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BoMToons
So many times, it happens too fast...you trade your passion for glory. Don't lose your grip on the dreams of the past, you must fight just to keep them alive.

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Somewhere in Nevada...

Somewhere in California..

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BoMToons's News

Posted by BoMToons - August 1st, 2022


It's been a good spell since my last blog post and I need to get this out there before even more life events pile up...


Portal Defenders: Tower Defense


For the 2nd annual "Flash Forward" game jam, me, @luis, and @pyragmus made an olskool tower defense game! It should be obvious that Kingdom Rush was a big inspiration since it's my favorite TD game. However, I feel like we added quite a bit of novelty with more complex boss battles and a unique upgrading system (those beefy Tank Men robots are 🔥). It took lots of demos to convince Luis he wanted to work on a TD game, but I think we were all pretty pleased with the final product. It was also a dream come true to have @JohnnyUtah do the Tank Men voices. The TD concept actually fits the "Portal Defenders" name better than the beatemup Portal Defenders we made back in the day. It was fun to explore the Newgrounds "multiverse" of characters and environments and we've even been talking about releasing an expansion pack with more levels sometime this year. It's also surreal to see a Flash game written in as2 running flawlessly on mobile devices today. In your face Steve Jobs! (and thank you Ruffle!) It's been played over 100k times at the time of this post. Oh, and we WON the Flash Forward competition! Still got it homiez... 😎


If you want to get early access to more stuff we're working on, drop your email here (we won't sell it or use it for anything shady): https://portaldefenders.com/


Legendary Games

This is totally a humble brag, but I had 3 games show up simultaneously in the Newgrounds "Legendary Games" section. I love Newgrounds, Tom, and the community, so it really makes my "feel goods" feel good to receive this kind of recognition. <3


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Woodworking

As a change of pace from the digital world, I've been experimenting with woodworking over the last few months. A while back a friend and I installed "French Cleats" in my garage. It's basically a system to modularly "hang" different organizational stuff from the wall in a secure, but modifiable, way. My cleats sat empty for over a year, and that made me sad, so I "carved" out some time to start making stuff (and get my garage space organized for once).


I started out with a rack for my clamps which also serves as a shelf.

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Then I made some shelf supports that also double as screwdriver holders (also modular on the cleated wall). Super simple projects, but I'm a super beginner!

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Then I moved onto something more complex, a "charging station/holster" for all my drills and their batteries/accessories. This time I used an iPad app that lets me make 3D models (Shapr3D):

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Here's a video showing off the final product:


Finally, I got SUPER ambitious and 3D modeled a combination couch/bed furniture set for our upstairs loft area with tons of drawers and storage space (mind you, I had never built a drawer at this point).

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We had people coming over for a big family reunion in 2 weeks so I used that as a deadline to motivate me. I had NO IDEA how complex the whole thing would be and how many unexpected roadblocks would arise. Luckily, I had my best friend (and mechanical engineer), Matt, there to help me and we got almost everything done in the timeframe. We woke up early and stayed up late for 2 weeks straight and still barely made it. After lots of trips to the hardware store, and lots of new tools, it actually turned out pretty nice and I'm super proud of what we accomplished. My wife even custom-sewed the foam cushion covers to complete the project. It felt like a very intense game jam and, accordingly, I'm still recovering from it a week later. Huge learning experience though!


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Axe Throwing News

We added a bunch of new "achievements" to our axe-throwing "club" app and one of them, I just made up, asked the member to defuse a bomb with their axe... I had no idea at the time how we'd do that short of making a custom game using our web socket + Ruffle animation system... but then I got to thinking and talking with some people and went down a rabbit hole of electronics and made a demo of how a "real life" bomb defusing game could work with real wires and real lights and such. Check this video if that sounds interesting to you:


We also officially signed on a new venue in Porto, Portugal (our second axe-throwing/restaurant venue). It's super exciting and scary to see if we can replicate the business and the success of the first store. I'll likely fly out to Portugal again at the end of the year for the official opening. In preparation for the new store (and future stores) I've been rewriting a bunch of our back-office code and our gaming system to be infinitely scale-able for multiple venues. We also used the opportunity to do a major overhaul of our official website which turned out pretty nice! One big enhancement was support of 4 more languages, bringing our total language count to 7 (Portuguese, English, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, and German). This required a good touch up to my initial code for localization to make it more scale-able and easy to use for the translators we brought on.


