AV Trailer in Store Kiosks!

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In case you want to prove to your mom that you have a real job, having your game trailer showing at Target is a good first step!  Unfortunately the box design is kinda placeholder - I didn't actually think this was going to go up until September, so I just put what I had in temporarily.  As a bonus you can also watch the trailer on the Vita and get an idea how it'll look with the pixels nicely shrunk down!

Rambling on Glitches

What do you think is going on here?

What do you think is going on here?

So as you know, I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to make glitches be a useful and fun thing as opposed to something that makes you want to break your console.  I also like them to somewhat accurately reflect the kind of issues that can arise in real software, and a lot of this has to do with taking advantage of how RAM and VRAM are laid out.

At some point in the past, I was presented with a unique way of analyzing crash dumps:  Someone had found that if you converted them to images, you could actually spot patterns indicating if there was a problem in the stack or the heap based on how it looked.  I remembered this and was unable to find that.  But!  In my searches, I found something even better.

I found this browsing through Chrome's memory.

I found this browsing through Chrome's memory.

It's called Haywire, it's by Jamie Fenton, and it is good.

If you've ever used an emulator (PSSST, I wrote one at one point), you might have noticed tools built in to let you see the VRAM contents.  Haywire is kind of like that, but for the RAM of running programs in Windows.  You can actually watch the contents of RAM update in real time!

What's more, you can open and view files.  It doesn't "know" how to read images, but if you know the line width of your image and whether to interpret it as 32, 24, or 16-bit, you can see ... something.  And it will be righteously scrambled.  Here are some dumps I made today:

Here's one of the bosses.

Here's one of the bosses.

A scrambled shot from the intro cutscene.

A scrambled shot from the intro cutscene.

Some random part of Photoshop's memory where it stores icons.

Some random part of Photoshop's memory where it stores icons.

You can also set it to interpret at unicode!  I found this in UltraEdit.  I couldn't find the text of my currently open document, though!

You can also set it to interpret at unicode!  I found this in UltraEdit.  I couldn't find the text of my currently open document, though!




Relics of the Past

Today I was scrounging around in my hard drive, trying to find the origins of some artwork, and I came across the image on the top left.  The Photoshop group was called "TODO:  Infested Labs".  Dated 6/7/2010, it was probably one of the first images I'd made.  I have no recollection of making it at all!  I can only surmise that it was placeholder, since by the next iteration, it looked like the save room in the upper right, dating from 6/21/2010.  I'd even made the animation in Photoshop as a sequence of layers, but I guess I hadn't thought of adding the shaft yet.

The one on the bottom is the current version of that save station - what you see shortly after starting the game.  It's interesting to me how drastically the colors changed; I don't even remember there being a purple and beige theme ... glad I changed that.  This is what happens when you work on a game over multiple years - you barely remember what you were doing at the start of the project!  

Spriting: Director's Cut

Here's the profile view of a creature that I ended up drawing from the frontal view in the final game.  I might still use it, but, it would be difficult to make it fit in from this perspective ... I'm sure you'll understand when you see it in game.  However, it seemed sad for this animation never to be seen by anyone, so, here you go!

Within the Magic Lantern

I finally got this screen up and running, and the first code working as well.

A whole lot of news has transpired in the last week - I was on Sup Holmes, had a few E3 interviews show up online, new articles, etc.  So much that I don't quite have the time to address all of it.  HOWEVER, I usually post these as updates as they happen over on the Facebook page.  So if you haven't been there, please check out www.facebook.com/AxiomVerge, and click on the like button to keep up to date!

Axiom Verge and E3 2014

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Like most gamers, I've been following this event online for many years now, never thinking I'd attend, let alone exhibit - that's for EPs and VPs and top brass.  So I was expecting it to be overwhelming and probably exhausting. But it turned out to grow exponentially more insane as it progressed.

Warning:  Name drops inbound.

Believe it or not, Axiom Verge is mentioned somewhere in here.

Believe it or not, Axiom Verge is mentioned somewhere in here.

Before anything started, there was a day of press conferences, with Sony's being the main one for me.  No Man's Sky was featured prominently, and a bunch of other indies were shown on this screen (everyone was tweeting this back and forth and playing "Where's Waldo" with each other's logos).  Bonus Trivia:  The devotion logo was designed by Nick Suttner's girlfriend.  My favorite AAA part?  The Batman trailer.

Hard to miss Axiom Verge in the Sony booth.

Hard to miss Axiom Verge in the Sony booth.

For future reference:  150 business cards was not enough.  I'd do at least 300 next time.

For future reference:  150 business cards was not enough.  I'd do at least 300 next time.

