Jan 26, 2011

Time For New Things!

I regret to announce that this will be my last blog post ever... on this blog.... because I have my own website now! :D

Please make sure to update your bookmarks (or add one if you haven't already) and to update to my new RSS feed as well (or start following if you haven't already)!

This fancy new website thing will be the new home not only for all my future bloggings, but also the home for all of my creative endeavors, including indie games, portfolios, random crafts, and even my oldest Flash work. My goal is to be more active with my posts, being sure to at least let you guys know what I'm up to. I have some exciting things planned indeed :]

This blog will still be kept intact since I don't feel like migrating all of my old posts over to the new system. However, that doesn't mean there isn't any content yet on my new website! Here are a few points of interest:

  • A Games page, formally gathering all of my indie games work!
  • Individual pages for Grandfather, [Together], [Yesterday], and more, all able to be commented on! Think of these pages as the unofficial discussion forums, or something!
  • An About A Bean page, including a self-interview where I call myself out on things.
  • More cardboard! :D
I just wanted to say thank you all for taking an interest in my work! I wouldn't be putting this new website together if I didn't want to continue making new things and pushing myself to create, so rest assured that I will be looking forward to showing new things in the near future!

See you on the other side,

Dec 6, 2010

...But That Was [Yesterday]: Soundtrack!

Click to go to download page!

I've finally gotten around to putting together a mastering of the soundtrack to my latest Flash game, ...But That Was [Yesterday]!
  • There are five unique tracks totaling 10 minutes of music based very closely after the events that take place, with some added flare here and there that I never got to add to the game.
  • A bonus sixth track is included, which is just the first five tracks seamlessly connected (meaning the bonus track is as long as the rest of the album :D)
  • Tracks 2, 3, and 4 can be rearranged in any order since they are identical in beginning and end, and have gapless playback encoded.
  • 300x300 album art included for you ID3 junkies :] (pictured above)
  • Click here to go to the download page!
The voting period for CGDC9 should be ending either today or tomorrow, so be sure to check out the results (and go play all the awesome games. Vote too if there's still time!)

Enjoy and happy listening!

Nov 25, 2010

...But That Was [Yesterday]: Sketches!

As I mentioned earlier, I usually don't like to draw anything for my games until it's time to actually make some art assets. This game had its fair share of complex shot sequencing, so I wanted to make sure things made sense before I dove head-first into Flash. The following is a set of scans from my game design sketchbook, mostly sketched out in one sitting at a coffee shop whilst getting lost to the sounds of Toro y Moi.

Keep in mind that these sketches are about as spoilerific as it gets, so if you haven't played my game yet, it's highly recommended you do that first.

Click here to play ...But That Was [Yesterday]!

The girl's story was the easiest one to start with, since I already knew a lot about her from [Together]. This page plays around with some swingset designs (which were ultimately scratched) as well as ways to represent her being gone via the bedroom and surreal airplane flybys. The phrase "The wind comes..." at the bottom was a note to myself about the possibility of having the sound of wind be an overlying element to tie the various stories together. I ended up not using wind literally, but the transition that I use in the game is comparable.

Some familiar scenes can be spotted here, such as the schoolyard rain sequence (top left), the patience of the doggie (middle), and the rooftop-jumping sequence (bottom left). Note for the rooftops that I wanted the interactive smoke stacks very early in production, yet I didn't get time to code them in until the day the entry was due O_o. I also have a list of visual effects that I felt were necessary to help drive the story/gameplay forward (middle left), the only one not making it in being water refraction (during the underwater sequence).

In the top right is one of many deleted scenes from the dog's story (which has unfortunately been reduced to a day playing in the snow). The hearts (middle right) were originally supposed to act as warp points in a sort of hub world, the player choosing which story to experience in his or her own order. This was nixed once the teachings of the various friends was simplified down to an ascending level of interaction.

Rounding out this page, we can see the moment I got the idea for using the swings to rotate the world 90 degrees at a time (those black squares under the dog), found through slouching on a couch and having my sketchbook fall over in my lap. The dialogue in the bottom right is me discussing with myself how the game should end.

These two pages are the biggest spoilers of the lot, spelling out - in words - how the various stories should unfold. At first I designated specific ages of the main character during the three stories, but I eventually decided to keep him relatively the same (a difference of years as opposed to decades).

The right page has probably the most important content in my sketches: the rules as a game designer for building this thing. My last two games were a little more than difficult to complete (to put it lightly), so in order to be sure most people would be able to get through all these different stories, I simplified both the gameplay and the inputs. It was much more important to me that people be able to play the game from start to finish in one sitting, rather than lose or get stuck and then already know half the story on a second playthrough.

