Tag - Read Only Memory

We Played Nintendo: Read Only Memory Vol. 2

Mother of god. I actually wrapped up Read Only Memory Vol. 2. Seriously, there were times over the last two years where I wondered if it was even going to happen or not. After two years of work, here it is in its entirety.

Unlike Vol 1, I had planned this video sequence from the get go. I kind of cobbled together the compilation video of Vol 1 and tried to make it work as well as I could. While I managed to do a decent job at making the shorts interlock, I wanted to step my game up a bit for Vol 2. I knew from the start of this project that I was going to use live action video to link all the shorts together. The idea was to do a “day in the life” kind of thing from what it was like to grow up playing NES games.

I actually almost ran into a problem with the footage. I actually recorded all of the snow stuff two years ago. My nephew, who is the boy in the video, has obviously now aged two years since then. I recorded the second half of the footage, the drawing part and the going to bed part, only two weeks ago. I was able to make it work because I show as little of him as possible. The idea there being that I wanted him to represent the kid who grew up playing these games. The moment you give him a face is the moment he has an identity, so I stayed away from that. It worked in my benefit because he does look a lot different than he did two years ago.

You may notice many of the shorts in Vol 2 have gone through some changes. I did this to try and keep everything as consistent with the tone of the setting as possible. I rewrote and rerecorded Howard & Nester & Metroid to make it feel more like a legit Howard & Nester comic. The entire dog idea from Contra with Two Players was thrown completely out the window, turning Contra into more of an action cartoon than it was before. While I didn’t change anything thematically for Take a Key for Coming in, I went through nearly every single shot and made some sort of tweak to it. Link’s Triumph is the only short that was left virtually untouched.

I mentioned the music earlier. I was fortunate enough to be given permission from Simon St√•lenhag to use his track Fluvial Beat Deposits from Ubiktune’s SOUNDSHOCK 2: FM FUNK TERRROR!! album. When I first heard this track I knew it had to be used in this video. While it doesn’t quite give off a NES chiptune vibe, I think it fits the setting so well. I don’t know how Simon feels about his track being accompanied by what I’ve created, but I’m in his thanks. The music for this video was extremely important to me because it acts as the bridge between everything. It tells the story, it holds the feeling of the setting and creates the mood. I just love it.

So when I first set out to make Vol 2, I told everyone that it was going to be much better than Vol 1. Personally, I think I’ve completely outclassed Vol 1 by a long shot, and I hope that you agree. With ROM all wrapped up, it’s time to move onto my next big thing. Wish me luck.

‘Link’s Triumph’ has arrived!

Does anyone even read this anymore? I can’t believe I haven’t updated it since Candy Corns 2. I’ve actually had a couple of Where I Draw and Postmortem videos in between Candy Corns 2 and now. Sorry. I guess I’ve kind of let the Dot Com part of Shamoozal dry up a bit. I suppose people can’t even answer my question of whether or not they read this anymore since comments have been closed. Too many stinking spam bots just junking everything up and I don’t have time to moderate that sort of stuff like I used to.

So yeah, Link’s Triumph. Working my ass off to get this thing complete before the end of the year and I succeeded. I am glad it’s over because this short has done a number on my mentally and physically. Totally taking a few weeks break away from doing any animation and it’s time to get back into a regular exercise routine. I’m not kidding when I say I feel completely exhausted. Between this and the Holidays it has been insane to say the least.

Oh, so I guess I should talk about the cartoon huh? So this short is about the moment in The Legend of Zelda where Link fights the first boss in the first dungeon of the game. The goal was to show how an inexperienced and ill equipped Link would go about fumbling through this situation, and perhaps gaining a bit of confidence along the way. I got Joe on board for the first time in a ROM episode and I think it really shows through. The audio on this cartoon is great, and it doesn’t look too shabby either. I really tried to up my game a bit here and pull out all the stops. I even used After Effects on certain scenes.

I have high hopes for this short and I’ll admittedly be kind of upset if it tanks like the previous two shorts have (not that I expected much from Candy Corns 2). Now it’s time to start putting together the compilation short, ROM Vol 2. After that, who knows what the future holds. I have a few ideas I’m kicking around.

Also, I’ll be at MAGFest next week. I’ll be hanging out at the Elder-Geek table for a good portion of Saturday the 5th. I’ll be there on Friday as well, but I’ll be in full “business” mode on Saturday. I’ll be doing some sketches and what not, so if you happen to be going to MAGFest, please stop by and say hello. I’ll post more about MAGFest next week.

Anyway, hope you guys like the short. I really tried my best here.

‘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!

This Contra background was my enemy


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.

Planning the next Zelda short


I won’t lie, I’m terrible at perspective drawing. While I can visually picture almost exactly how this next Zelda short will play out, when I actually think about putting it onto paper (well, digital paper) I get a little scared. I’ve been mulling over how exactly to go about doing the perspective work on this when it popped into my head while cleaning up the girls’ megablox a few days ago that it might be a good idea to actually build a model for it. Hence this hypothetical Link versus Barney thing you’re seeing.

What you’re really looking at is a quick mock up I did of the room where Link fights the Aquamentus in the original Zelda game (that’s the first dragon like boss mind you). This is a sort of to scale model, the Link figure is perfect and the Barney was the closest thing the girls had to a dragon, not to mention the fact he’s about as large as I’d like him to be. I thought the Megablox would work perfect since the area this fight takes place in is surrounded by similar blocks. So within a few minutes I built my stage pretty close to how I imagine it.

I took a few shots that I can use as a target for where I’d like things placed. It’s interesting because I already found some issues with how this is exactly going to play out. When Link dashes from the door to the blocks, I was hoping I’d be able to pan the camera completely away from the dragon. This wasn’t exactly working as planned with this model, so there is still some work to be done, but hopefully this will help push me in the right direction.

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!