Tentacle Armada is four years old today. That’s 232 figure and doll reviews, 38 dakimakura cover reviews, and one tentacle stand review. I’m pretty amazed that this site is still around, and that I’ve managed to stick to a fairly consistent posting pattern (six posts per month for the last twelve months). As I provide every 23rd of February, here is the usual anniversary wrapup post where I write about my thoughts regarding the past year and what my plans are going forward.
About the website
The website hasn’t changed too much over the last couple of years; I’m pretty happy with the layout, apart from the way the header image sometimes makes text difficult to read. One thing I did add, and I’m pretty sure nobody cared, was a Google +1 button at the end of posts; I mainly added it because Google Webmaster Tools used to keep track of how many +1s you got, and I’m a shameless whore when it comes to site statistics. (Of course, a week or two after I added the button – and it took me fully half a day of fiddling with the layout to arrive at a design I was happy with – Google pulled that stat out of Webmaster Tools. They said they moved it into Analytics but I’m not sure where it is now.)
The main thing I want to do for the next year is to focus more on providing photography tutorials; I think I’m at a point where I feel comfortable writing about the process of making pictures, and I’ve had some ideas kicking around in my head for at least a couple of years now that I hope to bring to fruition. It’ll also give me something to replace the Eroge Reviews section up on the main menu bar at the top of the page. It’s a barren section of the site; I had hoped to do more of them but I don’t play many ero games and I don’t really think there’s a great way to evaluate visual novels, particularly the ones I would want to play, which tend to focus less on captivating storylines and more on captivating … well, other things.
During this past year, this site received 649,778 visits from 389,848 unique visitors who viewed 3,026,803 pages. Total site stats look like this:
About taking pictures
In previous years, I think the thing that most pleased me about my pictures was the improvement I showed over time. However, I don’t think my pictures improved all that much over this past year, and there aren’t very many that I am truly pleased with. Part of that is due to a lack of ambition, and also, oddly enough, too much ambition – that is, I’ve had a lot of ideas for figures that haven’t yet been implemented just because I’m not sure if I can pull them off, and I’m also not sure whether they would be worth the time. Part of me wants to give full effort to each figure that I photograph, but another part of me thinks that it’d be better to go with a less complicated background to just get the posts done already.
Another thing I don’t do as much of as I used to is experiment with different styles, techniques, and backgrounds. There was a stretch back in 2010 (starting with Senhime and ending with Asuka) where I really did a lot of different experimentation, and that was really important in learning not just about photography, but also the photographic style that I wanted to pursue. I don’t do as much of that now – I haven’t done a lot of messing around with white balance and colored gels as of late, I haven’t put the Lensbaby on my camera in years, and I haven’t done wacky things with postprocessing filters (granted, that last one is something I’ve never had much interest in; for example, you will never, ever see a selectively-colored picture on this site. Unless I decide to do one.). I sort of miss that stuff but on the other hand, one of the things I’m working towards is a greater sense of consistency within my posts. Previously, one could see wildly varying backgrounds and lighting styles in a single post, and it was glaringly obvious that I was just chucking stuff against the proverbial wall hoping to find something that would stick. I much prefer to have a better sense of unity in my pictures, and I think that’s become more apparent over this last year.
One thing I’m not too happy with is the way the picture count has shot up in my reviews. Posts from the early months of this site typically had no more than a dozen or so images, but it’s now typical for each of my posts to have thirty shots or more. This is mainly due to the nominal purpose of this site – I’m ostensibly reviewing figures and that means including certain things that I don’t otherwise care to do, like a series of 360-degree photos to show off the full figure. Typically, I’m hoping to get three good pictures from a shoot: the header, the closer, and the shot that goes above the final summary paragraph. Every photo after that weakens the impact of those shots. However, this site is still a review site, so I don’t see any good way to cut down the shot count. Rather, what I hope to do is to make a series of posts that are oriented around photographic themes rather than evaluating a single figure. I’ve been pretty lazy about this, but I do have ideas. (Man, do I have ideas. It sucks that it’s so hard to bring ideas to life.)
After writing a couple hundred figure reviews, one would think that I should have this down to a routine. Actually, writing reviews feels like it’s becoming harder; there’ve been a lot of times where I’ve been tempted to simply write, “I know none y’all are gonna read this so just look at the pictures.” Part of this is my own fault; I typically write about what I like in a figure (being that I buy all of my figures myself, I obviously try not to buy figures that I dislike) but there are some times where I buy a figure for completionist purposes or because I liked it at one point but am no longer as fond of it, and thus writing about it feels desultory. Nuance and subtext tend to not come across too well in writing, particularly on the Internet, where attention spans last no longer than the time needed to click a mouse button, but I have the sense that it’s easy to tell when I’m more enthusiastic about a figure just by observing how much I write.
Aside from writing more about figure photography in general, I don’t think I plan on changing too much. Indeed, I’m pretty busy just keeping up with reviews, which is mostly a hopeless affair, but I’m trying anyway. Four years is a pretty long time to keep up with anything, particularly a website, being that most figure websites seem to fizzle out after a year or two, and while I’m not sure how long I’ll keep this one going, I’m still having a lot of fun with it and I have no plan to stop anytime soon.