Thursday, September 29, 2016

Blubber Busters: Eva

Blubber Busters is a new indie game made by some friends who I used to work with at Riot. The project is super creative and incredibly high quality. This is a fan art pic I did of one of the playable characters: Eva. Check it out here and support them on Kickstarter!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

GOTW6: Unbox

I can admit that I am heavily biased here. From Mario Galaxy to Ratchet & Clank, Banjo Kazooie, Sly Cooper to Jak and Daxter and everything in between, 3D platforming is one of my absolute favorite genres. I play thousands of games, but this is the one genre that I can say I probably finished 95% of every major 3D platformer in existence. In today's day and age, these games are few and far between, so anytime one comes out, I normally buy it regardless of the quality or content. I simply want to support the genre. In most cases, indie devs who try to emulate this old school genre fall short or lack the magical feeling of the classics. I am glad to say that Unbox not only found that magic, but exceeded it in many ways.

Unbox is about a living delivery service called GPS. You play as newbie, the new box. At first I was skeptical that a game with cube characters could be interesting. At a glance it felt like a cheap cop out. After playing for less than 5 min, I realized the brilliance of this design. Using such a simple design allows the world to be completely full of characters. Other base, the hub world and first area of the game has more characters doing all sorts of silly things that any other game in the genre. It has everything from a training course, to a game room to a cafeteria, a lab, ship docs, airplane runway, clothing store and more. Everwhere you look is bustling with fun characters doing silly things. As a collection junkie, this world is an absolute treat to explore. 

While it does not have the amount of levels that any of the mainstream platformers have, the levels in Unbox are massive in size with a lot of fun objectives and collectibles to find. The game is build it Unreal so it has a great look and some fun physics to play with. 

The most interesting thing about Unbox is the unique jumping mechanic. You have 6 unbox charges which each equate to a very high double jump. If using all charges in a row, you can jump incredibly high soaring through the air. It feels like a super quick jetpack boost. You can refill your charges by picking up health cubes worth one charge each or finding a mailbox checkpoint for a full charge. These are scattered everywhere so it rarely feels like you need to hold onto your charges. This system creates the most fun and fastest traversal system I have played in over a decade. 

While there is danger in the form of traps, water, and very basic enemies, Unbox is certainly not about combat. There is no leveling up system or skill tree. There are a lot of collectible cosmetic items, but they dont affect gameplay. Unbox all about exploration and collecting in a fantastic, lighthearted world full of fun characters making silly jokes and having a good time. If you enjoy exploration based 3D platformers, I absolutely recommend this game. GG!

Monday, September 12, 2016


Another Undertale drawing. Asgore Dreemurr, Toriels ex-husband and king of the underworld.

Last week was PAX west and it was pretty awesome. We headed up to Seattle to promote the upcoming charity Artbook, do some community service and check out all the sweet games. I was pleasantly surprised to see my artwork on the postcard side by side with all the other great artists! ...oh wait. I made the postcard... well it was still cool. :P

Sunday, August 28, 2016

GOTW5: ROD Revolt of Defense

Last week No Mans Sky came out. I was really looking forward to it, until I found out the $60 price point. In my mind this is absurd for a fully randomly generated game. Without clear goals, multiplayer or the ability to build stuff, I don't know why anyone would play this for more than a day. Needless to say, everyone I know who bought it is done with it. Cool idea. Should be $20 tops.

What does this have to do with ROD? I was doing my daily Steam search on that day and I discovered this other new randomly generated space exploration game. But this one had rogue like and strategy elements and it was $1. SOLD! So I decided to give it a spin. I was very pleasantly surprised. 

ROD is a simple RTS space exploration game. You are in charge of keeping your small colony/space station alive by building structures, trees for oxygen, finding fuel and a bunch of other upgrades. A really unique twist is that all the tiles of your space station flip over with the press of a button. So you can have an offensive defensive grouping of turrets under your buildings and trees. This will come in handy when you encounter other colonies to take their resources. 

The world map is very well done. You can travel to any of the closest locations. Blue ones are other colonies which can be abandoned, unexplored or have other people who will fight you with their own defenses. The purple dots are shops where you can purchase people, materials and fuel. Yellow dots are repair stations where you can fix up any structures that have taken damage. This is a fantastic and well balanced system. There are a few crazy traps that I fell into... but I would rather not spoil it for you. hehe :)

While the presentation is less than stellar, everything is fairly straight forward. There is no tutorial and they dont tell you how to play at all. But I was able to figure it all out within the first play through. Once I realized there was a winning condition, I beat the game is about 2 hrs. ROD: Revolt of Defense is a great little RTS with some unique ideas and refined design. Its $1! Gift it to your friends! GG.

