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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 California..

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BoMToons's News

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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11

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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19

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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9

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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14

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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Posted by BoMToons - February 22nd, 2021


TYPE HELP

I made a game for the NG Flash Forward Game Jam!


Here's some background about the genesis and execution of the TypeHelp game:

I recently read a bunch of books about game designers which got me thinking about my default game-design approach. My buddy shared this quote about writing from the Game of Thrones author:


“I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they're going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there's going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don't know how many branches it's going to have, they find out as it grows. And I'm much more a gardener than an architect.”


― George R.R. Martin


My "default" game design approach is much more "gardener" than architect. I've never really built a "level design engine," but tend to fly by the seat of my pants. This can make some pretty fun games that have surprising twists and turns, but I wondered what it would be like to be more "architect"-y about my design.


One of the books I read was about the history of Sierra Online and had a neat section about how Roberta Williams was very interested in text-adventures when they were the newest, freshest, thing. She didn't have any coding ability, but wanted to make one herself. Her husband, Ken, was a coder and wrote an "engine" that Roberta could use to fulfill her creative dream. In the book, Ken outlines some of the design approaches he used to make the text adventure engine (their engine was actually the first to combine rudimentary graphics with the text).


When I heard about the Flash Forward Jam, I wanted to do something experimental (not my typical action-game fare). I decided to try my hand at making a flexible, text-adventure engine. I wanted to make everything "text based" as a fairly significant design restriction (so it would feel like what you might see if you went back in time to early 80s computer hardware, but somehow, miraculously, had the easier internet access of today). One reason for this is that Ruffle doesn't have great text rendering and text-editing support yet, and I thought doing something ALL IN TEXT would be a fun challenge to address and be impressive to anyone familiar with Ruffle's limitations.


This text-only (no graphics, flowcharts, wireframes, or even drop-down menus/form elements) restriction, led me to settle on a command-line-like terminal interface... a-la Linux or DOS.


I put most of my development time into making the command-line-interface (CLI) very robust and enabling lots of flexibility in what it allowed the user to do, game-structure-wise, using the engine. I also decided, early on, I wanted to enable people to create and share their creations via the same CLI.


At some point, I decided it would be really cool, and "meta" to obscure the game engine within a text-based narrative. This way, the player would think "oh I'm just playing a text adventure game", then be slowly led to discovery of the CLI and, in fact, be forced to use the CLI to complete the "baked in" text adventure. I had recently re-watched "The Matrix" and wanted to try capturing that "the world around you is a sham" feeling, and the "you are actually a GOD here if you learn the right tricks" feeling.


In the end, the real design challenge was how to have the baked-in game fun and engaging and intuitive enough, while also slowly revealing the CLI, and not just DUMPING a HUGE game engine on the user all at once. For the record, I don't think I solved this design problem very well...


Most players just skimmed and bounced off the surface of the game, never realizing the real "meat" underlying it all. Those that did discover it, felt it was too cumbersome to use very intuitively. I attempted to help resolve some of these concerns by implementing a JSON export and import feature, but even that is probably too esoteric for the average player.


If I would have allowed myself to use graphics, and showed a flowchart of "rooms" and the various kinds of objects and their linkages (and let people click into nested object structures and edit them in a smoother navigation structure), I think it would have gone a long way to helping people get more immersed in the creative side of the game.


I only ended up with a handful of "user-submitted" adventures, even though I expected a lot more when I first launched it (I set up a website and server and everything to support my predicted influx of games... http://typehelp.org). WOMP WOMP...


Overall, though, I'm really proud of what I made and of myself for taking my personal challenge to be more engine-focused and "architect-y" to heart.


The recently-submitted game "B"-Al-Zebub's Rest Stop is a fantastic example of the kind of adventure game I was hoping people would make with the engine. If you want to check it out, load up the Type Help game and type:

cmd web play 5


I still hope that there will be a day, in the future, when the stars align for the right people to uncover what the game offers and get excited about it... kind of like how "Frog Fractions" took some "soak time" for people to really "get it."


