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Sam | PencilGym.com - Part 2

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hmm… time has finally come, putting together my portfolio and demo reel..looking at some other reels out there to get ideas for presentation..and oh man..

the stuff coming outta VFS (Vancouver Film School) simply shadows out any of the work coming out of my school..at least in the 4 or 5 years i’ve been at my school, and visiting the winter/spring show events, i don’t recall seeing any kind of work as intense as the work by VFS students. Same degree program, but seems to be a whole different ball game at VFS.

either ways, these are my favorite reels and probably the most inspiring ones. it’s nice to see what another student that went through the same degree program but just at another school can achieve in the same time frame.

cheers and press on.

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here’s another really good inspiration for aspiring game developers.

proven yet again and over again, and very strongly with MineCraft, you dont need good art to make a million dollar game.

all it takes is an idea, and then executing it.

Minecraft has been generating more and more news, accordingly, this independantly developed “game” has sold over 200,000 copies, and caused Paypal to freeze the developer’s account due to “suspricious activity”.

In September 2010, Paypal froze Notch’s account due to “a suspicious withdrawal or deposit”. At the time, Notch said there was about €600,000 in the account (about 750,000 US dollars). As of September 12, 2010, the account has been unlocked.

A recent update released for Minecraft which returned over 1000 additional sales instantly within 24hours…and has been steadily continuing to rise.

Games like Minecraft makes me think about Farmville..another absurdly successful game. Game art? Average..Game Design? Outstanding. 80million players for Farmville.

Check it out, there’s a free version of Minecraft too.
Read more about Minecraft and the developer:

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hmm don’t really care for the game itself, but when you’ve got such great productions for marketing the product…it’s become cool.

absolutely love the trailers. definite must see.
the Need for Speed series has been in the dumps for many of its cycles…this year it finally looks like its back on its feet with an all new Hot Pursuit.

the new Cool:

Trailers (crank that sh** up) :

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Hmm .. i wanna start a new category of blog, where i upload articles that i find particularly inspiring and/or useful from my GameDeveloperMagazine..hopefully readers (that don’t yet have a subscription to the mag) would find it beneficial! I also think it would be great for me to have archives of my own favorite articles =)!

Today’s article reflects on social games phenomenon Farmville!

Enjoy, Clik to zoom in:

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geez summer is whizzing by.. already july now and well into the summer class session..

so many things want to get done “in the summer” , been lazy to squeeze time to blog D:

well .. recently had a small taste of success with Games..in a way i guess. made money from games, a first for me, and definitely not the last! If anything it’s more motivating and inspiring for me to continue pushing through these tough waters.

So i decided to give up completely on a video game i’ve been playing on-and-off-over-breaks for the past 2 years or so…gave up the game account, and sold these virtual game assets for real cash, in USD. It banked me a decent total $1700USD. It’s time to move on, time to get serious, i’m about to graduate and finally get my foot (someway or another) into the harsh and cruel & yet gratifying world of Game Development.

$1700 is nothing, it barely pays my rent and keeps me alive/feeds me for a month. But considering, it’s $1700 from one game alone, it shows me just how potent the game market is. People will do anything, and pay anything, for something they are this passionate about. This is the very reason and example why the very commonly used “Free-To-Play” model is used…hundreds and hundreds of MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games), especially strong in the Asian market, all advertise as “free-to-play” games, but they all have their own in-game cash shops or Premium Item virtual stores, where players can purchase additional virtual goods for microtransactions, say $5 for a special character armor set, or virtual pet. It’s a very successful business model. These game companies earn in the Millions of monthly revenue (example would be Nexon). Of course, you first need a strong playable game, otherwise no one will even patronize your virtual game goods.

I still havn’t decided what i want to spend this money on, some thoughts include bribing my friends to work with me to develop my facebook game, buying a 55” tv, or a new computer.. :D

Hey, i just sold my video game for $1700USD, of course i’m excited about it! lol… No, it’s not a collection of “10 old games that i don’t play anymore and i sold those”…. i sold, my game account, for one game.. and i’m very glad i did, it’s time to move on and get focused on the real world and my real passion, making games!

