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» Game Design

Progress Report

May 4th, 2012

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I can explain.

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Yesterday, as the jubilant chirps and tweets of starlings heralded the springtime, in the silence of my room I was doing some tweeting of a different nature.

I’m working on a landscape painting, and tweeting updates as I go. I did this one time before. As much as I like to be private in my work, this kind of exposure can be invigorating. It’s great to receive suggestions and encouragement, especially when they come from talented artists.

I am trying out some new techniques. In the past, I’ve often started drawing with a thick, heavy line right off the bat. I make a big mess and do a lot of erasing as I go. Sort of like “sculpting” the image. Often, I’ve let the messy process show through in the finished work. I always liked this because … well, I guess it speaks to the truth of art making, and of life, as a messy struggle. The painting arrives to dinner with sweat on its brow and its sleeve ripped at the shoulder. “Wow,” you say, “what happened to you? Are you okay? Can I get you some water?” “I’m fine,” the painting replies. “Now let’s eat.”

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Travel by Eyeball

February 27th, 2012

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Zelda Landscape in Progress

February 25th, 2012

Ever since playing through the latest Zelda adventure back in November, I’ve been brimming with conflicted feelings. My frustrated devotion to the Zelda franchise has perhaps never been more acute, never more debilitating. Leave it to Tevis Thompson to describe what’s going on inside my exhausted brain, in his essay which you should read, Saving Zelda.

Reading that made me more determined than ever to convert my unhealthy fixation into some kind of creative output. So here is a painting, still in progress in the final image below, which attempts to capture what I love best about Zelda. The good part of Zelda. Zelda as it should be.

(Some relevant nouns: openness, exploration, autonomy, mystery, challenge, continuity.)

Here’s a slightly higher res version of the latest draft.

To make things interesting, I’ve been tweeting updates as the painting develops. I like the attention and it’s fun to hear from people who are also crazy about this stuff. It’s good motivation to keep going. Next, I’m adding color. If you want to follow along, follow me on Twitter.

(A while back I wrote a blog entry called Zelda Games Petty, Domineering, which details a disturbing incident.)

TIG Jam Talks

October 12th, 2009

TIG Jam has run its course and I’m back in San Francisco. (The weather is blessedly gray and cool.) The jam was terrific, such a great creative shot in the arm. The indie community is truly talented and supportive.

On the last night, some of us gave 5-minute talks about whatever happened to be on our minds, indie-wise. Matthew Wegner, CEO of Flashbang (who hosts the jam) encouraged us to eschew the angry ranting format and talk about constructive things. A video of the talks has just been posted, presumably by Matthew. Keep in mind these are highly informal and somewhat off-the-cuff, coming at the end of 3 days of 30 people hanging out together in a medium-sized room.

I come in at 21:00. Other speakers include Danny Baranowsky, Derek Yu, Chris DeLeon, Adam Saltzman, Alec Holowka, and Tommy Refenes.

Update: Here’s the video of everyone showing their projects, later in the evening. Unfortunately, for much of the running time there’s no view of the screen where the work is actually displayed…

Alice in Bomberland

October 2nd, 2009

Alice in Bomberland is an upcoming game for iPhone and iPod Touch, developed by Chris DeLeon. Chris designed and programmed Topple, and worked prominently on Boom Blox. He’s also a teacher of game design and all-around profond penseur. One time, he made a game a day for 219 days!

We met at a bar and before you know it I was drawing the main character sprite for his new game. We turned her into a simplified, Mario-like game hero, designed to read well at a small scale. Other prominent art is by Mark Meyers. The game itself is an old school survival challenge where you jump around frantically avoiding deadly explosives. In keeping with the source material, it diverges frequently into the surreal, here taking the form of fantastic, disorienting special effects.

Now that Alice is done, Chris and I are in preproduction on another game on which I’m the design lead. At this point, it could take virtually any form, although we’re targeting the iPhone/iPod Touch platforms. I’m excited about sharing more information about that at the right time!

Just a few days after my first appearance on At 1UP, I got to return alongside two intellectual giants of the indie games scene. Jason Rohrer is a pioneer of the so-called “art games” category — games which deliberately carry personal or philosophical statements in their logic and behavior — and Eskil Steenberg is a man creating a Massively Multiplayer Online game entirely by himself, using his own tools.

I had just seen both of their talks in the Indie Games Summit (where I snapped these photos), and leapt at the chance to share a table with them for an hour. In particular, I was very keen to pick Eskil’s brain, but it turns out it’s very good at picking itself, as one should deduce from his work.

Directly download the mp3 here.

Or subscribe to At 1UP on iTunes.

EDIT: I just listened to it … You might wonder, especially towards the end, if a producer sped up the tape to fit into a time constraint. But no, everyone was really talking that fast.