Category Archives: Personal

A quick yet personal update

So my post for Kamen Rider Fourze has been significantly delayed, as you might have noticed. And for that, I apologize. If you’re a fan of my work then you might have been excited to read more of it or perhaps just to kill some time. Either way, I promised an update that never came. Now, this is not entirely uncommon with me BUT this time I actually have a good excuse.

You see, almost exactly one month ago, my dad fell gravely ill. I was there when it happened, he woke up in the middle of the night with extreme chest pains and when it didn’t get better and his leg started going numb, the decision was made to call an ambulance. As it turns out, that was the right choice as major blood vessels had ruptured in his chest and he was rushed into surgery. They ended up having to replace quite a lot of veins and similar, plus one heart valve so I’m glad we got him in when we did.

They induced a coma through drugs to keep him stable and give his heart the best situation to heal. Although we were still scared, we were hopeful and pretty much just waiting for him to wake up so we could all go back to our daily, boring routines.

That was not to be, however.

It was discovered that during the surgery he had suffered brain damage due to oxygen deprivation. Shutting off the blood circulation was a necessary step to save his life and normally patients do just fine. Unfortunately, dad was one of those damned exceptions that prove the rule so there we were, told our dad was brain damaged but there was no way of telling how bad it would be. We knew the extent to some degree, what areas were damaged and so on. But it’s a tough thing to be told, that someone you love is hurt badly but you won’t know how badly for a long, long while.

So that was our situation for the longest time. Not knowing.

But they brought him out of his coma two weeks back or so and he started on the road of recovery. And as it turns out, he’s actually pretty okay. Our worst fears definitely didn’t come to pass and he’s even exceeded some of our most positive expectations already. He can see, he can talk and movement is slowly but surely returning to both sides. There are some issues, problems with his memory and he can’t read but that’s minor things, things that either comes back or can be trained back.

So with that weight off my chest, I feel my life returning to something resembling normal. So, with a bit of a push from me, I should have that Fourze post out in just a little while!

Dreaming a Game

So I haven’t really had much to write about lately, hence why there hasn’t been much written. I wanted to keep this blog going as much as I could but I’m also desperately trying to keep it from being filled with nonsense. I won’t report every little detail about my life, if I hurt my foot or that I had to put down my pet. Not what I had for dinner or what a wonderful time I had with my friends the day before.
I don’t know what this blog is supposed to be about, there’s no immediate theme other than me, myself and I. It’s my thoughts, yes, and sometimes they’ll be somewhat unfiltered but in general I’m just throwing what I have at the wall and seeing what sticks. Sometimes I’ll be watching a ton of movies, other times I’ll be playing a lot of games, sometimes I’ll be reading a lot of comics so I’m kind of limited by what I do in my life when it comes to what I can write about.

For instance, I just read a fantastic comic called The Twelve. It was a brilliant work of art that really deserves to be acknowledged more. However, as I just finished it, I still haven’t had the time to collect my thoughts on it other than the fact that it was great. Seriously, go read it, it’s worth it.

But I did figure there was something I could write about. A dream I had that evolved into something much more than that. See, I’m a game designer at heart so I’m always designing games whether I know it or not. I have since the day I knew what games were, back when I thought gluing together pieces of cardboard to resemble a NES cartridge and writing Mega Man on it would allow me to create my version of my favorite game.

And I never really stopped. I got into RPG Maker hot and heavy back when I was a teen, could spend hours in front of the program, just creating. I actually discovered the game on the SNES first then on the Playstation and ultimately on the PC. I’ve always been on the lookout for things that allow me to create my ideas and believe it or not, to this day I still use RPG Maker, now in the form of VX ACE.

I also recently learned how to use Adventure Game Studio and I’ve worked some in the Unreal engine as well as coded my bit in C#. And, of course, I’m always writing design documents for games I want to make.

So I design games consciously. We’ve established that. So let me tell you about a dream I had.


 

It’s late, meaning dark and I remember being home with my family. Our dog was tied just outside the window so we could keep an eye on him. We sat in the kitchen talking when I suddenly looked outside and notice the dog is missing. I walk outside, flashlight in hand, to find him when I suddenly hear someone messing about in our shed. I turn to my sister and say it’s probably our cousin that’s come to mow the lawn for us.

At this point I’d like to take the time and remind you that it’s a dream. Cousins can mow the lawn in the middle of the night if they want to.

