November 2018: The Legend of Pumpkin Cat

If you ever want to see what you’re truly capable of, spend 13 hours on a flight with a sleep-deprived toddler and then try it in reverse.

It’s been a busy couple months, so this post will cover both of them. Starting in October, we traveled to a location wedding in Dubrovnik, Croatia. With layovers in Frankfurt and Munich (there and back), we stayed in an apartment five minutes from the OldTown and spent three days boating, exploring, and wrapping our heads around exchange rates. Dubrovnik really is one of the nicest cities I’ve visited, and the people were exceptionally friendly. Thanks to “Game of Thrones”, it’s still a young tourist hotspot, so the tourist fatigue that I’ve seen in other European cities hasn’t set in yet (currently I think Paris and Munich are tied for the most passive-aggressive customer service.) But Dubrovnik is a place I’d visit again if we happened by on a Mediterranean cruise. There’s still a lot of the city I missed and we felt welcome everywhere we stopped.

On the job front, I was promoted to Lead Animator in October and I’m now forced to learn those horrible, horrible people skills I’ve been neglecting all these years. I’m still animating, but now I’ve become the mediator between people’s problems and the people who fix those problems. In doing this job, I’ve learned to appreciate all the Leads who came before me because now my work actually feels like work. I want to call this a First World Problem, but since I space out so much, I feel this counts as an Off-World Problem.

Hey, so now we’re calling my baby a “big boy”! He’s at that stage where we can talk to and try to reason with him. Plus he’s developing his own sense of pop culture awareness as within the matter of two months, he jumped from “Peppa Pig” to “Curious George”, and then suddenly became an “Avatar: The Last Airbender” fan. And thanks to his Lego cartoons and my game collection, he’s been figuring out superheroes and Final Fantasy characters whenever I’m not looking. He still doesn’t know who the BB-8 on his shoes is yet, but that’ll happen in due time. He wanted to be Spider-man for Halloween, so we obliged, but when we asked who he wants on his pumpkin, he simply said “a cat”. So then we had a pumpkin cat for Halloween with lots of little orange babies. Also, I encourage everyone to start making Halloween oranges a thing. They’re like little pumpkins you can draw on and fill your home with. And unlike pumpkins, you can eat them.

Into November, it’s still pretty busy. I have family visiting and haven’t had a lot of time to make games or even play them. I’m sure my job is wearing me down a fair bit, but I went through the same thing when I started at Nerdcorps back in 2012. I just need to get used to the new workload before I start getting my energy back. I’ve been brewing up an original idea for next year’s Adventure Jam that I’m really exciting about and I want to start writing it as soon as possible.

And that’s that for updates. Thanks for stopping by and checking on me, you awesome person you.

November 15 2018 | Daily Life | 1 Comment »

September 2018: Tentacles Galore!

Since my last post, half of British Columbia burned down, fifty harbour seals suntanned on a beach, my wife and I sneaked out of the house to go watch “Crazy Rich Asians”, and I just woke up from a dream where I was the Green Lantern and someone invented a hotel in Hawaii that collapsed every five minutes for the tourists.

I have big news at the bottom of this post, but first – parenting and gaming stuff…

On the daddy front, my son started part-time day care, which means my mother-in-law will be returning to China soon and my daddy duties will double. Raising Channing has been an incredible experience, but taking care of a child is hands down one of the most taxing things a person could do. Anyone who tells you the same, but doesn’t have kids of their own has no idea. Every day, for two years, morning to night, making sure that kid is either staying out of trouble, following his routine, or learning fundamental skills is the ultimate test of patience and time management. I write this frantically at 6 in the morning because he’ll probably wake up any minute. But is he is slowly learning how read, communicate, operate a computer, and battle other children for dominance, so I’m very proud of him. He also knows who Bilbo Baggins and LeChuck are, so double-proudness on top.

Gaming front hasn’t been too busy. I completed a backer game, Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption, by Lori and Corey Cole, which I enjoyed immensely. It’s a continuation of their Quest for Glory series, but set inside a dungeon-riddled castle with more of a Harry Potter vibe and tons of puns. Very fun, but also very difficult. Highly recommended as its my favourite backed game so far. I’ve also revisited a couple older game with Channing on my lap while he watches Peppa Pig: “The Black Cauldron” and “Riven”. I never appreciated how brilliant “Riven” was when I was younger or realized how brilliant Myst’s seemingly non-existent story was until now. Another game worth revisiting. “Black Cauldron” was fun, but I finished it in an hour and solved maybe five puzzles, so I might be done with that.

