Category - Episodes

New about new releases or upcoming episodes.

Kid Icarus Line Test

It’s been quite a while since I did a Nerdlog post. Around this time last year, I came up with an idea for a ROM short that would be about Pit from Kid Icarus. This was before the 3DS was announced I think. Kid Icarus Uprising was announced when I was doing the roughs for this line test, and I thought to myself, “nice! I’ll have this done by the time the new game comes out!”. Well, Uprising was delayed quite a bit, and I never got beyond this point. I have a dollar bill, the same dollar bill that inspired me in the first place for reasons I won’t go into without spoiling the short, sitting on my desk that is a constant reminder to work on this. Alas, I’m working a full time job, freelance at night, the baby is about to pop out of wife any day now, and I’m neck deep in house hunting. Time is precious these days. That said, enjoy the clip and hopefully some day we’ll see the rest of it!

Elder Speak, Reviews, and Contra

Whoa, been a long ass time since I updated the blog.

As you probably know I’ve still been doing Game Club with Steve and Randy over at Elder-Geek.com. In addition to that, I’ve also started helping out Randy with his daily game news show on YT called Elder-Speak. I’ll be doing every other Thursday on that one, so the weeks where I’m not recording Game Club, I’ll be recording Elder Speak. Here’s the first episode I appeared on.

After the video was posted I was called out for not knowing anything about video games and once again the way I pronounce words was also commented on. I guess it’s a South Jersey thing I’m completely unaware of? I don’t know.

Sticking with Elder-Geek for a minute, I’ve also done a bunch of written reviews over there recently. So if you’re curious, go see what I thought about the following:

    Dillon’s Rolling Western – A decent eShop offering that’s longer than it should be.
    Resident Evil: Revelations – Freaking awesome, console worthy RE game.
    3D Classics: Kid Icarus – A remake for die hard fans only.

It’s obvious I’ve been playing lots of 3DS recently, right? I should also be getting a review of Kid Icarus: Uprising together at some point. Whenever I can actually finish it off anyways. I also need to play Wizorb for this coming episode of Game Club, so that’ll probably throw off my KI time.

As far as Shamoozal work goes. The last few weeks were kinda shot, but I put some solid time into it last week and actually managed to get a handful of shots finished. I also tweaked the ending few shots AGAIN so that I can actually finish this thing. Looking back at my original story boards, I don’t know what I was thinking. Just way too much for what it is. I’ve pretty much distilled it down to a quick action scene with a joke or two thrown in. I showed my wife the “main” shot and she seemed to think it was pretty cool. I guess that’s something. Hopefully I’ll continue to make good progress on it and actually, you know, release a cartoon for the first time in ages.

Happy Thanksgiving

So I know it’s not quite Thanksgiving yet (we still have a few days) but since this is the only time I’m going to update the blog for a while, I figured I might as well say happy Thanksgiving… so… yeah, Happy Thanksgiving!

Since my latest post I’ve done a bit of work on the Zelda short. It’s not a crazy amount of work mind you, just some really loose roughs for two of the more complicated shots. Of course as I’m working on these shots I realize the flow of the storyboards isn’t quite right, so I have some rethinking to do on some of the scenes.

Speaking of rethinking, I also haven’t forgotten the Contra short. It still pops up in my mind from time to time and I think I’ve actually come up with a solution for it. The day I thought of the solution I almost considering jumping back onto it to wrap it up, but that would be too much bouncing around. My goal is to hopefully see this Zelda thing through. I’d LOVE to have it done by early January. I’d have to kick it into high gear (and with the holidays coming it’ll be busy!) but I might have some nights and days where I’ll really be able to give it my all. The week before Christmas I’ll have the place to myself for a few nights, so I totally plan on banging out a lot of work then. Assuming I have enough PTO at the 9 to 5, I also plan on taking off Christmas week. Sure I’ll spend some of those days with my girls, but I’ll ship them off to the baby sitter so I can really put a lot of effort into the Zelda short. I am *thinking* those few days will really make quite the difference. I’ll hopefully have most of my roughs done before those days, so it’ll be lots of clean up animation and all that good stuff.

In the meantime, the gang plans on getting together this Friday (this Black Friday) to record what could be a final episode of the Shamoozal Radio Podcast. We haven’t done one of these since the summer, and quite frankly SRP just really isn’t part of the big picture anymore. In my letting go of most things Shamoozal, SRP is pretty much part of that. I don’t want to say it’ll be gone for good, but I will say I don’t really have any intentions of doing more past this one. Things could change though.

