Thursday, September 27, 2012

Dating Sim / Fighting Game

I like dry-erase boards.

No, I love dry-erase boards.

Every time I spot one, I feel an unstoppable compulsion to draw all over that sum-uh-bish. To bleed out those toxic markers across its smooth, pearlescent surface while letting slip all the madness my mind has left.

Just last night, part of the team got to talking. It was about an idea a few of us had started to flesh out, mostly as a joke, and then I felt that urge to let my mind hemorrhage all over the board. Soon, the madness took to Adam as well and we all began refining the ideas and littering the surface with this.


You might be asking yourself, "But Dave, that just looks like some cartoon womenz; where is the game idea in that?" Well then I know you didn't read the title of this post and you should try asking yourself what you're really doing with your life...

But yeah, the idea is a dating sim game similar to all those ones that come from Japan, are popular with 13+ year old males, have pixelated naughty bits, and poorly written stories. Now here is the kicker, instead of earning a few static images of poorly planned anatomy and lines of text, we want to give the player a pillow fighting game, with full on jiggle physics! 

So you play one of the women (Pst! Yeah, it's a lesbian dating/fighting game) and you have to pick which one you're going to "court", going through the dialog trees, picking the right gifts, going to the right dates, etc. When you do all the right things for the woman you want, they invite you back to their place for...a pillow fight...but you know, an actual pillow fight. Beating the crap out of one another, clad in lingerie on a bed, feathers flying out of the soft, down pillows, and things and stuff jiggling.

Here is the plan so far.

  • We keep it PG-13 (unless enough people want more adult themes, then maybe)
  • The less attractive women are easier to "fight"(?).
  • Planning on 8-10 women for the roster.
  • Each woman will have unique personalities.
  • If we get support, multiplayer... maybe...

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's a bit sexist, but I figure with that 50 shades book and male stripper movie getting women all riled up, I think we can do this. I mean, we're all looking for equality, right?

Well, what do you internet folk think of this idea?
Let me know in the comments if you want to see this made!

Until next time,
(Ps. I'm probably gonna push to get this made anyway lol.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Good and/or Evil

I was reading about some game design theory on good and evil game play and came up with this idea. 

What if you had an RPG, or any game really, where you play as 2 different characters, alternating between them on each level?

Say on level 1, the player makes the first character push over a box to cross a gap.
Then, on level 2, the player has to make the second character save someone who will be crushed by that same box being pushed by the first character.

Mind blown, huh?

This would could be taken to more extremes where the player is only shown part of a story. Such as character one is tasked with killing a goblin while the second character needs to collect the food the slain goblin was taking back to his starving family.

Essentially, creating situations that are seen as good acts, only to see them in a different light on the next level. This would help to illustrate that good and evil characteristics are just a matter of perspective, which I find pretty dang interesting...

Whatcha think?

Until next time,

Teef - not everything i do makes sense...

His name is Teef.

Yet another 3D model from my kinda vast archive of my "art".

This one I did a couple months (I think) back while procrastination set in again. Instead of this handsome feller, I was supposed to create another character or something...I dunno, I forget. Though, I'm pretty sure I got that one done, too...

Until next time,

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Gary Busey Smile


Sometimes when you're working on something, you get side tracked. If you're me, that happens more often than not. 

Months back at work, I was given the task of doing a complete revamp of a kids site, including new icons and art for all the pages, including a jokes page.

Now what shows more joy than a laughing, happy smiley face? Not a damn thing! So that's what I did. I crafted some stereo-typical yellow face with soulless, dead eyes...and then I gave him teeth...then hair...

"...mah gawd...." crept out of my bearded face as corners of my mouth began to lift. Before too long, I had a full-on, stupid grin going while trying to hold by my childish giggles while I made an innocent little smile into that thing above. Oh how I was proud of my work...

Needless to say, they didn't go for Mr. Busey being a potential spokesmen for their product, let alone their kids division. 

I tried again, but they said he was still a bit creepy... maybe Mr. Busey just kept haunting their dreams after that and they couldn't see smiley faces the same way again...

'I'll eat yer soul!'

Guess you can't please everyone...

Until next time,

The Resale of Downloaded Games?

This one is gonna have so foul language. Just a heads up.

Sweet mother of gawd, law makers are fucking stupid. So very fucking stupid.

Want to know what I'm talking about? Look here.

For those of us that are too lazy to click a link, then I'll sum it up for you.

In Europe, it's okay to resell used games. Used digital games. As in games you fuckin' downloaded.

What it really boils down to is the sale of your license for that game to someone else. But that doesn't really work in the heavy pirated world of computer games. The developer or publisher has to provide the new owner of the game with a new license and the sellers license is no longer valid.

Yeah, no one is gonna find a way around that, ha-yuk! 

