Crow character. Will be adding wings and some feather textures.

Early Nathan Langdon

What I've been up to...

-in case you wondered.

This entire month I have been carefully devoting myself to mastering Zbrush and 3DS Max, in order to quicken my workflow and err, well for nothing more than shits&giggles really?
I've also been exploring some creative rotoscoping techniques using biped with mocap applied prints and layering over them with hand-drawings. I busted my nuts on Rebuild 2 so instead of going straight back to working on another mega-project like that one, I thought I'd do some training instead.

Programming languages are pretty easy for to me to pick up but some of these high-end 3d modelling/animation tools (Maya, Max, SoftImage) phew!!! They are simply out-of-this-world complex to get to grips with, and it was only finally this year I decided I to buckle down and actually learn them properly instead of using the mish-mash of techniques I basically taught myself over the years. I thought I could spare a month or so to truly accelerate my knowledge of their use and so that's what I've been up to. I've been through tons and tons of video tutorials, books, conversations with artists in forums, etc, you name it. Literally going through the A-Z of tutorials out there and patiently learning about everything the software has to offer. The result after a lot of head-scratching is that I'm definitely getting better! Funny to think 2 months ago I had never touched Zbrush and now I feel like an old hand at it.

I figure the better I get at this shit now, the better 'The Insanity 3' and all my future games are going to look. One added bonus is that you can always upload any unused objects to sites like TurboSquid for a bit of pocket change; so who knows, maybe it'll result as another notch on my bow when it comes to passive income. Yep, if you're going to pick a hobby, design online games or art assets. It's win/win, baby.

FYI, the essence of the model to game engine pipeline goes like this:

Paper Sketch.
Sculpt High-Polygon model in Zbrush
Retopologise (Polygon reduction and structural simplification) - get it under 5000 max 10,000 polys
Add finer details to high-poly model.
UV map
Bake Normals
Make textures with combination PolyPaint ZAppLink linked Photoshop
Export it all to 3dsMax, add Specular/Light maps. Biped or Bones for complicated characters that don't resemble humanoids. Add mocap info.

Of course, you don't need 3d objects in Flash but I'm using a lot of prerendered stuff in my own games in order to get perfect animation and a 2.5d look. And besides studying this stuff is fun.

I think all this sudden passion stems from playing Dark Souls. Perhaps the tremendous art in the game kind of struck a spark in me. Games are something that I'd like to come back to in the future and feel a sense of pride and achievement over, and since I do have a day job it's really not about the money for me at all. If it was I'd be churning out Tower Defence rip-offs, not spending the next 3-6 months working on a game that I know isn't going to make me squat.
So what I'm saying is Insanity 3 may or may not turn out to be a great game, but visually it will be something worth experiencing.

And at the end of the day my games are essentially my portfolio. If nothing else it's nice to whip out the Iphone at parties and show people what I do outside of teaching English. "Hey baby, I bet you like guys with good polygons". Err...well that might work with some ComicCon poon, heh.

Aaaanyway, the good news for you peeps who keep nagging me about when Insanity 3 will be out is that I'm gearing up to get started on it like, right now. I do have another fighting game project in the mix, as I've mentioned before- but likely I'll be working on some elements of Insanity 3 starting sometime this week, speaking of which that image of Beardy up the top there is an early model of an official Insanity 3 character, Guymon Wolfden- one of the earlier characters you'll come across in the game. And the guy below him is a rough for, well guess who..

Speaking of Rebuild 2- check out the new gallery I've added to the blog here. You can even comment on the pics so please, tell me how much my art sucks, lol.

Ohhhhh yeah!!! The time has come. Six months of salivating over screenshots leading up to this.

Wow, what a game. Once in a while I feel drawn against my will to pop open the laptop and review really impressive games that I've played. Well I'm probably half-way through this one as we speak, and I can say in no uncertain terms that Dark Souls is absolutely one of the *best* games I've ever played, on so many levels. Screw working on my own game- which is what I should've been doing this weekend. I think I must've clocked in about 7 hours on DS yesterday.

