The Bane of My Existence

While it was a great year for AJC, the final quarter of 2013 brought me some exciting outside developments as well. In October I was lucky enough to be invited to do the art for the highly anticipated Battle Group 2, sequel to Bane Games’ hit mobile game from 2011.

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On a cold winter’s eve at the weekly Colorado Independent Game Developers Association meeting I made the acquaintance of one The Dylan Jones – a staggeringly tall young designer with a staggeringly loud voice. And that’s coming from a 6’2″ loudmouth. You may know Dylan from the RGB beta, a cool little puzzle game in which tuning your retro TV to different color settings changes the layout of each level. He’s got some serious design chops, and he loves stark, dramatic, depressing games where the only way to win is suicide. Nice.

The D had been concepting new game prototypes with Bane Games, an Australian indie developer run by Alistair Doulin – Unity ace and all-around programming prodigy, mate. Dylan liked what I’d done with Wyv and Keep and asked me to do some concepts for a new tactical space-combat game. Tactics? Combat? SPACE!? I didn’t take much convincing.

I quickly did a few different pieces but here’s the one that clinched the job for me:

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They haven’t released many details about that game yet, so I won’t spoil them here either, but it suffices to say we think it’ll be fucking revolutionary. Luckily Al did show off another little concept I did of how I envisioned some of the gameplay over on his blog, so I’ll throw that up here too:

big_hi_hf_01We started initial work on the game in August/September and things were going great – Dylan’s energy is infectious, Al’s a freaking wizard on the keyboard, and both have incredible work ethic – I could tell I would enjoy working with Bane. Shortly into development however, we got some more exciting news from publisher Right Pedal Studios.

They wanted to give us money!

More accurately, they wanted us to accelerate a certain sequel for them. The original investor for Bane’s 2010 hit Battle Group (apparently the game still gets 500 downloads a day – not too shabby) had been chomping at the bit for a follow-up, and was now ready to plunk down some cash for one. I was having a blast designing spaceships so it was a shame to put that game on hiatus, but new projects are always exciting, and I was totally on board. Hey, actually getting paid for making a game sounded pretty good.

The original game’s hard as balls too – always a plus in my book.

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We’ve been working pretty much nonstop since November, so the project’s well underway. At the top of this article is the main promotional art, a piece I completed just a couple weeks ago that took way longer than it should have because, well, I’ve never drawn a boat in my life. It’ll be used for header art, banners, etc. and the focal point at the center is also the icon for the game. I don’t take all the credit for the composition though, as the original concept comes from my favorite piece of art from the original game.

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The perspective on the incredible Iowa Battleship is really cool, and the explosion really catches your eye. I just updated them and made some of my own additions.

Jesse’s Revised Rules for Modern Icon Development, v.1.01:

  1. Colossal battleship ✓
  2. Huge explosion ✓
  3. Iconic multibillion dollar Tetris block shaped bomber ✓

And no those may not actually be bombs, but… shut up. Going to have to go back and retroactively change that number on the original’s hull, though.

With my mostly cartoon background I figured the simple, boldly-outlined style of the first would be a cinch to replicate and polish up to be sequel-esque. Then Alistair promptly told me he wanted to go much more detailed and realistic for the sequel. Not necessarily my forté. But the prospect of doing something totally new always tightens my pants, and it’s been a blast developing the style.

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Left you have the original Cyclone-class patrol boat from BG1. Center is my first update, completed back in November, with much more shading, detail, and slightly thinner outlines. And right is the second pass, likely the final model for the soft launch. Ultimately we ended up going quite realistic, with lower saturation, just very thin low opacity outlines and quite a high level of detail.

Updating the art has been a ton of fun, as well as a challenge, with things like modern icon development and Unity particle systems being completely new to me. I’ll have lots more to say about that stuff later, but for now, check out the old vs. new in two quick videos. The BG1 video is the launch trailer. The BG2 video is pre-alpha footage from a few weeks ago.

Oh yeah, they’re not really the bane of my existence. Quite the opposite. Had to say it, though. Also:

Dunce Dunce Revelation – Part 2

Well, there’s still a bunch to catch up on from this spring and summer, so let’s jump right in!

Part 2: The June of Very Little Rest and Some Wicked Vinyl Posters

I mentioned briefly in the last post that Denver Comic Con was awesome. That’s an understatement. A crazy, horrid amount of work, but definitely a huge success. If you follow the “official” comic cons like San Diego and New York, you might know Denver is only in its second year but is rapidly becoming one of the premiere venues. Attendance in 2012 was near 30k, making it the biggest inaugural comic con ever. Last year saw a rise to a staggering 60k, with more than double the visitors of last year and apparently all sorts of problems for an unprepared staff and an irritated fire marshal – but getting people to our booth sure wasn’t one of them.

comicCon02SMA Jolly Corpse was on the end corner facing the entrance, which meant nearly every attendee started their day with our booth, and often ended it there too. We wanted to make sure everyone saw and heard us, so we pointed the two flat panels straight at the door and blasted tunes as loud as we could get away with (they wouldn’t let us use the 12″). SmashBox’s fast pace, pick-up-and-play-ability, and thumping techno beats (…we still used the 6.5″) made it the surprise hit of our booth, and there was rarely a moment when I could jump in and wipe the nerd sweat from the controller. Continue reading

Dunce Dunce Revelation – Part 1

Well slap my ass and call me Bulma, three quarters of a year hasn’t passed that quickly since I discovered Japanese malt whiskey.

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At the beginning of this year, like many of us do, I made a list of resolutions for the coming twelve months. Some were ambitious: write my second novel, redesign the AJC site, get an A on Rhythm and Police. Others less so: lose 10lbs, start collecting old NES games on eBay again (Somehow I’m still missing Mega Man 2…), and move out of Beau’s house. Among those at which I failed most spectacularly was a plan to update this blog at least once a week all year. Yeeeaaahh… that went well for all of a month and a half…

But! I might still be able manage for the rest of the year, so let’s not waste any time, and start catching up a bit on the last nine months!

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Enter My Domain…

So about two months ago Beau (co-founder of AJC and partner-in-crime) came home from Copenhagen for a vacation during the winter holidays. Once he was done visiting with his family and kid, he got to the important stuff: hanging out with yours truly. There was much drinking of bad beer, eating of bad Mexican food, playing of Twisted Metal 2 and Super Mario Brothers 3 and Skyrim (he’s working on a shield bash build – hilarious), and general merriment for all.

And there was also this:

What in the world is this, you ask? Why, this is the lovely Beau deeply entrenched in a fierce game of “Domain: Lords of Ether”, the new card game being developed by A Jolly Corpse!

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Your Very Own For-Real LLC

So over a year ago (… wait, really? o_o…) I wrote a little article explaining the basic differences between Inc. and LLC. I ended the article saying that for a fledgling indie developer like A Jolly Corpse, LLC was the natural choice. They’re super easy and cheap to set up, free from complicated taxes and regulations, and still give the owners much of the protection Incs do. So if you’re also starting a little studio, it may be for you, too!

But it’s so scary!

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