Recettear and Stuff

Well The server migration is done for all but a few client’s subdomains that will have to linger for them to launch their sites first.  Overall I’m pretty happy with how it all went, only a minor hiccup or two (thank’s wordpress for storing all your config options for all the plugins in a nasty mess of a database table with file paths thrown whereever, Yuck!)

Anyway, that’s not what I want to talk about.

Recettear (rhyme with Racketeer)

My Shop, it's not much but it's mine.. until I miss my payments.

An Items shop tale.

This little gem of a game is all about running your item shop supplying the foolhardy adventurers who go explore the dungeons.

The controls were pretty much undocumented but there’s only the arrow keys and 4 buttons (z,x,c,v)  so after a few moments pounding the keys on the keyboard I was off.

The story starts with you waking up and the local Collections Fairy, has come to collect on your (now Mysteriously absent) father’s debt.  After some dialog and a basic tutorial I’ve converted my house into an Item shop.

You Sell High, Buy Low.. and run around town, meet people buy all sorts of strange things and always keep an eye on the clock.

The Fairy Mob's Deadlines are always looming.

The game doesn’t take itself too seriously and riffs easily off all the RPG (especially jRPG) conventions.   Now don’t take that to mean it’s easy.  It kinda plans on  you failing so it lets you keep your shop levels between playthroughs, which is a bit  odd but not that big a deal.

Gradually you’ll meet more and more people around town and learn the individual shopping habits of your regular customers.

Then there’s the Adventurers.  Cheap bastards.  All of them.   However,  you can hire them and join them in their explorations of the local dungeons etc  (Played a-la old school Zelda where you control the hero) .

So you want the heroes to have good equipment so you can loot the dungeon for better loot so you can sell it to them before the Fairy Mob comes collecting their Massive Debt that dear ol Deadbeat Dad left you with. (what in the world did he buy to get so far into debt?)

Oh no Poor little lost girl!
Meet tounge in cheek RPG Stereotypes!
Explore dungeons! Kill things, Get Loot to Sell!

Overall, It’s a fun game that provides some challenge and plays well in small increments (yay for games that dont require 2hrs to get started playing!)

It’s available for a measly $20 at GamersGate, Steam , impulse etc etc…

Analog Diversions

And Finally I’ve managed to sneak in  a couple Hours of painting to finish up the First of the new Elementelves (i know clever isn’t it?) Paintings.  I’m resisting the urge to pull it down and tweak some more bits on it (which I might).

And last but not least.. there has been sheep progress.  Another 5 sheep drawn and inked.  So that’s down to 25 to go.  Then to paint them and place them.

(P.S. Drawing sheep holding a martini glass is HARD)

That’s it for now.  As soon as I stop shaking I’ll get some thoughts down on Amnesia, scariest tensest game I’ve played since RE2.

Odd Migratory Hiccup

For some reason something went *kerboolooie!* and the site went mostly poof for a bit..I might have uploaded of moved the wrong config file…
anyway everything looks better now..
Carry on.

Impractical Exercise

Unplanned Diversions

So as I’ve mentioned before I’ve been playing / testing the Elemental Beta, which has since been launched er.. well… poorly… Apparently There was a bit of developer tunnel vision and it turns out the release version was kinda… well.. unfinished..  However Stardock has a history of supporting their releases magnificently.. and if the newly released 1.08 patch is any indication Elemental is quickly on its way to being worth it’s weight in gold.

So Funnily enough, this plus a couple other factors all gelled together and I’ve unexpectedly / inadvertently managed to start a new project.

First the elemental launch  got me thinking a lot about about the old classic Master of Magic(now available at GoG) and Age of Wonders (also at GoG and Impulse) and how hard it would be to make a classic fantasy TBS with modern tools.

Second, I’ve been coming to grips with building real web apps with CakePhp and getting used to working with the whole MCV concept.

And, perhaps, most significantly, I’ve messed with fun tool-set jQuery overlays and dungeon creation tools via web browsers in the past and while updating all my domains I found that I had registered fantasywarsonline.com a long time ago and simply never gotten around to messing with it.  So I spent some time re-discovering things I’d made a long time ago.

So one evening later, in the breaks between putting teething baby to sleep,  I’ve managed to get a good start on a random map creator, and some basic database modeling laid out.

I’ve got a few freelance projects to work on this weekend and a painting to finish, but hopefully I’ll be able to define some Fun Milestones to knock out so hopefully this can be a fun multiplayer web based TBS.

