So I’m still at Orycon 34, and hot damn lil kids are encouraging!
With regards to the Eulogy concept animation slideshow I’m running, I’ve heard “I wanna play this game,” “when will this be a game?,” and “what is this?” plus some ‘ol awe and wonder. When I was first interested in getting people to play the games I still had yet to make, I considered younger demographics paired with “daaaamn, but kids don’ have no moneys.” After those kinds of considerations, I got into actually developing games while keeping marketability in mind, but being around other developers and becoming enveloped in the indie game community has totally changed my outlook on people. I mean, I hang out with way different groups of people, carry out regular conversation differently, and have different relationships with family after having undergone a big bout of interest in the indie game community. It’s just another focus that’s changed my outlook on things.
So, with all of this consideration towards the indie game community – therefore not mainstream players and not younger children – I had kinda lost sight of kids as a demographic. Which is stupid. I mean, kids around 12 and under are easily entertained while still really smart, they’re young enough to trust the game world you’ve created without being too cynical or actively critique-oriented, and they’re willing to keep trying and keep learning. I’ve personally picked up sooooo much from having played games as a child, including vocabulary, inside jokes, ideas, and so many different intuitions and other subconscious… things… It’d be so sick to be responsible for siblings’ inside jokes by having made a game they played together as children or have a kid like your character so much that they drew fan art. And, taking it a step further, what about working other kinds of learning into a game? And what if working really hard to achieve that happy medium is the way to entertain a child, then warrant that a parent buys the game for them? This schtuff’s probably been explored and outlined countless times before, but its importance is really starting to dawn on me.
As game developers now, we could help influence a whole new generation of players if our reach becomes great enough. And if that influence can be reciprocated, developers will know their work is enjoyed. Such an exciting prospect, but damn, reachin’ that reach is a tough one. So we got 1) make game 2) make game entertaining 3) make game influential 4) make game reach other people 5) make game reach the right people 6) make game enthusiasts tell you want they want 7) make game into what enthusiasts want 8) probably some other stuff 9) repeat.
Whoof, exciting stuff.
Phfewew! That is the sound I will make come October first. The third sentence of next month’s Portland Indie Game Squad invite reads, “At this meeting, we’ll be revisiting PIGSquad’s September activities, including the OMSI Mini Maker Faire, XOXO Arcade, the recent Jane McGonigal lecture, the Mechlo/Tonight We Launch chiptune show, the September Art/Code Night, and the Portland Retro Gaming Expo!” That is a lot of stuff for one month.
S’been great, though! Many positive experiences. XOXO Arcade put me in touch with a few indies and their awesomely elusive traveling games (play Joust, BaraBariBall, or Nidhogg if you ever get the chance, as it will probably be the first/last time they’ll even be available for you to play). Disasterpeace performed that evening and we were able to hang out at the arcade afterwards.
That was the same weekend as the OMSI Mini Maker Faire, where PIGSquad had a table featuring numerous members’ projects. We were written up by Geek Dad here and were able to generate lots of interest for local games, chiptune music, games education, and Yono – a collaborative pixel art project currently in its Kickstarter phase! My personal favorite part of the exhibition was PIGSquad’s make-your-own trading cards, which ended up being hilariousss. The event as a whole also went much better than any other exhibition I’ve ever planned; it was a phenomenal experience to work with such organized, enthusiastic, and responsible members. We were pitching each others’ projects, had a great looking setup, and managed to provide something for everyone. Great experience.
And from that, we march forward to the Portland Retro Gaming Expo this coming weekend after a PIGSquad Art/Code Night, where we have more games and game-related projects to show off to a more focused crowd. Got a banner on order and contingency plans at the ready after having experienced our weekend at the OMSI Mini Maker Faire; we’re gonna fly through this one (NOTE: JOKE. WHEN PIGS FLY. Y’KNOW?).
Just uploaded some great chiptune stuff from the Chipworm Birthday House Show this past weekend onto YouTube as well. Watch the below video and click on the YouTube link for two more performances on my channel!
