Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Don't Hate the Maker, Hate the Game

"My game company is designing a game for a nationwide competition. Do you want to be on our team?"

That was a question that I'd never been asked before, until three weeks ago when I ran into a friend of mine at church. I knew that he was a game designer and had actually played a few games his group had made before (if you've never played Kick Bot, do yourself a favor, slack off a little this afternoon and try it out) but I'd never considered game design before. 

Well, not since I used to draw screenshots of video games when I was in seventh grade, anyway. I actually had a great idea for a "grab anything in the environment and hit people with it" game (WAAAAY before Smash Brothers). I wonder if it's too late to file for copyright infringement....

Anyway, the last thing I programmed was a VCR. "What's a VCR?", asked half of my readership. What could I have to contribute to a game design contest?

So I said, "Sure!"

We met in this amazing place called "LVL 1", which is nothing less than a grown-up nerd's dreamland. It's more or less a gathering space for nerds of all stripes to gather and work on various projects. Power tools, laser cutters, 3D printers, and streamed episodes of Futurama abound. This place had everything.

And I mean everything.

Our team started throwing ideas around- we had to come up with a game that could be designed and finished by the 48 hour deadline. Unused ideas included:
  • Business Shark: A shark in a business suit just trying to go about his daily business while the struggles of being a shark keep getting in the way. That lead to...
  • Mister Shark Hands: A regular guy who just happens to have sharks for hands. Reaching for a report at work CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP Oh no! The boss is going to be steamed! I really want to use this idea for a short film.
  • Waiter Simulator: It's a dating sim where you take the role of the waiter- you determine if a date goes well or not by spilling drinks, getting orders right/wrong, etc.
Finally, we decided on a game that reveals the truth behind the internet: namely, that a little guy lives in your computer and pushes files through a machine to make sure they get where they're supposed to go. 

I was working on character design! 

 Sadly, the gnome was left on the cutting room floor

Though, after the first round of drafts, we came to the only logical conclusion: That the internet is run by cats, and thus the guy who lives in your computer should be a cat.

  The handlebar mustache stayed.

We went through a few iterations before settling on a final design. I was also lucky enough to design the title screen.

Oh snap! Get those files into the right bins!

 Finished screencap! 

Oh snap! He's on the move! 

I don't feel like I can take very much credit for the finished product; we had another very talented artist and several talented programmers on our team that did a whole lot of work. But I learned how to draw pixel art on photoshop and discovered the thrill of seeing something I worked on come to completion. Yay!

What are you waiting for? Go play the game! Deliver the internet!  And you can help our team win the competition by voting for our game! Hurry- voting ends in 18 days, 10 hours (as of this edit, March 1st @ 10AM, EST).

Credit to the rest of the team: Alex Bezuska, Anthony Quisenberry, Daniel Sizemore, Eric Lathrop, and Rex Soriano. Thanks for letting me work with you guys, I had a great time! 

Check your day planner- business shark shall return.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

My Old Nemesis

Just a little cartoon to tide you over until I can finish fleshing out a bigger post. Since this weekend's Easter, it might be the middle of next week before I get it wrapped up and posted. Enjoy! 


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Coach Cal's Final Four prep

Coach John Calipari at the University of Kentucky has done some amazing work with the team. 3 NCAA Final Four appearances in the last 4 years (with three different teams) is a huge accomplishment for any coach. If they can beat University of Wisconsin on Saturday, they'll move on to the championship game. 

I'm pretty sure that UK is going to keep Coach Cal around for a long time. Still, it doesn't hurt to plan for your future.