Analog diversion update

The Sketches for all 4 element paintings are done.

The finalized sketches

And the Fire Element Painting is getting closer to being done.  I hope to wrap it up in the next few days (baby willing)

Step 3 the Hair
Step 3 the Hair

That’s it for now.  I know I haven’t gotten to the Amnesia or Reccetear games post, I just haven’t played anything in the last couple days to get screenshots from them, however they’re Both Excellent and you should buy them.

Amnesia is probably the scariesy 8-10hrs you’ll play this year, and Reccetear is an addictive, cute and surprisingly huge rpg where you play the town’s item shop owner!

[edit] clearly this was written late late at night and makes little sense in parts… updated for coherence.

Migration

Boring Technical Stuff

So my old virtual server over at godaddy is at this point running a 3-4 year old image with just miniscule specifications and it’s time to switch providers.

I’ve been hosting client sites at media temple for a while now and they’re seemingly rock steady and way more responsive that the mess that godaddy has devolved into. Which kinda seems to be the trend.. the last host did the same thing 6-7 years ago.

So the new account has been purchased, and the great migration is underway. In the process I’m streamlining my internal and test sites significantly so I can provision and deploy client previews much easier. Additionally I’m consolidating my SVN repos and starting them out with a clean slate so I wont have so many indivdial branches and subprojects to keep track of. (YAAY!)

I’ve got 16 domains and about that many subdomains to shuffle over and so far the process has been running smoothly. Wenderflonia.com and swiftthought.com (and their related client pages and subdomains) are going to be the last things punted over before pulling the plug.

I’ll be notifying clients indiviually with the new name servers they’ll need to point their domain registrations to over the next couple days or so.

I’ve also shuttered Drakkheim.com for the time being. It really deserves to have it’s own special purpose and until I can do something with it It’s going to re-direct here.  The performance increase is really noticeable over at www.beautifulbasics.com (our food and healthy living community site) which has been re-opened for registration btw! So pop over and tell us about yourself.

Ok 7 domains moved.. now to get some rest.

Wandering the Wasteland

Non-Gaming Goodness

So the summer deluge of freelance projects has slowed somewhat and a bunch of projects have gotten finished and I’ve got a nice body of work to start off in the professional portfolio side of things.  There’s just a couple websites to launch and tweak and then whatever new projects come this way… (with potentially a super super exciting project mixed in with it)

So that Gives me a few, precious, moments where I’m not playing with the cutest baby ever, to step away from the computer and rest my eyes on something that I’ve just realized that I miss.

Painting… so I still need to finish the oils, but I want to just crank out some pieces and make fast, bright vivid things and not have to worry about the whole setup and whatnot that the oils (even the water based ones) take.

So here’s a quick peek and the first of 4 24×24 canvases that I’ve got scattered across the kitchen/studio.

The colors are so vivid it totally blows out my camera’s color range.  I love it!

Gaming Goodness

So in few spare moments I’ve had where I can sit down and play something have been consumed by a couple games, Stalker : Call of Pripyat, Amnesia, Elemental and Reccetear.

I’m just going to ramble a few words and pictures about Stalker and Do a post later about the other 2.

So I’ve had it for a while but it somehow just got pushed back into the background since it came out along with the whole bunch of goodness that came out last year around the same time (Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age etc )

So when the chaps over at Rock Paper Shotgun mentioned some of the incredible user mods that have come about since its release.

And the results are pretty dang Spectacular.

Like this morning shot when the morning mists burn off and the rising sun lets you see into the distance.

Very pretty. And dynamic. And Massive.

And Full of Terrifying Wildlife.

But that’s ok.. you get guns.  That each have their own upgrade tree, so as the game progresses you get to tweak out your favorite guns with extra perks.

And when the sun sets, or you have to enter an old dark abandoned pumping station it delivers some of the most tense and jump worthy gameplay that’s been my pleasure to partake of in quite some time.

Don’t look now, but that kinda resembles progress

Ok so it’s not the groundbreaking massive “woo it’s done!” Kind of progress, but it’s a start.

Quake con was a great fun filled event, with me and Parker spending 2 long days blowing stuff up to our hearts content.   We’ll be heading back next year for sure.

So that progress thing?  Swiftthought games is real now, has all sorts of business stuff and is paying for it’s own hosting etc…  I’ve got a handful of jobs wrapped up or 90% there, with hopfully a couple new ones (potentially including an actual web game) coming down the pipe. 

