Category Archives: Portfolio

Father’s Day: Blood vs. Electricity

Father’s Day is often characterized by imagery of backyard barbecues, early morning fishing, and two little kids hugging their daddy from either side. Candies, golfing equipment, barcaloungers, and ties that will never, ever be worn to work make for popular gifts. Department stores slap the phrase “#1 Dad” on just about anything that can be imagined, guaranteeing that you can remind your father of his status no matter what his interests are.

I, however, did not engage in any of those things Sunday. I bought my father a card, as I do every year, but that was the extent of our activities for the day. My relationship with my father has always been very… iffy. Between his intimidating, military presence and my meek and people-pleasing childhood outlook, we never really had a strong foundation to start out on. He came off as cold, judgemental, and clearly favoring my brother. I couldn’t make him laugh when I tried to entertain him, but boy did he laugh anytime I was embarrassed. Rather than telling me he loved me, the phrase I heard at the end of every conversation was, “Keep your grades up.” As for video games, I never felt so much disapproval as when I dared to bring games to his house, and he and his wife called my decision to study game design “stupid” two days before my first class. As of an argument over a series of lies he’s been telling for the last four years, my father and I rarely speak anymore.

Which is why I chose to spend the holiday with this guy — and learned a few things about myself.

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(Warning: Major spoilers ahead.)

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Lost Hedgehog Tales: Leedzie’s Sneak Peek

Never one to quit while he’s ahead, Ken Penders clashed with Sonic’s comic book fans yet again last weekend. After singularly taking credit for the success of the Sonic the Hedgehog comic book series (going so far as to call himself its “savior“), he then went on to downplay the roles of his fellow writers, invoking the fiery inferno of many Archie fans’ collective rage.

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Coincidentally, Ian Flynn had also tweeted just a couple hours earlier that night — and in such a way that indirectly referenced Penders’ unrelenting ego.

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The screenshot shows Flynn’s current progress on his Lost Hedgehog Tales project, a behind-the-scenes look at the storylines forcibly abandoned in the Sonic the Hedgehog comics due to Penders’ copyright battle. The document’s release is highly anticipated by Archie Sonic fans, both for curiosity and for closure, as several plot points received hurried and unsatisfying resolutions. Others never saw a resolution at all.

As one of the folks eagerly awaiting Lost Hedgehog Tales‘ release, I’ve decided to give you all a preview. No, I don’t have any direct contact with Ian Flynn, but I do have clues as to what was intended to happen in one specific arc of the story. All it took was some attention to detail and a little investigation.

Well, and $45.

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Countdown to the 12th Doctor

The moment of truth is nearly here: After months of waiting, Doctor Who‘s 50th Anniversary Special is finally airing simultaneously around the world. Those of you that read my season 7 finale theories can imagine my anxiousness to find out the truth, and as Whovians worldwide gear up for the big reveal, we also can’t help but revel in our fandom. BBC America, for example, has been airing nothing but Doctor Who episodes, movies, and TV specials nearly non-stop all week, and the internet has exploded with anticipation over the soon-to-arrive 12th Doctor. This blog is no exception, but I’m not talking about Peter Capaldi; I have my sights set on a different shapeshifting doctor.

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Those that read this blog regularly may recall that there’s likely to be a 12th Doctor Eggman on the horizon for the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise as well. According to the preview image released for the upcoming animated series Sonic Boom, the characters are getting redesigned — some more drastically than others. As of this writing, we still have no preview of Eggman, which leaves a lot of speculation in the air. Will he be close to his current design? Will he harken back to a more classic style? Or will they invent a new look entirely to go with the new story?

As we anticipate the appearance of Doctor Who’s new face, I thought it might be fun to look back at the many faces of another oft-changing doctor while we wait for his new look as well.

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Portfolio Piece: Baker Cat vs. Hellthy Veggies

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Project Length: 5 Weeks (5/4/13 – 6/1/13)
Team: Loud Cat (4 Members)
My Roles: Concept art, Game Mechanics, Character Development, Artwork (Environment, Weapons, Interface)
End Product: Full Game (Android)

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In late spring 2013, I became a member of Team Loud Cat, which to date has been my most successful team. With little more intent than the decision to make a mobile game, we centered on the idea of a chaotic top-down shooter that broke the mold of fighter jets and roaming tanks. After quickly agreeing that junk food vs. veggies could have mass appeal, we settled on a cat as the protagonist, at least partly to honor our team name. Zach Allen, our programmer, nicknamed the project Baker Cat vs. The Veggies.

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Baker Cat vs. Hellthy Veggies is the most adorable bullet hell gamers have ever seen. Players take on the role of the Baker Cat, who’s had enough of this ridiculous health food craze and is determined to bring delicious baked goods back into the public spotlight! Employing the use of donuts, cookies, cupcakes, and frosting, Baker Cat progresses through either a farmer’s market or an organic farm to eliminate the veggies — and it’s just as well, because it seems like the vegetables are getting a little out of control…

Both adults and children enjoy this exciting cute-’em-up, which offers a refreshing mix of challenging gameplay, catchy music, and fun characters and environments. Baker Cat is available free for Android via the Google Play Store.

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The Psychosis of Braid

When Jonathan Blow’s masterpiece Braid debuted in 2008, the gaming community had a lot to say about it. Many were impressed with the game’s clever mechanics, while others found themselves intrigued by the perplexing story elements. Others were taken by the surreal, painting-like art style. And then there were folks that didn’t like it at all, finding it to be pretentious or difficult or simply uninteresting. Whatever the feedback, there were hardly any blogs, communities, and classrooms that weren’t mentioning Braid in some way or another.

