Monthly Archives: March 2013

Learning to Draw: Post #23

IMG_3013

31/3-13
Been in bed for almost one week with a monster flu. Feeling a lot better today!

I’ve made it. The magnet scan of my brain went OK, but the nurse taking the pictures couldn’t give me any results, so I’ve to wait for the final judgement until the 11th of April. I feel calm in a strange way.

Previous posts about my “Learning To Draw” project: 222120191817161514131211,10987654321

DeviantArt gallery featuring most of the stuff I made so far: [click here]

 

Learning To Draw: Post #22

So I have the most intense flu I’ve head in months right now, just taking a walk to the store to buy some food is exhausting. I decided to stay in Malmö a bit longer because of this, and frankly, to be surrounded by people who take good care of you and make you food is exactly what I need right now. It makes me forget about the fear and my visit to the doctor later this week.

I’ve also been painting with acrylics these days. Found some laying around in my old apartment and decided to give it a go, it’s been ages since the last time. My eye has been behaving good so far, and only minor headaches, so that’s nice. It was super excting to really paint something again, to stick my fingers into the color and feel the brush working the paper. Drawing with a computer isn’t really my thing, I honestly prefer the feel of real texture, mixed colors and water. Here you go!

photo (2)

25/3-13
Might not really look like me, but I think I’m getting there, one step at a time. And it’s been so much fun painting this prolonged weekend. Sitting in the kitchen, drinking tea, relaxing and listening to documentaries.

saracasen_she

25/3-13
The day I woke up with a mega flu. Hardly slept anything and my throat is super soar, all the way down to what I assume are my lungs(?). Got the idea while taking a shower, used my own face as ref for this.

saracasen_morecolors

24/3-13
Added some color to my first self-portrait. The photo of me dates back to 2011, so I might look a bit younger in this one.

photooi

24/3-13
Cosmonaut girl, based on a ref photo from the Interwebz.

saracasen_datdude

24/3-13
Continued to paint upon the pencil drawing of this random dude. The basic facial features belong to some random dude in a mag at the train.

saracasen_myself

24/3-13
1 hour, 2 drawings of myself, based on photos from Facebook. I’ve always been a bit scared to draw people portraits, but whatever, time to leave the comfort zone already!

Previous posts about my “Learning To Draw” project: 2120191817161514131211,10987654321

DeviantArt gallery featuring most of the stuff I made so far: [click here]

Learning To Draw: Post #21

saracasen_tired

Took me a bit longer than usual to collect images for this post. The reason is I haven’t really been able to draw lately, headaches and eye-problems. I’m told it could be some kind of migraine activated by the computer screen? Next week I’m getting my brain X-rayed to make sure there’s nothing more serious behind my condition.

To be honest this makes me terrified. I’ve been struggling with fear, thinking a lot about death lately. I just want this to be over, to know for sure I don’t have anything unwanted inside my skull. Luckily my family and my dear friends have been a tremendous support during this time. I’ve been sleeping at friend’s places for almost two weeks, trying to pat a lot of cats and laughing at The Office. The hardest part is when I’ve shut off the computer, when it’s just me, the darkness and my own fears.

The chances this is something more serious are extremely small, but after witnessing my grand mother die in cancer and my own mother fighting cancer when I was around 12, I know bad things can happen. Anyways, the doctor made me go on sick leave this week, and hopefully I’m back at the office after the Easter, ready to work with my main game project! Until I know I’m not dying I’ve kinda put everything else in my life on hold. Gonna spend the following days in Malmö, and then make a trip to Finland to celebrate Easter with my family. I’m sure everything will be OK.

IMG_2948

23/3-13
Practicing facial features.

saracasen_faces

22/3-13
Just some cartoony doodles on the train from Stockholm to Malmö. Gonna stay in Malmö for a few days, just resting and waiting for my X-rays.

saracasen_thrones

22/3-13
Things from imagination.

saracasen_collage

19/3 & 20/3
Drawing on the subway to work this week hehe.

saracasen_ghost

18/3-13
25 minutes, just playing around. First digital image in ages, my eye starting to fail after 1 hour, bringing that nasty headache and numbness in my right part of the face.

saracasen_crazy

18/3-13

saracasen_tribal

14/3-13
Back at the office after a week of sick leave earlier this month! Drawing in 30 sec bursts at my job when my queries are searching the databases for information. It’s hard to direct my energy to other more complicated tasks when these “pauses” are something like 30 secs. Nice to see my brain is still improving even if I haven’t really been drawing for two weeks now.

saracasen_sheishe

13/3 -13
After a week of sick leave and almost no drawing or painting I’m able to create this.

saracasen_faceparts

8/3-13
Practicing some real life faces. Got such a headache after the right one I needed to sleep one hour to make the pain go away. Nothing else really helps : /

saracasen_uppsala

6/3-13
On the train between Uppsala and Stockholm, on my way to have lunch with my sister. I was on sick leave this whole week, made this one to see how much my eye could handle before it started moving rapidly from side to side which is annoying as fuck.