If you like hearing me talk though, you can still catch me on the Elder-Geek Game Club, the podcast that was formerly known as the Shamoozal Game Club. It’s a biweekly show where Steve (of SRP and this site in general), and EG.com’s Randy talk about a game chosen by the audience for an extended period of time. The show has been going well in it’s transition to Elder-Geek, and I hope some of you folk had an easy time making the transition. We still like to try and talk about the games we’re playing on our very own forums, so it still has very strong ties to the Shamoozal.

I have also begun writing reviews for Elder-Geek.com. I enjoy writing game reviews, and since I’ve cut the idea from the Nerdlog, I asked Randy if it were cool to continue doing some writing over there. Thankfully he was fine with it, so I’ll be doing the occasional review over there. I don’t get a heck of a lot of new releases these days, so my reviews probably won’t be coming at a very steady pace. You can already catch my reviews for Where Is My Heart (PS3) and Super Mario 3D Land (3DS) over on the site. I’ll also be reviewing The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for the site, but that’s going to be a bit far out there yet. In fact, I very may likely end up doing lots of Nintendo stuff over there, so it’ll be fun!

Anyway, just wanted to fill everyone in on what’s been going on. Thanks for stopping by and reading.

Been a while, huh?

The last few months here at Shamoozal have been… uhh depressing to say the least. It’s been ages since there has been a new short, I’ve cut content from the Nerdlog essentially killing it, and the only decent thing we did have I moved over to Elder-Geek.com.

Last time I did one of these updates I mentioned how I was calling a time out on my Contra short and switching over to a new Zelda one. I supplied some concept sketches I did for the short in that post and since then you guys haven’t heard a peep from me regarding shorts. I wish I could tell you that I have secretly worked on the short all along, but the fact is I haven’t. I haven’t worked on it since that night, which was at the end of July.

The fact is, over the summer I came pretty close to calling it quits on this whole Shamoozal thing. It’s been a very long road since we’re started this site, and not to sound like a baby, but I just haven’t met the “goals” I set up for myself when starting this site all those years ago. I know a lot of that is my fault, it truly is, but it is what it is.

But I’ve said it before in the past and I’ll say it again, Shamoozal will probably never truly ever die. I’ll always keep this site around because it’s just my creative outlet. Unfortunately this year I’ve been in a serious creative rut. Brutally bad creative rut. My desire to create just hasn’t been there and I can’t really tell you why, it just isn’t. Sometimes I’ll sit down to do work and before I know it I’ve spent an hour dicking around on the net with nothing accomplished.

I spent the summer on more of a personal journey. I’ve been learning some different aspects of web design and internet stuff in general as opposed to working on my animation and art. Of course I’ve also helped Steve in developing the Elder-Geek Game Club, but that’s not a huge time taker. Oddly enough, I’ve also spent what would have been Shamoozal time doing lots of exercises. Heck, I dropped about 10 pounds this summer and can fit into clothes I thought were completely out of the question. So I’ve been keeping busy, just in other areas of my life.

So I wanted to put a little something up here to tell you that there is life still in this thing. I’d still like to attend MAGFest in January of 2012, and if I do that it means I need to gear up for it. I need to have a new short finished. I need to come up with a whole idea for my table. January is actually right around the corner, so this is kind of the moment where I really need to commit. Being at MAGFest isn’t going to be free, so if I go I really need to make it worth my time and worth it for this site. I can’t go there with the same old show I had two years ago.

What does this mean? I’m hoping it’s the kick start I need to move forward with this site. I’m feeling slightly recharged about it the last few days and I’m hoping that once I sit down to work on the short things just feel right. I’m still very confident in my Zelda cartoon idea, and I’ve been mulling over exactly how it’ll play out in my head over the last week. Now I just need to sit down and physically plan the thing. I need to get that short done before Skyward Sword comes out, because I’m not going to lie, but shit aint getting done when that game hits. Plus, I’d really like to time the release of the short around the time Skyward Sword’s release. I *think* it’s doable. It seems doable.

So with that, I’m out for now. If you’re reading this, thanks for hanging in there with me, I know it’s been a bumpy road.

ROM Contra Put On Hold, ROM Zelda Bumped

ROM Zelda Character Roughs - Link and Aquamentis

ROM Zelda Character Roughs - Link and Aquamentis

If you follow us on Facebook, a few days ago I casually mentioned that the next Read Only Memory short about Contra was being put on hold. In it’s place, I’ll be picking up production on a new Legend of Zelda related short.

