Meet the Team, Part 1

Hey, it's been almost a year guys!  No one reads this, but for me it's like a journal, so whatever.

I'll be posting pics of Team Triple Toss, which is going strong (and level 5-6!).  I'd like to journal the journey as it goes, and I've been keeping a journal of the adventure, but alas, time is not a kind mistress.  But, here is a picture of one of the team members!

 

Meet Toggaf, the brains of the operation, elf mage who constantly makes my job as DM incredibly hard.

 

I'll post the other characters throughout the week.

Midnight Mansion HD

 Click here to go to the ActionSoft website for more info and to download MM HD!

Midnight Mansion HD was released earlier this week on the Mac OS X App store.  The first Episode (we had to split it into 2 episodes) is $5, and features 5 huge mansions (including 2 brand new mansions!).  The graphics have been completely redrawn by yours truly, and it looks better than ever.

If you haven't heard of MM HD, and have been craving some good classic platformer action-adventure gaming on the Mac, go get it now!  Even if you've played the original, you haven't seen it looks as polished as it does now!  For $5 there's literally dozens of hours of gameplay.

The App Store is a savage arena where Apps battle it out, and the only key to victory is word of mouth and enough good luck to get into the top 10.  So if you are interested, buy it!  If you like it, rate it!  You are doing a service and helping my good friend Vern pay the bills so he can keep making games.

Same Great Taste, More Pixels!

I have mentioned on this site that I've been working on an art/game project.  Well, it is nearing release and i figured I could post about it.

A programmer who had developed a sprite based library for Mac approached me in 2001 (that's 10 years ago!!) to do some art for at-the-time-untitled game project.In 2005, it was finally released and called Midnight Mansion, and it receieved very good success in the Mac shareware market.

In 2010, Midnight Mansion 2 was released, which largely used the same assets but added some new elements and enemies.  But, by 2010, Midnight Mansion, which is already an "old school" game was really showing its age.

Vern, the programmer for Midnight Mansion, was porting his engine to Intel and taking advantage of OpenGL for graphics acceleration.  This, among other things, let him more easily embrace much higher resolutions than the 640x480 that Midnight Mansion and Midnight Mansion 2 run at.

What starte dout as a 4-6 week endeavor has taken almost 6 months.  I have re-drawn 90% of the graphics and sprites from scratch, and the result of comparing the old screenshot side-by-side to its new counterpart is astounding.

click me to see the original MM art (left) compared to the new MM art (right)

I sort of cringe to look at the old artwork, and frankly that's my motivation for kicking all kinds of butt with the updated version.  Not only am I increasing detail, contrast and vibrancy of the sprites and tiles, Vern has added some dynamic shadows and glows that really bring the game up to modern standards.

Check out the below images to compare some screenshots side by side.  On the left is the original Midnight Mansion screenshot, and on the right is a screenshot from the new Midnight Mansion.  Click to view the large version!

 

 

 

 

This new project will be released under the name "Midnight Mansion HD" in two parts sometime in the new couple of months, I'd imagine.  It'll be released at a price that will be impossible to turn down on the Mac App store, and then eventually to iPad, iPhone and Windows.  For more information, stick to this blog or head to http://www.actionsoft.com.  I'm excited to see some new life breathed into the world of Midnight Mansion!

 

Video of Me Drawing Stuff

I've been working with one-man-game-company ActionSoft ever since it was founded in 2001. The first game ActionSoft released, a Mac game named Midnight Mansion, is near and dear to my heart, and I've become close to the programmer and founder, Vern, even though we've physically never met.

Midnight Mansion was originally released in 2005, and since development started in 2001 (we were both in college so development and art happened in between semesters for the most part), the game was slightly dated when it was first released. Low resolution by today's standards, and the art in the original MM makes me cringe when I see it.

I was thrilled when Vern approached me to help do a makeover for the original Midnight Mansion. He has been busy porting the original code so that it will work on Windows and Macs, and it takes advantage of modern day video cards so that it can dynamically scale up to multiple montior resolutions. As a side effect, all of that old low-res art needed to be recreated so that the new game could take advantage of all the new real estate.

I have taken advantage of this in the last few months by recreating new art and bringing it up to my personal standard. I am definitely not as good as some of the pros, but I think I have absolutely improved in the last 10 years.

