Belated happy 2-year anniversary Skullgirls!
Here’s one of the earliest concept art I did on the “doujin” prototype build back in 2004(?) based on Alex’s drawings (bottom picture). Alex drew pixel Filia.
To celebrate the 2 year anniversary of Skullgirls’ existence in the public realm, here are the various stages of transformation that Filia went through.
Originally, she was a growth out of what would become Samson, but eventually flipped around. She also became more streamlined and simpler, with fewer default tendrils and other adjustments.
The sprites and style went through a handful of changes before we ended up on the final hand-drawn look you see in the game now.
Pixels are pretty fun, I should dabble in it again some time. I feel like I’ve learned a lot since the earlier stuff, and it’d be neat to try again. @3@;
Oh man, here’s my Filia animation test I did in October 2010! Such memories.
In honor of Skullgirls’s 2nd anniversary (and Cerebella’s birthday), here’s the very first Skullgirls animation I did! Circa Nov. 16, 2010.
I can still work on this game thanks to all our fan’s support! Thanks guys, you’re cool!
Skullgirls was released two years ago and my coworkers are posting the first work they did on Skullgirls, so here’s the first animation I did for Filia in February 2010. It’s not that great! Her hair and clothes don’t have the right weight to them and everything is kinda jiggly. And look at her tie and boobs! Geez. I’m definitely better than this now.
Thank you all for supporting Skullgirls, we wouldn’t be here without you. We will continue to get better!
I got accepted into the Fanime artist alley! Still figuring out the final paperwork and seating arrangement.
Here’s the images I used for their jury/selection process. Mostly some samples from the books, as well as some commission and print examples. Hopefully I’ll have a couple more new prints ready before Fanime.
I’ll have another post up with that information once it’s confirmed.
See you guys there!
Reblogging, since this was posted privately some time back.
Get MatchBlox on the App Store. See screenshots and ratings, and read customer reviews.
The team I trained built this :) Congrats guys!
I’m retiring from the gaming industry.
It all started when I attended GDC (Game Developers Conference) 2013. I was currently working at Nexon M, their new mobile division.
I was very nervous and intimidated when I first set my foot inside Moscone Center in San Francisco. I would usually cross paths with DoubleFine’s Tim Schafer during my morning commute, which was quite a spectacular and horrific experience by itself. When you meet the mind behind games like Full Throttle, Grim Fandango and Psychonauts, you have a tendency to break down internally and try your hardest to keep it together, muttering enough words like “A-are you Tim S-scha…” or “C-can I t-take a photo with you?”
Bumping into Tim
But seeing all these developers walking around GDC and actually RECOGNIZING their faces, the mixture of emotions that poured into me was incomprehensible.
There was this part of me that felt that I didn’t belong. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but there was this feeling that somehow, something was off.
I’m very grateful to have met people like Hideo Kojima, Notch/Mojang, and other really wonderful and passionate developers. It is truly a dream fulfilled to see the creators behind all these awesome games.
Independent Games Festival 2013
But that feeling I had lingered. I felt distant, almost alienated from all these fascinating people. I told myself that I wasn’t good enough, knowing full-well that that should be the last thing I should say. Comparing yourself against other’s accomplishments is a very dangerous method to one’s self-destruction.
Yet I did, without knowing why. A large part of it I think was the games I helped make at Disney Interactive and Nexon didn’t bring the satisfaction and happiness towards players that I had hoped. I wanted to leave something that people will enjoy and say “Holy cow your game is awesome!” or “I enjoyed playing that game so much!” (aside from my mom).
I think that was the feeling I was looking for; a sense of validation for making something memorable to people. That event for me has not transpired yet (with the exception of one game I was indirectly involved).
One of the most proudest games I’ve worked on was Lab Zero’s Skullgirls. It is a game riddled with misfortune yet somehow the community still stuck together. Fans are still eagerly waiting for new DLC characters to appear despite its lengthy development cycle. I worked on the pre-alpha builds with the creator, Alex Ahad, that would eventually evolve into the game people play today, led by programmer Mike “Mike Z” Zaimont’ and Lead Animator Mariel Cartwright. Jonathan “Persona” Kim, Richard “Animoose” Suh, Brian “EU03” Jun also played vital roles in the development.
I never made money when I helped develop Skullgirls, but it was the game that landed me a job working at Playdom, which eventually got absorbed into Disney Interactive. It was an incredible two years until I moved on making games at Nexon. I still help Alex concept out moves for the new DLC characters when I have extra free time.
Big Band’s Space Jazz Concept
On November 2013, Nexon M had downsized its workforce, and I was left without a job.
These things happen a lot in the gaming industry. It was devastating to hear when I found out that 700 of my co-workers at Disney Interactive were laid off.
These were all very talented, wonderful people. The (gaming) industry is a very volatile, ever-changing, hit-driven monster. Large companies will try to monetize everything they can off their users (and compromise long-term value in the process) to keep developers fed, and it does not hesitate to cut off its own limbs in order to seek a more profitable revenue source somewhere else when one of them fails to serve its purpose.
After Nexon, I went back to visit my family in the Philippines. There were still traces of Typhoon Yolanda’s devastation, especially when I visited my dad’s home town. Its been months and they still didn’t have landline and internet access. I helped rebuild my dad’s house, where the backyard roof was still missing since Yolanda shredded and tossed it 2 houses over.
Some time after Nexon, I started a small, independent studio called “AEUS Tech, Inc.”, focused on making mobile games. It was not an easy process. To call it ‘difficult’ would be considered an understatement. I painfully stashed up 3 years worth of savings from my time at Disney and Nexon, taking food home and drinking filtered water to reduce costs. Disney was very accomodating with distributing free food, while my time at Nexon wasn’t as glamorous. I went to Chipotle for my meals and would ration up portions of it so that I can eat lunch and dinner.
