Whoaaa long time no update~

December's been busy, apparently - and now I have some time to update!

First off, Merry Christmas! Hope the season was good to everyone! The seasons' left us with some new games in our hands, and some access to a new system.

First off, the 360. Oh, how we love this machine. We both sat down when we ahd time in the Christmas bustle to play through Episode Two ( just two sittings, Ryan needed a break after a few attempts at the Magnusson + Strider part :P ) but since he'd beaten it already it was quite fast to get through. A really great game, honestly, and a great continuation to the Half Life series. We enjoyed the new enemies ( when they weren't killing us ), the new uses for items ( Magnusson Device ), and the storyline and characters were just as smooth as ever. While the game went event-travel-event-travel over and over, the events were always engaging and fresh, and the travels were rarely boring, if you were interested in completing achievements.

I also took some time to get through Portal. I've never, ever beat an FPS before ( shame, I know! ) but I've had experience via pansy Gary's Mod playing to know controls and physics and such. I had some trouble on the later levels, but did fine for the most part on my own. Ryan did a part or two because I couldn't quite get everything synchronized. There was a part or two, as well, where I got trapped falling through portals continuously. I think I'll take a moment or two to go back and get the free fall achievement.

As well, the new system I mentioned? Our little brother got a PSP. We will likely do nothing on it, but at least now it's an option and we can toy with it if we'd like.

Well, that's all for the playing front.. now onto the development side.

We've both recently fallen in love with Carcassonne, after playing it on Live Arcade and then Ryan gifting it to me and buying two expansion sets, playing it several times over the course of the holidays. It's a German-style board game - very simple, but can get pretty complicated via player choices. We're goign to try to design a boardgame in January in this style, to get ourselves motivated. Design some simple rules, make tiles and pieces, and then squeeze out problems and such. Maybe make it a few expansions.

We've been lazy, but with Ryan going to be living in our parent's house soon for University, we'll have lots of time to get stuff done!

We're still kicking!

Bet you thought the 360 stole us away for good, huh? Well.. school had my attention, and Ryan has indeed been enjoying the 360 ( he's already beat Halo 3 on... some hard difficulty, I forget the term @_@ ), but we're still as passionate as ever on our game! He recently passed along to me his wife's old SNES, and I've been playing Super Mario RPG with an analytical eye. As well, I've got a few things to say on Zelda and

I've gotten to the point in Phantom Hourglass where I am unmotivated to complete the temple to finish the part I'm at. I am, humiliatingly, frightened at the smallest thing in games and the Phantom Guards can give me chills -especially the red ones! - so where I am faced with a scenario based on timing things right at the cost of getting the dreaded "YOU'RE MINE NOW!!!" message, I opt to hide instead. Now, this is where I am intrigued. I still love the game and want to play it, right? Phantom Hourglass allows you to roam at will - so while I can play to further the plot, I can also opt to do side things like search for treasure and fight Jolene. This serves to excite the player. I caught it, randomly, and now I play the game with a touch more admiration. It's a little design trick, but it really creates the difference between going cold turkey on a game, and taking a break on a hard part to achieve other things. Had this ability to roam not been implemented, I would have simply stopped playing altogether. This allows me to keep interest but consistently reminds me that if I do this, I get more of this fun stuff.

While on YouTube earlier, doing my usual bout of gamewatching, I caught the ending of Oracle of Seaons ( oh yes, I do love Zelda a bit much, thanks! ) and while watching the credits, I was struck by the art style. Wind Waker meets Ocarina/Majora's Mask. Cartoon, but not silly. A name scrolled up as "Illustrations" or something, and I googled it up quick - I found an article on a Zelda page about this Yusuke Nakano, and got a surprise. I've always imagined there to be several different illustrators behind the main visual concepts of Zelda, much less other Nintendo series. So I was startled to see that the same hand that brought Wind Waker into its cell-shaded glory, had also wrought the mature, gloomier Twilight Princess - as well as the rest of the series right from Ocarina of Time! I was stunned! Nakano has such a variety of styles that I never would have guessed it. My head did a little more spinning when I found that he also designed games such as Mario Tennis and Mario Kart. Honestly - an artist who can wring out the ferality of Wolf Link, but also generate lighter things like Mario Kart? Fascinating. I will do more research on him another time, but.. I wanted to share that bit of info. Certainly motivates me!