I’m not sure what happened with the Contra project to be quite honest. I was really giving it my all a few months ago, and for whatever reason things fell apart and production has seemingly come to a halt. I’ve attempted several times to pick up where I left off, only becoming frustrated with it. I have one really nice shot that’s mostly done, but I think what happened was that I let that shot get the best of me. However, one nice shot can’t save what is arguably a disaster of a short at the moment. I just feel stuck with it, in very much the same way I was with Pizza Links. I’ve combed through my storyboard boards countless times, completely redoing them multiple times. I’ve tried to paint some important backgrounds only to come away from them not feeling happy about what I produced. I still don’t have an actual script hammered down. Essentially, it’s gotten to the point where I need to distance myself from it, but still need to move on creatively. I’ve spent MONTHS dwelling over it. Months dwelling over a 30 second short isn’t healthy, and it’s not getting me anywhere. I’ve fallen behind on ROM because of this, and now I fear Vol 2 may not even be finished by the years end. It’s a bummer. Like, an absolutely huge fucking bummer.

I still think there’s a good short inside the Contra episode. Like I said, Pizza Links had problems too and look how that turned out in the end (I mean, unless you hated it of course). I can get there with Contra, I just think that maybe I need to switch gears a bit. I need to do something that’s very much different from what I’ve created for ROM before.

So that’s where this new short, tentatively titled Link’s Confidence, comes into play. Early on I decided that I didn’t want to revisit games I already covered, but I had this idea for what could be a cool Zelda short that I needed to just abandon that rule. I feel pretty good about this idea, and it’s different enough from something like Pizza Links that it’s worth visiting this idea. What I can tell you is that it’s not going to be a comedic short, though that’s not to say it’s going to be completely dead serious. The goal here is to capture a great moment from Zelda that always stuck with me through the years. Being that I want ROM Vol 2 to really focus on that whole “Memory” aspect of this era of gaming, I’m thinking it’s safe to do something that doesn’t quite end with a gag. The short, I think, is going to be very much in line with something like Ninja. Hopefully exciting to watch, but with that bit of Shamoozal charm (at least, I think we have some charm).

Above are some of sketches and designs I’ve done thus far which you can click to get a better view of. Yeah, that’s how early into development this thing is that the only stuff that exists are sketches and ideas I jotted down in a notebook. As you can see, there are a lot of Link poses, and the dragon is the Aquamentis boss from the first Legend of Zelda. I think you can pretty much fill in the blanks from there, and if you can make sense of these sketches probably get an idea for the direction I’m headed with this.

So there it is. I’ll hopefully update this blog with progress as I move forward. I’m really excited about working on this and I’m hoping that excitement lasts and will carry through the duration of this project. Wish me luck!

ROM Update for Contra with Friends

Contra with Friends

Well shit.

Seriously. When I first planned the story boards for “Contra with Friends” I had way too many shots, and on top of that I wanted to include what I thought would be a semi-complicated shot. I knew the shot might end up being more than I could handle, so I went through the boards again and really scaled everything back, and I tried to see where I could get the most out of my assets. I thought I had it all nice and tidy and ready to roll.

Well I’ve been working on the “semi-complicated” shot for well over a month now. That would be “Shot 04″ to be exact. I decided to wanted to do this traditionally, meaning no fancy puppeting with Flash. It’s all straight up drawings the old fashion way. It’s 97 frame long running at 24fps, meaning it’s only about 4 seconds long. Some of it is running on twos, so I don’t actually have to draw all 97 frames… well I sort of do. This shot has three characters involved, all interacting with one another in some way. I of course starting out by roughing out the entire sequence. There was a lot to tweak during that phase, some of which meant that I needed to go back and reanimate some of the frames completely. After that I went through and “cleaned up” (I use this term loosely because my clean up job is yikes) each of the characters. So while it’s 97 frames long, each character is their own symbol, so I need to go through those three symbols separately. Two of the characters are around for half the time, so they’re both around for the same length as the main character. To put it into simple terms, it’s a lot of god damn drawings.

So for the last week and a half I’ve been coloring these cleaned up frames. I’m currently halfway through only one of the characters. Each colored frame (as seen above) takes me about 20 minutes to do. I’m probably doing it ass backwards, but the colors are on three layers. The flat color is its own, the shadows/highlights are another, and the black clean line is on top. I average around 3 – 4 frames each night I work on it. At this rate, I’m going to be here for a long while. In an effort to shave off a few minutes, I actually ditched the highlights on Bill’s pants moving forward. I went as far as to erase the ones I put in on some of the previous ones too (they just so happened to still be there on the first frame when I grabbed that still).

