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I keep cranking out videos about Photoshop, Illustrator, and Flash - I'm putting myself out of a job by recording everything I know for everyone in the world to see for free. It is kinda neat to realize that I've learned a lot over the last 10 years or so... I usually take it for granted, but systematizing everything has made me more aware.
Here are a couple vids I recently made:
1. Arrays in programming
2. Photoshop "blend modes" which were NEW to me!
There's still a whole lot to learn though... what would you like a demo of?
For Halloween scariness I'm posting a link to my Photoshop tutorial about layer mask gradient blends used to merge various animals into a SPOOKY new creature!
Hope you enjoy/get scared!
How was YOUR Halloween? What did you do?
I've been teaching a "Digital Game Development" class at a local charter school for the past 12 weeks! My "internship" is nearly over and then I'll get that sweet sweet paper degree in December!
To scratch my creative itch I've been making videos about Graphic Design and Game Dev. for my students. If you're interested in learning pretty dang quick, check out this playlist on YouTube:
The first few vids I snatched from other people who did a great job with the basic introductory stuff, but the last 10 or so are made by me.
Here's a sample to see if you like my style!
In other news, all this time sitting in a classroom has bred some good game ideas... I still have a BIG game (http://www.bossclash.com) that I need to finish once my internship is done, and I have some interest from a unique company regarding Deterministic Dungeon that might create some decent cash flow... hoping things work out for the best there.
I've got Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks coming up soon and I hope to be able to get back into the game-dev swing with the time off.
How do you balance the mundanity of making ends meet with your desire to be creative (all while not burning yourself out)?
One of my big struggles with doing my student teaching has been feeling the urge to MAKE things. Teaching high-school kids can be rewarding, but when I don't have a personal creative outlet I get antsy and frustrated.
So, I started making instructional videos for my classes. Not only has it scratched my creative itch, but it's been a REALLY nice way to teach my students. They basically get a custom one-on-one learning experience with me that they can pause, rewind, and fast forward/watch at double speed (plus extra features like automatic closed-captioning for multi-modal learning). If there are extra questions, the real me is there in-person to answer them (which is much better than watching a kahn academy video or something non-personal online), but 90% of the students are learning without much real-me intervention.
The video method is also a huge boon for absent students who can watch my videos at home and get caught up almost immediately.
I feel like I'm on to something good for education. The last part of this blog post by Bill Gates helped spur me on to teaching this way.
Here's one of my better videos explaining what functions are in programming and how they work (I can usually knock 2 or 3 of these videos out every day during my prep. periods):
What do YOU think?
Ever want to create a Mandala design, but been too lazy to make all those intricate lines? Well fret no more! Here's a video I'm using in my Art Education internship to teach high schoolers about symmetry and symbols!
This video is an effort to have the students do something fairly complex, but to teach them the technical stuff in video form so they can go at their own pace (pause, rewind, watch in 2x speed, etc.)
I'll see tomorrow if it works!
I dare you to try it!
Time for an out-of-context update:
Van Gogh never achieved great recognition during his life. He continued to make art, moving closer and closer to clinical insanity until he committed suicide thinking his life's work was a failure.
Dr. Who took him to a modern museum, imagine how this would feel:
In other news, I'm on my 4th week of my teaching internship... it's been pretty hellish so far... I've basically been tossed in the deep end without much support and 3 full curricula to design... I'm barely staying 1 day ahead of the students... kind of missing the good ol' days of being a full-time game dev... much less stressful!
An added stress is I have a SUPERVISOR from my university in my class 4 days out of 5 that is constantly criticizing me and telling me what I need to improve. Imagine doing your job with someone constantly looking over your shoulder and handing you a set of "notes" for improvement at the end of every day (plus conducting formal evaluations of your performance and literally grading you)... it's an added stress that I'll be glad to be rid of after only... 10 MORE WEEKS! :-(
It's extremely humbling and sometimes rough to swallow my pride, especially when I philosophically disagree with my supervisor on fundamental aspects of education, but she's got my final grade in her hands so I have to jump through her hoops.