So that's about it. Soon the 360 will be at my house, so I'll have my turn to go at it. I'm mostly interested in Eternal Sonata, but I will give Halo 3 a try and play around on the arcade a little. I also want to try and get some sketches done, concept art if you will, for The Collapse. We recently found an invaluable source of interesting guns - when I saw the images, a million ideas flew through my head - I was happy to see the same reaction in Ryan when I shared it. Always good to have the team on the same wavelength.

(I've also rediscovered Sailor Moon, on a sillier note. I'm particularly intrigued by the music there - the way the main theme, Moonlight Densestu, is radically changed when it is in reprise version. I don't think either of us have considered much of sound past little things like, 'oldt rent reznor has an industrial sound we like'.. I'll have to check that out, too. I believe a good soundtrack can help a game a lot. Also been doing lots of reading on Half Life and its sequels. I never truly appreciated the game for what it was... it's honestly brilliant and intriguing. )


We have one. Yes.

I'm just making a very quick post of glee to announce this.. it's really exciting, we bought a special pack so it came with Ghost Recon and Viva Pinata free, plus we bought Halo 3 and Eternal Sonata. Maybe later I'll post some videos.

YES! XNA on Xbox, here we come!
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First Feedback

Hope you don't mind that I did this, Ryan.. haha.

Today I was talking with one of my friends ( Justin, gr12, is top of his class in programming ) about XNA and the conference yesterday, and as we talked I figured, hell - Justin loves games, loves coding.. why not share ideas and see if we can get some very early feedback?

I shared the basic plot, stat system, and gun system, got some helpful comments back from him. When you see this, Ryan, let me know and IM me so I can tell you exactly what. But yes - as a developer talking to someone who is only interested in playing games, it was neat to see how he reacted. I'll be talking with him more tomorrow, perhaps even writing down questions ( like, what do you want to see in the game? ) but it's pretty exciting to share just a fraction of what is planned and get such an excited, approving response.

I've also started doing some concept art stuff on my end. I've vectored an image of an important location in the game, and it's a good place to start picking apart - once you have something solid and tangible, it's easy to say, "Well, this feature should be like this, and I don't like that piece there, why not do this..." I've also started doodling ideas for character design - I had initially envision a pixelated, detailed, classic game looking style with characters in proper proportion a la Street Fighter or Double Dragons. After seeing demos of games yesterday, I was inspired by the simple, clear brilliance of the graphics, and think perhaps another style is more appropriate - like PinkySt toys, or Twilight Princess. Of course, this'll be shared and decided with Ryan, but I think it's a good idea to get opinions from outside.

A.      King of Fighters
B.      Kira Kira Music Hour

So, I'm throwing a question out there. For a serious, almost macabre themed game, which style do you think is better for the game? A or B?

XNA Studio Conferece

Well, today was quite busy for us as far as gaming went.

Ryan and I went off to the University to attend the XNA studio conference. I'll let him post more details ( it was mostly programming stuff, and it was over my head ) but it really inspired us more and it looks like an awesome program to work with. To anyone who caught our journal/blog from there - hello! It's a pleasure to see that our few seconds on screen got us some viewers. We're hoping to get things in full swing soon, what with the possibilities introduced to us through the conference.

Right now, we're going to work on some smaller, easier games as to not wreck The Collapse at all. Seeing some actual games done with this studio by people like us kind of changed my visuals for the game, so.. I'll be talking to Ryan about that, and perhaps doing a few doodles and stuff to explore some different styles.

