But seriously, who has Swords & Soldiers?

I got the recent Humble Android Bundle after having seen screenshots from Swords & Soldiers and Avadon: The Black Fortress; I already had the games in the main bundle, but the expansion games actually got me this time…

I’m really stoked to continue playing both S&S and Avadon. Avadon was actually more the reason why I picked up the bundle because I’ve been absolutely aaaachhiiiinnnnggg for an isometric tactics game. I played that for about 10 minutes to get a taste, and I’m pretty stoked for it. It’s a super old-school, slow, atmospheric RPG that really reminds me of Icewind Dale 2. It’s interesting how even the interface and mechanics of games like Avadon and Icewind Dale can influence how I feel about the lore of an RPG… Can’t really describe it… After I get further into Avadon, I might be able to grasp it. I’m curious as to whether or not other people have this feeling.

But man. Swords & Soldiers. At times, it can be so racist, cheesy, and obnoxious, but I dig it despite those shortcomings. I mean, it’s hard not to get a little embarrassed when you send out a Chinese swordsman and he says “I have’a da sword” or “Ooooo, chap chap!” (“Ooooo chop chop”) or when you send out a Chinese Rocketeer and he has horrible giant teeth, but you get over it. I get it, the game is exploring ancient cultures (the three races are Viking, Aztec, and Chinese), but Chinese people still exist, so… that makes it weird.

BUT, I’m a total sucker for 2D real time strategy games after having played Epic War 3 a few years ago, and Swords & Soldiers makes some pretty cool strides for the genre. There’s a little bit of a goofy story to it, the campaign is pretty extensive, the animation is smooth, the races are balanced, the units have some cool mechanics associated with them, and there’s MULTIPLAYER. I’ve been pumped full of ideas for an even more extensive real time strategy sidescroller that I’d love to make in the future, but in the meantime I’ve been learning the tricks that’ll get me with the top ten players on the leaderboards ;D For realziez, if you have this game (and you should since you should have gotten the Humble Bundle), add me so that we can play against each other. Comment on this post, add me via username “scartheatre,” e-mail me – anything. It’s fun!


Guts for Glory Game Summit

Long time no update!

This coming weekend, I’ll be cohosting the Guts for Glory Game Summit, which consists of a panel discussion on Thursday, a game jam running on Friday/Saturday/Sunday, then a development period spanning beyond the scope of a weekend game jam to create polished deliverables from what devs created over the course of that weekend game jam!

We’ll be partnering up for the event with Donate Life Northwest, creating games (like their existing game, Scalpel Pal) to aid in their mission to educate and create access for organ donation registration! It’s a first run of a series of events in association with Gaming for Social Good, finding ways in which game developers and players can help benefit the needs of nonprofits!

If you or anyone you know is interested in participating, please spread the word! You can click here for a full description of the event, and remote participants are welcome 😀

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.


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!

Porkland Chiptune Showcase 02/2012

I curated PIGSquad’s February Porkland Chiptune show this past Friday night, and it was a blast! We hosted Paul Owens of 2 Player Productions, Ovenrake, Operation Mission, Plain Flavored (with a bit of Spamtron), and Mechlo (in that order). Dos hooked up his Commodore 64 for a majority of the show’s visuals, and away we went!

We were moderately screwed into a late start/early close time slot, and the audience (which was greatly influenced by Operation Mission and his efforts) showed up fairly late, but it ended up being a very successful show – we had about 80 people show up, people had a great time playing with the Com64/Genesis visuals, we had a load of super talented performers, and I saw quite a few people that I hadn’t seen forever!

I also got a bit of video!

So yeah! It feels great to see support for all of these great/super talented d00ds while having good ‘ol partytimes in the meantime. I’d love to put so much more effort into a project like PIGSquadRadio to raise further awareness of these guys’ efforts (as well as selfishly listen all of der time), but I’m focusing much more on things like Space Eulogy and spending more social times with all’a deez cool people. AH WELL, we’ll do another one soon!

“So There’s This Game” and Tamariu on the Accordion

In addition to working on Space Eulogy, PIGSquad, and Film Collective stuff, I’ve been working on a few other creativy kindsa thangs lately.

One project that I’m super excited about is an animation series titled “So There’s This Game,” where I take a randomly generated game name from videogamena.me and explain what the game would be like in under a minute. I had the idea when we used videogamena.me for time-killing and mind-clearing at the Global Game Jam, and it’s turned out to be a pretty fun project so far. I’m considering releasing one every MF or MWF, so we’ll see what time allows. I’m currently working on Drunken Nazi Hospital, Legendary Hovercraft Jam, Frisky Mountain Climber Horde, and Undead Wrestling Online! Here’s the first one I finished:

I also taught myself the BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s Tamariu on the accordion lately, which I first heard when I played Space Funeral for the first time! It’s a very good song that I’m stoked to appropriately incorporate into Space Eulogy as well… which reminds me that I also finished Mother 3 recently… :’)



February 2012 PIGSquad Meeting

Our monthly PIGSquad general meeting was held last night! 20 people showed up, which was perfect for our varied agenda; we discussed Global Game Jam retrospectives, our Porkland Chiptune show coming up on the 24th at the Backspace Cafe, organizing art/coding nights, participating in a user-generated conference called Barcamp, and a bunch of projects that everyone’s been working on!

It was great to hear opinions on how the GGJ could have been better run – I felt that everything was executed appropriately, but there’s always room for improvement! There were lots of interesting points about the schedule for the first hour and a half of the Jam, mostly revolving around when the prompt was delivered in relation to when teams formed, when the keynote was shown, etc. There were also numerous critiques about the IGDA’s website, which I agree should be changed for those registering, those showcasing their games, those trying to have their games discovered, and the like. People were interested in playing everyone’s games at the end of the Jam as well, but everyone was super ready to vacate after 48 hours in the same building, so we’ll be saving that for the postmortem (the date/location of which is still TBA)! Perhaps a few things will be different when we do our next PIGJam in April.

Details about the Porkland Chiptune show will be out soon, I’m planning on getting everyone together for a art/coding hangout at the NW Lucky Lab late next week, and I’m continually trying to get feedback on the PIGSquad forums regarding the arcade cabinet we’re looking to construct and put in Ground Kontrol (if you have any opinions on that, please send ’em our way). So yah, things are lookin’ good! Might also be worth mentioning that a large group of us hung around the meeting location to talk until about 10:30pm (meeting starts at 7); it’s great to know that everyone’s been having a great time with each other!

I’ve also gotten started on a video blog that I hope to start releasing every MWF, titled, “So There’s This Game.” It’s based on the fun we had at GGJ with videogamena.me. I’ll post when done!