I competed in the Kitbash3D Mission to Minerva contest

I recently competed in a competition for Kitbash3D’s Mission to Minerva challenge. I’ve never actually worked professionally in photorealism or CGI before but I figured I could learn along the way during the competition. Honestly the prizes for the competition were pretty modest, the grand prize all together may have only been worth about $2,500 but regardless I was interested in using the free kit they provide and the skills I’d learn while using it. The kits are produced for several softwares, I only really had access to free softwares like blender and Unreal Engine. I started out trying to learn blender and produce a moon environment and terrain using their noise generators. However after spending about a week or two learning and trying to render a couple simple scenes I ran into an issue where Blender would bloat to fill out all 48GB of my RAM in my high-end gaming computer. Sometimes rendering in Blender would take 24 to 48 hours while my computer would be completely unresponsive. There was also the option for real-time rendering with cycles that’s supposed to rely on the GPU which I had a high-performance Nvidia RTX 3060 with 12GB of GDDR6 and it would still lag and be unresponsive. 

I eventually started looking into Unreal Engine because graphically the engine renders scenes nicely and it natively works in real-time because it’s a video game engine. Working with the terrain and the environment were obviously different but because I could see how the scene was rendering in color in real-time I could iterate in it much faster. So I kept working in Unreal Engine and I was able to find and buy several assets for the 3D environment from online retailers that helped me to put together the scene quickly. 

I had an original idea of designing out a whole planned moon colony based on proposals from NASA and ESA. I ambitiously also wanted to make a video animation because I knew less people would produce videos than 2D renderings. I thought up an engaging story about a potential moon colony rebellion against Elon Musk. I started out making the animation and in fact I got pretty involved with animating a moon rover, and having camera tracks follow this rover through a planned moon settlement but eventually I realized the scope of work I had planned to complete a whole story in 3D animation was beyond the remaining 2 weeks I had left to submit. So I ultimately had to abandon my original plan an pivot to a 2D rendering. 

I decided instead to imagine if in the future there was space tourism to the moon, what would a potential vacation look like. I started with an authentic moon environment and kept the layout I had of structures for the moon settlement. Then to make it personal I added an astronaut couple lounging in an inflatable pool with floaties. This is a sight I’ve never seen before in other renderings of the moon or space tourism which is why I thought it was unique.

At the end I submitted my rendering, it obviously could have been a lot better if I had more time put into it but it was good enough to me. I sent it out and never heard any feedback on it. It obviously didn’t win a prize. There were a lot of other good renderings that real artists produced, but even so I think many of the best ones got overlooked by Kitbash3D. At the end I at least got the skills I wanted to develop and a free kit to experiment with. I have more ideas and more time so I can also then use the same environment and assets in a new production.

My Mission to Minerva Moon Vacation entry

I won $5,000 in the Pick 4 Florida Lottery

So I played the scratch-off lotteries starting in 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic started.

I won $1,000 a couple of times along with a bunch of smaller prizes on scratch-offs.

But I never won anything beyond that, which is why I started studying the odds and found that obviously the odds for the grand prize are always better with Pick lotteries.

So I started playing the smallest Pick lottery first, the Pick 2. I won that within 2 days.

Then I played the Pick 3 and won the $500 prize within a week.

Then I played the Pick 4 lottery at the $0.50 level and won $2,500 within 2 months.

Then I played the Pick 4 lottery at the $1.00 level and after about 6 months of playing $48 every week on Friday I finally won $5,000 just before Christmas in 2022.

I only played with quickpick combos, with 2 tickets. This sometimes was two tickets of $12, two tickets of $24, or a combination of those.

In total it cost me $4,000 in tickets, and I profited $1,000 off the $5,000 prize.

At the end of the day, do I recommend it?

No, playing the game took a tremendous amount effort.

Anytime I went to the store I also bought snacks and drinks which became a bad habit.

Once you get started, and you start losing money, you’ll become a victim of the sunk-cost fallacy.

When you play the smaller lotteries it’s more likely you can finally win and recover your loss, but with the larger lotteries you may never win or recover.

I recommend just saving money every week with an account from Acorns, Robinhood, or some other brokerage.

Saving money is much more reasonable than playing the lottery, because you can always access your savings when you need it in an emergency.

With the lottery, there’s no guarantee when or if you’ll win.