I've heard the 1st year teaching is always like this though, so hopefully things calm down once I'm into the groove of things.
In good news, my "Digital Game Development" class is pretty fun to teach, but it's incredible how much foundation work it takes to get good at Flash... so many quirks and new concepts for these high school students that I've taken for granted for many years (have you ever tried to verbally explain the difference between a graphic symbol and a movieclip? Try it sometime...). There've been a few moments where the students have started catching the vision of the power they're beginning to wield and that's the main thing that's keeping me going.
The students are finishing their 1st project this week, a 15-second animation... and it's been ROUGH for them to learn enough Flash just to get those 360 frames put together into something somewhat presentable. A few of the students are picking it up FAST though and making some incredible stuff. I don't know what privacy issues are at play, but it'd be fun to upload their anims here to Newgrounds, maybe as a compilation, for some brutally honest feedback :-D
I honestly don't know if I can handle being a full time teacher... I REALLY miss being more actively involved in my own personal projects, but I've committed to stick it out for this 1st year and probably a 2nd to make sure I'm not just cringing at the tough up-front acclimation, and maybe the summer will fill my creativity void, but I hear the call of a lot of new game ideas and it's really hard to resist.
Give me some input about new jobs and teaching and the inner drive to be creating plz.
I finished my 325 mile bike tour down the Pacific Coast Highway! It took 5 days, and we rode about 45, 50, 65, 75, and 100 miles! It was really fun and challenging!
Here are some pics:
Starting campsite at Big Sur California (near giant redwood forest).
Our 2 man tent, bikes and baby carrier re-purposed as supply rig.
First day, my friend sewed a brim onto his helmet to protect from the sun, we're calling it the "Cowboy Helmet" - We also had bluetooth communicators on our helmets that let us talk to each other the whole time.
Nobody around to take our picture so I photoshopped my friend in...
South of Big Sur there's a cool beach where Elephant Seals sunbathe, can't really see them here, but it was pretty cool!
Morning of day 2: Lost the key to our bike lock, so had to use my Leatherman multi-tool to saw it off!
A fellow bike tourist. "Ramses" had been on the road for over a year. He started in New York state!
Morro Rock looms along the coast.
Our only trouble was some worn out bike cleats, luckilly there were plenty of bike shops along the PCH.
Old cleat (gray) vs. new cleat (red) - The old one was paper-thin!
Climbing a massive hill (+1000 feet)
Our campsite on day 3 was right on the shore at Refugio Beach!
Never turn your back on your friend when the camera is out...
Stunning bike path along Carpinteria/Ventura beach area.
My favorite beach: Mugu Point - misty morning ride on our final day.
Breathtaking - Every hill rewarded us with new incredible scenery.
Riding through the sandy bike path right on Venice/Muscle beach.
On day 4, we ditched the trailer because it was waaay too heavy - stayed in a hotel on night 4 and were at our destination by the end of day 5.
On our final day, we biked nearly 100 miles. Kinda crazy to finish it all with a century!
In other news, I've been going back to college to finish my degree over the last 2 years. This Fall semester will be my last one, which means I get to do an "internship" or "student-teaching." After a lot of finagling, I was able to swing a "paid internship" which means I won't have to dip into my savings to support my family over the next 4 months.
I'll be teaching at a local charter school that focuses on "S.T.E.A.M." education which takes "S.T.E.M." (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and inserts the "Arts" back into the mix. I really dig this philosophy of education because it equips students with skills that are immediately applicable in the real world once they're out of school (or even while they're still in school). And "Art" adds in the creativity that is often missing from purely technical training.
I'll be teaching 3 classes: Graphic Design 1 & 2, and DIGITAL GAME DEVELOPMENT! I'm particularly pumped about that last one. I'd love it if my students could actually publish some games in the app store and/or here on Newgrounds.