Check it out (especially cool on mobile): https://usaxeclub.com/


Miscellaneous

I had a birthday in there somewhere and Father's Day. My daughter also graduated high school (😲) - yes, the original voice actress from Chibi Knight and Super Chibi Knight...


I also doodled a bunch of art:


I just got back from the family reunion, which wasn't exactly the stress-free vacation I'd hoped for, and I got tremendously sunburned on our beach day because I fell asleep without sunscreen... 🤪


Conclusion

I'm feeling pretty good about life lately, the only thing really on my mind is the need to get back on the horse with eating right and exercise... I've put on some pounds and would like to get into better shape.


What's up with you? Drop me a comment and fill me in!


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40

Posted by BoMToons - March 14th, 2022


Hey, me and @luis and @pyragmus have been pushing hard to finish our Flash Forward Jam game and we're now ready to start organizing some BETA TESTERS!


If that sounds like fun to you, drop us your email address here:

https://portaldefenders.com


Here's a super secret sneak peek!


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Posted by BoMToons - January 11th, 2022


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@mockery, @poxpower and I (the creators behind Abobo's Big Adventure) are getting together FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER to play through Abobo's Big Adventure in a livestream format.


Come join us at 5pm PST (8pm EST) this evening for some fun reminiscing and insight into the development of this beastly game!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPuud1j2y1A&ab_channel=2LeftThumbs


See you tonight!


Also, check out the ongoing Art Contest for the 10 year anniversary!

https://www.newgrounds.com/bbs/topic/1491561


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Posted by BoMToons - December 30th, 2021


Happy 2022! Typing that really feels like we're living in "the future." Here are some updates from my life since my last post, then I'll type some stuff about looking back on 2021:


Projected Axe Throwing Games

I built a way to "mount" a projector on my back yard pergola to use with my axe throwing target. The fam had fun testing out all the axe throwing games I've been working on


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New Axe Throwing Game: Axe Match

Another easy, low-hanging, fruit kind of axe throwing game. You reveal tiles and try to make matches. Most notable here is a way to "scroll" the projected screen so you can have really large boards.



Here it is in-action at the club in Portugal:



First Axe Club Member to "Level Up!"

Our tried and true first "league" (club) member earned enough achievements to officially level up from white shirt to orange shirt. This dude is a god among men! Here he is being officially dubbed by one of our "Axe Masters."


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Halloween

I dressed up as "Fat Thor" and my boys all went as Harry Potter!


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Bella's 2nd Album

My daughter released her 2nd album. Check it out! You can download it for free, or pitch some $ her way if you feel so inclined. (I'm still working on her to upload it to NG too). I'm really proud of her for her dedication that has developed her musical skills and her ability to see a project through from beginning to end:

Iceberg Theory


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Cubby Repair

We got a kids' "cubby" on Craigslist and it arrived with one of the pieces broken. So I "cut" out the cancerous tissue and

spliced in a replacement piece of wood with wood glue and clamps. It worked surprisingly well, and now the cubby has a cool "racing stripe!"


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Christmas Tamales & 19 Years

We have a Christmas tradition of making Mexican tamales. They're prrrreettty good! Also, I celebrated 19 years of marriage this year (we went to a way overpriced steakhouse. The food was good tho). Crazy how time flies and how NOT easy marriage is. I'm grateful for a forgiving partner.


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California Walnut Nativity Sculpture

I got a bee in my bonnet about 2 weeks before Christmas to make a carved nativity for my wife. The original plan was to sculpt it in Blender, then have my best friend cut it out on his CNC machine from some wood blocks. He ended up being too busy with other work, but he did let me use his various woodworking tools to "hand" carve the California Walnut I procured. I sculpted one of the pieces out of foam first, just to make sure I could wrap my head around the process. I planned to use my Dremel on the actual wood, but it ended up being too hard, so I had to use a heavy-duty "end mill" bit in a powerful hand-held drill to do the actual sculpting. The "Joseph" block had a crack running through it that ended up splitting in half, so we had to wood glue it back together. We mixed some of the walnut sawdust into the glue and it ended up masking the crack perfectly. Overall, there was a lot of adaptation along the way, but we made it work! It didn't end up matching the original vision super well, but I still think it turned out nice (and I learned a ton).