This is leading me to possibly rethink the rest of the short. I obviously can’t continue the rest of the short like this, I’ll just never get it done, and to be honest, it wouldn’t be worth it. I’m currently in the process of maybe further changing the pacing of the short and the actual story and jokes. If I do that, the short won’t be called “Contra with Friends” anymore. I had thought maybe I could get this whole short done by the end of May, hoping I could have it out before I leave on vacation. I’ll be lucky to have Shot 04 done by the end of May. It still needs all the character animation, then it needs some slight effects work, a background, and finally some camera work. The end of June is looking the MOST likely. What the fuck was I thinking?

So of course I need to make it all worth it, which is why I’m rethinking most of how this short is going to play out. I may leave it as is, but I guess the silver lining of this particular shot is that I can rebuild around it. This shot isn’t telling any kind of joke or anything, I just want to capture the essence of Contra.

Anyway, yeah I wish I could go back in time and tell myself I was crazy for even thinking this was a good idea.

The Magazine Treasure Chest

mag_chest_featured

Ever since I moved into my house I’ve had two giant storage containers full of video game magazines sitting in my basement. They’re ridiculously heavy, in fact, after pulling them out of storage I’m not even sure how I was able to get them down there in the first place. I had two purposes to go through these containers, one of which actually pertains to ROM Vol 2, and the second of which is to simply throw this stuff out.

What I’ve discovered in these bins however are not only vintage game magazines, but pieces of my art and my life that I actually forgot I had. I’ve found so much stuff that I decided to make a multi-part feature for the site because there is just way too much to cover all in one shot. I figured a good way to start this series of articles would be the one that pertains to Shamoozal the most, my rediscovery of the first picture of Jacquo the Rabbit I’ve ever drawn. Yup. The original.

I thought I had lost this notebook as I’ve managed to throw out most of my old grade & high school notebooks (yes, I kept those in addition to my magazines because many of them were more like sketchbooks than notebooks). I must have been kind of forward thinking because I put it in with these bins knowing that it would be safe. The best part is that since he was first drawn in a notebook during class (Religion class no less) is that it’s actually dated. I can peg the creation of Jacquo on October 15th of 1998. The actual year isn’t written, but considering the vast amounts of notes I left myself about the impending release of The Legends of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, I can naturally guess that it was 1998. This would put me in my Junior year of high school, already working at KB Toys, and already running the Shamoozal in some form.

Looking at this Jacquo, not much has changed. I buttoned up his coat, ditched the ear tag and necklace and cleaned up his fur a bit. He’s also saying “bitch” which I thought would be hilarious to come out of a rabbits mouth at the time (it’s not that hilarious). I’m pretty certain in all of the old Jacquo shorts (which no one will ever see) he said “bitch” in all of them. Probably multiple times in some of them. “Bitch” was Jacquo’s “Cowabunga” basically.

In this second image I’m envisioning him on a bar stool. I can remember trying to figure out how big I wanted him to be. In my mind, he was kind of a Roger Rabbit size character, not the size of a adult human or the actual animal, but somewhere in between. Next to that is a shot of him bending over and farting. The shot is ugly, but I was obviously fleshing out the idea of the first Jacquo short here in the middle of class (of all places). In the first crude episode of Jacquo (again, one you won’t see) I used this exact shot and animated him farting at a character. Basically in “Jacquo the Drunken Rabbit” Jacquo is having a drink when someone tells him he “can’t do that here.” Jacquo gets mad says “Shut up bitch” in which the opposite character responds “WHAT?” only to be followed up with a six frame animated loop of Jacquo farting. The end. That was the whole short. I know it by heart.

Interestingly enough, further ahead in the book I found a poorly drawn storyboard sequence for “Jacquo the Drunken Rabbit 2.” That “short” played out exactly as depicted here. It’s terrible, but I find it kind of funny that Religion class is where I not only created Jacquo, but where I continued to develop the character and the shorts. This storyboard sequence could have been in a Science notebook for all I know, but somehow it ended up in this very Religion one days, maybe months later (it’s not dated).