Soyah, damn. Lots of stuff going on; next month seems like it’ll be slow in comparison, though we’re planning a Game Jam and panel discussion that will fit into each other and launch a greater effort to support the game development movement here in Portland. Talkin’ big stuff. I’ll be glad to isolate something like that and sanction it to its own month.
Man, PAX was a blast this year. I met so many great people, there were about 25 PIGSquad members present, I was actually super excited for some upcoming games thanks to the Megabooth, and I’m just all-around so encouraged by the international indie community and its patrons.
Now that I’m back in Portland, I’m having a hard time emulating that enthusiasm because this area has its work cut out for it. I don’t know what it’s like in Austin, Seattle, San Fran, New York, or other gamedev communities in the states or worldwide because I haven’t spent a worthy amount of time in those environments, but man, it’s been so weird to completely immerse myself in the thing I love most and then go back to a place where people couldn’t care less about game development, aren’t as enthusiastic about the medium but still name it their primary interest, or try to humor me without realizing the massive amounts of enthusiasm that keep people going in the scene. I felt so at home this past weekend, and I really want to create a similarly welcoming environment in Portland so that home isn’t impossible to achieve. And I feel that people with similar amounts of enthusiasm experience what I do upon returning to their more developed game communities even, which I guess is the long way of saying that moving is dumb and that I’m not going to do it.
ThAt BeInG sAiD/lOnG sToRy ShOrT, it’s weird to come home to worrisome things happening with regard to events like XOXO Arcade, the OMSI Mini Maker Faire (which you should go to), and a general PIGSquad meeting after having had a perfectly executed – and in some cases, serendipitous – weekend in the midst of so many awesome people and projects. That just sets a standard, though, and I’m in it for the long haul!
So dang, lots of cool stuff happened. The above is a group photo which a surprising amount of people made it to despite so many panels, tournaments, and dinner timez taking place then; you can see that a whole bunch of people wore the PIGSquad @ PAX 2012 shirt, which is awesome! I think everyone had a great time, and there were many reports of people asking about the group. I spoke with numerous developers and community organizers in Seattle who were interested in collaborating on “local” northwest events, which is great because I want to hop in at every turn! Also got to talk to some people about the details involved in volunteering/attending GDC and other conventions of a similar PAX-ilk, so I’ll be capitalizing on those opportunities when they arise, too!
Also finally got to meet Ashley Zeldin and John Nesky in person! I had been speaking with John for awhile regarding a Beep Box-related project and met Ashley through him, following their Game Jam games and IGDA endeavors since on Twitter and via other means. They’re so so great, and Ashley helped inspire me to look into the idea of hosting a panel on community organizing next year at PAX (which I believe the convention sorely needs)! Can’t wait until we can hang out next, and we’re already talking about ways to help each other promote projects like PIGSquad, Beep Box, games, and more..!
Had the pleasure of meeting developers from Octodad, Spry fox, Bootsnake, Mojang, and Vlambeer as well! Most everyone was super nice and wanted to talk about their games, which is great, because I had a lot to tell them! I’d have to say that I’m most excited for LUFTRAUSER and Leap Day; two beautiful (and totally different) games that are right up my alley. Look into them when you get the chance; they’re the first games that’ve gotten me excited to sit down and play something in awhile!
So yeah, that’s a sum up of my PAX. A super great time leaving me lusting for more upon returning home. But that’s good; I’m stoked to play the networking game (hate that word, though), am realizing lots about how to best help local devs and support our own community, have lots of people to call on for advice/help/collaboration, witnessed a huge boost in motivation to continue work on my own games, and gained a more positive outlook on the future of my personal interactions with game developers, game communities, and even non-game entities.
Here’s to friends, storytelling, and feeling at home!