MY GAMES ARE NOT DEAD

In really good news, Ruffle has made lots of progress on as2 support, and pretty much 100% emulates, in-browser, all of my as2 games. Most important to me is the ability to play Abobo's Big Adventure (since that is, so far, my magnum opus):



For the Abobo 10 year anniversary this coming January 2022, Rog, Pox, and I are going to get together and record a video of us playing through it with "Creator DVD Commentary" and put it on YouTube.


But also important to me is Portal Defenders:


I made a little video of the Portal Defenders ending as emulated in Ruffle to celebrate:


AXE AUTO-DETECTION SOFTWARE

I decided to revise my axe-gaming web-socket system to use RUFFLE as the rendering engine. I was going crazy hand-coding animations in HTML 5 for the axe games, so when I started fantasizing about using Flash to do all the animations and FX, it was just a pipe dream... then RUFFLE!


I've done tons of testing, and I officially believe that everything I need to do for the axe games can be done via Ruffle. Most-recently I tested Ruffle's support of as2's "External Interface" API - which allows Javascript commands to call functions within Flash and allows Flash to call Javascript functions on the page containing the swf embed. Here's a demo of all that working: https://usaxeclub.com/test/


Importantly, this means our games can step up to a more-modern standard of game visual FX and animation.


In other great news, my business partner has been working on a system to very precisely detect where an axe hits our projected targets using Python and MACHINE LEARNING AI MODELS!!!


I set up an API to send the auto-detection data through the web-socket system, and it's actually working! This video shows an early test where the lag was significant, but currently the "lag" is down to about 500 milliseconds, which seems near-instant.


This is opening up a lot of axe game possibilities... including DUCK HUNT (with axes)...



The Portuguese "national" tv service also did a report on our store!



My day job as a software developer has given me a lot more confidence in trying new things with code. Now that Type Help is in-the-bag, I'm turning my focus back to the Castle Crashing The Beard HD Reboot project, which is insanely close to being done... keep an eye out for that later this year.


Overall feeling pretty good about everything. I hope 2021 has a lot of good things in store for me, and YOU!


Thanks for reading, leave me a comment about what you're excited about in 2021!


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Posted by BoMToons - January 12th, 2021


If you're interested in beta testing my Flash Forward game jam game, please DM me!


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Update: It's live!


7

Posted by BoMToons - January 2nd, 2021


Happy New Year!


Here's a project I thought would be small, but turned out to take a good bit of effort. I wanted to build an axe throwing target to test the games I’ve been making for usaxeclub.com.


One goal was to make it easy to disassemble and assemble so it could be stored in the garage. Another goal was to allow the blocks to be swapped around and flipped as they wear out.


I achieved both with varied levels of success... I’m not a great structural engineer yet! But I learned a lot!


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Posted by BoMToons - December 20th, 2020


On social media we tend to all end up breathing the same air as things go "viral." Half of my conversations with people go in the direction of "Oh, ha ha, yeah, that was good, I just saw that the other day!" The unique, "underground," feel of Newgrounds is one of the things that's kept me coming back here after all these years.


Every once in a while I stumble on something that deserves virality, but isn't quite there yet (I know... "what a HIPSTER!").


In this news post I'd like to share one such under-appreciated person with you (I just wish NG had a higher file-size threshold for animated .gifs so you could see the samples larger).


KUSHIRO (https://twitter.com/kushirosea)


From what I can tell, this guy is developing a tool/plugin for Blender (free 3D modeling software) that allows you to draw primitive shapes on a "grid" and then extrude those shapes into existence.


"Grid Modeler" $10 Blender Plugin: https://gumroad.com/l/VthLyO


This may not sound very revolutionary, but just check out the samples below.


The way he can rapidly "sketch" 3D mechanical models makes me drool... not to mention his solid design instincts for extruding, beveling, slicing, and notching everything in just the right way to make it look high-tech/futuristic but also convincingly-buildable/functional. I was not previously aware that this kind of rapid ideation was possible in 3D, the potential gets me kinda excited!


It's been fascinating to see Kushiro add new features to Grid Modeler over the last few months (like quick-tubes/pipes).


When I get some time I'm definitely going to delve into learning his tools in blender to see if I can develop some of the facility demonstrated in these samples.


Space Ship


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Engine


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Motorcycle


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Enemy Mech


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Future Sword


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Give Kushiro a follow! https://twitter.com/kushirosea


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