Using a screen recording program and wrestling with iMovie (I know very little about digital movies), I created a recording of the creation process. The original footage is 2.5 hours long, so I sped it up by a factor of 50, to just over 3 minutes.
I always enjoy watching other people's process in painting and drawing with photoshop, and I hope you check them out! The Midnight Mansion re-release is due out this Spring!

And here is a direct link to the video on YouTube.

Swords and Wizardry

The week of Christmas we hosted my brother Andy, sister-in-law Dawn, sister Melanie and nephew Dylan. We are a family that loves games, and Andy and I are usually very competitive. I always have a blast, even though I might think it's a little unfair when Andy gets a simple 50/50 question for a pie piece in Trivial Pursuit. One thing Andy did last year in Sedona was be a Dungeon Master for myself and Dylan. We played a game similar to Dungeons and Dragons called Swords and Wizardry.

If you've never played a tabletop RPG, it's very difficult to explain. Basically, Andy created the worlds, and Dylan and I played adventurers and faced peril, monsters, traps, puzzles, and some awesome rewards. The character I created in '09 was a young, charming (rolled a 16 for Charisma) and mysterious Cleric named Orzain "Oz" Thistlecrown. He fought bravely alongside Dylan's fighter Gilliam and won against the evil Frog Cleric and help the mayor of Andronia, and even convinced the head of a local gang of thieves to fight alongside them (for the right price, of course). The bloody battle deep in the dungeon ended with everyone dead except an unconscious Gilliam and, of course, Oz.

This year, we reprised our roles and crept deeper into the dungeon, this time unraveling another mystery and finally finding a new enemy: Kaddo the Wizard. Unfortunately, Oz died on the first day of adventuring. Perhaps drunk from his previous success, or just a lapse in judgement, he reached into a sack of gold only to find out that the sack was not a sack but a "Bag of Teeth", which clamped onto his arm and ended up killing him. Gilliam, dejected, carried Oz back to Andronia for a burial. Trying to drown his sorrows in a pint of Andronia's finest ale, he ran into another stranger in town. Not nearly as charming as Oz, but quite a bit stronger, older and wiser (and maybe a bit crazy), this new stranger, Horace Gentry, offered to take Oz's place for a share of the gold and riches that were sure to be deep in the dungeon.

Gilliam really didn't have much choice.

Horace did indeed prove useful, a couple of times doing a "Turn Undead" to send ghouls and skeletons fleeing from their sight, and more than once bringing his new "Bone Doom" mace down upon the head of an undead creature. A young hireling, Ordalack was hired to bear a torch, but in a miraculous turn of events saved the whole party by managing to throw a dagger to finish of a ghoul that had already paralyzed and disabled the rest of the party. After this event, Ordalack was made a permanent member of the group and a new name for this adventuring troupe was created: "Sword and Scepter".

The party faced ghouls, hideous labs, a "hyenawere", a giant 10 foot centipede, a flock of ravenous birds, poison gas traps and finally a set of water filled rooms so heinous that they almost had the party killed before they finally met up with Kaddo the evil wizard. After fighting through his horde of Skeletons, they were able to withstand the Wizard's power and kill him, losing several party members in the process. In the end, Horace, Gilliam (now level 2) and Ordalack survived the dungeon and returned to Andronia victorous and eager for more adventure.

Spy Jupiter Dump

After a week or so of farting around in my sketch book, playing with designs and proportions, I decided to sit down and do a walk cycle. This is very rough, and I'm hoping to simply get my feet wet. I need more intermediate frames and more exaggerated movements, but here it is:


Also, here's a enemy/boss design I farted around with:

And finally, I tried to simplify the Spy Jupiter character design, to make animation easier:

Definitely more to come.

Spy Jupiter

Here's a sketch (aiming to be a model drawing) of my favorite character, Spy Jupiter:

 

I feel like going through the exercise of planning out the Spy Jupiter game, design document, maps and all. Until I find either: a way to slow down time so that I have 36 hours in a day, or some people willing to help really work on it, it'll have to remain the un-done project.

I am hoping to take a 3d modeling class (to complement the animation class I took last semester) and would love to model out Spy Jupiter. I think having pre-rendered cel shaded characters on a hand drawn/cartoony/solid shaded background would be trés magnifique.

I like the Magmalisk. I just think it's funny to have a giant lizard/dragon with a tail that ends in a flame.