So I’ve been keeping a closer eye on this blog and working on much more Space Eulogy stuff. I feel keeping these habits will help me reach a bunch more end goals by the end of the month, and I’m happy to say that others may actually want that as well, as suggested by this screenshot of my blog’s search term/view log:
I want to continue doing birthday animation blogs and revealing more information about Space Eulogy. My first dedicated birthday animation post got about a thousand views from Reddit, and I’ve been getting regular daily views as it seems that companies have only thought to capitalize on the crowd that’s looking to wish others a happy birthday than the crowd that’s looking to proclaim that it’s their own. Search “MY birthday animation” and my blog is the first to come up! I just need to remember to watermark stuff and link back to other posts so that people look for more by coming to scartheatre.com! I’m also working towards communicating more about the Space Funeral prequel, as people have been associating Eulogy and Funeral in their searches. Good news!
In OTHER good news, our last Portland Indie Game Squad meeting went very well – there were 30 people there and this month is going to be very busy and productive (as explained by my previous post)! The above picture is my first run-in with “Make Spaceship,” a very fun generative art app published by MMM Labs (aka Surya Buchwald) and demoed at the meeting. People were also able to playtest Jackson Lango’s Canvasser, and the PIGSquad Arcade Cabinet saw some progress as well!
Things will be ever so crazy these next two months. And they were crazy this past month! Our Skull Girls/Super Smash Bros. tournament at the 1.337 Geek Out @ Space Room anniversary party went super well, there was a really constructive Games for Change meeting and man, idk what else even happened.
But man, this month.
Started preproduciton on a collaborative animation project the other day (working with Matt Dan, the creator of Chef Antonio) – made an 8bit song and Matt made an animatic for us to start working with after I refine the song. We plan on using a bunch of different animation techniques in conjunction with a really crazy nonsensical series of events, and it’s gonna be fun. Betcha can’t guess what the below animatic screenshot is of.
In addition to THAT (aka animation [aka the most time consuming thing in the eververse]), there are wayyy too many cool PIGSquad things going on this month. There’s an Art/Code Night tonight, a general meeting on Sunday, a private screening of Indie Game: The Movie next Saturday, a Game Jam on the 25th and 26th at a venue I’ve never hosted at before, the Pwning Cancer videogame tournament/free play session in conjunction with the Hawthorne Street Fair RIGHT after the Jam at the same location, and then PAX the weekend after (which means I have to make shirts and business cards soooper soon). We’ve also gotta coordinate with the Portland Retro Gaming Expo for volunteers and the OMSI Mini Maker Faire for September. Probably doing most of that tonight. Shi’cray.
So yeah, lots of awesome stuff going on and I’m so glad to be a part of it, but MAN I’m gonna be stressed about not wanting to mess up any of this stuff. Y’know, just because the sheer number of things that I have the opportunity to mess up on. Ooo, I beat VVVVVV recently and messed up on getting 2 of the shinies. Don’t even know where they are. Gatdam.
In other news, the above picture expresses my current mood.
I have not been keeping up on this blog like I’ve been meaning to! Luckily, I was super inspired this morning!
But first, past news.
A third Sunday ago (the 17th), I submitted “The Noble Lie” to Attack of the Flix, that monthly awesome impromptu film screening that goes on at the Curious Comedy. Awhile ago, my friend Eric was getting ready for a jazz recital and he wanted me to animate something for him that would play on the projector behind him; in about 6 hours, I whipped something up without prompt, which he used as a backdrop to music that was “composed” only about twelve hours after I sent it to him (most of it was all improv – he [sax] and his guitarist just had a conversation about what key to be in and when, as prompted by the animation). I totally didn’t expect the music to come out the way it did, but I was super pleased, especially due to the fact that it was improv (which I can’t pull off at all). Regarding the animation, I had this idea awhile ago, the semi-point of which was to simplify my work on _Decay. This was a much different experience, though, because I’ve only ever composed imagery to music, and Eric made the music to my imagery instead. I wanted to repeat elements and keep everything as simple as possible so that he could write his performance for the next day as quickly as he needed to, and I wanted to keep focus on his work rather than mine due to the nature of the actual performance. Overall, I’m super stoked that it turned out the way it did! Didn’t win anything at AotF, but I want to do it again soon!