Saturday, August 20, 2016


Another one of my favorite Undertale characters: Muffet, the bake sale spider. Her story is super silly and her battle mechanics are some of the best in the game. I decided to try a super soft, air brushy color job for this one. Not really my style preference, but I wanted to try something a bit different.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

GOTW4: Ghost of a Tale

Ghost of a Tale is an amazing little indie stealth game with high production values despite being made by one person. It has a great vibe reminiscent of the Redwall book series or the classic film, Secret of Nimh.

While the story is not amazing, the game features some great, quirky characters with amazing dialogue. Artistically, the game is beautiful. The lighting and attention to detail in every space is impressive to say the least. This game has a day and night cycle which changes certain gameplay elements such as finding beetles that make noise at night and affecting enemy visibility. The overall presentation helps create an incredibly immersive experience. 

The stealth gameplay is solid with lots of cupboards, baskets, chests and barrels to hide in. While the enemy AI is pretty basic and is easily fooled, they are still quite scary due to you being a mostly defenseless mouse. Finding keys, changing gear, and doing quests are all well executed with strong story driven context. 

Ghost of a Tale is currently on Steam early access for $20. While I dont regularly suggest early acces games, This one already feels very polished. Its great to see people doing something new in the stealth space and I am very happy to say this one is worth the price of admission.   GG! 

Tuesday, August 09, 2016


Here is my version of another great Undertale character, Flowey: the deranged flower. This is one of the creepiest characters I have ever seen in a game. Not only is he surprisingly scary, he is also one of the deepest and best written villains in gaming history.

Monday, August 08, 2016

GOTW3: Card City Nights

My game of the week is an amazing little digital adventure/card battle game called Card City Nights. I picked it up when it came out on Steam a couple of years ago. I grabbed it because the card art was so unique and pretty crazy and it was $5. After playing it, I realized that it was not only aesthetically interesting, it was an all around amazing experience.

The world is immediately engaging and immersive. The music and mood create an inviting place to explore. The characters are so unique and interesting. Even though the entire game is played at night and you are always challenging people (and creatures) to duel, it never feels aggressive or stressful. 

The core gameplay is focused on a 3x3 position based grid. Each card has arrows on the sides or corners which make them ideal for putting them in specific areas on your grid. Its a very simple, yet genius mechanic. Theme wise the cards are all over the place. They are anything from rocket cats to snowmen to statues with wings. While anything goes, the developers managed to keep everything feeling cohesive due to the unified art style, sounds and animations. 

Unilke most TCGs, this game is very approachable and easy to pick up and learn. The complexity comes from how you decide to build your deck as the game progresses. With a fun story, brilliant characters, simple yet amazing art and music, Card City Nights is a must play regardless if you like the genre or not. Its less than $5 on Steam. Ultra worth! GG! 

Card City Nights is less than $5 on Steam. Pick it up and prepare to have a great time. GG! 

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Lion design

My sister has been asking me for a drawing for a long time. She a Leo and loves lions. I drew her one a long time ago but it disappeared into my sea of random sketches. So I did this for her Birthday which was yesterday. Happy BD, Christi!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

GOTW2: Princess Remedy

Is it possible to create a non-violent action shooter? Yes! Developed by Ludocity during a 48 hr. charity game jam, Princess Remedy in a World of Hurt proves that you can. The concept is simple: Walk through towns talking to and curing sick people, monsters, plants, animals and everyone else in the world by using medicine as bullets to take down internal virus like entities. The retro feeling art execution, the great character dialogue and the balance between exploration and action all combine to form a bite sized brilliant experience. This is one of the most influential games I have ever played. AND ITS FREE! Download it on Steam and enjoy. GG!

No seriously.... its Free. Not free-to-play with micro transactions. Just free like... bibles in hotel rooms... wait are you not supposed to take those?