I was likely going through some sort of rebellious period here. Thinking back on it, I didn’t particularly like my teacher for this class and I dreaded school on top of that. I actually had her the following year for Algebra 2 I believe (or some sort of Math) in which I continued to draw pictures all through class. She thought that moving me to the front of the room would solve my problem. Not so as I continued to draw right in front of her face (I guess that IS pretty rude). I can vividly remember her calling me out in front of the entire class while I was drawing what I thought was a sweet picture of Qui Gon Jinn from Star Wars Episode 1. She made me look like a fool and told me maybe I’d actually be doing well in class if I stopped drawing and paid attention. I looked at her and said nothing thinking about nothing more than finishing this drawing before the bell rang. When she stopped, I looked down and went right back to drawing. I sure showed her! But then she sure showed me when I actually failed the class. I willingly failed it though, I handed back several tests where I only signed my name at the top and didn’t fill in a single answer. Maybe I was a prick.

I guess there’s a bit of me in Jacquo after all.

Read the rest of the Magazine Treasure Chest

Part 1 – First Drawings of Jacquo
Part 2 – My work sort of in print
Part 3 – Magazine Memories
Part 4 – Old Drawings

Hitting the wall

hitting the wall

hitting the wall

I’m probably going to get a little more personal about my work here than I should, so I just want to get that out of the way first.

Last week I mentioned that I had started work on the next episode of Read Only Memory and that production was full steam ahead. After that night I only did another night or two of work on the short, mainly doing storyboards. I have one shot that’s actually semi complex and I did spend a night trying to come up with how I’m going to tackle that moment. Outside of that, work on the short has kind of come to a halt.

It would be easy for me to blame distractions like getting the 3DS, or any other number of things as to why production has been slow. The truth is, I’m at one of my moments where I really feel like I’ve just hit the wall. There is usually a hurdle in getting a new project started and generally once I hit that stride is when I really get into things. When I was working on Howard & Nester & Metroid I was literally thinking about that short almost every waking moment. The second I got the girls to bed I’d come down into the studio and pound out a decent amount of work. It was good getting back into the swing of things after so much time away from working on the shorts. I honestly felt like that rush was going to carry over into the current short, but alas, my high didn’t last.

Though I probably shouldn’t admit this, I am extremely let down with Howard & Nester’s performance. I probably shouldn’t be as statistically it’s on par with how other ROM shorts have performed. I understand that the content I’m producing is kind of aimed at a bit of a niche and that going with a Howard & Nester theme is even MORE of a niche on top of that, but it doesn’t make me any less bummed about how well it has done. Essentially, it’s kind of sort of taken the wind out of my sails, because now I find myself looking at all of the other work I’ve produced and it leaves me wondering “What am I doing wrong here?” Before I know it I’m analyzing all sorts of Shamoozal related statistics and then all I want to do is go curl up in a ball and fall asleep for a while.

I’d say I’m joking, but no, I really feel that way sometimes. Shamoozal is hard work. Most times it is work I really enjoy, but even though I enjoy the work it doesn’t make the whole stress of this beast any less taxing. The thing is, we’ve been doing this whole Shamoozal thing for over five years now and many times I don’t think we’ve ever really advanced much from where we started. It’s strange because this is something we do for fun, but at the same time, we need an audience in order to help keep us motivated past us just wanting to create stuff.

Listen, I love creating shit for myself. When I was a kid I would crank out my Dad’s video camera, grab a lego helicopter, tie a string around it that was connected to a large ruler and then tie a hot wheels car to my foot while holding the camera and blasting Mega Man X music just so I could create some of the world’s worst chase scenes. Or spent hours making movies with Mario Paint by hooking my SNES up to the VCR. And I did all this for me. I love creating things, especially videos and movies. I’ve done it my whole life so I’m never going to stop making stuff like our shorts. It’s just always in my blood to just keep making this shit. The thing is when you’re trying to present it to a wider audience and go largely ignored, you do get knocked down a few pegs and you do need to spend some time lifting yourself back up. It just so happens to be one of those moments right now for me personally.

I’m pretty confident that in the end Read Only Memory Vol. 2 will be awesome. It will be a better production than Volume 1. You can quote me on that. It’s just going to be a bit of a journey to get there. Just hang in there, I’ll get there. It’ll happen. And to be honest, I can’t wait to work on the project after Vol 2. I’ve only been kicking the idea around and have had a story together for well over a year.

Also, I would probably never write such a “waaah waaah waaaaah” post if I knew that statistically I couldn’t get away with it. But I can, so you have to put up with it, so thank you for that!