The rest of the page is a series of rules for how the world works, how it transitions, and various ways to end the game. The ending in [brackets] eventually went on to evolve into what is currently in the game. An alternative to the heart hub world was a room of statues (bottom left), the statues acting as relics of memories that are glorified and trapped in stone.

That pretty much does it for my sketches (at least for this game). After I drew these up I pretty much jumped right into the production phase and didn't stop until 2 months later. Along the way, lots of content was cut, stories were altered, scenes were removed (sorry, doggie ♥), but it was all necessary to both tell the story that was most important and to of course finish on time =P.

One of the scenes I did cut almost made it in, so I figured I'd finish drawing in the characters to show you something that could have been. This shot was fairly complex and did things story-wise that weren't found anywhere else in the game, so it was cut to keep things simple.

Lastly, I thought I'd also share the only sketch I ever made for my last game, [Together]. I already had the heart types figured out, but I felt like drawing them one day to see how they looked together. I suppose it was worth it since I went through four different types of hearts for outerspace, eventually settling for the comet type.

That's it for this week! I'll be putting out the soundtrack to [Yesterday] sometime in the near future, closer to the end of the competition on Dec. 6th.

Links to my games mentioned above, in order of release:

And lastly, my thanks go out to everyone for playing, enjoying, loving, hating, etc. If you think you've learned something from playing this game, just imagine how I feel :] ♥

Nov 16, 2010

...But That Was [Yesterday]: Unveiled!

My newest Flash game has finally been finished! After about two months of working in my freetime, I'm proud to announce that my game made it just in time for JayIsGames.com's latest Casual Gameplay Design Competition.

This is easily my most complex game yet, involving dozens of characters & animations (including variations of recurring ones), four dynamically-layered songs, and multiple endings. I usually don't write anything down while I conjure up everything about my games. I've found that once something has been drawn or written, it has an associated visual and becomes much harder to evolve, toss out, or modify. However, I had way too many scenes this time around, and made a storyboard out of Post-Its on my mirror:

I purposely kept this image small since it's technically a spoiler of every single thing that happens in the game. The missing areas in the grid are where I had to cut scenes because of continuity and/or time constraints. That paper in the top-right was my schedule for the last three weeks of development, which has its own baby Post-Its for when I moved tasks around (and eventually I just stopped looking at it since I couldn't afford to waste time making time).

I did, however, release a few teaser shots in the last week, so here are the Post-Its that went along with them:

I think the Post-Its were more so to organize my thoughts and not necessarily to communicate the details of each scene. That would explain the scarcity of the title screen Post-It:

...This should make more sense once you play the game :]

I'm posting this a little before the competition goes live, but it's likely that by the time you read this, it will have started already [Edit - competition is live!]. So, here's the link!

My game is titled: ...But That Was [Yesterday]
Click here for a direct link to play!

To see all of the fantastic entries, check out: Casual Gameplay Design Competition #9: "Friends"

And for any and all news regarding updates / changes / words of thanks for my game, be sure to keep an eye on my Twitter since I update it much more regularly than this blog. I plan to do some more making-of posts in the future, so come back soon!


Aug 8, 2010

Two Albums For The Price of None!

I've gotten requests from various people (family, friends, strangers who are now friends) to upload mp3s of the music from my recent Flash games, How My Grandfather Won The War and [Together]. I decided to do a little more than just loop the songs a couple times, incorporating a little post-production and even doing a few new recordings for [Together]'s album. However, the best news of all is that both albums are free to download, and available by clicking either the image above, or the link below!

Click here to download both albums! [10.4MB]

For those still wondering at this point, I composed all of the music heard in these games. Software includes Jam Sessions for Nintendo DS, g-tar for Android, sfxr for that 8bit goodness, and Goldwave for post-production.

Direct links to play my games:

Aug 2, 2010


So... it's been 8 months since my last post (D:). What's happened since then? Most importantly, I packed up my life and moved out west to pursue professional videogame development! I'm currently happily employed at Namco Networks as a 3D Artist, working on the next great games for iPhone and iPad. It's been pretty exciting these past few months and I've created a lot more artwork than I thought possible. The only bad news is that I can't show it here, and probably never will be able to, so just trust me that I'm drawing lots of pretty pictures :]

But let's get to more recent news! If you recall my Flash game competition entry from last Fall, then you may be excited to hear that I spent the last two months working on my latest game (pictured above), which is available to play (and vote on) at JayIsGames.com. This competition's theme was "sandbox", which I took the liberty to tear apart and interpret as I saw fit. The resulting game that came out is something I'd been meaning to make for years, but finally got the chance to do.