And! I’ve got some progress on the Mutant Sheep Eat The Earth! made as well.  several new cards were finalized, text revisions made, and the website is getting there.  Also thegamecrafter.com has updated their production pipe so soon they say they can offer tuck boxes and full color instructions.

And all the meanwhile, I’m discovering that playing dad is a lot of fun and continually exhausting. 

This weekend promises to be quite productive and the future remains as unpredictable as ever, which is half the fun.

Reboot

My how time flies when you’re busy!

In fact it’s so easy to forget to keep updating the blog when you’ve got real projects that need to get done. Luckily I’ve got a good pace of things going and seem to have settled into a nice routine which keeps GFW from going insane and keeps the freelance work getting done in a timely fashion.  However it hasn’t exactly left a lot of time to spare for pet projects.

I need to get back to doing what I need to do.  I need to make stuff.  It has been too long since I’ve made something. (and I’ve got to finish those dang oil paintings!)

What Have I Been Doing?

So for posterity’s sake let’s do a quick re-cap shall we?

  • Consulting work = good.  Got a nice workload of it that’s just about ready to wrap up.
  • Swiftthought Games is now a real entity (ooohh!)
  • Banking stuff is set up.
  • Mutant Sheep Eat the Earth! is down to 40 illustrations to go. Then a get a new proof set to do a couple rounds of playtesting.
  • Baby is cute and a handful.
  • I wish I had time to paint!
  • Wenderflonia’s store is almost ready to go.

Time to get rolling!  First priority, finish the MSETE! website and illustrations.

I’ve got an Idea percolating for a smaller board game that I need to make a quick playtest mock of.

Oh and if you’re interested in game design in general you need to see this http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1012259/Train) (you might have to register but it’s free)

What I’ve been Playing

  • Starcraft II – so apparently has everyone else on earth.  It’s very good if a bit old school.
  • Elemental – been playing the betas, it’s come a long way in a very short time and the release version promises a nice Master of Magic type fix.
  • Minecraft – highly addictive and still early in development.  Mining and building and monsters. There’s a couple free old versions available to play, but the latest alpha builds are only available if you buy it (around $13 but going up soon)
  • Bejeweled Blitz – 60 seconds of crack in a pretty match 3 shell.

But first

Quakecon! this coming weekend.  Me and Parker are heading downtown for 2 days of massive lan party goodness and whatever else there is to see.

Good grief, what happenend to the summer?

Man, what happenend to the summer?  There was so much I wanted to get done and yet all I’ve managed to do is stay sane an knock out more freelance work (which is a good thing btw).

So its time to re-re-rededicate myself to get going on all my dang projects.  Well, hopefully, the freelance work will keep coming, so I’m taking that into account as well. 

Regardless, expect more posts and goodies to start popping up around here starting next week. 

No really…  this time I’m pretty sure I mean it.

Work Work and new hobbies

So here we are once again.  Another couple of weeks gone and the list of things I’d hoped to get to and deadlines for my pet projects are but fading memories.

Remember that ‘SUPER PRODUCTIVE MEGA AWESOME WEEK?!!” a couple weeks ago?

Well it turned into 2 days of productive (freelance work and 6 sheep done, not bad) 1 day of errands and chores, a day of packing an dinner with the parentals for doggie sitting and then I was off to see GFW, Parkzilla and Baby J at the other grandparent’s for the weekend.  So yeah.. not so productive.

However, let’s not dwell since it was an awesome relaxing de-wired weekend and thus worth it.

Wenderflonia.com Business Card

So since then.. Freelance stuff picked up speed and culminated in a long work full weekend this weekend, but I’m almost caught up 🙂

But (and this is the exciting bits!) I’ve fallen in love with Oil Paints (the water soluble oils, for the ease of cleanup and fumes)   So below are some pic of the second piece in progress, and I have plans to do a collaborative piece with GFW, which should be interesting.

So the theory is, I want to be working on around 3 pieces at a time,

One in polishing phase:

The Polishing Phase Just Started

One in the ‘ugly’ mid stage:

Deep in the ugly stage

and one at the beginning roughing, concept stage.

[No pics yet]

And here’s some pics for posterity’s  sake.

thedailywhiteboard.com and other progess.

What’s that weird thing above about?? Well Every day at work I have a whiteboard behind me, and Every day I make a little scribble or something while warming up my first cuppa coffee (shade grown, south american organic breakfast blend FTW!)