So yes. To anyone who is dropping by; please add us to your watch list. We're really new to it all, but we're learning lots and already setting goals. I'm sure it'll be an entertaining ride.

Classic Game Store and XNA

I feel kind of silly posting so soon after Ryan...

Today on the way home from school, I stopped at a new little store that opened along the way called PNP Games. It was advertising classic games (what a funny term to use when related to video games ) so I figured it'd be pretty cool to check it out.

I opened the door and met heaven.

This store, I think, will be an incredible help to us in the future. There was all sorts of systems, new and old, but primarily old, witha  wall full of NES and SNES games. I spent $50 on two while I was flustered over the sheer amount of beauty in the store. The cashier seemed amused when I expressed my profound amazement at the contents of the tiny building. And Ryan - I asked them about Earthbound, and they would be able to get it - for about $100. When you're here tomorrow we should talk about this >3> I'd pitch in a good chunk of it...

Anyway - I am incredibly thrilled to have such a place within 10-15 minutes of my home. I left my resume and while they aren't hiring, I hope to god I can somehow get an interview or something and get a job there. Mother seemed skeptical of me leaving Sobeys ( "Oh, good - but.. you wouldn't leave Sobeys for that, would you?" Uhh, yeah I would, thanks. ) and the fact that it would pay less, give less hours, etc.. but really. I would be happy with a pathetic paycheck, if I got to work with such old, fabulous games.

The variety of games is also incredible - if we ever need an old game for reference or anything, we can go there and look for it, or ask to get it in.  While more expensive than downloading a rom, for example, it's far more gratifying to own the original copy.

WELL ALL THAT ASIDE, About tomorrow's game conference..

Me and Ryan are both excited and armed with a million questions. We're not %100 sure what to expect of it, but we know the basics - developing games and XNA studio - so at least most of our questions are fully relevant. No matter the case though, it will be fun and I'm terribly excited to go to it. We really need some more direction and inspiration. Even posting in this community brings a little thrill of what we're up against.

As well, Ryan, remind me tomorrow to show you the vector piece I did of.. the DOOM TOWAH. You know what I'm talking about x3
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Tossing down an update~

I thought I'd throw down a journal... I've been meaning to, just didn't have much to say.

Like the last post says, we made a fair bit of progress when I visited him. It did look like we'd just end up playing games, but really, it was far more exciting sitting there developing. I've been working on a concept piece for some of the scenery when I've got spare time in class - which is almost all of the time, haha. I'm also considering dropping a resume at a little gaming store that just opened close to home. It might pay less and give a bit less hours, but.. I'd really like to get into there. I grow weary of groceries and my current workplace has been hiring some dumb kids lately.

Recently, I've come into contact with two DS games; Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, and Children of Mana. The first, my older brother brought when he visited us for dinner recently. That game is brilliant. The two player battle mode is absolutely ingenious; it took two players of completely different skill levels, and somehow gave them a playing ground where they were made even. How sweet is that?! I'm a huge sucker, as well, for the statues that appear in the Zelda series ( I loved the statues in Twilight Princess, that you had to illuminate and move - especially their hammers... ) so I was smitten with the Phantom guards. I enjoyed the map manipulation, with the 3D scene on the top screen; technically, you were playing on the map. You would not be able to pull off this game on a SP or something like that. I was also pleasantly surprised to see the plotline of Wind Waker revisited. Sooo many people loathe that game - including all my friends and even my other half! Oh, woe.. I bought a decal kit and case for my DS of the game, but now I can't play it around my buddies. Am I the only person alive who appreciates the style of the game? Ahhh... alas.