This is going to be especially damning to smaller or indie studios that don't have strong or even any DRM practices in place and these are the teams that need the funding the most. To me it means greedy, nasty, fat fuckers living in their parents basements while trying to make enough money off reselling indie bundles they pirated to pay for their monthly consumption of porno subscriptions, Jergin's, and pizza-pockets.

All of my hate...

...That reminds me, I need a tablet...

Anyway, the resale of games doesn't necessarily mean the loss of sales or customers. Since Steam is essentially a DRM system and digital distributor, they can offer to "buy back" downloaded games that were only acquired and activated with their service and make sure that the user that sold it back doesn't use it again. Basically destroying their license and making any copy of that license popping up again becoming illegal. Though it will cut into their profit margin and make it far more difficult for Steam to offer such reduced prices to the consumers.

Oh but whats that? One of the largest digital distributors and advocate for fair practices in the game industry is getting threatened with at law suit for trying to protect itself? I bring this up since part of the suit is to make sure that Valve meets all the requirements put in place by the ruling. They cannot have any system in place that prevents European customers from selling their "old" games. Fucking brilliant Europe..

Steam is just trying to protect itself and the end user from class action suits. They aren't trying to lock the users out from filing individual claims, just from making a massive claim with others for something so minimal. It's like if you buy a game for $3.00 off Steam. It doesn't work and you ask for a refund. If you ask with a bunch of other people (100) and the lawyer takes his cut (50%), you get left with $1.50.

100 x 3.0 = 300
300 x .50 = 150
150 / 100 = $1.50

There you go. You have a tarnished and possibly banned account with Steam, no game, and less money than you started with. Now that's smurt. Why would your account be banned you might ask? Because Steam reserves the right to deny service to anyone. If you're coming on their service and you're a bad customer, you get kicked out. It's just the same as any place else.

So there is that; get ready Europe, you're games will get even more expensive and much heftier DRM since the game developers and publishers will be scrambling to get as much as they can from their product before some kid tries making a dime off of you too.

These law makers are the same people that tried to take over the internet, strip our freedoms away and the same idiots that ask you to email back attachments when you're done with them because it was their only copy.

And lets be honest. The resale of downloaded games is pretty fucking stupid.

Until next time,

Monday, September 24, 2012

Squash and Stretch - Animated lil' guy.


Not the cleanest animation, but a fun little guy jumping with his sweet cape!

...Funny, it looked smoother not as a gif....hmm.

Until next time,

My Old Work - 3D Vehicle: Buggy


I'm just posting some of my old work to have a record of all the stuff I've done.

This is a dune buggy which was the first ever scene and vehicle I have ever done in 3DsMax, though this is the one that I revisited after a few months to add depth of field and the dust effects. After that was added, I tooled around with it in Photoshop, adding some motion blur to give it a more dynamic feel.

Some of the detail is lost in the effects, but truthfully, you aren't missing much.

I dug up the original and you can judge if the post work on it helped or not.

Not as impressive, huh?

Until next time,

Coaster Crazy - A game I want but won't get...


What's not to like about stylized characters loosing their fragile little minds and lunches while riding your custom designed roller coaster? 

Getting nickel and dimed just to buy new paint jobs and characters to ride your beastly coaster, thats what!

I've always loved sim/construction games. Back in the day playing SimCity 2 and failing to recognize why someone wouldn't want to live next to a heavy industry area.

But now. Now they want you to pay to place stuff. It makes me kinda sad....

Fondly, I remember the days of real demos that didn't prompt players to hit a button to unlock the full game or get a new, shiny hat. A finer time when you'd install games off of stacks of disks and you'd have full size game boxes with manuals and code cards to prevent piracy. A distant past when your options for getting the full game was through the mail or from hole-in-the-wall retail locations that doubled as computer repair shops...

Ah memories...

But yeah, I wish Coaster Crazy was a game I could just buy straight up. I don't pay when I play F2P games since I see less value in them based off their sliding scale purchases. When Team Fortress 2 became free to play, I tried it out but it became some much more about loot and how much swag someone could get from keys they bought. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy(ed) TF2, but it's just not as fun as it once was. Games are filled with decked out players that have spent piles of real cash to have better weapons and cool hats. I dunno, just feels wrong I guess.

A lot of developers think it's the way to go. Heck, even I toyed with the idea of making a game that sucked every last penny out of the customer, but what does that provide the player? How can developers make games that have a limited value to start, and then convince them to pay so much more? Like paying hundreds of bucks for a third color in Pong. I just don't get it. If a product is good, which Coaster Crazy looks to be, then people will be willing to pay to own a copy of it. 

I may not be the majority, but I feel that F2P gaming shouldn't be the future of all gaming. Yes, there is a market for it, but the thought of having to pay a fee to play a game I have already purchased makes me sick. 

Sure, adding value in the form of DLC is one thing, but having to pay every month to hold on to that content is something I don't agree with. Maybe that's why MMO's never appealed to me at all. 