So I’ve collected them together and started a pseudo comic thingie.

you can see em all Here http://thedailywhiteboard.com/ The last 60 days have been counting down an office mate’s trip to Kenya and started with a simple scribble of a lion in the top left corner along with a number.   Unfortunately I didn’t know I’d be keeping them all so I only have 18 or so images so far.   But the basic story seems to come across.

ALSO!

Ok so remember that super productive week thing?.. well ok It tunred out to be a couple of days.. then errands etc etc kinda ran interference and messed up parts of it.

I’ve got some awesome oil painting getting done and and super excited by the amount of cool freelance stuff that’s pouring this way!   However, the sheep.. well… I got a handful done.. so the traction is a little slow in getting going on that front.  Also GFW is having all sorts of fun with Kelly Rae’s Flying Lessons e-Course and that’s been educational for us both.

More funs stuff coming along all weekend, with plans galore of starting the whole health food thing againg and more happy crazy goodness.

Anyway, I’ve got a sleeping baby and a canvas to go screw up.

laters.

Super Productive Week – day 1

Super Productive Project Week is on!

So I’ve got the house to myself while GFW and Co. are out visiting grandma in Merkel.  Which means it’s a rare opportunity to listen to loud music till the odd hours of the night and work on All those things that I’ve been meaning to get done.

But, first things first.  Today was wrapping up some consulting for Kell. And also getting an awesome start on the Jones Communications website / CMS re-design.    After today I’ve got the element layout of the site in place so tomorrow I can focus on getting the content styling in place, and then gradually flesh out the pages and programmatic requirements of the site.

Additionally in order to further my adventures with water soluble oil paints, I’ve decided to start a second piece while working on the first.  Its a significantly larger size (14″x18″) But I’ve got plans for attempting something resembling a portrait… But the texture of the canvas in the first piece has become a hindrance so this new piece I’m starting out by layering many coats of gesso and then once dry, sand it back to a smoother surface.  Hopefully the texture will help my control of the paint. So tonight has been spent putting down 4 coats so far and hopefully one more before bedtime, and then allow it to dry fully overnight.

So the theory goes the remainder of the week will be a couple hours of website work, followed by some sheep illustrating  intermingled with breaks  on the paintings.    It might all be too much to do but hey.. its summer vacation and I can sleep in til 7:20 now 🙂

Old Wars and Putting the Sheep in Gear

Well summertime is here and that means it is time to kick things off and do stuff.

No Really..

I’ve been pretty stuck in idle for a while but a couple little things have started getting some traction.  Granted the freelance design work has been pleasantly steady which helps alleviate the guilt. 🙂   But really there’s been two projects that have gotten me going again. (ok, that and the baby finally deciding on a sleep schedule so there’s actually a couple hours that are useful on a regular basis doesn’t hurt either)

First http://www.beautifulbasics.com is up and running. It is still in its infancy but between me and GFW (whose site recently good a lovely makeover) we’re hoping that it will grow into a thriving community about family,tradition, and living a simple healthy lifestyle.

Second, I finally cracked open my tubes of winsor newton water soluble oil paints, they dry like oils but you can thin em with water instead of turp. It is a nice change from the usual acrylics and I absolutely love the drying time. The only downside so far is the color change while the water evaporates is going to take some getting used to. So the paint seems to dry in two stages, first the water evaporates leaving the darker pure oil color behind, which then takes the usual few days to dry.  Oh, and the cleanup with soap n water is a snap and the fumes are nowhere near as bad as old fashioned oils.

Distractions and Games? I’ve got plenty, but primarily playing Red Dead Revolver on the 360 and the indie strategy game ‘Hegemony, Phillip of Macedon‘ are tying up most of my mental breaks.  That and I’ve got to get a full day to get some people together and play a full game of Arkham Horror.  I will say that the Hegemony game is a wonderful new addiction.  It’s an absolutely massive undertaking for a small indie game company to make.  While it’s got some clunky features, it more than makes up for it in innovative new features that are sure to be copied by everyone else (Total War guys I’m looking at you) .  Unlike a lot of other Real-time Strategy games there is an emphasis on maintaining supply to you cities and units on the march that makes for a good time.

So, how does this lead me to getting my backside in gear and get cracking on the damn sheep you ask?

As luck would have it, GFW is taking the kids and heading west for a week come this Friday.  That’s going to leave me with a lot of downtime and I’ve got plans to make the best of it.

