Bloggin’ for a year.

Just got a notification that this blog’s been active for a year! Here is a self portrait of my self. Because I don’t have anything else on standby to share.

Self
Hooray!


September is/was a busy one..!

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.

Phfewew.


PAX Prime 2012

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!


We didn’t finish our Fear game on time, but we’re workin’ on it! #GJContest8

Turns out we weren’t able to finish our “Fear” prompted game in time for Game Jolt’s week-long game jam, but ah well! We got pretty far through and we’ll be finishing up, and this’ll give me the opportunity to give the game more monsters and stuff!


Not sure I’ve explained the entire premise yet, so hereitis: You’re a little boy who leaves his room in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. You take a flashlight with you because it’s all scary in the dark and your hallway is like a maze. You begin your turn by picking which hallway you wish to go through. After that, you walk through the hallway until approaching a household object’s silhouette. You have three seconds to decide whether it’s actually a household object (a potted plant in the above example) or if there’s enough of a variant to the silhouette to warrant your imagination running wild, causing the object to become a monster! If you decide that the silhouette looks warped enough to become a monster, you can flash your flashlight and reveal that it’s simply a household furnishing (using a bit of battery life). If you decide that the silhouette looks nonthreatening, you can choose to walk past it without revealing it. Depending on how the silhouette’s graphic varies from the silhouette of the plain, unmodified object, you have a greater or lesser chance of becoming scared and projecting a monster onto the object. If you don’t see a monster in the silhouette, you pass by unharmed; if you do imagine a monster from the silhouette, you must button-mash your way out of it or else lose more battery life and get sent back to your room. If you run out of battery life, you pee your pants and lose. If you make it to the bathroom, you win!

And thas that!

I’m happy that extending our project deadline (hopefully having it done by PAX) will give Yori the chance to really refine the code and myself the chance to really focus on music and add more monsters/silhouette variants for fun content variety and replay value. I’ve learned a lot about workflow having had the week-long deadline, though, and I really appreciate having had the opportunity to experience that. A few days ago, I worked on sprites all day, the day after I worked about half a day and then really felt like working on anything but the project, and then the day after that, we figured we wouldn’t be done in time for the contest deadline (yesterday at 9pm) and I took a step back in the middle of the above title screen. I don’t know if I need to pace myself by working day on/day off, or if it was Skyping with Yori that really helped me focus and get a lot done on that first all-day work day, but I have some ideas on how to better spend my time that I can explore as we finish up!

Hooray for smallish projects!


Politics really worry me.

I really hate reading about Romney.

My friends tend to be liberal. I see screenshots from those meme-spreading “LOL-A-DAY *fart noise*” Facebook pages entailing wall-post screenshots showing “how stupid a Bible-thumping friend is,” or “how ignorant my Republican friend is,” and I honestly never ever see arguments like that go down on my Facebook feed. The only issue I see being argued about from the Conservative side regards gun control, which is definitely an insanely tough one – if no one can legally own guns, those who illegally gain access have the advantage regarding other illegal activities, but if everyone can legally own guns, homicide goes up for various reasons (which may even match rates if firearm ownership were made illegal – we don’t know!). Other than that, I just see “advocacy” (in quotes because I’m not one for posting something on Facebook and saying I did something about anything) from more Liberal users. Abortion, gay rights, tax cuts/middle class, women, all that, over and over, 24/7.

That being said, gatdam my information sector is one-sided. Is there a place to go to line up campaign promises/presidential term facts side-by-side and do some comparison? Surely someone must serve The Realm rather than swearing allegiance solely to the Lanisters or the Starks. And I ask because every single thing I see about Romney is total bad news. I understand what people want by voting Republican – lower taxes, independence from government, ownership. I just don’t understand why people want to buy a huge truck and have more rooms in a house than they know what to do with because they have more money from lower taxes, why people are too proud to think that they’d ever need help from a government organization, or why “being paid your dues” through respect or payment following ownership is that sustainable of a pride booster! I know that I’m on track to something huge with PIGSquad and other endeavors, and I know from experience that I would be further along if our infrastructure was beefier due to a bit more taxation (education/government agencies/even road quality, at a very basic level), that one NEEDS help in order to become successful (if you make a huge-scale videogame alone, you still need people to play it – if you are running for president, you still need people to vote for you), and that I’ve benefited so much from open source/pay-what-you-want/donated works and labor. And those are just three quick big issues I have with the generic Republican archetype. Lower taxes, independence from government, ownership. And that’s how I’ve experienced them.

Going along with how I have or would have benefited from the implications of higher taxes, a larger government, and a tendency to balance what is private and what is public, Wolfgang shared this article about Romney wanting to get rid of arts funding programs today, followed by an anecdote: When Winston Churchill was prime minister and he was told that they were going to have to be major cuts in arts and culture because of the mounting costs of world war II, he responded with a simple reply: ‘Then what are we fighting for?’

And that’s what I have to lose from someone like Romney: my livelihood. I want to make my living making and teaching about art, which leads to essential real-life skills in problem solving, design, entertainment (I’d argue that boredom/lack of outlets cause instances of crime/depression/etc.), communications development, business, and on and on and on. Without these artists, the things that people use for “more” practical matters wouldn’t even exist, and the ideas, inspiration, and work put into these inventions are always the result of some sort of community, sharing, and support (or, to put them into the terms I’ve been using and alluding to – socialized community resources and infrastructure dedicated to the betterment of everyone involved). And yes, in that parenthetical aside I use the word “socialized,” but yes, I’m with John Wayne when he digs the idea of a welfare work program. I’m not a fan of people sitting to the side and slacking off, either, which is why I believe that those people don’t deserve much if they’re fully capable and choose to dupe the system. Which alludes to two points – one, that “job creators” and tax breaks should not be associated. You get more and more compensation, growth for your business, and personal gain the more and more people you hire; why should you be allowed an additional compensation for doing something that benefits you more in the first place..? And two – “people don’t deserve much if they’re fully capable and choose to dupe the system.”