My friend Mary Q is doing a really amazing project. She is painting a self-portrait a day, publishing them on her blog [link]. She has drawn 27 portraits so far and you can really tell she is developing her skills, it’s very inspiring and fun to see. I hope she keeps it up!

0015_small_by_mary-q

Image by Mary Q. One of her self-portraits published on the blog.

Previous posts about my “Learning To Draw” project: 20191817161514131211,10987654321

DeviantArt gallery featuring most of the stuff I made so far: [click here]

New Video!

jordlingar

A game trailer, stop motion style, that we made for the game “Jordlingar”, back in 2009. Click the photo to start the video!

Added the video for our game “Jordlingar” (Earthlings) to the section “My Videos” on this blog. The video is made in stop motion style, showing a simplified version of how we made all the small mini games that make up the game itself. Earthlings was a game delivered to the World Culture Museum of Gothenburg, part of a game project back at Uni. I had so much fun making both those games and hanging out with my team. I still get VIP tickets to the museum’s exhibitions which is pretty sweet! I hope you enjoy the video!

Hardcore / Casual

After reading some posts about different kind of games and different ways to play games, I remembered I actually wrote a piece on that subject in 2010. I’ve grown a bit tired of people accusing some gamers for not being “real games”, or some games (mostly played by girls) no to be “real games”. The original blog post can found here [link], on MilMo’s dev blog. Below, my thoughts on casual/hardcore gamers back when I worked with the game MilMo:

Some of you might know me as the community manager at Junebud. That means I also work on the event design team. I play a big part in arranging events that take place inside the game, like the Halloween 2010 event. Each month will bring you a mix of screen shot/art contests and new in-game events, offering some kind of item or ability as a reward. These rewards are unique, so each event is a great opportunity to collect rare and special stuff. The Haunted Stone you can get this month is really cool, since it lets you summon a bunch of small, eerie ghosts!

An event should be easy to understand and fun to take part in, but the deeper you dig, the harder it should become. Events often consist of several steps that have to be completed in order to move on to the next part, or to get the desired reward. The hard thing for me lies in designing a good difficulty curve. It’s not supposed to get too hard too fast, but then again, if it’s too easy some players will get bored (or frustrated) and ignore the event. On top of those things, MilMo is a game aimed mainly at a casual audience. That means the players usually get irritated if they have to grind for a certain thing for hours. So the question is, how do you make something that’s difficult enough? There’s no perfect answer here. Remember, you can’t please everyone or design something that’s going to fit every single player who plays your game.

The Haunted Stone

If you are a good designer you manage to make something the majority of your target audience will appreciate. Some hardcore gamers will accuse you for being a sell-out if you aim for the casual gamers out there. This is something that I find very interesting: casual vs hardcore game(er)s. In the past many “casual” games would lack the quality that made some of the hardcore games stand out. Nowadays you can find plenty of casual games with both good graphics and great gameplay that could easily get you hooked. A casual game is a game you don´t have to sink a lot of time into, before you start going anywhere – or least least stop sucking. Casual games are often played on a lunch break, or when you’ve got some extra time on your hands, or maybe at a party. These are games like The SimsSuper MarioSnakeBejeweledFarmvilleSolitaireFrontiervillePlants vs Zombies,Tetris etc.

Plants vs Zombies by Popcap Games

 Wikipedia defines a ‘casual game’ as, “A casual game is a video game or online game targeted at or used by a mass audience of casual gamers. Casual games can have any type of gameplay, and fit in any genre. They are typically distinguished by their simple rules and lack of commitment required in contrast to more complex hardcore games.[1] They require no long-term time commitment or special skills to play, and there are comparatively low production and distribution costs for the producer.” But this is just another one definition of ‘casual games’. There are many others, I recommend you look some up.

