‘Take a Key for Coming In’ is ready to… come in.

Can’t believe I haven’t updated the Nerdlog since the Contra Post Mortem video. Yikes! I had kept meaning to update it with lots of art and progress about the latest episode of Read Only Memory, but I just never ended up doing so. Well I waited so long that I can just update with the final video itself. Hooray for me.

So this short is obviously based off Ghosts ‘N Goblins. Shit, I love me some GnG, and working on this short really got me back into the series. During the time I was working on this I bought Ghouls ‘N Ghosts on Genesis, and have played the Arcade versions a few times too. I’ve also listened to tons of GnG series music, both in keeping with the spirit while working on it and to figure out what music I wanted to use.

I apologize if your knowledge of GnG is very minimal, watch this video, and have no idea what you just saw. With most episodes of ROM, I usually try and open them up a bit so that maybe someone not familiar with the games they are based on can enjoy them. With this episode, I just wanted to make a nice tribute to GnG and to tell the story I wanted to tell meant that I needed to exclude people unfamiliar with the series. It was a tough choice to make, especially with the amount of work that needed to go into it, but I’m glad I did so.

I was really worried at first if this short would be hard to follow. Switching back and forth between a past and present and telling a story in 45 seconds is a lot for a brain to process I think. When I decided that the short would be more of silent film (I was originally going to do narration) things became much more clear to follow.

Also, as you can see there is zero humor in this short as well. I believe this is the first Shamoozal short I’ve done without any jokes. I pretty much did so for the simple fact that I wanted to make something different for a change. GnG is not a humorless series of course, I mean Arthur gets thrown into his boxer shorts every five seconds, and turned into a duck or baby throughout his quest. I wanted to show armor less Arthur here, but I tried very hard not to make it funny. I hope that came through.

This is also the first short I worked on where I dealt with violence. I did everything I could to not show red blood. It would be easy to go into something like this and make it a blood bath, but I still wanted to stay in the PG-13 territory.

So there it is, another episode of ROM down and another one to go. Zelda is up next. It’s going to be brutal!

‘Contra with Friends’ Post Mortem

Been a while since I updated! Of course I fell behind on the next short, which I address in the above video.

Since we don’t really do the podcast anymore, I decided to do a bit of a video postmortem about the last short. I thought this was going to be a 10 minute video and I ended up rambling for nearly 20! If you enjoyed this and would like to see more videos like this after I wrap up shorts, let me know.

Of course I thought this would be a quick video to put together. I actually put it together a few nights ago, but I had a bunch of encoding issues on the off screen footage I recorded. It turned out to be a big hassle, but at least I know what to do now.

Old episodes & other odds and ends

Been meaning to update the blog on several different occasions over the last few weeks and never got around to it. The result is an entry that is a bit of a hodgepodge of info, so here we go. First up, I added some old Shamoozal episodes to YouTube that have been missing from the site for a while.

Above is a video for Guitar Zero, Shelved, and Stroopid Test. There is about a three minute intro before the episodes where I fill everyone in on a brief history of them. From the YouTube comments, it seems like maybe I shouldn’t have done this, but I thought it would be a fun test to offer some insight into these old shorts. I’m thinking of doing some other videos similar to this one, for example, I want to do post-mortem on my shorts. I was actually thinking of putting a Contra one together this weekend, just discussing what went into the short, and how I felt about the end product. I want to try and update the YT channel more often, so I’m trying to come up with some other supplemental material while I make progress on the cartoons.

Also, this weekend I got to head over to the Newgrounds offices in PA and meet the Newgrounds staff as well as a bunch of their top artists. I have briefly met Tom Fulp before in the past, but it was nice to get the chance to meet him again. I have met Egoraptor a handful of times as well, but Saturday was the first time we were actually able to spend a good deal of time together. It was also nice to meet guys like Happy Harry, OneyNG, Rubberninja, Jazza, AfroNinja, and The Swain. There is something so weird about meeting people whose work you’re familiar with. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s a surreal experience every time. The NG offices were awesome, it seriously looks like one of the coolest places to work at. At one point the lot of us invaded a retro gaming store that was in walking distance from the office which was great. I ended up buying a copy of The Legend of Zelda for the Famicom Disk system. Getting to meet all those dudes, hanging with some old friends, stuffing my face with food and drink, and buying Zelda easily made for one of the better weekends I’ve had recently!

