#trexchronicles (art by me, in photoshop, used many google images as direct reference)
Ok here is my startup idea: VOTEKICKER. VoteKicker is a crowdfunding website, inspired by Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, only for political campaigns specifically.
As a political candidate you can sign up for VoteKicker, and anyone anywhere can pledge up to $200 to your campaign. Candidates can only collect the funds if they refuse to accept any contributions from Large Individual Contributors (contributions over $200) as well as any contributions from PACs. Candidates could even set stretch goals, like “raise at least $1.5M and I can no longer be effectively blackmailed by the NRA”, etc.
This way, candidates worried about losing their massive corporate interest backing in the next election can have a safety cushion, in the form of small contributions from both their own constituency and concerned citizens around the world. NRA plans to runs ads against you? No problem, you’ve got over $2M in support from real people to help cover your ass.
You can have this one for free, you guys.
For those of you that aren’t familiar with Drop7, it is an iPhone game originally designed and released by Area/Code (now Zynga New York). It remains one of the cleanest, smartest, most interesting, most challenging, most counter-intuitive, and most overlooked games on the platform. Drop7 is very much the Tetris of mobile phones, and maybe even for this generation. It should come pre-installed on iPhones.
Drop7 is one of those games where you tend to slowly get better at the game, but it’s sometimes hard to understand why exactly. It’s a game where you slowly get a feeling for how to play well, but it can be difficult to spell out exactly how or why. It’s also a game where, for many, the “real” way to play is actually the game’s alternate mode (“hardcore” mode, as opposed to the normal game mode). That is certainly the case for me - Drop7 leapt from an interesting diversion to a multi-year hobby when I switched to hardcore mode lo these many years past.
I just moved my posts from Posterous! Do go though my blog for all the new posts.
Its easy to migrate try JustMigrate
Changing of the Guard: Greetings to the New Flixel Moderators!
Wow! What a great response - in about 24 short hours we have a whole new moderation team for the Flixel forums :) I couldn’t ask for a better community!! I wanted to take this opportunity to first say a big thank you to the original Flixel moderation team:
Last but not least, a big public thank you to the Flixel forum admins:
There’s no way the Flixel community would be what it is without all their help. Rich and Brandon did such a good job of setting things up that we haven’t needed much admin attention lately, but thanks to the ever-present threat of overwhelming spam, moderators are still badly needed. So, we’re giving the old moderation team a break (after like 2+ years??) and allowing these new volunteers to take up the mantle:
I just wanted to publicly say “THANK YOU, YOU GUYS ARE GREAT.” Again, there is no way the Flixel community could exist in the way that it does without the help of volunteers, and I am hugely thankful for their cooperation and assistance.
Lastly, I also had someone volunteer to help fix the syntax highlighting software on the Flash Game Dojo forums - Andy, The Software Alchemist (dramatic!!) will be helping us get our example codes back up and running on the wiki over the next few days.
So high fives to these excellent helpers!! Hooray!
Help! The Flixel community is in need of some assistance!
UPDATE: We got a bunch of amazing volunteers already! Thank you!
Hey everybody! We are looking for A Few Good Peeps to help out with some Flixel community management stuff. If this sounds like something you’re interested in helping out with for the next 6-12 months at least please hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org:
To help keep spam under control, we just need a few people who can log on and approve first-time posts once or twice a day. This will help keep the forum, still the best Flixel learning resource, running smooth and spam-free! Please contact me if you think you can sign on to help us out with this for a while.
Wiki Help (very short term)
Our syntax-highlighting plugin over at the Flash Game Dojo wiki is pretty busted. I have no idea what happened, or how to fix it. Probably we just need to update a thing, or something. But that would go a long ways toward getting that resource useful and helpful again! Also we might need to update the wiki software or patch it, but I don’t know anything about that either.
If this sounds like your bag, let me know, and we’ll try and get it patched up! Thanks :)
(flixel art by Paul Veer)
The Hunger Games: Girl on Fire - Available Now for Free on the iTunes App Store
The Hunger Games: Girl on Fire is the official teaser game for The Hunger Games and is available now, for free (no ads!), on the iTunes App Store.
Thank you first to the Girl on Fire team: programmers (and designers) Kevin, Mark and Guy, lead artist Paul, composer Danny B, the sound engineers at Ozone, and Kert for the sweet trailer you see above. There is no math sufficient to describe how impossible this would have been without them!
Thank you to our team at Lionsgate, who were, all things considered, extraordinarily patient and dedicated: David (who thought this crazy project up in the first place), Jessica, and Eric. If David hadn’t looked me up this thing would never have existed, so thanks guys :)
Thanks also to Suzanne Collins for creating such a wonderful story in the first place, and for her help with making sure the game had a place in that story. Finally, special thanks to the friends and family of the team for all their support throughout this project, especially my wife Bekah.