Let’s take a look at Farmville. It´s a game with over 62 million monthly active users. That would be like every single person in the United Kingdom played Farmville at least once every month. No mater what city you went to, every person you met would know about Farmville! That’s crazy! So let’s say Farmville is a casual game. It’s easy to access, you play it online, it’s targeted at a big audience, it’s fairly easy to start planting your crops. You can log on for a few minutes and play, and the original game itself was developed in five weeks by a small team, according to Zynga.

Creativity in Farmville

When we look back at the early days of video game advertisement, the game companies usually targeted families, and games were (and sometimes still are) considered an activity for the whole family. Advertisement has become more complex over time, with so many different games and target audiences, and sub-target-audiences. Games today are aimed at children, families, teenagers, adults, hardcore, casual, girls, boys, FPS gamers who only like space marines, etc. You name it, they made it! What’s more, you can play a hardcore game like Starcraft casually. And the same person could be a heavy player of Farmville, like level 90. There really is no clear line between hardcore and casual, it depends more on the style of the player.

But what do casual gamers think of hardcore gamers? And how are you greeted in the company of hardcore gamers if you are a Farmville or Habbo player? From what I learned in my three years at a computer development University in Sweden, many hardcore gamers tend to look down at casual gamers, and consider them a “lower form” of player.

The explanation for this could be found in what Wikipedia said about casual games; “They are typically distinguished by their simple rules and lack of commitment required in contrast to more complex hardcore games. They require no long-term time commitment or special skills to play (…)”. If you are a hardcore gamers and play video games several hours a day, guard your rank within a special game, practice your skills and are very competitive, it’s no wonder you can’t take a person who plays Plants vs Zombies a few hours a week seriously. But this elitism is a bit strange to me. For instance, since when do professional athletes look down on someone who only goes to the gym once or twice a week? None of the athletes I know act that way.

Here at Junebud we welcome both hardcore and casual players. MilMo is the perfect game for playing a few hours a week when you have some extra time, or you can go all out and grind it in order to get all the awesome medals and weapons!

The Epic Sword

Well, these are some of the things I think about when I design events. I hope you’ll like the Halloween 2010 event!

Release Party!

This Thursday night the game studio Arrowhead (creators of Magicka) celebrated the launch of their new game “The Showdown Effect“, at the Paradox offices in Stockholm!  As an employee of Paradox I attended the party and had a really great night with my friend Marit who had done some translation work for the game. Since Showdown Effect is a fun, fast paced action game all about 80’s cliches guests dressed up as Magnum, karate kids, random action heroes and characters from the game : D

IMG_2830

Time to party!

IMG_2843

The gaming corner where guests could play The Showdown Effect.

IMG_2847

Princess Leia attended the party!

IMG_2849

BADASS MOTHERFUCKERS AND JOHN MCCLANE.

IMG_2859

Party chilling at the Paradox offices on the 23rd floor in Stockholm.

IMG_2865

Red showing some leg ; D

IMG_2835

Thanks to my sister who helped me find something nice to wear. Fashion isn’t really my best skill haha!

Interview with Algenpfleger

photo

Stuff by me.

Here’s a nice interview with the artist Algenpfleger, the guy I was talking about earlier. I guess I’m a bit fascinated with the way he set out to improve his skills and really delivered something cool in the end. Anyways, click [here] for the interview. Since DeviantArt sucks when it comes to any kind of interface or usability, the formatting of the interview is horrible, but whatever, I felt like it gave me some insights useful for my own “Learning To Draw“-project. After six months of drawing (almost) daily I think what I learned about my own learning so far is that:

  • Always draw from real life if possible. It trains you in solving the problem on how to convert a 3D object to good looking 2D (because that’s really the main problem you are trying to solve with each drawing). If you copy other people’s drawings they already “solved” the problem of how to transfer the information to a 2D plane.
  • Draw A LOT of faces, not just pretty ones from fashion photos. Learn the basic features and play around. Experiment!
  • Books do help a lot. Loomis is awesome!
  • No pain no gain. Magic does not happen by itself.
  • Keep track of your progress, it’s motivating!
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. That way you will have a hard time developing your own style. You need to walk your own path, not try to follow other’s footsteps. This is why I don’t hang out at ConceptArt, it just feels like a desperate place where everyone screams for feedback and want to show off.