Still a long slog on my own game, but I’m holding back on updates again this month so I don’t jinx my progress. I need to sustain momentum to stay productive.

But anyway, BIG NEWS on the career front; I will soon be taking over as a lead animator for Disney’s “Elena of Avalor” at Icon Creative. I’ve been having a great time working on this show over its two year run, and our big “mermaids everywhere!” tentpole episode just aired on the 21st. A full list of my episodes is on my IMDB page (where I’m known for my two-week stint on “Cognition” somehow?) Along with the tentpole’s release, Disney uploaded five shorts to accompany it. Mine was a musical interlude involving eight tentacles and a lot of parent constraints.

In more immediate news, my cousin will be getting married in Dubrovnik, Croatia next week. So as a big, last-time-in-a-long-time expense, my family and I are flying out to Europe on Friday to experience the majesty of King’s Landing and two German airports. I’ll post updates and photos about it next month.

September 24 2018 | Daily Life, Stuff I Made | No Comments »

August 2018: Webby Breaks Ribs

Just finished watching the season finale of the new “Ducktales” series and… I gotta say, my cartoons would have been very different if the 80’s had treated Webby and Mrs. Beakley with this much awesome.

Ducktales ’17 Review – Season 1

I won’t be regularly reviewing things, but this seems site appropriate.

First of all, the show got off to a great start and has maintained that quality from the beginning. It’s still classic Ducktales, but the characters are better developed, their adventures take on more personal twists, and I love the overall voice cast. In recent years, I’ve also followed “Gravity Falls”, “Adventure Time”, and “Steven Universe”, all shows that have pushed the boundaries of storytelling in “children’s television” and “Ducktales” hits all the same high notes. It’s darker, it’s funnier, and it’s smarter. I’d watch this show again over the originals in a heartbeat.

And yet episodes from the original show are prevalent throughout the reboot. Creatures like the Terra-Firmians are re-imagined as a terrifying underground race, while Castle McDuck is now the cursed home of Scrooge’s immortal parents. And they go further by diving into the rest of the Disney Afternoon – the Gummi Bears are now ancient creatures of legend in this world. Meanwhile Don Carnage (or the son of?) and his Sky Pirates from “Tale Spin” have become Scrooge’s adversaries. Even Bigfoot from “A Goofy Movie” is back. And I’m still not sure how Darkwing Duck will tie into the series’ long game, but for now, he’s considered a fictional character whom Launchpad keeps a bobblehead of on his dashboard.

A lot of the new changes to the show really work in a modern respect. Changing up Huey, Dewey and Louie with conflicting personalities lends to better stories (and possibly less animation since they split up a lot.) Huey’s the classic Junior Woodchuck, Louie’s the Wolf of Wall Street, and Dewey’s the Hufflepuff of the bunch. And together, they’re driven to solve the mystery of their mother’s disappearance (Hey! The nephews have parents! Why didn’t we have episodes about this until now?!) And then there’s Webby, now a socially awkward recluse who’s been trained by former-British Operative Mrs. Beakley to operate a grappling hook, perform stealth attacks, and break ribs when needed. So now Webby’s my favourite of the kids. And does Doofus come back? Yes, he does. Except now he’s a psychopath and one of the show’s villains. And best of all, Scrooge’s butler is now a ghost. Yes, they killed Duckworth, and we don’t know how, although fusion isn’t beyond possibility.

And then there’s the new additions. A girl named Lena joins the kids, and her connection to a certain dark sorceress carries most of season 1’s arc. Scrooge finds a new foe in Mark Beaks, a Mark Zuckerberg archetype who challenges Scrooge’s wealth through the power of social media. And I can’t begin to tell you how awesome “Manny” is. You just have to see him for yourself. Manny’s my new favourite addition to the cast.