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wow. so i just saw an incredible video of a Samsung Event, where they did an installation and projected 3D material on an old Dutch building, as part of their ad campaign for their new 3D HD LED Televisions.

that video, perked my curiosity instantly, and i spent the past straight 3 hours now just reading up more and more about this “3D Projection” technology, and it’s not that new, even though i only just saw my very first 3D Projection video. There’s been other “attempts”, or projects, in similiar fashion, but i think this recent Samsung is one of the best and strongest examples of the technology.

Yes, 3D Projection, as in watching 3D stuff in realtime, without the need for “3d glasses” …it simply works. After digging more into this tech, i noticed that the effect is the best/strongest when the environment is at its darkest. Like street lights should be turned off, surrounding buildings or malls should also have their lights all turned out so the area is as pitch dark as you can get.

i personally enjoyed how “the average person” is shown fully appreciating Technology..they gather around public areas and smile and laugh, having a good time with what this kind of advanced technology can bring them. It’s amazing.

Check out these collection of videos of 3D Projection Mapping..it will blow your mind.


On the site of a thousand years of violent history, ACDC were pitted against Iron Man in a ground breaking architectural projection mapping project. The front facade of the Great Keep at Rochester Castle, was brought to life using the latest in 3D animation techniques. This onslaught of the senses, saw the castle confront it’s ultimate challenge. Warping, morphing, spewing and collapsing before the audiences eyes. Let there be rock!

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Modnation Racers! Following in step of Sony’s other “play, create, share” games like LittleBigPlanet, Modnation Racers offers you, to let your imagination run wild and create your very own unique avatar, as well as a race kart… apparel, color choice, stickers, accessories, body kits, vinyls, decals, you can create just about anything your artistic soul can think of…

and then, race it.

Racing like the way of Mario-Kart style “battle races”, you get special bonuses during races to take down your friends and boost yourself into the lead. The race tracks themselves are equally whimsical, with random obstacles sprawled all around the environment, shifting bridges, big air jumps…andd after you’re done playing, dive head on into the game’s seemingly-equally-robust racetrack editor! Build the track of your dreams, then share it online with your friends and loved ones, and take them on in your very own “home turf”!

This might just turn out to the competitor of Mario Kart! Only time can tell, ModnationRacers releases May 25th, 2010, on the Playstation 3.

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Free MMORPG - Grand Fantasia


Really interesting game to explore and pick up on the rapidly expanding “Free to Play MMORPG” Trend..!

Might as well check it out! Visit the site and take in the vibrant art world :)

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Yay! Sequel for one of the most loved PS3 Games is about to arrive!

Little Big Planet 2 has a planned release for the Fall this year!

Seems to be offering a much more robust Game Builder for players to mess around with, opening up even more opportunities for modding and level creation. Different camera angles, more awesome lighting effects, “smarter” objects? o:

I think games like LBP are genius. You build a game, advertise it as a game where “you create your game, the way you want it, anything and anyway you like it!”

“Don’t only get to play the game, you also get to build your own levels and also download and play other players’ creations!” “You guys have made over 2 million custom games and worlds! Much moreee than we could have imagined!”

It’s genius!

Why work to build “DLC” to keep a game alive? Make your consumers do your work for you! Take “Modern Warfare 2″ for example…they push out like.. DLC Map Packs “+5 additional levels” every few months..

with custom game builders like Little Big Planet, you are pretty much getting 5000 “additional levels” every few months, and the work is done by your consumers, not by you!

haha, awesome x] Build something and have the world continue the work for you..hehehe..advertise it as a “build and share your creations“..

Sure, those “user created worlds” are free to download and share, so there’s no fee and can’t be labeled as “DLC”. But then, i’m pretty sure there will mean increased and continued sale of the game software itself, which probably makes up for the “free add-ons”. The game also features other purchasable stuff, like custom avatars for your in-game character, which you do pay for.

Little Big Planet 2 Debut Trailer:

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Another Gamasutra feature article, this time talking about game developers moving overseas in search of new work opportunities, and they’ve put up a lil’ something about Singapore and the gaming industry!

Singapore’s quality of life is “just amazing. Everything is super-efficient — especially the public transport system which is very organized and very cheap, the food is incredible, and there’s just so much energy in the air.”