As a single-player game, I felt that DS is superior to Demon's Souls- it's 'spiritual' predecessor. You can feel why they didn't just call it a sequel, item name-swapping aside, it has a much more open universe feel; though they have some parallels you can sense they're different games. Mostly because even though you can feel it's more linear than say FallOut 3, the game is much more in the tradition of exploration than the previous one.
The difficulty level is borderline impossible in most cases and frankly, I love it. Bring on the challenge, bitches. You'll probably die within 20 minutes of leaving the FireLit Shrine and it doesn't get easier from there, so get used to it. You'll progress through this game at crawling speed, literally pooping yourself at every step because it's 'that' easy to get killed. It's like From took the first gamble with Demon's Souls, concluded that *YES* there are people who do not want to be babysat through games anymore and they just went 'F*ck it, let's give it to 'em with both barrels.'
This is the type of game that old school Neanderthal hunter gamers that worship a challenge have been praying for, a roaring BEAST that only belongs in the palms of the hardcore gamer to conquer, and that will send others running home crying for mumma. Yes, I'll bet there's a ton of casual gamers bithing about it's difficulty all over the web. Well screw you noobs! That's what I have to say. Get back to your comfy Ninja Gay-Den and leave the real games for the real men.
The game is a creative masterpiece. Seriously, bravo to the master artist/s who came up with all the character concepts and conducted the fantasy art visuals on this game; they deserve an award. The menu and item designs are ornate, finely detailed and gorgeous. Boss enemies look epic and mythical and they're also highly original in design, going way beyond just being great to look at, some real brainstorming has gone into how these. Then there's the weapons and armour, some of them are the same old but others are just bizarre and leave you clueless yet intrigued. All in all it captures a kind of creative originality you don't see in many games these days, someone has some good chops. A 3 Headed Pinwheel monster, a Skeleton BlackSmith? It's like, wtf man, but at the same time it's brilliant.
Just take a look at the breathtaking art that went into this game here. The graphics have some serious legs.

I didn't expect any less since Demon's Souls was also something to look at, but they've amped it up here to another level.

I love the game because it's almost as if From Software have taken the entire library of Fighting Fantasy books and turned it into a game. I was really impressed with one part called The Catacoombs, the lighting (or rather lack of it) is fantastic, I genuinely had to stop for a minute just to suck up the glory of some of the views (Gargoyle boss area) anyone. Mountain hiking is one of my hobbies and playing DS stimulated my feelings in the same way as when you reach a peak after a hard ascent. The serenity of ethereal quality of certain views enhances the game for me threefold. No storyline, total mystery, everything is intangible and left to the player to figure out. What a great universe; it's so D&D done right. I'm even impressed by the language, I think they must've hired some Oxford poetry prof. it uses rich language that is cohesive with the style of the game. I can't help but wonder how a Japanese team could manage to capture so beautifully something that is so integrally Western.

Gameplay is addictive as hell. Nearly all the enemies require a kind of strategy to beat, and you can never expect to win if you rush around aimlessly attacking; without prior contemplation you're a dead man. Either way the enemies are never too mechanical, they'll still do weird actions sometimes that'll make you scratch your head (after you die).
I mean, the fighting is realistic in a sense, that's what's great about it. Perfect-timing is called for with many of the larger enemies, as a single merciless blow can end your life, shield carrying or not.
And those attacks look good. Swords ping when then repel off the well, shields thud, the battles flow nicely. And enemies will follow you anywhere, kick you off ladders, set traps to stop you escaping. The AI guys did a good job. There's some sections of this game that are so hard I had no choice but to try to leg it through, and what a thrill when you get to the other side.
It lets you know that you cannot just stride through the whole game with your favourite weapon, thinking you'll breeze through it. You will have to observe and experiment, explore to find shortcuts, take risky jumps and pray before kissing your ass goodbye.
And there's no pause button if you think about getting a breather.

The sfx and music, I'm not going to say much about but perfect, perfect perfect. I especially liked the opening menu melody (kind of reminds me of Resident Evil 4), and the Moonlight Butterfly boss audio was a treat, so weird and wonderful.

You can tell that From Software are really opening the book on the way we play multiplayer. I've said it in interviews before and I'll say it again now, in the future we'll see some incredibly creative and rich ways to play online together. Not just PvsP fights or Co-Op but other methods of aligning ourselves with certain groups we like and having it affect the way we play the game. Now we have covenants in Dark Souls meaning you can choose what type of multiplayer experience you want to have. Be a good and gracious person who aids and heals, or like me if you just want to be a badass troll and invade as many innocent games as possible, you can do that and actually be rewarded for it. Genius! But then there's the
Blades of the Darkmoon who act as the 'sheriff's' of the game, who enact revenge on aggressive interlopers who keep invading worlds and whose names are compiled on an online list. Genius really.

These guys will win awards for their efforts, mark my words. Best game of 2011 IMO.

