ABOUT

Yesterday, the new printer arrived. We decided to decorate the wall with all the concept art I drew for Stellar Smooch to make it feel like more of a studio space. I think it worked. 

new game idea: turn every planet into a cat planet

Here’s some new concept art for Stellar Smooch

While Alec is taking a breather and focusing on his other projects, I’ve been working on Dents by myself. During our last playtest session, we noticed that many of our players had a tendency to skip over the poem and focus almost entirely on the gameplay—which isn’t exactly a bad thing, it just wasn’t what we had anticipated. We initially hoped that players could appreciate the poem in the way we did—with the words providing the game with more of a narrative. However it seemed like observations didn’t match up to expectations. Many of our playtesters continued to forego reading the text despite the changes Alec made (like adding a highlight to the poem and not allowing them to skip immediately to the next level). The feedback bummed us out a little, but that’s what playtesting does: it reveals the bumps and lumps which designers tends to gloss over after staring at their games for an endless amount of time. When you don’t receive external feedback, it’s easy to lose sight of what your game really is. 

Since then, I’ve been thinking up ways to integrate the text with the rest of the game. Ideally these words should provide more of a context for the players and less of a distraction from their play experience.

It’s a fun design challenge and I think I’ve gotten somewhere. A couple of nights ago, I printed out all of the scripts Alec wrote for the game. So far, he’s been the one programming everything but I’m excited to finally be able to begin implementing the changes I want to see in our game. I’m still new to Unity and it can be a bit daunting to stare at a lot of unfamiliar syntax, but it’s a nice break from solely working on the art and animation.

Earlier this week, I went through a couple of the scripts with a marker in hand and the Unity Scripting API by my side. Picking apart the code with colored pens and highlighters and looking up every single thing I don’t know is a great way to familiarize myself with the new language and structure of the programs. I’m grateful that I’m able to ask Alec to clarify parts of the code I don’t understand and explain new concepts to me when I come across them.  

I’ve also spent time designing a new menu UI which I hope I can implement by myself. I really want to be able to work on all parts of the our game because I see it as a wonderful opportunity to strengthen the areas I’m not so great at. I realize that in order for me to make the changes I want, I need to be capable of implementing them myself. That way, I don’t always have to rely on someone else to doing them for me. As for the art, we’re going for something a bit sillier and more playful. Planets are now going to have faces and one of our playtesters suggested the name "Stellar Smooch" which has been sticking… 

Here are some screen shots of our latest version of Dents! 

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I experienced a panic attack a couple nights ago and this was my response. 

I have also been ridiculously inspired by Alec’s cat, Chewy.

Recently, I’ve been working on is an iOS game with Alec Thomson. It’s about love, loss, and loneliness in space. We’re just about to put in the remaining levels, but it’s nearly finished. Here are a couple of early versions of the concept art. 

Towards the end of the month, I participated in Brooklyn Gamery’s Super Love Jam Game Jam: a game jam about gender, sexual identity, and relationships. 

I teamed up with Andrei Marks, Nigel Harsch, Greg Heffernan, and Will Jeffers. We went with my concept of a two-person infinite runner developing the main game mechanic from Aristophane’s speech in Plato’s Symposium. In case you aren’t familiar with the speech, here are a couple of quotes from the book which will give you an idea of where I drew the idea from:  

"According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.
…and when one of them meets the other half, the actual half of himself, whether he be a lover of youth or a lover of another sort, the pair are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy and one will not be out of the other’s sight, as I may say, even for a moment.”

Aside from the concept and game design, I primarily focused on art and animation. It was a fantastic learning experience and our team ended up winning passes to Games for Change

Currently, I’m uncertain about expanding the game further. There is still a ton of polishing I’d like to do! 

P.S. You can check out the game here!

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"Love is simply the name for the desire and pursuit of the whole."
"Love is born into every human being; it calls back the halves of our original nature together; it tries to make one out of two and heal the wound of human nature. And so, when a person meets the half that is his very own, whatever his orientation, whether it’s to young men or not, then something wonderful happens: the two are struck from their senses by love, by a sense of belonging to one another, and by desire, and they don’t want to be separated from one another, not even for a moment."
"Love’ is the name for our pursuit of wholeness, for our desire to be complete."

My friend, Pauline Ceraulo, asked me to help her design tile pieces for a board game her and her boyfriend kickstarted. We worked together on coming up with concepts, keeping the design very minimal and elegant: you should check it out and back it!