Romney goes to office and I’m no longer fully capable. I’m sick (we’ll leave it at that), and I need health insurance. Say Obamacare gets killed. Even if I make the money to afford my health, and even if I’m “cured” and have to make payments on hospital bills, would my 22-year-old self be capable enough to fulfill my currently on-track plans to make a living making and teaching about art? Nope. I’d be spending all of my time working to pay for things, living a life supplemented, but not accented by my passions, what I’m really good at, or what I know to be a way in which I can help the development of an art form. My aim is to benefit an inspired community that can sustain itself financially and socially, hopefully influencing the future of technology and communications. And I don’t care if someone thinks that I’m dreaming too big and couldn’t possibly accomplish this – they don’t know what I know, who I know, and how I know it. All y’all are just going to have to trust me (or you could just look at what I’ve been doing for the past 2 1/2 years and/or look at my calendar for the next six months).

And going back to the Winston Churchill quote, does cutting healthcare (therefore supposedly cutting taxes) really give everyone a better life..? I mean, why do you need that extra tax money (if it even ends up that people pay less taxes after having cut Obamacare… that’s another debate)? Is it something survival-related like security? How much security do you need, and isn’t having health care way better than having a few extra bucks saved away, property, or luxuries like a new TV/car/whatever? I’ve seen relatives and family friends with booming construction businesses become so adamant against higher taxes and yet lose everything when the economy crashed, and they lost it because they spent their untaxed dollars on a new truck every year, threw huge parties, developed their property to cater to a wealthy crowd, and buy their kids expensive gifts (again with the trucks). I just don’t understand this mentality, and I totally get why these people lose everything. And what if they had become sick with a chronic illness? I know this is totally one-sided because it deals with my own experiences, but for what reasons other than security do people feel they should hang on to those extra tax dollars for the sake of school budget cuts, bad roads, understaffed government agencies like the Small Business Development Center, and poor healthcare? And do these reasons really outweigh these costs? Is it really just a matter of favoring immediacy and luxury over investing in a sustainable and survivable future?

All right, /rant. Long story short, this stuff scares me. I know where I’m going, but it’s a complicated situation – I can’t get there if I spend my time truly advocating and really doing things to ensure that the United States Government travels in a direction that will help further my goals (or at least not hinder them), and I can’t get there if I spend my time making up for the things that the United States Government (as well as the lack of government) does to hinder my goals. I have to keep moving forward with my community organizing, because gatdam I’ve been active. Developing videogames, organizing and hosting events, building business relationships, educating myself about business, working to financially support myself, and tending to countless personal issues takes a lot of time. And teaching/encouraging others to become full advocates that do rather than say or idealize what they know to be right takes even more time. I just hope everything can work out in a way that lets me accomplish what I want so that I can use my accomplishments to give others what they want.

I’m also interested in what people have to say after having read this. Please leave a comment with a counterpoint/question/answer/whatever if you found this interesting at all. As I mentioned earlier, my views are the way they are because my information is usually so one-sided (me seeing no possible positive outcome from a potential Romney presidency, for example), so I’d like to hear a different opinion. I’d also like to hear from anyone in similar situations or from those who are interested in collaborating!


New Blog Labels and a Big Ol’ August PIGSquad Meeting

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!

More later!


Lots of PIGSquad news as of yesterday! GeekOutTourney/GGJ2013/Orycon/DK

Pfwhewph, a bunch of stuff is going on!

First off, I’ve been having some very interesting talks with people who are pursuing the prospect of hosting community art centers focusing on “younger” art (AKA all of the things that I do/love), including electronic music, videogame education, indie film stuff, zines/comics, etcetcetc. Met with a current leader of a Clackamas County arts organization to speak about some ideas, and I’m just finding that more and more people are in support (especially in light of Clackamas County budget cuts regarding art in schools paired with its lack of art/community centers in comparison to Multnomah County, the lack of leadership accountability in sooo many networking organizations that I’ve participated in and researched, and the time and place that we’re experiencing economy/technology/demographic-wise). I’m really excited to see where this talk goes when someone is ready to make a move – this idea has only been around in my head for the past two weeks, so I’m taking it slow and considering everything before jumping into anything.

In other news, I interacted with a whole bunch’a PIGSquad stuff yesterday. We connected with the founder of ChickTech to see how PIGSquad could help with regard to their women in technology workshop in January, spoke with DJ Switch of the Dangerous Kids Podcast to get in on hosting a videogame tournament at the 1.337 year anniversary of Geek Out @ The Space Room on July 27th, started talking about hosting Global Game Jam 2013 next year, and reserved a table at Oregon’s science fiction convention “Orycon” for November. tHaT iS a LoT oF sTuFf.

And speaking of Dangerous Kids, our member Rob was on their podcast the other night after speaking with them about his current podcast beta testing for a PIGSquad podcast! You can listen to the Dangerous Kids PIGSquad Cast here, and Rob’s PIGSquad PIGCast will be leaving beta in the coming months!


I also made these special little animations just for you. They love you so much!