe Yokozuki has to perform outrageous feats to impress his demanding girlfriend, who
			sends him out on stupid missions to earn her love. Or maybe he loves his pet gopher and he has to
			pursue him through miles of ?† circumstances until he finally gets to him. I don’t know— I
			just think we should think bigger than a training camp. I also like that, especially if we send
			Yokozuki international, because then I can write a whole bunch of different styles of music. If
			Yokozuki has to traverse the Egyptian pyramids, I can write an Egyptian song! Same for Spain,
			India, whatever. It would be fun. <samp>:)</samp> So that’s my only suggestion. Take it for
			what it’s worth, heh. Other than that, I think you’re right on track. It looks great.
			Congratulations on a project that’s actually progressing! <samp>:)</samp>
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt>MIDI Editor / PhotoDemon</dt>
	<dd>
		That’s an interesting idea—writing a MIDI editor. I’ve actually contemplated writing a .wav editor,
		since it’s so hard to find sound programming in <dfn title="Visual Basic">VB</dfn> source code.
		PhotoDemon’s lack of focus was due primarily to the fact that it was never intended to be a marketable
		product. I originally wrote it as an image compression
	</dd>
</dl>
</section><!-- =========================================== page 8 ===================================== --><section id="p8">
<header>8</header>
<dl>
	<dt></dt>
	<dd>
		utility, then once I got the format down, I abandoned the 256 color editor and focused on learning basic
		graphic processing routines. The original version was completely built off of <samp>GetPixel</samp> and
		<samp>SetPixel</samp>, believe it or not. Heh <samp>:)</samp> Later I completely cut out the whole
		256-color portion of the editor, taught myself <dfn title="device independent bitmap">DIB</dfn> sections,
		and began expanding it <abbr title="with">w/</abbr> features I couldn’t find in other editors. Before I
		knew it, it was so much larger than I had planned that I figured I oughta clean it up and make it
		presentable, and several thousand hours of work later, <dfn title="PhotoDemon">PD</dfn> emerged. I can’t
		believe how much time I spent on that cursed thing <samp>:)</samp> But it taught me most of what I know
		about VB, so for that I’m grateful. Will see how motivated I am to program when I get back
		<samp>:)</samp> Haha
	</dd>
	<dt>T.H.I.S</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			And last but not least is T.H.I.S. Oh man. We have really got to shrink those letters down.
			<samp>:)</samp> But it’s hard when letters get sent every three months instead of every three
			weeks. I will try to be more prompt in the future… and hopefully my schedule will allow it.
			Maybe yours will too <samp>:)</samp> Hehe.
		</p><p>
				Anyway, what can I possibly say about T.H.I.S.? “Just mind blowing” should suffice.
			<samp>:)</samp> Hehe. Kroc, it’s amazing. I love it all. The color scheme is great, the layout
			is intelligent and user-friendly, the menus look great and the feel of the whole site is indeed
			more than I could have imagined.
		</p><p>
				You have such a gift for design. I couldn’t possibly offer any advice that would improve the
			site. It’s already a masterpiece. I guess my only idea would be to change “international” to
			“independent”, maybe even “Tanner Helland Independent Studios”, Or if you think
			international sounds better, leave it. I trust your judgement completely.
		</p><p>
				I hope that you’re only working on T.H.I.S. when it appeals to you. Just seeing this much
			excites me beyond any hope I could even have of designing a site for my music. You are truly
			one-of-a-kind. Amazing! Simply amazing!!
		</p>
	</dd>
</dl>
<p>
	I would write more, but 4 pages has taken its toll on my brain and my hand. <samp>:)</samp> I hope this will
	suffice for now &amp; I hope to hear back from your soon! God bless &amp; good work!
</p><p>
	<em>—DemonSpectre</em>
</p>
</section>
<img src="/writing/tanner_writes_6/att_1_thumb.jpg" alt="Photo of Tanner standing in the snow holding a sign that reads “-45ºC”" width="640" height="416" />
<p>
	Now <em>that’s</em> cold.
</p>
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