Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April Post

I think in my last post I was kind of down on mobile games.  After watching gameplay footage of hundreds of mobile games on youtube, I've started to change my mind on that—not because the games I've seen so far have just been so gosh darn great, though some are, but because I can see a strong sense of what’s missing from them.

I started thinking about when I was around 12 years old and a friend gave me a copy of Ultima 3, my first RGP and how much I really liked the whole ultima series and the effect its story line had on me.  The values of honesty, justice, humility, spirituality, sacrifice, compassion, honor, and valor woven into the lore of the game really had an impact on me.   To this day, I still think of Richard Garriott and what can be done with games.  Much in the same way that Cliff Burton of Metallica inspired me to learn the bass and become a musician when I was a teenager during the 80’s, Richard Garriott inspired me to want to be a game designer… um, 25 years later.

Combine that idea with more recent games like Limbo with a striking art style to it, and I've really had a change of attitude towards mobile games.  Especially if the motivation is in how to move people with art, a compelling story, interesting characters, or an immersive environment.  Of course, the game industry is a business, and at the end of the day, we’re making mobile games to bring in revenue so we can focus on Dawnshine, but there’s no reason why our mobile games can’t also be something we can be proud of.

Let’s see.  There’s a lot else going on.  I have a revised statement of internship for the art department at CSUS.  I’m sure I've mentioned that before.  I got my BA from Sac State, but I've had the hardest time recruiting from there.  At least I’ll set up a program to recruit their artist interns.  I’m hoping this will lead to being able to set up something similar with the Computer Science department.  The phone conversation I had with their contact person there didn't go all that well.  In fact, she’s now the only counselor / instructor person that I've ever talked to that didn't actively pursue a relationship with Stigma Games.  Maybe I just caught her on a bad day.  But I’m hoping that if the art internship program goes well that Computer Science and Engineering Department will follow.  I've been having a tough time finding experienced programmers lately.  Though, ironically, most of our programmers that we've since lost have been Sac State students that are really busy with school.  So, yeah.

I was contacted by someone that writes articles for the California Community College Chancellor’s Office.  He interviewed me and a few members of the team over the phone about the relationship Stigma Games has with American River Community College.  I think things went well until he emailed me for a picture.  I have very, very few pictures of myself—none of which are professional other than band photos—one of which was featured in a national magazine.  It’s not likely a picture of me in a midair jump while playing bass and sporting a blue spiked mohawk would have been what he was looking for.  Speaking of that, I have a mohawk now and it’s growing out and looks really awkward.  Side tracked.  Anyways, I sent him two pictures.  Neither of which were good.  I need to get a professional looking picture done of me wearing business attire, if nothing else but for future reference.

Speaking of ARC, I got invited to a board advisory meeting to give my feedback on the curriculum of certificates and degrees offered in the Art New Media department.  I mention this because it was something I mentioned in one of the very few posts I made—that one day I might actually help shape what local art colleges teach.  I believe I thought the idea was insane at the time, though I was pretty comfortable when it actually happened.  I had some comments, though for the most part, I think Matt Stoehr had things dialed in how they should be and there wasn't much for me to really pick at.  But I still really enjoyed sitting down and being a part of things.  I wish I would have done some research first so I would have had a better idea of what the catalogs said beforehand.  Oh well, something to be ready for next year.

Have I mentioned that I’m a perfectionist?  Usually when someone calls themselves that, it’s a veiled brag.  But it isn’t in my case.  My problem is that I don’t like to do anything unless it’s perfect, and since nothing I ever do is perfect, it means I struggle to finish things and my fear of failing means I rarely try new things.  Failure is such a vital part of progress.  This whole process has pushed me to fail at things and work outside my comfort zone.  In fact, I would say that failure isn’t something to be feared, but something to strive for, learn from, and move past.  It’s taken me years to learn that lesson, though I still have a ways to go.

At the last art meeting, the team made a push to get me to print out the Dawnshine novel I've been working on.  I haven’t worked on it in almost three years and it’s currently a half-finished rough draft.  Amazingly, I don’t hate it.  And I usually dislike every bit of writing I do, even the writing some company has paid me for.  So I started looking through it.  It hasn't been revised yet, though I will revise some of it before I print out the half of it that’s done.  Going through it, and with so much time since I last looked at it, I've noticed a strong lack of visual details.  I was planning on working on details after the rough draft was finished.  But as it stands, I don’t really think it will help the art team visualize things, but I could be wrong.  Maybe it’s helpful for them to read.

There are some things I know I’ll need to change—things that were changed as I laid out the zones.  For example, Elaeria can see Old Kayne as she walks from the Great Kaynish Senate to Droyman Square.  I've since moved Old Kayne, so that will need to be changed.  The Neg Wath and Sherites have become far more important in the world.  I didn't originally see the Neg Wath as a playable faction or important in the world.  Now they’re a huge part of it.  Aside from that, I’m pretty happy with the novel, though I think it’s going to really throw off fantasy readers that are used to reading about events and magic.  All of the fantasy elements, though they’re present, take a far backseat.  The Dawncaster could easily be a contemporary story about a teenage girl surviving in and escaping an abusive home—certainly not anything like what most fantasy readers are used to.  Dawnshine is a really grim, brutal, and depressing place.