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Tattoos On The Heart

The latest in my faith journey was reading the book "Tattoos On the Heart" by a Jesuit priest (Greg Boyle) that worked for 20+ years in East LA with inner-city youth and gang members. Wow, what a book! I would highly recommend. The conception of "God" in it meshes really well with where I've landed on the whole topic. It had me in tears on many occasions. Here are a couple quotes to whet your appetite:


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Tower Defense Prototype

This is what I'm working on for the upcoming Flash Forward Game Jam. I've never made one of these and my boys have really been into Bloons Tower Defense lately. I miiiight be teaming up with some old friends for this...


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2021 Reflection

Welp, that was a crazy year. Working from home, vaccines and boosters, lots of conference calls, hope that COVID would go away, but then having new variants crop up. New president, same ol' political rigamarole. I'm really proud of Castle Crashing The Beard HD and how nicely it meshed with Friday Night Funkin's "Week 7" release (and that it works so well on mobile devices, and isn't done in FLASH!). I'm proud and jealous of the FnF dudes for their successful Kickstarter. I'm really proud and jealous of Madness: Project Nexus finally coming out too and all the success it received. @Luis was super productive this year and that always pleases me. As usual I'm really grateful to @TomFulp and Newgrounds for creating such a great, creative, original, exciting community for creative type people. NG 4 Lyfe!


One thing I'm looking forward to in 2022 is the 10 year anniversary of Abobo's Big Adventure. Me, Rog, and Pox are planning to get together and record a "director's commentary" on it while we play through together. We're also trying to team up with the 2-left-thumbs YouTube channel (who is long-time Newgrounds member @noodle and who made a cool historical video about Pico) to do a video or series of videos about ABA. Which reminds me, this guy did one of the deepest dives into Abobo's Big Adventure that I've seen so far:



Leave me a note with what you're looking forward to in 2022, or just say "Happy New Year!"


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Posted by BoMToons - October 21st, 2021


It's been so long and I have so much to say... I usually organize better, but I just need to get this out before I forget stuff or it gets even more overwhelming.


I VISITED USAXE CLUB IN LISBON, PORTUGAL!

For various reasons it worked out for me to go visit USAxe Club in Lisbon sooner rather than later. It was a whirlwind rush to get my passport and all the COVID stuff done and timed correctly, but we did it and it was SO COOL!


The best part was seeing all my tech, interior/exterior design, and branding with my own eyes, in-person. It was a fulfilling feeling to walk into a venue halfway around the world and see/feel "my style" eeking out of every pore in the place.


The business is POPPIN' and gaining steadily in popularity. All the systems groundwork I put in place is finally being fully-utilized with online axe throwing and food reservations, our MMO/Martial-arts style league and achievements system, and a bunch of internal backend tracking stuff (not to mention all the web-socket axe throwing games being played all the time - in large part thanks to RUFFLE for the easy-to-develop Flash-based rendering system).


We're on our way to paying off all the startup debt we accrued by the end of the year, and then starting to bring in some decent profits. I'm really proud of what the team has done, there were some dark times getting through COVID, but the future is BRIGHT! We're seriously looking into expanding to a second store.


Me and one of my partners - he's a rockstar that handles (and handled) all the practical, boots-on-the-ground, considerations of building and running the business. Check out the bit of the "lightbulb sign" you can see to the right!


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You have to pay for water in Europe, so we serve it in these custom-branded "flasks"


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Me playing one of my axe-throwing games (you can see the projected target and the tablet mounted on the lane-wall):


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Our MMO/Martial-Arts style "league" members beginning their journey with cool custom shirts with color corresponding to their "level" in the club (did I mention Budweiser, known as only "Bud" in Europe is one of our sponsors?):


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League members get to throw a wide variety of stuff at our targets (one of the "club" member perks):


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I made a TON of icons for our gamified axe throwing "achievements" which help league members "level up":


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A heap of people enjoying the experience!