Back to reality though, the shorts! So I’ve been working on my latest one which is about Ghosts N’ Goblins. I have most of the extremely rough animation done. I should be wrapping that up in the next few days. After that, it’s onto clean up (which will probably be a bit sloppy in order to get this thing actually done), coloring, and of course backgrounds. So, lots of work to be done yet. What I can say about this short is that it’s going to be pretty much joke free. I want to do something a bit different with this one. I don’t want to say this short is “serious” and “dark”, just more that I want to tell a story. I mean, I guess it’s serious, but well, as serious as I’m willing to let it get, if that makes sense. I just always make cartoons with humor behind them and I’m always trying to think of funny endings. This time I just wanted to make something that just tells a simple story, and honestly, just see if I’m capable of pulling off something different. So we’ll see how that goes. I think GnG fans will appreciate it, and I hope to make some really nice looking scenes. So, we’ll see! I’ll start sharing some of that stuff as it gets to a more finished state.

So there you have it. Until next time!

‘Contra with Two Players’ is done and DONE

God damn. I finally finished a new short. I have been working on and off on this Contra short for a year. When I say on and off, I mean there were month spans where sometimes I didn’t even look at this thing. In fact, I had all but given up on it during the summer and started working on another short. I decided to get back into it though because of the amount of effort I had already put into it.

I know it’s not much of a narrative or anything, but I’ve had this Contra idea floating around in my head for ages. I mentioned it before in other blog posts, but originally in ‘How to Hook Up the NES’ Jacquo was going to play that copy of Contra that came with his NES (which is why it came with Contra and not Super Mario). He was going to play with, you guessed it, another Jacquo! Eventually the two would end up fighting during the grueling game. It didn’t play out like this short, but the basic idea is the same, and it started brewing from that point.

My what a different a few, GASP, years makes. Even last year when I was working on this short, it was almost completely different. For one, it was MUCH longer. I chopped the absolute shit out of it, and I think it’s better for it. The idea of putting my dog in there as Player 2 actually spawned last week if you can believe that! It seems like such an important part of the short, and it is, it’s basically the pay off, but I was still foggy on the whole joke up until the very last minute. I basically just worked on all of the action and was just hoping things would fall into place. I think they did!

Anyway, I hope you liked it. I worked hard on those 20 seconds of animation!

Shamoozal Radio Podcast #38 – The Resurrection

SRP #38 - The Resurrection

Happy Easter everyone! Guess what? The Lord wasn’t the only one that rose from the grave today, as the Shamoozal Radio Podcast has joined him.

I know it’s hard to believe, but Frank, Sithlord, Joe and I got together this weekend and cranked out the latest episode, the first one in nearly an entire year. Steve or John unfortunately couldn’t make it during the busy weekend.

Since it’s been so long I thought it would be best if this was more of an off the cuff episode. I went in there with no notes and zero intention of doing our regular segments. Instead I thought it would be a good idea just to do an episode about catching up, so if you want to hear lots of crying and behind the scenes stuff about Shamoozal and us in general, then this is the episode for you.

Joe however did have a game for us to play. Since he’s on a health kick, we played a round of P90S (a pun on the famous P90X). So we do have one regular segment for you guys to enjoy. Anyway, I hope you like this episode. It’s a bit lower key than the normal circus that SRP usually is, so I hope that’s okay.


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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.

This Contra background was my enemy

contra_decent-bg

I come down hard on myself a lot, but you know, sometimes that’s a good thing. Take for instance this background I’ve been working on for the Contra ROM that I’ve been working on for… I don’t know, on and off for almost a year.

So I started Contra right after Howard & Nester (which is getting close to being a year old, ouch) and I was able to do boards, and a scene that involved a heavy amount of animation work. I decided to do that scene first since it was the most involved one. After that I was trying to tackle the main background. This background would be used greatly during the duration of the (probably) 30 second short. I struggled with that freaking background so much that it essentially derailed me from working on this short. Now it’s not fully responsible, but it was enough to make me question what the hell I was doing.