I bought Children of Mana a day or two ago as a present to my girl for her birthday. As I can't give it to her yet ( her birthday is Nov 10 ) I resolved not to play it. Of course in a halfhour it was out of the case and in my system, though. I only got past the first dungeon and boss - I don't have the patience or skill to do a few dozen quests to get strong enough for the next dungeon, so... I'm not very far in. There's still some observations that I'd like to make, perhaps you should add these to that file, Ryan..?
  • When a character/magic spirit talks, there is the dialogue box and above it a small portrait of the character. I've always been fond of this - it helps you keep track of who is speaking, and it's especially practical when they change to reflect the character's emotion. The ones for this game were somewhat complex, since the Mana series is produced by Square Enix, but I can see for our game even a simple little vectoring of a character's bust being helpful and easy to change.
  • Fighting is interesting and sometimes irritating because a ricochet effect is in play. Enemies and large objects that you hit sometimes go flying and knock into things, damaging themselves and whatever they hit. You need to use this to break heavy obstacles, and when you're somewhere like a narrow hall and you send a Rabite flying, it can cause a chain reaction. It's pretty silly but neat, just something I observed.
  • You can employ secondary weapons; this is helpful because you can easily switch between the two. For example, a sword is fine for head-on attacks or pushing stuff quickly, but a flail swipes a circle around you which is good for clearing away monsters approaching from several angles.
So yes. These are two games that I've had the chance to try recently, and I certainly do like them. I think we need to draw from every source that we can. I've been doing a lot of thinking on my future recently, and the only things that remain constant and unvarying are my plans with my girlfriend and my love for videogames. Says a lot about the kind of person I am...

Girl Meets Game

Well, here's my contribution to the founding of Neu Games.

I'm the pencil and paper half of the team. I've tried to do programming but the things big bro can do in those programs just blow my mind, I could never see myself doing that. Numbers are my enemies. Instead, I rely on my creativity and imagination to produce interesting things. I leech inspiration from wherever I can; my collections or my friends, objects or words. I've dabbled in various types of artistic expression; I've been published once, have had my poster and ticket designs used for a dinner theatre, and belong on the school's improv team as one of the more enthusiastic and charismatic members. Of course, I don't think I'd be who I am today without good old big bro. He's gotta be one of the most important people in my life; when I discovered that he was looking into programming games, I was absolutely elated. When we discussed the initial idea for the plot, I was honest to god shaking. Have you ever had that feeling? Where something is so right and so epic that you feel like no hell nor high water could stop you from accomplishing your goal? Yeah. The prospect of teaming up with Ryan as a sister-brother game developer team brought that feeling with it.

Our whole lives, Ryan and I grew up with games. From the get-go, he was the type of player who completed the game %100 and strived to understand it. I preferred to watch - and thus, I suck at playing games. From when we were kiddos fighting over who got to keep Pokemon Blue or Pokemon Red, to nowadays when we're sharing games that interest us, we've always had video games in our lives. The distance in the past few years from him living a province away certainly cut down contact, but now that he lives closer, it's easy to go over and work on this ( just like I'm doing this weekend! ). Online communication helps a great deal, too. Whenever we find a link that we think is irelevant to our project, we toss it over to the other. It's working great so far to keep us very interested as we kick off with concept development.

So here we are today, hoping to become a part of what's influenced us since the wee days of the Nintendo 64. Our game ideas are very ambitious, but we are well aware of the work that we need to do, and both of us actively hunt out information wherever we can get it. We're both prepared to spend a long time and lots of work on this project.  It'll be hard, most definately; we've got our work cut out for us and we've not aspired to cut corners to ease on production. We are aiming for quality.  I, personally, am thrilled about this all; we have an amazing idea that has so many possibilities, and with both techincal input from Ryan and creative from myself, we're bound to compromise on something totally hardcore and awesome.

I hope as we post more on the development of the games we're working on, that people will find this site and take interest. Nothing motivates like support and constructive criticism. I look forwards to generating even a small bit of interest in people, and if our efforts inspire anyone else to launch into this path, that's the most we could ever hope to do. I'm excited to get the project going; our first get-together this weekend is looking prosperous and filled to the brim with planning and practice. Wish us luck; we've got lots ahead of us. :U