Uploaded a compilation of all the endings I designed, yeah buddy buddy--

Rebuild 2 has been officially sponsored. Check out the news at Sarah's blog.
She made a nice little killing financially and I didn't do too bad myself :-)

Now that the game is out I can release some of the art that didn't make the cut into the final version here on the blog. I am currently about to release a Gallery slideshow on this site, which will include most of my art from all my games (+ comments), and I will be uploading the Rebuild 2 stuff to it pretty soon.

But the real news is the game is available online here

So go ahead and play it!

The guys at FETTSPIELEN have done an interview of the dude here. Seems they love the 'Insanity' series over there in Germany and wanted to find out a little more about moi.
It's been translated so here's the original transcript for those interested. Trying to get lost in my own hubris here, lol.

> Please introduce yourself.
My name is Kris Foxton. I'm 33; born and raised on sunny Hastings seafront in the UK, and have been residing in Fukuoka, Japan for the last 7 years.

What made you want to be a game developer?
I have been a game addict my entire life, going right back to when I was a toddler playing Chuckie Egg on the Acorn Electron. Even now I spend an *embarrassingly* long time rinsing up the latest video games and trying to convince myself I'm not a geek. I don't have a Darth Vader suit yet but I do think I'm something of a walking encyclopedia of game knowledge. In school I was always a total dreamer and an artist- kinda the wistful, insular youth battling dragons in my head at the back of the class. I was respectable at creative writing, and I found myself craving to express those internal fantasies in some way; therefore it was my early wish was to be a writer, however I came to a stage where I felt i needed a more visual and faceted medium to express my stories than through words alone. So that+deep and endearing love for games = obvious natural progression. It's a labour of love more than anything but the good news is I occasionally make money doing it. Not the worst hobby in the world, I guess.
> What platforms do you develop games for and why?
Flash. No particular reason other than I seem to jive with it pretty well. It's the most popular and growing and available platform out there; for artists and coders alike, with a good support community and anything produced has wide potential to be seen by millions.
> What are your experiences in porting games between two platforms?
Pretty much zero to none! Anyone looking to make a quick buck and some royalties? :-) I am in conversation with some teams about doing iOS ports of my games later on next year but nothing green-lit as of right now.
> How do you get inspiration for a game?
Inspiration is an elusive thing, and it can surface anywhere. I can say the vast majority of my ideas emerge while playing other bigger games on consoles and such; not just the play mechanics but also ideas for the vibe I'm looking to recreate. Example; Fallout 3. It gets me thinking about the fun of exploring the unknown. Another one; Just the other week I was diving in Okinawa and I came face-to-face with a shark, it was a scary moment that got me thinking about doing a game which involved some kind of shark theme, Man vs Giant Shark...Man diving into dark treacherous ocean to hunt the world's biggest know, that's how it goes I guess. First an epic story is formed and then it's down to the brass tacks; how to flesh it out to become a 'game' and not just a tale. One thing for sure, I'm all always looking to give a game a certain flavour and for me a game has to be 50% playability and 50% mood/atmosphere. Anyway, I have literally zillions of ideas that never become anything other than thoughts in my head .
Oh and back to the topic, lastly, it's nostalgia. I wan't to rejuvenate my youth through games in a way.So I make a game that reminds me of the old days, UltraSports Archery is clearly dedicated to HyperSports. Trivia Casino kind of reminds me of the old slot machines in pubs. Some of them may be crappy games but to me they have an inside meaning and there's not a single game I've made that I hate.

> How long does it take for you to write a game from start to finish?
Anything from 2-6 months depending on the grandeur of the title. The Flying Chicken only took me 4 hrs though.Working as an artist on Rebuild 2 took me 3 months. A lot of it is not so much development time, but training in the latest software. At the moment I'm studying Zbrush (and loving it!).
> What are the biggest technical challenges when you develop a game?
Keeping the filesize down to a reasonable level. Tracking down obscure bugs that manifest out of nowhere. Getting the aesthetics down.
> What do you think the future of gaming will look like?
CG characters right up there on the 'uncanny valley', full-body motion& holographic touch controls, advances in social interactivity between players, mind-blowing AI, an evolution in scale and the way people play online multiplayer (not only deathmatch team vs team), games that stimulate more ranges of emotion. Also I think good game designers will be the next new-age celebrities. And you can quote me on that.