Saturday, July 30, 2016


Another great Undertale character, Undyne! The scariest person in the game who ends up having an incredible arc with an amazing amount of depth. No spoilers! Im going to try to do a sketch a week until the artbook submission deadline. :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Jammed out this Papyrus from Undertale during Monday night sketch group last night. This is going to be the firs of a bunch of sketches I will do for our Undertale charity artbook. We already have over 200 submissions. Check out for infos. :)

Monday, July 25, 2016

Game of the Week1

One of my goals for the past couple of years has been to play an average of 1 game a day. 365 games a year. I don't literally play a new game every day, so some weekends I will play 5-10 smaller games to catch back up after a 15 hr. Rise of the Tomb Raider week. I now own over 4000 games across every console since 2600, phone and Steam. I try to play every genre to gain as much knowledge for making games as possible. I believe that every game has something to learn from. In many cases its what to avoid, but even in bad games, there are almost always some gem of goodness to glean. :) 

With that said, I want to start sharing my favorite experiences. Each week I will share a game that I played that I highly enjoyed or learned something from. This week I played a great little game called Super Chibi Knight. This was a simple project made by a father and his 8 year old daughter. The game feels like a tiny scale version of Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link. It has a similar top view travel/exploration overworld. But all combat, dungeons and NPC interaction in houses is in side scroller mode. All of the art is super cute, hand drawn chibi goodness with vibrant colors and the kind of creative designs that you would expect from a childs imagination. The upgrade systems are very basic, but well balanced so the game never gets too frustrating. My favorite part of the game is the huge cast of fun and unique characters. Each NPC that you talk to is a custom character with unique dialogue, motivations and personality similar to Castle Crashers. While they are very simple, it adds a huge amount of heart to the game. Lots of hidden secrets, silly jokes, fun enemy design and a great ending make this one of the rare games I will be revisiting in the future. 

Super Chibi Knight is $5 on Steam and can be completed in a few hours. If you are in the mood for a short, classic feeling, light hearted action aventure, check it out. GG!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Liz's Blog Title Graphic

My wonderful wife Liz loves games but... shes not very good at them. Shes starting a new blog based on her gaming experience as a lower skill cap player. She will have great reviews and advice from a unique perspective. This is WIP graphic I am making for title.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Under the Radar Games: Lavapools

Great little game for those who like a challenge and don't mind dying many times to achieve victory. (think top view Meatboy) Fun theme and characters with good presentation and controls. While the levels are similar and the only mechanic being dodge bats, blades and spinning... extended... arrow thingys, there is 3 different level types to keep it interesting. The scaling difficulty is very well balanced ending on a super challenging boss battle.

You have to collect 25 green... things to unlock the portal to the next level. As you collect more, the level gets harder by spawning more bats, spinning blades, etc. When you die, you start over but half of your collection from the previous level spawns as a tombstone in a random location on the map. This adds a ton of great risk/reward strategy to the game. I got it on Sale for $3 on Steam. Worth!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Ashe & Tryndamere

This is another duo jam done for the Gamers for Life rewards. I did the drawing and Grace Liu did the colors. I wanted to try a different style with this one. We finished this 6 months ago, but I totally forgot about it. Sorry Marc...  :P

Sunday, March 06, 2016

GDC next week!

GDC 2016 is coming up and we are finishing up all the things we need for the G4G booth. This is the first time we have a booth at a major event. It's been a lot more work than I expected. (as usual). We will be doing artist portfolio reviews and have some great volunteer opportunities available for people to sign up for. If your at the show come by and hang out with us. Hope to see you there. :)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Monday Night Sketch Jam

Having fun with my crew during another Sketch Jam session with Grace, JP, Richie, Hing, Albers, Gonz, Gabe, Duy, Gino, Mark, etc. Wasn't sure what to sketch so I just jammed out a quick Singed. Don't chase!

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Castle Crashers

Happy New year! 

2015 was a crazy year. To keep things rollin, I want to start 2016 with a crazy drawing! I owe my buddy Jon Jelinek an image of one of his favorite games, Castle Crashers!

I tried this a few months ago and failed miserably because I didn't have a good plan. I just started with the 4 main guys and kept adding more characters. It started feeling really random because it had a few bosses and some of the enemies I liked the best. My kids are huge fans of the game as well so they wanted me to put other characters in. After trying a few different things, I gave up and decided to reboot and come up with a better plan...

New plan: Draw every character in Castle Crashers in a single image. How many can there really be?