It was super fun to work on this one, especially since there was so much traditional animation involved, including a 20 second intro cinematic. There are lots of small details to be seen in the characters and world, so hopefully people don't mind squinting to see all the little things going on :]

To play my game, [Together], simply click here!

There's a 3-week voting period at first, so if you happen to like what you see, don't be shy to let the world know. There are a bunch of great entries from all over the world, so be sure to check out how everyone incorporated the theme!

Below are various screenshots from my entry. Since there's so little to do in the game, these few shots are technically major spoilers, so you might want to play the game first and get the experience the right way. On the other hand, there's a lot that's missed when the game is in motion, so I'd recommend taking a look at these after playing through. Enjoy!

And for anyone who came here looking for clues to the ending of the game (I know you're reading this), let me just say I'm glad that you've taken an interest in knowing the unknown. I'm not going to tell you what there is to do, if anything, but I will say that giving up is probably the last thing you'd want to do, especially if you've come this far...

Jan 1, 2010

Hogwarts: The Foldable School of Magic

This was a fun Christmas gift to make, mostly because I have this undying love for single-piece pop-ups. Technically, this one is made of two pieces, but the key is to create all cuts and folds from one solid piece of paper with no added adhesives to suspend the illusion. I guess you could count the additional two sheets used as a backing behind the actual pop-up, so we're at 4 pieces of paper, but that's definitely the limit here. I promise.

This is easily my most complicated pop-up so far, so I had a nice challenge to balance intricacy with stability. The more cut-outs and holes I make, the weaker the entire piece becomes. This actually makes the backings play two roles: one to simplify the silhouettes of the windows, and the other to keep the whole piece from collapsing (see top of towers in the shot above). Easter Egg Alert: I threw in Hagrid's hut on the bottom right, despite it being geographically much further than that from Hogwarts. I hope that doesn't ruin the whole thing for you diehard Potter fanatics...

The right half of the pop-up was created after I had roughed in the left half, so I used some tricks I learned earlier to make some more complicated layers, such as the church at the base of the valley.

I totally miscalculated the distance the major bridge would extend from both sides, so the two ends had to overlap considerably for the suspension bridge above to connect as well. Noted for next time.

Some more recognizable landmarks are here, including the eating hall and the living quarters. I kind of ignored the fact that the towers, when folded, would protrude behind the "sky", so I had to make appropriate holes in the backing to let it fold completely. The same goes for the little part of the hill on the bottom left.

Okay fine. I used tape here, but only because I accidentally cut the HP logo too thin and the midsection ripped off. My blisters were sore enough by this point, so I cheated a bit. At least we know that section will outlast the rest?

Here's the full rough draft composed into one shot. This is literally what I printed out, traced, and used as reference for folding (green = mountain fold, red = valley fold, black = cut), so these 8 sheets of paper helped me out the whole way. In total, there are 311 windows, arches, and cut-aways across the two pieces of paper. The dimensions are 14in tall x 16.5in wide x 8.5in deep when fully assembled. I guess I'd say the total time from drawing the blueprints to making the final fold was roughly 10 hours, half of which was spent cutting out windows. It's okay, as that day The Matrix Trilogy was on in HD, so I had some nostalgic ambiance to keep me cuttin.

And yes, they do indeed fold completely flat. The scariest and most exciting moment is when you first fold an entire piece flat, which is the same moment when you realize just how accurate your measurements were. Folding is the final step of the whole project, so there's a lot of anticipation to see if the project simply folds, let alone looks cool. Thankfully, I've recently found how helpful it is to measure things digitally, so there were no doubts of right angles going crooked or millimeters adding up to centimeters of error. The only variable factors this time around were my cutting skills, which seemed to do a satisfactory job (this judgment being gauged by the lack of additional gashes on my table).

So, hope you enjoyed, had an awesome holiday-filled week, and have a fantastic start to your new decade!

Nov 16, 2009

How My Grandfather Won The War: The Art Of

For those who are still gritting their teeth in anticipation over the competition's results, you can rest at ease as they were revealed just a couple weeks ago! I happened to tickle enough of the judges' collective fancies and scored 3rd Place in the ArmorGames Award category! The prize is a generous monetary gift along with a front page sponsorship at ArmorGames.com. Much thanks goes out to the judges, the fans, my Facebook supporters (my one Twitter supporter), my testers, and especially those who enjoy a challenge (which in turn re-mentions people in the former categories).