Either way, I'm not a consumer that is willing to purchase content in the F2P model. I know there is a place for it, but I don't want it.

And with that, it saddens me to say Coaster Crazy by Frontier looks fuckin' sweet. Too bad I'll never play it.

Until next time,

Astronaut Model - Sculpt & Low Poly

Ah snap, yo!

Here is a model I did about 3-6 months ago to be added to our Umbra game as a little hidden easter egg.

On the right, the low-poly version that I created in 3DsMax (370 poly) before bringing it into ZBrush and sculpting. This was my first attempt at using ZBrush for a character. I tried using my tablet, but over the years, it's grown weary in it's old age, so I ended up using my mouse. I know, it shows, right?

I'm glad you'll only see him from a distance in the game, since taking a look at him again after so long I realize my first sculpt is obviously going to be my worst!

Let me know what you think.

And sorry for the lack of updates! I'm still trying to recover content from my bricked out computer...

Friday, September 21, 2012

Monster Paw - 3D HTML5 Game Engine

I was poking around the game development communities today and found something pretty dang spiffy.

That's right; in a browser!

HOLY POOP! This little demo is pretty damn sweet! Until now, HTML5 games have focused only 2D (as far as I can tell) and this opens a new level of WOOPASS for developers to play with!

The Monster Paw engine is being developed by The Virtual Laboratory and is written in JavaScript and uses HTML5 and modern browsers to create real-time interactive 3D.

It ain't perfect just yet, but it's still in its alpha, so plenty more development is planned, which will expand on this already impressive engine IMHO.

If you haven't clicked on the links just yet, go and it some love!

Until next time!
(Ps. 3D models and art are taking some time to get out to the world since my home work station crapped out on me. Sorry everyone, I'm working on it!)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Game Maker wants your money

YoYo Games; maker of Game Maker is gearing up to make a hard push with Game Maker: Studio.

The engine is already released, though they say it isn't feature complete, but plan on expanding their community, support, and platforms to help deversify Game Maker: Studio and help establish it as a strong choice to game devs looking for something quick, easy, and dynamic.

Though the price point is fairly on point for where they are aiming, but a bit expensive compared to other 2D engines. YoYo Games hopes to compete with the likes of Unity, which has gained quite a bit of success with their engine in the past few years. The price point my be cheap compared to Unity, but rather inflated for other 2D engines like Scirra's Construct 2 which have strong communities and added mobile support included. Game Maker: Studio doesn't include mobile support, and needs to be purchased separately for each mobile OS, ranging from $99 to $199.

We'll have to see if Game Maker: Studio features warrant a purely 2D engine that is priced closer to some advanced, indie-friendly 3D engines.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ham Sandwich - 18Sept2012

Aw Yeah!

A nearly 4 year old render...they grow up so fast, *sniff*.

Block Head and more - 3D Character/Vehicle Render

Check out some of one of my old character models!

Block Head

I think this was the 4th or 5th one I ever did so it's kinda poop to what I do now. He was going to be for a very loose remake of an old game I love, Rocket Jockey, and yet, I never got anyone interested enough in it.
I would love to revisit the idea when I have more experience under my belt.

Oh and here is the "Rocket" that he was going to ride.


So, whatcha all think? The "rocket" looks a lot better than the guy, but still not that great, right? I did the rocket as my 2nd ever vehicle model.

Later everyone!

Heads Up - Mercenary Kings

Every one loves Metal Slug, right? Even if you're bad at it, which many of us are, you still pump more quarters in the machine or start your console over again. Man, I think I spent enough loose change on that 2D side-scroller for me to buy an arcade cabinet myself. What could possibly be better?

Glad you asked.


Mercenary Kings is a percise 2D side-scrolling shooter along the lines of Metal Slug and Gunstar Heros of the past, but with smoother animations being supplied by Jonathan Lavigne, who was the guy behind the art for Scott Pilgram vs. The World: The Game and co-founder of Tribute Games. Then you mix it all up with a weapon customization and crafting system, 4 player co-op, and 30+ missions (!) and you have a recipe for AWESOME-SAUCE! (extra spicy)

This game was funded with a KickStarter campaign that ended on the 13th of September, 2012.
One refreshing thing they said was that if they get it funded without reaching their extended goals, they'll use the profits from sales to keep extending the game! Gotta love it!

I didn't get in on time to fund this bad mama jamma, but I'll keep you up to date as I learn more.

Until then

Monday, September 17, 2012

FTL Faster Than Light - Review

FTL Faster Than Light is a sprawling space adventure with a procedurally generated mission set and random events that will keep you coming back time and time again.

The art style reminds me of the mid-90’s, when pixels were still kings, had more colors than brown, tan, and other brown, and more game to play than cut scenes to watch. The bright style of FTL makes the retro style of its art come alive and helps bring it to the top and polish it for all to see.