I’m Making an Original iOS Game for The Hunger Games!
After the third book in The Hunger Games trilogy finally came out I set aside a little time to read the whole series. I happily devoured all three books in as many nights. The Hunger Games is the story of a teenage girl who makes a kind of extraordinary sacrifice, helping (sometimes inadvertently) to change the world. Suzanne Collins presents us with a world full of ambiguity and brutality, and characters forced to choose between something bad or something even worse. It is a compelling and honest work of fiction that resonates with me.
(A quick note for those of you who may have arrived here from someplace other than my twitter feed: my name is Adam Saltsman, and I am the creator of the popular arcade games Gravity Hook and Canabalt. Welcome to my humble blog!)
When Lionsgate approached me this past October about maybe creating a game to go along with The Hunger Games film (opening March 23rd!), I was skeptical. I get at least one email a month from a well-meaning account executive for an advertising or media firm. They are, to a person, uniformly professional and friendly, but their assignment is to acquire a version of Canabalt that replaces the runner and the rooftops for their property, which, while flattering to a degree, is something that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me for a lot of different reasons. And so, most of these negotiations end quickly and amicably.
Lionsgate was different though. I made it clear to them right up front that while I was a big fan of The Hunger Games, a copy of Canabalt was out of the question. I pitched them on an original touch-based action game instead. It does feature a running character, but the focus of the game is more on marksmanship and strategy… but we’ll have more to say and show about that later! It’s a small idea, but a tight one too. Almost like a teaser game, in the same way there are teaser trailers. This is usually the part of the discussion where my prospective clients say “ah… I see. Well, if you change your mind…”
Lionsgate said “Great! When can you start?”
And so, I am happy to announce that I am collaborating with Lionsgate and a kind of indie dream-team to make The Hunger Games: Girl on Fire for iOS. Mark Johns (Tap Tap Dance) and Kevin Coulton, the minds behind Doomlaser (Hot Throttle, Space Barnacle), are fleshing out the design while they program the game from scratch. Paul Veer (Super Crate Box, Serious Sam: The Random Encounter) is the lead artist and animator. Daniel Baranowsky (Canabalt, Super Meat Boy) is composing an original soundtrack inspired by the film. Ozone Sound & Music (Max and Al’s Heavy-Duty) are handling the sound effects, and the one and only Kert Gartner (Winnitron) will be putting together our launch trailer. It is a genuine honor to get to work alongside these fantastic people, and this project would not be possible without them.
The Hunger Games: Girl on Fire is coming soon to your iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, timed to theatrical release.
The Pinch Artist (or, Contributors and Symbiosis?)
After hearing Nathan Vella’s talk at Indiecade this year, I reorganized my personal website into three distinct categories: creator projects, collaborator projects, and contributor projects. Contributor projects are projects that don’t really reflect my vision, or whatever you would call it. My input was limited to simply helping it exist somehow. The team or project was missing a piece, and I could fill that role, or complete that section, and help realize someone else’s vision.
This is something I used to do a lot of, but as a freelancer. There was some satisfaction there but it was different than what I’ve been doing lately. For the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to work voluntarily as a contributor, or “pinch artist”, on some high-profile projects, most notably Polytron’s much-anticipated ambient-exploration platformer FEZ, but also on the iPad port of Aquaria that my company published (and a bunch of other small things too). It has been a massively rewarding experience, even though the work itself is not always particularly thrilling.
Adam helped us out in a lot of small ways. After Paul Robertson was done with the big batch of animations we contracted him to do, we’d still come up with new details we’d need animated. things like waterfalls, caustics and additional effects and character movements. Adam offered to help, we quickly agreed to a super amicable deal, and that was pretty much it. Since he wasn’t a full-time team member, i’d just ping him a few days in advance, asking if he could make time this week for this or that, and then he would! It was really nice to have this kind of “casual contractor” we knew we could count on whenever we needed something new animated. (Phil Fish)
What is a “pinch artist” exactly? To me, it means a few different things. One, I am bringing all my skills to bear on this project, and all my sensibilities as an artist, but my goal is to realize someone else’s vision. Sometimes this means emulating or manipulating another style (Derek’s gorgeous backgrounds and sprite work in Aquaria), or helping to design a new approach to something that suits everyone involved (like square water for FEZ). But the pinch artist is there as an assistant, a facilitator, an enabler. A pinch artist is not a critic, and a pinch artist never makes a suggestion they don’t want to personally commit to implementing (unless they are specifically asked for feedback of course).
A pinch artist is not a full-time contributor. A pinch artist may not even contribute a full person-month of hours even at the end of a multi-year project. A pinch artist may not be an “artist” in the traditional sense at all - maybe they are a web guru, or a database genius.