To anyone who wants to build an indepedent studio: You need to think very, very carefully and do your research before you decide to venture into this route. It is a path that most people greatly underestimate.
Building something from scratch requires planning, work, capital, and partnering up with the right people. Luck also plays a major factor. Our first game “Hit The Can”, was an intensive learning process on trying to make it on our own into game development.
Hit The Can
It fell into the old cliche I once heard in the industry, “Your first game will suck, and it won’t make money.”. I naively disregarded that statement, thinking we had a chance. When we soft-launched the game in the Philippines, it immediately skyrocketed, landing it on the top spot for puzzle/action games for 3 days on Apple’s app store.
Hit The Can reaching the #1 spot for Top Free Games (Philippine Market)
It was an exciting time. People we knew were playing our game. We were getting good feedback, and the data we got was very insightful. It was a huge morale boost to the team, who had never made games before.
Hit The Can was developed by 2 full-time employees, with 5 contractors working on art, music and testing. It had a very long development cycle, about 15-16 months. The main reason why it took so long was that I had to coach the team in educating them about the fundamentals of making games before the company was even established. What made it a lot harder, was that I was living in San Francisco at the time and they were developing Hit The Can in the Philippines… with internet speeds averaging at 1mbps.
Internet speeds (top to bottom) = California, Manila, Rural Visayas, Ours.
It was quite excruciating. But somehow, despite all that, we actually launched a game. The state of the Philippine gaming industry is still in an embryonic state, where training/nurturing creative roles such as art, game design and music is still non-existent (which the exception of certain schools in Manila).
Going back to Hit The Can, the game did well locally. Reality crept in weeks later when our numbers went down due to numerous problems such as design flaws and pay walls. The most interesting behavior I found regarding Filipino players is that they will obsessively play and try to beat a game, or lose interest pretty quickly if they just hit one wall and will move on and find the next addicting free game. The one data that was severely lacking in our analytics, was monetization (making money).
Philippines (and much like the rest of the developing world) still rely on cash-based transactions. It is something that most social game / mobile developers fail to grasp. People pay money for time slots in internet cafes playing social or MOBA games for fun, while cellphone providers use prepaid cards to add talk/text/internet ‘load’ for people to use their phones.
Financially, Hit The Can was a total failure. It was a wake-up call to everyone of us who worked on it. We released it in Japan and the rest of the world to see how well it would do. It flopped.
The game design was tremendously flawed. We were introducing too many things to the player at once, bombarding them with all the tutorials on the first few levels of the game. That overload of information, instead of guiding the player to master the basic controls of the game first, was a huge design mistake.
Aside from the design, there was a lot of problems that we learned a lot from its development.
During this time, I was already burned out. The passion I once had in making games has waned tremendously. This is a very volatile way of thinking within a team that still wants to make games. I kept working with them on our next game even though I knew that telling the truth was the right thing to do.
The success of Flappy Bird didn’t help either.
I sought advice from a very peculiar source. I couldn’t sleep one night, so I threw a random email to ex-Bioware co-founder Greg Zeschuk. Greg was involved in healthcare, and afterwards founded Bioware (Baldur’s Gate, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, KOTOR). After all the hits the company created, he and his co-founder Ray Muzyka left. Greg now devotes his time in the craft-beer industry, promoting the culture via http://thebeerdiaries.tv/
I tinkered around possible email combinations, and eventually reached Greg himself. This wasn’t an original idea btw. I read an old article about this guy who tried to contact Steve Jobs in person by playing around with email addresses when he was still at NeXT. Steve then replied that it was indeed him and politely told the guy to not spread the email around.
I told Greg my concerns about how I felt, and asked why he switched into something completely different from games.
Greg wrote back. This was the part that hit me the most:
Deceivingly simple, yet sound advice. The key word here is “if”. I’m fortunate enough to have worked with one of the most recognized brands in the world. Most people won’t even get that chance. The best thing I could possibly do is bring the knowledge back here in my hometown to nurture the next generation of developers.
I think I’ve successfully done that, even if it’s just a little bit. I’ve excelled in art, I’m quite flawed as a designer, and I hope that my team has learned from both my strengths and weaknesses.
Shortly afterwards, I told my team the truth about me leaving. Surprisingly it wasn’t that.. surprising. They already kinda knew since I would arrive late to work and leave early. I never thought I’d break down and cry in front of them. I was a complete wreck. It was a very emotional experience.
I told them I will transition off the company when they can build a potentially great game by themselves. The amazing thing after I said that, they showed me something really wonderful.
I simply smiled and said “I guess you guys are ready.”.
Oh My Gravity will be my final game. It’s an arcade-style, space survival game born from one of our game jams. AEUS still has a few games in development, and its future products will reflect if I did my job successfully or not.
Preview of Oh My Gravity’s mobile version
You can play the web version here:
A more advanced version will soon be available on iOS/Android. Please support this game!
I was going to methodically reveal these easter eggs via twitter, but since I’m leaving, I’ve decided to just disclose all of it.
Type the @usernames on the main menu (CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FULL IMAGE)
As for future endeavors, I will be doing some traveling and helping out with my family’s specialty coffee business in the Philippines. Most of my future posts will most likely be coffee-related (sorry artists and game dev friends)
Freshly-made Specialty Coffee
It has been one amazing ride.
Jon/Persona Kim once told me, “You may quit games, but the games won’t quit you!”
EDIT: Maybe I should…NOPE. That’s not happening. So long game dev folks!
Facebook’s next project announcement regarding their new Oculus division will probably look something like this.