The video/advertisement we filmed to encourage people to book "events" while I was visiting:



NEW AXE THROWING GAME: "AXE FOUR"

This was a simple and easy "win" for a new axe throwing game. It's basically "connect four" but with axes. It's a nice one for axe throwing beginners because you only have to be accurate on the x-axis to be competitive. This was the first "net new" game I've made since switching over to Ruffle as the rendering engine. This would have taken me, probably, a week to make using my previous methods, and the animations wouldn't have been anywhere near as slick. With this new approach I made this in about 8 hours (!):



HELLA MEGA TOUR: WEEZER, FALLOUT BOY, GREEN DAY

My daughter is a major 90's music fan and has loved Weezer for quite a while. I bought tickets to the Hella Mega Tour in 2019 for 2020, but we know how that whole year got flushed down the tubes due to COVID. They rescheduled for this year and we finally got to go! 50k + people yearning to get back to "normal" life and activities like concerts... it was kinda raw and touching.


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GIANTS GAME

My work got a private "booth" for a recent San Francisco Giants game. The booth experience was SO posh compared with the seats I'm used to sitting in. It was Harry Potter night, so I took my son who is obsessed with HP and has been eating up the books recently:


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HOME AXE TARGET:

My old axe target split in strange/unexpected ways under stress/long-term use, so I've come up with a new approach and repaired/rebuilt all the pieces. Hopefully this one lasts a lot longer. This project may be suffering from my perfectionism and lack of confidence in the practical construction arena... (it's taking a long time):


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FACEBOOK PAGE CHOOSE RANDOM "LIKER"

I was looking back over some old YouTube videos and saw that my video about randomly selecting someone who has "liked" your Facebook business page had a ton of views.



Unfortunately, the tool I originally made was done with Flash. I ported it over to Ruffle, but Ruffle currently has issues with text inputs and copy-paste, so I ended up making a freakish Frankenstein hybrid of an as2 file running via Ruffle and communicating with a set of pure html/Javascript text inputs outside of the Ruffle embed. I'm kinda proud of it and it's all updated for how FB currently works (I'll be making a tutorial on the specific usage soon). Check it out here:


https://pestoforce.com/randomlike/


OTHER GAME DEV NEWS:

With the latest Ruffle video-support updates, I dug up Trick Or Treat Adventure Quest which uses video in its ending:


Unfortunately, I found some game-completion-blocking bugs with Ruffle so didn't make it to the ending.

Fortunately, revisiting it reminded me how cool, and BIG, the game is. I was discussing with @mike and he suggested that it would be fairly easy to package it up as an executable with Ruffle as a Steam release. I downloaded Rust (the language Ruffle uses) and built Ruffle from its source code... So, I'm one step closer to actually being a contributor to that project instead of a beggar whining about my games not working.


I talked to @mockery and @poxpower and they're down for the Steam release! (probably next year around Halloween season ofc) I'm going to update it a bit to fix some of the most-frustrating aspects of the game (and blunt the edge of any Copyrights like "Elvira" --> "Hellvira" and then work with Mike on, perhaps, integrating Steamworks as an API into Ruffle! It might even end up looking like AS2 code methods that interact with Steamworks directly, but were NEVER PART of the original AS2 codebase... ha ha, that is kinda mind-blowing to consider!


The biggest complaint about the game is the "pathfinding" - because there basically is NONE which makes navigating around the rooms pretty annoying. I have a fix for this though! Waaaay back in the day I talked to @NegativeOne about pathfinding in his game Johnny Rocket Fingers 2 (https://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/310635). His method made a lot of sense to me, so I built a prototype. Here's a video of it working. I'll probably make an instructional video explaining the approach so others can use it too. I've thought of a few improvements, but I'm excited to put this into TTAQ (along with some other upgrades to UI/UX):



ART:

Here's a list of my latest art:


SOMETHING BIG:

@Luis and I are brainstorming some ideas for something big down the road. Now that he's had his creative break, we're back on things and planning some stuff out. Hopefully you'll GET HYPED for it when we start putting the pieces together.


YOU MADE IT THIS FAR?

Dang, you deserve some kind of reward. Leave me a comment about what you want that reward to be!