Chippy, sci-fi music plays out through the game, bringing a calm feeling of expanse to uninhabited sectors and intense battle tunes belt through when engaged in life and death combat. It isn’t an orchestrated piece that resonates with all listeners and invokes visions nebula’s and nova’s, but it fits perfectly with the art and gameplay, helping pull the player deeper into the experience.

It really is an amazing game in my mind, but FTL is not without a few flaws.

For one, playing FTL takes a little getting used to at first and a slight learning curve to just how you prefer to control your space ship.

Along those lines, the level of customization leaves a little to be desired. The fact that you can’t pick which races make up your beginning crew or weapons is a bit discouraging, but it isn’t the end of the world. And you know what? Unlocking new ships can be a bit of a tall order, needing to invest a bit of time and luck into getting what you need. Having some other weak or new ships to start the game with would have been good to keep it fresh especially if a player gets too frustrated with one ship from the beginning.

My final gripe is replayability. FTL game is very fun to players like me. Players who play the same mission of a game over and over again to refine their giant robot design or test out new weapons made to kill huge, alien ants. But for those who like a long, unique adventure, there isn’t much to keep them going after they complete the story a few times. What I would have liked to see to combat this would be an endless mode. One with no approaching force, no branching paths after a sector; just random map after random map made to let the player explore an universe forever.

After my little wish list for this game, I really have to say FTL Faster Than Light, is a great game for those who like rogue-likes, space, and a bit of difficulty.

Overall rating – Pretty dern good. 

FTL Faster Than Light - Check it out! 

You need Programmers

Making games ain't easy. It takes hard work, dedication, creativity, and then even more hard work.

When I speak to people about making games, I get two distinct responses. First, I get the more common, "Oh yeah? That's cool. What have you made?" followed by a blank stare when I give a short list of projects in the works or those that failed to take hold. These are the people that don't know of a single game that doesn't have duty and warfare in the titles.

The second, and far worse response I get is "Cool! I've always wanted to make a game! I have this great idea that blah blah blah..." I usually zone out after that part. It's not to be mean, but before I knew better, I would ask what kind of experience they have with game development and it usually boils down to playing some obscure JRPG title that gave them the idea or they made a fan site once using Publisher on Windows 95. Seriously, it happens.

Before I get too far into this rant, I should bring up another response that happens very often and it deals with nearly every aspect of design. "I have this idea, but I can't tell you until you agree to do it all for me and fund it, and I get half of all the profit." If you're one of these people, you can fuck right off and forget about what ever industry you're trying to break into with your "fool-proof" plan. You need to have the effort to being a part of a larger team, the research to know what you're talking about, AND the humility to understand you can't take from people with more skill and desire than you. If you can't do that, it isn't for you and you need to try something else.

Now to the real topic, programmers. Lets use a big, delicious hamburger as an analogy for game making. Programmers are the meat of the team. Sure, the art, story, and sound teams add the cheese, condiments, and veggies, but a burger without meat is just a lame sandwich that no one wants.

This is game development.

But speaking of programming, there is a misconception among newbies I've run across on various development communities. That misconception is that programmers aren't creative and are just there to make your idea a reality. It usually spurs out from people that are very new to game development.

These fresh faced wanna-be's have seem late night infomercials with young, "hip" guys playing games with stereotype sounds spewing from a monitor and taking absurd notes about adding some major feature. They think that being the idea that is rattling around there head is worth more than a truck full of diamonds and that anyone in the game industry worth their salt will create their design for them and with this "golden-child" of design watching over them like a hawk and scrutinizing every little thing they do.


The truth of it all is that programmers need to be creative.

Programmers have to think of ways to get around obstacles in code and figure out not only how to do something, but with limits in front of them and with enough polish that makes it easy to use. It's uber problem solving. I make it no secret. I am not a programmer, but I respect the hell out of them!

Designers make it fun, Artists make it pretty, Writers make it interesting, Audio pulls the player deeper, and Programmers makes it all work together. I know it's a simple break down, but it's (fairly) true.

On a side note, when I'm working through a mechanic I think is interesting, I often find myself asking programmers if it's even feasible or try to get brain storming with them. Since their minds work different than mine, it lets us come up with more dynamic ideas and flesh out those parts we really want to add to a game. Just take that into consideration the next time you're trying to work through a design issue.

So here's to all the programmers out there. You're worth your weight in gold.
Now back to work!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Quality over Quantity

Lately, I've been a bit blog-crazy.

I don't know if it's the fact I'm passionate about gaming, art, and other nerdy things, or if I'm just excited to have a place that I can rant, rave, and share that passion with my literally tens of readers.

Being a full time cubicle jocky and a full time student along with trying to manage the HatJam has left me little time to create quality content. Having a difficult time completing projects to the level that I think you all deserve, I buckled down and thought of a plan.