As with most game designers, I’ve got reams of ideas that I’d love to see implemented. In some cases, time constraints prevent those ideas from coming to fruition. In other cases, a lack of artistic or technical skill will stand in my way. But when Matthew and I sat together for a day or two, some of those ideas have suddenly become possible. Matthew is an expert with Unity and database technology, and working with him we created some tech just for the sake of building something fun. In one case, we built the database backend for a collaborative level editor that would allow for a number of concurrent users never seen in a game before. Building tech or even small games in these rapid development settings is often the best way to evaluate whether a game idea, or a piece of tech is worth investing real blood and sweat into. (Andy Schatz)
A pinch artist may not even be a “specialist”, even if that’s their role on your project. But generally speaking, the pinch artist is a part-time helper with a specific focus and a specific ability that helps get the project into the air with just a little less friction and terror, and a little more quality and attention to detail.
There’s two benefits to having someone contribute to your project. First, work gets done and you don’t have to do it. This sounds super simple, but when your pushing to finish a project and time is at a premium, one less component to worry about is a godsend.
The second is less obvious but much more important. It adds another fresh set of eyes & a fresh perspective to the project, often when you’re utterly burnt out and have lost all your perspective. Games are a medium where one little idea can push a project from good to great, or from great to greater, and sometimes subbing in a pinch hitter will provide that. It could be as basic as a redesign for a small piece of art or an additional sound for a key moment… or as big as a design concept that adds a ton.
On #sworcery, Jim Guthrie’s music was the hallmark piece… but one song & one set of sounds came from Scientific American (aka scntfc). The moon grotto song, and listening station sounds really added to #sworcery. Not just in a “hey this is cool” way, but in a tangible, “the game is actually better with them” way. (Nathan Vella)
Part of the power of being a contributor is the 80-20 rule, or the idea that sometimes a lot of the value or appeal of a finished work can be created with relatively little time and effort. Inviting contributors to work on your game or getting the opportunity to contribute to someone else’s game improves the likelihood that you’ll find more of those little gems that have a big impact.
In games, though, maybe the most common manifestation of the 80-20 rule is that the first 80% of a project takes just 20% of the overall effort, and the last 20% takes 80% of the effort. Pinch artists can help chip away at that latter 20% in a way that is psychologically and objectively meaningful, remaining fresh and excited about a project that may have lost some of its luster for the core team.
Haha, this is starting to sound like a public service announcement isn’t it? "Help change a life; become a pinch artist today!" That makes it sound like charity work or something, which isn’t quite how it works or feels. But it is a scale of collaboration that was new to me a couple years ago, and I’ve been noticing more and more is a really positive thing, especially for smaller studios. Even as a relative control freak obsessed with my own ideas, I’ve really enjoyed making contributions to my friends’ games over the last couple years.
For game makers who are looking for a way to blow off some creative steam, donating a little bit of your time to helping someone else’s game exist is a great way make the world better and still expand your own gameography and experience at the same time.
My Favorite Films from Fantastic Fest 2011
I posted one of these last year, though in a slightly more timely fashion. Before I completely forget about these films I wanted to repost them here, as they should be either getting limited US releases or becoming available on netflix (or getting easier to bt!) sometime soon.
My #1 film of the festival this year was A Boy and His Samurai, from the team that brought us the marvelous fugitive film Golden Slumber last year:
I particularly loved the main conflict in this film had to do with trying to figure out what a modern family is, and how that works, logistically and psychologically. I feel like films ignore this but that it is just a huge part of life in the modern world. Wonderful!
My #2 film was the small but surprisingly vivid slow-burn sci-fi Carre Blanc:
Carre Blanc didn’t floor me, but it was so tight, and tidy, and meticulous, and cold, and funny… if A Boy and His Samurai wasn’t so absurdly adorable and sweet Carre Blanc would have been my favorite film without question.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the following movies and can recommend them without reservation. Many of these films contain… adult content, in one form or another, just a heads up! In no particular order:
How to Steal 2 Million (brilliant low-key South African noir - lead actor is so charismatic!)
You Said What?
Snowman’s Land (if you dug In Bruges definitely check this one out)
I also want to call out one film in particular, Milocrorze, but primarily for one scene, involving a super slow-mo single cut sequence of a samurai crashing through a brothel in unbelievable style that went on seemingly forever, with visual cues from the almost abstract renderings of ancient samurai you see on scrolls in museums. It’s an incredible scene. The rest of the movie does not compare!
And finally, the festival offerings I most sorely regret missing:
The Yellow Sea (the new film from the South Korean crew that created The Chaser!)
Extraterrestrial (from Time Crimes and Oscar-winning 7:35am director Nacho Vigalondo)
Beyond the Black Rainbow
[aw man I couldn’t even find a trailer for this!!]
You’re Next (pulled from the festival after securing distribution after the first screening. That’s how good it is. Criminy.)