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One of the particularly striking elements of the game is its use of symbolism. The game manages to simultaneously present a very exact yet ambiguous message, largely through the many texts available to the player before each level, and secondarily through subverted visual storytelling. However, I’m not here to wax philosophical on the prose, which has already been scrutinized to pieces by the internet. I’d rather examine something else in the game — something so miniscule that I never noticed it for five years, but so profound that it sent me on a hunt for other pieces of the puzzle.

(Spoiler warning for those that have not played or completed the game.)

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Nintendo-Refurbished 3DS Price Drop: $110

Since the release of Pokémon X/Y last Saturday, there have been two major events in the world of handheld gaming. One of them is that a large portion of gamers have dropped off the face of the earth as they fall into the latest monster-training rabbit hole, and the other is that we’ve all been deafened by the collective anguished shrieks of Pokémon fans that lack a 3DS.

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You can’t catch ’em all unless you catch a 3DS first.

Well, banshees, scream no more! For a limited time, Nintendo has lowered the price on their refurbished 3DS stock to a mere $109.99, so long as you want blue or purple. If midnight blue is more your taste, you can get a DSi XL for even less. These are used 3DSes that have been personally inspected, tested, repaired (if necessary), and warrantied by Nintendo themselves. The consoles may have a few nicks and bumps here and there, but Nintendo guarantees they’ll work. It’s just like getting one new, except it’s not new at all. But it’s a lot cheaper. Just think of it as replacing the new car smell with the scent of fresh cash.

As noted, these are temporary price reductions, and there’s no indication on the website just how temporary it’ll be. If you need a cheap way to get your hands on Pokémon X/Y, now may be your chance!

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The 3DS and Pokémon are © Nintendo. If you don’t believe me, the fans have probably erected a monument in their honor by now, so you could go there and see for yourself.

5 Games That Would Make Great Shark Movie Tie-Ins

Well everyone, it’s time to talk about Syfy original movies. Love ’em or hate ’em, one thing we can all agree on is that they’re prolific as hell and we all know at least one person that likes them. If you’re reading this article, that one person is me. Yes, I admit it, I’m a big fan of Syfy’s unrelenting deluge of absurd melodrama, provided I have a friend to watch with (those movies are boring as shit when you watch them alone). I will contest to the grave that Syfy’s shark movies are the best of the worst.

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An actual scene from the movie Sharknado. Just… Just look at that glorious bastard.

However, if you guys have learned anything about me by now, it’s that all roads eventually lead back to video games. As I sat in my living room this summer, watching sharks twirl through the sky and attack beach communities and bite two children in half only to leave their legs running around like beheaded chickens (yes, that happened in one of them), I couldn’t help consider how these antics would fit into some of my favorite video games. Since I apparently have way too much time on my hands, I now proudly present to you five game-movie alliances that are at least absurd as the movies themselves.

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My Little Pony: Litigation is Bullshit

With the EVO Championship Series making a bang over the weekend, it’s hard not to reflect over fighting games you love — or in my case, games you would’ve liked to love.

Earlier in the year, EVO left the coveted 8th game slot open in favor of a donation drive. Rather than pick the final game themselves, each game was given a page whereby supporters could ‘vote’ for their desired title via charity donations. The money raised went to fund breast cancer research, and the title to pull the most donations would take the final game slot. One of the games on the list quickly pulled ahead of all the others. That game was My Little Pony: Fighting is Magic.

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I… I need this game in my life.

My Little Pony: Fighting is Magic is a fan-made creation of the dev team Mane6. It originally started as a joke image, but MLP fans are known for nothing if not their extraordinary devotion. The game has been in production for the last two years, with occasional screenshots, demo videos, and playable torrents floating around the internet in that time. It’s been noteworthy for its exceptional art and animation, move sets detailed to each character’s personality, and its ingenuity in building a fighting format for quadrupeds — something yet to be experimented with in the world of gaming.

That is, of course, until Mane6 received a cease & desist order from Hasbro just weeks before the initial release.

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Doctor Who Season 7 Finale Theories

Original Post Date: 5/18/13 (well, technically the 19th since it was after midnight)

Attention, Whovians! It’s time to discuss the cliffhanger we were all left with a couple of months ago. I originally posted a rambly word vomit about my ideas immediately following the finale itself, but now that some time has passed, I decided to spruce it up a bit and post it here on my pretty blog.

And for those of you that haven’t completely caught up on Doctor Who yet, consider this your formal warning:

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Nintendoes what Xbox don’t

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We’re all well aware by now of the freak show that Microsoft’s been putting on with the Xbox One. Hell, I’ve even written about it twice in a row myself now. However, as I continue to watch this console Hindenburg itself into oblivion, one detail has been bugging me in the back of my head — and it’s not even Microsoft that’s the culprit this time.

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Games check in, but they don’t check out.

It’s surprisingly uncommon knowledge that Nintendo has serious problems with their digital media policies. As with the Xbox One, many of these rules and regulations shouldn’t have ever gone into practice in the first place, and it’s cost Nintendo’s own customers dearly on several occasions. Given the way gamers dug in their feet on the Xbox One’s proposed game-locking policies, it’s bizarre that Nintendo hasn’t had to face the same sort of heat over their own convoluted mess.

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