STEP 1: Play through the whole game and document every character

Since we have played a ton of CC in my house, this was really easy. My kids all have high level characters so they just mowed through while I wrote it all down. After tallying it all up, including playable champs and pets there are about... 90 unique characters in the game... DOH! Too late to change my mind. I'm going to try posting my WIP regularly. I find this helps me stay focused on finishing something. :P

I like to start with a super rough idea of the full composition. I have the dragon on the upper left, the painter boss on the upper right, the catfish boss on the bottom... super clear, right? Then I will create my main grounding element that is the anchor for everything else in the image. In this image, I want to have the 4 main characters with their elemental spells in the center. 

Next I decided on weapons and abilities for the different characters and refined the sketch and composition a bit. Poison fish weilder FTW!

Here is the more refined guys for the center of the image. The VFX will change based on whats around them. Now the crazy part begins...

Here is my first stab at getting in all the bosses and most of the unique enemies. I always start ultra rough so its easy to iterate. I already moved stuff around for a while and I am overall happy with the basic layout. Things will inevitably move around as I start refining the character sketches. 

First major change to the first sketch is adding the Barbarian army. They are the main instigators at the start of the game and the enemy you fight the most. So I decided to add them to the front/center.

So I got some better sketches in. Medusa, the Corn Boss, Catfish, Cyclops and his best friend on the cannon piano. My favorite boss the painter and a couple of other things. I had to make a few layout changes for the Necro and Sandwitch bro. Still keeping things rough enough to make big edits. I think I will be able to get most of the other characters blocked in tomorrow. 

Here is the 90% finished comp. After putting the big and small versions of the barb and the theif, I decided it would be pretty annoying to have big and small versions of every guy. I'm still missing a few characters like the bee keeper and the fish man, I will get them in the mix after I get some of the linework tighter. The little circles are possible locations for the 28 pets. 

Now for my favorite part. The line art! This is a huge image so its going to take a while. :)

Ya gotta do what? I gotta believe!

Here are a couple of my favorite characters: Corn & King! I love that the king looks like an old prospector with missing teeth and a crown. A boss that is a cob of corn... completely absurd or pure brilliance? I think this proves that you can have both. :)

Time to start sprinkling in some of the 28 pets.

Ink job about 70% complete. If the business gets too crazy, I will start dropping in some quick values to make sure the composition is all still working well. 

Shut up Dragon! You are probably my least favorite boss in the game. Don't make me erase your punk ass! I'm almost done with the lineart. I'm working on a few other projects so it's taking a while, but I should be finished with the drawing and moving into values and color by the end of the week. 

Added some of the last characters: Open visor knight riding poop deer, Treasure Imp, Pet Nurse, Bee Keeper, Industry Prince with his epic hand machine, Brute, Forest Knight and a few others... this game has so many characters. Only 4 to get in to be finished with that. Still need a bunch more pets to be done. 

I took a break from that crazy drawing to try a quick color test on the main guys. This is a technique I pulled from Jouste, the lone artist from the indy crew at Slick Entertainment. They are working on a sweet Castle Crashers style game called Viking Squad. Check out their Dev Blog here:

He paints everything with a solid flat color then dupes the layer, darkens it and erases out selections to show lighting. Super quick technique that gets him some pretty amazing results. He runs a stream on Wednesdays at 4pm where he works on art for the game. GG! 

More pets! 18 down, 10 to go.

Here it is so far. Line work is 95% done. Still missing 10 pets and 1 character. Easy mode hint: Its a playable character. I will update when someone figures it out.  :)

Quick update. Got all the characters and pets done. Finding a bit of time to add some color. 

So Iv'e been painting up a few character ever couple of days. I have reference from the game on the sides for easy color picking. It's getting super busy and chaotic. What a mess! hahaha! I'm looking forward to getting all the color blocked in so I can start figuring out how to tie it all together. :P 

Base colors complete! Now I just need to find ways to get the clarity to a reasonable place. 

I'm doing a teal underlighting layer to unify the characters so they look like they are all in the same place. I have a few other tricks I want to try afterwards. :)

Finished the under light layer. Now I'm creating 2 mask layers for adding some gradient ramps to separate some of the characters that are feeling too flat. 

The gradients are working fairly well to add a little atmosphere between the characters. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel... 

@$%#&! So I accidentally colored two of the bird pets red when one of them was supposed to be brown... I don't want to make this one brown because he's surrounded by brown characters. I'm going to have to find a new home for this little guy... it was a nice color pop. :(

Finally done! Click the image to see the less blury version. :)