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Posted by BoMToons - July 20th, 2021


My daughter (voice of Chibi Knight) just "dropped" her first full album. She wrote, played the instruments, sang, recorded, and mixed it all herself (not to mention painting and Photoshopping the album cover art). I'm pretty blown away at the quality so go give it a listen on BandCamp (I'm trying to convince her to upload them to NG as-well...). You can download everything for free or, optionally, pay something:


https://bellefrog.bandcamp.com/album/orange


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Also, New In Town (NiT) in Portugal covered USAxe Club and had fun throwing axes and playing our web socket axe-throwing games! The video turned out really well and I love seeing the logos, signs, axes, and games I designed lending a nice "pro" feel to the venue:



The reporter "sticking" the axe at the start was a total fluke, but here's a behind-the-scenes video of her getting super-excited when she pulled it off:



I've been working on helping the axe club consolidate some of the debt it's built up with opening the new venue so there's some breathing room to do everything we want to do. Next up is a web-account-integrated "league" system (most of which is already in-place technology-wise). We just need to get the word out and get pricing right. Fingers crossed this place catches on!


Also, that's @mike's brainchild https://ruffle.rs running all the graphics on those targets!


Oh, and @luis made me a new user icon:

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Thanks for dropping by, leave me a comment or something!


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Posted by BoMToons - July 10th, 2021


Tony (AKA: @the-exp) has been showing up with great force in my life lately. First off, he finished his Kickstarter fulfillment for the Gameboy version of IndestructoTank. My boys and I have enjoyed digging out and rebooting my old Gameboy (and eventually buying the amazing Gameboy Advance). Here's an unboxing vid:



I ordered a GBA version of Alien Hominid as well (but it hasn't been delivered yet).


Tony also pinged me and asked if he could help get Super Chibi Knight running on mobile devices... I didn't think it would be possible, but he's actively proving me wrong!




I don't really know how it would be accepted in the current App Store climate. Is it something you, dear reader, think might be able to make some money? Maybe if I charged the same as on Steam? Give me your insights cuz I'm kinda inexperienced in the modern mobile economy.


In other news, we just finished a redesign of the USAxeClub.com website which I think turned out pretty slick (expecially when viewed from a mobile device). LMK if it looks ok on your phone!


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Pace picante homiezzzz!


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Posted by BoMToons - June 26th, 2021


The Portuguese public TV station has a show called "Depois, Vai-se a Ver e Nada." Last night they did a segment on our axe-throwing venue in Lisbon! We were under construction at the time, but it's still a fun peek at the experience we provide. We're hoping it will give us a little boost in popularity :-)



Here's how the restaurant booths look today:


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Want to eat there and throw some axes?


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Posted by BoMToons - June 4th, 2021


Wow, a lot has happened since my last post... we LAUNCHED Castle Crashing the Beard HD!!!! If you've been living under a rock, plz go play it right nao!



Check out this awesome piece of fan art:


And my own art pieces I released as teaser previews before launch (shoutout to @Deathink):


There have been a ton of streamers playing it, but my favorite so far is this guy who had no idea what it was. He has some great lines throughout the video as he's not sure whether he likes it or wants to find something to hate... "Tom Phillip" lol:


@Luis, @Pyragmus, and I are quite proud of it. I'm especially proud of a couple things:

  1. It's HTML5: I made a finished game without FLASH! (that can still be played on the web!)
  2. It's pretty mobile-friendly: If you've got a decent phone, you can play this game from ANYWHERE! This was actually a lot harder than it seems because Game Maker Studio's HTML5 coordinates are all jacked up (known bug) - so I ended up writing my own pure Javascript overlay for properly detecting touch events and passing their coordinates into the GMS2 game coordinate space.
  3. 2 player mode: This is dear to my heart because most of the testing was with my 2 boys playing together


One thing I'm disappointed about:

  1. No one mentioned the falling leaves in the game! I thought that was a nice touch...


The game was super well-received. That felt really nice cuz we weren't sure how it would do. We totally lucked out (and played around a bit intentionally) with all the tension around Friday Night Funkin's week 7 release (hopefully you saw our cheeky banner on the front page). Little could we have suspected that week 7's release would crash NG, and while NG was coming back online with the huge surge of traffic, those FnF fans were largely funneled to play our game!