- Claude Langlais,
Ubisoft Singapore

Haha, really? x) I guess you don’t realize these kinda stuff growing up there all your life, ’til you’re away from it and you start reminiscing it :D

Singapore is starting to show up more often on the map for game development, i’m really looking forward to see how much it grows there and what it grows into over the next 5 or 7 years. I myself was lucky enough to have had a chance to visit and speak to LucasArts Singapore back in 2008…as well as EA Singapore where i had a short chat with the VP-of-something x]

Other new game studios that had popped up in Singapore include Ubisoft and TakeTwo Interactive.

Full writeup at Gamasutra - http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/28461/A_Global_Move_Worth_It.php

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Here’s another game with amazing art direction.

Yep, Limbo is an Indie Game too, developed for the Xbox Live Arcade platform only (unfortunately). I believe the game has won awards for it’s just-gorgeous art style…minimal yet still so powerful in conveying emotion in the viewer. Almost every part of the game, you can pause and it becomes a work of art, like a gallery showing.

The project began with 1 person’s basic sketches, which he made into a video (animatic), that captured the hearts of millions in an instant. Developers and publishers alike then opened up opportunities to develop it into what it is today. After 6 years of development, we have this beautiful piece of a game to appreciate.

This is just the reason why i have grown such a love for indie games. The art direction is usually what most Indiegames seem to focus on as a result of having limited resources/small man-power. Minimal, yet brilliant, simplistic nature of the games.

It drives home the fact that you don’t always necessarily need to make the next “Call of Duty Moden Warfare” or “Crysis” or “Unreal Gears of War” to win the hearts of gamers around the world.


Check out the videos!

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for peeps that havn’t heard of this game yet, i think it’s one of the best takes on keeping that retro-spirit in gaming, alive.

3D Dot Game Heroes, developed by Silicon Studios, coming out in a couple weeks (May 11, 2010) for the PS3 exclusively, features the “pixelated retro look” from the old days of gaming on our crappy low-resolution screens… picture the days of the GameBoy and it’s green & black lcd display.

now modernize that by throwing it into the realm of three-dimensions, and you get this gorgeous of a game. The soundtrack keeps in step with the retro vibe, an energetic loop-ish “MIDI” music, mixed in with some orchestra to bring it to the modern era.

some nitpickers already comparing it to Zelda games…but hey, it plays well and has one of the most distinct visuals in years of gaming.

check out more of the game! it’s beautiful.

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Just read about this brand new support funding group called “Indie-fund“.

Started up by 7 of the industry’s most successful “Indies” (Independent developers), namely creators of “World of Goo” Ron Carmel & Kyle Gabler, “Braid”s Johnathan Blow (one of the most awesomely hand-painted games in my opinion of all time), Kellee Santiago from “Flower” (PS3), “Critter Crunch”s Nathan Vella, Matthew Wegner “Off-road Velociraptor Safari”, and Aaron Isaksen of “Armadillo Gold Rush”…the groups mission is to support fellow Indepedant Developers/”Indies” by

…helping indie developers get financially independent and stay financially independent.

Ron Carmel explained that indies going to publishers was a “system that never worked” because there was no “transparency” in the process. Also Indies that go to these publishers (ie. Activision/EA/Ubisoft) always mostly end up getting pushed around, hurting the original game design process, restricting the creative process, and these Indies get tied down by the publisher..publisher tells the Indies “what is better to do”.

With Indie Fund,

…A focus will be on flexible development.

The game development process requires experimentation and iteration, so the old methodology of coming up with big design documents ahead of time, with milestones attached that risk employee pay, ends up causing developers stress and ultimately risks game quality.

Under the Indie Fund model, the developer submits periodic builds to the fund along with a change list, so the game can be evaluated based on where it was last time it was evaluated, “not on where we think it should be”. This approach “respects the game design process as it should happen”.

Importantly, Indie Fund will not seek IP ownership. “We want the developer to own the IP and for the developer to be master of their own destiny.”

“We don’t want to tell you how to make your game.”

“If we provide funding for a game, then that’s a vote of confidence in the team that they have a vision and that they can execute it.”

If i know better than you what’s right for your game, then we probably shouldn’t be funding your game.”