> What is your favourite game at the moment and why?
It's not my favorite game of all time but right now I'm playing Monster Hunter 3rd on the PS3. It's has a superb, relaxing co-op mode without any competitive stress, and is a nice challenge that can burn away a few hours easily. Favorite game of the last 5yrs would be a toss up between Metal Gear 4 and Demons Souls. I have a hunch the sequel 'Dark Souls' will be even better.
> What is your advice for new developers?
Well I don't think I'm in the right kind of success stratosphere to answer this question as well as others can but here goes-
Don't give up the day job. It's only the top 5% of developers who're making serious $$$ so it's unlikely you'll get rich. Let passion be your fuel. Have a strong proof of concept when you start a game, prototype it and get feedback from friends and your internet peers before you commit it to full project status. Don't be afraid to trash a game if it's not working out as planned; time is valuable so move on quick. Try to find good online mentors.

Ahhh, sheee-it :-(
The game of the decade is out here in Japan, but I can't buy it yet.
Unfortunately, I can confirm that the game (just as in Demon's Souls) has English dialogue but no English text feature. Therefore, although I can rub it in the palm of my hands and sniff the DVD box, I won't be buying the game here but alas, importing it from the USA.
I don't really have a choice. Since the game uses entirely Japanese text sets I'm stuck with waiting along with all the other poor mugs, for October 4th. And then I have to order it so it'll actually be more like mid-October when I get my dirty mitts on a version I can fully comprehend.
Talk about a drag; being able to speak conversational Japanese fine but not being able to read it without an electronic dictionary, I'm stuck in a rut here waiting along with everyone else for the English version.
I can wing it for games such as Monster Hunter, getting by on understanding bits & pieces, but no. DS is a game that must be absorbed, digested and therefore fully comprehended.

Thankyou for torturing me God.

Those folks over at Spieletest have given a glowing review of the second part of the Insanity series.

Again it's in German, but nothing that Google Translate can't handle!
--I've had a better idea.
I started drawing out a proof of concept for my own 1 vs 1 battle game prototype.
Super Punch Out with blades, basically. Remember I talked about it before on here? Yet after accidentally discovering Infinity Blade was a ridiculously similar game, I had decided to drop it?
Well, not quite. I guess you could say I'm going to give it a shot after all. Now, I have not, and will not play Infinity Blade until I'm done with this project in order to differentiate my game from that one as much as possible. I've seen IB on the Tube but have no idea about it's mechanisms or how it's structured and I will avoid it strictly in the hope that the final result of my game will be a million miles away. So think Goblins&Barbarians, not Knights. (Not a bad name that actually, hmmm, Goblins & Barbarians? Catchy, no?)

I'll be the first to admit that I'm very guilty of beginning games without having much of an accelerated concept behind them, but in this case I've actually spent a lot of time germinating this one in my head and in fact there has already been constructed a rough prototype in AS3 using placeholder graphics. It's a very simple yet fun game already in it's seeding stage, and since I'm getting the old feeling in my balls that this one might be a winner I've put the insects and Martians one on the backburner for the time being.

I'm trying to work with my strengths. I'm a passable coder but being modest I couldn't in my wildest dreams code a 3d engine from scratch. I've come to the conclusion recently that I'm probably a more novel artist than programmer, and henceforth I should not waste time scratching my head coding physics engines and instead rely on myself to focus on more artistic natured games.

So no screenie for now but as for this game imagine this: Bold, chunky, eye-grabbing graphics that will look enticing in screenshots and alone will pull in a few players. Mouse action for movement or (with click drag) weapon hack&slash, double-click for a dodge roll. I'm definitely going to be less clandestine about the development of *this* game as I was with Rebuild 2, so expect a zillion demo's to be making an appearance for your kind perusal here in short time.

A kind of 3rd person Barbarian fighting game. And yes, there will be decapitating heads, you can bet on that.
Seems like Rebuild 2 is fully done and dusted, it's up for bidding over at Flash Game License as we speak, creating quite the buzz with sponsors, who are throwing out some pretty substancial bid numbers at it. ETA for the game going 'live' as they say, is probably somewhere around the end of September and of course, if you're an FGL developer/previewer etc you can get an early glimpse of it and even *nudge nudge wink wink* write a nice review and post it there.

Some of the design I worked on is there in the form of the customised characters, but the bulk of it was for the animated endings, all of which were mammoth tasks, hand-drawn, scanned, modelled in Zbrush/3DS whew, you name it, and later coloured in Photoshop. Oh and btw for the art fans; I'm planning some time later this month to add an illustration gallery to the blog, so keep an eye out for that.

