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 game 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. :) 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Hilda of Lowrule

Now that Majoras Mask just came out. I figured I should finally get through Link Between Worlds. I am liking it far more than I expected. The rented items system and the 2D painted Link mechanic are brilliant additions to the franchise. So far its turning out to be my favorite Zelda game since Wind Waker. (2003)  Tornado Rod OP!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Summoners Rift

I havent updated my personal blog for a while. Here is a couple of shots from the Summoners Rift update which went live a few months ago. I had the incredible honor of leading the art team on this epic project. Mega props to the crew for all the great work! There is still a lot of work left to do, but its really come a long way. GG all!

Here is an amazing scrolling map that you can zoom in to see it all:  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Gamer for Life

We lost a good friend today. Kevin was a brilliant and unique character in every way. Visually, he was a large hairy white guy with tiny Asian eyes hidden under dark framed glasses. His straight, teethy smile and his crazy ass hair always made me laugh. You could always tell what he was thinking or about to say based on his posture and animation. I'm going to miss that kick your shins walk cycle and his awful impersonations. 

Kevin was a true gamer. We could argue all day about which classic Squaresoft characters were the best both in terms of story and mechanics. His love/hate relationship with Everquest, WOW and other MMOs was always entertaining to listen to. Weather he was bitching about losing another hardcore Diablo character or talking about the awesome new things happening on his amazing Minecraft server, he always had something entertaining to talk about.    

As a game dev, Kevin was a pillar of the best type of culture in our industry. He was a great, no bullshit communicator and a fantastic problem solver. He accepted peoples flaws and weaknesses and would help out in any way he could. Kevin always pushed us to improve and make our community stronger. He set up sketch groups, epic partys, gatherings, etc. He included everyone and made it cool to be a geek.

While I am sad that we were unable to deliver a hard copy of the Artbook to Kevin, I am glad we finished it and gave him the digital version so he could see all the great works that everyone contributed in his name. This image is how I will remember him. A great character who shared my love for making and playing great games. KKG, the great Cow and Cheese will be missed but never forgotten. Rest in piece, my friend.  

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Day 20

Im still a week behind on the July Sketch-A-Day. I should be able to catch up durring Thunderdome this week.

Here is a quick sketch of my second favorite character in LOL. Orianna is an incredible champ. Everything about her is so unique and interesting. If I did not suck so bad with her, she would definately be my main mid. As it stands, she is far too skill based for me. I will stick to my Ziggs and Lux mid picks for now. :P


I have played thousands of games. There are maybe 100 that I have had a wide range of emotions about. Of those, there are maybe 15 that I have laughed outlound, been upset and even angry about. Of those, Katamari has pulled off the greatest range of emotion for me. No epic storyline or dramatic million dollar cutscenes needed.

I have had extreme fear of the giant monster dog that keeps knocking things off my katamari and the incredible joy of finally being large enough to scare him and make him run away. Then chasing him across the level and finally cornering him. I laughed maniacally as I run him over and watch his now tiny legs flailing around in my giant ball. BWAHAHAHA! Then I look at the timer and realize the level is almost over. I panic as I think about how disapointed my father is going to be if I dont acheive a decent score or pick up enough 'shiny things' or whatever the goal for this specific level happens to be. Its mad dash time picking up everything I can. Suddenly I realize, I have already surpassed the target goal and Im on one of the best rolls in a long time. I find a swimming pool full of mirors, diamond rings and other shiny things and roll them all up with 2 seconds to spare. YES!!! The level ends with my fathers emotionless face summoning me home on the royal rainbow. I wait patiently through the loading screen feeling pretty good about my performance, then the King of the Cosmos speaks... "This is quite pathetic. Did you even try?"

I felt happiness, fear, excitement, panic, nervous, stress, pride, suprise, anger and sadness all in the span of 3 minutes playing Katamari. GG Namco.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Day 18

The final line art version of the Final Fantasy Trio image for the KKG artbook. These are my 3 favorite characters: Relm, Gogo and Mog. After nearly 20 years, this still has some of the best characters in games. GG old school Squaresoft. :)

Day 17

Chibi Raiden from Mortal Kombat. Yet another quick image for the KKG artbook. 

Day 16

Last weeks sketch group theme:  Guitar Mansion Zeppelin... definately some of my best white board work.

Day 15

The best villain in all of gaming: Kefka. Another Final Fantasy 6 image for the KKG artbook. 

Day 14

Sorry I have been slackin on posting. Just past the deadline on the KKG artbook. The laft few days were epic. We ended with just under 450 submissions! I will try to get back to posting now.

Graphic Frog from Chrono Trigger.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Day 13

Continuing to work on the FF6 piece for the KKG Artbook. Making some progress on Gogo.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Day 11

MOG!  As stated in the rules of Sketch-A-Day, it must be a new sketch every day. So of course this is definately not the same image I was working on yesterday. :P

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Day 10

Kind of cheating here. Not a new sketch. Working on the Final Fantasy 6 image some more today. Starting to detail Realm.