In order to deliver the best content that I can create for you, I came up with a schedule and a more focused definition for this blog.
  • Tuesday - Art Update! Upload artsy stuff! (Comics, renders, etc.)
  • Thursday - Game Update! Video game stuff! (Previews, reviews, Heads-up) 
  • Sunday - Industry Update! Video game industry stuff! (News from the last week)

So that's the plan! What do you think? See, this way I can give you all better content and won't burn out.

Also, I was entertaining doing illustrations by request (PG-13 at worst) once a week, but we'll see how many of you guys want.

Let me know what you think!
(Ps. Thanks for reading you guys!)

Heads Up - Anarchy Reigns

(Testing out a new "feature" for my blog called Heads Up and is more of a quick format for me to share games that look interesting. Hope you like it!)

Set in a destroyed world filled with high tech weapons, odd characters, and vicious combat, Anarchy Reigns calls back to the days when Double Dragon and Battle Toads ruled, then kicks it up past 11!

Just watch this trailer!

Fuck yeah.


Sure, I have no idea how it will control or how the game will progress, but I still want to at least give it a go.

Now for some sad news. Anarchy Reigns won't be hitting the US or Europe markets until March of 2013.

It's already been out for nearly 2 months in Japan and Importing is a thing, so you can get this work of crazy violence now if you want, but I think I'll wait...cause I can't afford it right now.

Anarchy Reigns was developed by Platinum Games and published by Sega and will be released on Xbox 360 & Playstation 3. It will feature single player and online multiplayer and sport an M rating.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Low Poly Character: Donkey Punch - 13Sept2012

This guy I've been working on here and there for about a month now. Probably only have a few hours invested in him. : \

Now it reminds me of 90's cartoons...

His Donkey Punch!

Classy, right?

He was designed as a joke one night after class, a time when I usually doodle on the board since I have a horrible addiction to drawing jokes for people.

Donkey Punch is (kinda) low poly at just under 1500. I could optimize it down to probably 1000 without any real loss, but I don't need to right now.

What do you all think? I'll be skinning him and rigging him as soon as the HatJam is over with so I can make a fun little animation.


Mounted Ape Warrior

Like a Boss...

Hey everyone! I'm just uploading this from my old portfolio from a couple years ago.

What do you think?

FTL: Faster Than Light - Impressions

When I get home from work, I watch some YouTube videos in what little time I have before I go to class for the night. Usually these videos are of some charismatic YouTube'r playing through a game I never really intend to play with as much dedication as they have, with few exceptions. One of these game commentators that I watch fairly regularly, Northernlion has a tendency to play rouge-like games. And he has brought a new gem for me to look forward to, FTL: Faster Than Light.


I'll get this out of the way first. FTL: Faster Than Light looks like an amazing game to me!

FTL was funded through KickStarter with 2,005% (!) of Subset Games original asking, earning them $200,542 (!!) to create their game.

At first, I thought about writing a great big article to describe how much ass this game kicks and how it will now rule the hour and a half of free time I have every day, but if you watch the video above, you know it's up your alley or not. It's definitely up mine.

The game comes out tomorrow, the 14th of September, on Steam, GOG, and their own site for just $10!

For those who don't know, rouge-likes are games that have randomized levels or interaction, and customization that create a unique game every time the you play through. They usually aren't too long, but combine that with an ever present perma-death in rouge-likes and addictive nature of the games, many people play through them over and over again. Which isn't very likely to happen the first couple of times you play them. These games aren't easy, but they are usually very balanced and fair; you'll know why you died and right away know how to avoid that kind of death later. Games like The Binding of Isaac, Dungeons of Dredmor, and Spelunky are considered rouge-likes and though they have a similar system in place, they are all unique in my opinion. Check them out some time!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

AntiAliasing in UDK

Those of us that were raised with 386 IBM-compatible computers and Atari 2600 systems to introduce us to gaming have a bit of a soft spot for pixels. To me, the wonderful moving squares gives me a warm feeling in my guts.

Once I get past the fear that I have contracted some as-of-yet discovered terminal belly-button disease, I start to enjoy the feeling. I reminise about playing pixelated warriors flying ostragages over pits of lava. I remember being a teenager controlling rough edged, ninja assassins climbing single-poly walls to eliminate a Japanese lord in the early Edo period. And I smile about the times when I was a deadly wizard that "NEEDS FOOD BADLY" while fighting endless hordes of blood thirsty enemies with my friends for days. No,  literally days at a time.

One thing these games have in common are pixels. Be they on the polygons edge from the weak hardware or the character themselves being built out of multi-colored dots on the screen. Now pixels don't make a game great, but oddly enough, by making the edges harder, it softens the hearts of us old gamers.