Voice casting? Perfect. David Tennant as Scrooge is… ummm… well, not unfamiliar to me. It’s amazing that even happened. Kate Miccuci and Danny Pudi are always welcome, and Lin-Manuel Miranda as Gizmoduck is a great out-of-left-field casting choice. And I have high hopes to see more of Don Cheadle and Paget Brewster in future episodes (but I’m not spoiling their roles). My favourite voice overall was Jim Rash as Gyro Gearloose. He transformed Gyro from goofy “I invented glow-in-the-dark popcorn!” scientist into bitter “I’ll show them all!” mad scientist. And the fact that he still sounds like the Dean from “Community” makes it even better. Hopefully, Gyro will start wearing colourful costumes at some point.

And yes, I’m mostly sure the creators of this show have seen my cartoons. There’s subtle nods and easter eggs throughout the show which I won’t list in case it endangers someone’s career. But I can say they’ve been very careful not to make any Dragon Ball references. Maybe they’re saving Vegeta for Season 2. Which I’m still free for voice work on, if anyone at Disney is listening. Just give me a call. We’ll do lunch and get ice cream. Or just keep dropping easter eggs in – I love stumbling across them. It makes me feel special.

Final summation: To COIN some terrible puns, the Ducktales reboot is SOLID-GOLD, RICH WITH LAUGHS, and RIGHT ON THE MONEY! And yes, it’s a really good show. I can’t yet call it “Gravity Falls Great” (Sorry, Disney, but Printer Error Dipper is still the bar to jump), but I feel like now that they’ve laid down roots, Season 2 will be something else. The show is already a great successor to the Disney Afternoon, and a fun ride from beginning to end, suitable for both old and new fans.

And this month’s post has been a longer review than I planned. I’ll save life updates for next month and get back to work on Do-Gooders. Until then, take care. Here’s some Ducktales music to play you out.

August 19 2018 | Awesomeness, Geek Talk, Reviews, Stuff I Made, Stuff Other People Made, TV | No Comments »

July 2018: Mental Health Month

It’s been a busy month with lots of assorted busy work, so I’ll try to break all my updates down by category:

On Social Media
I’m on a month-long sabbatical from Twitter, eager to see what I can accomplish when I’m not worrying about how to word every random 250-character thought that crosses my mind. It’s scary how brainwashed social media made me, because I still instinctively try to open and scroll through the feed without thinking. Had to install a blocker just to catch myself when I zone out.

Outside of social media, I’ve been trying to reconnect with old forums and blogs, but I shouldn’t be surprised that almost nobody frequents these anymore. It’s like seeing somebody’s life end online when I check in on an old friend and they haven’t updated their blog since 2012. And it’s difficult to piece together their life from the nonstop Twitter excerpts they keep dropping. Not unlike myself, really. Browsing through my own feed, I sound like a crazy person who goes quiet for days and then randomly shouts “HERE’S A NEW ANTMAN TRAILER!” …I’m a tool.

On Family
I’m starting to realize that parenting a toddler is a lot like being an NPC companion in a video game. The toddler is the player who sets the pace, goes off-story to explore random nooks, and picks up everything in his path. Meanwhile, all I can do is help and observe, chiming in only to offer some background exposition or address any of his renegade choices. So, yeah, every day is a little bit like Skyrim or Fallout, but without fast-travel.

Actually, Channing’s doing awesome. The little tyke is very verbal, sings “Frere Jacques” and “Humpty Dumpty” frequently”, and has a firm grasp on social hierarchies (I believing his pecking order for who to spend time with is: Mommy, Grandma, Peppa Pig, then Daddy). We harvested his pea garden early this month and got a new one going, so he’ll have something to water all summer. And he got into DAY CARE! YES! So that’ll start in August and hopefully he’ll start making some new friends and habits.

My brother and sister-in-law also came into Vancouver with their little one for a visit. Channing got to meet his little cousin, and the two immediately got to hugging and fighting. We took them out to the aquarium, the Granville market, and assorted other baby-friendly places because we’re not at the monster truck rally stage yet. Or even Disney movie stage. Thing about kids is that you pretty much have to sacrifice all cultural awareness for a few years as everything becomes about baby songs and toy stores.

On Entertainment
Outside of baby stuff, I still get to see the occasional movie and play the occasional game.

Since the Steam sale, I’ve been getting acquainted with “New Vegas” after listening to a “Watch out for Fireballs” episode about it. I much prefer it over Fallout 3, and it has warmed me back up to the Fallout series. Still not a fan of the combat, and some levels really grate on me, but since I can “enable god mode” at any time, it’s been a welcome mental scrub.