What's next? Right well, I figure I'm up for making a quick little game as a run up to Insanity 3. The theme is- get ready for this- Giant Alien Hornets Invading Martian Cities.
All came a dream I had the other day. I was being attacked by persistent green wasps that I couldn't fight off. I woke up thinking, wow, now there's the next game! Also, I can't remember clearly but I once saw an amazing picture - I think it was an Ian Miller - which featured giant wasps attacking terrified people shielded below a glass dome, rapidly cracking under their attack. A very inspirational sketch. I've also been reading The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury which lead me to think why have Humans vs Insects when you can have Martians vs Insects and invent a bunch of cool, futuristic weapons and leave the door wide open for creativity?
More on that next post. Thanks!

Personal Stuff-

With the recent release of Monster Hunter Portable 3rd HD (MHP3rd) over here in Japan coinciding nicely with the Rebuild 2 wrapping up I've been plugging away at it online like a good little game addict should. It's done wonders for my kanji reading and item-related vocabulary, though I'm not quite sure how 'Ancient Bone' could fit into a regular conversation over here. I will certainly enjoy playing MHP3rd until I've gotten all the best weapons, but as online experiences I have to say I feel Metal Gear Solid 4 still pips it, and I just KNOW Dark Souls is going to kick the game into the ground like a frail pup.

Anyway, S50 is where I usually am- it seems like the common room for foreigner players, so if you see EVIL_KRIS_YD room in there, don't be scared to jump in if you see me there.

What else? I recently saw a nice flick called The Human Centipede. I won't bother with the plot (watch the Tube vid). The storyline is somewhat similar to the one in my Insanity games, meaning yes- I thoroughly enjoyed this incredibly twisted, morbid and entertaining movie. I particularly liked the casting of the Dieter Laser, who played the most impressive piercing-eyed loony I've seen since Klaus Kinski in CrawlSpace.
Only a matter of time before they make a story about a psycho stitching animals and humans together and posting vids onto YouTube right? *sigh*
Till next time!
-in German, but still.. (thankyou Google translate)

Thanks for the great review guys!

And in case I forgot to link to this one earlier:

Few screenies:-

The game is currently on the market as we speak- just waiting for the sponsors to open their purse strings and the game will be out for the fans to enjoy, hopefully before the end of September. I still have to finish one ending screen animation and then I can totally walk away from this project.
Then it's back to, hmmm, who knows?
I had a craaaazy thing happen to me the other day. I'd been planning this game in my head for months, a kind of Super Punch Out game that would work on both the smartphones but also in Flash. I can cite this game Rose&Camelia
as the main influence. I thought I could work that idea, maybe add a bit more functionality, some levelling-up, swap out the graphics for something like orcs and goblins, add a very cool knight in uber-stylish cobalt armour as the hero. Maybe throw in some magic potions and whatnot.
Then Sarah Northway points out this game to me. Infinity Blade to me (I'd never heard of it).

Well you imagine it freaked me out. There was basically the game I'd been scheming up for ages, basically sitting there in front of me. I've had some weird synchronistic events happen to me in the past but nothing like this. That's almost too freaky for words.
Anyway, that's one idea down the toilet. Scrapped. I think they did a better job than I ever could've anyway, *chuckles*.

Other stuff

Me and the Northways have been toying with the idea of expanding the Rebuild universe. I'm thinking I might even license the game from them and build a Rebuild FPS based on 'The Damned' engine. What do you reckon? I can't think of one game out there in Flash that has licensed it's name out to other developers and built other genres of games around the same principle concept. Kind of only semi-serious about it now, but well, if it peaks enough people's curiousity then why not?


Well, I finally managed to drag myself away like the screaming crack-whore from Metal Gear Online. 3 years I've been playing that game, and it's still incredibly popular on the Japanese servers. Best record: Lvl 16 as a Shielder/Runner build. Shield is the most fun for me as it's kind of trolling in a way, it throws everyone off their game when they see a Shielder coming round the corner. Still, it's not as bad as HandGun 3 and using the Stun Gun+Shield, and then running off to leave them hammering the controller to wake up before they get shot. Haven't had as much fun as that since trolling in Demon's Soul with the Scraping Spear/Baby's Nail as an invisible Assassin Build. They don't call me EvilKris for nothing. Anyway, I am very very excited about Dark Souls, the sequel to DS, which is coming out next month. I'm not even going to play the main game, just find whatever way I can to mess up other people's games and lol myself into oblivion when the hate mail comes pouring in.