So why am I bringing this up in my personal blog? Well because it's a style I've been trying to figure out to squeeze into our untitled HatJam game.

And I finally found someone who has done it, and they've made a tutorial!

This tutorial was made by VoxHouseStudio. Check out their YouTube page!

Now you may be asking, "But Dave, you've said you don't like retro to be retro, what gives?"

Well, I don't think this post-process would be out of place. The game we are making harken back to when games were more simple. The Contra's, Castlevania's, and Metal Slug's of the gaming world that had great game play and decent enough graphics to make you smile.

Anywho, hope you enjoyed VoxHouseStudio's video and for stopping by!

Valve's Big Picture - Impression on Gamasutra Article

Since I started a blog, or at least really working on my blog, I've been reading and writing more often. Spending more time diving into articles and writing my thoughts than watching youtube videos into the night, I usually don't find much that I feel like writing anything about, but then there is this...

The article I read was Steam Big Picture: The quietest next-gen launch in history written by Kris Graft over at Gamasutra. Go read it (if you want). Its a great my opinion...

It speaks to my new found love for all things Valve and about how they are bringing the fight to "the Big Three" (Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo) by providing a stream-lined service for the living room. No, they aren't jumping into the console war (as far as I can tell), but they are making it easier to use your PC from the comfort and safety of your couch.

I'm pretty sure all couch gamers know how to hook a system into a TV, and Valve has made it more intuitive to use a Steam service in front of our big screens for the desk gamers.

With the ability to use your existing hardware and have full (I'm assuming) access to your personal Steam game library, it is a no brainer. Combine that with support for both game pads and keyboard and mouse, and that the PC development market is far more open than the ones provided by Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, it'll give more people the chance to try new games all over.

"Playing games on a comfy couch? Big Screen? Up to date system?! Yes please."

Big, hardware focused console creators won't really be competing with Valve though. They are going to be competing with their own customers. Say if a customer can make their own up-to-date system that they can comfortably play at home with the latest games for a cheaper price, then why will they wait for a console maker to come out with something that is locked up tight, and has mid-to-low end specs?

I dunno, maybe it's just me, but I think Valve is giving the customer what they want and opening conversation to PC and console gamers; a common place to enjoy video games together. Other companies are just trying to see how much they can take from the customer with the least amount of effort.

It'll be interesting to see how this progresses over the next few months.


Tips for Design: Character Design

So the other day I got a wild hair and figured that I would write some tips on designing characters for video games. I'm no expert, but I have some experience with it, so here we GO!

Now lets say you have an epic idea for a character to be the star of a game your're working on.
What do you do?

Well, you draw it or get someone to draw it for you if you aren't so artistically inclined.

Either way, you get it on paper for everyone to see.

You now have it drawn out more or less the way you saw it in your mind and you can go all buck-nutty and show it off to your co-workers, friends, and the masses of the internet.
Whats that? Some people have some no-so-nice things to say about your character? Or worse yet, no one says a thing, not even your friends?

Well then. Might I make some suggestions that will help with refining and definition of characters?

When you don't get the response you're looking for when you show off your character, you need to go back and change what you need. And don't get discouraged. If you get discouraged every time you show your work, you won't want to go back and try again.

Also, don't just show your designs to your friends; they will lie. They do it because you're all good people and they like you, not because they want you to fail, but they will screw you up and derail you fast.

When creating a character for a video game, there's some stuff that all artists/designers should keep in mind. (In my opinion...)

  • The world where your character lives
  • The way the character interacts with the world
  • How the player controls the character
  • Avoid Mary-Sues or Masturbation (gasp!)

First off, knowing the world that the game takes place will give you a guide line for the character. As an example, say you're told that the game will be played inside of an abandon research lab and the game is about test animals that have become sentient and have built civilizations in the lab. You shouldn't design a character that is a giant sized, bipedal rhino that comes from the future where Aztecs have taken over the world. You should design something that fits with in the story of the game. Like a lab rat that is above average intelligence and has make shift clothes made from items found around the lab.

Actually kinda like the rhino now...

Next, we look at how the character interacts with the world. To design a character that fits the game, you need to stay with in the confines of the design. Take the same game from the example above. If you take that rat character and give them an amazing tool set that makes them into a mini-Batman or IronMan, then it will pull the player away from the game world, creating a detach from the game that the player may otherwise enjoy. Instead, if you give the rat a hand full of office supplies made into primitive but useful tools, it will draw that character closer to that world because they are more grounded to the world and story the character is in.

And when the player is controlling your character, you will need to think of how they view that character and how it is being maneuvered in that environment. If your pouring detail into a character that will never be seen up close, then when it is in the game, it will look muddy and jumbled; no clear direction to who the character is or what their purpose is. Again, lets use that example from above. Lets say the game is played in 3rd person with the camera similar to Mario 64. It's far enough back to see the whole character, but not so close that you can see too much detail. Now would you put all the tools that the rat has on its back? That is just making it hard to see behind a mess of McGyver'd stuff. Instead, you can give him a simple bag that he can pull whichever tool he needs.
Really close...