Also reading “Ready Player One”. I still prefer the movie so far, but only in the same way I prefer “Jurassic Park” over the book as well. Both films take the core idea and trim it down into a fun, functional film, but the stories in both mediums follow very different paths. If my books were ever adapted, I would definitely want Spielberg on it, because he could probably make sense of what I was trying to write better than I could.

On GameDev
My game is still slowly on its way. I’m a little worried, because I’m grinding at what amounts to be an experimental adventure game, while at the same time, I have many non-experimental games that I want to get started on. There’s a chance I may delay this game just to work on some of those shorter ones in the interim. I don’t want people to get the idea that I’m putting all my eggs into one basket with this one project. My big dream project is still to make something more on the scale of “Curse of Monkey Island”.

After quitting Twitter, I feel less inclined to force myself to complete things just to have it ready for #screenshotsaturday. This is good, because I rushed too much work just to meet that ridiculous weekly deadline, and now I have to go back and fix things. I’d rather just release material as it looks good. I can’t handle marketing and development at the same time. It really interferes with productivity. I may be quieter than normal, but I won’t rush my work anymore.

I’m also taking a break from a different short game, just because it sounds like the rest of the team is off enjoying the summer. It’s not dead; just in stasis until everyone’s ready to pick it back up.

And that’s all I have to report on for now. Bigger announcements to come later this year.

Thanks for stopping by!

July 22 2018 | Daily Life, Stuff I Made | No Comments »

June 2018: Ducktalez Goes Gold!

Kind of a silly thing to celebrate, but the original upload of DucktaleZ 3 finally hit a million views this month (June 16). It was initially published on May 16, 2005, meaning it took a slow grind of thirteen years and one month to finish. So hitting that mark felt like I’d just seen an odometer roll over or paid off my mortgage. My family and I went out for ice cream to celebrate. The official ice cream of Ducktalez, by the way, turned out to be a Marble Slab Triple Scoop of Cotton Candy, Mint, and Raspberry Rose in a waffle cone, so feel free to join in the festivities.

Otherwise, all is quiet on the western coast (as quiet as having a toddler can get anyway). I’ll keep my project updates to myself for a while as I hash out some difficulties here and there. Otherwise, I just want to enjoy the summer and get back to playing a game or two. I’m going into take-it-easy mode for a while where I’ll sticking to gardening and occasional sprite work.

Oh! And the peas and tomatoes finally sprouted! And the parsley died again! But there’s lot of basil coming in, so I can expect to make a lot of pesto this summer. Also spinach. I haven’t really planned ahead on eating these things, I just wanted to see if I could grow them. But so far, so good.

On a side-note, the 2018 Adventure Jam wrapped up! Haven’t played much of the entries, but if you want a couple short, sweet, and possible not-safe-for-kids games to play, please check out the following:

Aye Fair Lady: A musical adventure from Charlotte Gore, creator of Yorkshire Gubbins, possibly one of the most ambitious jam entries I’ve ever seen.

Ramp it Up!, an adventure about a little girl cooking meat pies with her mom that absolutely has no dark twists in it whatsoever, from Troels Pleimert, who’s doing an SQInc playthrough right now!

June 20 2018 | Awesomeness, Stuff I Made, Stuff Other People Made | No Comments »

May 2018: Going Green

Today marks the first year I tried growing a garden and it didn’t die. Sitting on my patio is a whiskey barrel full of pea stalks (with its neighbour, a store-bought tomato plant). People told me to just use chicken wire for the trellis, but I couldn’t resist the appeal of duct taping sticks together for that rustic “Ewok Village” charm. Meanwhile, I have basil and sunflowers growing in my office. They died a couple times this year already, but my third planting seems to be working. Maybe there’s a future for me as a farmer after all.

In other news, I’m working with the NMFT team to cobble together another short game for this year’s adventure jam. We’ll likely miss the deadline but I’m fine with going into overtime to get it done. The subject matter is pretty fun, so stayed tuned for more.

As for my own game, I got a club scene finished earlier this month. I’m aiming for an SQInc aesthetic with dynamic backgrounds. Looks kinda like this.

My game’s working title is “Do-Gooders: Heroes to the Max” but I’ve heard mixed things about using the term “do-gooders” for anything, even in a positive context. Any advice on naming would be welcome, because I am really stressing out over this.