I'm still working on http://www.BossClash.com (Sign up to be a Beta TESTER), and we're making good progress. Lots of adjustments coming up in the next few months, wish me luck!
Here are some teasers to get you drooling:
BOSS # 1!!!!
I'll be heading out this weekend to start a week-long bike tour down the Pacific Coast Highway! It'll be 6 days and about 350 miles! It's gonna be super challenging and fun. I've been prepping like crazy, and decided to use a baby trailer to carry all my stuff. To keep all the electronics charged I decided to use a solar panel and a battery pack. To secure the solar panel to the trailer, my wife and I had a stroke of genius and decided to use my old convention lanyards!
I knew I saved them for a reason!
If you've ever been to a convention where The Behemoth had a booth, you know that their lanyards are quite a few notches above the standard fare and they worked perfectly on the back of my trailer to tie down the solar panel. #MacGyver
Hopefully all goes well on my bike tour and I return with some cool stories/photos to show off in a week or two!
In other news, I relocated my office this week to make room for my kids to not all be in the same room (now we have a girl room and boy room). As I was cleaning stuff out and throwing stuff away, I went on a nostalgia-filled reminiscing trip. I've been making games for a long time now (over 10 years) and it's been a wild ride!
Newgrounds was the first place to really encourage me and recognize a spark of talent in me (though my old stuff is really cringeworthy looking back). I've worked with a lot of talented people and made some legit friends. Sometimes I wish I could go back to the old days when people had a lot more free time and you could get by making smaller-sized experimental games to flex your creative muscles.
Some of my highlights were P.I.C.O., Nephi's Adventure, Aqua Slug, Black Sheep Acres, Ivan Drago: Justice Enforcer, BoM Beat Battle (Winning the "Rockout" contest) visiting Comic Con 3 years in a row. Terrascape. Trick or Treat Adventure Quest. Boss Bash. Going to Pico Day. Doing stuff for Wiggi World/Woogi World. Visiting Italy. Pico Blast. Castle Crashing the Beard. The Newgrounds Printed Calendar. Buccaneer Battle (winning the Max Games contest). Portal Defenders. Cave of Wonders. Chibi Knight. Madness: Premeditation. Abobo's Big Adventure (Winning a NG Tank Award). 3 kids along the way. Super Chibi Knight. Deterministic Dungeon. Time flies!
I wonder if my "peak" was some point in there or if it's still to come. I wonder if things will "click" monetarily soon with a bigger project. I can definitely see improvement in myself over that time period, but the market in-general has also gotten better and better with higher standards.
I made a spreadsheet of my games (since the NG API was launched and I began tracking stats across the web) to see if I could recognize any trends. Surprisingly, Pico Blast seems to have had the broadest appeal on the web for the longest time. It's a good fun "boss rush" game, with nice variety, but I wouldn't have chosen it as my "best game." 2008-2010 seems to be my most "successful" time period.
Also, I discovered that, just since starting to track stats in 2007, my top 20 games have been played over 100 million times. That means I've been entertaining 10 million+ players a year for 10 years!
Johnny Carson, talking about why comedians do what they do said:
"Everybody wants to be loved–no matter what they do. Everybody wants to feel that somebody likes them, they’re accepted. It’s an attention-getting thing. And that, in effect, is like saying, ‘Hey, look at me, folks. I’m getting your acceptance.’ So it is a form of love, I think, you’re looking for from the audience. And I’m sure that’s part of it, to any performer, is that, 'they like me’."
I've questioned my motivations for creating stuff a lot over the years. Money is ONE motivation, but there is also the desire for acceptance/love mentioned by Johnny Carson. It might be called "attention whoring" or whatever, but I can't deny there's some of that going on with me. I don't think it's shameful, it's just a part of any person's creative drive.
I honestly believe that, even if I had all the money in the world, I'd still be doing this, worrying about how popular my creations are, and enjoying it.
Updates on Boss Clash: I've been working on menus!