I’ve also been super busy with PIGSquad – in addition to having an Art/Code Night (with around 23 attendees..!) and witnessing Ed test his boardgame prototype for Starship Rex, a bunch of us attended our friend Jeffrey‘s event “Gaming for Social Good.” The purpose of the event was to explore ways in which games/gamers/gamedev can influence a greater good with an emphasis on how games can aid in achieving the goals of nonprofits, and explore we did. If you’re interested in pursuing an event like this, there will be more in the future, and Jeffrey has made a Games for Change Facebook Page to allow people to share their personal explorations and notify others of upcoming Gaming for Social Good type events. I’d personally like to see more specific issues tackled, where nonprofits have more of an idea of what’s going on and gamers are more clued in on the needs of those nonprofits. Should be seeing something like that soon!
So yeah, those are pretty much the big things that are going on right now. I’m currently on a to-do rampage after neeeeding to start up Majora’s Mask. I’m just SUCH a fan of the color scheme and overall graphical quality of that game… I want to make horrible polygonal characters so badly, but I gotta start small. Working on some Space Eulogy and e-mail and design stuff today!
Sew, I went to the Stumptown Comics Fest last Sunday and had a blasty mcblasterson. PIGSquad had a semi-table there, but due to miscommunication, I was not alerted of its presence until Saturday evening, so I just lumped some stickers on it on Sunday and left it at that. It was great to meet a whole bunch of cool comicers/videogamers/educaterrs/all that – I’ll have to post a blog reviewing some of the cooler shite when I’m not so hopped up on the thought of going to PAX and listening to this extremely funky fresh song.
PIGSquad was also confirmed for its third Game Jam, the Mayhem PIGJam, at the end of May. You should totally crash it if you’re able.
GUH, I’m way too stoked to be typing shit right now. I’ll have to publish individual blogs about all of this cray bunk later this week. WHAT I INITIALLY WANTED TO TALK ABOUT was this Dangerous Kids Podcast that I was interviewed for at the Stumptown Comics Fest. Listen for me between the minutes of 24:00 and 31:00! I panicked and dropped word of Space Eulogy, so now I feel that I need to start spreading a bit more word on it. Damn it.
Said podcast also reminds me that John and I guest-spoke on the AJumpsBShoots Podcast last, like, November or something. We give a kinda introductory talk into our opinions on indie games, PIGSquad, and all that. I’m actually surprised by how much my views have changed since recording that. They aren’t so outrageously different, but I’m much more driven/confident in certain areas, I feel more well versed in the scene, and bleh bleh mbheafsa. All that. Y’know. I leveled up or something.
Mah friend Dos recently released a chiptune album, and I did the art! It was a super cool day of drawing and conceptualizing. He gave me a few of the tracks-to-be to listen to for the purpose of coming up with something appropriate (I feel this is especially fitting for “Valkyrie“), and I came up with this!
It’s the first time I’ve really done something like this, and it was a great experience. For awhile now, I’ve been really interested in building portfolios for things that I do. That’s been hard to do because I never tend to finish anything or work on something that I’m interested in calling a final project despite the fact that I’m pretty comfortable with what I do with music, art, writing, event coordination, etc. Not sure I would put something like this in my portfolio because of issues I have with the space above the running man’s head and his indiscreetly large right hand and etc etc bleh bleh blooo mblehh, but y’know. Y’know. I think it’d be interesting to have a portfolio of wallpaper/media cover art images, even if I made things like that for existing media. DeviantArt stat shit. Y’know. And voice acting/event/music reel? Fork yeah. Y’know.
SO ANYWAYS, right before I got started on the Dos art, I thought it might be cool to get screenshots entailing a progression of how I came to what I came to. SO HERE IT IS. HOVER YOUR MOUSE OVER AN IMAGE FOR MAD DEETS.
So yeah! Boom and all that! Hope to do more ‘a this sometime soon. In the meantime, here’s a new STTG! Super happy with the brutal ending ;D
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m pursuing a project revolving around thecatamites’s Space Funeral, and I’m getting closer and closer to making some significant moves on it. Recently, I’ve been having conversations with my friend about what the game will mean in relation to Funeral and how the gameplay will affect that meaning. Here’s an unedited e-mail I sent to him in which I argue with myself over how we should handle the game’s difficulty. I dunno. I thought it might be significant or something.