In contrast to the press conference presentation, the Axiom Verge kiosk happened to be at the very front and center of Sony's booth, so everyone saw it, plus a lot of traffic was passing by just to get to the high-profile brands behind it.  It also didn't hurt to have Nidhogg on one side attracting a constant crowd, and Velocity on the other, looking beautiful.

Behind me (and wrapping 270 degrees around the whole booth) was a giant screen blasting the squishing sounds of AAA monsters dismembering each other.  But often it would also play indie trailers.

Basically I spent the entire three days hovering over my two kiosks, demoing AV and talking to journalists and devs, and trying my best to keep hydrated.

This display was ginormous (scientific term) and loud.

This display was ginormous (scientific term) and loud.

James and Trang,  Thanks for the delicious pastries!!!

James and Trang,  Thanks for the delicious pastries!!!

I think the best part was probably the people I met there.  James Petruzzi of Chasm fame was there with his wife Trang, and they brought with them a lot of much-needed down-to-earth-ness to counter the mayhem.  Chasm and Axiom Verge have a lot of similarities, not just in gameplay but also sharing the underlying technology (XNA and/or Monogame) and also development (regular people making games that remind them of their youth).  I just wish Baltimore and Las Vegas were closer together.

We traded stickers, too.

We traded stickers, too.

Rami Ismail (maker of Nuclear Throne, LuftrausersRidiculous Fishing, and other popular titles) stopped by and gave me a hug, which was nice.  And I mean, how often do you get a hug from a respected indie celebrity?  He also found a bug in my room transitions and gave some pointers on general game development stuff.

We traded stickers, too.  Flame bears!  What happens when they meet up with water bears?

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Here's Ian Stocker, who recently hooked up with Tim Schaefer for a publishing agreement for Escape Goat 2.  I'd been twittering back and forth with him since the Escape Goat 1 days.  Did you know he originally envisioned it as a Metroidvania, but decided to focus more on the puzzle aspect?  It was really good to finally meet him.  

Alex Preston, designer of Hyper Light Drifter, also stopped by!  I'll say that HLD is probably my most anticipated indie game.  It was actually playable on Vita just behind me, but as a sole developer, I didn't have a way to leave my kiosks and play other games (at any rate I probably want to wait for the full version so as not to spoil the experience.)  Alex himself was stationed at Microsoft's booth to helm the XBox One version of the game, which is releasing on every platform ever made*.

*Possibly not entirely factual or correct.

For some reason I didn't take any pictures of it, but there was a fancy dinner for Sony developers at Soho House (I found this image in a Hollywood Reporter article).  I sat at the same table with Jonathan Blow - probably the most famous indie developer ever - though it took me a while to recognize him because he'd let his hair grow in.  This scene from Wayne's World explains succinctly how that felt.  There were also a lot of older "suits" types.  I was really tired from a full day at the show so I mostly tried my best to stay awake and not to be completely incoherent talking about garbage collection and IMGUI with the people seated beside me.

Around day 3, James and I met MAN (all caps), from the popular twitch show, Man Vs. Game. Also, James told me MAN's secret identity, which may never be revealed because the internet is full of crazies who would love to stalk him.  Luckily I forgot it and I like the name MAN just as well, anyway.



Also on Day 3, GameSpot and IGN dropped these placards off at my kiosk.  If getting to meet industry celebrities gave me a shock, this was like some new level of absurdity altogether.  The two biggest gaming sites think I could be best of show?  I'm just a guy with a laptop.  What's going on?  Gamespot actually gave me a bag full of "best of E3" buttons for my "team".  There were about 15 buttons in there.  I used them to make a scale mail shirt.

I was too surprised to think of taking a photo.  So, here's some random internet pic.

I was too surprised to think of taking a photo.  So, here's some random internet pic.

I guess word must have gotten around because shortly thereafter, Reggie Fils-Aime showed up.  I was at a loss for words at that point; I think I said something like, "Is that...?" (the ellipses which were practically audible).  Reggie looked at my kiosks and said, "oh yeah, that does look like Metroid," to which a nearby journalist quipped, "Hey, somebody  needs to make a Metroid, it might as well be him!"

Things you don't expect to happen to you, ever:  Reggie shook my hand and congratulated me.

Then he was off.

Later, while riding the elevator up to my hotel room, I saw a woman with the same "Best of E3" pin that GameSpot gave out, and while pointing to my own, I said something like, "Hey, we have something in common!  What game do you make?"  Honestly, I was thinking she was probably another indie, until she replied, "Dragon Age."

It wasn't until when GameSpot's posted the E3 2014 winners list that I found out that I was one of only 15.  Not even Destiny - the most expensive game ever made - made that list.

So, was E3 overbearing, overwhelming, and insane?  Yes, absolutely.

But am I glad I went?

Hell yeah.