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I realize we were riding a wave built by other people, but dang it was FUN while it lasted. I was nervously checking reviews and messages every couple minutes and the feedback was just CONSTANTLY rolling in. It reminded me a bit of the hectic feelz when we launched Abobo's Big Adventure. 100k plays in 24 hours nearly gave me an ulcer.


I kept a video dev log of the development process (if anyone's interested in some behind-the-scenes footage). I broke them into the results of approx. 8-ish hours of dev time chunks. We were working on it in our "spare time" but, if we had been working on it full time, it would have taken about a month. Each vid is 1-2 minutes long. Crazy to me that it started with just a black screen:



[ CLICK FOR WHOLE PLAYLIST ]


One cool thing that happened post-launch was that @mike played it and was annoyed that there was pixel "shimmering" on his 4k monitor. He's gotten pretty adept at manipulating HTML5 Canvas pixels on displays from his efforts with Ruffle. So, he took some time and messed with the GameMaker rendering code packaged up from GMS2 and made it so the game runs PIXEL-PERFECT on all resolutions now. It's a small thing, but it makes a big difference to me. It's so cool to see it looking "right" on my iPad retina display.


One bi-product of Mike's efforts was the discovery that if you browser "zoomed" the old version of the game, all the pixel art would be rendered in SUPER CHUNKY low-res blocks! This seemed a lot more like a feature than a bug to me, so I made a video of me playing it in that mode (unfortunately you can't do this anymore, but if there's enough demand maybe I'll ping Mike to help me implement it as an alternate game mode):



So what's next? Well, I'm going to be focusing on USAxe Club for a while. The construction of our new venue in Lisbon, Portugal is pretty much done, and we've opened our doors not only for axe throwing, but as a real American-themed restaurant. It's doing pretty well, but we went into a LOT of debt to get it where it is now. Fingers crossed it gets as popular as we think it has the potential to.


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I finished the conversion of our axe-throwing web-socket gaming system to Flash/Ruffle for much more rapid HTML5 Canvas development and easy animation of the axe-throwing game pieces. So far it's made development about 100x faster for me, which is exciting because it means I get to make some new, never-before-seen, axe throwing games soon! Here's a vid of me demoing the Ruffle-based websocket system:



Eventually I'm gonna need to go to Portugal so I can see this place with my own eyes...


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In home-renovation news, we finished the concrete pour for the retaining wall, found the matching wall blocks (a whole fiasco in and of itself), built the wall, and went ahead and splurged on replacing the mostly-dead grass with new sod:


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I read a pretty interesting book called "In the Beginning was the Command Line" by Neal Stephenson. Besides being mostly about the history of personal computers, it had some interesting philosophical chapters about the nature of "user interfaces" and what we potentially lose by representing very complex things simply (and what we gain by doing so).


Stephenson wrote another book that's pretty famous called "The Cryptonomicon" which came bundled as a recommendation from a co-worker with the command line book. I'm currently chewing, slowly, through it... no real opinion on it yet tho...


I got a raise at work for being a total hardworking badass, so that felt good to be recognized. Other than that, I've also very hesitantly picked back up eating right and exercise. Hopefully that lasts for a while so I'm not such a "fat ass" in addition to being a "badass" at work.


I updated my website http://www.pestoforce.com to have CCTB HD and a new section for some of my more experimental/quirky games. I also made it mobile "responsive" so you can actually look at it on your phone now.


Luis, Pyragmus, and I have been tossing around some game dev ideas. One idea in-particular, we feel pretty good about and want to work toward it once we've all recovered a bit from the launch of CCTB HD.


What do you think that idea might be? If you could have us work on something new and BIG, what would you want us to focus on?


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Posted by BoMToons - March 26th, 2021


Most of my efforts outside of regular work lately have been toward finishing up the game @Luis and I have been working on for longer than we'd like to admit... as-usual the last 20% of polish takes up 50% of the time and effort!


We're now officially in the beta-testing phase though, and have an official release date (April 16th), so here's a teaser:



And here it is in .gif form for the lazy:

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I made a piece of fanart for it!


And some other artworks too!


Chef Zakarian is the Pink Knight of Chopped:


And I was reminded of this AMAZING artwork by @Deathink for the release of Super Chibi Knight:


For Pi Day we tried something new, I made "Shepherd's Pi" :-P

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You excited for CCTB? HYPE HYPE HYPE!


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