Yeah, it seems that the big conversation is whether or not the game should be as easy as Funeral… Here’s my story, at least:
When I first played Funeral, I was enthralled just in general and personally wanted it to be “my kind of RPG,” which is something a little more extensive in its difficulty among other things. That’s why I wanted the game to be a little more difficult. But, at the same time, I’ve done soooo much research on thecatamites (the original developer) and his fans, and there are quite a few mentions of the ease of the game being a part of its charm. SO, the crappiness of some aspects of the game both contributes to its fan base as well as to its lack of an audience in some cases. I was personally intellectually provoked by the game, which is why I’m interested in recreating it for the purpose of expanding on a great series of themes introduced in the original. I haven’t seen this perspective much in my research of fans – the City of Forms and its story wasn’t a dealbreaker for most people, though it was for me. For most fans (and anti-fans, if that’s even a word), the game was either great because it was so horrible (the art, the gameplay, the cohesiveness of the story), or horrible because people weren’t looking for horrible.
I guess, then, my main focus in bringing Eulogy to life is capitalizing on an explanation behind the City of Forms, retaining Funeral’s crazy/bizarre environment and sense of humor (in the art, music, dialogue/text), and asserting “my kind of RPG.” Does gameplay necessarily have to be considered in regards to “charm” if those are my goals? In other words, would it be appropriate for Space Eulogy as a prequel to explain the City of Forms, be crazy, and be semi-traditional in it’s gameplay?
At the moment, I say yes. Regardless of Eulogy’s demographic, the game could still present a very similar atmosphere to Funeral, even if it were moderately difficult, more (but not fully) explanatory, and organized by me. I mean, one of the entire points of Space Eulogy itself is that it’s full of similarities and differences. I feel that that’s the thematic purpose of the game. It’s Stephen and Shultz and you and I and and Phillip and Ruth White and Firth and a Mome Beast.
And it’s a passion project, as well. No money will be made, and we’re doing it because we love it. I want you to have as much fun designing your side as I do mine. It’ll be “marketed,” because I’m not a believer in making things just for myself to look at, and I’d hope that people would enjoy it, but I wouldn’t be upset if it was a “failure” because it was too different from the original. That’s how Stephen did it. Future, more commercially-oriented stuff will be showcased to a different crowd anyways; I can’t see rep destruction coming out of a passion project created with inspiration from a passion project.
Whew. That being said, what do YOU want the battle system to be like? I’m leaning towards something not as easy as the original Pokemons, but not as difficult as DWIII – I personally want the difficulty very accessible and familiar, but I also want people to get pissed off at boss fights at times (which is something people are familiar with, actually) and see some things that they’ve never seen before (such as the Mystery command, the class choices, and having trouble deciphering some items’ functions via MYSTERY). It’s honestly much more about the atmosphere and the ideas, but mixing familiarity and uniqueness together in the battle system will encourage people to want to know where this atmosphere is leading them.
WHAT SAY YOU?
Straight to the good stuff: “Johann Sebastian Joust” was introduced to quite a few of us at the previous PIGSquad meeting, and we were able to play for awhile when we were through with businessy stuff. I’ve been super stoked on posting video for it, but the game’s unreleased and I was told to hush until the time was right. Whelp, time’s right. Here’re some s00per classic moments from last month’s meeting!
Also, I’ve opened up registration for the Portland’s faction of Global Game Jam 2012, which I was asked to run after having led the 2011 Halloween PIGJam. For those unaware, a Game Jam challenges developers to create a playable game within a 48 hour period based on a prompt delivered at the beginning of said 48 hour period. After having run a PIGSquad specific one in Halloween, Corvus Elrod of PAGDIG (Portland’s IGDA sect) asked me to take over this year’s GGJ, so I’ll be hosting at the Art Institute between January 27th and January 29th! If you’re interested in participating in GGJ this year, follow these instructions to register! I’d also appreciate help, so comment on this post or get in touch with me otherwise if you’d like to help out in any way!