And finally, I’ll be doing a free book giveaway this month for the “Ancients’ Royale” series from the 18th to the 23rd. Amazon only gives me 5 free days per book, so I’ll do it again later this December. Summer and Christmas seem like good “giveaway” times, so I’ll try to make that an annual thing. It’s the only way to keep my books from vanishing into obscurity, it seems.

May 13 2018 | Garden, Stuff I Made | No Comments »

April 2018: Bob Rossin’ It

I’ve been getting back into background design. For my test run, I dug up an old “Chester Cornfield” background and gave it a colourful overhaul for its new game world. It’s not quite as neon as I want to get it yet, but it’s mostly there. One of the advantages to working in a pre-rendered medium is that if I don’t want to model any vegetation, I can just Bob Ross my own garden in. Also, pro-tip: talking to yourself like Bob Ross automatically makes you a better artist. Guaranteed. Every time.

And while I don’t do reviews anymore, I wanted to throw a shout-out to a couple games I played recently made by some people I like.
Adventure: Welcome to the Genre: The 3rd chapter of Akril’s Adventure series is here and it’s the best one yet. It’s extremely well-animated with a lot of creative artwork. Definitely check this out and her other games as well.
A Golden Wake: A little masterpiece from Fransisco Gonzales that’s been slipping under my radar for quite some time. I went in blind, expecting a murder mystery at a wake. Turns out it’s a true story about the Florida land boom, and a real estate agent who gets swept in a hurricane of corruption. Heavy stuff, very well-written, might possibly be the “Citizen Kane” of games. Go play it and experience it yourself.

April 15 2018 | Stuff I Made, Stuff Other People Made, Video Games | No Comments »

March 2018: I made a rocket turtle.

It’s my first update since the overhaul. I’ve been spending a lot of nights this month working on a couple new character models while binge-watching “Bob’s Burgers”. When I was working on SQInc, I only had to build about 6 characters that I wound up reusing throughout the game with different skins and accessories. This game, I’ll probably have closer to 10-12, just to mix it up a little. I rendered a couple new characters and reuploaded some older ones.

On my other side-projects: the baby’s coming along. He knows how to control the TV remote, so we’ve been getting acquainted with the horrors of “Bob the Train”. I’ve been also slowly grinding my way down my Steam list, determined to finish every game on there before the next summer sale. I only have a few Wadjet Eye and Nancy Drew games left to go, so I might make it this year, fingers crossed.

Anyway, here’s some character art. Enjoy!

March 14 2018 | Art, Daily Life, Stuff I Made | No Comments »

Website Updated; News and Features

After a few years of inactivity, I decided to spruce up the old site and give version 6.0 a “soft relaunch”. This new version of the site will be less of a personal blog, and more of a developer’s diary as I work on my next game. I want to treat it as quiet space on the internet where I can be myself and get my work done, instead of grapple with social media burnout.

A few changes: obviously the new banner above, which reflects the style of my current game project. There’s also a new “In Development” page, so you always know what I’m working on, and where I’m at with it. I’ve shuffled my books and cartoons over to the “Extras” page, but the games haven’t been touched. I’ve also included a Portfolio link to the left if you want to see my professional website and demoreel. And for the first time, BOM has an “About” page where I try to talk about myself and explain what my site is (the hardest thing I’ve ever written).

I’ve also re-opened the Forum if you want to say hi or leave a comment, although I don’t check it daily.

And just for fun, under Links, there’s an option to “Activate Geocities Mode”. This’ll send you to an old school 90’s version of the site, complete with sound, gifs, poorly formatted text, and sparkles. Because nostalgia.

And yeah, that’s all the updates so far. The new game’s coming along. The story’s all programmed; just needs graphics and sound. I’m in the early writing stages for another game. And the baby’s doing great too – he can walk, climb, recite vowels, and even press my Scrooge and Vegeta figures together while making kissy noises. I’m really proud of the little guy.

That’s that for now. Time to get back to work.

February 10 2018 | Awesomeness, Daily Life | No Comments »

The Ancients’ Royale Trilogy – Now on Paperback

Big 9×6 copies of my eBooks are now available through Amazon US. These books are exactly the same as the digital copies, except now they’re biodegradable, can double as coasters, and will give you paper-cuts.

April 22 2017 | Books, Stuff I Made | 1 Comment »

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