She goes back inside and I decide to continue looking. It’s very, very dark and the only thing that’s actually visible is the area outside the kitchen where the lights were on and where ever my flashlight shone. I notice something in the corner of my eye, up on the roof of our house so I point my flashlight directly at it and shout all that I can, the wind drowning out most of my words. It’s barely visible but I can tell that it’s small, no bigger than a child and it’s looking in through the windows when it hears me shouting. I can also tell that even though it’s about the size of a child, it most certainly isn’t human.
It runs and at first I only follow it with my flashlight but as I realize it’s climbing down on the far side of the house, I set after it. When I come closer to the area where we park our cars, the area I estimated the creature would be in, my flashlight falls upon something at the far end. Something similar to the creature I chased but much, much bigger, far bigger than an adult human. It quickly dodges out of the light from my flashlight and disappears into the darkness.

I run. I run as fast I can back to the house and in through the door and start barking orders to my family to lock the doors, board the windows and start praying. And that’s when we start hearing someone or something running across the roof, starting to break in.

End of dream because that’s where I wake up.


 

“But that doesn’t sound like it has a lot to do with game design…” I hear you say. Ah, no, it doesn’t. Psych!

 

Just kidding. You see, upon having woken up I check the time, realizing I have a full half hour of sleep left before the alarm goes off so I quickly go to the bathroom then return to sleep. All while thinking “Man, that was a cool dream. I wonder what it would be like if it was a game…”

And then I was back in the dream but this time as an overlord, a God hovering above it all as I design the situation to make a great opening to a great game. The locale is different, our house is in the middle of the city and the proportions were all kinds of wrong. Our house is decently sized but what I saw in my dream was a mansion in size. So I scale it down, make it something closer to an average house on the country side. Your typical American farmland house, complete with patio and one of those big, metallic windmill things that always whine when they spin.
My cousin is removed from the equation because why in reality would my cousin come mow our lawn in the middle of the night? Especially since we didn’t have much in the way of a lawn anymore, more farmland and dirt roads. Dog still disappears, though… sorry. I should note that the dog in my dream was our old Sprollie I had growing up but as a puppy so it was doubly sad for me because I loved that dog. *sniff* But hey, I suddenly realize that I’m the master of this game still so he could come back later.

Of course it’s still pitch black, this being out in the country then the lack of light makes more sense. There’s also a storm whipping up something fierce, the trees tossing themselves from side to side as if struggling to get free and walk away and the air is slowly becoming soaked with rain, battering what little grass there is into the ground.

And it’s out into this you have to go with nothing but a torch to light the way and the light spilling out from kitchen windows to guide you back. The player is free to go where he wishes within the confines of yard but the game won’t progress until you do certain things like check the shed where the ruckus was coming from (in reality, we don’t even have a shed so go figure) and eventually finding the creature up on the patio roof. You follow him and get to where the cars are parked round the back of the house and that’s where you see that big creature from my dream. Cue rushing back inside the house.

This is unfortunately where a cutscene takes over, tearing the control away from the player… trust me, there won’t be a lot of that in this game. Once inside the house, the game plays out much like in my dream, you bark orders to your family but before you have any time to explain anything, the creatures break into the house on the top floor and it doesn’t take long before they’re on you. Cue madness, fast cuts, death and destruction… only when it’s all over do you regain your consciousness but you can’t move. You’re lying on the ground, your dead father in front of you. Something moves behind the corpse of your father and you see it grabbing a hold of his legs and starting to drag him away… only his upper body stays where it is, his eyes staring right into yours. You remain on the ground, just staring in the same direction while hearing something, multiple things, moving around, breaking things. And then someone grabs you and yanks you around, lifts you and tosses you over their shoulder like so much dead weight. You pass out again.

Up until then it’s just been a reconstruction of my dream in game form with minor changes for mood, atmosphere and playability. And up until now you’d be excused if you thought I was going down a pretty standard horror game route with this but see, I’m clever. Subconsciously I knew that was what you were expecting so instead I designed a sandbox horror survival game… yeah, taste that delicious twist.

The game then continues with you waking up in the middle of a forest in the tattered remains of your clothes. The game takes you through a short tutorial on how to survive, finding new and better clothes to keep you warm from the cold, finding or creating weapons to defeat the creatures still after you and how to fight back. The tutorial will point you in the direction of an abandoned cottage where you find an old, torn coat and a weapon you can craft (knife on a stick to make a spear, for instance) whereupon you’re attacked by a creature. Then the game lets you go.

As in “Piss off, I got better things to do than hold your hand.” After that the player is tasked with not only surviving but figuring out what happened to him and if any of his family is still alived, what the creatures are and how to find a way out of there. During his travels the player will come across roads so civilization can’t be too far off but he’ll always find his progress blocked. Eventually he’ll come across his home which lies in ruins and the surrounding area looking like it’s been left unattended for years. Is he in a post apocalyptic world? Is it all a dream? Is he in limbo? The player never needs to find everything either, there’s a definite point everything leads up to but not all roads must be traveled to get there. And who is to say the previously mentioned creatures are the only thing you come across in your journey?