The original game can be played here and the ArmorGames version here (though they're 99% identical, so you'll be getting roughly the same cardboard experience).

Also, there is a review (:D!) of my game available here.

I've gotten polar-opposite responses from people regarding the visuals and the gameplay, so I'll save the gameplay chit-chat for another day. In the meantime, let's take a look at some of the artwork for the game.

The whole idea of the narrative was not to tell too much, but to try and keep it from a familiar point of view. That's where I got the idea to tell it through a sort of 2nd grader's cardboard puppet show. I've been watching lots of awesome cardboard videos for the last couple years and even fitted my portfolio website using all cardboard, so I figured it would be fun to continue working on a cardboard world.

Here are a few of my inspiration videos, all very cool stuff: here, here, here, and here

I originally had plans for crazy moving parts and multiple layers of brown parallax, but factors of time constraints, Flash's limited power, and gameplay mechanics had me cut back unnecessary effects. The most important rule that I upheld as much as possible was to suspend the illusion that this game could actually be recreated in real life. That's why the plane you control is held up by strings, why duct tape is seen on seams, why explosions are held up by sticks, and generally why nothing simply appears out of nowhere.

So, where did I begin? Well, first I went to various wholesale clubs in my area and did some free box shopping.

Awesome. So then I ripped them up, scanned them in, and created everything digitally. That part took a few weeks.

The loading screen needed to be simple while also following my one rule, so I figured I could have a roll of masking tape roll across the screen, while simultaneously collecting a strip of tape. Doing so reveals the game within as the 4 panel flaps lift up for the first time. I ended up using them as the transition between any two screens for the sake of continuity.

The title screen was one of the last things I put together, mostly because I wanted to have a good feel of what the rest of the game would be like before I tried to design what the player would ultimately see first (excluding the loading screen).

I just wanted to show the Settings screen because those slider buttons took a while to get right and I love how they turned out. :]

The death screen shows up whenever you get hit by something bad. This happens a lot, so I wanted to have some sort of notation to let you know just what went wrong. Again, to suspend the illusion, the life display at the bottom is held up by metal dowel rods and change their graphic by flipping around.

As for the rest of the game, I thought I'd do you a favor and show every single asset in the game, namely the bad things and their counterparts underneath. Needless to say, if you're still interested in discovering what lies ahead as you progress through the game, the following image contains every single spoiler in the game... so don't click until you're absolutely ready. For the rest of us, this is a nice chance to not only see how things match up with their happy alter-egos, but you can also see them in detail without having to worry about dodging, charging, and shooting. And if you're wondering why some objects don't have an alternative form, that's because of gameplay design choices, which I'll touch upon another time.
I'd normally have some kind of concept art to show where the designs came from, but for the sake of a time-sensitive competition, I just kept messing around with the colors and shapes in Photoshop until I was happy with them. In general, though, the process for each asset was to:

  • Draw the basic shape of the object
  • Color & shade for volume
  • Add cardboard texture behind and filter it through appropriately
  • Readjust colors (as the brown cardboard can make things too red)
  • Cut out a cardboard shape around the object (to make it appear like scissors cut it out)
  • Fade the color out subtly in areas where the corrugation is exposed
  • The drop shadows were added in Flash, with the exception of the planes' wings.
That's about it!

Oct 31, 2009

Ikaruga Pumpkin Carving: Halloween Harmony

I originally had two separate pumpkins planned for tonight, but I ended up taking a lot longer on this one and didn't have enough time before the trick-or-treaters would be bombarding my door this afternoon with fabric-softener-riddled pillowcases and fancy costumes that just begged for me to give them extra candy out of adorableness.

This sucker took about 6 hours from gutting to cutting. Though it needs no introduction, this is a depiction of the two playable ships in the 90s shoot-em-up Ikaruga. The game itself is based upon a balance between black and white, which I tried my best to replicate in the carving.

Out of the ~100 people that came to my door, not one of them recognized the fighters, though I really can't blame them, especially with less than 100,000 people [in the world] even owning it on XBox Live.

It's one of my favorite games ever, takes only 20 minutes to play from start to finish, and I've never beaten it, despite having put in hundreds of hours. Clearly, I do like a challenge. Below you'll find a YouTube video of it rotating, along with some other detail shots. Happy Halloween and eat that candy slowly!