In theory, a bud will be coming by for some programmy consultanty help and if that happens that’s cool and that will probably take a couple hours every day but hey money talks 😉

Other than that I’m attending Akon (as a guest this year) Saturday; building an initial pass at a joomla website for a client; and designing a 1 page sheet, hopefully all this weekend.
So in theory, that leaves many hours are available every night next week for some serious sheepage! Oh, and I plan on blogging more (daily?) updates.

Let’s see how things work out, but hopefully there will be a ton of progress to report very very very soon.

Time.. can I haz some more?

Well the swift summer days are here again. Somehow the motivation levels have deflated a bit, probably due to being super super busy at the 9-5 and a good showing of freelance work this month.

Well that and babies appearantly seem to need more and more human interaction as they grow, and I’ve gotta do my part to keep gfw sane 😉

So sheep productivity has seen more active days. That’s ok though, there’s nothing wrong with being busy. 🙂 even if its not the kinda busy i’d prefer.

Oh well at least I got a couple sheep done last night so it’s a start. Oh and I can live vicariously through gfw’s adventure in Kelly Raes e-course, whic shell be blogging about over at her Wenderflonia art blog.

On the road to nowhere

Well.  So according to “the plan” By now I should have had 28 sheep wrapped and packed.

Turns out it’s more like 4, well.. not like… it’s exactly 4.

On the other hand, though, I do have 20 sheep drawn, inked and scanned ready to paint, and that’s good.  That was all last week but I’d qualify that as keeping up on the schedule.

So this week just didn’t lead to any real work getting done.  Worked on some freelance stuff and started messing about with what will be the marketing site for Mutant Sheep Eat the Earth! Which I’ve the photoshop files all ready to go on. And ninjababy has been taking up all the time that’s more or less left over at the end of a work day.

Baby Jude earns his Ninja Legs at 8 weeks.

So, I’m not gonna fret.  Just buckle down and give it another go.  And I’m gonna be a better blogger and actually post on a semi-regular basis, there’s actually a series of game related things I’ve been meaning to get put down.

For now.. It’s time to crawl into bed and plan to assault next week with renewed vigor.

A sheep a day

Short update on sheep development.

For the last week I’ve been maintaining an average of finishing a sheep a day.  As of today I’m racheting that up to 2 sheep a day with the allowance to either work forward or catch up as needed on weekends.  However, at midnight every Sunday 14 more sheep will be completed.

This puts me at 31 days for the next round of beta testing.  Give or take a day or so for a pass on the card files and rules to get updated with the more updated rules from the existing rounds of playtesting.

I know, 2 cards a day doesn’t sound like much.. but it’s probably going to work out between 1 1/2 to 2hrs a day.  Which, with a 2 mo old baby and normal household duties and freelance work piled on top.. It’s going to be a challenge and I forsee several late Sunday night cram sessions in the not too distant future.

However, tonight, I’m on top of the world and on schedule.  Which feels damn nice.

Some quick random notes from the gaming world.

http://www.frozensynapse.com/ is a fun turn based combat a-la X-com but with the whole future retro graphics vibe.  Games are very quick (5 -10 turns) and you don’t both have to be online at the same time. You can snag 2 beta keys for this excellent indie game for $25 (one for you and one for a friend)  Anyone playing feel free to shoot me a challenge (Drakkehim) I’m pretty terrible but it’s a heck of lotta fun.

http://www.sleepisdeath.net/ may be one of the more important Art ‘games’  that’s out there. Its 2 player always.. no ai.. freeform collaborative storytelling.  The community that’s serious about it are making filly, fun and sometimes deeply touching and moving stories together.  I’ve got 1/2 the cast of buffy built. 🙂   It’s all user generated content.  But content travels between players which is very cool.  So the more you play, the more stuff you have to play with.

http://www.taleworlds.com/main.aspx Mount and Blade – Warband is a very nice update to Mount and Blade which is probably the coolest mounted warfare game ever.  Made by a very talented bunch of guys from Turkey.

http://www.kings-bounty.com/eng/ The kings bounty series is just crazy turn based fantasy strategy that’s incredibly well done.  The Rock Paper Shotgun guys talk about it here.  And it just happens to be available on whatever digital download service you prefer. (steam, gamersgate, dirct2drive etc)

Oh, and they’ve announced Witcher 2…  yeah.. if it’s half as good as the first one it’ll be amazing.

That’s it.. I’m done.. -G’night.