On a practical level the game would be played from a third person perspective but the dream didn’t divulge which platforms it would be available for.

My thoughts about JewWario

Justin Carmical. JewWario. My number one go-to guy for inspiration and faith in the human race is gone. Killed himself four days ago. Depression. Shot himself.

A part of me really hates him for that. The cliches are heavy in my mind: it’s not worth it, things get better, it’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem, think of all the ones who love and care for you.

But I know they don’t work.

I know this because I’ve been there. I’ve seen the world through the darkest eye and nearly didn’t come up for air. People who don’t know cannot understand just what hellish world you live in when you’re depressed. When you stand on that darkest edge overlooking the blackest pit and you think “That’s where I belong. Down there. Not up here. I’m not worth it.”

When I was a teenager, I think around when I was 17, I was miserable. I didn’t feel like I fit in and I was paranoid to the point of delusions. I couldn’t do anything right, the harder I tried the harder I failed. And then everyone would laugh at me. At me, no-one else but me. Every time I heard someone laugh I immediately thought they were laughing at me. When I couldn’t quite hear what my family was saying to each other, they were talking about what a huge failure I was. I was ugly and unloved and would be for the rest of my life.

So why drag it out?

And that was almost it. No more me. I turned back at the last minute but most people have no idea how close I came to ending it. I was literally standing on the balcony railing when I turned back. I’m glad I did now but back then I hated myself for being a coward.

So JewWario’s passing hits just a little too close to home for me. And I’m going to play the “You don’t get it.” if you criticize him. Because you really, really don’t. To some of us, life is an eternal battle, a burden we carry that sometimes weighs just a little too heavily.

It’s been sort of heart warming to see so many who suffered like Justin did, myself included, rally together and talk about the dangers of clinical depression. Because I really think we need to. A quick check online confirms what I almost already knew: suicide rates are going up. Especially now during the economic downturn.

I know no-one is going to read this but I had to write it anyhow. Clear my mind and think a little. I know what I must do now. I have a new goal. For a long time, one of my biggest goals in life was to one day able to meet Justin Carmical himself in the flesh. That’s how much he meant to me. But I guess we’ll just have to wait with that meeting a while. So until then the only thing I can do in his honor is to not give up.

In my last blog post I said I might not have time or the energy to do more videos. Well… you know what? I will. It’s not just for myself any longer. I know it’s not much in the grand scheme of things but to me it’s incredibly important. I need to keep my memory of him alive. He once inspired me to do videos and now he’s done it again. Creature Feature Theater and A Fistful of Tokens is back but now with a new dedication.

When I do finally meet up with him, no matter where he is, I hope I’ve done him proud.

Good bye, Justin “JewWario” Carmical. You were a beautiful man so go to rest and find peace and we’ll have a big blowout party with all your fans when we next meet. But I hope you understand that that won’t be for a very, very long time yet.

Hey, how do you use this thing? What’s that ove- oh shit!

Hello!

So I suppose I should start using this thing that I parked about a year ago. One of those spur of the moment things when I was forced to create a blog for my school. And I thought “Hey, isn’t there something else I was supposed to do!” But then I couldn’t figure out what that was so I decided to return to this thing here, instead.

So what’s up? Why haven’t I been keeping my end of the bargain when it comes to my videos? Well, there’s a few reasons and I’m not going to bullshit. Part of me lost interest. Not because of you guys, don’t ever think that. I just entered a phase in my life where I the energy I would have to put into the videos was greater than the enjoyment I would have gotten out of it. See, I’m unemployed and living with my dad in what more or less amounts to his storage room, sleeping on a mattress on the floor because my bed can’t actually fit. Just to give you an idea of how little space I have to work with.
Add to that the fact that I do not have an actual desk to sit at, meaning I sit on the floor when using my laptop, and having to store my clothes on top of boxes just so I don’t have them on the floor and you can sort of see that I simply do not have the amount of space that I would need to make videos on a regular basis.
Furthermore, I only have enough money to make my life go around.

But all of that will change eventually and I could get back to making videos. Will I? See, there’s the issue.

I studied game design for three years and it’s very much the thing that I want to do in the future. To that end I’m currently trying to start up my own studio so I can make what I want to do. Selfish, I know, but it’s kind of my dream.We’re already designing and prototyping and concepting a game that we want to make and with any luck you won’t have to wait much longer for the first taste.
I’m currently in the process of learning the ins and outs of the engine of our choice (Adventure Game Studio) so you’ll at least get a shitty adventure game with graphics from paint… so, yeah, look forward to that!

I’m sure I’ll come up with more stuff to write soon but for now, just know… that I’m not thinking about you. And stay tuned for more news about… well, anything, really.