So the reason I'm off the MGO is I bought myself some new crack in the form of Monster Hunter 3rd Portable Edition for the PS3 the other day. By God, that's one addictive game. It's all in Japanese and although speaking-wise I'm fairly fluent I still can't read the Chinese characters proficiently enough to really get what all the potions do, so it's mainly total trial and error at this point. Ultimately I had to set my PS3 to run on a wired connection to get this stupid AdHoc network thing up and running, and I still can't figure out how the hell to play online with anybody. Loving the single player so far though.

Till next time, adios!

(Bottom pic is my personal fav so far)

Looks like Rebuild 2 (the main game) is slowly getting closer to the finish line.
In terms of artwork I've finished the character profiles, the Zombie Attack scenes, the battle result vignettes and I'm currently working on the ending sequences. And I don't mind telling you they're giving me a few headaches, too . Not only are they a total bitch to conceptualize, but I'm more than a little worried about the disk space they're consuming. It's one thing to have a great idea for an animated ending scene running through your imagination, and another thing to pull it off in CS5. I'm still having fun though.

Has anyone else used ZBrush? Yes, once again I'm the consumate late starter with these things but I'm totally hooked like a crack whore on it these days. Ease of use, intuitive volumetric modelling techniques that make creating a model akin to sculpting, and easiest texturing methods I've seen. Yes sir, this is the best tool I've ever seen for 3d computer artists hands down- I rigged up a zombie head about 20 minutes into using it for the first time ever, that's how quick you can get into it. I see exhaustless potential with this baby and you can bet that Insanity 3 will feature a lot of ZBrush'd vivisects.

Last bit of news is that as one might expect with any dramatic change there's a few fans of the first game complaining about the art. Apparently they feel that the visuals of the 2nd one are looking to be a little too dark and morbid, a vicious and unforgiving leap from the first game - which was almost cutesy in it's graphical style.
I say Rebuild 2, with it's new look, is going to be something astounding and unlike anything seen before in terms of the quality of the gameplay, and the radical direction that the artwork is taking it into is only going to serve to advance the popularity of the series further.

Lots of badly drawn images glossed up to look 10x better in Photoshop. The technique behind all this isn't exactly magic. I've used some Japanese comic books I have to appropriate the correct anatomical structure of the organics in each image (angles etc), also good shading, then I used the same blending transparency techniques used in 'The Insanity' games to get an even more realistic look to the texture and detail. I fill in the smaller bits myself; faces, cloth patterns, backgrounds. Ends up looking like I'm some wonderful artist but in reality I couldn't draw this half as well without having some ref comic strips to copy from lying in front of me at all times. Maybe it's the same with all artists, who knows? Not much different than people drawing themselves from the mirror I suppose. I estimate that at this stage we're probably about halfway done with Rebuild 2. I have to do some of the Zombie Attack animations, the ending scene art, and then who knows maybe the layout of the GUI or the main map. I've previewed the second version in it's alpha state and it's looking like a fine game- most of the complaints about the first game have been seen to, and hopefully with my art in it nobody'll be bitching about that either, unless comic gore isn't their thing?
If so one could argue why they'd want to play a zombie game in the first place anyway.

That was a loooong wait. I think you suckers around the world got your PSN back about 10 days earlier that us folks living over here in the Land of the Rising Sun. I was suffering Metal Gear withdrawal symptoms so bad I had to go play Metal Gear Arcade instead down the local game center. I've come to realise the game sucks quite bad, the head&gun control system- which seemed kind of cool at first- are actually quite naff ways to move your character around and you don't get anywhere near the mobility you get in the PS3 version. Had enough of that one.

Few more screenies for the up&coming Rebuild 2.

I've been keeping this schtum for a while but the latest game I've been working on is actually 'Rebuild 2'.
If you haven't heard of Rebuild, it's a brilliant Zombie strategic survival game by Northway games. It's been played by squillions of people and is still in the top 40 on Newgrounds.
They started working on the second one recently and were looking for an artist. Frankly I loved the first game a lot, and after playing it (for a long, long time) I actually had already envisualised what it would look like with my art stamped all over it, so this was a dream job for me.
Despite the gameplay being top notch, the first game's graphics were a little too simple and it seemed like they wanted to take the game to a darker place visually this time. That's where I've stepped in.

Have to say Sarah Northway has been great to work with. She's definitely a smart cookie and knows exactly how to manage this thing well as well as being constantly supportive and generous with the compliments. Made this first collaboration for me relaxing and stress-free.

