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Exhausting marketing

Ugh – arms are aching

So – in my quest to create marketing materials – I create a LOT of work for myself. I’m currently working on a Team Fortress 2 styled ‘Meet the Team’ videos, and if you haven’t seen them, they are an absolute gem:

Now, since my game isn’t as nearly violent or frenetic, I also figured the pace might be a bit slower. And since my ‘team’ is my family, I need to reflect each a bit closer to their personalities. Hence, my “special musical guests” are my niece & nephew and since the early days of my project, they’ve enthusiastically geeked to my work, I wanted to give them a bit more pizzazz on their videos, especially since my nephew like special effects.

They had previously shot some footage for a ‘Meet the Playtester’ video and had a nice stable video of my nephew being chased by a sword twirling niece. Which I thought I’d goose up by masking them and dropping the shot in a gritty city environment from some of the Blender experiments I’ve been working on (namely the amazing Ian Hubert’s Lazy Tutorials)

The biggest hurdle is the masking.

Ugh – arms are aching

According to most Blender tutorials, it’s best to mask parts of the body instead of the whole thing – meaning I’d be going through the same 6 seconds of footage masking out arms, bodies, heads and legs on 2 people moving. A lot.

And since they were running, the computer had a tough time interpolating keyframes on each node and I was going through all 186 frames, one at a time, to make adjustments.

Masking is a pain

I DID try the AI route using RunwayML and was massively impressed with how it did – you simply click areas you want masked and the AI did the rest. It did have trouble with the swords my niece was swinging, and it blanked a couple of frames, which I could never quite get right. Between that and the free version only outputting 720p I opted to do it by hand, the hard way. Until I either get funding or can justify the $150 subscription to upgrade.

All told, it was a LOT of effort to get 6 seconds on what will eventually be a TikTok video – but the kids were impressed, and I like taking their creative efforts and combining it with my own.

I’m just gonna greenscreen them both next time and save myself the back ache.

CGI back alley
Made with old photos I took in NYC


So, in the few moments I get here and there, I try and read what I can; usually in the pickup line at kiddo’s school.

Lately, I’ve been deepdiving into UX / UI – while I ‘can’ do graphic design, I’m much more of a get the idea out and its done. It also feels like the biggest weakness because it usually has no pizzazz or style.

screenshot of 'Go Booper Go!'
Old, boring UI

In my random bits of knowledge – I kept feeling like my mobile game just wasn’t good enough – it was distracting me. And it didn’t help that my neighbor’s little boy had a bit of trouble figuring out the gameplay. That smacks of poor design.

So – back to the sketchbook. Or sketchbooks, as it were.

My little art director has filled dozens of 18″x24″ newsprint pads, and still draws a lot to this day. So I dove into them, looking for anything that might be a better fit than the clock I had been using.

a multicolored bar red on the left, green on the right. Drawn in crayon
My lil art director thinks of everything

A slider bar! That is a lot easier to read – and I could put it right under Booper, so the player wouldn’t have to take their eyes off the action! Plus it frames the player and the play area nicely, and I could move the completed word counter right underneath the letter boxes. Much neater!

gif of timer bar
So. Much. Better.

I might just be getting the hang of this dev stuff.

New year, new beer

After a very rough holiday season, I’m finally back to a place of dev.

Back on Nov. 1st, my wife had the honor of being laid off from the same job that laid me off back in 2006, via a conference call, and right before the holiday season. To her credit, instead of spending a month of depressive TV watching and sleeping, she dove right into job hunting and (luckily) found a job doing the same thing, and for the same pay.

Its mine all mine, once more!

Which means that for the FIRST TIME in over 2 years and 10 months, I am alone in the house, not tending to kids (who went back to school this week) not playing tech for a person on each floor of the house who needs to access work or school, not providing snack, meals, beverages or clean up duty to said people on each floor. I can just sit. And work.

my cat

Except for this fuzzball, who senses the house is empty and is clinging to me as if I were the last chopper out of Saigon.

It is a bit daunting, now I have zero excuse – time to finish the GDD, publish the mobile game and get seriously working on the game – before May sneaks up on me and I’m stuck with two kiddos once again.

I do have ONE resolution this year – I want to show my game a either Games4Change’s XR 4 Change expo, or perhaps the Interactive pavilion at Tribeca; either way – its been too long since I’ve been home and I long to roam the streets of NYC, see friends I haven’t seen in years and visit some fave watering holes – plus suck up a ton of reference photos for painting my city grungy paintings.

Time to get moving.

It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear

I hate ‘Friends’

I’ve always hated ‘Friends’

I’ve hated it since it debuted in ’94 and them roommates and I were dirt poor, living in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and it took TWO subway rides to get anywhere. The roomies and I would lambast the show for its sheer ‘un-New York-ness’. No one we knew had giant apartments like that. There were no strikingly attractive people living across the hall from us. Our ‘wacky adventures’ were rollerblading the city streets looking for the cheapest food and ale we could find.

But I can’t get that damn theme song out of my head.

2nd gear. Stuck. Summer break with 2 kids who are bored. Family vacations stuck in the car driving for hours. Summer camps (special needs for lil’ Art Director and chess camp for Jr. lil’ Art Director).
Playdates with other kids. And I truly believe Sartre is being misquoted when he said ‘Hell is other people’ – I think he mean to say ‘Hell is other people’s kids’ – either I have some sort of ‘vibe’ kids pick up on, or there is a serious parenting crisis in the country; but it seems that if I show even the slightest interest / interaction with anyone my kids are playing with, they instantly glom on to me and demand my attention. Its almost as if they’re neglected by every single adult in their lives and they are starved for grown up attention.

Rant over. Seeing that I haven’t written since April- I can totally relate to the whole ‘stuck in 2nd gear’ motif. Even though things HAVE been moving forward.

I’ve been slowly plugging away at the mobile game – and despite the struggles of adding the Curved World effect that it seems is necessary for all infinite runners these days, its getting closer to release. The biggest issue, of course, is the impostor syndrome nagging of ‘is it any good?’ Which I’m sure will plague me 10 years down the road after the internet has shredded it, mocked me into a cave-living hermit.

Booper Get Home logo

I’ve been playing around with AI stuff as well – I tried plugging my game into Midjourney, and this is what was spat out – and I kinda like it as a starting point, so it might become the logo for the mobile game. After some edits. Painting it from scratch. Adding my kid’s handwritten font. Redoing it again cause I don’t like it. BUT – I do see the potential for faster iterating of ideas, maybe not the actual art creation, but just quickly throwing out stuff to see what get the creative juices flowing.

intern work!

Lastly – I got an intern! A fellow Oculus Launch Pad dev (who also happens to be a new media professor at a nearby college) approached me with a student who wants to learn VR dev and I have to say; as SOON as I get a dime of funding, I’m hiring this guy. Its been so long since I’ve done any collaborative work with someone else, that I had forgotten that people can bring a whole different kind of creativity to the table. The animation above really drove that point home. I would have given this character a skootchy, wiggly type of dragging on the ground movement, but instead my intern gave it this vertical, bounciness that I totally adore. Having a different viewpoint can be completely eye-opening.

Keep your eyes peeled – crowdfunding is coming soon!