 

The Killers & Lemaître!

thekillers

Image by me. The Killers live in Malmö. So happy they played all of my favorite songs!

Checking things off my bucket list like a boss. Last weekend I watched The Killers perform live in Malmö, Sweden. Yesterday me and some friends went to watch Lemaître perform at a club in here Stockholm. Both of the concerts were super sweet, dreams coming true. I think I’ve wanted to see The Killers live for a bit over 6 years, and to finally be able to see them put on a show in front of my eyes were nothing short of amazing. It’s still hard to think I was in the same room as my ongoing teenage crush Brandon Flowers, haha!

Brandon+Flowers+1168190437_f1

Brandon Flowers, so awkward but sexy at the same time, haha! One of those performes who are super skilled, got a mega smile and just makes me want to do whatever it takes to get equally awesome.

Lemaître is a Norwegian electro-duo from Bergen (the same city where I got plenty of family members). They are super skilled and if they are given enough time I’m sure they will be up there with giants like Röyksopp and Justice in a few years. The concert was kick-ass-, super heavy base vibrating in my whole body, people dancing like mad and the artists even stage-dived <3 Click [here] to listen to their music for free.

lemaitre

Image by me. Lemaître live at Debaser, Stockholm this weekend. Crazy and fantastic!

Interview With Autodestruct Digital

Found this really nice interview at Skill Point Schools [link here] with one of the coolest cats in town, Paul Richards! He has done art work for Halo 4, Darksiders II and a lot of other stuff. I occasionally follow his blog and find it to be very fascinating and updated almost every day.

maker2

Image by PAUL RICHARDS. Click on the picture to visit his blog (that might be NSFW).

I really like how he looks at doing assignments that you might not really like, or have a hard time to solve. It’s always about how you look at things. Do you let boring tasks bring you down, or do you try to find a way to learn something along the way? I always try to find something nice even in things I really don’t like doing!

“SPS: Being at the front end of the art pipeline, it seems like there would be a huge amount of pressure to churn out quality and creative work regardless of how excited or inspired you are about the subject. How do you deal with artist’s block or similar lacks of inspiration at work?

Paul: You find something personal to shoehorn into it. If it’s not an idea you came up with, then you use it an excuse to work on composition or tones or color or your knowledge of plant life or whatever. You find a part of it that interests you. Gain something from it. Then, get it out of your life as fast as possible so you can move onto the next (hopefully more fulfilling) task!”

Get A Grip

When you see really awesome people do astonishing things it’s easy to just get blown away and forget how much hard work there’s behind it. When you have the Internet at your fingertips it’s possible to watch endless videos and photos of stuff that makes you go “hey, I want to be able to do that too! Where do i start?”. But there’s more to it than that.

If there’s one thing I learned in the past two years, it’s that it is usually an insane amount of hard work, practice and mistakes behind 99% of the cool things out there. The game dev industry is filled with so much talent and and individuals that practicing 12 hours a day for many years to get where they are. People that are perfectionists, that strive to excel in everything they produce, that have a great passion for pushing the field or refining their craft. It takes years, tears, blood, sweat and broken bones to get to the top (especially if you are a climber like the guy in this awesome video).

climber

Click the image to start the video. This is Magnus Midtbø, Norway’s best climber. He ended 4th in the last World championship. Here you can see why!
He can do 6 pull-ups using his middle finger, and 60 one-armed pushups. This guy has been practicing for years, yet it looks so easy -the true sign of mastering something.

When I see someone who’s a real bad-ass at something they do, I often need to remind myself that this is their job. It’s an elite gymnast’s job to be able to perform like she does, it’s a kick-ass concept artists job to be able to produce all that amazing art. It’s the job of a fashion blogger to buy clothes that match and inspire, it’s my job to get better at what I do to make a living. Some days I just feel like a big, fat, green n00b. Talent can only get you so far, the rest is practice, trial and error.

algen_progress

Images by Algenpfleger. Yes, the mini MIG is a painting, not a 3D rendering. This progress was made in 1 year and 7 months when practicing for 12 hours per day. Some people say it takes you something like 10 000 hours to truly master a skill. Link to Algen’s gallery here [link].

But trying to become “the best” at something is not enough to motive someone in the long run I think. You need to figure out why this matters to you. Why do you want to dedicate your time and energy to something and grind it? Or do you even want to? That’s my 1 hour of computer for today, time’s up.

Remember: one year from now you wish you would have started today.