Many fans of the first game showed concern that the second game would be a little too heavy if it featured the same variety of gore as I've used in the Insanity games. With that in mind we decided to go with a more cartoon-esque look.

We've both been getting various influences, her from The Walking Dead books, I myself have been heavily influenced by the work of Beksinski recently, so expect to see a bit of his stuff in the work I do.

Only the final end of game images will feature anything as nasty as what you can see in The Insanity games.

One bonus is the new customized character screen that features photorealistic art for each 'survivor'. We've scanned in all our faces for the game so you'll actually be able to see our ugly mugs as a 'leader' or 'scavenger' etc . I think I look pretty cool with a shotgun in one hand, cowboy hat and an old grey moustache.
Anyway, I'm excited and working my buttcheeks off to get the visuals to a level where they truly add another dimension to this already fantastic game.

Well, seems like the latest news is that the latest game of mine- 'CHRONICLE' is a flop *sigh*
A giant turd of a flop. Couldn't get the bastard sponsored even after weeks of trying.
If nothing else I've learned that arcade games- specifically shooters, are not my bag. Both Bounty Hunter and this one went nowhere fast. This one cuts me up a little though, because although it wasn't reinventing the wheel I personally felt it was a pretty good game. That's 6 months of hobby time largely wasted.

Still, the dude here always remains positive, and here's what I've learned;

a) Don't make games just because you think they'll score you a cashcow.

b) Be original

c) Don't waste time working on games you don't like.

d) With Flash, less is more.

e) Mochiad rates still suck compared to CPMStar.

The game didn't sell even despite quite a few sponsors taking a peek at it. Most of the feedback came saying great music but not original enough. Also had a few comments about the graphics being inconsistent and the game difficulty being a little high.
I didn't send out any e-mails to sponsors and perhaps that was the biggest error on my part- not enough self-promotion.
I think I'm guilty on relying too much on Flash Game License to get my game sponsored. But at the end of the day I was just dying to move away from this turkey and couldn't be bothered with all the hassle of tracking down all the big-wigs in the industry, I didn't believe in the game enough to really play the salesman role. I kind of think of the whole scene like FrightNight where Jerry Dandridge (Sponsor) is coming down the stairs in full vampire mode and Roddy McDowell (me) holds out his crucifix(the game), then Jerry starts chuckling sardistically 'You've got to have FAITH for that to work on me, Mr.Vincent'

Yeah. Lack of faith. And I was dinner.

The dangers of spending long amounts of time with a game are:
a) Oftentimes you can't tell if your games sucks or not as you're too washed out on it or just bored of playing it. Even StreetFighter gets dull after playing it all day. Try 80 days.
b) You've a hundred other, better concepts built in your imagination that you're dying to start work on, but you can't because you've got this lame duck you have to wrap up.

I'm thinking of trying some new. Perhaps making very small games, almost like demos that are fun, a quick fix and not too challenging. For example I might split 'The Damned' into 3 highly polished mini games. Sure people will nag about the game length but you don't have the right to complain when you're getting something for free. Certainly would equal less stress for me. Either way, Insanity 3 will probably be my last, and hopefully greatest full game until the day when microtransactions are fully accepted and we can actually get rewarded properly for our work instead of relying on scraps from the sponsors and pay per click routes.

OK, so finally it seems I have 5 minutes to start blogging again. I only like to post when I actually have some news worth reading these days. Not like anyone actually reads this shit anyway.

Latest game CHRONICLE is done and dusted and up for bidding over at Flash Game License as we speak. I've yet to see any amazing offers come in so who knows when you guys will get to play it. If you're into my horror games then it won't likely be down your alley anyway as it's a retro arcade style game like Asteroids (with fab explosions and lasers).
Sneaky peek:

So far the game has had some so-so reviews. Some people said it was kind of tough from the start, but I planned it to be like that. In it's defence it's a *gamers* game- not necessarily intended for the bored suburban housewives and old grandpa's of the USA. All in all I think it's a damn fine game- one I can actually be proud of for a change. I've (once again) used some of Mihai Sorohan's tunes and also David Orr contributed a song this time around. If you could bottle the talent these guys have you'd be a millionaire.

What else? The Flying Chicken, of all games, has been chosen by a team to be converted onto the smartphone scene. Apparently they've already got it running with Box2d on the Iphone right now, yeehee. Should be fun to see how that turns out.

