Monday, December 19, 2011

It's been a while... Blame Six AM.

If you were to skim through this blog over the years, you'd find that there are random lengthy periods of time where I go without posting. Generally it comes from laziness, or a stressful day job, or marriage (that sounds like I've done it more than once), or simply discovering a new game on my iPhone (I'm talking about you, Jetpack Joyride!). This time, however, it comes from doing TOO MUCH work... Something my parents probably thought they'd never hear me... type.

As I mentioned in some earlier posts, my main creative outlet, Six AM Comics, got a kickstart back in August when we started making caricatures of our fans (I say fans, but really I mean my friends) on Facebook. It was a process we like to call "Getting AM-inated" or "Virtual Puberty". This process was incredibly tedious and I'm personally delighted that it's winded down some. I illustrated over 60 of our followers and we inducted them into the East Valley University Class of 11'. East Valley being the fictional New Hampshire hometown where our website's main characters reside. This was done to allow our viewers to feel as though they are a part of the universe we're creating, not just observers. Our goal has always been to establish a sense of community within the site. Thanks to sites like Facebook and Twitter, we can finally accomplish this. We even went as far as to give the University it's own website, complete with undergrad and graduate applications.

But really, the AMination process only took up most of August and September which digressed into weekly competitions with only one victor getting an avatar on Fridays. Which brings me to the next filler of my time over the past few months... The weekly competitions. While they started out simple enough, Kevin would go on Facebook and ask a general question like, "What fictional class would you like to take at EVU?" and we'd proceed to pick the best response... This eventually turned into the creation of actual games our viewers could play online... Created by yours truly using Flash.

If you're familiar with this blog, then you're well aware of a game I've been working on for the past 2 years called "Son'Uva"... While this game still hasn't seem the light of day given its complexity (complex for someone like me who has little to no coding knowledge), I was able to design and create 4 simple flash games which kept our viewers entertained for all but 5 minutes at a time. The first of these was called "Tweet. Aim. Fire." and it was a clone of Duck Hunt where our site's main characters were shooting twitter birds in a field. I also included the easter egg of being able to shoot fellow Six AMer, Dan (known as KAL on the site) out of a nearby tree... If you're interested in playing this game click the screenshot below:

Due to this game's positive response, we quickly put our brains together and cranked out a new game: "Your Clothes. Give Them To Me." It was an incredibly simple game where you had to match the different pieces of various Arnold Schwarzenegger outfits. The faster you made a match the more points you got. In addition, the more obscure the Arnie reference, you were awarded extra points. As we did with the previous game, the person who received the highest score and posted a screenshot of their victory would be AMinated. The idea for this game came from an illustration I made a while back called "The Many Faces of Arnold Schwarzenegger". You can play game by clicking the following screenshot:

Given the simplicity of this previous game, I got "sequelitus" and wanted to bigger. Michael Bay Forever! Around this time, me and my coworkers (my day job) had been playing Rock Paper Scissors like fiends, we had imaginary WWF-style belts and everything. We should have been in some kind of professional league... Which gave me the idea for this gem... PRO ROCK PAPER SCISSORS! At this point, this game is technically still in production, but I had finished enough work on it to release a demo. Like those old Shareware PC games you used to be able to buy at Walmart. For a game based solely on randomness, you'd swear you were using real strategy. That illusion created a pretty darn good time if I do say so myself. The demo version allows you to play as Jason (my cartoon counterpart on Six AM) in one round against a beefed up version of my childhood dog, Leo the Schnauzer. Around this time, I had downloaded "Fruity Loops" for my iPhone and began making my own midi-style music for this game... T'was glorious. Click below and play it!

After the completion of the demo, I got a little burnt out on making flash games and took a break for a while, focusing on other content for the site. i.e. Comics, blogs, etc... That was until I began watching videos on youtube of old Tiger Electronics games. I loved those old games, you can even read about it in one of my old posts. I love the simplicity of those games and thought, "It must not be that hard to make one"... I was terribly wrong, but I wouldn't let that stop me. I spent a few weeks (the other games took days at most) cranking out graphics and throwing up code here and there until I created the following game, based off of a Graphic Novel I'm working on which is based off a student film I helped a friend out with a few years back called "Damascus". Much like the games of Tiger, this game has little to do with the actual plot of the thing it's based off of, but it carries with it a brand. And that's all that matters, right? Click. Play. Love.

But games don't necessarily end with Flash. We created a number of other ways for our viewers to interact with us and be entertained. When I wasn't creating video games, I was making Highlights-style puzzles. The first of these was the following:

At least six differences... But there were more, mainly because I'm not talented enough to draw the exact same things twice. Winky Face. Six AMer, Kevin (known as Stan on the site) came up with Horror Movie Hangman, where he used famous horror film phrases combined with my own illustrations to create a fun game on Facebook for our fans:

What else, what else... Oh! The website's homepage header changes every month to let our viewers know we give a dern. The following are the headers I illustrated for the site:

There's a lot more headers on the site, but you'll just have to go there to see them. Anyway, there's a number of other illustrative work I've been doing for Six AM. We rebooted "Scholars", designed "Desktops" and also created a number of promotional images for other websites who have helped support us since our start. So needless to say, it's been a busy few months and I don't see it letting up until we're rich, famous, and phoning this stuff in!

So yeah, that's what's been up.
~ Mark

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