See, not only do I suck at backgrounds, but I also suck at perspective drawing (which is probably why I suck at backgrounds), and I’m not really great at painting with Photoshop either. Take a look at most of our shorts and you’ll see that the backgrounds probably aren’t the greatest, and if there is a good one, my brother probably made it. There is something about perspective drawing in which my brain just sort of shuts off, I don’t really know how to explain it. I also get frustrated somewhat easily, so when I have to deal with these hurdles, I try my hardest for a bit, and I eventually just give into me “sucking.”

The Contra background started out like this in the original storyboards I made, which I’ve posted before back in May of ’11.

When I originally sat down to make it, I ended up coming up with this retched pile of shit. Like, absolute fucking garbage. Just look at it.

There is a lot wrong with this. The perspective is absolutely abysmal. I’m almost embarrassed to show this, but you know, sometimes you have to show the bad in order to learn anything from it. So, yeah, the drawing is just “wrong.” Maybe for some reason, like someone that doesn’t know much about drawing, would think this is acceptable, but believe me, it is not. Also, look at my amazing fucking logic at work. I was thinking about how the bad guys enter this unit thingy and I thought “Well maybe I’ll put a ladder on the side, that’s how they climb it.” Of course I decide this after I made this giant piece of shit hanging off the side of it. I realized how shitty that was, so I thought “Okay, maybe the shit piece can have a hatch, that’s how they get to the ladder.” The ladder that no one uses once during this whole short. Also, those wires are the ugliest fucking things I’ve seen.

Second, the colors and “painting” is just garbage. I just don’t know what I’m doing with colors half the time. Color theory was one of my weaker classes in college. So for this I used the colors directly from Contra as my pallet in order to keep it looking like the game. I gotta hand it to Konami because their machine that’s made up of like 5 colors blows away the look I came up with here. Ugly painting for an ugly drawing. I mean, FUCK. The worst part? I spent hours doing this, and this isn’t even my first attempt. I have one where I wasn’t using flat colors and was going for a more digital painting look. Believe me when I tell you that it was worse than this thing.

So when I came back to this short last month I knew I had to rethink this fucking background, because I hated it and it just wasn’t working. I redid the boards for the entire short (still need to tweak a few frames at the end of it actually) and I came up with this.

This image is looking nicer, but it’s still got some bad perspective. Actually, I didn’t even bother created a two point perspective because that’s when my mind really goes out to lunch, so this was all free hand. My intention here was not to use this background as a final image, just to get the feeling for how I wanted it to look, I knew I’d have to tackle the perspective thing afterward. I gave myself a crash course in perspective drawing a few nights ago, even took out the ‘ol physical sketch pad, and did some small mock ups. I still wasn’t quite getting where I wanted to get with it.

I ended up showing my brother, Frank, the above image. He drew some helpful lines over the original art, sort of “righting” the perspective. He of course eye balled it too… I guess he’s a much better eye baller than I am. Regardless, it was a nice help and it gave me a good starting point for getting this thing together. I spent a good chunk of this week redrawing it and coloring it, and I’ve finally come up with this.

Perspective has been entirely eye balled here. I’d hate to put down some actual guides and see how off everything is, so I won’t be doing that to save myself some sanity.

I’m not positive that I “love” this, but at the moment it is acceptable for my needs. I could change my mind when looking at it again tomorrow and start from scratch. I’m not ruling that possibility out in the least. Anyway, I fooled around with colors and look for hours. I kept going for the green from the NES hue, but it was so ugly that I needed to rethink it a bit. I decided to focus on the gold and the blue, but I still wanted a bit of the green in there. The only blue used in the NES game is for the panels behind the unit. I didn’t want this to be pitch black, so I decided to make the background blue. I think it helps make the gold pop. Not sure I’m feeling the green, but I was happier with choosing an off color for the areas I did instead of just going darker with the gold, where essentially the thing would look like a giant poop when all would be said and done if I did that. There are still some things that are glaringly bad here to me, but I think this background has come a long way. I look at it, and I don’t hate it. At least not yet.

Assuming this is basically out of the way, the second biggest hurdle of this short has now been cleared. Hooray. This is actually a mostly simple short (I think) so having something like this finished feels pretty good. Maybe I’ll start making some real progress with this thing after all.

The lesson here? It’s healthy to be hard on yourself sometimes. If I wasn’t, I would have thought that original background would have been acceptable, and I wouldn’t have put in the time in trying to get it right.