Last but not least, I'm currently working on the sequel to an immensely popular Flash zombie
game. They needed an artist, and as I was already a fan of the first game I jumped at the opportunity. So far I've been working on mostly costume design for character customizations. We're all going to have our faces in the game as characters so you'll have fun dressing me up all sexy boy before sending me out to my certain death. Next I'll be will be working on the nasty intestine-munching zombie image stuff that those of you who are fans of The Insanity will go nuts for. Honestly, this game is gonna rock, I'm getting pumped to see the fans reaction when it's released so I'm working hard on it.

Anyway, I'd love to post some of the stuff I've completed already, and I'll see if I can get permission to disclose some more details next blog time.

Darius Burst-
Sort of space fish themed shooter. Uses two screens. Hmm, not much to say about this one, to be honest I didn't play it more than once.

Lords of Vermillion 2.
An arcade style collectible card game. Looks kind of like a Japanese WOW from the outset. Great graphics and sound. Even though I can speak and read Japanese ok these games are kind of beyond me. They're quite popular machines though. Again, goes with the Japanese trend of keeping people down playing for hours and hours down the game center.

Electronic Darts.
Now we're talking. Me and a buddy must've spent every evening in 2008 playing these little suckers in the darts bar over here. If I was ever asked to choose a Japanese product abroad I felt would make me a million quid exported it would probably be Japanese electronic darts. Why?
These are so much fun, the boards are made of pins that pick up with extreme accuracy where your darts land. Everything is done via the computer- no more writing on a chalkboard and arguing with your mates about your bad sums, these babies take care of all of it for you. You can choose from about a zillion different darts games and their variations, Count Up, Cricket, even some unique ones like MyLand (or was it MyCountry), where the winner is the one who gets the most Japanese prefectures (represented by numbers) converted to his colour.

Personalise your darts in the shop. Customise your flights, use thin shafts or heavy shafts (not a sexual pun), etc. Plus you can always buy a beer and play doubles with a couple of nice chicks you meet there too.
Another cool thing is, like most arcade machines in Japan these days, you can link up to a national network and play against people anywhere else in Japan. So even when you're alone in the bar, you can still play with real people.

Taito Station- One of the bigger game centers where I live. 5 floors. Got every type of game under the sun here; UFO Catcher's (claw crane machines), photo-booth Purikura (obviously more popular with the ladies), Retro Classics coin-ops(Final Fight, Super Mario,
etc), Guitar Hero-type games, RPG card-based games, Gun games, coin challenge games, man, just anything and everything, some of which I'll go more into detail below.

(Free candyfloss on the door at weekends)

This place obviously also has a TON of the latest games and their linked units, some of which you'll never see abroad. Competitions are held here and you can be quite the local hero if you win a Super Street Fighter 4 tournament. Some players are fiercely good though, as you'd expect this being the gaming hub of the world- so don't bank on ever winning unless you spend most of your life practicing online.
The place is totally packed out all the time, nothing like mild UK arcades.

Metal Gear Arcade-

New on the scene Metal Gear Arcade utilises some of the cool 3d technology we've been seeing everywhere these days- you wear the specs while you play, just like at the movies. This really adds to the gameplay. The game is kind of just an amalgamation of MGO elements and even features the same maps. You buy credits with real money, play missions or do vs online or neighbour link-up. The more money you throw in the better and longer levels you can play. You can customise your character just like MGO but you need to register to do it. Not sure if you've actually buy a card (like some games) or you just choose a unique number on the machine, but anyway once you've got your character saved you can level up and get on the national rankings system.
First impression- nothing like other gun games. The gun controller is very sophisticated and has about a dozen different buttons and switches, along with a PS3 thumb-stick that governs movement. Although I do love MGO the arcade version is hard to get to grips with at first, and the amount of controls are simply overwhelming. That being said I've been trying to persevere with this one and I'm starting to see it's brilliance. The coolest thing about the game is clearly the 3D, which in combination with putting it on first-person mode amps the intensity up big time. The screen moves with your head too, a sweet little control method, this game brings you closer to being in a real war than any other FPS I've played.
Negatives-I think Konami are really throwing the challenge out there for casual arcade gamers to invest a lot of time and money in this game and frankly I'm not sure it's going to hit off with anyone except for hardcore MGO guys like myself. The staggering amount of info you have to get through just to get into the game first time takes some perseverance indeed.
That being said sometimes these things take time to warm up, and besides the trend over here for Japanese gamers these days is moving towards arcade games that you're never done with after 5 minutes. I wonder if Konami aren't killing off their audience with the excessively complex cabinet, but either way I'm not quite done with this one yet, I sense that it's going to pick up in popularity once people start giving it a chance.