- Leigh Alexander and
Simon Carless

GameDeveloperMagazine April 2010

Indie Fund is the bright light that many aspiring Indies will look to! Since the Fund only just launched, it is still a model in testing, and future funding for more games is still uncertain. They however, already plan to bring in bigger investors to support, if the funding model does prove successful.

This is great news for Indies. Especially today when “big houses” have been laying off so many people, regardless an industry veteran or not. Casual/Indie games have been booming, over Facebook, iPhone/iPad (mobile games), XBox Live Arcade, PSN, and other web platforms.

I am too personally, rooting for Indie Fund’s mission to be a success. I feel it’s a great time to break away from the developer/publisher model, let the hard work of indies pay off the way it should..encourage more people to explore Indie games as an option!

I would encourage anyone who’s interested in developing Indie games to check out Indie Fund further. :D

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just a quick blurb.. Steam currently has a Rockstar Week going on..

pretty much getting all the games from Rockstar studios for like.. the price of one.

Grand Theft Auto
Grand Theft Auto 2
GTA Vice City
GTA San Andreas
GTA Episodes from Liberty City
Max Pane
Max Pane 2
Midnight Club 2 (one of the best arcade racing games in my opinion)
Wild Metal

that’s 13 games for $40bucks…

what surprised me was that they even include up to the most recent title “GTA4 – Episodes from Libery City” which recently sold for 30bucks on its own.

to me, you’re not just buying 13 awesome games, you’re getting to watch and experience how a game grew through the years to what it is today (GTA series), which is awesome since there’s so many iterations.

but i’ve not made my purchase yet. x:

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ok so i just read this amazing article “Opinion: Be Wary Of The Innovation Bandwagon” (you guys should read it too!!) … and i thought i’d write down my thoughts about it, as i find every bit of that writeup very relevant to many aspects of my personal endeavors.

The writer basically says that you don’t necessarily need to come up with an entirely new ‘innovative idea’ for your game to be ‘successful’…and he talks about the 2 kinds of developers, “clean-slate” types and “reactive” types…

In a blog post from a few years ago, Warren Spector said there are some innovators who are the “clean slate” guys who come up with these borderline crazy yet ingenious new game concepts that nobody has ever heard of before. Not only can they come up with the ideas, but they’re also able execute on those ideas by creating a game that’s truly compelling.

But Spector said that he considers himself more of a “reactive” guy — he plays existing games, gets annoyed with their shortcomings, and comes up with his own game that fixes the problems that he identifies.

see video here

An example i can think of as “crazy yet ingenious new game concepts” would be the student-project-gone-professional “Portal”. What game can u think of?

…and i completely agree with the writer in regards to the innovation bandwagon.

I finally learnt what “type of developer” i can identify myself as..”reactive” (yesh, i consider myself a game developer already! wahaha) …if you read back at my rants from earlier (months/years), you will notice that i’ve done just about what a “reactive” person does. Play games, get annoyed, and improve upon those aspects. Only piece missing is actually executing, which i’m quite limited to as of now because of my education & my experience (i even made a post some months back to look for programmers to help me!).

I have friends that knows me not to complete games (not finishing/playing all the way through) and this is probably the reason…on my end, i just play the game to explore and see what the game has done and is about, why people recommend it, why the love it, why they don’t like it, and take notes! x]

A good place to find games would be Steam, there’s tons of demos available there, and demos are pretty much all you need. oh and there is the Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) community as well (although i don’t have an xbox).

My favorite piece to take home from his writeup is the notion that

Most great games aren’t based on brand new, ground-breaking ideas. More typically, great games come from someone who has skillfully identified where existing ideas need improvement or further attention, and can execute on those observations.

I think he should have added something about sequels in that regard…everyone knows that the idea of a sequel to anything (game/movie/tv show) usually ends up on the two extremes as ultimate failure or epically successful, and i’m pretty sure these people making the sequels must have done some kind of  research on their originals feedback.

Game creators should still absolutely take risks and pursue innovation.

Now that is what i call Art.

Some day, reaaal soon, i’m gonna execute my ideas…stand on the edge of the cliff and risk plunging into the waters far down below!
Look out world, i’m coming to get ya! :D

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