Similarly, give some thought on the silhouette of your character. If you have a character that is supposed to be jolly and calm, you shouldn't make them sharp and dangerous looking. The player should be able to recognize the character even when obstructed. It's important so that they don't get lost on the screen, which does happen.
Which mouse is easier to recognize as a mouse?

Mary-Sue-ing or Masturbation (as I like to call it) is when the artist/designer/producer/anybody inserts themselves in the game with no real thought on how the player will perceive this character or how it'll fit in the world, established or not. It's a self gratification for the simple purpose of making one person feel good. Sure, others might not mind the design, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea.
Kinda sad really...

One look around deviantart and you can see just how many "original" characters that's someones self insert into their favorite franchise. These characters usually have few to no flaws and weaknesses, apparently know every other character, usually intimately, and have saved them all from destruction. These kind of designs may seem innocent enough, but they won't likely get you anywhere in the video game industry. Strive to be better than taking a blue mascot, painting it yellow, and calling it an original character.

Last thing I think I should mention is to listen to every bit of criticism you get, especially the mean stuff. If there is something someone doesn't like, examine it and find out why. Not everyone will tell you what they don't like about it or why, but just keep plugging away and you'll make something to be proud of.

Hope it helped!
(Ps. Final note, I swear. KEEP PRACTICING!!!)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

3D Modelling - Low Poly Face Practice

Some low poly faces!

Though, they would be fairly high poly if they were attached to a body...hmmm.


6180 The Moon - Impressions on Video

(This is my take on the video above. I haven't played this game.)

6180 The Moon is a unique 2D Puzzle/Platformer that takes away the fear of a falling death to the player and instead warps or wraps the player back to the top of the screen. With this new dynamic, getting to the objective of each level will force the player to think and solve puzzles that they haven't thought of before.

My first impressions were honestly not good. Seeing the very retro white vector lines on black background made my mind instantly race to games like Asteroid and Missile Command. And although those are both great games, I personally am getting tired of "retro for the sake of retro".

But once I saw what the game play looked like, I felt more at ease. 6180 The Moon has a charm about it.
Take a look at the video above and you'll see how the game seems to let the player flow, putting them in control of how smooth they move through the environment.

Also, the puzzles don't look like they'd be too punishing and with the hazards easy to spot, no death should feel cheap.

This game was co-created by South Korea's Indie Game Studios, Turtle Cream, and PokPoong Games.
It's slated for release later this year.

I think I'll check it out when it comes out.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Hulk Hogan vs Macho Man


I know when I was a kid, I enjoyed professional wrestling. Since then, I've become less of a fan of these athletes with over-the-top personalities fake being the crap out of each other, but that hasn't stopped me from creating some fan art that lets me reminisce about my childhood.

Hope you all like it!

Umbra Update - Boor: The Sequel

Hey everyone!

I wrote a blog post early today showing some of the concepts I had done for the game Umbra.

Now here is some work that a friend and fellow member of the team, Joe Matison, has done.

Joe's Concept (v3.5)
 Low Poly
High Poly
 Mind you, this is without the skin on, but by-gum I think it's pretty damn sweet!

What do you think?


HatJam - The Random Game Jam

For those of you who don't know, I'm currently producing/running a game jam for my fellow students!

It's called the HatJam!

The blog of said game jam is over here.

Once this one is done and we all have more experience under our belts, I intend to open it up to more people from near and far to join us in this fun experience. I'll make a new post with an email address to register you and/or your team!

To make the HatJam different than other jams, the subject for the jam is picked randomly from hats that have been populated by participants. It also has a more relaxed time frame that focuses on self-discipline, work ethic, team work, creativity, and fun.

Anywho, check it out! (here is another link.)
I try to update every day.


Valve: Champion of the Gamers (Opinion)

I just read an article in the New York Times by Nick Wingfield that really made me smile and take note.

The article I'm talking about is on the New York Times site that reads almost like a manifesto calling to how the new game industry should work. For 3 pages, it lists some of the magic moments that Valve has brought to the industry; not only in development, but company structure and video game economy.

Now, I'm not much of a PC gamer right now since I haven't had the financial means to create my dream work/gaming machine as of late. Yeah, I've picked up a few indie games from The Humble Bundle and a couple on Steam, but for the most part, I don't like the idea of having an untested service trying to sell me something that has such heavy DRM that it would prevent me from playing my purchase if they go the way of the dodo. And considering how cut-throat things have been getting, I stand by my choice.

But, what I do know is that Gabe Newell and Valve is fighting for not only the customer/gamer, but for creating a great example to those of us trying to share our passion with the world. By having a dynamic workforce that is encouraged to be creative, it brings a ray of hope to us developers who want something better out of the industry than a 9 to 5 cubicle hell.

A good chunk of the article also talks about Valve working towards creating a set of augmented reality glasses, which doesn't appeal too much to me, but maybe that's just me.

What did strike me was one comment about the augmented reality was brought up by COO of EA, Peter Moore. Moore stated "It's appealing to them because they live in that outer fringe of I.Q. and money," doubting it will connect with consumers. Now I don't think EA should be ruffling too many feathers and talking down too much since among gamers, EA still isn't exactly loved.

Microsoft is brought up a little bit too, but I haven't really been too keen on their gaming practices as of late.

As I'm sure you've gathered by now, this article has helped establish my appreciation of Valve and of Gabe Newell.

If you want to check out this article yourself, check it out here. (Game Maker without a Rule Book - NY Times) It's a pretty good.

Thanks for reading!

KickStarter - A Tool for the Game Industry (Opinion)

As far as I can tell, we all love an underdog story. The stories where the nice guy gets the girl and wins the lotto. I think that's why all those '80's movies had the nerdy kid gets away with the stealing exotic cars, getting cheered on by his team, or impersonating a secret agent. I think it appeal to everyone.

Now, I think that's why KickStarter has gotten so big lately, especially in the games industry. There are these games on there that people can get behind because they like the idea. Or it could remind them of their dream game that they would make up and scribble out on a stack of note book paper until they thought it was perfect. It brings to light our hopes and dreams and giving us a chance to see them made real.

But what does it really mean for the industry?

I've been thinking about it a lot lately, especially after seeing a few of my favorite old game studios and IP's start hitting up KickStarter to be brought back into the lime-light. These were/are games and studios that had major publishers back in the day. They had proven financial success and cult followings to this day.

And I think thats where the problem lies. The video game industry is still being run with a "shit rolls down hill" method as far as I can tell. It doesn't take a market analyst to see that innovation and new IP's are nearly gone from the main stream, "AAA" titles that get released. And the reason the same old, busted crap is getting released is because it sells at a consistent rate. They don't break records and don't revolutionize the industry as a whole. If they did take a chance on something new, there is a better chance that they won't recoupe their expenses. Expenses that pay for a board of directors that never touched code, giant marketing campaigns that cost millions to push a 3 hour game, and pay for CEO's to try something new while their original company drowns in debt from miss-management.

Corporate greed. It seems to be real and it's one of the reasons I think big players have gone to KickStarter. Who wants to pay for a year of mortgage on the executives house(s) while you get a month of instant noodles? I dunno, doesn't sound fun, but we all have to work.

But as KickStarter becomes more and more laden down with video games that want to get funding, to me it has lost some of its luster; its magic. Everyone who loves video games has an idea for one and everyone wants to get it made. Though the games I view on there now are less original, less fun. I can't imagine them being someones dream game. To me, it's like they're going the way of the major league, "AAA" titles. They are starting to look the same to me and I get the feeling that they are just in it to get any game made so they can make a buck.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that KickStarter is a good tool that is getting used in the wrong way by some people and to me, some of the amazement and wonder of finding a hidden gem is gone because those gems are surrounded with the same old crap.

Anywho, that's just my opinion.

Thanks for reading!

Creepy Guy that...

Umbra Concept Art: Boor - 10Sept2012

Hey there!

Being re-invigorated to work on this blog, I figured I would update with some of the concept art that I have done for a game I'm working on. This stuff is nearly 6 months old at this point, so please bear that in mind.

The monster below is called the Boor. He's an 8ft tall beast that lives in a mysterious plane of existence that is deep inside of a black hole. When he spots his prey, he marches up to it with a ferocious determination and wails away with his clawed arm. This kind of brute-force and arrogant attitude comes from being near the top of the food chain for eons. They know nothing of fear or pain.

Boor v1.0
Boor v2.0
 Boor v3.0 

Some background on the game project; Umbra.

As students of game design/development, my class needed a project to work on.
One of the students came up with an idea that resonated with us all as something that could be interesting and we all helped develop it into an idea we could get behind.

That idea became Umbra.

Umbra is a game where you play as a star that has taken the form of a scantily clad woman named Sola. She has entered a black hole in order to fight off the ancient evil race that resides inside that swallow up her kind and imprision them, taking their energy and killing the other stars.

The game is a 3rd person shooter/platformer being developed for PC using UDK and it's currently in early alpha.

As for the Boor itself, it is designed to be humanistic in profile and have a recognizable silhouette from a distance. The fact that they have featureless faces helps to create more mystery to their motives and the asymmetrical design is a subtle way of giving them a natural "S" curve that the human eye finds appealing and interesting to look at while at the same time giving the viewer the impression that the Boor is flawed; not in design, but in nature.

I'll be updating later with the model that is created by Joe.